By now, most A’s fans know to not get too attached to any one player. The simple fact is that players do not wear the Green & Gold for very long. General Manager Billy Beane is constantly shipping men in and out through a virtual revolving door at the Coliseum. Under the previous ownership group of Schott and Hofmann, it’s true that Beane had to get creative when building a roster on a budget. Yet with Wolff and Fisher, there is money to burn – but now Beane is also part of that same ownership group. Playing the Poor Card only works on ignorant people who truly believe the team is broke and has its hands tied.
When I interviewed Lew Wolff on Xtra Sports 860 in February of 2011, he told me his proudest moment of his time as A’s owner was “giving equity to Billy Beane and (A’s President) Mike Crowley.” I’m of the opinion that Wolff is the biggest fan of Beane in the world and will do anything he says when it comes to building a baseball team. “Need $10 million for Ben Sheets? Here you go.” So for the people who believe Wolff is holding Beane back, I disagree wholeheartedly.
Remember, both Wolff and Beane want the baseball world to believe that the Oakland Coliseum (and Oakland in general) is not a feasible place to operate a business and therefore success cannot be obtained. So when the team wins, like it has the previous three seasons, observers from outside the Bay Area probably wonder what all the anti-Oakland fuss is about.
Losing on the field is the easy way to show that a situation is untenable. But when you win on the field, you have to create chaos and turmoil off of it. You have to deal young, All-Star players who are still under team control, like Gio Gonzalez and Josh Donaldson, to prove to everyone that you cannot hold on to them. They’ll just get too expensive for the A’s, so they absolutely must be dealt – that’s the ploy which dummies across the nation seem to think is fact. The real truth is that they are successful in their present stadium and have enough money to outspend the Dodgers. But to do that would create a notion of harmony with their situation, and that’s a no-no for them. They must keep up the facade that they can’t survive at the Coliseum. Winning is not their top priority. Sad, but true.
Oakland now possesses an amazing commodity. Sonny Gray was an astute draft pick by Beane and the A’s are reaping the rewards of that first round selection made four years ago. After yet another outstanding performance yesterday in the A’s 8-1 win at Anaheim, Gray is now statistically the best pitcher in baseball. His 1.60 ERA is the lowest in either league. His 95 2/3 innings leads all of MLB, showing how deep he goes into games, thus giving the A’s much-maligned bullpen a day off when he pitches. He also has the lowest WHIP in the bigs, a miniscule 0.93. And he only seems to be getting better.
Beane could get a king’s ransom for Gray, a player making baseball’s minimum wage (which he will also receive next year). In 2017, his three arbitration years will kick in. Even though he won’t be able to go anywhere during those three years, it was at that same point where Beane pulled the trigger on Gonzalez and Donaldson. The “fear” was that the A’s couldn’t afford them so they were “forced” to trade them. Such hogwash.
Here’s a novel idea: you’ve got an amazing centerpiece around which you can build a team. Keep Sonny as the ace and build each and every year to give him complementary pieces. The stupid Marlins finally came to their senses and decided to build around Giancarlo Stanton. But Stanton cost Miami $325 million. Gray will not “get paid” until 2020. Beane has the foundation … will he build on it or burn it to the ground?