At last year’s trade deadline, Billy Beane risked the future of the Oakland Athletics in order to win in 2014, a strategy that he had been hesitant to employ in past years. Now, with a decimated roster after the losses of Yoenis Cespedes, Jon Lester, and Jeff Samardzija, Beane must work his magic once again for the Athletics to become a contender. Luckily, roster turnover is not a foreign concept to Oakland, whose longest tenured player (Coco Crisp) joined the team in 2010.
“We’re not like that very successful team across the Bay that’s been so stable,” Beane once commented about the difference between the Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. “It’s a risky move, buying an A’s jersey for your kid. Just make sure it says ‘Oakland’.”
In general, their plan of buying low and selling high has been effective for a team that always boasts one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball. They have had just four losing seasons since the turn of the century and have not had a season with less than 75 wins since 1998.
This offseason, Oakland has revamped its lineup in hopes of rejuvenating an offense that withered down the stretch last season after trading power-hitting Yoenis Cespedes. Coming off the worst season of his career, newly-acquired Billy Butler will look to emulate his 2012 performance when he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger. The additions of veterans Brett Lawrie and Ben Zobrist via trades also should help in tightening up a lineup that needs stability more than anything in 2015.
“When we went into this winter, we had to look at where we are and where we’re headed,” said Beane about the Athletics’ offseason approach. “What we thought we had to do was something that wasn’t timid.”
Even though the thrifty Athletics are projected for a third place finish in the American League West, it should be no surprise if they are playing in October with Beane at the helm.