Athletics

Beane's exec honor a practical matter

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Beane's exec honor a practical matter

When it was reported that most baseball general managers were actively rooting against the Washington Nationals because of the ham-headed way they handled the Steven Strasburg issue, smart people wondered why the other generals would care. Or if they did care, why they wouldnt be delighted.General managers dont think in terms of spite. Oh, they enjoy giving the screws to each other, but they dont typically act on agendas.And how do we know that? Billy Beane was named Executive of the Year at the general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Ca. In a vote of 57 other general managers and other baseball executives.NEWS: Beane named Executive of the Year
You know. The people who hated Moneyball and all it presumed, and thought Beane was a vainglorious gasbag, and all that.Beane deserved the award as much as anyone. Signing Yoenis Cespedes. Cutting Manny Ramirez loose when it became clear he couldnt play any more. Dismantling one pitching staff and reassembling it with different parts. Hiring and supporting (with the odd argument thrown in for old times sake) manager Bob Melvin after being perceived as the scourge of the managerial profession. Taking a projected 94-loss team and supervising it to 94 wins.Yeah, that ought to do it.But if vengeance were the driving force in baseball (as opposed to the more traditional verities of greed, self-satisfaction, keeping the boss off your back, screwing the other guy out of his best players for your worst ones, etc.), Beane would never have won. Moneyball: The Book torqued off baseball people, and Moneyball: The Movie even more, although if Brad Pitt has cast Jonah Hill as Beane and himself as Art Howe, that could have gone down a lot better.Indeed, Beane could have been frozen out even if the As had beaten Justin Verlander in Game 5, dope-slapped the Yankees and swept the Giants rather than the way it turned out.But as it turns out, general managers dont have that kind of attention span. They also dont have time for the grudges we think they do. They may squeeze the shoes of the odd player for petty reasons, or hate an owner who turned out to be less than as good as his word.But for the most part, they are practical men, who make practical decisions based on the information and financial and political needs of the time. And they all use math, too.Plus, they dont really give that much of a damn about the award anyway, because as practical men, they know that Executives of the Year get fired just like Schmoes of the Week and Dullards of the Month. They vote, to the extent that they do, based on the practicalities of the moment, and they dont spend a ton of time on the ballot because they have other things theyd rather do.Like swindling a colleague.So Beane wins the award because, and for no better reason than, he deserved it. Nobody did a demonstrably better job, nobody came from farther back to do it, and nobody had to confront his core beliefs and acknowledge that some of them are, well, less than absolutely correct.And baseball executives appreciate that, too. Not as much as they would have if the role of Ron Washington had been played by Denzel Washington, but hey, hes Executive of the Year, not Marty Scorsese.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.