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.

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

The Oakland A's last made the playoffs in 2014. Beginning about a month after Salvador Perez walked Oakland off in the 12th inning of the AL Wild Card Game, the A's began the process of reshaping their team, trading away key players such as All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and letting others walk away in free agency.

Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie, who's set to appear in his first-ever MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, was one of those players. Naturally, the 34-year-old has a unique perspective, now that his A's have the sixth-best record in baseball. 

On Monday, Pedro Martinez asked Lowrie on MLB Network if the A's are going to stay together this time.

"You know, I've been in Oakland when we've actually added pieces," Lowrie said. "And I think that front office knows an opportunity when they see it, and hopefully they see the opportunity this year because I think we've got a good group."

His bosses might be one step ahead of him. A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Bean told The Athletic on Friday that his team is prepared to add at the trade deadline. General manager David Forst, meanwhile, told Jim Rome last week that his team "deserves a chance to stay together."

Does Lowrie believe it? 

“Like I said, it’s a smart group, and I think they recognize an opportunity when it presents itself,” Lowrie added in the MLB Network interview.

At 55-42, the A's might just have that opportunity. 

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

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AP

A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo honors Stoneman Douglas High School at Futures Game

While A's top prospect Jesus Luzardo was impressing scouts with his arm at Sunday's MLB Futures Game, all eyes should have been on his feet. 

A graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the 20-year-old Luzardo wore cleats honoring the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida school. 

“It’s for those who passed and the people affected,” Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg before his start on Sunday. “After what happened, I’m glad to be here representing them — we have [Stoneman Douglas alum and Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo, we have other guys. But it’s always good to be known that I went to Stoneman Douglas. I’m happy that I grew up there.”

Born in Peru, Luzardo and his family moved to Parkland when he was a baby. Luzardo told USA Today's Ted Berg he was supposed to be at his alma mater on Feb. 14, in order to throw batting practice to his old team, but stayed away from campus after coach Todd Fitz-Gerald told him there was an active shooter. 

Luzardo's honored the victims in his community elsewhere, too. He set up a YouCaring.com fundraiser to create a scholarship fund in honor of one of the victims, athletic director Chris Hixon. The fund has raised already just over $10,060, and is about $5000 shy of its $15,000 goal. 

The A's acquired Luzardo in a midseason trade with the Washington Nationals last season. Luzardo, who MLB.com ranked as the No. 60 prospect in baseball entering the season, moved up to Double-A this season. In 13 starts with the Midland RockHounds, Luzardo has pitched 63.2 innings with a 2.54 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.