Athletics

Dave Dombrowski's firing shows why Billy Beane, David Forst stay with A's

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AP

Dave Dombrowski's firing shows why Billy Beane, David Forst stay with A's

Just last October, Dave Dombrowski was celebrating a World Series championship. Now, less than 11 months later, he's out of a job.

The Red Sox made the stunning decision to fire their president of baseball operations not even a full season after the team he built won 108 games and cruised to a World Series victory over the Dodgers.

This firing serves as the ultimate reminder that, in many ways, professional baseball is nothing more than a business, and a harsh one at that. Red Sox star Mookie Betts made that very point upon hearing the news.

Still, you would think that winning a World Series might buy at least a couple of years of goodwill. In Boston's case, you'd be wrong.

Sure, the Red Sox are having a disappointing season. After Sunday night's loss to the Yankees, Boston fell to 76-67, a full eight full games behind the A's for the second AL wild-card spot.

But can that be blamed entirely on Dombrowski? After all, this is essentially the same squad from last year.

If nothing else, this type of bombshell firing makes you understand why executives like Billy Beane and David Forst, both highly sought-after, have chosen to remain with the A's rather than chase higher-profile jobs. When Beane and Forst agreed to extensions with Oakland last offseason, they spoke about loyalty and appreciation for the organization and their colleagues.

"There are some things we don't have, which are obvious, and there are some things we do have," Beane said at the time. "We have stability and we have loyalty. It goes back a long way here."

Forst echoed a similar sentiment, crediting the franchise's loyalty for his decision to stay.

"Ownership has always been very loyal to me and the people we have here make this a great place to work," he said.

[RELATED: Source: A's to call up top prospect Luzardo for stretch run]

So while the A's will likely never have the same financial resources as a franchise like Boston, they do have loyalty. For better or worse, the same cannot be said of the Red Sox.

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

MLB rumors: Blake Treinen, Dodgers agree to one-year, $10M contract

The A's might have thought about bringing Blake Treinen back, but the former All-Star closer will be turning in the green and gold for Dodger blue.

Treinen has agreed to a one-year, $10M contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Treinen broke out in 2018 for the A's, collecting 38 saves while putting up a microscopic 0.78 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. But 2019 was a tough season for the right-hander. Treinen struggled early and lost his closer job to All-Star Liam Hendriks. 

The right-hander fought to regain his All-Star form from a season ago, but was unable to recapture the magic, putting up a 6.14 ERA during the second half to the season. 

The A's opted to non-tender Treinen last week. General manager David Forst had said the A's remained in contact with Treinen, but it appears the reliever felt a change of scenery was for the best. 

In joining the Dodgers, Treinen becomes part of a bullpen that president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman felt needed an upgrade. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen has seen his effectiveness waver over the past two seasons, and last offseason prize Joe Kelly was inconsistent at best in Year 1 in LA. 

The Dodgers have one of the more complete rosters in baseball, but adding a reliever who can get big outs late in the game is a must for any World Series contender. Whether or not Treinen can return to his 2018 form remains to be seen. 

[RELATED: Semien reiterates preference to stay in Oakland long term]

As for the A's, they still are trying to decide what MVP finalist Marcus Semien's future in Oakland looks like and will turn their attention to filling out the bullpen in due time. 

While there aren't a lot of top-tier relievers on the open market this offseason, the A's should be able to fill Treinen's with a low-cost, high-upside option that Billy Beane has been known to unearth. 

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien reiterates hope to stay with A's as MLB free agency looms

Marcus Semien was both quantity and quality in 2019.

The A's shortstop started all 162 games and was a finalist for both American League MVP and Gold Glove Awards. He also was named to the second-team "All-MLB team," which was announced Tuesday.

It only raises the value for one of Oakland's longest-tenured players, who is expected to receive a notable raise in his final year of arbitration.

“But going forward, we all know what comes after that,” Semien told NBC Sports California in an exclusive interview Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “That is the business side. Of course, I love winning, love being home and love my teammates.  Love going to battle with guys who share the same qualities as me.”

Semien doesn’t hide his preference to stay in Oakland long term: “Of course, that would be ideal," he said.

The shortstop also said his camp wouldn’t want to currently interfere with VP Billy Beane and GM David Forst continuing to build the team before re-approaching a long term deal.

“As we approach Spring Training, we’ll see what happens,” Semien said.

Here's what else Semien touched upon during our conversation.

Success In A New Role

It’s easy to forget last season was actually a transitional one for Semien, who had previously been hitting in the bottom third of the lineup before becoming the became the regular leadoff guy.

“The amount of at-bats is a big one for me," Marcus said. “The more at-bats I get, I feel the better I get."

Batting first also helped him gain a better grasp on games.

“Most of the time it gets you in the rhythm of the game right away. I think in years past, I hit seventh, eighth or ninth, sometimes you don’t get your first chance to bat until the third inning. It’s harder to get into a rhythm, so I tried to take advantage of that this year."

Power or consistency

In his first four seasons with Oakland, Marcus' bat always was a strong point, through either consistency or power. In 2019, he excelled in both regards, clubbing 33 homers and a .285 average.

“The average is a byproduct of getting more pitches to hit," he said. "Getting in better counts to do more damage, that’s where the power comes from."

Especially noticeable was Semien’s ability to crowd the plate and still get around on inside pitches this past summer.

“A lot of my teammates laugh at it sometimes when I sometimes pull my hands in to hit a pitch that’s off the plate inside. But it’s definitely a quality that I want to keep, and a weapon to use if they throw it in there.”

Middle-infield partner

Marcus has paired with several different middle infielders over the years, and it seems like consistency at second base would benefit both him and the team. The departure of Jurickson Profar opens up a menu of at least four in-house choices for Oakland, and potentially anyone else they might acquire in the offseason.

“The platoon system has worked out for some teams,” said Semien. “But in my opinion, we’ve got an infield where three guys play every day, and have gotten better year in and year out. So we’ll see what they do at second base.”

[RELATED: Beane reveals he has Kyler on his fantasy football team]

Is this the window?

Optimism is high surrounding a team that has won 194 games over the last two seasons. After seeing the arrival of highly anticipated prospects like A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo debut last year, many are wondering whether Oakland is entering a window for something special over the next three to five years.

But Semien is not focusing on where the A’s have been, but rather where they need to go.

“Our division is only going to get better," he said. "Especially with the Rangers getting a new ballpark and looking to spend more money on free agents. Anaheim has one of the best lineups in the game, if they add pitching they’ll be right up there too.

"For us, we can’t take anything for granted, we need to get better and stay healthy as a group.”