Former Athletic Pat Neshek Weighs in on “The Trade”

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Oct 6, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher

Pat Neshek

(37) reacts after an out during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle posted his interview with Pat Neshek, currently of the St. Louis Cardinals. The interview focused around Neshek’s thoughts regarding the infamous Jon Lester trade. For starters, Neshek said that without that trade, he believes the Oakland Athletics would still be playing right now. But wait, it gets better.

Pat Neshek pitched in relief for the A’s in both 2012 and 2013, so he has some insight into what the clubhouse atmosphere has been like the past couple of seasons. According to the article, Neshek said, “The A’s weren’t as threatening without Yoenis Cespedes.”

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He went on to say, “I don’t know what it was, but I definitely know that had to be a chemistry issue. Cespedes, he kind of struck a lot of fear into opposing teams. We all watched that, especially in the two years I was there. You take him out, it makes a lot of the other guys a lot less scarier in the lineup.”

This has been a widely speculated stance from afar since Oakland’s collapse in August and September. For a former player to say this, gives the opinion more credibility, but does not make his opinion fact. Did the A’s struggle to score runs? Of course they did. Would a healthy Coco Crisp (.191 batting average post All-Star break) made a difference? Perhaps.

The article goes on, “You knew a lot of the guys were going to be star players down the road, but I think the team chemistry was definitely hurt when they started adding those guys, taking (Jesse) Chavez out of the rotation; he probably would have been fine the whole year.”

The move to take Jesse Chavez out of the rotation can be debated. If Chavez continued to struggle like he had in July (5.20 ERA), there is a chance the A’s could have dropped an extra game, and missed the playoffs completely.

Neshek went on to share his own experience, similar to that of Chavez, “That’s kind of how I felt last year. I was told at the end just go home. I feel when you do little stuff like that, it affects the club. At the end of the season last year, I was on the plane and they said, ‘We don’t need you for the playoffs, and we don’t need you to stick around, either.’ Here (in St. Louis), we have 35 guys still here, 10 of them aren’t even on the roster. But they’re here, and they travel.”

This is the part that intrigued me the most. If this is how management is treating their fringe players, then it’s no wonder why these say fringe players, or “gritty performers” don’t show up in the playoffs, when they’re most needed.

Pat Neshek said later in the article, “I felt I could do so much more.”

The comments on this piece range from, “This is spot on!” to “He wasn’t there this year, what does he know?”

For me, I believe that the A’s would still be playing right now if they were healthy. It could have been as simple as Craig Gentry being ready to go for the wild card game. If he could have taken over for Crisp when he exited, I think that he makes the play in left-center with Jonny Gomes. That’s just my opinion however.

For now, we are left to ponder, “What if?”

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