Even though the Oakland Athletics seemed like a quality team on paper, they ultimately struggled in 2015. The bullpen could not hold a lead, the fielders made mistakes on seemingly routine plays, and the starting rotation was plagued with injuries. On top of all of these factors that dragged the A’s down, there was also a team chemistry issue. For months, many have been wondering if there was one player who had the bad attitude. Who was the bad apple?
There was speculation that it was Danny Valencia, who has been rumored to have some attitude problems in the past. However, since he only joined the team in August, it did not make that much sense. Additionally, many thought it was a veteran, perhaps Billy Butler, because the Athletics stated this offseason that they wanted to bring in some more experienced team leaders, which implied that the current ones were not doing a good job.
However, during A’s 2016 FanFest on Sunday, Butler recently told the media that those players who were negatively effecting the team are not around anymore. So, they were either traded or let go. That still leaves a good number of ballplayers to blame including a handful of pitchers and some infielders.
In the end, it seems as though Brett Lawrie may have been the at the center of the chemistry issues in the clubhouse. Interestingly enough, it is not that he had a bad attitude. It just so happened that his high energy personality rubbed his teammates the wrong way during the losing season. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser joined MLB Now two weeks ago and touched on Lawrie’s disruptive demeanor.
Additionally, once Jed Lowrie was acquired via a trade with the Houston Astros, many expected that the A’s would attempt to trade Valencia and move Lawrie back to third. It was assumed that it would be a waste to trade Lawrie when he was such a big piece of the Josh Donaldson trade in 2014. However, the Athletics decided to deal Lawrie — probably not just because a trade involving Lawrie would bring in the biggest haul. As Slusser stated in her interview with MLB Now, Lawrie’s spirited temperament probably wore on his teammates throughout the season.
Obviously, it is clear that it was not all Lawrie’s fault even though he may have perpetuated the problem a little further. Losing game after game was most definitely a contributing factor to the overall bad outlook that afflicted the roster last year. In the past, the A’s have always been the goofy, fun-loving, underdog ballclub. Let’s hope this year’s crop of players can bring that energy back to the clubhouse for the 2016 season.