Oakland Athletics: Reconsidering the Jon Lester Trade


Reconsidering the Oakland Athletics’ Jon Lester Trade

Spring Training is HERE, and hope springs eternal for the A’s in 2016. I am looking forward to 2016 with a lot of enthusiasm. For A’s fans, however, before we look forward, we need to come to terms with our team’s past. Whenever I mention that I am writing for Swingin’ A’s, one of the first things that comes up is the infamous trade of Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester (and Jonny Gomes). I imagine Billy Beane still takes all kinds of heat for that trade. Today, I rise to defend that trade.

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In addition to baseball, I also follow politics pretty closely. One quote I often see is one from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In 2012, the A’s surprised the baseball world and made it into the playoffs with very good, but not great pitching. They lost in the first round. In 2013, the A’s repeated as division champions with very good, but not great pitching.  They again lost in the first round. In 2014, it seemed that the A’s were going to cruise to another division championship with very good, but not great pitching. Beane was not content to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. He traded top prospect Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija. Then he traded Cespedes for Lester. Even though they struggled pretty badly down the stretch, the A’s went into the playoffs with great pitching.

Once again, however, the team lost in the first round. It was a galling loss. People do not write books about risking everything only to lose. Well, maybe Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural.” They sure don’t make Hollywood movies about losing. (Read the book. The screenwriters destroyed the meaning of the book to create a happy ending.) The A’s had gone “all in”, only to lose in extra innings in a wild card game.

Trying something different did not work out in 2014. It could have worked. One play that seems to get overlooked happened in the bottom of the first. Billy Butler had singled in a run. Eric Hosmer was on third. Butler got picked off at first and was in a run down. Hosmer tried to score from third and was easily thrown out at the plate. The A’s catcher, Geovany Soto damaged his left thumb on the play. Derek Norris came in, but he was dealing with shoulder issues of his own.

The Royal ran with abandon on Norris. So, with one freak play, the Royals took out the A’s best defensive catcher and the A’s fell in 12 innings. Beane had another first round loss on his hands. I, however, applaud Beane for trying to do something different in hopes of a different result. It’s time for all of us to get over it by at least acknowledging what Beane was trying to do.

Next: Tyler Ladendorf is Most Likely Backup Third Base Option

Don’t worry.  Even I can not defend the Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie deal…though I am jazzed about Kendall Graveman.

That’s what I think.  What do you think?