Oakland Athletics: What happened at the trade deadline yesterday?
By Greg Milner
Oakland Athletics’ fans stayed glued to their cell phones yesterday in anticipation of the 4 pm ET trade deadline only to be left wondering… “What happened?”
Look. I get it. Yesterday was supposed to be Christmas in July for the Oakland Athletics fan base. It was supposed to be this crescendo type buildup over a several hour period culminating in a frenzied finish.
A finish where after… we could catch our breath, and then fawn over the deadline deals Billy Beane had flawlessly executed.
Only, it didn’t go as planned. Or did it? I’ll be honest, yesterday afternoon was one of the more conflicting days I’ve experienced as a fan of the Oakland Athletics. I sat in my office, baffled, after the deadline expired and the Oakland A’s number hadn’t been called.
I’d been on countdown for this moment for weeks. What kind of tomfoolery was afoot here anyway? I’d been bamboozled. I fell for the banana in the tailpipe. Pressed up against a deadline in a contending year where we are buyers and we decided to keep our hands in our pockets?
I woke up early (4:30 AM), and I NEVER wake up early. The last time these eyes saw the 4 AM hour was four years ago when my wife’s water broke… and that’s a decision I’m still rethinking. It would be the birth of our second child.
Disclaimer. I love my wife dearly. She truly has a heart of gold, but on this day, my Mary was a soldier. A soldier who was on a mission. I’d assess my level of functioning at 4 AM as limited to non-existent. It’s fair to say I was caught in her sights and took on some heavy artillery fire.
Now, I joke up about it, but truthfully, the birth of our second son was one of those life altering moments that you grasp tightly to, and never let go. It was a day full of love and happiness. We screamed. We laughed. We cried.
Not too dissimilar from the range of emotions I experienced yesterday.
I flat out couldn’t sleep. I sat up in bed and it was straight to Twitter on my phone. The Athletics’ front office may be unaware but I’m an honorary (not so silent) general manager.
I had scouting to complete before I put my call into Beane to let him know which direction we were taking the ball club today.
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You see, baseball fans live for the MLB trade deadline when our teams are legitimately in the race. It’s a day that offers a chance at the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. A marquee player we wouldn’t have otherwise had that can erase the deficiencies that plague our team.
What’s more is that as a fan, we are so heavily invested that we believe we know what path the team should take. Even when we aren’t privy to all the behind closed doors information.
Noon arrived. The Oakland Athletics hadn’t been linked to any of the trade rumors circulating on Twitter. Some speculation here or there that we may seek a pitcher, but nothing concrete.
Then trading started to pick up. With each successive trade made by other teams, I began screaming at my laptop. No news from Susan Slusser yet. The Athletics were going to take this down to the wire.
It was no secret that I was caught up in the hype of adding a starting pitcher. Our starting rotation has been patchwork at times and I felt the team would be best served by adding a solid innings eater.
Nothing too crazy, just a hope that the A’s would shore up our rotation with a depth starter. Someone along the lines of Matt Harvey, Dan Straily, or Mike Fiers. Rental arms that could possibly be had at a modest price.
Then it happened. A mid-afternoon ray of hope from Anthony Fenech, a Free Press Sports Writer who covers the Detroit Tigers.
YES! Maniacal laughter erupted from me. I was ecstatic. My Oakland A’s were buyers at the deadline this year. It was time to take our shot. Billy Beane must have received my message.
I had assessed a team need, narrowed the mass of possible names down to a few pitchers who would suffice, and Beane pulled one right off my list. I would have my own parking space at the Coliseum soon.
The hourglass was making quick work of these last sixty minutes before the deadline. Then the rumors began to fly: the Oakland deal was falling apart. Jane Lee, the Oakland A’s beat reporter for MLB.com, tweeted the following.
The next nine minutes passed without a whimper of hope. There was no last second Hail Mary play from Billy Beane. The deadline passed and the Oakland Athletics had left fans empty-handed. One last MLB trade deadline rumor. I may or may not have cried.
Get some perspective
In times like these, sensible A’s fans turn to Susan Slusser, the A’s beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.
She’s absolutely RIGHT. The Athletics did NOT come away empty-handed. In fact, Jeurys Familia may have been the steal of the non-waiver trading season. Billy Beane had already worked his magic as evidenced by Familia’s stretch of 7 scoreless innings thus far in an Athletics uniform.
As a fan, it’s so easy to get tunnel vision and focus on the excitement deadline day brings. Instead, step back, take a look at the bigger picture, and realize there are elements in play that we aren’t privy to as fans.
Did the A’s front office target Mike Fiers with the intention of adding him? Yes. Were most fans disappointed after learning the deal hit a snag? Also, yes.
Immediately after the deadline, A’s fans responded on Twitter in full force. Many upset that a deal hadn’t happened. Allegations of ownership being unwilling to take on salary, this after ownership had taken on $3 million dollars of Familia’s contract just days earlier.
Initially, I was one of those disappointed people. I wanted the big splash. I wanted the A’s to announce their presence with authority at the deadline. To let the other teams know, there was a new sheriff in town.
It’s wasn’t the right approach. I’m not a general manager after all. Best leave those decisions to the people who do this for a living and who can safely navigate our franchise through a deadline without auctioning off the future.
After cooler heads prevailed, I realized that in this case, the best move for the Athletics… was not to make one. Yesterday was about bidding wars. Bidding wars that cause teams to throw around top prospects like confetti.
Look at the Chris Archer trade. Austin Meadows AND Tyler Glasnow? No thank you. Not interested. I’m sure each time Billy picked up the phone yesterday, the team on the other end wanted to kick the tires on Jesus Lazardo. I would have hung up. Every time. Without hesitation.
To those fans who believe at this point that the Fiers trade didn’t happen because of salary issues. Susan Slusser tweeted repeatedly that the hangup was over prospects, not money.
The Tigers wanted too much in return. Beane wasn’t going to overpay with prospects on National Bidding War Day. It’s that simple. Especially for a starter who would be considered a marginal improvement over what we have, at best.
I leave you with this. The trade deadline passed. Jeurys Familia is an imposing man on the mound and I’m happy he’s wearing an A’s uniform. Normally the veteran A’s players pack their suitcases this time of year.
Jed Lowrie. Still here. Khris Davis. Here and still crushing home runs. Blake Treinen. Still wearing the green and gold better than any closer since Eck. Oh, and did you see Matt Chapman’s disgustingly good throw to first last night?
As Oakland fans, there is already plenty to be happy about. We didn’t need an overpriced deadline day acquisition.