By now, all of you have heard that former Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson was named the American League MVP on Wednesday. He became the first Jays player to win the award in nearly 30 years. In his fifth major league season, Donaldson smashed the third most with 41 home runs, 41 doubles, and paced the AL with 123 RBI’s.
He was undeniably the torch of the Jays offense, helping the team return to the postseason for the first time since 1993.
Watching from a distance are fans of the Oakland Athletics. As they send out their congratulatory tweets and celebratory Facebook statuses, they ask themselves, how and why did Billy Beane do this?
I ask myself the same question.
At age 29, Beane traded Donaldson at the peak of his career. Worse? He traded an affordable Donaldson.
Economics have consistently been paramount in Beane’s brand of Moneyball baseball in the Athletics clubhouse. But perhaps, not anymore.
When Beane handed free agent Billy Butler a three-year, $30 million deal, we all should have seen the end coming. And fast.
Butler had just used his efforts to power the Royals to their first World Series appearance in 30 years. At the end of the season, reports showed us that Kansas City hadn’t extended a courtesy call to Butler, or his agent, interested in retaining his services. And it seems now, KC knew what they were talking about.
Butler arrived on the scene with fans anticipated to see “Country Breakfast” and his big bat start knocking the ball around the yard at the Coliseum. Never happened. What did you expect from a player that possesses a one-dimensional skill set? Sure, his hot September numbers helped salvage his season, but with two years remaining on his deal, Butler has already been labeled a bust who brought limited power to a DH position that needed to be reborn.
Today, the Athletics effectively replaced pitcher AJ Griffin. The club announced it had struck a one year deal with pitcher Rich Hill for $6 million. Hill is 35 years old. He began the season with Washington’s Triple-A club in Syracuse before making just four starts for the Boston Red Sox. He posted a record of 2-1, with a 1.55 ERA, 36 strikeouts and five walks through 29 innings. In 11 seasons, Hill has a 26-23 record with a 4.55 ERA.
Butler and the 36-year-old Coco Crisp will be the highest paid players in Beane’s stable. Moneyball?
Beane used to wait for his star players to hit free agency before he traded them for the next package of players — now, he won’t even wait until his All Star and MVP caliber players make it to arbitration. It goes without question that Beane won’t be fired, he has an ownership stake in the team. There was a movie made about him! A man wrote a book about him!
Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that people will be talking about this trade 10, maybe 15 years from now — and how stupid it was. It was the most uneducated Beane has made in his career, by far.