“We are card-counters at the blackjack table. And we’re gonna turn the odds on the casino”
– Brad Pitt, portraying Billy Beane in “Moneyball”
Not today. Today, the just named MLB Executive of the Year by Baseball America, Beane, and the A’s were testing their luck on the poker table and they pushed all their chips to the middle of the table and didn’t bat an eye.
While the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels were out making big splashes with trades to bolster their offense last week (and I was typing about Beane basically sipping on Tequila in Cancun without a care in the world), Beane and the A’s were patiently waiting, plotting, and frantically making phone calls, it seems.
The A’s, who prior to Dec. 2, had only made one acquisition that garnered even miniscule attention, the signing of Nick Punto, decided they wanted to take a swim. But they didn’t just stick a toe in the water – no – what came next was a full-fledged cannon ball. In less than 24 hours the Oakland A’s shipped out a couple of previous “untouchables” in the likes of Jemile Weeks and Michael Choice, as well as the hero of Game 4 of the 2012 ALDS, Seth Smith.
Although it may be tough to see players like Weeks and Choice, who have so much possible unseen talent, being sent on their way, it also has to bring a level of optimism to fans.
The additions have been perceived by many A’s fans to be an “all-in” strategy. By shipping out the likes of a couple players who hadn’t had much experience in the bigs, while bringing in a veteran outfielder in Craig Gentry, as well as relievers; two-time AL saves leader Jim Johnson as well as Luke Gregerson, to combat with the division rivals’ offensive moves, Beane is clearly implanting the basis that he wants to win now.
If that wasn’t obvious enough, how about a two-year, $22 million dollar Scott Kazmir free agent signing?
Yes, as I stated earlier, this all happened in 24 hours. In the words of the great Ron Burgandy: That escalated quickly.
But this may not be the end of moves for the team this winter – or this week (or day for that matter). There’s plenty of buzz surrounding the oft-injured Brett Anderson and according to rumors the A’s have been in contact with multiple teams. A big bat is also a necessity for the A’s this offseason and you can almost be certain that phones are still ringing and Beane is throwing handfuls of popcorn into his mouth while on hold.