We’ve all heard about the Athletics’ trades. They’re kind of a big deal. Everyone has flocked to social media to voice their happiness or displeasure regarding these moves. What hasn’t been discussed is the new feel this team has.
Over the course of recent memory, the A’s have been a team that you get to know over the course of the season. You read about the new players during Spring Training, and pick your favorites. This year started off like any other year. Billy Beane made a slew of moves this past offseason to improve the club. Billy Burns showed us all he was fast, and stole many hearts.
Up until the trades for Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester, the A’s had not been a team involved in making big, splashy deadline deals. Kevin Appier in 1999, Jose Guillen in 2003 and Jason Isringhausen and in 1999 were the big acquisitions on Billy Beane’s deadline resume.
With the addition of Samardzija, the A’s added a player whose name had been floated in trade rumors for over a year, and who’s hungry to win. This his first real opportunity to shine in the postseason since pitching one October inning in his rookie season.
With Hammel, the A’s got someone who was having a great year with the Cubs, and who also has some postseason experience. In 2009 as a member of the Rockies, Hammel was knocked around in his NLDS start against Philadelphia, pitching just 3-2/3 innings, and allowing 4 earned. Hammel’s second time around in 2012 with the Orioles, Hammel accumulated 11-1/3 innings and allowed just 4 runs total.
Then of course there is the addition of Jon Lester. This guy needs no introduction. His career World Series ERA of 0.47 is the beginning and end of any argument.
With all of these additions to the roster mid-season, there is a feeling that these aren’t “our guys”. Lester is a mercenary. Samardzija was coveted by many teams, and he wound up in Oakland. Jason Hammel could be crucial down the stretch. These are all great pieces to have, but we haven’t seen them grow up before our eyes. Lester, like Frank Thomas, we have admired from afar. Now that he is donning the white cleats, it looks funny, but boy are we glad he’s on our side.
While the feeling surrounding this team may be a different one than we are used to, the feeling come October could also be one that A’s fans haven’t experienced in 29 years.