Oakland GM Billy Beane has a plan

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Around this time of year, MLB.com asks its beat writers to put together a year-in-review for each of the league’s 30 teams.  Tom Singer took care of the task for the Oakland A’s, who struggled to a 75-87 record this past season and a last place finish in the American League West division.

Some lowlights of the A’s 2009 season, courtesy of Singer:

  • Oakland finished in the
    AL West cellar for the first time since 1998, and lingered there for 106 total days.
  • The A’s have been around for 109 years and have never had such a long stretch at the bottom of the standings.
  • The offense reached fewer total bases than any other team in the American League.
  • The team’s combined .328 on-base percentage ranked 21st in all of baseball and their .397 slugging percentage ranked 25th.
  • The 2009 A’s finished last in the American League in home runs.  That hadn’t happened since the organization was in Kansas City.

But fear not, A’s fans, GM Billy Beane has a plan:

Our organization has two waves of players,” Beane said this week. “We have a
strong group of young pitchers up in the Majors, and we have a group of
young hitters coming up behind them who will be ready soon. It’s a
process we went through in the 1990s, so we know how it works
.”

It’s hard to doubt the guy.  The last time the A’s rattled off three straight losing seasons (1996-1998) the next eight years brought four division championships and four second-place finishes.  And he’s right about the young pitching staff, a group that compiled the AL’s third-lowest ERA and set a franchise record for
strikeouts.  There is some hope for Oakland.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.