Yesterday began with the AJC’s Dave O’Brien speculating that the Braves could maybe sign Johnny Damon. Today dawns with a move that is somewhat less inspiring:
Just a few hours after signing Troy Glaus, the Braves added his backup when
they agreed to terms with Eric Hinske on a one-year contract to serve as a
pinch-hitter and versatile bench player.
No financial terms were available this morning, but I presume he’ll be making roughly the same salary as your neighborhood barista.
Just before the Hinske signing, O’Brien related word from the Braves themselves that they will not be making any other major moves beyond adding an corner/pinch hitter type of guy. This is that move, it seems, and with that the Braves’ offseason is likely over for all intents and purposes. That means that they are content to go with an outfield of Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz to start the season. Unless, that is, they decide to say screw the super two status and break camp with Jason Heyward as their everyday right fielder and platoon Melky and Diaz in left.
I hope they choose the latter. I fear, however, that they will choose the former and once again lose the division race before it even gets going due the lack of a full complement of major league caliber outfielders.
But let’s think more positively. Hinske finished the 2007 season in the World Series with the Red Sox, the 2008 season in the World Series with the Rays and the 2009 season in the World Series with the Yankess. It is therefore proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and with geometric logic that the Braves will win the 2010 pennant.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?