Bewildered Sandy Alderson is bewildered:
So the new GM conceded he is bewildered by the attention fans and the media have heaped on the second base and lefty specialist competitions – and the two least popular entrants.
“It’s a little odd,” Alderson said. “I think it does distract one from taking a look at the team as a whole and having a more balanced view of the team as a whole. It’s easy to focus in on a couple of negatives and kind of ride that into the ground.”
In his defense, Alderson used to be the GM for a team that didn’t exactly set the world afire in terms of rabid fan interest and, even in the rare years it did have big payrolls, it didn’t have any giant bust contracts to speak of. The rest of us, however, are pretty well acquainted with just how frustrating it is when big free agent signings crater, and how it’s even worse when the team isn’t playing well overall. We tend to talk about that stuff.
And really, Sandy, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If it wasn’t for the Perez and Castillo contracts, there’s a decent chance you’re still working for Bud Selig in the Commissioner’s Office.
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?