Via BTF, Lance Berkman spoke at a church event with Andy Pettitte and other former ballplayers on Tuesday night. Here’s what he had to say about what it was like to be traded to the Yankees during the 2010 season:
“The hardest time in my professional life was when I was traded to New York. I had been in Houston a long time. I was very comfortable, played at Rice, a native Texan, so it was like a dream come true. For the first two weeks (following the trade) I literally wanted to cry. I felt so bad. I was having a bad season, and was in a completely new and alien environment. I just felt overwhelmed. Fortunately, I did have one friend in New York, and that was the main reason I waived my no-trade clause and went up there because Andy (Pettitte) was there.”
I suppose some of you will mock the big strong athlete admitting to wanting to cry, but my takeaway from this is just how much we underestimate how trades and moving and change affect ballplayers.
Sure, they know the deal. Moving teams is inevitable. But some people don’t deal with change as well as others. And no matter how much they anticipate it and no matter how handsomely they are compensated to accept it, it doesn’t always make it easier.
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?