A’s DH Billy Butler appeared at whatever Caravan/FanFest/Magical Mystery Tour the A’s, like every other team, have in January. There were a number of issues on the table, but the two that stuck out were his conditioning and the A’s team chemistry, as reported by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
On the conditioning, Butler was pretty frank and honest about life, the universe and his physique. Rather than peddle Best Shape of His Life stuff like a lot of bigger guys coming off of a bad season might, he notes that (a) he is who he is and he’s never exactly been mistaken with the Bryce Harpers and Andrew McCutchens of the world; and (b) when you’re a big dude, no one ever asks you about your conditioning when you’re coming off of a big season. Both of those things are true.
More interesting are his comments about the Athletics’ chemistry:
Beyond all the losing, the A’s had a clubhouse-chemistry problem, and Butler acknowledged it Sunday, saying, “To say we had a bad clubhouse was accurate.
“You see there’s definitely people who are not here anymore that were part of the issue.”
For the record, the Athletics traded away Jesse Chavez, Brett Lawrie, Drew Pomeranz and Arnold Leon this offseason. Ike Davis is a free agent they’re likely not bringing back. Given that relief pitchers and swingmen/fifth starters tend not to rate very high on the clubhouse totem pole, my guess would be that Butler is talking about Lawrie here, who was criticized by some folks in Toronto. It’s worth noting, however, that Butler immediately went on to say that chemistry is always going to suffer when you’re losing 94 games because losing makes guys unhappy.
Which makes me think that even if Lawrie is a less-than-fabulous clubhouse guy, if the A’s lose 94 games again, there will be someone else who is none too happy in that clubhouse come September.