Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin (left) and Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker (right) meet with the umpires at home plate prior to game 1 of the ALDS Mon Oct 5, 2020 at Dodger Stadium Los Angeles (AP News photo)
The A’s got to Second Base. What’s next?
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
This is how I rate a Postseason. First base is the Wild Card, Second base is the Division, Third Base is the Championship and Home is the World Series. So, at the end the A’s were stranded at second base as they brought the AL Western Division Title, their first since 2013.
When Tony LaRussa was the manager, he did a brief pre-game segment “El Show de Tony LaRussa” trans: “The Tony LaRussa Show”. Tony will talk about many things, in Spanish (one of the official languages of baseball) but he always said that winning the division was the most important during a season, the caveat was, that he considered winning the Division one stepping stone to the World Series, but not getting far after that was more like a mission failure.
1990 was the last time the Oakland Athletics played in a World Series. As a matter of common knowledge, we know that a generation averages about 25 years—from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child— It has been 31 years since the last time the A’s played in late October.
A lot of questions for the A’s this winter. Will they keep their lead off-hitter and shortstop Marcus Semien, who is now a free agent as well as closer Liam Hendricks, who finished second in the league in games saves with 14 and a 1.78 earned run average? Other free agents, in addition to Semien, and Hendricks, are Joakim Soria, Mike Fiers, Yusmeiro Petit, Robbie Grossman and T.J. McFarland.
That is half of the bullpen there. We do not know how many will be staying, after all it is a business and their agents have to negotiate deals with the Athletics ownership regarding these players, who by the way were all very important in the team success this season.
The A’s usually do not sign players to long deals. Khris Davis deal extension on April 2019 called for a two-year (2020-2021) for $33.5 million. During this 2020 season (granted it was 60 games) he hit two home runs and drove in ten runs during the regular season, a disappointment for what is expected of him.
During the recent Playoff he hit three home runs and drove four runs, in seven games. From 2016 to 2018 he hit a total of 156 home runs and drove 408 runs. One of the last four year deals was when the team acquired Cuban outfielder Yoenis Céspedes in 2012 for four years and $36 million, a bargain for a man of his talent.
Since then Céspedes has played with the Red Sox, the Tigers and Mets. The A’s should have kept Céspedes; he was one of the most popular players in Oakland in recent history. Also a case could be made that they should have kept Josh Donaldson. Donaldson was an excellent player while with the A’s from 2010-2014. When they did not keep him here, he left for Toronto and the next season (2015) he was the American League MVP with a .297 average 42 home runs and 123 RBI.
Nobody knows that keeping players of such caliber could have helped the A’s to their fifth World Series title, we will never know, but keeping your stars is always good for the morale of the team, the attendance and the overall value of the team.
It also doesn’t mean that the teams with the biggest payrolls are guaranteed success. The NY Yankees with one of the top payrolls in baseball was just eliminated by the Tampa Bay Rays, who every year seems to be in the bottom of the league in total payroll.
Yet, the Rays could be the AL Champions if they can beat the Houston Astros. For teams like the Yankees and the Dodgers, success is not defined by winning a wild-card spot of winning a division; it is the whole enchilada, the World Series.
Simple capitalism, if you invest big money, you expect big dividends. On the other hand, if you make a lot of money with little investment, that is even better. Fans are fans, and they also expect to see good teams, because the pay money to watch their team, so everybody has an interest in winning. Winning, is the American way.
The World Series should always be the goal for every team that is competing in the major leagues, but different teams have different philosophies. During this unusual 2020 season, having 16 teams go into the postseason, was a positive move by MLB and the Players Union. It created something positive during a very tough year.
FOX Network was rooting for a Yankees vs. Dodgers World Series, a coast-to-coast affair, a potential ratings bonanza, two huge media markets, loaded with superstars, a producers dream about two rich glory franchises, the Yanks with 27 Titles and the Dodgers with six.
It would have been a very sexy type of conclusion to this crazy truncated season, but it is not going to happen. It could be the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Atlanta Braves, because such is baseball, still the most unpredictable of all sports. A lot of people in LA want to see the Astros again and that might happen (they have their reasons) although they still have a formidable potent experienced lineup filled with hitting stars, the Rays still have much more pitching and that is always worth the price of gold at this time of the year.
As for the Athletics? Wait for next season.
One more thing: If you need a laugh, because the A’s or your team didn’t make it this far this season? I recommend you watch the movie Major League (1989). The new owner of the Cleveland Indians put together a purposely horrible team so they’ll lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her. She wants to move the team to Miami for a warmer climate and a new stadium. Mind you, when that movie was made, there was not a Major League team in Miami, since then the Marlins were born in 1993.
Stay well and stay tuned.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com