Somehow the Oakland Athletics have managed to confound its already thin fan base yet again. True to form, the A’s surprisingly won a free agent sweepstakes—that nobody knew they were in—after frugally offloading a multitude of their own players earlier this winter.
Trading pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow for scraps? Boo.
Re-signing fan favorite left-handed starter Dallas Braden? Hooray!
Trading All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez for prospects? Boo.
Re-signing free agent center fielder Coco Crisp? Yay!
Trading away closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney for utility players? Boo.
Signing the red-hot free agent Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes? Hooray?
It’s been a volatile teeter-totter ride for the Athletics this offseason. Stuck in a holding pattern while awaiting confirmation of a desired relocation to San Jose, the A’s have made a multitude of transactions over the past two months with two goals in mind: 1) shed payroll while they are stuck in the dilapidated Oakland Coliseum, and 2) stockpile themselves with young talent to prepare to be competitive when they move into their new digs. Needless to say, management is clearly thinking more farsightedly, choosing to emerge relevant in 2014 or whenever construction of a new stadium is approved. Predicting a 2012 season in which they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers, the A’s opted to return their car to the garage instead of lining up at the AL West starting line.
That’s what makes the acquisition of Cespedes a bit of a head-scratcher. He is such an unknown commodity—why spend money now? If the front office is going to intentionally drive their car off the cliff, what’s the point in filling it up with gas?
Amazingly, the A’s do not appear to be done with their awkward shopping spree. Rumors swirl that Oakland is still holding interest in signing the previously retired free agent PED-edstrian Manny Ramirez. Yes, the same Ramirez who would be required to serve out his MLB-imposed 50-game suspension as a result of failing a drug test last season.
If the A’s are truly forecasting an uncompetitive season after watching the Angels land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and the Rangers acquire Yu Darvish, then what good is it to bring in a washed-up, apathetic comic book character in Ramirez? He’d likely become eligible to re-enter the Major Leagues sometime near June 1, at which point the A’s will have folded up shop for the summer and begun to price tag their valuable commodities in time for the trading deadline. Why?
Oakland has confused the masses with their true intentions for the 2012 season, stockpiling a majority of minor leaguers and yet also showing interest in free agents from the talented (potentially Cespedes), to the has-been (Bartolo Colon), to the formerly renowned (Ramirez). It makes absolutely no sense to pursue any of these players in light of the contradicting attitude shown by December’s player giveaway.
Ramirez, in particular, should not be on the A’s radar, unless that radar is tracking baseball-players-turned-coloring-book-lovers. The A’s are not exactly desperate for a designated hitter. After all, they have a plethora of options in Brandon Allen, Chris Carter, Johnny Gomes and Kila Ka’aihue. Bringing on the Sideshow-Bob-like Ramirez would likely mean Allen or Carter would become expendable. Additionally, it would impede the progress of younger talent that the A’s deem so incredibly important. Holding on to a soon-to-be 40-year-old who is more slug than slugger, given his layoff of nearly a year of live baseball, goes against everything Oakland cherishes in its evaluation of talent and its vision in building a roster.
Then again, the A’s stand for A**backwards, and nothing that they do this offseason should be incredibly alarming in the Bizarro World of Oakland. Targeting Ramirez may be incomprehensible to the common folk; but that’s exactly why he’ll likely be signed. Might as well nab Jose Canseco while they’re at it.
On deck: trading Kurt Suzuki?
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