Oakland is Fine Without Cespedes

I’ll try to avoid covering too much of the same ground covered right here on Wednesday, but talk about why the Yoenis Cespedes trade will still probably help Oakland this season.  The A’s are generally considered a pretty smart front office, and I think they saw a problem that needed fixing.  I also think that their offense is worse without Cespedes, so we will have to get to that too.

The main source of confusion in this trade stemmed from the fact that the pitching staff seemed to be a strength.  So why would a team trade away one of their middle of the order bats to bolster an already solid part of their team?  The answer is that the team wants to win in the playoffs, and the horses of the rotation for the first half were not going to continue their success.

Jesse Chavez had posted a 3.14 ERA prior to the All-Star break, and since then it has been 4.37 with most of that has been from the bullpen.  Cracks in his performance were showing in June and he was failing to get deep into games, so there was no way they were going to count on him as an option in the postseason.

Drew Pomeranz was showing some signs of being an option before he got hurt, but the injury cut short his opportunity and made him too big of a question mark to count on.

The most important guy in the equation was Sonny Gray.  He has been very good so far this year, but he is heading into uncharted territory fast and it is starting to show.  Last year Gray threw 182.3 innings between triple-A and the majors.  He is now at 162.7 with more than a month before the playoffs even start.  He was still going strong in July, but his velocity had peaked in late May and early June and has slowly been coming down ever since.  They were right not to trust him if August is any indication.  Since the trade Gray has posted a 4.94 ERA, his K-rate is down, and players are hitting him harder.

That all leaves Scott Kazmir and two players that had already been acquired in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.  Hammel has been bad since the trade with only one start where he made it 6 innings.  Honestly Samardzija’s been pretty bad as well, but prior to the Cespedes trade he had put together a couple good and a couple mediocre starts.  If your only two guys you trust going into October are Samardzija and Kazmir, things are probably not feeling very good.

All of this lead to Jon Lester who so far has been everything they want him to be except that the team has struggled during the time since his arrival.  The hitting collapsed with Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, and Derek Norris being especially bad.  Steven Vogt also came back to Earth a bit, and the Jonny Gomes/Sam Fuld replacement for Cespedes has under-performed so far.

The solid 3-4-5 of Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, and Brandon Moss lost a piece, and they don’t really have a great option to plug into the 5 hole consistently.  Josh Reddick has come on recently to help in a somewhat depleted offense, but they are keeping him at the bottom of the order since he has been anything but trustworthy over the past couple seasons.

This has hurt the offense for sure and simple confidence intervals of before and after the trade show a significant drop in output.  At the same time I assume they saw this coming to some extent.  Guys like Norris and Vogt were playing way over their heads and were likely to regress some.  Only the weird collapse of half the offense at one time has made it look as bad as it is.  It is unlikely that this rough stretch will be sustained.  It also didn’t help that the Royals, Rays, Braves, and Mets were all on the schedule and are above-average run-prevention teams.

If I were the A’s I would still be happy about this trade.  Lester, Samardzija, and Kazmir is a much better way to head into the post season.  Catching the Angels just became more likely due to the unfortunate loss of Garrett Richards too.  Billy Beane has been to the playoffs, and almost certainly will be again this season.  He wants to win in the playoffs, and this pitching staff gives him a good opportunity to do so.

We hoped you liked reading Oakland is Fine Without Cespedes by Brian Henry!

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DerekDM
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DerekDM

This….wow. This is a terrible piece of writing.

robert
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robert

I think billy beane lost his mind with this trade, why trade a guy that helps u out everyday for a guy that helps out every five days. The trade may have cost us the year. Stupid trade

israel
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israel

This trade has disrupted the team chemistry. Cespedes was the quiet offensive leader of the team. This is not based on his stats but the teams numbers when he is in the lineup.

Kenny
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Kenny

Look, here’s the deal. According to Baseball Prospectus (who I cite here because they did a handy article on the topic, not because they are better or worse than Fangraphs), on July 31 the A’s were 14.1% likely to win the World Series and on August 1 they were 15.2% likely to win the World Series. I like Sabremetrics. I read Fangraphs and BP. What I want to know is: what does it take to believe so little in the real psychology of human beings that you believe that increasing your odds by 1 in 100 is worth the risk… Read more »

Kenny
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Kenny

Chances/aren’t: number inconsistency. Should have been “chance of a real letdown isn’t greater than 1 in 100.” Sorry

Agadir
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Agadir

I agree. They were the best team in the league, much of the lead due to their chemistry and the fiery passion of Cespedes. I’m thinking this is going to be seen as a colossal fail.

johnny rams
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I think cespedes was the master link to the chain without him the team s offense

Pafowler
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Pafowler

Clearly the A’s miss Cespedes, but Lester seems to the only pitcher who knows how to win lately. It’s a tough call. But now, sending Otero down and leaving Hammel in the rotation is mind boggling.

Charles
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Charles

I agree with Israel & Kenny. Chemistry is important. Look at the Giants’ 2010 team. On paper, they don’t make it to the World Series, let alone win it. They had great team chemistry that season. Add a (lucky, let’s be honest) trade for a still anonymous left fielder who made the difference between advancing in the playoffs and going home, and you have an overachieving team that won the WS. That’s where the A’s were until August 1st. I’m sure that psychology has played a part in the offensive meltdown, but that’s somewhat related to chemistry. Without Cespedes, we… Read more »

Charles
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Charles

Anyone come up with the name of the Giant’s anonymous left fielder? Cody Ross.

Tony
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Tony

Billy Beane has overlooked the most important and rare stat of all…the cohesion factor that is hard to quantify but paramount to success. Cespedes ignited the lineup even in defeat, the body language since his departure has been anything but ironclad or resilient. It’s not the addition of Lester that caused the offensive woes, but the subtraction of your “franchise” player that made people stop and notice Oakland baseball. The team looks as aimless and defunct as the teams that couldn’t solve the first-round riddle in the playoffs. Billy Beane did plenty in the trade with the Cubs to at… Read more »

Kenny
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Kenny

Otero will be back next week. The A’s are running with one fewer pitcher because of the two days off this week and they wanted to activate Gentry without deactivating Freiman. (I assume it’ll be Freiman, with Moss returning to first base more often, but it could also be Fuld or Vogt.) Most likely they sent Otero down rather than Hammel because of seniority – Otero probably has options, while Hammel doesn’t. The question of who should be the fifth start is still a problem, and the fact that I think the Lester trade broke the “if it ain’t broke… Read more »

ohno.co
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ohno.co

First-half, Best A’s team in 25 yrs, with 6 – SIX! – All-Stars (not counting Sarz but incl. Sonny Gray who shoulda been there)… Big fan of Billy Beane, but afraid he’s already blown it. Couldn’t leave well enuf alone, showed he didn’t trust his players (or maybe himself?), didn’t think the team he helped put together was good enough to go all the way… And no surprise, when you think that & show that, the people below (whether a baseball team or a bunch of employees) take it to heart & lower themselves to the boss’s opinion of them…… Read more »

josh
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josh

This trade is another example of Beane micro managing. It seems every time we get to the top, albiet xue to Beanes genius, he overthinks and micromanages. Ie. Colon not starting game 5. Furthermore , im not saying he racist but he clearly puts more faith in white stat type players. Ie. Chavez over tejada

Milios
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Milios

The A’s have been on cloud nine for the first three months straight. Yes, their record is worse since the trade, but it’s not because Cespedes isn’t in the lineup. In Boston, he’s batting .225, and the A’s run production was struggling before the trade. Every team is going to go through slumps, ours just happens to coincide with a major trade, so it’s easy to point fingers. It’s not the cause. When the bats come alive again everyone is going to say “They can hit and have a rotation that is not giving up runs – what a recipe… Read more »

Bryan
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Bryan

Fact of the matte here

Bryan
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Bryan

The fact of the matter here and the true point is that we could have had Lester without trading Cespedes!! If try didn’t trade for the Shark an Hammel(because the rotation was fine at that point), then they could have used Addison for Lester. They could have bundled McKinnley along with a Straily and some other piece to get a Price, Kluber, Ross, or another Shark level pitcher…then you keep Milone as your fifth starter. BTW…you coulda kept Sam Fuld instead of Barton all along…DUH!!! Beane was simply over managing and jumped the gun. I truly feel we needed Cespy… Read more »

Fairway135
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Fairway135

I agree with most of the commenters. I feel that trading Cepedes, where the A’s were near the top of their game and the team to beat, will come back to haunt the A’s. Also, I thought that trading Milone, Russell and McKinney didn’t feel right either. All I have read from some folks is that Milone and Chavez would run out of gas before the end of the season — I guess we will never know if what they felt would have really happened or if it is just some more of their fearful opinions. I’ve been an A’s… Read more »

Hitler But Sadder
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Hitler But Sadder

These comments are what happens when Bleacher Report links to an article. Go BACK TO YOUR SLIDE SHOWS!!!!!!!

sherlock
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sherlock

The team has been a winner ever since Cespedes joined the team. The moment they traded Cespedes, the team fell apart.
The A’s needed hitting, not more pitching. What a terrible trade. Lester is a great pitcher, but he only
Pitches once every 5 games. Also, he will sign with another team for next tear.