The next leg of the west coast road trip: Oakland, CA. Home of Moneyball, MC Hammer, and La Potencia, Yoenis Cespedes. In anticipation I’ve posed a few questions to Joseph Lopez of Swingin’ A’s about the state of the team.
MA: In a division with a pair of teams in the Rangers and the Angels that spent the winter dominating headlines, how nice was it to have won the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes? Is he aas exciting an everyday player as he seems via highlights for the rest of us?
JL: The A’s did not have an exciting offseason this past winter, but they did shock all of us, I think, when they won the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. The A’s spent most of their time this past offseason trading away some of their most recognizable names in Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, so getting Cespedes was definitely a nice surprise. In a division that includes two powerhouses in the Rangers and Angels, the A’s are most likely going to fade from contention at some point this season. Cespedes, though, will help ease the pain likely to be felt in Oakland as a result of the club’s mediocrity.
Cespedes will likely experience some growing pains this year, but he’s also going to have some level of success this year in Oakland. He currently leads the team with four home runs and 15 RBIs. The power that Oakland has been craving for is definitely there with Cespedes. The only concern right now is his strikeouts. He’s been punched out 20 times in his first 16 games so far. Still, for a club like Oakland, Cespedes is an All-Star. He is as exciting as he seems to be on highlights.
MA: Billy Beane has the reputation of a “seller.” When his offseason signings occur folks tend to mutter about how the player will be wearing another uniform by the end of July. As an A’s fan do you have a hard time getting attached to players, halfway thinking they might be gone fairly soon?
JL: It’s tough being an A’s fan. Billy Beane definitely has his hands full in Oakland and is usually handcuffed by a limiting payroll. He has to get creative from time to time and that means players will often come and go. Rent-a-players like Matt Holliday are perfect examples as to why it is so hard for A’s fans to get attached to their players. We know that players who actually have talent won’t be in town for very long simply because as they start nearing their peak/potential, Beane has other GMs on speed-dial inquiring about potential trades. One player who will likely see the door at some point before the deadline this year is Bartolo Colon. Colon is off to a fast start and has been extremely manageable, from a financial standpoint, and could get some attention from other ball clubs looking to add a veteran pitcher to their rotation. So the answer to your question is yes. I have an extremely hard time getting attached to players. They would have be locked up for four years in order for me to even think about buying a jersey. Then again, the A’s gave Nick Swisher a five-year extension before trading him the very same year to the White Sox in ’07.
MA: We saw a rather down and out Manny Ramirez on the White Sox to close out 2010. Not a ton was expected but we all hoped to see some Manny magic or at the very least be entertained with some Manny being Manny. Are you looking forward to Manny’s return from suspension and how well do you expect him to perform?
JL: I wasn’t excited when the A’s signed Manny, but after watching him in the spring a few times, I grew interested in finding out what he could do for the green-and-gold. A player like Manny needs no introduction and A’s players (namely, Yoenis Cespedes) would benefit greatly from his veteran experience. He seems to have changed his self-centered ways and seems genuinely interested and grateful, for that matter, to be playing baseball again. Once his suspension is over, I would expect him to be penciled in as Oakland’s full-time DH. Having a guy like Manny in the lineup makes the team instantly better. Having the power-hitting Cespedes right next to Manny in the lineup makes Oakland an even better offensive unit.
His best days are definitely behind him, but Manny could potentially provide some kind of spark for the Athletics this year. I’m not talking about 30 HR and 100+RBIs, but rather 10 HR and 50 RBIs or so. That, in my mind, would be enough.