The Oakland Athletics got what they wanted in acquiring ace pitcher Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox right before the July 31st trade deadline. The deal was a perfect example of the rich getting richer.
They already had good pitching with the arms of Sonny Gray, Tommy Milone, Scott Kazmir, and also newly acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel — whom they acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 5th.
What they lost was something that in hindsight could not be determined by stats. Although Yoenis Cespedes — traded to the Red Sox on the 31st, hit at least 20 home runs and drove in at least 80 RBI’s during his first two seasons with the Athletics, it was one stat that mattered most to the team. Wins.
The A’s were 63-35 — good for a .642 winning percentage this season with Cespedes in the lineup and although the Los Angeles Angels were catching up to them in the American League West, the A’s still held a two and a half game lead over the Angels after a 8-1 loss to the Houston Astros — which was Cespedes’ final game as an Athletic.
It’s no coincidence that the A’s went from being a 74-win team in 2011 to a 94-win team in 12′, which was Cespedes’ first year in the Bay area after coming over from Cuba.
Their record with “Cespy” in the lineup since he joined the team? 228-131.
A .635 winning percentage shows you that he has “it”. I don’t know what “it” is but those intangibles are definitely there.
The A’s have been a less than stellar team since the trade, going only 13-19 and falling all the way to five games behind the Halos in the West.
5 of those 19 losses have come at the hands of the Angels, including a four-game sweep last weekend. The division that was once the A’s to lose is slipping away to an Angels team that has won 65% (53-28 record) of their games since Josh Hamilton‘s return on June 3rd.
The Angels got their outfielder back and haven’t looked back — the Athletics traded away their outfielder and cannot seem to get back on track.
They also received former Athletic Jonny Gomes in the deal — and he has underwhelmed, to say the least. He’s only started in 10 games (appeared in 18), batting .257 and doesn’t even have an extra base hit yet in his second stint with the A’s.
Jon Lester has been great meanwhile, so it’s pretty hard to regret a deal that gives you better pitching.
Although, on second though, Lester can only win you a game a week, while Cespedes being in the lineup was giving you 4-5 wins a week. It’s just simple math.
The team has added Adam Dunn to supply some of that much needed power to fill the void, and he does have two homers in just three games so far with the A’s so it’s looking good so far.
Brandon Moss has struggled big time since the trade, batting only .160 with only 5 RBI’s since August 1st and Josh Donaldson has cooled off in September after a hot August in which he had a .427 on base percentage.
They also expected outfielder Josh Reddick to fill the void left by Cespedes, and while he hasn’t set the world on fire, his 12 RBI’s since the trade is pretty respectable.
The good news is that they still hold a playoff spot, as the first wild card. The bad news is that the Angels are running away with what was supposed to be theirs.
You can only wonder if anything would have change had General manager Billy Beane not tampered with the team and kept Cespedes.
– Khristian Peel