The Yankees feature a three-game weekend set against the (once again) surprising Oakland A’s at the Stadium. But are they so surprising after all…
The Yankees, fresh off their humiliating three-game sweep by the Oakland A’s to open the team’s recent West Coast swing, host the team for a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. The A’s currently hold the second Wild Card position in the standings, and they have a one-game advantage over the suddenly suspect Tampa Bay Rays.
The outcome this weekend at the Stadium may or may not be different, but one thing is for sure. This Oakland team will open the eyes of the Yankees if they haven’t already.
This is a team headed by Billy Beane, who hung ’em up after an illustrious career of batting .246 with three home runs and 29 RBI and four different teams.
As most know, however, Beane found his niche in life as the General Manager of the Oakland A’s. A team mired in the depths of the league’s revenue scale and attendance – playing in an old worn down stadium that once featured the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in the venue’s heyday.
How is that the mighty Yankees have something to fear now and in the postseason if they happen to meet?
Most of the story has been told in the feature-movie Moneyball, which raised Billy Beane to a level unheard of for a team in baseball. Here’s the trailer for the movie with Beane so eloquently played by Brad Pitt:
The film is a startling piece of baseball journalism, featuring Beane as a master magician is uncovering players from the depths of ubiquity. Eventually, the combination of players assembled by Beane goes on a tear and well, watch the movie if you haven’t seen it.
It’s not that the Yankees and Brian Cashman have anything to learn from Billy Beane. It’s quite the opposite. Cashman has proven to be a magician too, uncovering the likes of Gio Urshela and Luke Voit, both integral components in the Yankees success this season.
And it’s not that the Oakland A’s feature a lineup comparable to the Yankees. They do not. Marcus Semien, Matt Olson, and Matt Chapman are bonafide major-league players, any one of who the Yankees would welcome to the table.
It’s in the area of pitching where Beane outweighs Cashman though. Take Mike Fiers, for instance. Fiers was on the open market when Beane signed him in December 2018. Cashman, as far as we know, was not in play. Fiers now sports a record of 13-3 with a 3.40 ERA this year.
Take Brett Anderson who has been on the merry-go-round of teams over his eleven seasons in the big leagues, was granted free agency by Beane at the end of the 2018 season. Again, he was out there for the taking. The Yankees didn’t budge. To date, Anderson is 10-9 with a 4.08 ERA, which is nothing to sneer at in the American League.
Wait, there’s one more. Beane also traded for a pitcher who managed to win only one game in 2018 while losing fourteen. His name – Homer Bailey. In seven starts with the A’s, Baily is 5-2 and his overall record this year is 12-8.
While the Oakland A’s are no immediate threat to the Yankees this weekend, the facts emerge that Billy Beane has beaten Brian Cashman to the punch when it comes to “sleeper” starting pitchers.
No one needs reminding of the Yankees need in this department.
The other side of the argument, of course, is that Cashman has elected to pursue power-hitting position players to catapult his team. He wins there.
But the haunting question remains. Do the Yankees have enough starting pitching to take them all the way? My guess is yes. But I still don’t like the odds of facing the resurgent Oakland A’s and Billy Beane in any scenario – including the one at Yankee Stadium this weekend.
It could be only just a way of doing things differently. But the Yankees will do well to take notice of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s.