If you are going to update the story of the Oakland A's and how their general manager built a winning ball club, you might need some ugly guy to play Billy Beane this time instead of Brad Pitt. The GM that is known for trading away players once their salary becomes too much, has pulled a 180, and has acquired some salary in hopes of winning a World Series.
On Saturday, the A's acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for their first round draft picks in 2012 and 2013 (Addison Russell and Billy McKinney), pitcher Dan Straily, and the omni-present player to be named later. Now this is a deal that A's fans would have expected to have seen their club do in reverse.
Samardzija reportedly is making over 5.3 million dollars this year, and the Chicago Cubs were going nowhere. You know they cringed every time they had to sign one of those paychecks, but the A's have not exactly been letting it rain with cash either. Samardzija, who was also a wide receiver at Notre Dame but took big money to play baseball on the north side, also has a 2-7 record. The ERA is 2.83, though, and he was not getting any run support with the lovable losers. He is a power pitcher with a power arm, and now joins the team with the best record in baseball. In his A's debut yesterday, he got the win, he allowed only 1 run, and his offense scored 5 for him. If he gave up a run with the Cubs, chances are he would lose.
Hammel will make his A's debut Wednesday. He was a good pitcher with Baltimore, and was 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA in Wrigleyville, which should earn him Cy Young Award consideration. Those two join phenom Sonny Gray, and two pitchers in Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez that have been healthy, and pitching out of their minds.
The best just got better in Oakland, and maybe this time, in the A's front office, winning it all, even by spending a few bucks, is what it's all about. But before you recast the entire movie for the Moneyball sequel, maybe guys like Jonah Hill and the guy that played Art Howe should stick around. Hammel will be a free agent after this year. Samardzija is under contract through next year. That means at the trading deadline one year from now, don't be too surprised to see Brad Pitt back again, and Samardzija traded somewhere else.
Footnote: A's fans should remember the names Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, and keep an eye on them. In 2008, the A's acquired outfielder Matt Holliday from Colorado for a bunch of minor leaguers. Holliday would be traded to St. Louis the following summer, and one of those minor leaguers they gave away was Carlos Gonzalez. Just sayin'.
Time flies: Ten years ago today, the team known then as the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox, was down in Salinas for an afternoon game against the Salinas Valley Packers. The Sox won 2-0 and pitcher Nick Waechter threw a no-hitter. He walked 2 and struck out 7, and even though it was only summer collegiate ball, it was the first no-hitter I had ever called, and the first one I had ever seen in person. Still a vivid memory a decade later.