Here is my Sunday column on the A’s.
In the best interest of the Oakland Athletics, the team he partly owns, Billy Beane should fire himself.
He should call himself into his office, place a mirror on his desk and let himself down easy.
“Billy, thanks for coming in today.”
“My pleasure. What’s up?”
“Billy, we need to talk. No one respects your work as a general manager more than I do.”
“Thanks, Billy. I appreciate it.”
“But we need to discuss your recent performance.”
Another long pause.
“The A’s are the worst team in the Major Leagues.”
“Yeah, but it’s still early — we’re only a quarter of the way through the season. You can’t judge a team after 44 games, the sample size is too small. Our offense ranks 12th in OPS. That’s pretty good. We just aren’t getting the breaks…”
“Billy, stop talking.”
“I want you to listen. It’s over. You’re finished.”
Billy grabs the mirror, brings it close to his face and points his finger at his reflection.
“I’m not firing you because of this season,” he says, raising his voice. “I’m firing you because of this season and the last. You had the best team in baseball, and you turned it into the worst.”
“You’re blaming me?”
“Yes, I’m blaming you. Our record was 66-41 last season before you traded Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester. We had the best record in the Bigs. Our winning percentage was .617. Since you made that trade, our record is 36-63, and our winning percentage — .364 — is unspeakable.”
“But Cespedes is overrated!”
“Apparently not, Billy. He was a daily presence in the lineup, our three-hitter, our most dangerous hitter. And you traded him for a starting pitcher, someone who plays once every five games. You sabotaged a great team.”
“Look, not every trade works the way you think it will. Jon Lester is a great starting pitcher and we needed starting pitching. You can’t fire me because of one trade.”
“Oh, but that wasn’t your worst.”
“Your worst move was trading Josh Donaldson. I just can’t forgive you for that one. It was one of the worst trades ever. An All-Star third baseman under our contractual control for two more years, and for cheap. And you traded him for nobodies — Kendall Gravemen, Sean Nolin, Franklin Something and Brett Lawrie. Why?”
No response from the mirror.
“Was it something personal between you two?
No response again.
“I’m talking to you, Billy. Look at me!”
“It’s Bob Melvin’s fault,” says the face in the mirror.
“Bob Melvin. Fire him. I get him good players and he doesn’t know what do with them. He’s a terrible manager. Replace him with former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington. I just hired Washington as an infield coach. I made it easy for you. Make the switch.”
Billy laughs and puts the mirror down. “How did I know you were going to say that? No, I won’t fire Melvin. He is a first-rate manager. No one can manage players that are always in flux. Bruce Bochy couldn’t win with this team. Every manager needs continuity.”
“Fair enough, Billy. Fine. Keep Melvin. I can turn this team around despite him. Just give me some time, until the end of the season. Let me finish what I’ve started. I promise I’ll change your mind.”
“What are you going to do, Billy?”
“I’ve got some trades I’m working on…”
“I bet you do. Let me guess, you’re going to trade the rest of our quality veterans for prospects. You’re going to trade All-Star starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, All-Star relief pitcher Tyler Clippard and All-Star second baseman Ben Zobrist. Right?”
“That’s what I thought. You’re fired. Please clean out your desk.”
Billy stands up, lays down the mirror and walks out the door.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.