What the heck are the Oakland Athletics doing?
General manager Billy Beane (far right), seems bent on his team hitting as few home runs as possible this season. He cut Cust from the 25-man roster on Saturday and apparently handed the full-time designated hitter job to Chavez.
Cust, though his performance declined the past two seasons, has led the team in homers each year since 2007. He's averaged 28 deeps in that span, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the team's 431 homers.
Chavez, who used to be one of the A's best players, is coming off multiple back and shoulder surgeries and has made it healthy through the season just once in the past six years.
Cust says he might accept a minor-league assignment from the A's, who would pay him $2.65 million if he does. Cust, who hit .216 with 20 strikeouts in 51 at-bats this spring, is being used as insurance for Chavez. And he's not too happy about it.
"I think it's messed up," Cust said in a phone interview with The Chronicle after leaving the stadium. "They're going to go on 50 at-bats after three years of what I've done here? It's ridiculous. A lot of other guys have had bad springs. This is a joke.
"The fact is, this team has no power and they've just released a guy who (averaged 28 homers) the last three years. That's amazing."
The moves took Chavez by surprise, too, in part because he found out from a reporter.
Also in question: Can Chavez handle the everyday DH role? It is something that not only did he not anticipate, he had not been informed about it until he spoke to The Chronicle on Saturday evening.
"I had no idea," Chavez said, surprise evident in his voice. "I didn't even know. Nobody's talked to me. I was definitely preparing myself to play in the field, so it is weird. Plus, I never would have tried to play short and third and stuff if I'd known."
Um, who is running Moneyball Manor, here, Mr. Beane? Is it Mr. Bean (far right)?
These moves are the GM's prerogative, of course. It's his club to mess with how he pleases. But, aside from a lack of objectivity, Cust has a point or two about the A's needing power from someone, or two. And cutting a veteran guy based on spring training, with its small sample of at-bats, seems very un-Beane-like.
Also, what's with surprising Chavez (wearing cap) like this? Is Beane purposely not communicating with his players in order to strengthen the script for "Moneyball" — the on-again, off-again movie about his unique tenure with the A's? Is this how Brad Pitt would do things?
Nobody will be allowed to leave the theater during Jack Cust's dramatic designating-of-assignment!
We'll give the last word to Cust, because he's so darned quotable.
"I've busted my butt for them for three years, and I played sporadically this spring and they leave it until the day before the regular season to do this, like they didn't know what was going on before?" Cust said. "And with Coco [Crisp] on the DL — I'm not good enough to be one of the 25 guys?"
You tell 'em, Custard Jack!
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