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Oakland A’s Shockingly Sign Yoenis Cespedes: Fan Reaction
Totally did not see that one coming.
I've been following the wooing of Cespedes by various teams—the Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Tigers, and others—but I never heard the A's associated with the Cuban defector. In fact, the Athletics have been selling off all their talent in the offseason, claiming to be cash-poor and in need of a new stadium in San Jose.
Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Josh Willingham, Trevor Cahill, and David DeJesus are all among the former A's who have new homes now in MLB—all because the A's supposedly couldn't afford them. And now the 26-year-old Cespedes averages $9 million a year over the next four seasons.
I'm glad that I'm not the only one who was caught off-guard by this move. There seems to be a considerable amount of surprise among many of the leading sources of MLB information: HardballTalk.com, the Associated Press, and even MLB.com, to name a few.
If the massive amount of hype is to be believed, Cespedes is an outstanding player who very well may be MLB-ready. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that Cespedes has eight years of experience in the Cuban League, and he hit 33 home runs in 2011—a league record.
But even though the A's have been seeking a formidable bat and, to that end, have been expressing interest in Manny Ramirez, this is a puzzling move. The A's are supposed to be in rebuilding mode, trading expensive talent for cheaper, younger talent, whether fans agree with the strategy or not (I don't). So signing an unproven 26-year-old for that amount of money leaves me with my mouth hanging open in shock.
I sure hope he's as brilliant with a bat as advertised, but I'm not sure how much good he'll do the A's, whose remaining 2012 lineup at this point is full of players who are about as well-known as members of the witness protection program. Oakland wasn't—and isn't—just one player away from making a splash in 2012 or even remotely challenging the Texas Rangers or the Anaheim Angels.
Even if he is as good as we're led to believe, if Cespedes has any sort of success at the plate to start the season, he'll quickly become the league leader in intentional walks. The Athletics' cumulative .244 batting average last season was 8th-worst in the majors. They have nobody to support him.
Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp led the A's last season with their .264 averages and eight home runs a piece. Kurt Suzuki is the leading home run hitter from 2011 that's left on the 2012 roster. He sent 14 over the wall. These aren't exactly mind-blowing statistics from anyone that opponents will have to worry about while pitching around Cespedes.
Maybe the A's aren't done yet. Maybe Billy Beane has more tricks up his sleeve. Maybe they have plans for adding other hitters this season, and this move will make a whole lot of sense later on down the road.
But for now, I'm left scratching my head on this one.
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