Jeff Samardzija was traded along with Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s late Friday night. I believe it was a good trade for both teams, a break-even at worst, and will hopefully give the A’s the boost they need to make it to the World Series under Billy Beane‘s watch.
I grew up in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area and as such spent a copious amount of time following the Giants and the A’s. The Giants were my preferred team as I have an affinity for the NL (being a Cubs fan, y’know, thanks Sammy Sosa) but the A’s were much more affordable and were also a fun team to watch. One of my high school friends was a big A’s fan and the other a big Giants fan so I got the best of both sides of the Bay Bridge baseball world here. It was a blast to watch the Giants win the World Series in 2010 and 2012, and I desperately wanted to see them win in 2002 (nuts), so good on them. I lived through the 1989 Earthquake Series but wasn’t as big of a fan then; I did know who Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Dave Stewart were, though. And of course there was Rickey Henderson.
But the A’s haven’t been very successful since in postseason play, not even during the Moneyball years (check out my movie review, I liked it and I lived through the year they were talking about!). I remember being disappointed that they didn’t get to the World Series in 2006. The past two seasons have been a surprise, and we never look down on Billy Beane because he is capable of delivering such a surprise. But they never made it through, and that really bugged me because I loved how Beane employed both scouting and analytics to build up his system using limited resources, something the Tampa Bay Rays do quite well and something that Theo Epstein and company have done with the Cubs now. I think I need Beane to win a World Series to give himself some closure, and to give me some satisfaction as a Northern California native.
And most of all, I’d like to see Jeff Samardzija win something. He’s been a tough luck starter for so long with the Cubs as he delivered quality start after quality start but couldn’t help the team secure victory through no fault of his own. Now he has the backing of the best offense in the majors, not even kidding there, while bolstering one of the best pitching staffs. For those of us who were Samardzija fans, this is an added bonus. For me, being a NorCal native AND a Samardzija fan, this is a double bonus. For the Blue Jays, who didn’t pull the trigger to get Samardzija like many of us thought they would, tough shit.
It’s amazing what a turnaround we’ve seen from a guy who barely played baseball, started as a reliever (and a crappy one at that) but became one of the most sought-after and popular starting pitchers in the majors. Best of luck to you, Jeff Samardzija. Go A’s.