Mlb Oakland Athletics Billy Bean Increased Spending

Billy Beane, Oakland A’s Face “Unique Situation” as AL West Ramps Up Spending

With the Academy Awards coming up this weekend, Moneyball is back in the headlines. So is the opening of spring training in Major League Baseball. It’s an interesting juxtaposition given that the Athletics are expected to break camp with a pretty young team to send up against a pair of teams in their division that are spending money at all-time levels. Oakland general manager Billy Beane, the main character in the movie that is up for six awards, calls the situation unique. So, too, would the situation be if the A’s can find a way to get stud prospect Yoenis Cespedes or Manny Ramirez — who the club signed to a minor league deal — to make an impact. Billy Beane joined 97.5 The Game in San Francisco with The Rise Guys to discuss opening the season in Japan, the situation with Yoenis Cespedes, what the outlook is for Manny Ramirez, going up against big spenders in the Rangers and Angels and the potential move to San Jose.

How difficult will it be for you club to get everything done that it needs to get done before heading to Japan?:

“The good thing is we’ve had a little bit of experience in ’08. Back then we didn’t know how to do it. This year we had an idea of how many days that we needed. … What’s interesting is there’s a lot put into, really, two games. You don’t have to get five starters ready, you’ve just got to get two guys ready, because you’re only playing two games over there, and two exhibition games. There’s a little less anxiety this time than I think in ’08.”

How likely do you think it is that Yoenis Cespedes plays for the Athletics this year?:

“Let’s go to Yoenis first. There’s some things that we have to do, not contractually, but from a bureaucracy, he has to get a visa and things like that until we can actually approve the contract. … This is a guy that we’ve watched quite a bit and a lot of the teams have. … We have a lot of playing background with him. We saw him this winter as well and, quite frankly, he’s a pretty unique talent. There’s a big jump from where he is to getting to the major leagues, but the hope is that he’s able to make that pretty quickly.”

What about Manny Ramirez?:

“Usual answer, and I told you guys before on air, I invented this rule about not talking about free agents and it’s worked out brilliantly. … There’s no question that we have a big hole in the middle of the lineup. We just don’t really have that true four type of hitter. So I think we’re going to consider all options, is probably the best thing I can say.” (Editor’s note:  Since the interview, they’ve signed Manny Ramirez)

On the changing AL West with two teams spending a great deal:

“Yeah, that’s really where the game has changed. Ten years ago, you had the Yankees. They were always out there and everybody had to deal with them and their resources. Then you had the Red Sox right behind them. Now it’s sort of everywhere. I think it’s a great compliment to baseball and the growth of this business. … But it is creating a unique challenge for us. Take a club like Houston. Everyone looks at them and they’ve had some tough years but they’re going to have a big, big franchise sometime soon. … The challenges surround us and this is going to be unique this year.”

On the potential move to San Jose and whether the moves by the organization are a reflection of that:

“There’s this perception that, well, if you’re going to sell the team, you’re going to ramp up the payroll, which make absolutely zero sense. There’s this sort of perception that if you sell the team, you put a huge amount of debt onto it and if you’re going to move, you just go with young players. I think that’s reading way too much into it. We probably needed to do this anyways, and if in fact it aligns with our moving to San Jose, great, we’re already ahead of the game. I do think that the only way to open a stadium is to have a really good team. … Listen, we made some moves this last offseason, but we were a third-place team, so we needed to make some changes.”

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