Do you like pain? What about having your heart ripped out once a year for a few months at a time? If this sounds good to you, than you should be an Oakland A’s fan.
Every year the green and gold are outnumbered and overmatched. When you check the annual total payroll numbers for MLB teams the Athletics are consistently near the bottom, if not last. This year is no different; Oakland has the 27th lowest payroll out of 30 total teams with an $86,086,667 million tab for 2015. Compare that to the perennial powerhouse franchise just across the Bay, the San Francisco Giants, who have the fifth highest payroll this season with a whopping $172,672,111 million which is more than double that of the Athletics and you begin to see the differences in teams:
The Giants spend and it shows. They have become a heavyweight in the league and captured three World Series titles in the past six years. With a new modern waterfront stadium that sells out nearly every game the money flows like the water it sits on. However, O.co Coliseum in Oakland on the other hand has two tenants, the Raiders and A’s, yet neither team wants to be there and it is the only venue in all of the major sports in the Bay Area to play home to multiple teams from different sports. It is not the revenue generator that Pac Bell Park is.
When the A’s make the playoffs it’s surprising, when the Giants make it, it’s expected. That is directly linked to how much money is spent on players. A’s General Manager Billy Beane is a self-proclaimed card counter who utilizes sabermetrics to find players whose value can’t be seen by other teams. The Giants on the other hand and GM Brian Sabean often sign big name free agents and are constantly players in trades and acquisitions to help the team make the postseason and more.
The A’s trade good players who they know they do not have the money to re-sign while the Giants offer maximum contracts to their big time impending free agents. Case in point Josh Donaldson: Donaldson was the brightest spot for Oakland during his three years with the club before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays last year for prospects, the year before he was set to become a free agent and demand a huge contract. The slugger is third in the league in homeruns with 41 and has his team on the verge of an American League East Division title and playoff run.
This has been the case with a long line of A’s players that include Yoenis Cespedes, Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi and so on. When a guy is set to make a big payday the A’s trade him and get what they can since they can’t afford to offer maximum deals. The A’s traded their best player pitcher Scott Kazmir to division foe Houston this season which makes no sense. Why would you trade your best player to a division opponent? This secured that Oakland would be playoff-less another year.
After the Kazmir trade the A’s payroll dropped over $10 million and left them with just one player making over $10 million, aging veteran outfielder Coco Crisp at $11 million a year. On the other side of the Bay San Francisco currently boast six players that make over $10 million including their highest paid player, pitcher Matt Cain who rakes in nearly $21 million a season.
How are the A’s supposed to be title contenders if they can’t even afford to get into the ring? A new stadium could help generate the revenue to make that shift but the city of Oakland or Alameda County do not seem likely to strike deals with either Oakland franchise to stay in the East Bay city. The Warriors have already secured plans to move to San Francisco by 2019 despite selling out every home game at Oracle Arena and creating one of the best home atmospheres in all of sports and the world.
It’s been nearly 15 years since the Athletics were serious title contenders and they were in the middle of the pack when it came to payroll. It’s been nearly 30 years since Oakland has won or been to a World Series. So what are these seasons for? Every year brings with it a new sense of hope for the A’s only to realize that they don’t have the money or the manpower to threaten the giant fantasy across the pond from Oakland.
The Golden State Warriors proved last year that Oakland can produce champions if you spend money on players. Why don’t the A’s get it?