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OAKLAND – The motivating factor for the A’s swinging a blockbuster trade last weekend wasn’t just to bolster the starting rotation, but provide a shot in the arm for a team that needed one.
That was the viewpoint of A’s general manager Billy Beane, who sat down with CSN California for an exclusive interview Tuesday morning to discuss all things A’s-related.
Jeff Samardzija looked dominant in winning his A’s debut Sunday against Toronto. Fellow right-hander Jason Hammel will make his first start in green and gold Wednesday against the Giants. Both were acquired from the Cubs on Saturday for two standout prospects, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney, right-hander Dan Straily and a player to be named later or cash.
Beane, who cut his teeth as a baseball executive under former A’s GM Sandy Alderson, said the timing of making such a trade is as important as deciding to pull the trigger in the first place.
“I learned this a long time ago from Sandy,” Beane said. “I thought the timing was the right time. We had a couple road trips, three-city road trips, where we finished with a tough series against clubs, particularly in Detroit. And we could tell, the guys had really busted their backsides to get where they were, and they could use some injection – something. I think we saw that when Jeff walked in the clubhouse and pitched on Sunday. It was a great atmosphere. I think the timing was good.”
Will the A’s be more active before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline? Surely they’ll be listening, and inquiring. Oakland always is one of the more active teams on the trade market. They made three in one two-day span last offseason, also signing lefty Scott Kazmir to a two-year $22 million contract in the process.
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Beane, the second-longest tenured GM in the majors after the Giants’ Brian Sabean, said the thrill of swinging a trade provides as much of a rush as it did when he first took over the A’s top post in 1997.
“When it’s all said and done, that’s kind of why we all do this job,” Beane said. “We’re sort of trading baseball cards again like we were kids. … There are (always) a lot of phone calls being made. This (trade with the Cubs) was kept under wraps pretty good, but then it starts leaking out a little bit. You’re trying to bring it together. You’d like to show some respect to the (players) involved so they don’t start reading their names in the paper.
“And we’re trying to hurry and get it done, and actually did a pretty good job of it staying under wraps. But there is a lot of adrenaline, and really, that’s why we all do this job.”