OAKLAND — Some 20 minutes before Sean Manaea delivered the first pitch in the Oakland A’s 7-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon, Billy Beane held a rare press conference.
Standing in the hallway that adjoins the clubhouse and the weight room, the executive vice president of baseball operations laid out the rationale behind shipping a pair of veteran setup men — Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson — to the Washington Nationals for right-hander Blake Treinen and minor leaguers Sheldon Neuse (infielder) and Jesus Luzardo (left-handed pitcher).
MLB.com ranked Neuse as Washington’s No. 6 prospect,while Luzardo checked in at No. 10. As Beane detailed, the A’s are in the asset collection business, with an eye toward building a contender whose emergence coincides with the opening of the club’s new stadium.
“There’s only one way to open a stadium — successfully — and that’s with a good young team,” Beane said. “This is part of that process.”
More moves are coming. Asked if he’s fully committed to a rebuild, Beane didn’t hedge.
“Absolutely,” Beane said. “No doubt about it.”
Out on the mound, Manaea, one of those players who could be around long enough to see the next stadium, carried the A’s to a sweep, spinning seven innings of two-run ball, scattering five hits while striking out eight. The eighth strikeout came against Brandon Guyer, the final batter Manaea faced.
“I just knew he was my last guy,” the left-hander explained. “So, I left everything out there.”
“I was really, really pumped and glad I got to finish off the seventh,” Manaea added.
On an afternoon when it was 88 degrees at first pitch, Manaea was pitching ahead from the jump.
The A’s knocked Tribe starter Trevor Bauer out with just two outs in the first after franchise building block Ryon Healy and rookie center fielder Jaycob Brugman both produced two-run singles.
“Overall, I think the runs early were big for us,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Whenever you say goodbye to a couple of guys like that, there’s certainly some sentiment that runs through the clubhouse. So. I think that the runs early on in the game were really important for us.”
— Karl Buscheck (@KarlBuscheck) July 16, 2017
Jed Lowrie, among the array of veterans who figure to follow Doolittle and Madson out the door, provided a fifth run in the third inning, blasting his tenth home run into the right-field bleachers.
Matt Joyce tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth with a two-run single before Simon Castro — summoned from Triple-A — came on to close out the ninth.
Here are more in-depth comments from Beane on the direction of the club heading into the deadline. Below is his full quote on being fully committed to the rebuild:
“Absolutely. No doubt about it,” Beane said. “Absolutely, and again, with the important end of the sentence is, rebuilding and keeping. This is my 20th year in the job. There’s only so many cycles I can go through before I get as exasperated as everybody else.”
“Finding players has never been an issue for us. Keeping them and ultimately keeping the faith and commitment of the people who follow the team, that’s got to be done by keeping them around. And again, I’ve been assured by ownership that that’s what we’re going to do. Again, as it parallels with the stadium.”
And Beane on the difficulty of moving Doolittle, originally drafter in 2007 — a compensation pick for losing Barry Zito as a free agent:
“Some of my best memories are with Sean on the mound.”