Most of the A's problems this season have come because it's difficult to have team unity when the roster has been almost completely turned over.
But too many people are misplacing the blame for this. General manager Billy Beane would prefer not to operate this way, but he has no choice because Lew Wolff and John Fisher, who has expanded the meaning of “silent partner,” purposely keep the payroll very low. Wolff still dreams of moving the team to San Jose so he wants to keep attendance down, collecting revenue-sharing money, while going to more games at Dodger Stadium than at the Coliseum.
Yet, I've gotten angry e-mails from readers who don't understand this and blame Beane. One theme is that Beane trades or fails to re-sign players with whom he's had disagreements.
In fact, I remember when he had several shouting matches with Miguel Tejada at the start of his career when Tejada would swing at any pitch he saw. But Beane recognized his talent and Tejada grew into a great player. Beane even put up with Milton Bradley, who was always out of control.
So, no, he didn't trade Yoenis Cespedes because Cespedes competed in the home run derby at the All-Star game when Beane didn't want him to. Cespedes was traded because it was the only way the A's could get Jon Lester. All baseball people know you win championships with great pitching, and Lester did his part. It wasn't quite enough as the A's lost to Kansas City in a playoff game but, considering that the Royals came very close to winning the World Series, that was no disgrace.
This year, Beane would have loved to have re-signed Josh Donaldson but with his budget, it was impossible. Others also left because there was no room in Beane's miserly budget. So, he put together the best team he could under the circumstances.
This is a much better team than it's played so far. Hiring Ron Washington to make a dependable shortstop of young Marcus Semien was a very good move. Washington turned Eric Chavez and Tejada from defensive liabilities into Gold Glove winners.
Long range, it would be a good idea if MLB would take a look at its revenue-sharing plan and revamp it. The reasoning behind it was sound, giving low-income teams a chance to compete. But, now that Wolff's old fraternity buddy, Bud Selig, is no longer commissioner, it's time to make one vital change: Teams that get revenue-sharing money should have to put that money into the payroll the next season. That would prevent owners like Wolff from just pocketing it.
Until then, the A's will have to do what they can. Manager Bob Melvin has been very good at rolling with the punches and getting the most out of his lineup, and he'll do it again this season.
Meanwhile, A's fans need to relax and stop blaming the wrong person for the current problems. From my many conversations with Beane, I know how smart he is and how fearless he is when it comes to making a move. There's still a chance that will pay off this season.