Billy Beane doesn't think A's make playoffs without Jon Lester

Thursday October 2nd, 2014

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane defended his July trade for pitcher Jon Lester on Wednesday, a day after the A's were eliminated from the playoffs after losing the American League Wild Card game. 

The Athletics acquired Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline by giving up outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

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After the A's lost to the Royals Tuesday night, some questioned whether the trade was worth it.

“Simply put,” Beane said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “if we don’t have Jon Lester, I don’t think we make the playoffs.”

Lester started the Wild Card game, giving up six earned runs in 7.1 innings. He entered the eighth inning with a 7-3 lead before surrendering three runs to Kansas City. The Royals eventually won in 12 innings. 

When the Athletics traded for Lester on July 31, they were 66-41 and two games ahead of the Angels in the AL West. Oakland would go 22-33 over the rest of the season, finishing 10 games behind Anaheim.

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Beane said he always worried about the Angels, who finished with an MLB-best 98-64 record, which is why he felt it was so important to acquire Lester.

"One thing I’m going to say right now, the Angels were going to catch us. They played nearly .700 ball from a certain point on," he said.

In 11 regular season starts with the A's, Lester went 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. The 30-year-old will now become a free agent.

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Cespedes hit .269 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 51 games for Boston following the trade. For the season, the 28-year-old had 22 home runs and 100 RBI. He is signed through 2015.

In eight postseason trips since 2000, the A's have advanced past the ALDS round just once. 

- Molly Geary


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