The critics came out in droves.

They slammed Billy Beane for dismantling a playoff team during the last offseason, and they questioned his commitment to keeping a winning team on the field since he jettisoned players like Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Derek Norris and Brandon Moss for lesser returns. They even retroactively bashed his trading of Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester.

All of those players were All-Stars. Without them, the detractors cried, the Oakland A’s were destined to find themselves near the bottom of the American League West and out of the postseason for the first time since 2011.

Except the moves actually appear to be working through the club’s first eight games.

Monday’s eight-run, 12-hit showing featured home runs from Brett Lawrie (acquired for Donaldson), Marcus Semien (acquired for Samardzija) and Billy Butler (a curious free-agent signing at the time of the deal, as Cliff Corcoran of noted), along with a 3-for-5 output from Ben Zobrist, Beane’s lone offseason addition that was actually praised universally, including by Ben Lindbergh of Grantland.

The team might be a modest 4-4 after Monday’s win in Houston, but there is no doubt Oakland’s offseason moves are paying early dividends. Noted A’s beat reporter Jane Lee of

The A’s lead the American League in doubles (21) and are third in batting average (.306), OBP (.364) and OPS (.829). They have scored at least seven runs in five of their eight games, and the hits keep on coming. Lee also had this observation:

Comparing departed players to new ones might not be completely fair with the regular season in its infancy, but neither was torching Beane’s plan after he had barely laid the first few bricks over the winter.

Lester was Oakland’s ace when he came over for Cespedes last July, and there was no doubt he would leave the low-payroll team once he hit free agency after the season. He got $155 million from the Cubs, and through two starts he has allowed nine runs in 10.1 innings (7.84 ERA).

Oakland dealt Samardzija for Semien, among others, a year before he could hit free agency. It was one of the deals that ignited Beane’s critics, but through Samardzija’s first two starts with the Chicago White Sox, he has allowed nine runs in 13 innings (6.23 ERA).

As for the hitters, only Cespedes with the Detroit Tigers and Norris with the San Diego Padres are off to good starts. Donaldson, who was an MVP candidate the last two seasons with Oakland, is hitting .192/.267/.269 with no home runs for Toronto. Moss is hitting .125/.300/.188 with one extra-base hit for Cleveland.


Butler is hitting .387/.441/.548 with a .990 OPS, a homer and two doubles.

Semien has a .323/.364/.484 line with a homer, two doubles and seven RBI, and he has played solid defense at shortstop.

“Watching him move around, you might not think he has the type of power that he does,” manager Bob Melvin said of Semien last week. “His position doesn’t usually come with a guy that has the potential to hit 20 home runs, which he has the ability to do.”

Zobrist is at .303/.343/.545 with a homer, five doubles, two walks and two strikeouts in a team-high 33 at-bats.

Lawrie is hitting .281/.324/.438 with a homer and two doubles on top of playing outstanding defense at third base.

Ike Davis, another offseason acquisition taken off the scrap heap, is hitting .318/.444/.455 with three doubles, five RBI, five walks and five strikeouts.

“One through nine, you never know what can happen, any given day,” Lawrie told Jane Lee and Brian McTaggart of Monday. “We’ve been stringing hits together, and when you can do that you can be loose and just play and not worry too much. You know someone’s going to pick you up. It’s good to know anyone who gets in the box can do some damage.”

Those aren’t outstanding numbers in the molds of Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzalez through Week 1, but everyone’s combined contributions make this a formidable A’s lineup. It has certainly been one more productive than critics foresaw.

The pitching has been solid as well. The rotation is 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 50.1 innings, and that ERA was helped none by rookie Kendall Graveman’s seven earned runs allowed over 3.1 innings last week. Still, they are putting up strong numbers without Lester and Samardzija and could get Jarrod Parker back in June as he rehabs from a second Tommy John surgery.

The bullpen, which suffered a big blow when closer Sean Doolittle had to go on the disabled list with a strained rotator cuff, has been effective too. In 24.2 innings, it has allowed eight earned runs (2.92 ERA). Again, that ERA is ballooned by one bad game in which Eric O’Flaherty and Tyler Clippard combined to allow four runs in 2.1 innings, which included Clippard giving up a game-winning 10th-inning home run to Nelson Cruz.

The extreme numbers for hitters and pitchers will correct themselves to more sustainable levels, but once they do, there is no reason to believe the A’s cannot hold them there and remain one of the better all-around clubs in the league. The offseason moves were not made in an effort to lose, and Oakland does not expect them to tank just because they are lesser-known names.

Ripping Beane’s retooled club was in fashion for much of the offseason. Trading five All-Star players in about half a year will spark such sentiment. It started to slow after he traded for Zobrist, one of the best all-around players in the league.

Now that Oakland’s new additions have produced to start the season, the critics can commence their silence, as these early-season trends are capable of lasting through summer.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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