What the Acquisitions of Fiers, Kelley and Familia Tell Us About the 2018 A's

OAKLAND -- Mike Fiers, the newest Oakland Athletic, wants you to see a lot of him starting Wednesday against Clayton Kershaw. Shawn Kelley, the second-newest Athletic, wants you to see as little of him as possible.

Fiers, the former Milwaukee, Houston and Detroit Tiger starter whose high-water mark before this was a no-hitter against the Dodgers (and his current teammate, Brett Anderson) in 2015, said little of electric import in his introductory exposure to his new home, keeping his answers affable but baseball-correct, saying six times how much he liked to "stay within himself."

As though there was a corporeal option. If you stand outside yourself, the floor will be a mess.

Kelley, on the other hand, decided to take his new home at face value, meaning that he didn't even know where he was going for his next baseball stop after Washington until he was told Sunday to head for the airport.

"I wasn't paying much attention to anything," he said. "(When I got released,) I was just home playing with my kids and not worrying about anything. I didn't think about Oakland as an option until I got the call telling me I'd been traded."

And now that he's here, he plans to work so fast that he can warm up, enter a game, finish his task and be done before you get in and out of the restroom.

"I try to attack hitters, go at each guy," Kelley said. "If I give up five runs or zero, I want to do it quick. The longer I'm on the mound, the worse it is for everybody."

In other words, he's the sort of guy who, when asked what his preferred role in this bullpen would be, included "closing for a contender," "innings eating," "25-1 games."

That would be the game where he threw his glove after giving up a home run to the Mets' Austin Jackson that cut the Nationals' ninth-inning lead to 25-4. He was released the next day by the Nationals for a breach of etiquette, ands after four days of family time, he was shipped west as part of Oakland's stealth pitching remake.

Indeed, the A's haven't been this low-level hyperactive in years; the 2014 deals included bigger names coming and going (Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Hammel, Jeff Samardzija) and a dismal ending, not that the two are conflatable. This time, they have sent money and PTBNLs to fortify their bullpen and fill the second space in their pitching rotation so that it looks a little less like the over of the 2011 media guide.

But the Fiers/Kelley/Jeurys Familia does have a bit of the feel of the 2010 Giants trade deadline haul to it, in that it didn't look like much at the time but became a thing in October.

And that is the last we will refer to either That Other Team or That Other Month. What the A's have not done is assure themselves postseason baseball; there is still more than a quarter of the season still to navigate, and as the saying goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

But what they did do is show that they were serious about 2018 through creativity and acquisitiveness – two things they do not always embrace. They made themselves deeper and potentially less vulnerable at little cost. Billy Beane and David Forst (or David Forst and Billy Beane, depending on how you want the marquee to read) decided not to defer the season in front of them for a nebulous future that doesn't come often enough, and barring another move between now and the end of August, have planted their flag with this group, right now.

And there may be no greater statement than Fiers-Kershaw Wednesday night. Statements don't mean a whole lot in Game 115, but hints are free and easy to inflate. The A's are in with both hands, including the two rights they just added.

Now if they can only avoid those pesky 25-1 leads.

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