I can't even believe we're discussing this. I can't believe I'm actually acknowledging it with a real post. According to reports from everyone from Bleacher Report to Yahoo! to Rant Sports to CBS to Deadspin to anyone else who will do anything for clicks, Billy Beane and Josh Donaldson had a little tizzy late in the season over the third baseman wanting a day off. Now the narrative is that the argument, which included (gasp!) name-calling, led Beane to trade Donaldson when he otherwise wouldn't have.
Come. On. People. We can't seriously be talking about this. This rumor is so dumb that I'm not even going to write a new post, I'm just going to copy and paste what I wrote in the comments of my recent article that actually explains why the trade happened in non-conspiracy-theory terms:
I don't buy any of this for a second. Not that they had an argument - sure, they probably did, and I'll bet that's a thing that happens with players from time to time. What I won't even acknowledge for one second is that Billy, after two decades of being coldly, objectively calculating, suddenly made an out-of-character emotional decision to dump his best player just because they got in a little tizzy. That sounds so outlandish to me that I can't even believe we're discussing it, and I'm even more shocked that Yahoo or Bleacher Report or whoever would actually run with it (actually, I would totally expect it out of Bleacher Report). It sounds like 24-hour news network sensationalist garbage. Billy doesn't trade people for that reason; he trades FOR people for that reason, because their attitudes caused them to fall out of favor with their teams and they can be had for discounts relative to their abilities on the field. Milton Bradley is one prime example.
So, nothing is impossible and we can't know for certain. But I don't buy it for one second. It's just not how Billy does business.
Here is the real reason I know this is all hooey. If you want to dump your best player because you think he's being a jerk, then you don't trade him for Brett freaking Lawrie, who is well-known for being fiery and crazy. Bless his heart and I hope he plays well and I'll cheer him to my final breath while he's here, but Lawrie is infamous for being a bit wild. When Bluebird Banter gave us their scouting report of him, they used the term "Red Bull" three times, "Brett-cancelling headphones" once and suggested that teammates would want lockers on the opposite side of the clubhouse. He once threw his batting helmet at an umpire over a questionable strike call. You only make a trade for a guy like Lawrie when you are strictly looking at production on the field, not when you're trying to stabilize your clubhouse by removing dissenters and filling it with calm, agreeable, obedient players who act professionally.
What's more likely? That Beane traded Donaldson right in line with his entire career history of trading star players around age 28 when his team isn't a specific title contender, or that he got in an argument with his best player one day and then two months later dumped him out of spite for whatever he could get?
It's not really close between those two options. This isn't reality TV. Let's close the book on this one. It's worth taking note of every angle of things, but sometimes it's also worth dismissing the angles that are clearly bunk and not running with them and turning them into absurd narratives. This is straight-up yellow journalism and we should hold out for nothing less than (green and) gold.
Just talked with Beane On idea traded Donaldson due to fight with him: "It’s so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility" #A’s— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2014
Beane’s take was Donaldson was his best player and no way he is trading his best player due to a personality clash #Athletics— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2014