Billy Beane's fast-paced maneuverings this week perfectly encompassed the frenzy that is the predictably unpredictable offseason, as he lit up the hot stove with a flurry of impactful moves.
In doing so, landing All-Star pitchers Jim Johnson and Scott Kazmir in a single day, followed by outfielder Craig Gentry and setup man Luke Gregerson, the A's general manager relayed a strong message -- as if it wasn't known before -- this organization is serious about trying to make a deep postseason run.
Johnson and Kazmir will cost the club $33 million.
"It's not that surprising," said manager Bob Melvin. "Billy had his ducks in order, knew what he wanted to do, and it just all came together at the same time. He's done a terrific job in getting us in this position. He's still trying to improve the club. That's a constant."
The A's, who also reeled in Nick Punto last month, have won back-to-back American League West titles, tallying a combined 190 wins along the way. But they've been bounced in the AL Division Series by the Tigers both times, and their last World Series appearance was in 1990. They want to go further, and their window of opportunity only stays open for so long in this market.
In short, they're very much in win-now mode.
"We've never really straddled the fence," Beane said. "We don't have a five-year plan here. We have a year-to-year stadium lease, so how can we have a five-year plan? We have to recognize opportunities when they're there. We've always operated either all in or all out."
"It seems like they're putting the right pieces in place to get us to that next step, to get us over that hump," said reliever Sean Doolittle. "We're not going out and making those super blockbuster trades, but all of these trades look like they're going to be moves that help us take that next step.
"It's really exciting to think about all these pieces that we're bringing into the mix. I don't want to say it raises our expectation level, but we've been so close each of the last two seasons and, theoretically, they're giving us more tools and making us a better team, where you're thinking this year or next year could be our year. "
Beane and his staff, along with every other club's front-office personnel, will soon take their ongoing work to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where the annual Winter Meetings will be staged at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. They begin Monday and conclude with the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12.
The A's don't typically make much noise at the Meetings, partly because Beane doesn't particularly enjoy all of the added fanfare that comes with them. The work he gets done in his hotel suite, never too far from a lobby overflowing with reporters, can just as easily be managed from the comfort of his office back in the Bay, he maintains.
Still, he acknowledges such a setting can often expedite a deal already in the works, or spark the creation of a new one. But just how much can be left on Beane's to-do list at this point?
"I don't think it's in our nature to sit here and take the rest of the winter off," he said. "We're always going to be looking to explore new ideas and ways to help ourselves, whether it's for right now or down the road."
There's always a card or two left to play, and Brett Anderson may be the A's final one of the winter. With the Major League roster essentially set for next season, Oakland could potentially use Anderson as a trade chip -- he's owed $8 million next year -- to add depth in the Minors, especially after the loss of Michael Choice, dealt to Texas for Gentry in a four-player deal.
Without Anderson, the A's would still have Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily in their rotation, along with Tommy Milone as another option.
No matter the outcome, the lefty should at least provide fodder for the A's at the Winter Meetings, which otherwise figure to result in yet another quiet stay for Beane and his crew.