Trading for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel AND Jon Lester? Who have a combined salary of $26.5 million? Evidently, Athletics general manager Billy Beane has tweaked his "Moneyball" strategy just a bit, as you'll see in this previously-undisclosed script for "Moneyball 2" (still in development) ...
(SCENE 1: Oakland general manager BILLY BEANE is running on a treadmill at the Oakland Coliseum and watching video of the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012 and 2013 division series. He frowns and shakes his head as the Athletics lose the potential clinching game of each. Assistant PETER BRAND, looking much heavier than in the first movie, walks into the gym.)
PETER: I see you're working out again while we play.
BILLY: Don't be afraid to hop on a treadmill yourself, Peter. Good Lord. I don't think you could even fit into Jeremy Brown's jeans -- let alone Fabio's.
PETER: Thanks a lot, Billy. It's hard to keep the weight off when you spend your entire day at a ballpark staring at a computer screen.
BILLY: And your entire night hanging with the Wolf of Wall Street.
PETER: Nice. But what about you? Why are you watching highlight video of old losses? We have the best record in baseball. Why focus on the negative?
BILLY: We might have the best record in baseball, but if we lose the last game of the season, no one gives a s---. We have one of the best records in baseball since 2000, yet we haven't so much as won a single ALCS game. We've lost six division series and gone 1-12 in our past 13 clinching games. We can't lose again. We have to adjust. We need to add a difference-maker.
PETER: I think we can sign Chad Bradford pretty cheap. He hasn't pitched in five years, but he's still undervalued.
BILLY: No, Peter. Signing undervalued talent has worked great for us in the past, but we don't need undervalued players right now. We need players who are very valuable. I'm not saying we should rip up our approach by any means, but we need players who will make us winners in October. We need someone such as Jeff Samardzija or Jon Lester. Or better yet, both.
PETER: On our budget? How would we pay them? By raising the price of soda in the clubhouse to $4 a can?
BILLY: You know that was just a silly plot device for that "Moneyball" movie. Saying players had to buy soda from a machine in the clubhouse was as unbelievable and ridiculous as making a movie about the keys to the 2002 Athletics success and never mentioning Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Miguel Tejada or Eric Chavez.
But enough about 2002. We need to get moving on convincing teams to deal us some established stars who will bring us a championship in 2014.
PETER: So I'm guessing hiring Jon Hamm to scout pitchers in India is a no-go?
(SCENE 2: BILLY is meeting with PETER and his scouts several weeks before the trade deadline.)
BILLY: OK, we're in first place, but winning the division is not enough. We need to win in October -- which has been a problem for us. How can we solve this problem?
SCOUT 1: More pitching. We should go after Minnesota's Kevin Correia.
BILLY: Kevin Correia? He's 5-13 with a 5.14 ERA. He's not going to solve our problem.
SCOUT 2: Billy, we're not looking for Fabio. We need to consider all the advanced analytics. Look, I've got all the numbers right here in the laptop you gave me back in 2002.
SCOUT 3: Yeah, a bunch of us scouts were sitting behind home plate at Correia's latest start and talking about inputting his BABIP and Fielder Independent pitching numbers. They indicate he's vastly undervalued.
SCOUT 4: And have you seen his xFIP?
SCOUT 5: Absolutely off the charts.
BILLY: Guys, you're not even looking at the problem. The problem is there are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there's 50 feet of crap, and then there's us.
SCOUT 1: Seriously? We have the best record in baseball, a higher payroll than the Cubs and nearly as high a payroll as the Mets. And you still are using that 50-feet-of-crap metaphor?
BILLY: No. I mean there is literally 50 feet of crap piled on us because the Coliseum plumbing backed up again. We need to get to the World Series so we can get the Coliseum Authority Board to approve some renovations.
(SCENE 3: The Athletics are in Texas for a series against the Rangers just days before the trade deadline. BILLY and PETER are behind the batting cage before the game and talking with former Oakland coach and current Rangers manager RON WASHINGTON.)
WASH: So, you have the best record in baseball, and you picked up Samardzija and Hammel? I wish you were our general manager.
BILLY: And I'm not done, Wash. Just between us, I'm going after Jon Lester.
WASH: Seriously? You're 64-39, and you think you need to add Lester to the rotation?
BILLY: We need to win the division. We need to stay ahead of the Angels. I can't let this season come down to a single wild-card game. I'm tired of losing in October.
WASH: But won't Lester cost too much? Won't you be sacrificing too much just to be a little bit better?
PETER: That's what I keep telling him, but Billy says we need to go all-in. Even though he's always said that the postseason is a crapshoot.
BILLY: Yes, but the more talent you have, the better your odds in the crapshoot.
PETER: But we don't need to mortgage the future. We can win without Lester, Billy. We already have Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Samardzija and Jesse Chavez. It's not that hard to win a World Series without five great starters. Tell him, Wash.
(WASHINGTON thinks back to the 2010 and 2011 World Series, when the Rangers had a combined 5.14 ERA, and how they were one win from beating the Cardinals in 2011 but gave up 16 runs over the last two games, and how Texas has a 4.82 ERA this year and is in last place with eight players on the disabled list.)
WASH: It's incredibly hard.
(SCENE 4: BILLY is running on the treadmill again, as we see him watch a montage of games. First, we see LESTER and the Athletics beat the Angels to complete their division series victory. Then we see SAMARDZIJA complete a sweep over Baltimore in the ALCS. Then we see BILLY watching Game 7 of the World Series. LESTER is on the mound and throwing a two-hit shutout against the Dodgers. With the game tied 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, JONNY GOMES steps to the plate. GOMES, who came to the Athletics as part of the LESTER deal, hits a home run to left to win it and give Oakland its first world championship in 25 years.)
(BILLY rushes into the Athletics clubhouse, where the jubilant players are lined up at the cash bar to purchase bottles of champagne with which to spray each other. Billy turns to owner LEW WOLFF.)
BILLY: Really? We're world champs, and you're charging players for the champagne?
WOLFF: I thought it would make for a funny scene if they ever make a "Moneyball" sequel about this season. Besides, we need the money after those trades you made. I mean, did you see the bill the plumber sent to fix the backed-up toilets?