OAKLAND -- Billy Beane was worn out, and the A's general manager didn't want to talk to the media Thursday night after the Detroit Tigers eliminated his team from the American League playoffs.
"The tough part about it is it ends so suddenly," he said. "But (Friday) and in the coming days, we'll have plenty of time to reflect on what's been accomplished. My first thought, though, is that it's the most enjoyable season I've ever had."
With just seven players returning from last year's 25-man roster, Beane and his staff fashioned a youthful but skilled team that found an alchemy of purpose under manager Bob Melvin and managed to win the American League West.
"Really, we almost started from scratch with idea of just making progress," Beane said. "But the rate at which these guys grew as major league players and as a team even surprised ourselves."
Beane said the maturity of a team so young astounded him time and again, right down to the end.
"It's a pretty mature response from a group of players who performed way beyond their years," he said. "It's a good group. Here you had (Jarrod) Parker, he's out there going toe-to-toe with Verlander, and I'm thinking while I was watching him, 'This guy's just a kid.' "
Beane believes one of the keys to the team's success is that it didn't get ahead of itself.
"I think that was the beauty of the season, they took each challenge one day at a time," he said. "It was sort of like climbing a mountain. But instead of looking at the peak of the mountain, they just looked at every step they had to make. Before they knew it, they were almost all the way up.
"They had fun, but they also knew when to rein it in and think about the next game," Beane continued. "Once again, it showed that they were wise beyond their years."
The A's and Drew share a $10 million mutual option for next season, meaning both sides must agree to exercise it. The other option is the A's pay Drew's $1.35 million buyout, allow him to become a free agent and then try to re-sign him to a new deal if they wish.
"It's been a great fit so far," Drew said. "I've really enjoyed my time here. I'm gonna take some time, spend time with my kids. I'll enjoy my family and assess the whole situation."
Oakland's only other potential free agents are starting pitchers Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy, outfielder Jonny Gomes and third baseman Brandon Inge. The A's also hold a $4.5 million club option on closer Grant Balfour for next season, with a $350,000 buyout.
Staff writer Joe Stiglich contributed to this report.