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Oakland - Did Billy Beane Go Too Far?


Frobby

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You can roll your eyes all you want but it's a fact that even the very best teams, those that win 110+ games, are no better than 1-in-3, maybe 2-in-5 chances to win the World Series once they've made the playoffs. Any two run-of-the-mill 94-win playoff teams playing each other in a short series is a coin flip. With eight teams that means an average playoff team has a 12.5% chance of winning it all. 87.5% of the time a PLAYOFF TEAM will NOT win the World Series.

Every freakin' team needs a lot of luck to win the World Series. Even the very best.

If you're going to crucify Beane for not winning the Series whenever he makes the playoffs you need to round up the GMs of the Yankees, the Twins, the Dodgers, the Giants, the Indians, the Braves, and a bunch of other teams and sacrifice them on the same I-don't-give-a-crap-about-real-life-odds altar.

If it is such a crapshoot to win the WS once you get in the playoffs- then aren't you making the case for Beane that he should have held on to Harden, Haren, Blanton- and went for the playoffs?

I understand the concept of rebuilding, trading players too soon rather than too late, etc... I read Moneyball, etc... But, at some point the constant churning has to stop. After all- those odds above suggest the best bet is to build a playoff caliber team because anything can happen as opposed to attemptiing to rebuild ad nauseum in the attempt to build a perfect team. The odds above suggest you get diminishing returns in your quest to win a WS if you are trying to build something better than a team of simply playoff contending quality.

I think a fair case can be made that Beane went a little overboard this year. He had a team that was competing very well and was in the thick of it when he starting dismantling the team.

We can argue all day whether or not the A's would have kept up the pace. Maybe, maybe not. Heck, maybe they would have ended up picking up the pace and doing even better down the stretch? We will never know.

Isn't that part of the GM's job- to take advantage of a good start to a season, even if it is unexpected?

Beane is a very good GM. I think he gets too much credit from some and can do no wrong in many peoples eyes. It seems to me that his quest for perfection (maximizing value, making the perfect deal, putting together the perfect roster, etc) puts him on a treadmill where he can't get off. Baseball isn't a game of perfection. It isn't attainable.

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I love how people bash Beane for not winning a WS yet they never talk about how the Big 3 pitchers were never healthy in their playoff runs.

I bring this up everytime and people continue to ignore it...On a team that was built around pitching, if 1 or more of your top 3 starters are hurt, that is going to severely hurt your chances of winning.

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I understand the concept of rebuilding, trading players too soon rather than too late, etc... I read Moneyball, etc... But, at some point the constant churning has to stop. After all- those odds above suggest the best bet is to build a playoff caliber team because anything can happen as opposed to attemptiing to rebuild ad nauseum in the attempt to build a perfect team. The odds above suggest you get diminishing returns in your quest to win a WS if you are trying to build something better than a team of simply playoff contending quality.

I think a fair case can be made that Beane went a little overboard this year. He had a team that was competing very well and was in the thick of it when he starting dismantling the team.

I think you may misunderstand what Beane was doing this year. He wasn't trying to build a perfect team. He was trying to build a good team that didn't rely so heavily on injury-prone and/or expensive and/or mediocre starters like Blanton and Harden and Haren.

He saw that he could get a good return for one guy with an ERA near 5.00, and another who spends 50% of the year on the DL, and he jumped.

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I think you may misunderstand what Beane was doing this year. He wasn't trying to build a perfect team. He was trying to build a good team that didn't rely so heavily on injury-prone and/or expensive and/or mediocre starters like Blanton and Harden and Haren.

He saw that he could get a good return for one guy with an ERA near 5.00, and another who spends 50% of the year on the DL, and he jumped.

I am playing devils advocate here. I would have liked to have re-upped Haren if I were them (maybe they tried?), but I like the return they got in the trade. I was not a huge Swisher fan but the jury is out on that trade. Blanton and Harden are not big losses.

But, in the age of parity, trading may not have been the smart thing to do this particular time. At some point you have to take a chance on the guys you have. Sometimes you have to do what is right by your most important fans- the paying (season ticket) customers and go for it. This could have been a time to do that.

FWIW, here are some articles that suggest maybe building a team is secondary to other ($$) causes. :eek:

There has been some grumbling in the bay area by fans, media.......

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/07/SPV11270Q8.DTL

Logged onto the company e-mail Thursday morning, and atop the inbox was an offering about the A's that has become all too typical this season.

"I am one of the few fans who aside from season-ticket holders have attended at least eight games this year," it read. "I can no longer do that the rest of this year. Not when I am watching a minor-league team or a group of players who are boring and simply unwatchable . . . I want to attend games, but I need more than root beer to do so."

You'd think such expression of disgust would reverberate significantly in the offices of the folks whose business is to provide entertainment to the ticket-buyers. And in one sense, Managing Partner Lew Wolff said, he can relate.

"I'm a fan, too," he said Wednesday before his team wrapped up its worst offensive month in nearly three decades and fell below .500 with its 12th loss in 14 games. "So I can understand the frustration. But . . . "

Yes, the "but." There always seems to be one when it comes to the team Wolff owns, and in his time at the top, all too rarely has it been, "But we decided to spend more than we normally would to add or keep our best players."

"We can't have aging players and keep them just because the fans would like to see them here," Wolff said.

Wolff may have an interesting concept of "aging." Haren, Swisher and Blanton were 27 when they were dealt. Harden is 26.

http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_10065299

the franchise across the Bay has become content to be known as The Team That Waits For The Revenue Sharing Check.........

.......and even if the wins and losses have been admirable, the falling attendance, crummy radio and TV ratings say that the record isn't selling itself nearly well enough.

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I am playing devils advocate here. I would have liked to have re-upped Haren if I were them (maybe they tried?), but I like the return they got in the trade. I was not a huge Swisher fan but the jury is out on that trade. Blanton and Harden are not big losses.

But, in the age of parity, trading may not have been the smart thing to do this particular time. At some point you have to take a chance on the guys you have. Sometimes you have to do what is right by your most important fans- the paying (season ticket) customers and go for it. This could have been a time to do that.

FWIW, here are some articles that suggest maybe building a team is secondary to other ($$) causes. :eek:

There has been some grumbling in the bay area by fans, media.......

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/07/SPV11270Q8.DTL

http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_10065299

You'll notice that, at least in the quotes you pulled from the articles, the grumbling is going in the correct direction: towards the owner who puts Beane in a position where he can't keep more then an occasional quality player.

It doesn't matter if Beane WANTS to keep someone like Haren; he CAN'T. Because of that, and the low odds for his team to make the playoffs, he does the smart thing and prepares for next year.

Any fan that would take a tiny chance for a playoff run now over a much better chance the next season and in the future doesn't deserve to be called a fan.

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You'll notice that, at least in the quotes you pulled from the articles, the grumbling is going in the correct direction: towards the owner who puts Beane in a position where he can't keep more then an occasional quality player.

It doesn't matter if Beane WANTS to keep someone like Haren; he CAN'T. Because of that, and the low odds for his team to make the playoffs, he does the smart thing and prepares for next year.

Any fan that would take a tiny chance for a playoff run now over a much better chance the next season and in the future doesn't deserve to be called a fan.

:confused: You blew the post with your last sentence. That is not true.

There is room for disagreement amongst fans about the path Beane took this season, and the timing of it.

It is purely speculation to state that they only had a "tiny" chance for a playoff run this season. They were only a few games out of the wildcard spot at the time of the first big trade. And it is only speculation that they will have a better chance, let alone a much better chance next season.

I know Beane walks on water, has never been wrong before, but there is a first time for everything, including the slim chance that Beane could be wrong once. But, we will never know. We can't rewind the clock and replay the schedule with Harden, Blanton, etc. ;)

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:confused: You blew the post with your last sentence. That is not true.

There is room for disagreement amongst fans about the path Beane took this season, and the timing of it.

It is purely speculation to state that they only had a "tiny" chance for a playoff run this season. They were only a few games out of the wildcard spot at the time of the first big trade. And it is only speculation that they will have a better chance, let alone a much better chance next season.

I know Beane walks on water, has never been wrong before, but there is a first time for everything, including the slim chance that Beane could be wrong once. But, we will never know. We can't rewind the clock and replay the schedule with Haren, Harden, Blanton. ;)

Well, let's see. You've already traded your best pitcher and best player before the season because you won't be able to afford them (owner's fault). On July 8, you already have two good teams in front of you (Boston and Minnesota) for the wild card, and the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers nipping at your heels. You are relying on a pitcher that hasn't had a full season since 2004, and your second-best pitcher is pitching poorly. In addition, your offense is scoring the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball.

If you are a SMART GM, you recognize that you are most likely not making a playoff run under those circumstances. You have already received quite a few young players, and other teams are willing to give you more for pitchers that you aren't going to keep long-term anyway.

You can make some form of an argument about whether or not Oakland could have made a playoff run, though looking at all of the circumstances I can't really see a legitamite argument to be made. However, I don't think that anyone can argue that, if one believes they weren't making a playoff run, they made a good decision in building for next year instead playing out a worthless string of wasted games.

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Let me throw this question into the discussion. Who do you believe has done the better GM job, Theo in Boston or Billy in Oakland? Epstein obviously has more resources at his disposal than Beane, but he also has more WS flags to his credit. I'm not suggesting there is a right or wrong anwser here, as there are reasonable arguments to be made for both. I certainly have my opinion, but am interested in hearing other's perspective on this.

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Let me throw this question into the discussion. Who do you believe has done the better GM job, Theo in Boston or Billy in Oakland? Epstein obviously has more resources at his disposal than Beane, but he also has more WS flags to his credit. I'm not suggesting there is a right or wrong anwser here, as there are reasonable arguments to be made for both. I certainly have my opinion, but am interested in hearing other's perspective on this.

Theo has done a very good job, but he also has a ton of money, and Bill James giving advice (including on a pretty good player for them they picked up after he was dumped by the Twins...forget his name, "Papi" or something? :P).

Beane has gone to the playoffs five times in ten years (including winning 100+ games twice and 90+ six out of seven years) with a low- to low-mid-level payroll and while trading away prime players for quality young talent or letting them go for the draft picks.

Theo's good, but because of their circumstances Beane is better.

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Theo has done a very good job, but he also has a ton of money, and Bill James giving advice (including on a pretty good player for them they picked up after he was dumped by the Twins...forget his name, "Papi" or something? :P).

Beane has gone to the playoffs five times in ten years (including winning 100+ games twice and 90+ six out of seven years) with a low- to low-mid-level payroll and while trading away prime players for quality young talent or letting them go for the draft picks.

Theo's good, but because of their circumstances Beane is better.

Thanks -- well reasoned response.

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Well, let's see. You've already traded your best pitcher and best player before the season because you won't be able to afford them (owner's fault). On July 8, you already have two good teams in front of you (Boston and Minnesota) for the wild card, and the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers nipping at your heels. You are relying on a pitcher that hasn't had a full season since 2004, and your second-best pitcher is pitching poorly. In addition, your offense is scoring the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball.

If you are a SMART GM, you recognize that you are most likely not making a playoff run under those circumstances. You have already received quite a few young players, and other teams are willing to give you more for pitchers that you aren't going to keep long-term anyway.

You can make some form of an argument about whether or not Oakland could have made a playoff run, though looking at all of the circumstances I can't really see a legitamite argument to be made. However, I don't think that anyone can argue that, if one believes they weren't making a playoff run, they made a good decision in building for next year instead playing out a worthless string of wasted games.

Exactly!

That was the point I was making. A person can have that opinion and still qualify as a "fan", correct?

The A's overachieved this year. Harden was finally healthy is probably one reason, Duchscherer pitching well for another.

If Beane decided to go for it and make a trade or two to bolster his team for the stretch no one would have criticized him for it, would they? Of course not.

The Brewers and A's were in similar circumstances at the same time in early July. Melvin (who is also a good GM) decided to go for it. Beane packed it in.

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Thanks -- well reasoned response.

No problem.

Believe me, it's not because something is wrong with Theo, it's just harder to judge when there is such an advantage. It's like someone coming from a wealthy family in Roland Park, going to school at McDonough, getting into Harvard and excelling in both places, and working their way from middle-management at a corporation to president. Compare that with someone coming from a poor family in Park Heights, going through the city schools and Towson University while excelling, then working their way from an entry-level position to vice-president in the same corporation.

They are both exceptional at what they do, but who would you rate as more-so?

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Let me throw this question into the discussion. Who do you believe has done the better GM job, Theo in Boston or Billy in Oakland? Epstein obviously has more resources at his disposal than Beane, but he also has more WS flags to his credit. I'm not suggesting there is a right or wrong anwser here, as there are reasonable arguments to be made for both. I certainly have my opinion, but am interested in hearing other's perspective on this.

I would take Beane over Theo any day of the week.

Beane seems to be a very good talent evaluator and trade negotiator. It would be interesting to see how he would operate with a bigger budget.

I think Theo is OVERRATED.

I also think Melvin is good, I like AM, Scheurholz is a great GM.

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Exactly!

That was the point I was making. A person can have that opinion and still qualify as a "fan", correct?

The A's overachieved this year. Harden was finally healthy is probably one reason, Duchscherer pitching well for another.

If Beane decided to go for it and make a trade or two to bolster his team for the stretch no one would have criticized him for it, would they? Of course not.

The Brewers and A's were in similar circumstances at the same time in early July. Melvin (who is also a good GM) decided to go for it. Beane packed it in.

Wow. I'm surprised you didn't just go post this in that "Out of Context" thread in the Club forum :laughlol:

Compare the two circumstances. Milwaukee made a run last year, so they had the players in place after not losing anyone in the offseason. They are four games behind the division leader, and a half-game out in the wild-card (and three games up on the next team). Plus, they are playing for THIS year, since they will likely lose Sheets and Fielder in the offseason, PLUS the guy they traded for, Sabathia.

Completely different. Which is why you have to look at everything involved before making a judgement about playoff chances.

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I would take Beane over Theo any day of the week.

Beane seems to be a very good talent evaluator and trade negotiator. It would be interesting to see how he would operate with a bigger budget.

I think Theo is OVERRATED.

I also think Melvin is good, I like AM, Scheurholz is a great GM.

Thanks. Melvin and Scheurholz are certainly solid as well.

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