Laughingstocks, Part Deux

Mulder to the Cards for some (EDIT: high level) mid-level prospects?  No wonder the A’s can’t draw – their ownership has established a vicious cycle in which they jettison their most marketable talent (Giambi, Tejada, Hudson, Mulder) due to supposed "budget constraints".  This no doubt turns off fans, even as the team stays competitive – it’s hard to grow attached to an "organization" that has no stability whatsoever.  That the fans don’t show up in droves is understandable – their apathy can no longer be attributed to the quality of the ballpark, or the city, or the cost of a ticket.  The A’s just refuse to establish any kind of stable core, and even in this day of mercenary ballplayers most teams try to do this, and for good reason.  Their bi-annual purge of talent is a cycle that will never end, and my guess is that this cycle is not about keeping the A’s afloat, financially speaking, but about lining the pockets of their owners as maximally as possible. 

As for Billy Beane, his supposed brilliance is no longer fascinating to me – it’s looking more like a shoddy cover for greedy owners, and the emperor’s clothing is starting to look tattered.  Either that or he’s sending damaged goods to the Cardinals, and where’s the honor in that? In many ways, I am beginning to find the A’s a much more deplorable organization than even the hated Yankees.

Moneyball is dead.  Long live moneyball.

EDIT: I should clarify – on re-reading this post I want to articulate a bit about what I "deplore" about the Yankees vs. the A’s.  I deplore the Yankees as one deplores a rival, particularly one that, in the past, puts one through pain and nausea.  I don’t hold it against the Yankees that they spend all this money, though I do find it quite laughable as well as a reasonable indication of their relative incompetence as talent-pickers.  The A’s, on the other hand, have a right to spend as little as they want, and Billy Beane’s talent at keeping a competitive team together despite the restrictions placed on his payroll is clearly impressive.  But the restrictions are not pitiable, as they are sometimes portrayed, and I am beginning to question whether Beane is even getting maximum value for his cast-offs. – trading Hudson and Mulder before January even hits? Clearly this time Beane was ordered to get as much money off the books as soon as possible, leveragability of talent be damned.  This is the part I find most antagonistic about the moves.

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  • I think SF nails the central point here. We have an owner not showing us his books, setting a low baseball budget, and using Beane’s ability to put a team out there at a low cost to obsolve himself from doing the things that build long-term fan interest and commitment.
    But I’d be less critical of Beane. He is, year in and out, putting a competitive team on the field, and 05 will be no different. SF mentions some of the players who got away. But if you look at the situations individually, you find some very bright management. Giambi? Clearly a bad longterm investment, and the replacement has been a solid producer. Tejada? Crosby was in the pipe, and the kid is already in the top 3 at his position. So someone had to go. Chavez? Signed. Did Beane get enough for his two prized pitchers? We’ll see. But the good news is that we’re not going to have to listen to all those folks (Jim Kaat, Joe Morgan….) telling us that Beane’s success—and the success of the rational tactics now known as “moneyball”–really just stemmed from the “luck” of having stumbled onto three star pitchers. Of course, the BoSox victory should have tought them that….

    YF December 19, 2004, 11:52 am
  • I admire Beane’s ability to keep the team competitive, and there’s no question he’s a shrewd dealer and a big thinker. But I am a bit tired of the “genius” tag being thrown around without contextualization. It’s mostly portrayed that Beane’s genius stems from his own unilateral and stubborn desire to squeeze the most out of a dollar, to not be “had”, to follow the Jamesian route to maximum value, when in fact that’s Steve Schott’s directive, and it has nothing to do with Bill James. Beane operates brilliantly within an ownership strategy that I am finding more and more difficult to take (pay as little as possible, offload payroll regularly despite profit), and at this point I am even beginning to think that Beane is making moves just to flex his genius muscle, in addition to doing what the owners tell him. I am interested in seeing how these deals pan out.

    SF December 19, 2004, 12:06 pm
  • As for Crosby in the top 3 at his position? He’s good, and developing, and a top 10er, but that’s a stretch, by virtually any measurements. Renteria, Jeter, Cabrera, Tejada, Michael Young, A-Rod (he’s still playing out of position…), all better. The key is that they let the great and energetic and core-player-quality Tejada go in lieu of Chavez, and we know how that’s worked out, at least in the short-term.

    SF December 19, 2004, 12:11 pm
  • Okay a bit of an exageration. But check your stats. Crosby is superior to Renteria (double the power, about equal in obp, better range) and far ahead of Cabrera. Ranked by ops, he’s sixth among ss’s who will be in the AL next year, but he’s #2 defensively after Tejada. Valentin and Guillen are likely to fall down on that list, and he’s likely to rise. So top 3 is not that much of an exageration–a couple of places at most (Tejada, Young, Jeter. Crosby–and we all know what you think of Jeets). Translation: either he or Tejada was going to have to depart, So here I can’t blame Beane for shipping Tejada.

    YF December 19, 2004, 12:39 pm
  • EDIT: change “shipping” to “not signing.” But SF’s broader point stands. Oakland, in dealing so many of its stars, is not doing much to build a relationship with its fan base. But it does pose an interesting question: which would fans prefer: a winner or a teamtthey “know”? The answer, apparently, is both.

    YF December 19, 2004, 1:16 pm

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