Friday, July 18, 2008

A's restocking, again

I get that Billy Beane is smarter than the average bear, GM, MIT aerospace engineering grad student, and me. He's got a knack for selling pitchers at their peak and getting excellent value in return. He has survived the free agent departures of Giambi and Tejada. And he hasn't missed Koch, Dotel and Foulke (he loves dumping those overvalued clsoers!). He gambled on Chavez though that hasn't worked so well. He didn't trade Zito but let him go, too. He picked up Piazza and Frank Thomas on the cheap, maxed out their value and dumped them. He then picked Thomas up again this year on someone else's dime.

Within the last two weeks, he dealt 40% of his starting rotation (Harden and Blanton) while still in contention. And he dealt all-star Dan Haren before the season.

I get it that he's getting some good prospects who might be good some day. I get that he's keeping costs down. I get that he's smart enough to keep the team in contention, barely, despite all the machinations.

What I don't get is why. Why, if he had those three pitchers under contract thru at least next season (I think Blanton is only signed thru 2008) did he choose to sell? Why, after making the smart moves that put his team in contention, did he decide that contention this year wasn't enough? At some point, don't you have to let the players jell and grow up together as a team? Constantly proving your brilliance is nice but don't you have to let these guys give it a run?

He traded Mulder, Hudson, Koch, etc., for prospects, some of which actually became quite good (Dan Haren, for example). But rather than let those prospects mature, he dealt them for more prospects. Which only means that as soon as the guys he got for Haren, Harden and Blanton begin to show promise, they will be dealt for other younger guys. It's just a trend, isn't it?

I'm a bit baseball'd out right now after the week that was, so maybe my baseball mind is a bit mushy today. I just don't get this round of maneuvers.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

hey jason,

i think the 'why' for the a's has to do with building for the long-term v. the cost of playing for one year. during last offseason they decided that it was in the best interests of the business if they trade the chips they have to reload to try to build something similar to the turn of this century a's. so far, so good. the haul for Haren was great. Harden's value was high, but only one 'ouchie' away from plummeting. they were able to spend half a season establishing his value and then getting something solid in return. and blanton is a product of that huge ballpark, which makes him replaceable. if beane had decided to go for it this year he would have damaged the long-term plan. and, for a team with oakland's budget, that would have set them back years. they're just sticking to the business plan, which i respect. and duchscherer and street are next i think.

Jason said...

I hear ya and I agree, in principle, that what Beane has gotten in return for those guys has been a good haul, as described by those who know, like K.Law. But Haren had 2 years left and Harden has another year left. Why not roll with those guys?

I don't think it would have damaged the LT plan since those guys were PART of the last LT plan.

I think Beane's a brilliant guy but it seems like he keeps trading those about to reach their peak for those a few years away from making the big club.

He likes to sell too early rather than too late, but at some point, don't you have to give the current crop a chance to really go for it? Imagine the team if they had Haren, Harden and Blanton all year? If he kept drafting smartly (which was the genesis of his hype), he's still be able to restock the minors.

Just seems like he's trying to outsmart everyone every year.

Anonymous said...

i think beane might have pulled the trigger too early on haren, agreed. that said, the haul for haren was impressive. and better to move too soon than too late.

you gotta think he pulled the trigger at just the right time on harden (as one injury basically makes him valueless). hoping harden holds up down the stretch is a huge risk.

finally, he probably waited too long to move blanton (who was never really as good as last season made him look...he's more an innings eater that a top-of-the-rotation guy). he had better offers last winter.

overall i think beane read this year's team and didn't think they were playoff-bound. once he traded haren, he pretty much sealed that fate.