With the Oakland A's coming off a 75-87 record, and their third straight losing season, is it time to question General Manager, Billy Beane's motives?
During his time as General Manager, Billy Beane has made it a habit to trade away his most proven and successful players just before they reach their full potential in exchange for younger talent, who ultimately get traded away for even younger talent.
After being swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS back in 2006, the A's lost Barry Zito and Frank Thomas to free agency. But despite losing two of his best players, Beane buckled down and decided that the A's could go on without them.
In 2007, the A's winning ways were put to an aggrevating hault, as they finished 76-86. Thus, Beane was reminded that the A's were an aging club and that the farm system was dangerously low with talent.
So, during the offseason of 2007-08, Beane decided to trade away not only the club's best pitcher in Dan Haren, but fan favorite Nick Swisher, as well. The "Haren" trade ultimately brought in the most talent of the two trades, but also brought about a lot of controversy and questions surrounding Beane's motives.
In 2008, the A's were without Haren and Swisher, but still managed to play .500 ball during the first half of the season. Although they were in "re-building" mode, the A's had surprised the baseball world with their upbeat start.
But when the division-leading Angels traded for Mark Teixeira, the A's knew there was no hope for a playoff run in the second half.
So, with hope lost, Beane decided to trade away yet another superb arm in Rich Harden. The Harden-Gaudin deal was the most upsetting deal since the Tim Hudson deal in 2004. The A's received Sean Gallagher (later traded) and Matt Murton (traded) and Eric Patterson.
The A's ended 2008 with a 75-86 record, and a second-straight losing season.
But then it happened. For some apparent reason, Billy Beane during the offseason of 2008, snapped.
He traded away a very talented OF in Carlos Gonzalez (from Haren Deal), SP Greg Smith (Haren Deal), and Huston Street for Colorado Rockies Silver Slugger, Matt Holliday.
For starters, as an A's fan, I was extremely excited and confused when this deal went through. Beane was all about "youth" and "re-building," so his motives to get Holliday didn't quite make much sense to me.
Then, Beane went after Rafael Furcal, but didn't succeed in bringing the shortstop to Oakland. Instead he signed Orlando Cabrera, brought back Jason Giambi, and also signed Nomar Garciaparra.
Before the start of the 2009 Season, the A's were considered by most sports analysts as a potential "darkhorse" for the American League. The A's boasted one of the best on-paper lineups in the league, with a middle of the order line up that consisted of Giambi, Holliday, Chavez, and Cust; all of which were capable of posting 30-plus homers in a single season.
But, as the season began, injuries started to pile up a bit, and things didn't go the way Beane had hoped. The rookies—Cahill, Anderson, Gallagher, among others—didn't perform exceedingly well, and the offense was even worse. Holliday batted .240 in April, and Giambi's hamstrings couldn't hold up.
The A's in 2009 were a flop. They didn't even finish with a .500 record, and weren't very exciting to watch on TV or in person until late August, early September.
When the A's started putting together some wins in late August, early September, Beane was reminded once again that "youth" was the right path to success in the future.
Although Holliday was a bust in Oakland, Beane did receive a potential star in 3B Brett Wallace, who could get a look during Spring Training.
Beane's intentions to offer his young staff some run support didn't pan out the way he expected, but when Holliday, Giambi, and Cabrera left the team, it opened up some doors for guys like Cliff Pennington and Rajai Davis.
Was Beane wrong to go after guys like Holliday, Giambi, and Cabrera? No. His intentions for the most part were good. They just didn't fit the "re-building" process. Beane's move came a year too early. But it seems that he's learned from his latest mistake.
And with Wallace and other superstar in the making Chris Carter, on the horizon, the A's know they've got a chance to be successful in the coming years.