Billy Beane: GM Genius Or Trigger Happy Fool...You Decide

John LewisSenior Writer IJuly 10, 2008

Watching Mark Mulder leave after just three hitters last night reminded me of how good Oakland A's General Manager Bill Beane can look at times.

Let's see, he traded Mulder, who had one good year and has never been the same.  He let Barry Zito ride into free agency and the lefty has gone 15-25 with an ERA close to five.

Beane has pulled of some other bizarre looking trades that have worked out for the cash strapped A's.  Here's a list of his most successful over the last ten years.

In 1999 he traded reliable closer Billy Taylor to the Mets for Jason Isringhausen, a guy who only had one season with an ERA under four.  

Izzy went on to save 75 games in just over two seasons with Oakland before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002.  Taylor flamed out and only managed 13.3 innings and an 8.10 ERA.

In 2000 he traded Randy Velarde to the Rangers for Aaron Harang.  While Harang didn't pitch well in Oakland, he certainly turned into a great talent for the Reds.  Velarde, on the other hand, was traded by the Rangers the next year.

In 2001 Beane traded Ben Grieve to the Tampa Bay Rays, Angel Berroa and A.J Hinch to the Royals for Cory Lidle, from Tampa and Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis, from K.C.

Grieve was a solid player coming off three good seasons and rookie of the year award in Oakland, but could only muster two lackluster years in Tampa before flaming out.  Berroa won the rookie of the year award in K.C. in 2003, but since has been mediocre at best, and Hinch has been a career back up.

Lidle provided two solid seasons while Damon and Ellis have been far more productive in their careers.

In 2001 Beane managed to trade Todd Beiltz, Mario Encarnacion and Jose Ortiz for Jermaine Dye.  Dye continued to be a solid player while the A's prospects were never heard of again.

2001 was a busy year for Beane as he traded Miguel Cairo to the Cubs for Eric Hinske and then traded Hinske and Justin Miller to the Toronto Blue Jays for Billy Koch.  Hinske turned in a pretty solid player while Koch went 11-4 with 44 saves in 2002. 

That off-season Koch and two other prospects were traded to the White Sox for Keith Foulke, Mark Johnson, Joe Valentine and cash.  Koch never had a good season again while Foulke went 9-1 with 43 saves in 2003.

Foulke of course played for Boston the following year and helped win a World Series before getting hurt every year after.

In 2004 Mark Mulder was the latest trade victim as he was shipped to the Cardinals for Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and Daric Barton.  Mulder had one really good season in 2005 but has since had a history of injuries that may force him to retire.

Haren has become a great pitcher, winning 43 games in three seasons, before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Calero gave Oakland two very good seasons before falling off the planet.

Beane has had his fair share of mediocre trades but has continued to draft and trade for solid talent.  With Oakland being a small market franchise, he's had to be creative trying to wheel-and-deal when the time is right.

It's too early to tell, with the Rich Harden trade, how well it will work out.  But I know one thing's for sure, he will make more trades.