Building a Winner: The Billy Beane Effect
Former Major League Outfielder Billy Beane didn't have a great playing career, but his work in the front office has been phenomenal. He started off as a scout in 1990 and soon became an assistant G.M of the Oakland A's in 1994. In 1998 he became the A's general manager replacing Sandy Alderson. From that moment on, Beane built great teams on small payroll using sabermetric principles to evaluate players. Over the years, he's traded a couple of star players and veterans for younger players. Let's break down some of those moves.
It all starts with the big three.
BARRY ZITO: Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young winner, was the most well-known member of the big-3 which consisted of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Zito. Barry signed a long-term contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2007 and has pitched nearly six hundred innings with a 4.5 ERA ever since.
TIM HUDSON: Hudson is still pitching after undergoing surgery and missing much of 2009. He is fully recovered now, and is working towards extending his 800+ innings of 3.75 ERA work as an Atlanta Brave.
The third of the big three is my focus.
MARK MULDER: Mulder is a true jeckyl and hyde story. Mulder pitched roughly 1000 innings with a 3.9 ERA as an Athletic, and has pitched just over 300 with a 5.04 ERA ever since. The biggest thing is how Beane cashed in at the right time. Just one year removed from a season with a 3.13 ERA, Mark Mulder was traded in the 2004/2005 offseason, triggering a series of events.
Event Number One: Mark Mulder goes to the St. Louis Cardinals for Daric Barton, Kiko Calero, and Dan Haren.
DARIC BARTON: Barton was a prospect at the time of the trade. He has shown patience thus far in his MLB career with 112 walks in just 843 PA. He has potential. But he wasn't the main piece of the deal. He is still an Athletic.
KIKO CALERO: Calero is a wandering middle reliever. At his finest, as a 2009 Marlin, he offers a sub-2 ERA out of relief. He also wasn't the biggest part of the deal. He signed as a free-agent with Texas, and later went to Florida and New York.
DAN HAREN: Haren was the centerpiece of this trade. Haren pitched three seasons with Oakland. In that time he has a 3.64 ERA, for a 120 ERA+ (a form of ERA adjusted to league and ballpark where 100 is league average and 120 is 20% above average). Haren was just 26 in 2007 and hadn't fully reached his potential yet. But Beane pulled out another blockbuster deal and swapped Haren to Arizona in the 2007/2008 offseason. He and Connor Robertson were swapped for Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Brett Anderson, Aaron Cunningham, and Greg Smith. Wow.
CONNOR ROBERTSON: Robertson was just a middle reliever included as a throw-in.
DANA EVELAND: After two seasons and a 4.92 ERA for Oakland, Eveland departed for Toronto entering 2010.
CHRIS CARTER: Carter is possibly the first baseman of the future. He had a .992 OPS in the minors in 2009.
AARON CUNNINGHAM: Cunningham is a young outfielder with an ugly OPS that's below .500 thus far in the bigs. He appears to be a throw-in right now, but he's still only 23 years old.
BRETT ANDERSON: Brett has stellar stuff. He is going to be a stud in the future, one of the best pitchers in baseball. He still pitches with Oakland, and had a 4.06 ERA last year as a rookie. He was a key centerpiece of the Haren deal, along with CarGo.
CARLOS GONZALEZ: CarGo, as he is called, was the second centerpiece of the Haren deal. He has tremendous power-speed potential, and should be a very good player for years to come. From what I've seen, people think he could go 25-25 sometime soon.
GREG SMITH: He was acquired by Oakland in the Haren deal and went, along with CarGo and Huston Street, to Colorado for Matt Holliday. Smith is a nice young arm in Colorado. CarGo was the centerpiece of the trade for Colorado, though.
HUSTON STREET: The Athletic's young closing pitcher was dealt to Colorado in the Matt Holliday deal. The former Rookie of the Year had a nice first season with Colorado after losing some of his earlier dominance toward the end of his Oakland stay.
MATT HOLLIDAY: Matty-Ho was just a stopgap in the outfield. He struggled in the Athletic's massive park with power, but was just used by Beane as another trading chip for prosepcts. On July 24th of 2009, Holliday was dealt to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Peterson.
BRETT WALLACE: Wallace was another stop-gap in California. He is behind several players on the Oakland depth chart and, in the 2010 offseason, was shipped to Toronto for Michael Taylor just days after Toronto got Taylor for Roy Halladay in the Phillies deal.
MICHAEL TAYLOR: The end product, along with Daric Barton, Chris Carter, and Brett Anderson, that Oakland has to show for all of this trading.
So, is Beane a genius or what? He dealt an aging Mark Mulder to St. Louis, where he bombed, for a star pitcher who he had for three years before moving him on for Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson. He kept Anderson but dealt Carlos Gonzalez to Colorado and dealt the product of that deal- Matt Holliday- for Brett Wallace who he proceeded to deal to Toronto for Michael Taylor. So in the end he got Carter, Taylor, Anderson, and Barton. Two or three of these players could be outstanding. Billy Beane is amazing.
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