I Hate Mondays: Billy Beane Is Not My Lover
I Hate Mondays is columnist Dave Golokhov's pessimistic, sarcastic compiled thoughts on sports. For a more regular dose, tag-in at Twitter with @davegolokhov
He told me his name was Billy Beane, as he caused a scene after being a focal point of a book on baseball economics named Moneyball.
Then every fan of Major League Baseball turned with eyes that dreamed of him being the one.
In the early 2000s, Beane was considered the sharpest general manager in all of baseball. He did more on a limited budget than anyone in the sport. Even Barry Trotz would tip his cap.
Beane was often talked about as one of the shrewdest minds in all of sports. If there was a prospect in his system, he was going to be a stud. If he signed a veteran, it was a good value pick up. If he traded away a player, the opposing general manager was getting ripped off.
Even while the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox shelled out millions to buy the best talent available, Beane and his Oakland Athletics were at least somewhat competing on the strength of very sharp player evaluation...or so it appeared.
Fast forward to 2011 and Beane is simply one of the worst general managers in all of sports.
I understand that for most people, that last statement is tougher and more blunt than some of the things you might hear at an Amy Winehouse intervention. But it's time to sober up and face the facts.
Even during the glory days of the new millennium, when the A's won at least 87 games in each year from 1999-2006, the Athletics weren't actually considered a serious power player.
Every time the American League Division Series rolled around, baseball fans knew that the A's were simply the little sibling that wasn't tall enough or strong enough to beat big brother.
And each offseason, as the Yankees and Red Sox made moves to strengthen their roster, the A's would downsize, trading away core players for future prospects in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
But just like Snooki, that brighter tomorrow never comes.
In baseball - or any in sport, for that matter - success is not measured by regular season wins, which the A's were rich of during that stretch. Just ask the Washington Capitals or the Orlando Magic.
Success is measured by one thing: championships. World Series rings are as crucial to baseball as bacon is to Epic Meal Time. It's everything.
In that regard, not only has Beane failed, but the team has become progressively more miserable under his watch.
If you had to guess, how many prospects do the Oakland Athletics have in Baseball America's Top 50 rankings?
Since a 93-win season in 2006, the A's have averaged just 77 wins per year. The way patience works in sports these days, if you ripped the Gucci label off this cloth and replaced it with H&M, this apparel would be tossed in the garbage.
In other words, if the name was J.P. Ricciardi heading this team instead of Billy Beane, this general manager would be canned.
The easiest rebuttal is that the A's simply don't have the money to compete. They are more cash-strapped than a first-year college kid with a bad pot habit.
That excuse is fine and dandy, but unfortunately the Tampa Bay Rays poke a Giant Gonzalez-sized puncture in that argument. As do the San Diego Padres from last year, who nearly won their division as well as the Texas Rangers, who spent roughly $3.5 million more than Oakland did last season, but played in the World Series.
The bigger concern should be the fact that Beane isn't even pulling Moneyball-like moves any more. Either that or I must have missed the chapter in the book where renting Matt Holliday for one season at $13.5 million in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street is a shrewd decision.
It's a scary thought when a Moneyball man on a tight budget will invest more than 20% of his payroll into one player, never mind the young studs he had to give up just to do that.
The six-year $66 million extension for Eric Chavez worked out about as well as Kim Mathers and Eminem, picking Bob Geren instead of Ron Washington to manage the team was a mistake, and Hideki Matsui at $4.25 million for 2011 was another fail.
Also, for a man who's known as finding diamonds in the rough, the A's are very thin on players that you'd consider real cornerstones of a World Series contender.
There's obviously the hope that Jemile Weeks is part of that future foundation of success, along with Trevor Cahill and maybe Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson, but the A's roster is chock full of more retreads (David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, Hideki Matsui) than bright, young players.
In other words, you'd have a tough time suggesting that the A's are even building to be a contender in the coming years, never mind nowadays.
As we approach the Midsummer Classic, Baseball America released its Midseason Top 50 Prospect List this week. Can you guess how many A's prospects were on the list? Zero.
That thought is just about as bleak as the A's win total at the All-Star break (39), which gives them the fifth-worst winning percentage in the Majors.
There is one argument that can be made in defense of Beane. It's questionable whether you want to believe it, but it's reasonable to think that in the early 2000s, Beane had the advantage with his advanced Sabermetric statistics and now all of the other teams have caught up.
That may be true, but if that's the case, Beane must be faulted for his lack of adjustment.
If Apple is an innovator with mobile devices for a period of time, the onus is on them to continue to do so or Blackberry and Google will catch up.
If they fail to adjust, people get fired and new ideas are brought in to bring that innovation back. Either that, or someone else wins the mobile war.
So even if you want to believe that the rest of the league has caught up to Beane by using his own methods against him, he must take the blame for failing to adjust and coming up with new techniques or new methods.
The reality is that Beane is no Bill Belichick. Beane had a cute little run, but has never been able to recreate that success.
That's why it's time for the Athletics to sober up and find themselves someone who can actually build a contender within their budget constraints. Billy Beane just claims that he's the one.
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