Oh Billy! Oh Brother.
I can't say I really have Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane figured out. Sure I've read Michael Lewis' ode to the great master Moneyball, and even Going the Other Way, which just confused me even more (evidently wrong Bean).
His latest move trading for Matt Holliday confuses me even more.
I just don't quite comprehend how this aligns with the Billyball way of doing business? The man had made his name by swindling GMs for unproven talent, market deficiencies, and hopes and dreams all in the name of proving what a genius he is. Not to say he's once again going prove everyone wrong again, but really what does he stand to gain by trading for Holliday?
There's a couple of scenarios that could unfold, but only a couple of them further Beane's genius status.
1. Holliday has another MVP calibre year putting up numbers circa 2007 & 2008.
Good for Billy, bad for ownership. Holliday is in a contract year and has already rejected a four-year $68 million dollar extension. While new owner Lew Wolff has committed to winning, if Holliday puts up a another .300-30-110 season, only a handful of teams would have a realistic chance at locking him up.
2. Holliday's 2009 numbers dip even further
Last year Holliday still batted over .300 but his HR and RBI totals took a steep plunge. If Beane wants to make this a long-term relationship, he's banking on further regression from his $16-million outfielder and hopes of inking him at a discount. I'm sure the SABR-minded one has already run the reports on Holliday's numbers outside of Coors, but he's still going to have to overdraft onwership's chequebook to ink this superstar.
3. Street and Smith tank in the Mile High City
It's clear by now that Beane hates closers. Apparently he also hates the post-season, but that's another post. Once again Beane is out to create value by plugging some arm into that role and flipping him for some talent. Street is a bona-fide gem. His ERA will probably increase in Coors Field, but his value still remains high. However, if they do tank Beane can shrug his shoulders when Holliday walks and say he never gave up much.
4. Holliday gets dealt at the deadline
If Beane decides to deal Holliday at the deadline, I doubt he will get in return as much as he gave up. Typically at the deadline the premium is placed on pitching and shoring up defensive needs. Even at best a team will be willing to hand over a grab-bag of prospects. I suppose this is where Billy thrives best, but does it really move the A's closer to becoming an immediate contender?
I think the last point underscores my gripe with Beane. He seems to be caught in a vicious cycle of player flipping and continued rebuilding. It's not enough to piece together a collection of no-name players and wow everyone because they took third in the division. The effect of small-market success has worn off.
If Beane wants to prove he's a baseball genius for the ages, let's start with winning and bringing success to Oakland. But somehow, if and when, the A's bring another contender back to the bay area, I don't think Holliday will be part of it.