White Hat Sports Headlines

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grade A's debate

I didn't see this coming, (probably I should have) but the running debate right now that is started to get heated between my Dad and I revolves around the Oakland Athletics. He doesn't understand at all what Billy Beane is doing with the team by dumping all of their proven talent in favor of getting three high ranking minor leaguers in return. He knows that the theory is that he will get young talent and hope that in two years that they will be good but he doesn't believe that they will keep them. Which is a valid concern, but having kept a close eye on the dealings of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's in the post Moneyball Era, I see exactly what he is doing an why this is going to work.

The argument against right now is that Beane will gets these young players and maybe they will perform for him and maybe a few of them will become All-star's soon enough and perhaps dethrone the aging Angels for AL West supremacy. But when they create these stars how to does Oakland keep them. The prototype for this is Barry Zito. He pitched for two seasons for Oakland at the Major League level before winning the Cy Young award in 2002, guess how much he made that season in which he went 23-5?

$295,000. Why so low you ask? Because he was still held to his rookie contract with the Athletics that he signed when he was drafted. That's what Beane does is takes young players higher in the draft than other people would take them and gives them less money than that pick would usually get and the player is grateful to be taken so high in the draft that he will play ball and not hold the team up for money, case and point here was Nick Swisher when he was drafted out of Ohio St. Now this doesn't always work, the case for this is Jeremy Brown the catcher that was spotlighted in Moneyball by Michael Lewis (if you can't tell by now, I've read it 5 times) he hasn't made an impact at the major league level and was a big time guy that Beane loved because of his dominance at the University of Alabama and his ownership of their offensive record books. Beane will lock these young players up for as long as he can early so he isn't forced to watch the next generation of Tejada and Giambi walk out the door because they won't pony up 60 million for 4 years like the bigger markets will.

Beane will be successful because he has the track record of doing it in the past, now will this crop bear the fruits of MVP's or just a couple of all-stars that can't get it together we won't know for sure for a few years and yes there will be a losing season on the horizon for 2009 and maybe even this season if they aren't careful. The encouraging thing if you're an A's fan is that your GM has a clue and has a plan which is more than I can say for most of the small market clubs in Baseball. To cop an old phrase, "It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but It'll be soon."

I'm not ready to say for the rest of your life though.
Sterling Pingree

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