Tag:Barry Zito
Posted on: July 20, 2008 12:04 am
Edited on: July 22, 2008 5:46 pm

Billy Beane is in a World of His Own

For A's GM Billy Beane, Greatness is All That Matters

With the Oakland Athletics in contention for a playoff spot this year, Billy Beane shocked all of us a week ago when he decided to trade Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Chicago Cubs. So a week later, it came as no surprise when A's fans learned that Beane had made yet another trade, sending pitcher Joe Blanton to the Philadelphia Phillies for more prospects.

"Is he crazy?"

At least, that is the main question that is being floated around the baseball community right now. And the answer to it--well--is rather complicated. In most cases, making a trade like the two deals that Beane made last week could mean the end of your job if you were the GM of any other team. In fact, we've seen it before with Beane's protegé Paul DePodesta when Depodesta took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I want to be great for a long time. Not have a nice, little month and make it interesting. If we have assets, ultimately, we have to turn them into more assets. This is the way we have to run the business. For us, as a small-market team, the turnover is a lot greater."
- A's GM Billy Beane

DePodesta traded Paul LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to the Florida Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi. And while the move didn't benefit the Dodgers immediately that season, it has paid off huge dividends for the team in the years that followed. Unfortunately for DePodesta, he was greatly criticized for the move and was run out of town by the Los Angeles media. That's just how it works. New Dodger GM Ned Colletti has made terrible signings like Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre, and Randy Wolf, yet because Colletti didn't trade away the core of the team, he hasn't faced nearly the same amount of criticism that DePodesta did while being in the same city.

However, in a city like Oakland, where Billy Beane has made it to the postseason in five of the past eight seasons, all anyone can ever do is trust his reputation. As most Oakland fans would say.....

"In Billy We Trust!"

Despite losing all-star pitchers such as Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Dan Haren, Jason Isringhausen and Keith Foulke and losing solid position players like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Ramon Hernandez, Ray Durham, Carlos Pena, Jose Guillen, Milton Bradley, and Nick Swisher the A's still compete. Even as a small market team Billy Beane defies the odds. Since 2000, only the Yankees in the American League and the Cardinals in the National League, have made it to the playoffs more than Beane's Oakland A's teams.

"I want to be great for a long time. Not have a nice, little month and make it interesting. If we have assets, ultimately, we have to turn them into more assets. This is the way we have to run the business. For us, as a small-market team, the turnover is a lot greater," Beane said a few days ago after pulling the trigger on the Joe Blanton deal.

And such is the way Billy Beane has been able to keep the A's contenders. We saw this principle applied last offseason when Beane traded All-Star pitcher Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, and two other minor leaguers. By trading away one player, Haren, Beane managed to find two quality pitchers to fill his rotation, a future superstar outfielder in Carlos Gonzalez, and some other solid minor leaguers to give the team some organizational depth.

The philosophy has kept the A's winning ballgames year in and year out, but it has grown tiresome to many of the fans who come to the ballpark because of the team has no player loyalty whatsoever. Many casual A's fans can't name a single player on their team anymore. Others, can only name a few stars like Huston Street, Bobby Crosby, and Eric Chavez. But with Chavez sidelined for most of the year, and Street and Crosby likely to be traded before the July 31st trade deadline, the A's attendance will surely drop off even lower than it already is. With the A's set to move to Fremont in 2011, no one will care about this team anymore. At least, not in the east bay area.

Billy Beane's trades of Rich Harden and Joe Blanton were meant to stock up the farm system with great prospects for the years to come. They weren't meant to keep the A's in the playoff race this season. As Beane has been quoted saying in the past, "You're not a contender unless you're in first."

While most teams would be looking to add players to make a run at the playoffs if they were in the A's position, Billy Beane decided that most likely outcome for the roster that he has now, would result in the team missing the playoffs. So instead having faith in the club he has now, Beane is constantly looking to the future.

As Beane said earlier, he wants his team to be great. Not just good for a short period of time. Beane is trying to make the A's what they were at the turn of the century. A team filled with superstars like Giambi, Chavez, Tejada, Dye, Hudson, Mulder and Zito. He wants his team to be like the team in 2001 that won 102 ballgames or the team in 2002 that won 104. You don't see that anymore in baseball. Now that the A's will have money with a new ballpark, Beane will be able to keep the future superstars around for a long time. And while everyone in Oakland is mad that Beane is looking to the future when the present team is exceeding expectations, Beane is taking the right step for the long term success of the ballclub.

Looking back at the trades, at least the Oakland fans can be happy with what they got back in return. While Rich Harden can be the best pitcher in baseball, his injury history has prevented him from doing that yet. The A's only had him locked up for two more seasons and would have been paying him a decent amount of money to pitch next season. If he would have had one more injury, the A's wouldn't have gotten anything in return and been stuck eating his contract.

Sean Gallagher is solid right hander that, like most Cubs pitching prospects, hasn't been handled right in their farm system. He has number two pitcher upside and can rack up a decent amount of strikeouts. Eric Patterson has been very good in the minors and with everyday playing time, he should develop nicely at second base for the team. Matt Murton is another underrated outfielder. Murton has a career .290 batting average, but the biggest knock on him was his lack of power. He'll make a solid 4th outfielder for the A's in years to come. As for Josh Donaldson, the former second round pick has struggled in the minors so far, but the A's needed organizational depth at catcher after Jeremy Brown retired and Landon Powell's constant injury problems.

The Joe Blanton deal might actually help the A's in the short run as Blanton was having a terrible season so far. The A's have to be happy with their return after trading a guy that is a 12 game loser and has era of around five. All that while playing one of baseball's best pitchers parks. However, Blanton is an innings eater that should help the Phillies bullpen and is a sure upgrade over Adam Eaton.

The A's have chosen to start Dallas Braden in Blanton's spot for the short term, but if Braden struggles, the A's might consider calling up top pitching prospect Gio Gonzalez to fill the void. Gonzalez has been lights out this past month for AAA Sacramento.

The prospects the A's got back from the Phillies are pretty solid too. Adrian Cardenas is one of the best second base prospects in the game and pretty much guarantees that Mark Ellis won't be with the team next season as the A's also signed first round pick Jemile Weeks. Left hander Josh Outman is a great pitching prospect and the A's will likely turn him back into a starter, where he has had the most success at in the minors. As for Matthew Spencer, he probably has no chance of making the A's roster anytime soon. The A's are overloaded at the outfield position in their minor league system and their are plenty of internal options that would be ahead of him on the depth chart. It would take Spencer a lot of commitment to move up the depth charts.

While some A's fans can be mad at Billy Beane for not making a run at the postseason this year, he is the reason the A's stood a chance this year in the first place. Billy Beane might be the most hated person in Oakland right now. He is in a world of his own right now. However, if Beane's moves pay off in the near future, he will be further cementing his legacy as the greatest GM in the game.

"In Billy We Trust!"

That's all Oakland fans can do.
Posted on: June 24, 2008 9:53 pm

Justin Duchscherer is the Best Pitcher in the AL

Justin Duchscherer
Starting Pitcher
Oakland Athletics

Nickname: "Duke"
Season Stats: 12 GS, 8-4, 1.99 era, 0.97 WHIP, 51 SO, 18 BB in 77 IP

The numbers don't lie. The Duke has been the best pitcher in the American League this season. While his record isn't as good as Cliff Lee's Indians, Duchscherer has Lee beat by a half a run in era and by 10 points in WHIP. His three more losses are just a result of Oakland's poor offensive output. There is no doubt that Duchscherer will be the A's representative in the All-Star game this season, which means he'll be the first player since John Smoltz to make the team both as a reliever and as a starter. If Duchscherer continues to play as well as he has, he should be the all-star game starter for the American League.

In retrospect, after an injury plagued 2007 season, no one expected Duchscherer to succeed as much as he has for the A's this season. Everyone knew he was a great reliever, but not many people predicted this much success as a starter. The only reason he wasn't a starter when he first came up into the league is because the A's rotation featured Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito, all of whom were considered the top 3 young pitchers in the league. Rounding out the rotation throughout the years were other solid players including Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, Cory Lidle, and A's ace Rich Harden. Duchscherer was never given much of a chance to win a rotation spot, but kept himself motivated enough to be an all-star reliever.

Now that he was given the chance by General Manager Billy Beane and Manager Bob Geren, Duchscherer has taken advantage of the spotlight. He is now amongst the best pitchers in the American League this season.

Terry Francona should reward Duchscherer with an All-Star Start.
Posted on: March 28, 2008 2:49 pm

Giants Look Like 100 Loss Team

There hasn't been a 100 loss team in the National League since the Diamondbacks lost 111 games back in 2004. However, that may very well change this season as the San Francisco Giants are one team that could eclipse that mark. Owner Peter Magowan recently said that the Giants were "going in a different direction" in 2008 and that "the time has come to turn the page."

Really Peter? Because the only direction I see the team going.....is down.

While general manager Brian Sabean announced last season that the team wouldn't be bringing back Barry Bonds in 2008, there seemed to be a sense of relief in the Bay Area as most Giants fans were ready for change. However, that change never happened this offseason. With the Giants having one of the best starting rotations in their division, Sabean failed to bring in an impact bat that could complement it and help the team win ballgames.

That is, unless Sabean's idea of an impact bat is Aaron Rowand. Rowand signed with the Giants in a 5 year, 60 million dollar deal, in which he won't be worth the majority of the contract. Rowand has been a below average outfielder for much of his career, but set career highs last season in just about every offensive category except stolen bases. He is yet another example of a mediocre player receiving a big paycheck because of a solid performance in a contract year. Much of Rowand's success can be attributed to him playing in one of the National League's best hitters parks and hitting behind superstars Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. Playing in a spacious park like San Francisco will not help his cause. To top things off, Rowand was the only offseason addition the Giants made and it isn't saying much, considering he's replacing Barry Bonds in the lineup.

Many Giants fans would have been happy if the team had gone young in 2008, but that remained impossible with the many bad signings that Sabean had made the year before--Roberts, Durham, Aurilia--and the fact that the team has one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball. Aside from Aurilia, who has been a journeyman middle infielder for most of his career and is now 36, the Giants only position player that has come up through there system is first basemen Dan Ortmeier. Most of the Giants top prospects range anywhere from 17-20 years old and won't be able to contribute to the team for at least 3 to four seasons. The one prospect that is ready, Nat Schierholtz, is being blocked by the Giants barage of outfielders. Meanwhile, If the Giants are waiting until all of there old contracts are gone before they start to spend money on an impact bat, then they are wasting away the years that the team will have good starting pitching. The team shouldn't be paying Barry Zito 18 million dollars a season so they can rebuild. They shouldn't be wasting the years that they have Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum under control. They needed to bring in players that could help them win now and Brian Sabean failed to do so.

Going after Andruw Jones or Alex Rodriguez--in which the Giants had the money to do so--would have been the perfect fit for the team. Even if the team couldn't land A-rod, at least Jones would have provided the team with a legitimate home run threat in the middle of the order that is capable of driving players in. As currently assembled, the Giants don't have a single player in their lineup that projects to hit 20 or more home runs. They might very well be one of the worst offensive teams the league has seen in years.

Last season, with Barry Bonds in the lineup, the Giants averaged approximately 4.2 runs per game and with them declining offensively, it makes you wonder just how much that number will decrease this season. My guess is that it will be somewhere around 4 runs a game. If that's the case, the Giants are truly going to be in trouble. Even if Zito, Cain, and Lincecum have era's under 4, the chances of them winning games (with the bullpen not giving up a thing) are extremely thin. Heck, just last season Matt Cain had an era of 3.65, yet his record was 7-16. Nothing is going to change in 2008.

To put things into perspective, in an exhibition game against the Giants AAA affiliate two days ago (the Fresno Grizzlies), the Giants lost 4-3 with Barry Zito on the mound. They followed that up by losing a game in which their team faced the Seattle Mariners split squad 7-2 after Matt Cain gave up 6 runs in just 4 innings pitched. The Mariners were only playing four regulars and the Giants were shut down by rule-5 pick R.A. Dickey. In fact, Dickey only gave up one hit in the five innings he pitched.

The Giants finished last season with a record of just 71-91. So far this spring, the Giants are just 8-21and have failed to win the easiest of matchups. The loss of Barry Bonds, the injury problems with Noah Lowry and Kevin Frandsen, and the failure of management to bring in any type of impact player this season will have the Giants struggling to stay away from the 100 loss mark this season.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com