Tag:Billy Beane
Posted on: December 13, 2009 4:28 am
 

Bradley is a Perfect Fit For The A's....Again

There was an interesting quote I saw on the A's website the other day coming from Athletics General Manager Billy Beane.

"He was pretty happy here -- and he did help us into the only ALCS we've had in all my years here.....But I can't comment on other teams' players."


Could it be possible? Could the A's actually bring back Milton Bradley? After the spat that Bradley and Beane had just two years ago, it seemed nearly inconceivable. And yet, here I am....wondering....and the same time..... hoping that Milton Bradley comes back to Oakland.

It makes too much sense for both parties involved.

The A's have holes up and down their lineup. The team was 12th in the American League in total offense last season and just released their leading home run hitter in Jack Cust. The only player that offers any form of consistency is catcher Kurt Suzuki, who led the team with 88 RBI's last year.

Bradley could fill in where Cust couldn't. Not only can Bradley DH, but he can also play the field as well. Meanwhile, Bradley strikes out much less than Cust and puts the ball in play which is much more effective with runners in scoring position.

As of right now, the A's lack a true middle of the order hitter.

Newly acquired Jake Fox is expected to fill that void, but with only 230 career major league at bats, expecting that much from him would be foolish. Meanwhile, no one can count on Eric Chavez to be healthy. And while the team expects prospects Brett Wallace and Chris Carter to eventually develop into franchise players. they aren't going to develop into that overnight. The A's need a veteran presence to fill the void while the younger players develop. The A's NEED Milton Bradley.

When Bradley left during the 2007 season, his feeling were hurt as the A's relegated him to a part-time role after spending multiple trips on the disabled list. When Bradley was unhappy, the team designated him for assignment. Bradley, meanwhile, had something to say about the A's organization and Billy Beane on his way out.

"I had more fun playing baseball in Oakland that I ever had. I [just] don't like to be lied to. Tell me the truth. You tell me I'm not an everyday player, and I just have to laugh at you because there's not a player they've got over there that's better than me. It's just a joke", Bradley said of Beane in 2007.

Bradley may be a hothead, but flashforward 3 years into the future, and this statement makes him look extremely smart. At the time he was designated for assignment, the A's outfield consisted of Shannon Stewart, Mark Kotsay, and Travis Buck.

Stewart signed with Toronto in 2008, but was released during the season after a poor performance and has since to play for a major league team. Meanwhile, Kotsay hit .214 that season and was traded to the Braves in the offseason and now remains a backup for the Chicago White Sox. As for Buck, after hitting .288 in his rookie season, his future looked promising, but Buck struggled to hit the ball well in early part of the 2008 season and has spent the past two years back and forth between the minors and big leagues.

Bradley WAS better than any player the A's had on their 2007 roster and it WAS a joke to say otherwise.

As baseball fans, we dismissed the release because Bradley wasn't on the field due to injury and because Bradley had a reputation he carried with him from Cleveland and LA. We overlooked the talent.

After peaceful years with San Diego and Texas, Bradley is now about to be traded out of Chicago. Once again, Bradley's ego has come back to haunt him. He needs a new start and needs to re-establish himself as a premier outfielder in the league. Why not do it in the place where he loved playing the most?

The A's and Milton Bradley have mutual interest.

Think the A's don't have the money to take on Bradley's salary? Think again. This is the team that ranked lowest in attendance last year and is getting the most amount of revenue sharing dollars of any team in the league. This is the same team that a year ago offered Rafael Furcal 10 million a year to play shortstop and offered Marco Scutaro 6 million a year this season.

The A's opening day payroll was 62 million dollars last season. So far this year, they only have 21 million dollars committed to the team. Even if they kept the  47 million dollar opening day payroll they had in 2008, they are STILL well under that. Do the right thing Billy and bring Milton back to the bay.



Posted on: December 13, 2009 4:24 am
 

Bradley is a Perfect Fit For The A's....Again

There was an interesting quote I saw on the A's website the other day coming from Athletics General Manager Billy Beane.

"He was pretty happy here -- and he did help us into the only ALCS we've had in all my years here.....But I can't comment on other teams' players."


Could it be possible? Could the A's actually bring back Milton Bradley? After the spat that Bradley and Beane had just two years ago, it seemed nearly inconceivable. And yet, here I am....wondering....and the same time..... hoping that Milton Bradley comes back to Oakland.

It makes too much sense for both parties involved.

The A's have holes up and down their lineup. The team was 12th in the American League in total offense last season and just released their leading home run hitter in Jack Cust. The only player that offers any form of consistency is catcher Kurt Suzuki, who led the team with 88 RBI's last year.

Bradley could fill in where Cust couldn't. Not only can Bradley DH, but he can also play the field as well. Meanwhile, Bradley strikes out much less than Cust and puts the ball in play which is much more effective with runners in scoring position.

As of right now, the A's lack a true middle of the order hitter.

Newly acquired Jake Fox is expected to fill that void, but with only 230 career major league at bats, expecting that much from him would be foolish. Meanwhile, no one can count on Eric Chavez to be healthy. And while the team expects prospects Brett Wallace and Chris Carter to eventually develop into franchise players. they aren't going to develop into that overnight. The A's need a veteran presence to fill the void while the younger players develop. The A's NEED Milton Bradley.

When Bradley left during the 2007 season, his feeling were hurt as the A's relegated him to a part-time role after spending multiple trips on the disabled list. When Bradley was unhappy, the team designated him for assignment. Bradley, meanwhile, had something to say about the A's organization and Billy Beane on his way out.

"I had more fun playing baseball in Oakland that I ever had. I [just] don't like to be lied to. Tell me the truth. You tell me I'm not an everyday player, and I just have to laugh at you because there's not a player they've got over there that's better than me. It's just a joke", Bradley said of Beane in 2007.

Bradley may be a hothead, but flashforward 3 years into the future, and this statement makes him look extremely smart. At the time he was designated for assignment, the A's outfield consisted of Shannon Stewart, Mark Kotsay, and Travis Buck.

Stewart signed with Toronto in 2008, but was released during the season after a poor performance and has since to play for a major league team. Meanwhile, Kotsay hit .214 that season and was traded to the Braves in the offseason and now remains a backup for the Chicago White Sox. As for Buck, after hitting .288 in his rookie season, his future looked promising, but Buck struggled to hit the ball well in early part of the 2008 season and has spent the past two years back and forth between the minors and big leagues.

Bradley WAS better than any player the A's had on their 2007 roster and it WAS a joke to say otherwise.

As baseball fans, we dismissed the release because Bradley wasn't on the field due to injury and because Bradley had a reputation he carried with him from Cleveland and LA. We overlooked the talent.

After peaceful years with San Diego and Texas, Bradley is now about to be traded out of Chicago. Once again, Bradley's ego has come back to haunt him. He needs a new start and needs to re-establish himself as a premier outfielder in the league. Why not do it in the place where he loved playing the most?

The A's and Milton Bradley have mutual interest.

Think the A's don't have the money to take on Bradley's salary? Think again. This is the team that ranked lowest in attendance last year and is getting the most amount of revenue sharing dollars of any team in the league. This is the same team that a year ago offered Rafael Furcal 10 million a year to play shortstop and offered Marco Scutaro 6 million a year this season.

The A's opening day payroll was 62 million dollars last season. So far this year, they only have 21 million dollars committed to the team. Even if they kept the  47 million dollar opening day payroll they had in 2008, they are STILL well under that. Do the right thing Billy and bring Milton back to the bay.
Posted on: July 14, 2009 3:41 am
 

A's Midseason Report Card

2009 Record: 37-49, 4th Place in American League West
Offensive Grade: F
Defensive Grade: D
Starting Pitching Grade: B-
Bullpen Pitching Grade: B-
Managerial Grade: F
Front Office Grade: F
Overall Midseason Grade: D+

The A's entered 2009 as a darkhorse candidate to win the division. Now, at the halfway point, the team is a darkhorse candidate for the worst record in the American league. 2009 marks the first time in the past decade that the A's have entered the All-Star break with a record below .500. Offensively, the team has been a complete mess. Once again, Eric Chavez has found himself sidelined for the entire season, while the new free agent acquisitions have disappointed thus far. Even Matt Holliday , who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies , has gotten off to a slow start and there are now questions as to whether or not the A's will be able to get what they want in return in a midseason deal. Defensively, the A's have struggled, mainly because injuries to gold glove caliber players in Chavez and Mark Ellis . However, this can also be attributed to manager Bob Geren for starting Jack Cust in right field in many games thus far. The starting pitching has shown signs of promise. Trevor Cahill , Brett Anderson , and Vin Mazzaro , already christened "the new big three", have looked brilliant at times....and other times have shown their lack of experience. Dallas Braden has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, but a lack of run support has failed to earn him recognition. So has Josh Outman , but he became the third A's player to fall victim to Tommy John Surgery this offseason. The bullpen was very good at the beginning of the year, but has started falter down the stretch, mainly from being used far too much. Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey have been the two bright spots though. As for manager Bob Geren, he looks lost. He refuses to let starters work deep into games, has failed to play the matchups correctly, and shows no confidence in his team. If he wasn't Billy Beane's best man at his second wedding, he might be the second manager to be fired this season. Speaking of Billy Beane , he has completely mishandled the farm system all year long and his trade for Scott Hairston is questionable. It's been a rough first half for the A's.

First Half MVP: Andrew Bailey - Closer

After trading Huston Street in the offseason and seeing Joey Devine fall victim to Tommy John Surgery, many that follow the A's were wondering who would step up and take over the role of the teams closer. Andrew Bailey answered that question. Since being selected as the last reliever to make the A's bullpen out of spring training, Bailey has forced everyone around baseball to take notice of him. He is the only rookie to be selected for the All-Star Game in St. Louis and is the A's lone representative. No one could dare say Bailey isn't deserving though. Bailey leads all American League Relievers in innings pitched and strikeouts and is 4th among American League Closers with a 1.92 era. Bailey features a mid 90's fastball, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera .

Apologies to: Adam Kennedy, Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden

First Half LVP: Jason Giambi - First Basemen

If the Jason Giambi that the A's had on their team mirrored anything close to the young guy in the picture to the right, the A's were going to get a bargain in the offseason. Unfortunately, what they ended up with was an over the hill, aging veteran, whose bat can't catch up to an inside fastball. Giambi has been terrible this season. In fact, this is his worst season of his career. Currently, Giambi is hitting below the Mendoza Line at .192 on the year. The A's were hoping Giambi would be an upgrade from Daric Barton , but instead they only stunted Barton's development for no apparent reason. In addition, his inability to play the field everyday is causing manager Bob Geren to play Jack Cust in the outfield, a position that Cust should never play. Because of his performance, the A's can't trade Giambi. Jason has a team option for next year in which I don't think is going to get picked up. Unless Giambi has a strong second half, Giambi might be playing his last season in baseball.

sighs of relief for: Jack Cust, Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera

Biggest Surprise: Adam Kennedy - Infielder

At the beginning of the season, no one wanted Adam Kennedy . In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals waived Kennedy, eating the $4 million dollars he had owed on his contract. The Rays signed Kennedy to a minor league deal, but then quickly sent him to the A's for career minor leaguer Joe Dillon . Oh how those two teams GM's wish they could have do overs...Since arriving in Oakland, Kennedy has been an offensive force and is having his best season as pro baseball player. Kennedy is currently hitting .291 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Mind you, those numbers are since May, as the first month of the season Kennedy was in AAA. His home run total is his highest since 2004 when he hit 10 in a season. Kennedy is also proving to be a versatile player, playing whatever position he has been asked to receive playing time. He originally was called over to play second base in place of the injured Mark Ellis, but when Ellis returned Kennedy has made the transition to 3rd, 1st, and even some time in right field and has kept on hitting. Because Kennedy is a free agent at the end of the year though, he remains a good candidate to be traded. A team like the Cubs would be a perfect fit.

Apologies to: Josh Outman, Andrew Bailey, Dallas Braden

Player Most Likely to Be Traded: Matt Holliday - Left Field

While the A's have many players that could be dealt by the end of the month, none of them are more likely to leave than outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday was a three time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies, but has regressed since joining the A's and leaving the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field. According to reports, the A's are said to be asking for two top of the line prospects in return for Holliday. The reasoning is because the A's would not only be trading away Holliday, but the two compensation picks that come with him if he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The teams that make the most sense to acquire Holliday seem to be the Mets , Cardinals, and possibly the Red Sox . If teams won't give A's GM Billy Beane what he wants, Beane will simply hold on to Holliday and obtain the draft picks at the end of the season. However, some skeptics suggest that if Holliday doesn't get the price he wants in the offseason, he may accept arbitration from the A's which would net him a 1 year deal around 18 million. Personally, I don't think he would do it though as the last place Holliday would want to be to rebuild his value is Oakland. If it does happen though, the A's may have the same situation at this time next season.

Don't Get Too Comfortable: Adam Kennedy, Russ Springer, Bobby Crosby

First Prospect Likely To Be Called Up in 2nd Half: Tommy Everidge - Corner Infield

Tommy Everidge is flying under the radar. So much in fact, that I hadn't even heard of him until this year. He isn't even on Baseball America's list for the A's top 10 prospects. However, I can't wait for this kid to recieve his callup. Everidge features good power and pretty solid bat. Two seasons ago in Single-A, Everidge had 26 home runs and 94 RBI's while batting .266. Last year he had 22 home runs, 115 RBI, and improved his batting average to .279 at AA Midland. This season, combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Everidge is off to a torrid start hitting .309/.375/.508 with 14 home runs and an astonishing 73 RBI at the halfway point. A natural first basemen, the A's have been gradually converting Everidge to play 3rd, a position the organizational depth is weak at. His promotion to AAA, as well as the position switch, I believe forced the A's to trade away Jack Hannahan , who was demoted to AAA after a weak start to the season. The team probably felt they didn't want a player like Hannahan taking away at bats from Everidge. I expect to see Everidge to receive his first callup in August, though the team would likely have to trade Adam Kennedy to make room on the roster. If this kid has the ability to play 3rd base, the A's might have found their replacement for Eric Chavez.


Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:03 am
Edited on: June 23, 2009 3:38 am
 

(Travis) Buck Stops Here


A's Young Outfielder Proving to Management He Belongs



Travis Buck is angry. He's let it be known that he's not happy with A's management, nor manager Bob Geren.

And I don't blame him.

After returning from the 15 day disabled list on June 14th, the A's optioned Buck to AAA-Sacramento.

At the time, it was thought that Buck was sent down to get work in while the A's played 9 straight interleague games in NL parks. After all, the A's had to get their everday DH and home run leader, Jack Cust, into the lineup. But now that the A's are back in American League ballparks for the rest of the way, that never seemed to be the case as Buck is still stuck in AAA.

Buck was upset about being placed on the disabled list on May 30th, a day after refusing to play in the second game of a double header against the Texas Rangers on May 29th due to a strained oblique muscle. Even though Buck supplied almost all of the A's offense in the first game, it must of made both Bob Geren and Billy Beane mad that Buck said he was pain free the next day. 
Even though the A's front office would never admit to it, it's really the only explanation that makes sense. After all, Buck has hit .323 in his last 31 at bats with the team. Most of which have come sparingly due to Bob Geren platooning Buck for the entire season.

But then that got this A's fan thinking....

Could Billy Beane's ego be that big that he would sacrifice putting a better product on the field to make a statement to a player? Or was it Bob Geren, the man that has refused to give Buck regular at bats since the beginning of the season, that wanted Buck off the roster?

The A's as a team were hitting just .242 at the time Buck was placed on the disabled list and it seems odd the team wouldn't want one of their hottest hitters in the lineup. The team batting average has since dropped to .235 through Sunday, which is worst in the majors. 

However, Buck isn't letting the demotion affect him.

So far in 46 plate appearances for the Rivercats, Buck is hitting .405 with a .478 on base percentage. Not only that, but Buck is slugging .649, with 6 doubles and 1 home run in just 11 games. He clearly is sending management a message of his own.

A message like "You made a big mistake".

A rookie in 2007, Buck played very well for the A's as he went on to hit .288 with 7 home runs in just 285 at bats. Inspired by his performance and work ethic, the A's decided to trade their oft injured star in Milton Bradley in order to secure everday playing time for him.

However, after starting out 0 for his first 20 at bats in 2008, the A's sent Travis to AAA to fix his swing rather than letting him work out his problems with the big league club.

After a few weeks, Buck had fixed his swing, but the A's found that they didn't have a roster spot for him as they had brought back Frank Thomas to fill a void in the lineup.

Buck continued to hit in the minors and finished the year batting .326 for Sacramento. In the final two weeks of September, Buck was called back up to the A's and hit .367 with four home runs and 12 RBI in that time frame. 

At the outset of spring training in 2009, Buck came into camp told that he would be battling for the starting right field job. At the conclusion, Buck put all the critics to rest hitting for a .300, a .402 on base percentage and led the team in home runs and RBI. Naturally, it was assumed that Buck would be playing everday for the A's in right field.

However, manager Bob Geren was never a member of the Travis Buck fan club.

Geren decided initially to platoon Buck, only starting him against right handers. The logic never made sense though.

Usually, when a player is to be platooned against left handed pitchers, they are platooned with a player that can hit those lefties better. Buck's platoon partner, outfielder Rajai Davis, wasn't any better at hitting lefties than Buck himself. Buck's career average against left handers was two points higher than Davis. Also, he isn't considered a core piece of the future of the Oakland A's, so it seemed odd to give him the at bats. Up until this point, it seemed as if Travis Buck was one of those players. Now, I'm not so sure....Only because A's management won't let him be.

Buck needs to be up with the major league roster and he needs to be playing everday. He is doing everything in his power to prove he belongs. Whatever the case may be, whether it's Beane or manager Bob Geren, the conflict needs to be resolved and the egos need to be checked. Travis Buck has earned his right to play everday.

If Buck can't force Beane to call him back up, then perhaps his play in Sacramento will force Billy to trade him. Either way, it's a no win situation for Oakland with Buck off of the 25 man roster.




Posted on: June 10, 2009 7:41 pm
 

Green Day

A's Select USC SS Grant Green in First Round

Billy Beane Come draft day, Billy Beane is always put under the microscope. Baseball experts are always wondering who the next big player to come through the Oakland A's system will be. With one simple pick, Beane answered that question.

With the 13th pick of the 2009 amateur draft yesterday, the Oakland Athletics selected University of Southern California shortstop, Grant Green. The move could pay off huge dividends for Oakland in the near future.

Regarded by many as the best shortstop in the draft, Green was once viewed as a top 3 selection and the best position player in college baseball. At 6'3 and 180 pounds, many think Green could be a 5-tool player in the major leagues and their are many comparisons to current major leaguers Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki.

Green hit .390 with 9 home runs and 46 RBI in 205 at bats as a sophomore for USC in 2008 making scouts take notice. The following summer, he entered the Cape Cod wooden bat league where Green would hit .348 with 6 home runs, 21 RBI, 28 walks, and succesfully stole 10 bags in 13 attempts. He also slugged .547 which helped him earn the Robert A. McNeece Outstanding Pro Prosect Award.

Grant's ability to hit that well in a wooden bat league with that much power caught the eye of many scouts. However, Grant's slow start to his junior season both at the plate and on defense at USC caused his stock to drop in the draft this year.

"At the very beginning I did terrible with it, and I suffered," he said. "I wasn't trusting my teammates or myself. Once I started trusting, my play started going up and up, and I started hitting the way I can. From that, I kind of learned how to have that pressure on me."

Green was able to rebound as he finished the season hitting .374 with four home runs, 32 RBI and led the team with 16 stolen bases. However, the early damage had been done. Green's drop in power and his 18 errors made scouts start to question whether or not he was as good as first billed.

The A's seem confident though.

"I'm not in the scouting department, but I know people who have seen him play," said A's manager Bob Geren. "I know our front office is excited, and so am I. He's a big, physical shortstop with athletic ability. That's what you want."

Green is represented by agent Scott Boras, who also represents Oakland left fielder Matt Holliday. Known for being able to get big contracts. However, the A's don't seem too concerned about not being able to sign the young shortstop by the August 17th deadline.

Meanwhile, Green is just excited to be playing the game.

"I consider myself a baseball player first," Green said. "I'm not gonna be one of those prima donna-type players I'm going to go out play hard, get dirty and play the game the way it's supposed to be played."

If he does, Oakland could have something special in a few years.
Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:29 am
Edited on: May 6, 2009 12:06 am
 

What About Bob?

A's Manager Infuriating Fan Base

If a loss was an actual statistic applied to the manager of your team, how many do you think he's accumulated so far? In Oakland, third year manager Bob Geren has already cost the team several games and fans are becoming impatient.

Hired in November of 2006, Geren replaced former Oakland skipper Ken Macha, who was fired when the A's failed to advance to the World Series after getting swept by the Tigers in the 2006 ALCS. The justifications behind the Macha firing were mainly explained by Macha's methods of communication with players and upper management. Most notably, Macha had called injured pitchers Rich Harden and Joe Kennedy "non-entities" and became frustrated when Mark Ellis didn't want to play through a hurt finger in the 2006 playoffs. He also was criticized for not communicating with bench players and had differing views from GM Billy Beane on several managerial issues.  However, Macha still managed to get results during his tenure as he was 355-268 during his four years in Oakland and averaged 92 wins a season.

The same can't be said about Bob Geren.

Geren served as the A's bench coach under Macha and has been with the organization since 1999. The minor league record Geren had with various teams was 452-390, but the success hasn't translated at the major league level so far as Geren has only average 75 and a half wins a season in his first two years.

So did the A's front office make a mistake? The early results suggest that they did.
 
Apologists of Geren will reference the A's "rebuilding phase" they entered once Geren took over management as an excuse for his poor overall record. However, this phase was only entered into after Geren failed to take a 2007 roster, that featured 23 returning players from 2006 ALCS team, and make them winners. 

Looking ahead, while fans knew the 2008 team wouldn't compete with the deals management made, there was still a strong sense of optimism that most fans had for the team entering the 2009 season. Through the various deals the previous year, Billy Beane had restocked the farm system with several promising young arms. These arms, combined with the recent acquisitions of all-star outfielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and first basemen Jason Giambi were supposed to guide this team back to "respectability".

Geren's decision making abilities was already questioned early on when he chose to go with pitcher Josh Outman as the fifth starter in his rotation over the more talented Sean Gallagher. Not only did Geren not go with Gallagher, but he didn't send Gallagher to AAA to get in work as a starter. Instead, Geren left Gallagher at the end of his bullpen and hardly ever used him in a game. In addition, Geren has been criticized by fans for failing to skip Outman when he has the chance and also for platooning outfielder Travis Buck with Rajai Davis even though Buck (a left handed hitter) has a higher average against left handed pitchers than Davis.

Throughout the year so far, the offense has been anemic, while the pitching staff has been just average. With that said, the A's have found themselves in many close ballgames and it is these type of games, where a good manager can be the difference between a win and a loss. In a game against the Yankees early in the season, Geren decided to play the infield in when the Yankees featured runners at second and third with one out in the second inning.....

Yes. I did just type second inning. However, I failed to mention that the game was tied 0-0. Why any manager would do this at this point of a game is beyond me. Little league managers know better than this. It ended up costing the A's game. The Yankees ended up scoring four runs in the inning when the next two hits could have been fielded for outs instead of singles. Had Geren played the infield back, the result would have been minimal and he would have given his team a chance to win. The Yankees only scored one run the rest of the game.

Later in that series, the team had an extra inning ballgame where Dan Giese had already gone three innings and was clearly worn out. The A's alternatives in their pen featured Sean Gallagher and Santiago Casilla. Gallagher could have worked several innings, as he was formerly a starter for the team, but Geren chose to leave Giese out to dry and the A's ended up losing the game.

In the weekend series this past week, the A's had several leads against the Seattle Mariners and failed to capitalize on them and put teams away. Instead, Geren left relievers in for way too long. The most recent was Gio Gonzalez, who made 103 pitches in relief on Sunday night. That should never happen in a relief role. Not only were the A's leading by three entering the bottom of the 13th, but the A's had several other options they could have turned to. By stretching Gio Gonzalez out, they risked injury and they also ended up losing the game.



A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez was left out to dry Sunday night


So far, not counting Monday nights game, Geren has cost this team at least two wins (if not more) and has not put the team in position to win ballgames. Even the A's pythagorean win-loss percentage suggests that the team should have two more wins than they already do.

Firing Geren would be a difficult task for GM Billy Beane to do. After all, Geren was the best man at Beane's second wedding. However, it's what many A's fans want to happen right now and there is a pretty good argument to support it. I'm not going to go there just yet, but I will say that Geren should be placed on the hot seat. If he cannot produce some results this season, perhaps he's not the right guy for the job.


Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:25 am
 

Pure Optimism in Oakland

You know the major league baseball offseason just hasn't started until Billy Beane has made a blockbuster trade.

Yet this time around, there is a different feeling. The A's are no longer selling. The trade on Monday for Matt Holliday was a breath of fresh air for A's fans everywhere. After years of watching superstars leave their team, A's fans know that this offseason is different.

After the 2001 season, the A's lost former MVP Jason Giambi, closer Jason Isringhausen, and outfielder Johnny Damon. Two seasons later, following the 2003 season, A's fans saw Miguel Tejada leave via free agency to the Baltimore Orioles and Keith Foulke leave to win a world series with the Red Sox. Again after the 2004 season, Beane traded all-star pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder away in seperate deals and also saw Jermaine Dye leave for Chicago. After 2006, Barry Zito left to join the San Francisco Giants throughout the year last season, the A's witnessed Billy Beane trade away Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Mark Kotsay, and fan favorite Nick Swisher.

But now the A's are on the other side of the deal. They are buyers for once.

The trades made by Billy Beane over the past year were set up to replenish his farm system and to allow him financial flexibility. In 2007, the A's had an opening day payroll of around 80 million. By midseason of 2008, Beane had cut that number in half. Now, that added payroll flexibility in the end will allow the A's to attempt to compete. If he chooses to spend it, Beane has around 40 million dollars to work with. Actually, the inclusion of Huston Street in the deal will likely make it around 45 million after Street is done with arbitration. With that extra cash, there have been talks that Beane will attempt to work out an extension with Holliday. On top of that, the A's have also been linked to names like Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Surround quality players with strong pitching and a good farm system and the A's could be contenders for years to come.

In Holliday, the A's are getting a two time all-star that is coming off of three really strong seasons in the National League and has been a franchise player since he was called up in 2004. Holliday fits the Oakland philosophy. He hits for a high average, has a high on base percentage, and has the power to send plenty of baseballs over the fence. While it's likely that Holliday's numbers are sure to decrease outside of Coors field, no one really knows how much of an effect it will be. He is a quality right handed power bat on a team that is loaded with lefties.

Billy Beane will undoubtedly get criticized for this deal from people everywhere. The critics of Billy Beane will look at the players the A's gave up and say "wow, why on earth did you give up that much." Most of these are the same critics that slam Beane for once trading players such as Mark Teahen, Carlos Pena, Aaron Harang, Joe Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwig and others. However, many of those critics don't realize how much better Beane's teams have gotten throughout those trades. They got all-star caliber players in return, such as Damon, Ted Lilly, Jose Guillen, Dye, and others. Sure, Beane might have traded away some prospects that turned out to be good major leaguers, but isn't that a testiment to how well this A's organization drafts and develops its players in the farm system? After all, the team keeps refueling and competing year in and year out with homegrown talent.

The A's gave up three really good talents in order to acquire Holliday in Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, and Huston Street. Gonzalez was the prize piece the A's picked up a year ago from the Arizona Diamondbacks when they traded Dan Haren. His swing is a thing of beauty, but his approach at the plate has never matched the A's "moneyball" philosophy built on strong on base percentage. Gonzalez projects to be a solid player once he matures and a lot of scouts have compared him to a younger version of Garret Anderson. Meanwhile, Greg Smith was also acquired in the Arizona deal as a throw in and flourished for the A's in the rotation last year. He has quality stuff, but he was expendable as the A's have a TON of quality pitching prospects in the minor leagues. However, it should be noted that Smith had surgery this offseason on his elbow as well. Lastly, Huston Street is a player that has fallen out of favor in Oakland. He has been in and out of injuries the past few seasons and finally lost his closers job last year to Brad Ziegler halfway through the year. However, I still believe Street can be an effective closer in this league, but he is no longer needed in Oakland as the team is prepared to hand the 9th inning duties to Joey Devine going forward. This trade benefited both teams involved and was a win-win scenario for both teams.

Remember, it was just a year ago that people were criticizing Beane for the package he got back for Dan Haren. According to most "experts" at the time, Beane got only one solid player (Gonzalez), an average pitcher (Brett Anderson) and a bunch of throw ins. In essence since two of the people from that deal are heading to the Rockies as part of that deal, Beane managed to land Holliday, Anderson, Dana Eveland, Aaron Cunningham, and the A's organizational player of 2007, Chris Carter for Dan Haren and Huston Street. Like it or not, but the A's are better off than they were a year ago because of these trades.

Sure, the A's finished 24 games out of first place this past season, but that was also with the team setting a new record for DL use which also had their other big bat in the lineup (Eric Chavez) sidelined for the year. It was a season that featured many rookies making their major league debuts as well. There are several things that can happen in an offseason to change your place in the standings. You can make improvements yourself and you can also watch your opponents make mistakes and lose players. The A's young players are going to continue to develop and now the team has vastly improved their offense. Meanwhile, the Angels may or may not get Mark Teixeira, Garret Anderson or Francisco Rodriguez back this offseason as they all have become free agents. We will have to wait and see what the offseason brings. However, there is a sense of pure optimism from this A's fan and I know I'm not the only one.
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com