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Tag:Joe Blanton
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: March 11, 2008 2:56 am
Edited on: March 11, 2008 6:02 pm
 

2008 Oakland A's Baseball

You've got questions? I've got the answers. Everything you need to know about the upcoming season for the Oakland Athletics is right here.


Q: Will Mike Sweeney make the big league roster?

It certainly looks like it. After several injury plagued seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Sweeney is off to a great start this spring for the Athletics batting .400. initially, it was thought that Sweeney was brought in to compete with Dan Johnson for a backup role, but because of his strong performance, it is likely that Sweeney will open the year as the A's DH with Jack Cust shifting to the outfield. Meanwhile, Johnson is struggling mightily at the plate and could be traded by opening day.



Q: Do you expect any spring training surprises?

With both Chris Denorfia and Ryan Sweeney struggling this spring and Emil Brown not a viable option in center, the A's could turn to Carlos Gonzalez in centerfield. Gonzalez was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Dan Haren to Arizona and has all the raw talent to develop into a superstar. It was expected that Gonzalez would play at least the first half of the season at AAA Sacramento and with the A:s not competing this season, there is no real reason to put him in the lineup right away (as their was last season with Travis Buck).


Q: Who will be the next Marco Scutaro, of the timely hits and awesome chant?

It remains to be seen. Scutaro was the captain of clutch for the A's, but with him reaching arbitration and the A's having both Donnie Murphy and Jack Hannahan they could turn to, they decided to cash in on the super-sub. As far as the chants go, it remains to be seen. There are so many new faces in Oakland this season, so the fans will be forced to come up with some fresh material. I'm gonna try to make it to the opening series against the Red Sox, so maybe I'll think of something by then.



Q: What will the lineup look like?

That's a good question. I'm not sure what Bob Geren is thinking of doing, but I imagine it will look something like this....
  1. RF Travis Buck
  2. 2B Mark Ellis
  3. 1B Daric Barton
  4. DH Mike Sweeney
  5. LF Jack Cust
  6. 3B Eric Chavez
  7. SS Bobby Crosby
  8. C Kurt Suzuki
  9. CF Carlos Gonzalez/Chris Denorfia
With Daric Barton set to take over first base and the emergence of Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney in the lineup, a lot of pressure will be taken off Eric Chavez this season. Chavez is coming off of three offseason surgeries and still isn't fully recovered.

Q: Will Travis Buck keep his hair long, or will he cut it NYY style?
It's a good thing we talk about what is important. Buck had his hair long for the first half of 2007 and then cut it towards the 2nd half. Report out of spring training are that Buck hasn't cut his hair yet and is sporting the long haired look he had at the beginning of last season (see picture to the left). After the fans outcry, I think the hair will stay for good.




Q: Will Rich Harden stay healthy through Spring Training? Through April? Through the All-Star Break? Through the end of the year?


It's really hard to determine the health of a player, especially one that has had constant injury problems the past few seasons like Harden. However, reports out of spring training are encouraging. In fact, the A's have worked with Harden to tweak his delivery a bit this season in an effort to keep him more healthy. While I'm not really going to predict the health of Rich Harden and how long he lasts, it is obvious that the A's are a much better team when he takes the mound for them.



Q: Will Blanton step up to the challenge of being promoted in the rotation?


I think he will. "Big Country" will only be 27 next season and will begin to enter his prime. Joe is a solid pitcher that eats a lot of innings and will give opposing teams a run for their money. He isn't the prototypical ace, but he's good enough to get the job done for the A's. Aside from his first outing of the spring, in which Blanton was mainly throwing fastballs, he has looked solid and if you couple him with a healthy Rich Harden, the A's could surprise a few people this season.



Q: Will we miss Duchscherer’s presence in the bullpen more than we enjoy his performance as a starter?


Duchscherer has arguably been one of the A's best pitchers over the past couple of seasons and there is no reason to assume that he'll fail as a starter. He came up through the minor league as a starter, but was blocked from a job by Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Cory Lidle and Ted Lilly and was forced to change to a reliever to get his shot. The A's shouldn't miss him too much in the pen as Santiago Casilla and Keith Foulke will likely be called up to take his place. In addition, Joey Devine, who the A's added in the Mark Kotsay deal, could make a significant contribution as well.


Q: Are we really looking at Lenny DiNardo in the starting rotation?

It looks like it. However, I think DiNardo's stay in the rotation may be short-lived. Gio Gonzalez, the main prospect acquired in the Nick Swisher deal has looked solid so far this spring. Couple that with his minor league statistics the past couple of seasons and it makes you wonder why he is a long shot to be considered for the rotation. Last season at AA-Birmingham, Gonzalez was 9-7 with a 3.18 era and recorded 185 strikeouts in just 150 innings pitched. Look for him around mid-season.

Q: Will Foulke be a welcome addition to the A’s ‘pen?


Definitely! Foulke was solid when he was the closer here in Oakland and fans still remember that. The Indians thought Foulke was healthy enough to be their closer last season, so after a year of rest, he should be a solid middle reliever for the A's. If he's not, big deal. The A's are only paying him a base salary of $700,000.


Q: Can Bobby Crosby emerge as a serviceable shortstop now that (presumably) his injuries are behind him?

I'm not so sure. There were high expectations for Crosby when he first came out and I think those expectations, more than his numbers, led him to getting the rookie of the year award back in 2004. I always gave Crosby slack as he could never live up to the guy he replaced (Tejada), but it's about time he starts to perform. He can start by raising his abysmal batting average. If he doesn't, Oakland could be looking for a replacement in 2009.



Q: Is Chavez finally healthy, and if finally healthy, finally good?


No. Chavez is still recovering from his 3 offseason surgeries. He suffered a setback earlier this month and is just about a lock to miss the opener in Japan. Chavez is highly unlikely to ever return to the player he once was from 2001-2004, but he's still an above average third basemen and the top fielding third basemen in the league.




Q: Will we see Barton at first base?


Yes. The 22 year old Barton was already named the A's opening day starter before spring training even began. The A's were impressed with his callup last September and felt that he deserved to be handed the job without competition. Barton, who was traded to the A's along with Dan Haren for Mark Mulder, has been the A's best prospect in their farm system for a while now and has a great eye and is a solid contact hitter. However, his power number are a bit low for a first basemen (Barton was a converted catcher).

Q: In April, can Suzuki quadruple the number of homeruns that Jason Kendall hit in his entire Athletics’ career?

Considering the fact that Kendall only had 3 his entire Athletics's career, I don't think he'll do it in April, but maybe throughout the course of the year. Suzuki hit 7 home runs in just 213 at bats last year for the team which is already more than Jason. While I think that number may be a bit high (in terms of frequency), I think you can expect anywhere from 12-15 homers from Suzuki on the year.




Q: Any Bold Predictions?

Sure....why not.

- A's final record will be 76-86, 3rd place in the AL West
- Jack Cust will hit .265/.410/.500 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI
- Both Rich Harden and Joe Blanton win 15 games 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