Tag:Miguel Tejada
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 30, 2008 1:40 am
 

American League Midseason Report Cards

The half way point of the season is here and it's time to grade the performance of each team. How well has your team done this season?

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
Record:
41-39, 4th Place in the AL East
Grade: A -

The Orioles made the right moves during the off-season by trading both Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Those two trades brought the team some quality players in return that the team can build upon. While many people wrote the Orioles off this season--some going as far as predicting the team would have 100 losses--the O's have remained competitive all year long. The only step left for GM Andy MacPhail is to continue the firesale and trade off the remaining veterans for prospects. With the team having a top 3 relief pitching staff, there will be quite a bit of demand for veteran relievers like Chad Bradford, Jamie Walker, and George Sherrill. Trading them would make the team much better in the long run.


Boston Red Sox
Record:
50-34, 2nd Place in the AL East
Grade: A

The Red Sox have played very well this season. Despite the fact that David Ortiz started out slow, Curt Schilling is done for the year, and multiple players have spent time on the DL, they still have one of the best records in baseball. However, because they play in baseball's best division, they are finding themselves in the middle of what should be a three team race for the American League East. With regards to that, I give the team an "A" for overall performance. However, because Schilling is out with injury, I don't trust anyone on their team other than Josh Beckett to start in the playoffs. Despite Tim Wakefield having his best season since 2002, he has never been a good postseason pitcher. The young guys--Lester, Buchholz, & Masterson--have only one playoff start between them and lack longevity in the regular season. Meanwhile, Daisuke's walk totals are increasing and his performance in the postseason last year was terrible. It will be interesting to see if the team pursues a veteran starter at the deadline.


New York Yankees
Record:
44-38, 3rd Place in the AL East
Grade: B

The Yankees haven't exactly been playing their best ball, yet they haven't played bad baseball either. The team has consistently remained around .500 and have just recently made a run above it. In my opinion, the Yankees can't get much worse, but they have the potential to be much better than they are playing. With Joba finally making the transition to the rotation, if the Yankees can add one more starter, they'll be right in the thick of it. The teams offense is potent, especially with the return of Jason Giambi to the lineup and the bullpen has been holding its own so far. The Yankees were my prediction to win the division and I still think they will do it.


Tampa Bay Rays
Record:
49-32, 1st Place in the AL East
Grade: A

Wow. Who would have thought the Tampa Bay Rays would have been in first place in the American League East at the halfway point? I certainly didn't. This team has been loaded with talent, but it never fully developed until now. The off-season trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza has payed dividends as well and given the team a formidable front three of Scott Kazmir, Garza, and James Shields. In addition, Evan Longoria is showing that he will be a true superstar in this league for years to come. What the team really needs going forward is one more bat, perhaps in right field or DH, to solidify the lineup. Other than that, the Rays will stay competitive until the very end. You can be assured of that.


Toronto Blue Jays
Record:
40-43, Last Place in the AL East
Grade: D

Everyone's favorite preseason pick is in last place in the division right now. The Blue Jays haven't played bad baseball, but they just haven't been given a commitment to winning by their management. The early season release of Frank Thomas (who is hitting .319 with the A's) is a perfect example. The team has the pitching staff to be a good team and they could make a 2nd half run, but it might be too little too late in the toughest division in baseball. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need to make a trade for an impact bat. You can't expect to win too many games with Matt Stairs, Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, and Shannon Stewart in your lineup. It just doesn't happen.



American League Central

Chicago White Sox
Record:
45-35, 1st Place in the AL Central
Grade: A

Maybe we were a bit too harsh on GM Kenny Williams this offseason as many of his signings have proven to work out great. The additions of Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink have shored up the bullpen problems the team has been having for years. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin is among the league leaders in home runs this season, while Alexei Ramirez is batting over .300 and has shored up the the 2nd base spot for the team. Even the decision to keep Joe Crede is looking brilliant now. The only move that isn't looking great is the Nick Swisher deal as Ryan Sweeney is outperforming him in Oakland. However, Swisher is batting .302 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in the month of June so he might be on the verge of turning it around.


Cleveland Indians
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in AL the Central
Grade: F

I don't understand how a team this talented could perform so poorly all year long. The Indians aren't even putting themselves anywhere close to contention which is making the decision to trade C.C. Sabathia easier by the day. The more and more I see of Travis Hafner, the uglier that 6 year extension is looking that he signed a year ago as well. The only two Indians ballplayers that are performing are Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake and Blake is as good as gone at the seasons end. The Indians better hope that Sabathia brings them back players that will help them in the immediate future, because the Indians window of opportunity is closing.


Detroit Tigers
Record:
41-40, 3rd Place in the AL Central
Grade: C

Well, it isn't what we expected, but to be a game above .500 and only 4.5 back of the division leaders at the halfway sign is good for the Tigers who started the season off poorly. The pitching staff is starting to come around--though Dontrelle Willis may be done as a pro--and the team should get better in the bullpen when Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney start to come around. It wouldn't surprise me if the Tigers overtook the White Sox in the American League Central by the end of the year. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me if the team remained mediocre for the rest of the season. Much like the Yankees, the offense will be there for this team. EVERYTHING relies on the pitching staff down the stretch. I would suggest the team making a trade, but after the deals with Florida and Atlanta, they can't have much left in their farm system.


Kansas City Royals
Record:
37-45, Tied for Last Place in the AL Central
Grade: D

We knew the Royals were going to be bad to start the year, so the fact that they have a higher grade than the Indians is because the Indians failed to meet anywhere close to their expectations. However, I still don't understand how many of these players on the Royals have jobs. I mean, how long is it going to be until Tony Pena, who has a .142 batting average and an OPS of -2 (yeah...negative two) is sent down? I mean, he can't be in their for his defense either as he has the 2nd worse. Their other alternative, Angel Berroa, was recently traded away to the Dodgers which made no sense at all. At least Berroa could hit the ball out of the infield. This team has some talented players, but they are nowhere near turning into a good ballclub.


Minnesota Twins
Record:
45-37, 2nd Place in the AL Central
Grade: B+

The Twins lost both Johan Santana and Torii Hunter this offseason and are still in contention. How you may ask? For one, Hunter has always been overrated and is just an average ballplayer. Secondly, Joe Mauer has been able to stay healthy this season which has given the offense a spark. And third, the bullpen (as usual) has been outstanding. The Twins really don't deserve to be where they are with the performance of the offense (as a whole) and the poor starting pitching they've had. However, they'd remained in the hunt the entire time and had tons of success against the National League this season. I gave them a B+ because of their record, however, I think both the White Sox and Tigers will finish ahead of them by the end of the year.



American League West

Los Angeles Angels
Record:
49-33, 1st Place in the AL West
Grade: A -

The Angels got exceptional performances from Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana while John Lackey was out, and now that he's back, the team has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the majors. However, the offense of the Halos has been a huge disappointment this season as the team is 2nd to last in the American League in team OPS. Only two players on the team have double digit home run numbers and one of them (Mike Napoli) is just a part time player. The Angels most obvious need for the second half is an impact bat, preferably at shortstop. The Angels should be able to keep pace in the west as the A's and Rangers aren't much of a real threat, but if they want to avoid another October disappointment, they'll have to make some changes.


Oakland Athletics
Record:
44-37. 2nd Place in the AL West
Grade: B+

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to doubt Billy Beane. He's the only guy that can make his team better the next season by trading his best pitcher and his best hitter. Many people had the A's predicted as the last place finishers in the west this season, but the A's have continued to succeed with their foundation of strong pitching. The team is on pace to set another record for most people on the disabled list in a season. Much like the division rival Angels, the A's offense has been terrible this season. However, I don't think it can get much worse than it already is. Daric Barton has struggled all year long, but the A's have no other options at the position now that Dan Johnson is gone and it's probably best to let Barton swing his way out of it. Carlos Gonzalez has finally arrived at the major league level and his swing is amazing. He is only 21 and you can tell that he'll be a great ballplayer in the future. The team has a lot of potential and was initially geared up to compete in 2010-2011. Anything they do now is just a bonus.


Texas Rangers
Record:
42-41, 3rd Place in the AL West
Grade: B

Nolan Ryan......."Take That!" At least, that's what I'd be saying if I were Rangers manager Ron Washington. After feeling the heat much of the first half, Ron Washington has the Rangers maintaining a respectable winning percentage. He is getting the most out of the players he has and it's turning into wins for the ballclub. Milton Bradley might just be the best offseason signing for the Rangers as he has continued to crush the ball. Now all the team needs to do is to finally get some decent pitchers to the big league level instead of trading their best talent away (i.e. Chris Young, Edinson Volquez, John Danks). If I were GM Jon Daniels, I know my team doesn't stand much of a chance at the postseason this year, so I'd look to see if I could trade Vincente Padilla (and his contract) to a contender.


Seattle Mariners
Record:
31-50, Last Place in the AL West
Grade: F

What a joke. I think I was the only person here to question how good the Seattle Mariners would be this season. I KNEW they weren't as good as everyone has been saying and they only proved me right by having the worst record in baseball. It's about time they fired Bill Bavasi as he did nothing good for the team. I don't even know what to say about the Mariners right now other than a firesale should be about to begin (with everyone except for Ichiro). The Mariners have a lot of rebuilding to do and now that Bavasi damaged the teams future, who knows how long it's going to take.

Posted on: April 10, 2008 6:34 pm
 

FAQ: Panic Attack

The answers to the questions you want to know......

Have a question? Post it below and it will get answered.


Q: Which pitcher has surprised you the most so far?

Edwin Jackson's start to the season has definitely been the biggest surprise to me. So far, through two starts this season, Jackson is 2-0, with a 0.64 era and 10 strikeouts in 14 inningsr. Jackson was a 15 game loser last season that had an era of almost 6. He once was considered the top pitching prospect in the Dodgers organization, but became an afterthought after he struggled with them early on. Jackson is only 24 years old this season and if he reaches the potential that scouts once thought he had, the Rays will have a pretty solid rotation with him, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and James Shields.

Q: Of the batters off to hot starts, which one surprises you the most?

So far there have been two players starts that have surprised me so far. The first one is definitely Joe Crede of the White Sox. After 7 games this season, Crede is batting .393 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. After a slow spring, Crede is making other GM's look foolish for not trading for him and he's also making Kenny Williams look like a genious for keeping him on the big league roster over Josh Fields, who had a solid year with the White Sox last year.

The second player that has completely surprised me is Jason Kendall of the Milwaukee Brewers. Through the first half of last season with the Oakland Athletics, Kendall was struggling just to stay above the .200 mark in batting average. Moving him behind the pitcher to the 9th spot in the order has seemed to work out so far as Kendall has started off the year hitting .526 with 5 RBI, 5 runs scored, and one steal. I knew Kendall would help Milwaukee's pitchers (2.95 team era), but I don't think anyone thought he'd be this effective with the bat. I always thought Kendall was a better National League player, and his performance so far has shown me why I still believe that.


Q: Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago (AL), Florida, and St. Louis have all gotten off to hot starts so far. Of those teams, which one has the greatest chance of reaching the postseason?

This question had me thinking for a very long time. I guess the best way to answer this question is to start off with teams that I can pretty much guarantee won't reach the postseason. Even though the Orioles have gotten off to a hot start, they play in baseball's toughest division this season and don't have much of a chance. There is no way Florida would beat out Atlanta, New York, or Philly in the NL East without Miguel Cabrera, and even though Kansas City has great potential, I think they are going to cool down once Detroit and Cleveland start playing better. So that leaves me with the White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals......Even though the NL Central has been the weakest division in baseball the past couple of seasons, I still don't see the Cardinals emerging on top. Their mediocre pitching staff will catch up to them and the offense isn't much outside of Albert Pujols. The White Sox, on the other hand, have the offense to compete with teams in the Central, and they spent big money to revamp the bullpen this offseason. The only question remains is the starting pitching, yet they have a decent ace in Buehrle and potential in the back with Danks, so if I had to choose one of these five to make the postseason, it'd be them.

Q: Should the Giants try to trade for Dan Johnson now that the A's designated him for assignment?

In my opinion, the Giants are the only team where Johnson would make sense. Although Johnson hasn't had great success in the big leagues, the success that he has had is certainly a lot better than both Rich Aurilia and Dan Ortmeier (who the Giants are playing at first base). If Johnson could just raise his batting average, he'd become a much better player. He already has a solid eye, as he walked 72 times last season. Maybe a move to the National League is just what he needs. If the Giants want him, I say they don't risk another team posting a claim on him and go ahead and trade for him. At the very most, it'd cost a player that the Giants don't utilize much like Fred Lewis and at the very least it would cost a low-A ball player.

Q: What do you make of the Dodgers outfield situation? Will Joe Torre finally figure it out?

When the news first broke that Andre Ethier would be starting in place of Juan Pierre, I thought Torre was making the right move. What the reports failed to tell us was that Juan Pierre would be eating up Matt Kemps at bats, which is worse than originally expected. Pierre only has 3 hits all season, zero walks, and has been thrown out trying to steal second. He doesn't deserve to start on the Dodgers and hopefully Joe Torre will eventually realize that. If he doesn't, it's going to start costing the team some wins.

Q: What is wrong with Andruw Jones? Will he ever be the player that he was 2-3 seasons ago for the Braves?

It remains to be seen. I remain optimistic that Jones can turn around his 2007 season, but he hasn't shown anything of the sort so far in 2008. I find it hard to believe that a player that has had as much success in this league as Jones, and is only 30 years old, will continue to decline. So far, Andruw Jones is proving me wrong about him. I hope by the end of the year that the "It's only April" excuse will apply to him because that would be a shame to see someone that good fall so fast.

Q: The Indians just locked up Fausto Carmona to a long term deal. Was this a good or bad move?

Indians GM Mark Shapiro is one of the best when it comes to locking up young talent. He did it with Grady Sizemore a few years back and now he's locking up Carmona to a deal that will buy out his first two seasons of free agency. While most general managers would usually wait another year before making such a deal, I think it was a smart move by Shapiro. If the Indians lose C.C. Sabathia in the offseason, they will be in trouble. At least this guarantees the team a front of the rotation starter for at least the next six seasons.


Q: Based on what we've seen so far, what are the best trades made this past offseason?

So far, I'd say the best trade made was the Diamondbacks acquisition of Dan Haren from the Athletics, simply because it helped both teams involved. So far, Haren has been lights out for the Diamondbacks, while both Dana Eveland and Greg Smith have pitched very well for the Athletics. Meanwhile, Brett Anderson was solid in his first minor league start and Carlos Gonzalez is batting .300 for the River Cats. Another trade that has worked out very well is the Orioles trade of Miguel Tejada to the Astros. Tejada's been hitting the ball well for the Astros, but Luke Scott has been hitting it even better. Scott leads the American League in batting average at .500. Meanwhile, both Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate have yet to give up a run in over 9 innings of relief (combined). Also, as expected, the Mets deal for Johan Santana is working out great.

The worst trade we've seen so far could be Seattle's trade for Erik Bedard. While Bedard has had a solid two starts for the Mariners, the team has lost many games because their bullpen is now extremely weak and the offense is worse than it was a year ago. We'll have to give it more time to play out though.

Q: What is wrong with the Yankees? They have gone from having the best offense in 2007, to having the worst so far in 2008?

The Yankees are typically slow out of the gate, so I wouldn't be worried too much. Since 2004, the Yankees record in April is only 46-51(not counting this season) and they've made the postseason each one of those years. With both Posada and Jeter injured, and Giambi, Damon, and Cano off to slow starts, they should be happy with the 4-5 record. As always, the only people performing in New York right now on offense are A-rod, Matsui, and Abreu. I think Joe Girardi needs to handle his pitchers a little better. Not starting Kennedy because the "threat" of rain is lame to begin with and then bringing him in when the team is down 2 runs in the 7th is even more pointless.
 
 
 
 
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