Legends On Deck

Billy Beane = Burned Out?

Billy Beane is a genius. There are no qualms about it. The man has mastered the art of “Moneyball”, or Sabermetrics.

Mr. Beane has made himself a very valuable executive in the world of Major League Baseball for over 17 years, ever since taking over for Sandy Alderson in October 1997 as the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. However, as a true fan of everything Billy Beane has done over his long and illustrious executive career in baseball, I can make a completely unbiased and fair statement regarding what has transpired with the A’s over the past 6 months.


Now, I totally understand that Mr. Beane has made the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. I understand that Billy has consistently changed up his roster to fit his methods behind the Sabermetrics. Hell, I even understand the A’s have won no less than 74 games under Beane’s regime. But to see some of the maneuvers made over the past 6 months by the Oakland GM, it shows that there’s something going other than the simple yet intricate Sabermetrics strategy.

Credit: BaseballSource.com
Credit: BaseballSource.com

In the summer of 2014, in the midst of the A’s incredible first half of baseball, Billy Beane seemingly decided (at least to a die-hard baseball fan like myself) to go ALL IN. He went and picked up BOTH Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija on the 4th of July from the Cubs. Not only that, he went out and traded for Jon Lester from the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox, who has been very dominating during his postseason career. It was a major coup, and very out of character, for a man that seemingly never hinged away from his steady Moneyball strategy.

Yet, the deal that was made for Lester sent All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox. The weird part of this trade, however, was that Cespedes had ONE YEAR LEFT ON HIS 4 YEAR, $36 MILLION CONTRACT AFTER 2014!!! Having 3 months of a postseason clutch pitcher and sending away for a star with 1 and a half years left on his contract makes ZERO sense long term. I understand that you take some money off the books with Boston paying the final terms of the deal, but I truly look it as a rare MISCUE from the Maestro behind Moneyball.

Cespedes was a true cog in the Athletics machine as they won the AL West back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 and were well on their way to doing it again. Once that trade happened, the A’s went 22-33 the rest of the way. You could see through the play of Oakland that without Cespedes, the hitting seemed off and the lineup never recovered once he went 3000 miles away to the struggling crew in Boston.

Hell, it took to the last day of the season with an Oakland W to advance to the Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals. And ultimately, despite Lester’s grit and attempt to get a win through 7.1 innings of tough baseball against a never-say-die Royals team, Oakland found themselves OUT of postseason contention in a 9-8, 12 inning thriller. Beane’s attempt at hot-shotting a chance at the 2014 World Series had flopped.

Then, the offseason started to take form once the Winter Meetings started earlier in the month. Jon Lester left, as was expected, and signed a 6 year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. Jason Hammel also took his talents out of Oakland after three months and signed BACK with the Cubs. Beane traded away Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox for four players. Billy Butler, the Royals’ designated hitter coming off one of his most lackluster years ever, was signed to a 3 year, $30 million contract, stunning more than a fare share of fans. 1st baseman Brandon Moss was dealt to the Cleveland Indians on December 8. But in my humble opinion, the weirdest move from Beane was the trading of All-Star 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and three prospects.

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  1. Kirk Cahill

    December 15, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    I think the pressure to win got to everyone in Oakland, from the top down. I don’t think Beane is burned out, I think he took a shot and missed. Also, I’ve been told that Beane has scaled back his workload over the last few years and that David Forst has been handling a lot of the GM duties.

    • Jon Harder

      December 15, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Wow. Kirk, just by what you just wrote, I’m getting Frank Cashen letting Joe McIlvaine run the majority of GM duties with the Mets during the 1980s. Doubt its the same situation, but eerie.

      Thanks for reading my piece, man. Much appreciated.

      • Kirk Cahill

        December 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Great job on it, Jon. Don’t want you to think I was criticizing your post, just sharing my thoughts. I’ve also been accused of being a Billy Beane apologist on occasion. Haha.

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