Billy Beane’s Flurry of Moves and the Moneyball Irony
Let’s have a look with the vaunted objective analysis and the contradictory nature of what Beane is doing now in comparison with what it was that made him a “genius” in Moneyball.
Scott Kazmir signs a two-year, $22 million contract
Before re-anointing Beane as the world’s foremost baseball authority, know that he just made Scott Kazmir the highest paid player on his team. This is the same Kazmir who couldn’t find a job two years ago when he had tryouts for numerous clubs and they were left unimpressed. Since then, he went from getting blasted for the Independent League Sugar Land Skeeters to the tune of a 5.34 ERA and a 1.672 WHIP in 2012 to a two-year, $22 million contract with the Athletics in 2014. This is off one comeback season with the Indians in which he was not great, not bad, but passable. If the A’s are intent on using Kazmir for six innings and pulling him to hand the games over to the revamped bullpen, fine. He’s still not a pitcher who should be the highest paid player on the club. If there’s an expectation that he will be a Bartolo Colon-style reclamation project and reemerge as an All-Star, it’s a stretch even for the fictionally gigantic brain of Beane.
Will Kazmir stay healthy? He’s had back problems and shoulder problems in his career, so if the A’s are expecting 200 innings from Kazmir – a number he’s reached once in his career six years ago – they’re not going to get it. Kazmir made 29 starts for the Indians in 2013 and averaged nearly 5 1/2 innings per start. He accumulates high pitch counts and his limit is around 100 pitches. His velocity was back to the 92-93 range with regularity in 2013, but I'd have steered clear entirely. They’d have been better off with Phil Hughes.
Moneyball Irony: The A’s supposedly ridiculed the Mets for drafting Kazmir ahead of Nick Swisher in the 2002 draft that Moneyball author Michael Lewis was granted fly-on-the-wall status to observe. Now he’s all theirs, a shadow of what he was when the Mets drafted him and is the highest paid player on their team.