Billy Beane's series of trades to improve(?) the Athletics

Billy Beane’s Flurry of Moves and the Moneyball Irony

12/3/13 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Dec 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane addresses the media in a press conference announcing the signing of shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima (not pictured) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsBilly Beane made a dramatic series of moves today like a boxer who throws a wide range of punches without power and accumulated points from judges who equate style and reputation with substance. The decisions he made were good for a few headlines, but questionable on the field. Has he addressed the problems that have plagued the Athletics and caused them to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the past two seasons? Or is he continuing the Beane tradition of doing "stuff" and having his lusty media apologists and fans who think he’s Brad Pitt crediting him just because of a tale of creative non-fiction called Moneyball and a movie of the same name that was rife with dramatic license and outright fabrications?
 
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. 
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5/24/14   |   muscatje

Hey Paul,

Regarding Kazmir, you are obviously a moron.

12/16/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
Or its based on the continued success of a very small market team, but whatevs. You clearly don't even get what Moneyball is about so whatever dude. Keep doing your troll thing. 

I'm not sure of your definition of "continued success." But considering your resistance to reading what it was I wrote rather than what you're saying I wrote, it's no surprise that you have zero understanding of what actual success is and what's part of a longstanding fairy tale that people like you, for some inexplicable reason, still believe. 

12/16/13   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

PAULLEBOWITZ wrote:
Um, no. I completely understand the context. You're the one misunderstanding the context - and being condescending and pompous to try and cover up your ignorance - because you clearly are unable to comprehend the piece I wrote in the first place.

If you think somehow managing to "achieve" 7 games under .500 is indicative of the thought process that has people like you calling Beane a "genius," you need to go further back than this. It's an assertion based on nothing more than a book and a movie and you're buying into it while providing absurd evidence of it existing. 

Or its based on the continued success of a very small market team, but whatevs. You clearly don't even get what Moneyball is about so whatever dude. Keep doing your troll thing. 

12/15/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
7 games under .500 is the worst record of any of his teams in 15 years. For anyone who knows anything about how small market baseball works, that's pretty damn good.  8 seasons of over 90 wins, another 2 of 87 or more. 2/3rds of his teams have won 87 or more games with a tiny payroll.  Just because you don't understand context doesn't mean it isn't impressive.

I knew you came at me before - http://www.faniq.com/blog/Keith-Law-doesnt-think-David-Ortiz-is-clutch-Blog-71508 - and you didn't provide a foundational argument then either. 

12/15/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
7 games under .500 is the worst record of any of his teams in 15 years. For anyone who knows anything about how small market baseball works, that's pretty damn good.  8 seasons of over 90 wins, another 2 of 87 or more. 2/3rds of his teams have won 87 or more games with a tiny payroll.  Just because you don't understand context doesn't mean it isn't impressive.

Um, no. I completely understand the context. You're the one misunderstanding the context - and being condescending and pompous to try and cover up your ignorance - because you clearly are unable to comprehend the piece I wrote in the first place.

If you think somehow managing to "achieve" 7 games under .500 is indicative of the thought process that has people like you calling Beane a "genius," you need to go further back than this. It's an assertion based on nothing more than a book and a movie and you're buying into it while providing absurd evidence of it existing. 

12/15/13   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

PAULLEBOWITZ wrote:
Just wanna make sure of one thing: are you giving credit for Beane having a "worst record of 74-88" as if that's a badge of honor? And when that 74-88 record was the last year in a five year run of 76-86, 75-86, 75-87, 81-81 and your 74-88? 

7 games under .500 is the worst record of any of his teams in 15 years. For anyone who knows anything about how small market baseball works, that's pretty damn good.  8 seasons of over 90 wins, another 2 of 87 or more. 2/3rds of his teams have won 87 or more games with a tiny payroll.  Just because you don't understand context doesn't mean it isn't impressive.

12/15/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
Dude.. you realize Bill James works for the Red Sox and has helped them win 3 World Series and that Billy Beane has built eight 90 win teams in freaking Oakland with a worst record of 74-88, right?

Just wanna make sure of one thing: are you giving credit for Beane having a "worst record of 74-88" as if that's a badge of honor? And when that 74-88 record was the last year in a five year run of 76-86, 75-86, 75-87, 81-81 and your 74-88? 

12/15/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
No. You blame one person when everything goes wrong. Pointing out the bigger picture, like extensive success, is what I've done. But troll on, good sir.

I'm not trolling at all. These are facts. Crediting Bill James for the Red Sox three titles is ridiculous. Beane has rebuilt and torn the team down three times in the past ten years. Two failed; one worked. But alter the story to suit yourself, good sir.

12/15/13   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

PAULLEBOWITZ wrote:
Didn't you post this identical comment once before? If not, it's a familiar and spiritually inaccurate lament to dole credit to one person when things go right and blame to everyone but that person when they go wrong. 

No. You blame one person when everything goes wrong. Pointing out the bigger picture, like extensive success, is what I've done. But troll on, good sir.

12/15/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

kantwistaye wrote:
Dude.. you realize Bill James works for the Red Sox and has helped them win 3 World Series and that Billy Beane has built eight 90 win teams in freaking Oakland with a worst record of 74-88, right?

Didn't you post this identical comment once before? If not, it's a familiar and spiritually inaccurate lament to dole credit to one person when things go right and blame to everyone but that person when they go wrong. 

12/15/13   |   kantwistaye   |   4210 respect

PAULLEBOWITZ wrote:
I don’t consider it a “hit piece” when the book is still the main reason he’s considered a “genius.” A vast portion of people who read the book and saw the movie decided that they too would be baseball experts while never having actually watched or participated in baseball in any way. If you’d like to settle the problem at its root, go after them and have Beane judged on his merits rather than creative non-fiction with an agenda and a factually ludicrous movie. There’s nothing to “evolve” from other than this belief that everything he touches turns to gold. Those who read the book and saw the movie thinking that Bill James and stats would turn them into the new age revolutionary baseball wizards are the ones who need to be educated. Not me.
 
As for the decisions he made, I’m not sure where you get the idea that it was nothing more than an attack on Beane. I credited him on the Gregerson and Johnson moves. The Kazmir signing is more likely to be a disaster than anything else. To think that it’s a good investment is ridiculous. The Gentry deal makes zero sense unless he’s planning something else – very possible.
 
If there’s an “invented context,” it’s not coming from me. I analyzed the deals he made and referenced why Beane is still considered a “genius” even though he’s not and never was. My goal is to clear the decks of this Moneyball dreck. And I’m not going to stop.  

Dude.. you realize Bill James works for the Red Sox and has helped them win 3 World Series and that Billy Beane has built eight 90 win teams in freaking Oakland with a worst record of 74-88, right?

12/5/13   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Shocking, another Moneyball hit piece from you. That book was published 10 years ago. If Beane still did the same things he did ten years ago, that would be pretty predictable. You have to evolve.

As for these moves, they strike me as a team that's won 94 and 96 games the last two years trying to make small upgrades because the roster is mostly set. Bullpen was a weakness, so he picked up Johnson and Gregorson for guys that didn't have much value for Oakland as they stand. Add them to Blevins, Cook, and Doolittle and the pen looks pretty good, to the best a team can plan for that (also, by the "it's not guaranteed to work, so why try" logic, why would any team try to upgrade anything?). They make some money. So? Practically everyone on the team is still in their arb or pre-arb years. They're getting an extra $25 million from the new national TV if I recall the numbers right.

Same deal with Kazmir. There are indications he was better than that 4.00 ERA this year, most notably posting his best K/BB ratio of his career, including the peak Tampa years. Yeah, it's an overpay, but welcome to the free agent market as it stands now. We're at the point where we probably need to reevaluate what constitutes a free agent overpay. Highest paid player? So what. The Pirates highest paid player is Wandy Rodriguez. The Orioles is Nick Markakis. The Rays will be Heath Bell if they trade Price. What's it matter?

Gentry may end up a 4th outfielder, but he's one with good defense and a solid OBP, even from his road numbers. It's a trading long-term for short-term gain deal, but that's what contenders have to do sometimes. Choice has some questions too. I noticed he's only shown power in the minors when in the high octane Cal League and PCL.

Are they Beane's best moves ever? Probably not. Do they make sense in the context of now, and not in some invented context from 10 years ago? Mostly.

I don’t consider it a “hit piece” when the book is still the main reason he’s considered a “genius.” A vast portion of people who read the book and saw the movie decided that they too would be baseball experts while never having actually watched or participated in baseball in any way. If you’d like to settle the problem at its root, go after them and have Beane judged on his merits rather than creative non-fiction with an agenda and a factually ludicrous movie. There’s nothing to “evolve” from other than this belief that everything he touches turns to gold. Those who read the book and saw the movie thinking that Bill James and stats would turn them into the new age revolutionary baseball wizards are the ones who need to be educated. Not me.
 
As for the decisions he made, I’m not sure where you get the idea that it was nothing more than an attack on Beane. I credited him on the Gregerson and Johnson moves. The Kazmir signing is more likely to be a disaster than anything else. To think that it’s a good investment is ridiculous. The Gentry deal makes zero sense unless he’s planning something else – very possible.
 
If there’s an “invented context,” it’s not coming from me. I analyzed the deals he made and referenced why Beane is still considered a “genius” even though he’s not and never was. My goal is to clear the decks of this Moneyball dreck. And I’m not going to stop.  

12/4/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Shocking, another Moneyball hit piece from you. That book was published 10 years ago. If Beane still did the same things he did ten years ago, that would be pretty predictable. You have to evolve.

As for these moves, they strike me as a team that's won 94 and 96 games the last two years trying to make small upgrades because the roster is mostly set. Bullpen was a weakness, so he picked up Johnson and Gregorson for guys that didn't have much value for Oakland as they stand. Add them to Blevins, Cook, and Doolittle and the pen looks pretty good, to the best a team can plan for that (also, by the "it's not guaranteed to work, so why try" logic, why would any team try to upgrade anything?). They make some money. So? Practically everyone on the team is still in their arb or pre-arb years. They're getting an extra $25 million from the new national TV if I recall the numbers right.

Same deal with Kazmir. There are indications he was better than that 4.00 ERA this year, most notably posting his best K/BB ratio of his career, including the peak Tampa years. Yeah, it's an overpay, but welcome to the free agent market as it stands now. We're at the point where we probably need to reevaluate what constitutes a free agent overpay. Highest paid player? So what. The Pirates highest paid player is Wandy Rodriguez. The Orioles is Nick Markakis. The Rays will be Heath Bell if they trade Price. What's it matter?

Gentry may end up a 4th outfielder, but he's one with good defense and a solid OBP, even from his road numbers. It's a trading long-term for short-term gain deal, but that's what contenders have to do sometimes. Choice has some questions too. I noticed he's only shown power in the minors when in the high octane Cal League and PCL.

Are they Beane's best moves ever? Probably not. Do they make sense in the context of now, and not in some invented context from 10 years ago? Mostly.