Moneyball: Revamped


I was in the ninth grade when I first read Michael Lewis’ best-selling book, Moneyball. Ironically, it was my math teacher, who was an Angels fan, that lent me the book. At the time, I was a probably the only A’s fan at my high school, which was located in the heart of “Angel Nation.” Regardless of my surroundings, I enjoyed the book and I really learned a lot about my favorite team, the Oakland Athletics.

But so much has changed since then. The A’s no longer have Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, Chad Bradford and other players that were mentioned in Lewis’ book. The A’s have changed their ways since the days of Hudson, Mulder, Zito or otherwise known as the “Big Three.”

Recently, I came upon an article on Bleacher Report, the site where I was previously a Featured Columnist for the A’s, that really affected me in a negative way. In the article, the author (name I will not mention) criticizes A’s General Manger, Billy Beane for the A’s recent troubles. In the past three seasons, the A’s have finished under .500 and have not made the playoffs since 2006. During these so-called “troubled times” the A’s GM has made poor business and team decisions (according to article). Beane is criticized mostly for his trades that have taken place over the last few years.

The article itself is inaccurate throughout, and is made up of harsh opinions from a non-A’s fan. In my own personal opinion, the A’s have moved forward from the original days of “Moneyball,” and have re-invented themselves again. The A’s are beginning to see the value in speed and aggressive baserunning in a time where there aren’t many 50, 60-homerun hitters anymore. No longer are players hitting 50 homers in a single season, something that was common during the early days of the Moneyball era (not that any A’s player belted that many). The A’s did, however, rely on power to score the bulk of their runs. They did not try to “generate” runs, because they seen them as unnecessary risks. Instead, they would get on base and wait for the two-run homer.

They can no longer wait. The A’s have no player with that type of power production this season, and will probably have to rely on their speed and aggressive baserunning to score the bulk of their runs in 2010. The A’s will be counting on Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis to generate some run scoring situations for the rest of the offense. The A’s figure to boast a little punch, however, if Eric Chavez can return for nagging injuries. Chavez, who has played in only 121 games over the past three seasons will assume the role of utility player this year for the A’s. And Kevin Kouzmanoff, acquired via trade with the Padres, will assume the daily role of third. The A’s should have two 20-homerun hitters in Chavez and Kouzmanoff. Kurt Suzuki (15 HR in ’09) and Jack Cust (25 HR in ’09) will be the A’s other sources for power.

The A’s are also starting to build around a group of young, talented pitchers, much like they did in the early 2000’s. Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito were fortunate to be surrounded by guys like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez during their days in the green-and-gold. And Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro should be surrounded by the likes of Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and Adrian Cardenas very soon. So the A’s future is a bright one, and A’s fans should be thrilled to see Beane stock-piling the young talent. Has Beane made his share of mistakes? Sure, who hasn’t? However, Beane is a smart GM, who’s in the process of building a contender and re-inventing his franchise.

In short, the A’s would still like to see the two-run homer now and then, but they’re definitely not going to be waiting around for it.

**Also, if you’ve got some spare time, check out the article over on Bleacher Report. Decide for yourself if Billy Beane is doing a good job or not.