Is MLB Impacting Beane’s Latest Rebuild Effort?


With the 2012 season officially underway, all eyes—especially mine—will be focused on Billy Beane and the rest of the Athletics’ management as the team enters yet another rebuilding phase.

The Athletics are not expected to compete this year given their demolition of their starting rotation this offseason and because of their unproven offense.

Instead, this season feels destined, really, to be another chapter in Billy Beane’s painfully-penned rebuild.

Oakland has been in this position before, namely back in 2007 when the team sent fan-favorites like Nick Swisher and Dan Haren packing in various trades that landed the A’s plenty of young prospects.

Beane’s inconsistencies in addition to the A’s ever-growing stadium problems have made the team’s rebuilding attempts extremely difficult to watch.

This touchy topic has been covered religiously on this site, especially by our very own Staff Writer Jason Leary, but the A’s rebuilding attempts serve as a reminder that not all clubs succeed in building a winning product. Beane has done a fine job in recent years of acquiring young talent, but holding onto that talent and having the patience with those prospects are another thing.

Perhaps the biggest mistake Beane has made in recent years was the decision to trade for outfielder Matt Holliday prior to the 2009 season. The A’s certainly thought they’d get a lot from Holliday, but for the amount of talent the team gave Colorado in exchange for Holliday and the overall timing of the deal didn’t make complete sense.

For one, the A’s gave up the talented young outfielder Carlos Gonzalez as a way to acquire the older Holliday. In hindsight, that was not a great decision on Beane’s behalf. It should speak volumes of Beane’s abilities to scout young hitting talent.

I just never felt that the A’s gave Gonzalez much of a chance in Oakland. He was shipped out of town essentially for a rent-a-slugger. Holliday, as you’ll all remember, didn’t last in Oakland and was traded by the 2009 trade deadline to St.Louis.

That was the biggest mistake the A’s GM made, in my opinion, anyway, as it disrupted his rebuilding efforts. The A’s were kidding themselves if they thought they could compete in 2009.

Guys like Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill were barely bursting onto the scene and even with an offense that featured Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparra—all of whom with the exception of Holliday, were old and inexpensive sources of veteran leadership acquired by the A’s—the pitching staff wasn’t up for the task of competing.

I think the A’s learned during the 2009 season that rebuilding is harder than it seems. You have to scout well, draft well, and more importantly know how to develop young talent once you have it in your minor league system. Looking at this season, the A’s have yet again laid out a solid foundation of young pitching.

Pitchers like Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, Sonny Gray, and A.J. Cole are just a few of the names the A’s are currently waiting for to emerge onto the big league scene. The A’s turned their focus onto their rebuilding efforts this past winter with the Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey trades, but their commitment is still relatively unknown.

One minute they’re wheelin’ and dealin’, and then the next minute they’re forking over $14 million to Coco Crisp and $36 million to an unproven outfielder named Yoenis Cespedes. The A’s are trying, I think, to build a winning club, but Beane’s recent attempts may not matter in the end.

The A’s are still waiting around —for three years now—for MLB and Bud Selig to deliver their findings about the Athletics’ stadium situation in Oakland. The team is desperately fighting for a spot in San Jose, a territory that the Giants claim as theirs. San Francisco isn’t budging on those territorial claims and the A’s are stuck in the vortex called Coliseum.

So, citing Beane’s inconsistencies during the last few rebuilding years is only part of the organization’s problem. The A’s do need to have better consistency when it comes to evaluating talent and developing talent, but they also need MLB and Bud Selig to step up to the plate and finally deliver their decision regarding the San Jose mess.

Selig has kept the A’s waiting long enough. These past few years have made Beane’s job a little harder and have definitely put a strain on the ever-thining fan-base. No one likes to lose, but the A’s are not in a position to go out and sign a bunch of free-agent talent.

Instead, the team has been forced to tear down, rebuild, assemble, tear down, and rebuild. Will MLB deliver a decision before the A’s are forced to give up on their new crop of young talent (I’m talking about you, Parker, Peacock, Gray, and Cole)?

It’s become an excruciating process.

Beane can assemble all the young talent he wants. Heck, he can even have the patience to develop all that young talent in a way that produces a few wins here and there. But without a place to play, those wins won’t matter, will they?


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