Players have come and players have gone. But one constant over the last sixteen years has been one man. Many consider him the top executive in baseball. Others despise him for his constantly over-hauled rosters. He is the second longest tenured GM in MLB. He even had one of the most well known actors in the world portray him in a movie about a system he helped create. Fans of the team embrace him as the smartest man in baseball. Obviously, the man being described is none other than A’s GM Billy Beane.
Dec 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane addresses the media in a press conference announcing the signing of shortstopHiroyuki Nakajima
(not pictured) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Beane won a lot of the praise he receives in the early 200’s when the Moneyball system was enacted. However, over the last two years Beane has won over anyone who second-guessed him. With the second lowest payroll in baseball Beane has produced back to back division champions in the Oakland A’s. An amazing mix of young players, veterans, and players trying to make a name for themselves on the last two rosters and all of them on the cheap have created a winning atmosphere in Oakland for the first time in years.
Beane also has done a good job avoiding the “haters” who consistently complain about not having players around for more than two or three seasons. However, in Beane’s defense how are you supposed to sign players to long-term contracts with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball every season? To rebuild not once, twice, or three times, but nearly every season is amazingly remarkable not to mention how well the team has played.
There is no doubt last years team blew away expectations on their way to an AL West crown, but this season it was expected they were going to content. The way the A’s did it this season though was what was so surprising and is the main difference from last season. The players get the credit, Manager Bob Melvin gets credit for putting players in positions to succeed, but even with some praise Beane is not praised enough. He should by now be an Oakland legend. He should have a statue outside the Coliseum and a jersey retired. This man has single-handedly kept baseball alive in Oakland.
Without the winning teams over the last two decades would the A’s still exist? If they lost in the early 2000’s and in 2006 would the A’s have become the Montreal Expos? It may sound exaggerated, but the work that Beane has done, especially in the conditions he is given is beyond remarkable. It is astonishing. If Billy Beane does not win the Executive of the Year Award there is something seriously wrong with baseball. Sure the Pittsburgh Pirates and their GM Neal Huntington are a great story, but how long does it take to win? Huntington has been around for over five seasons in Pittsburgh. This is the first time they have won.
Billy Beane is the best executive in baseball. His accomplishments and theories are exemplary and amazing. He deserves all the credit in the world and then some for his rosters creations over the last two seasons including the idea of the platoon system which will in a decade be Moneyball 2.