Billy Beane Does Not Tolerate Losing

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I have been excited about the idea of the arrival of the three big prospects in the Oakland Athletics’ minor league system for a long time.

Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson, and Renato Nunez, to me, were the second coming of Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, and Eric Chavez.

Not necessarily in terms of similar skill sets, but in what they meant for the organization.

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Olson can draw walks and hit homers like Giambi, but Robertson wasn’t the MVP-caliber player Tejada turned out to be, and Nunez likely won’t be able to stick at third long enough to recreate Chavvy.

However, the idea of a stable infield with talent and youth was a glimmer of hope that the organization was returning to the framework that led to the great teams in the 2000’s—draft well and let the kids play.

Clearly I’ve been in denial.

Despite the trades that sent away our best players and the biggest part of near-future, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Jeff Samardzija were not Oakland draftees.

Olson, Robertson, Addison Russell, and Billy McKinney were drafted by the A’s, with Nunez being an amateur free agent signing.

They were ours. We picked them and developed them, and I have made a fatal mistake—I became too attached.

Similar to the folks that name rescued animals they cannot keep as pets, I did not want to see these players go.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said of the differences between men and women that when it comes to watching television, men hunt and women nest. Women want to know what is on TV, while men want to know what else is on TV.

Billy Beane is like the women in that analogy. While other teams, general managers, and fans want to know what else is in their team’s future, Beane wants to know what is happening right now.

And right now the A’s have no financial prospects. No chance at getting into a new stadium anytime soon and no chance at long-term sustainability through the way of the dollar.

The team has no chance at drawing star free agents, despite its efforts to outbid the competition.

“Moneyball” doesn’t work anymore because other teams caught on and collecting draft picks to rebuild takes too long.

Jul 29, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) hits a RBI single during the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to yesterday’s blockbuster trade sending Oakland’s top-prospect-by-default Daniel Robertson, John Jaso, and minor leaguer Boog Powell for top-tier player Ben Zobrist and above average shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Instead of wondering what could be next in Robertson and Powell, Beane wanted satisfaction now. So he got two players who can help the team in 2015, despite them being in their early-thirties and their production decline.

Zobrist is no doubt an elite player in more ways than just his batting line and Escobar will help shore up the middle infield. Both good things.

Beane does not tolerate losing and this is a move proves that, yet again.

As much as I love to daydream about what could have been, I would take a trip to the playoffs over a Russell-Robertson middle infield any day.

Before we could have gotten to see the best of their careers the A’s would have suffered losing season after losing season.

Similar to what the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros are going through. Yes they are improved because of their elite minor league talent, but as the San Francisco Giants have proved time and again, potential and prospect rankings don’t win the World Series.

And that is Beane’s goal—winning the last game of the season.

When the A’s are in the heat of a playoff push in late August I won’t be checking the minor league box scores drooling over Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder. I’ll be cheering on Brett Lawrie, Billy Butler, and Zobrist.

And if it doesn’t work out this year Scott Kazmir and Zobrist will walk as free agents, Beane will  collect the compensation picks, and the cycle starts all over again.

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