Top Three Billy Beane Trades: No. 2 Mark Mulder for Dan Haren
By Joey Lopez
Billy Beane has been the face of the Front Office in Oakland since 1998. With the trade deadline approaching us this month, we’ll examine Beane’s Top Three (Best) trades over his career. Coming in at No. 2 on our list is the trade that sent Mark Mulder to St. Louis.
Billy Beane was the focal point in Michael Lewis’ best selling book Moneyball, for his success in Oakland. Michael Lewis covered a lot in the book, but failed to mention (at times) that Beane’s team had a strong core of starting pitching.
Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito were three prominent figures in Oakland during those playoff runs in the early 2000’s. Hudson, Mulder and Zito, however, were largely absent throughout Moneyball.
Instead, the book preferred to focus on players with smaller, but still significant, roles with the club. Undervalued assets were at the forefront of Moneyball.
The “Big Three” of Hudson, Mulder and Zito helped the A’s dominant the American League and catapulted the A’s into perennial contender status. Beane dismantled the trio, however, following 2004 season and ushered in a new era for the organization.
Of the three only Hudson and Mulder were traded. Beane kept Zito, the 2002 CY Young winner, to lead the rotation. Beane gets a passing grade, however, for only one of those two trades.
The Hudson trade helped acquire pitchers Dan Meyer and Juan Cruz and outfielder Charles Thomas. Did the trade work out in the end for the A’s? No.
Beane received a failing grade for the Hudson trade, but posted slightly better results with the Mulder deal.
The A’s received quite the care package from St. Louis in exchange for Mulder. The Cardinals gave up Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton.
Mulder’s final season with the A’s was a case of Jekyll and Hyde. Mulder was 12-2 with a 3.21 ERA at the All-Star break. After the break, Mulder went 5-6 with a 6.13 ERA over 15 starts. His complete nosedive in the second half contributed to the A’s missing the playoffs in 2004.
Unlike the Hudson trade, Mulder’s trade made a bit more sense. The A’s found a way to capitalize on Mulder’s name and acquire a package of prospects. Haren is the name most people will point to as the best piece of the deal, while others may remember Barton’s.
Haren’s Lasting Impact
Mulder went on to have one solid year with the Cardinals. After going 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA, Mulder’s body succumbed to various ailments. The Cardinals got 17 starts from Mulder in ’06, three in ’07 and just one start in ’08.
Taking that into account it becomes increasingly clear that the A’s won that trade. With Haren, the A’s received a key contributor to their ALCS run in 2006. Alongside with Zito, Haren helped solidify the A’s starting rotation.
After Zito ventured across the bay, Haren assumed the role of staff ace. Haren went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 2007. Sensing a hot opportunity, especially after the A’s failed to make the playoffs during the ’07 campaign, Beane traded Haren.
Haren’s three-year stint in Oakland wasn’t long, but it was meaningful. Beane capitalized on Haren’s value and received, most likely, the biggest haul of his career in exchange for Haren.
Beane cashed in and received six players for Dan Haren and Connor Robertson from the Diamondbacks.
The A’s received Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez.
Beane scored a lot of talent in the Haren deal, but failed to make the most out of it. We all know how Anderson helped the A’s during their magical run in 2012, but the other five names mentioned above did not have as big of an impact.
Eve land and Smith helped the A’s through the tumultuous 2008 season under Bob Geren, but not much after that. Smith and Gonzalez were shipped out of town as part of the Matt Holliday trade prior to the 2009 season.
Beane failed to give Gonzalez a fair look in Oakland. The A’s missed an opportunity to have a talented outfielder, but we’ll examine that trade later this month.
Overall, Haren had a big impact on the A’s organization despite lasting only three years in Oakland. A lot of players were brought to Oakland thanks to Dan Haren (and Billy Beane).
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