Billy Beane and the rest of the A’s front office have finally accepted the idea of a complete overhaul. The rebuild has begun.
The Oakland Athletics VP of Baseball Operations, Billy Beane, has finally announced the team’s motives for the remainder of this season: rebuilding for a better future.
Beane has been described as competitive and as someone who hates losing. He has earned plenty of praise one the years for his creativity. Beane has managed to keep the A’s relevant through the years despite an eroding stadium and strict budgets.
Beane addressed those two obstacles when he announced the A’s plans for 2017 and beyond. The A’s VP of Baseball Ops announced that the team is undergoing a massive rebuild. Beane spoke to plenty of reporters on Saturday and admitted the A’s are heading in a new direction.
The plan is to rebuild in an effort to open a new stadium with plenty of talent on hand. Over his career in the front office, Beane has been forced to remain creative despite a lack of support from ownership.
The A’s have never, under Beane’s watch, committed to a full rebuild. They’ve tried a balance between rebuilding and retooling, but know continuing that balancing act will only hurt the team’s future.
Oakland’s youth movement started last month, but is expected to intensify as the trade deadline looms near. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson were both dealt to the Nationals on Saturday. Their departure suggests how committed Beane and the A’s are to rebuilding for the future.
Beane has made plenty of deals over the years in an effort to help the A’s long-term. Dan Haren helped net Beane plenty of talented prospects, including Brett Anderson. Despite his efforts, however, Beane was never able to fully commitment himself to rebuilding the franchise.
The Future Starts Here
This time, however, it’s different. Beane appears ready, once and for all, to tear the A’s apart in the hopes of one day building a consistent contender.
Beane has failed to rebuild the A’s and his biggest failure came in 2009. The A’s were not quite ready to compete in ’09, but Beane made the decision to acquire Matt Holliday for half-a-season. Oakland’s future (Carlos Gonzalez) was traded away in exchange for a season full of mediocrity and disappointment.
With a renewed sense of hope regarding a new stadium, Beane finally appears willing to tear apart his team. Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie are all potential trade chips Beane could use before the trade deadline.
Gray remains the A’s biggest trade chip and it is expected that Beane will demand plenty of talented prospects in return for Gray. Beane told reporters, including the SF Chronicle, on Saturday that the A’s will be seeking top-rated talent in the trades they make this month:
"“Our approach now given the commitment we have is try to get the best players, period. And understanding also that this process doesn’t happen overnight and we’re going to have to be patient with it.” – Billy Beane"
Getting the best players may not be too difficult, especially with Gray’s rising trade value. Alonso, who is also having a career-best year, also figures to have plenty of value at the deadline. Lowrie, meanwhile, will be an interesting name to watch this month. The switch-hitting infielder is having a solid season thus far and his veteran experience could be valuable for a contender like the Red Sox.
Patience Will Be Key
The A’s could learn a thing or two from the Astros organization. Nobody likes losing, but in order to rebuild, patience during a rough stretch is required. Beane’s ultra competitive nature may not mesh well with a rebuild effort, but the A’s top executive knows this rebuild is necessary.
Dave Kaval can announce any stadium site he’d like, but without a competitive team in place, a new stadium does little to change the team’s identity. The A’s have always been regarded as a small market, low-budget team, but Beane is determined to change those perceptions.
Opening a new ballpark with a talented, young team will be the biggest challenge for Beane. Finding the right players and being patient with their development will require plenty of discipline from the A’s front office.
If the A’s can achieve their goal of rebuilding the franchise, perhaps the culture of the organization can receive a facelift as well. Imagine, for a moment, anyway, we live in a world where the A”s are considered heavy spenders. That is what’s on the line with this latest rebuild.
Beane has an opportunity to really change the identity of the A’s. Opening a new ballpark with exciting talent on the field would help the A’s open their wallets a little bit more and give Beane the spending power to retain the team’s top talent.
It all boils down to whether or not Beane has the disciple to commit to rebuilding the franchise. The first of many more steps to come took place on Saturday. We’ll see soon enough if Beane can help lead the A’s into the future.