Padres bloggin' since 2007

Epic Athletics Nation Interview with Billy Beane

May 29th, 2008 by Melvin

Athletics Nation recently concluded a content packed interview with Oakland GM Billy Beane.  Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

Every other sentence out of the man’s mouth (in monitor form) I find myself shaking my head  with two thoughts: (1) Why did I not think about that before; and (2) Holy crap he’s right.

Beane decided to rebuild this year because he didn’t expect his club as was constructed to perform much better than mediocre.  He didn’t think they were bad, just that they wouldn’t quite dominate.  He would rather be bad now with potential greatness than simply above average.  Reminds me of the Marlins.

This philosophy has Padres applications.

Sandy Alderson has stated that there are things he would have done differently if fans would be willing to tolerate a bit of change.  I have a feeling we would have seen a similar blueprint to Beane’s when Alderson came aboard.  Unfortunately the media led fanbase tends to be a temperamental bunch and expects success right away.

Other things I learned reading the interview:

  • Beane will drop the name of a player offhand he says has performed well.  I think to myself, “who is that guy?”, then proceed to check his numbers and learn he’s tore it up, yet I had no idea.  This is coming from someone who claims to “follow” the team.  Perhaps the significance of those quotation marks around “follow” need re-evaluation.  Or maybe it’s the media’s coverage that needs some work.
  • New inefficiency discovery: Depth is valuable because it curtails the injury bug.  Injured players don’t need to be rushed when you have guys capable of taking their spots.  Beane gave the example of Greg Smith’s success in place of the hurt Dan Haren.
  • An old market inefficiency is being corrected: Teams are beginning to value prospects properly, making them difficult to obtain.  This wasn’t explicitly covered in the interview (or ever stated by Beane, to my knowledge) but it has been milling about in my mind since the Swisher and Haren deals.  If Beane was rebuilding, why trade a pair of good, young players who are still relatively cost controlled?  The only “star for prospect package” deals that brought major young talent involved stars with at least two years of arbitration eligibility.  Even Johan Santana didn’t fetch the Mets’ top prospect.
  • Speed was the aspect of Rajai Davis’ game that made him worth the roster spot on the waiver claim from San Francisco.  Speed.  This coming from the team that stole 61 bases, that isn’t a typo, yet won 93 games in 2006.  Just when you think you have Beane figured out, he says something like that.
  • Does Beane believe in clutch hitting?  Nothing earth shattering in his response:

I think ultimately most guys are going to, given if they have enough at bats, will probably hit close to what they hit for their career.

Check it out, it’s a fascinating read.

The outfield poll on the right will close in a week.  Most seem to agree on Chase Headley and Brian Giles in the outfield, I have a hard time disagreeing.  Jody Gerut is making a pretty strong pull for the center field spot, which I’m fine with.  Normally I’d make a quip about his career .332 OPB in the leadoff spot, but I guess these are the times we live in.  Somewhere Jim Edmonds is crying.  Outs all around!

Be sure to make your voice heard before the poll goes away.

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