Friday, July 04, 2014
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the deal is done and that the A’s will get both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, giving up top shortstop prospect Addison Russell in return. He adds that other players and teams may be involved.
Posted: July 04, 2014 at 10:56 PM | 186 comment(s)
Thursday, July 03, 2014
As director of professional scouting and baseball development for the Oakland Athletics, Dan Feinstein scouts amateur players, evaluates the organization’s talent, is involved in contract negotiations and arbitration cases, ponders trades and analyzes potential free agent signees.
His varied portfolio is news to at least one of the team’s players.
“I don’t doubt that he does a lot, and has done a lot, for the organization, but I don’t know to what extent,” catcher Derek Norris said of Feinstein during a recent A’s visit here.
For the past three years, Feinstein, 42, has been one of the prominent executives powering the Oakland approach to diamond success known as Moneyball under its guru, general manager Billy Beane.
There’s been plenty of success this season for the American League West-leading Athletics, who boast one of the best records in baseball and stand near the top of the league in team pitching and hitting. And they’ve been doing it with an assortment of players excelling in both the traditional and Moneyball statistical categories.
Beane employed the Moneyball strategy to enable his low-revenue Athletics to compete against richer clubs. Popularized by the Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” in 2003 and the 2011 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, the plan has spread throughout the major leagues.
Moneyball aims to identify and acquire undervalued players by placing a premium on what were then newly minted statistics such as OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage), as well as walks, caught stealing, pitches taken and other measures.
...In 1995, he jumped at Beane’s offer to add videotaping to his chores. The following season it became his full-time job.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been in the right place at the right time,” Feinstein said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in baseball who would tell you they look at their job as a job.”
Like anyone employed in a baseball team’s front office, Feinstein said, he aspires to “bigger and better things” professionally, including being a general manager. He added, however, “I’m extremely comfortable and thankful in the role I currently have.”
A key aspect of that role is the Major League Baseball draft, which was held last month. Eighteen of Oakland’s 40 selections were pitchers.
“That was by design,” Feinstein explained. “The only way that we’re going to have success at the major-league level is if we have pitching, and you can never have enough of it. It’s the single biggest asset we need to compete.”
Thanks to DW.
Posted: July 03, 2014 at 05:31 PM | 6 comment(s)
Duff reaction: Carbon copy.
Brad Ausmus is an Ivy Leaguer.
In other words, he’s known guys with pocket protectors. He’s seen number crunchers up close in action.
And yet when you ask him about Moneyball, he’ll tell you it doesn’t add up.
“There is value in numbers,” admitted Ausmus, the Dartmouth product who manages the Detroit Tigers. “I think the important thing is you don’t want to inundate players with numbers.”
Ausmus doesn’t completely discredit Moneyball, sabermetrics, or fancy stats, whatever you might want to call it.
Nor should he.
Nor should anyone.
What he does point out – and again, he’s correct in this assessment – is that taken alone, it’s simply not a formula for winning baseball.
The Athletics are living proof of that.
...Ausmus is also a believer in sabermetrics, just not on a daily basis.
“There’s value in it, but on a day-to-day lineup basis, you wouldn’t use that,” Ausmus said.
“If you’re a general manager projecting what a guy’s going to do over the next 2-3 years, whether to give him a multi-year deal, what his age is, how that plays out in terms of success, from an analytical sense, there’s probably more value in that for a general manager than a manager.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t use some numbers in our decision-making process, whether it’s in making out the lineup or defensive positioning.
“I see the value in it, but I certainly don’t live and die by it.”
The A’s continue to live and die by Moneyball.
Living large in the regular season. Dying off quickly in the playoffs.
Posted: July 03, 2014 at 08:14 AM | 45 comment(s)
Sunday, June 29, 2014
But, but…Harold Reynolds said “the A’s aren’t going to win because they make too many errors.”
Except: The A’s didn’t actually end up trumping anybody. Moneyball the movie and the book are the rare inspirational sports stories that end with a big game … that the little guys lose. And, all told, after Moneyball came out, the A’s went through an eight-year stretch where they made the playoffs only once. This led to some mockery inside the baseball industry, particularly among those scouts so maligned by the book (a book Beane has had to repeatedly point out that he did not, in fact, write). “So much for the genius,” sneered one scout to ESPN in June of the A’s 2009 season, in which the team won only 75 games and finished last in the American League West. “He doesn’t look so smart anymore, does he?”
The strange thing was that Beane’s comeuppance was in fact a result of his success: As with any insurgent, once his tactics became known, they were co-opted by the powerful. Nowadays, every front office in baseball has a stat-head crunching some sort of numbers, many of them in the GM’s office. On-base percentage has gone from an underpriced asset to an overhyped one; even the guys in the broadcast booth are familiar with it now. The Yankees and the Red Sox (at least briefly) became the A’s with money—Beane’s worst nightmare. Which has all landed the A’s right back where they started: as a decrepit franchise with a cheap owner, low revenues, and the worst stadium situation in the game (with the threat of relocation ever hanging above them).
And that is why it’s so deeply satisfying to see, of all teams, those Oakland A’s dominating the baseball world again this year. Beane’s A’s are comfortably atop the American League West—the division they’ve won the past two seasons—and have the best record in Major League Baseball. They’re still in the same stadium, with the same uncertainty, with the same owner. They have the sixth-lowest opening-day payroll in the game. Everyone knows their old tricks. And yet here they are: on top of the baseball world again.
Posted: June 29, 2014 at 06:44 AM | 15 comment(s)
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Them boys in their high stirrups. Ah, Sandy, their uniforms are so white…and green…and gold.
Sandy’s Mets were supposed to be Billy’s A’s.
They were supposed to become low-budget wonders of the baseball world.
The A’s, under Billy Beane, are just that, again, posting the best record in the majors at 47-29. They have scored the most runs (389) while surrendering the fewest (254).
The Mets were 21st in the majors with 294 runs scored, three below the Yankees, going into Monday night’s action.
The A’s, who visit Citi Field Tuesday and Wednesday, were leading the majors with a 3.02 ERA. The Mets were 11th in runs allowed at 296 and 10th in ERA at 3.54.
...More than anything, Alderson’s credibility is on the line now. His teams have not turned the corner. He was the one who threw out the challenge of 90 victories to this Mets squad that is six games under .500 in a season of baseball mediocrity.
If the Nationals or Braves had played up to expectations, the Mets would be buried. They are fortunate to be in a division where the top team is only four games above .500.
In his fourth season in charge, Alderson’s Mets look a lot like the Padres, which was Alderson’s previous team destination from 2005-09 as CEO.
The Padres were dead last in runs scored with 225 and 13 ¹/₂ back in the NL West.
The Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes on Sunday.
Sandy’s Mets need to turn it around and start playing a bit more like Billy’s A’s.
Posted: June 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM | 40 comment(s)
Sunday, June 08, 2014
Let’s just say that Orioles third baseman Manny Machado hasn’t covered himself in glory this weekend. What happened Sunday traces back at least to Friday night, when Machado—for reasons sufficient unto himself—took robust exception to what looked like a fairly routine tag from Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson. In the interim, both Donaldson and Machado have been buzzed a couple of times (which, let it be said, is also stupid given how silly the initial casus belli was).
So during Sunday’s game (OAK 11, BAL 1) Machado did this moments after being pitched far inside—albeit below the waist—by Fernando Abad ...
That was almost certainly intentional, and, as such, it’s pretty damnable. The Orioles broadcasters surmised that Machado was trying to helicopter his bat toward the mound, based on his lingering glare. Yet he missed. He could’ve hit an umpire or Alberto Callaspo at third, whirled the bat into the dugout or even into the stands. You can’t do that. You can’t do that because it’s stupid and dangerous. It would seem that this needs to be explained to Mr. Machado.
Thanks to Butch.
Posted: June 08, 2014 at 06:00 PM | 197 comment(s)
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Last night’s game featured some strangeness, with Astros manager Bo Porter getting bent out of shape about Jed Lowrie’s bunt attempt against the shift in the first inning and the A’s up 7-0. Consensus around the Oakland clubhouse: The first inning is way too early to get upset about a guy bunting – plus, if you put the shift on, you’re inviting the bunt. Why would you then get upset about it?
“I’m really flabbergasted by the reaction,” Lowrie said of Porter’s heated words after Paul Clemens threw a pitch near Lowrie’s legs his next at bat. “He was yelling, ‘Just go play shortstop!’ He made it into such a big deal.”
As Lowrie pointed out, he was doing exactly what the Astros wanted when he bunted – and he bunted into an out, presumably their best-case scenario.
“The shortstop was on the other side, all I had to do was get it past the pitcher, and I didn’t,” Lowrie said. “I screwed up. I gave them an out. It was the first inning of a major-league game.”
I asked Porter about the incident this morning, and he said what he’d said yesterday, “The game polices itself.”
Porter is a fiery type – and with his team down 7-0 in the first, he could well have been trying to get the Astros going. At any rate, Clemens missed Lowrie and really, it all should be over by now. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he can understand being “perturbed” with an opponent bunting when the team is down 7-0, but it was so early in the game.
“Hopefully, we can move on,” Melvin said. “I don’t think it’s that big an issue, to tell you the truth.”
Posted: April 19, 2014 at 08:04 PM | 28 comment(s)
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Never quite Cy Blanton…
Veteran right-hander Joe Blanton has retired, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Because he was released before retiring, the Angels still owe him the $7.5 million left on his contract.
Blanton, 33, signed a minor league deal with the Athletics after being released by the Halos. He made two starts for their Triple-A affiliate, allowing seven runs in 10 2/3 innings.
In 20 starts and eight relief appearances for the Angels last year, Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA (62 ERA+) in 132 2/3 innings. He retired with an 85-89 record and a 4.51 ERA (92 ERA+).
Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 37 comment(s)
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Barton is kind of a Grady Sizemore writ small.
The first base puzzle is officially coming together for the Oakland A’s.
Manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday morning that switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo will play first base against left-handed starting pitchers. With signs pointing toward the A’s keeping just two catchers, John Jaso and Derek Norris, it means Daric Barton is likely to make the Opening Night roster and split first base with Brandon Moss against right-handed pitchers. Moss likely will see lots of time at designated hitter as well when Barton plays first.
Callaspo, a utility infielder who played mostly second base last season for Oakland, has been playing first base this spring for the first time in his career…
If the A’s indeed keep just two catchers—with the left-handed hitting Jaso starting against right-handed pitchers and Norris facing lefties—it means Stephen Vogt will be ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento. Vogt is hitting .357 in exhibitions with three homers and 12 RBI, which is tied for the team lead.
The District Attorney
Posted: March 25, 2014 at 11:56 PM | 32 comment(s)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Don’t have time to go through this now as “à la croisée des Stooges et des Cramps” material has crossed my faux desk.
While Moneyball the book and especially Moneyball the movie pumped up certain aspects of the A’s success while downplaying certain others (Messieurs Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Tejada, and Chavez would surely like a word), they perfectly pegged Beane’s distrust of industry insiders. While acknowledging that Melvin’s playing experience helped his candidacy for the manager job, Beane admitted to still harping on the value of outsiders’ perspectives when hiring people for other positions.
“I don’t want a lot of guys like me who played the game,” Beane said. “Quite frankly, I want blank canvases, I want people to come in with new ideas. I don’t want the biases of their own experiences to be a part of their decision-making process. Listen, our whole staff — [assistant GM] David [Forst] played at Harvard, but that doesn’t count because it’s Harvard — didn’t really play. The bottom line is that any business should be a meritocracy. The best and brightest. Period. This game is now evolving into that.”
Beane credited Michael Lewis for helping to spark that shift.
“That’s the best thing about the book and what it became,” Beane said. “I just talked to a young lady, a freshman at Santa Barbara. She’s taking a course, and Moneyball’s one of the required readings. This young lady could dream of one day becoming a general manager. That would have been much harder to imagine 15 years ago.”
One of those outsiders could be in the dugout before long, Beane said. Given the challenge of watching for subtle physical cues such as pitcher fatigue while also cycling through the many possible strategies and outcomes during the course of a game, managers and bench coaches would seemingly benefit greatly from employing a new aide.
“There will be an IT coach at some point” in the dugout, crunching numbers in real time and sitting right next to the manager, Beane said. The A’s have yet to actually create such a position for very practical reasons. “It would be an extra coach, and [MLB] is pretty strict — we aren’t even allowed walkie-talkies,” Beane said about league restrictions on how many coaches a team can have, and what kind of contact they can have with the outside world during games. “But I believe at some point this will happen. There’s too much data that’s available not to want to use it.”
Posted: March 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM | 4 comment(s)
Monday, March 17, 2014
The Complete Jarrod Parker On Nerve.
Jarrod Parker will miss the A’s 2014 season; the projected Opening Day starter needs Tommy John surgery for the second time.
“The first thing in these situations is you feel bad for Jarrod,” assistant general manager David Forst said. “He worked hard this offseason after some struggles at the end of the year and was going to be at the top of the rotation. But we can only play the hand that we’re dealt.”
This morning, Parker visited Dr. James Andrews, who did his first Tommy John surgery in 2009. Andrews will perform Parker’s second ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery a week from today in Pensacola, Fla.
Numerous pitchers have had two or more Tommy John surgeries, but the recovery rate for a second surgery is not as good as it is for first Tommy John procedures. Former Giants reliever Brian Wilson is among those to successfully come back from a second surgery, and former A’s reliever Jason Isringhausen had the surgery three times in his career and continued to pitch. In general, relievers have fared better with second Tommy John procedures than have starters.
“Unfortunately there are more data points on this than there were four years ago,” Forst said. “In the last week, it’s come up a number of times. It’s hard to predict right now, you don’t know the recovery rate on guys with a second Tommy John. It’s unfortunate that it’s more frequent.”
Posted: March 17, 2014 at 04:23 PM | 29 comment(s)
Saturday, March 08, 2014
I have a curare solutin’ BB gun at my ready for the first writer that pulls a Killer B’s for Billy Beane/Billy Burns.
Back in the Moneyball Summer, Billy Beane used to say, “whoever hits the most homers usually wins,” and could live without stolen bases. But while the movie was superb, it was, in reality, fiction, or semi-fiction. “All movies are,” Beane said when the film was released. “Thirteen Days” wasn’t the way it really was, either.
“In our market (and a park that brings new meaning to Flushing Meadows) there isn’t one way to do anything,” Beane says. “Trying to compete is about always trying to stay ahead of the curve, always adjusting, always trying to find undervalued ways to win. That’s all.” He also probably wouldn’t have been so open to creating a goofball, laughing gashouse gang and handed them to a manager who is cerebral and exceptionally logical.
“There is no set way to doing anything, in baseball or business,” Beane says. “Hey, I’ve grown to really like stolen bases. I don’t like the concept when guys get thrown out, but when they don’t get thrown out, I like them.” Billy Burns, who is in the Billy Hamilton/Micah Johnson class of speed, in three years in the Nationals organization stole 125 bases and was thrown out 17 times. Going into the weekend spring training games, he had more stolen bases than all but six teams in Arizona. So Billy isn’t as big as Ken Burns? He is a switch-hitter, every infield ground ball turns opposing infields into British roundabouts and he has the range of Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry. “I have to be honest,” said another American League GM. “I’d never heard of him.” One A.L. scout joked that “I thought he was the manger’s kid the first time I saw him in the Nationals organization.
...Beane, like Andrew Friedman in Tampa and some of the other unconventional small market general managers, is forever searching for a different way to look at and approach the business. It has worked, and once again the Athletics are the real team to beat in the American League West, with a jackrabbit named Billy Burns, a $10M closer and the intellectual flexibility to be able to take stock of what doesn’t work and keep searching, as Lewis once wrote, for the new, new thing.
Posted: March 08, 2014 at 11:11 PM | 1 comment(s)
for his generous support.
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