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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Kawakami: Billy Beane on the A’s-Giants escalation, Cespedes and much more

Caught up with A’s GM/part-owner Billy Beane in the stands during the A’s-Dodgers game here today.

Lots of sun. Lots of chatting. Beane was revved up and relaxed.

...-Q: Did you need to rebuild the farm system because you’ve had a fall off in your drafting over the last five or six years?

-BEANE: The highest pick we’ve had since the ‘90s is 10—Choice was 10. In baseball, there’s a big difference between the top three picks and the ones after that…

We haven’t had the premium-premium picks in a long time. And a lot of the small-market teams are built on them, those first and second picks in the draft.

The reward… excuse me, the problem is, when you’re drafting first and second, that means you’ve probably lost 100 games, which we haven’t come close to doing. Not that we’re going to or are trying to do that.

But you can pay for mediocrity as well. And we haven’t had a lot of extra picks because we haven’t lost free agents.

-Q: Because you keep trading them before they’re free agents.

-BEANE: Yeah, the thing is, as the cost of salaries goes up, the time that you’re allowed to keep them is less and less.

If you look at the sequence, it used to be guys would go through free agency, the Giambis, the Tejadas. Then the Hudson, Mulders were four-plus, five-plus. Then the Harens, the Swishers were three-plus.

And now you’re going zero to two. So it just keeps shrinking and shrinking.

Thanks to Devin.

Repoz Posted: March 08, 2012 at 09:58 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, history

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4077306)
In baseball, there’s a big difference between the top three picks and the ones after that…


But where are the undervalued market inefficiences? The Steve Stanleys? The Jeremy Browns?
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4077308)
BEANE: Yeah, the thing is, as the cost of salaries goes up, the time that you’re allowed to keep them is less and less.

If you look at the sequence, it used to be guys would go through free agency, the Giambis, the Tejadas. Then the Hudson, Mulders were four-plus, five-plus. Then the Harens, the Swishers were three-plus.

And now you’re going zero to two. So it just keeps shrinking and shrinking.


This is BS. I'm generally a Beane fan, but this is total BS.

Those players haven't gotten more expensive, your owner is just getting cheaper.
   3. JJ1986 Posted: March 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4077309)
Beane had at least one shot at a Top 3 talent in the last decade. He took James Simmons instead.
   4. Tripon Posted: March 08, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4077312)
Beane could have drafted Matt Cain. He decided to go for Joe Blanton.

-BEANE: Yeah, the thing is, as the cost of salaries goes up, the time that you’re allowed to keep them is less and less.

If you look at the sequence, it used to be guys would go through free agency, the Giambis, the Tejadas. Then the Hudson, Mulders were four-plus, five-plus. Then the Harens, the Swishers were three-plus.

And now you’re going zero to two. So it just keeps shrinking and shrinking.


I'm not sure what to make of this, is he saying that players reach free agency after two years?
   5. DA Baracus Posted: March 08, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4077314)
This is BS. I'm generally a Beane fan, but this is total BS.


Agreed. Does he really think anyone is going to buy what he's selling?

I picture the exchange went like this.

Beane: "And we haven’t had a lot of extra picks because we haven’t lost free agents."

Kawakami: *stares at Beane for five seconds*

"Because you keep trading them before they’re free agents."
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4077316)

I'm not sure what to make of this, is he saying that players reach free agency after two years?


This is what he means.

-Q: So you’re saying you have to avoid the deep arbitration years now, too?

-BEANE: No, it’s just the window is shorter because the costs in arbitration are higher and teams are willing to give up a lot less for players the further down, which is obvious.

But you used to be able to trade a five-plus player and get a good return. Now, very few people want to give up young players for that. Then it was four-plus, now it keeps shrinking and shrinking.

The key for us is to make sure we get some return…


It sounds like Billy is trying to win trades more than win ballgames.
   7. shattnering his Dominicano G Strings on that Mound Posted: March 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4077341)
Never get involved in trading with a Snopes.
   8. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: March 09, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4077473)
It sounds like Billy is trying to win trades more than win ballgames.

That sounds about right.
   9. McCoy Posted: March 09, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4077481)
Sounds like a BTF GM.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4077502)
It sounds like Billy is trying to win trades more than win ballgames.

That sounds about right.


Yup.

There was no reason he needed to trade Haren, or Swisher or Gio or Cahill except he felt like it.

They've been running a $60-70M payroll. If you need to cut expenses, don't sign Sheets, or Crisp, or Matsui, or Fuentes or Balfour or any of the other old, lame and expensive retreads he's been bringing in.

   11. Danny Posted: March 09, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4077526)
There was no reason he needed to trade Haren, or Swisher or Gio or Cahill except he felt like it.

They've been running a $60-70M payroll. If you need to cut expenses, don't sign Sheets, or Crisp, or Matsui, or Fuentes or Balfour or any of the other old, lame and expensive retreads he's been bringing in.

They didn't trade Cahill, Gio, or Bailey to cut expenses. They traded them because 1) the team isn't good enough to contend with them, 2) they likely won't be good enough while they're still bargains, and 3) the farm system was awful and wasn't likely to produce a contender anytime soon. The reason to trade them is that they now have virtually the same chances of contending over the next couple years as they had before (very near zero) and an increased chance of contending going forward after that.

For example, Cahill doesn't add much of anything to the A's chances over the next two years while he's a bargain, and he's not all that valuable on a 2/$20M contract after that (with $13M option years). So you trade him now for Parker, who could have significant value in 2014. It has nothing to do with cutting payroll.

These are the exact same reasons they traded Swisher and Haren.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4077535)
They didn't trade Cahill, Gio, or Bailey to cut expenses. They traded them because 1) the team isn't good enough to contend with them, 2) they likely won't be good enough while they're still bargains, and 3) the farm system was awful and wasn't likely to produce a contender anytime soon. The reason to trade them is that they now have virtually the same chances of contending over the next couple years as they had before (very near zero) and an increased chance of contending going forward after that.

For example, Cahill doesn't add much of anything to the A's chances over the next two years while he's a bargain, and he's not all that valuable on a 2/$20M contract after that (with $13M option years). So you trade him now for Parker, who could have significant value in 2014. It has nothing to do with cutting payroll.

These are the exact same reasons they traded Swisher and Haren.


But that's all because Beane's org. has been drafting and developing for ####.

Given how little talent they've gotten out of all this roster churn, they'd have been better off just keeping Swisher and Haren in the first place.
   13. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4077553)
Given how little talent they've gotten out of all this roster churn, they'd have been better off just keeping Swisher and Haren in the first place.

Haren and Swisher aren't the best examples of this, though, because they've received a ton of talent for those two players.

Haren came to the A's with Daric Barton and Kiko Calero, for Mark Mulder. Great deal.
Haren was dealt for (among others) Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland (who at least had the one decent year), and Carlos Gonzalez.

Swisher brought them Ryan Sweeney, De Los Santos, and Gio.
Sweeney was traded for more prospects, including Reddick. Gio netted them Milone and Peacock, and two others.
As others have suggested, the A's aren't going anywhere in the next couple of years unless they get really lucky. They need not just good players, but lots of them.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4077563)

These are the exact same reasons they traded Swisher and Haren.


If Beane traded Swisher and Haren because he knew the A's wouldn't be competing for the next few years, why did he trade some of his young talent for Matt Holliday a year later? Or sign Jason Giambi and Nomar as free agents?
   15. DA Baracus Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4077568)
Or sign Jason Giambi and Nomar as free agents?


Weren't those more of placeholder signings? If you don't have anyone in your system good enough at a position you've got fill your roster with someone.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4077575)
If you can only get 2 years out of a player before his trade value plummets, then I think that you are better off holding onto him for 6 years and enjoying the draft picks. It's not possible to win building in 2 year cycles.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4077581)
If you can only get 2 years out of a player before his trade value plummets, then I think that you are better off holding onto him for 6 years and enjoying the draft picks.

Concur.
   18. RJ in TO Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4077585)
If Beane traded Swisher and Haren because he knew the A's wouldn't be competing for the next few years, why did he trade some of his young talent for Matt Holliday a year later? Or sign Jason Giambi and Nomar as free agents?


Beane had already stated that he didn't expect to be competing for the next few years when he went out and signed Cespedes to a deal that would end right about when he expected to start competing again.

Honestly, as someone who admittedly doesn't follow the A's too closely, it feels a lot like Beane is stuck in the same mode that Dan O'Dowd was stuck in for years, where he can't seem to decide from day to day whether not he's planning on competing or rebuilding, and what type of team he wants (other than one filled with cheap players). It seems like he's making moves just to make moves, without any idea of how or whether all those moves fit together in a coherent manner.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4077592)
Haren and Swisher aren't the best examples of this, though, because they've received a ton of talent for those two players.

Haren came to the A's with Daric Barton and Kiko Calero, for Mark Mulder. Great deal.
Haren was dealt for (among others) Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland (who at least had the one decent year), and Carlos Gonzalez.

Swisher brought them Ryan Sweeney, De Los Santos, and Gio.
Sweeney was traded for more prospects, including Reddick. Gio netted them Milone and Peacock, and two others.


And having Haren and Swisher today, even if you were paying them a combined $23M, would get the A's a lot closer to playoff berth than what they have left from those trades.

Hell, you could trade Haren and Swisher today for more than the value they've amassed from those trades.

Pointless churn is pointless.
   20. Danny Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4077601)
But that's all because Beane's org. has been drafting and developing for ####.

Huh, I thought it was because "no reason except Beane felt like it."

Given how little talent they've gotten out of all this roster churn, they'd have been better off just keeping Swisher and Haren in the first place.

First, the issue of how well the trades worked out is different from the issue of the reasoning behind the trades.

Second, how would the A's have been better off keeping Swisher and Haren? They wouldn't have made the playoffs, and at this point all they'd have would be draft picks from Haren leaving as a FA in 2010 and Nick Swisher on a 1/$10M deal. Instead, they have Brett Anderson, the 4 prospects they got in return for Gio, DLS, and a failed Michael Taylor. I can't imagine anyone preferring the former.
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4077611)

Second, how would the A's have been better off keeping Swisher and Haren? They wouldn't have made the playoffs,


Its not like the A's have been losing 90+ the last few years. In 2010, they won 81 games, and had a pythag of 85 wins. Its not a stretch to think that had they had Nick Swisher in left instead of Gabe Gross (and losing Gio and Sweeney of course) and Haren (instead of injured Brett Anderson), they're competing with the 90 win Rangers.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4077612)
Second, how would the A's have been better off keeping Swisher and Haren? They wouldn't have made the playoffs, and at this point all they'd have would be draft picks from Haren leaving as a FA in 2010 and Nick Swisher on a 1/$10M deal. Instead, they have Brett Anderson, the 4 prospects they got in return for Gio, DLS, and a failed Michael Taylor. I can't imagine anyone preferring the former.

I meant keep Haren like paying him.

If they gave Haren the same extension Ariz did, they'd control him through 2013 (don't forget the option) and have Swisher for 2012.

That's worth a hell of a lot more in performance and or trade value than a perpetually injured Brett Anderson, and 4 prospects.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4077616)

Its not like the A's have been losing 90+ the last few years. In 2010, they won 81 games, and had a pythag of 85 wins. Its not a stretch to think that had they had Nick Swisher in left instead of Gabe Gross (and losing Gio and Sweeney of course) and Haren (instead of injured Brett Anderson), they're competing with the 90 win Rangers.


Good point.

The basic issue with Swisher and Haren is that they're exactly the guys you are trying to get. 3+ WAR players paid at below market prices.

You don't improve by trading 8.5 WAR of production that makes $23M.
   24. Danny Posted: March 09, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4077629)
Its not like the A's have been losing 90+ the last few years. In 2010, they won 81 games, and had a pythag of 85 wins. Its not a stretch to think that had they had Nick Swisher in left instead of Gabe Gross (and losing Gio and Sweeney of course) and Haren (instead of injured Brett Anderson), they're competing with the 90 win Rangers.

2010 rWAR

Haren: 3.2
Swisher: 4.3

Gio: 4.1
Anderson: 2.2
Sweeney: 1.2

That would have closed their 9 game deficit?
   25. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4077635)
He's become the New Age Frank Lane
   26. Danny Posted: March 09, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4077643)
The basic issue with Swisher and Haren is that they're exactly the guys you are trying to get. 3+ WAR players paid at below market prices.

No, that's who the Yankees are trying to get. With a ~$65M payroll, the A's can't win with a core of 3 WAR players who make $10M /year. They need an abundance of pre-arb/FA talent.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4077662)
If trading Swisher and Haren was supposed to be an admission that the team wouldn't be ready to compete for another four years or so, then they ought to be ready to start competing... right about now. Instead, they're starting the same process over again.
   28. Danny Posted: March 09, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4077705)
Or, and I know this might sound crazy, their current rebuilding is an admission that their previous rebuilding failed.
   29. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 09, 2012 at 04:23 PM (#4077718)
Yes, no doubt - but why then pursue the same strategy all over again? Is there any reason to think it's going to work this time around?
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4077744)
No, that's who the Yankees are trying to get. With a ~$65M payroll, the A's can't win with a core of 3 WAR players who make $10M /year. They need an abundance of pre-arb/FA talent.

No, you need both.

No team is likely to click on the critical mass of great 0-4 year players at the same time.

Even TB has mixed in guys they extended past their cheap years; e.g. Crawford, Longoria, Shields, Zobrist.

In the new Billy Beane insanity, Shields, Upton and Zobrist would have already been shipped out for a dozen low minors prospects, and the Rays would suck this year.
   31. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 09, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4077790)
With all the talk about San Jose, I understood Oakland's offseason, right up until the Cespedes signing. But unless Beane is confident Cespedes will be a stud right out of the chute and can be flipped for more prospects, or Oakland was quietly told to spend more money, the Cespedes deal seems like a head-scratcher.
   32. Dan Posted: March 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4078270)
Cespedes is playing in the A's game which is televised on MLB.tv right now, if anyone is as interested in seeing him play as I am.
   33. Dan Posted: March 10, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4078279)
Walked in his first PA.
   34. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4078287)
Or, and I know this might sound crazy, their current rebuilding is an admission that their previous rebuilding failed.


It shouldn't be surprising that they admit their previous rebuilding failed.

Oakland Athletics Top 20 prospects pre-2008 (post Haren trade)

1. Carlos Gonzalez
2. Drederic Barton
3. Brett Anderson
4. Chris Carter
5. James Simmons
6. Henry Alberto Rodriguez
7. Trevor Cahill
8. Aaron Cunningham
9. Corey Brown
10. Andrew Bailey
11. Sean Doolittle
12. Javier Herrera
13. Dan Meyer
14. Greg "The Prince of Pickoff Moves" Smith
15. Sam Demel
16. Andrew Carignan
17. Grant Desme
18. Travis Banwart (now they're just making names up)
19. Josh Horton
20. Jermaine Mitchell

Others: Jeff Baisley, Graham Godfrey, Dan Hamblin, Aaron Jenkins, Brad Kilby, Vince "Vin" Mazzaro, Kevin Melillo, Cliff Pennington, Landon Powell, Jason Ray, Richie Robnett, Justin Sellers, Matt Sulentic.
   35. Danny Posted: March 10, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4078305)
Yes, no doubt - but why then pursue the same strategy all over again? Is there any reason to think it's going to work this time around?

Generally, trading present value for future value is a pretty solid rebuilding strategy. That it wasn't executed well in a previous attempt doesn't mean they shouldn't try again.

Specifically, the Haren and Swisher trades are not the reason the previous rebuilding failed. The guys the A's got back in those trades have been both better and cheaper than the players they traded away. The draft/FA failings and Holliday trade aren't reasons against trading away Cahill and Gio.

HR for Cespedes!
   36. Obo Posted: March 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM (#4078363)
If you can only get 2 years out of a player before his trade value plummets

...then doesn't it follow that you should be trading for these players, not trading them away?

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