Michael Ynoa is a right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic who signed with the Athletics for a then-A’s record signing bonus of $4.25 million signing bonus in June of 2008.
He’s now 20-years-old and has thrown 9 professional innings in almost four years.
Ynoa had Tommy John surgery and is expected to pitch this season in the minors.
When he signed, his name was spelled Inoa; now it’s Ynoa. Whether there’s a Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez Heredia story and we’ll discover that he’s actually 43 in the future is unknown.
But back then, Billy Beane wasn’t criticized for the signing; he wasn’t criticized after Ynoa got hurt; and people have forgotten about the risk he took by making an investment in such a question mark while having little money to spend.
The only difference between then and now is that Beane’s status as untouchable and protected from the righteous indignation that other GMs are subject to has become more pronounced and gotten exponentially worse.
I’m not getting into saying the signing of Yoenis Cespedes is a good deal or a bad deal; that Billy Beane is betraying the tenets of Moneyball upon which his built his status as the Teflon GM; or questioning if the newest member of the Oakland Athletics, Cespedes, is going to be worth the 4-year, $36 million contract he’s reported to have agreed to.
That’s not what this is about.
It’s about Beane’s judgment being cast as unassailable because of a book, a movie and perception that he can do no wrong in spite of having done almost nothing but wrong since his last playoff team in 2006.
How is it possible to credit a man who is clearly just flinging things at the wall with no definable strategy? A man who’s hoping to get a new ballpark for his team and then have money to spend to attract players to come to his ballclub?
Does it make sense to trade the young pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey who weren’t making a ton of money and were part of the one strength the Athletics had—on the mound—for packages of young players and then turn around and use the money that the team was supposed to be saving on Cespedes? To keep Coco Crisp? To trade for Seth Smith? To sign Jonny Gomes and Bartolo Colon?
Anything can be justified by anyone if they’re sufficiently motivated, but how do you take seriously those who refuse to criticize someone for reasons that have nothing to do with the job he’s done, but because it conveniences them to shield someone like Beane from criticism because there’s a clear investment in the concept of him being what his fictional account says he is?
Ask yourself this: if these deals were made by Omar Minaya, Dayton Moore, Bill Bavasi, Tony Reagins, Ed Wade or even Ruben Amaro Jr.—any GM who’s invited ridicule for the money spent and trades made in recent years without a plan that is palatable to the outsider “experts” that judge baseball from the safety of their armchairs and newsrooms—what would be said?
Would this be called another brilliant maneuver or would it add another layer to the reasons they should be replaced?
Cespedes might make it. He might not. Judging from the clips I’ve seen of him, he’s an intriguing talent.
But there have been many intriguing talents who’ve been pursued due to the free agent status of Japanese, Cuban, Venezuelan and other countries for players not trapped in the MLB draft. Many of these players failed miserably.
The Yankees, Red Sox and even the Marlins could afford to sign Cespedes and have him be a bust. The Yankees and Red Sox because they have the money; the Marlins because of the Cuban population in Miami would come to the games—for awhile—because they signed a young, Cuban player with multiple talents.
Can the A’s afford it if he’s a bust?
If he is, will we see more excuses as to why it’s not Beane’s fault and he’s still “smarter than the average bear”?
And if so, will you still believe it?
How long are young going to allow yourself to be treated as a fool?