Billy Beane’s House of Lies and Simplified Math

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Another defense of Billy Beane and his “strategy” for 2012 is presented by Richard Justice MLB.com—link.

Let’s deal in facts, shall we?

Here are the players the Athletics have acquired this winter and their 2012 salaries:

Seth Smith: $2.415 million.

Bartolo Colon: $2 million.

This is a total of $4.415 million for two exceedingly mediocre “name” new additions.

Here are the departures:

Trevor Cahill: $3.5 million (guaranteed through 2015 at $29 million with options in 2016 and 2017).

Gio Gonzalez: $3.25 million (arbitration eligible for the first time).

Craig Breslow: filed for arbitration and asked for $2.1 million; was offered $1.5 million.

Andrew Bailey: arbitration eligible for the first time; figure a contract of $1.5 million.

David DeJesus: $4.25 million (2-years, $10 million guaranteed from the Cubs).

Josh Willingham: $7 million (3-years, $21 million guaranteed from the Twins).

Hideki Matsui: was paid $4.25 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

Michael Wuertz: was paid $2.8 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

Rich Harden: was paid $1.5 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

All for a total of $29.85 million based on what they’re guaranteed for 2012 or what they were paid in 2011.

These are the raises for players they’ve kept:

Kurt Suzuki: $1.6 million.

Coco Crisp: $250,000.

Brandon McCarthy: $3.275 million.

Grant Balfour: $25,000.

Brett Anderson: $2 million.

Daric Barton: $675,000

Joey Devine: $180,000

Adam Rosales: $175,000

That’s a total of $8.18 million.

Adding $8.18 million+$4.415=$12.33 million.

Subtracting $12.33 million from $29.85 million comes to $17.52 million.

So from a payroll of $55 million in 2011, the A’s have slashed a total of $17.52 million.

Justice writes:

When (Beane) looked at the A’s after the 2011 season, he saw a third-place club that had neither the payroll nor the Minor League talent to make a dramatic improvement. He had $51 million in contract commitments for 2012 and a $55 million budget even before attempting to re-sign his starting outfield of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp (only Crisp will be back).

“I had to look at it honestly,” he said. “Look at the moves the Angels and Rangers have made. They’re going to have payrolls rivaling the Red Sox and Yankees. It just seemed foolish to go forward with a third-place team that was losing significant parts. We felt we had to do something dramatic.”

“Honestly”? Beane uses the word “honestly”?

Where is he getting these numbers from?

They could’ve dumped Crisp’s $5.75 million and found another, cheaper center fielder somewhere who would do pretty much the same things Crisp does. Or they could’ve just stuck Josh Reddick out there and given him the chance to play every day. What did they need Crisp for?

McCarthy just had his first season of moderate health after bouncing from the White Sox to the Rangers and having repeated shoulder problems—which also cost him eight starts in 2011—and failing as a top prospect. The only way the Athletics were able to sign him was because he was short of options for a rotation spot. He’s their new ace?

Someone would take Balfour and his fastball.

Barton was acquired in the Mark Mulder trade (one of the prior teardowns) and Beane clings to him as if he’s hoping against hope that someday he’ll fulfill that potential.

The mischaracterizations and fabrications inherent in Moneyball—the book and the movie—are continuing unabated and unchallenged. Replete with salable buzzwords implying the same party line for his constituency, it goes on and on.

There’s a separation from rebuilding and collecting prospects and ratcheting up the rhetoric to maintain the veneer of knowing what one’s doing, having a plan and executing it.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

Lies.

Fabrications.

Political-style calculations.

And the masses are still buying it.

Under no circumstances am I questioning the prospects nor the basis for making the trades of Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. We don’t know about the players he received and won’t know for awhile.

That’s not the point.

The point is that he’s spewing the same garbage he’s been spewing for years in a self-interested, self-absolving manner to shun the responsibility for the failures of the teams he built.

They’ve failed to meet expectations when they were supposed to contend and now they’re going to meet expectations by falling to 95 losses.

But it’s not Billy’s fault.

I don’t want to be sold something by a clever marketer/con-artist who’s still clutching and using this nonsensical and faulty biography.

Beane’s become a “means to an end” executive and that end is to hold onto that aura of “genius” that was created by Moneyball. There are still those that believe it and take his word for why he does what he does—they don’t bother to check.

Is it because they trust him? That they want to protect him? Or is it because they’re afraid of what they might find if they dig for facts?

The A’s are going to have a lower payroll and they’re going to be much worse than they could’ve been with worse players than they had because of this “strategy” that is played up in the latest piece about Beane.

When does this stop?

When will the true objective reality be examined and cited?

When?

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Teams Are What They Are

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Some would-be “experts” might not want to indulge in a stroll down memory lane, but if you look at clubs before the season and in April and May, you’ll see such teams like the Orioles, Royals, Nationals and Mariners who were playing over their heads and eventually fell back into what they are.

Other clubs have talent but excuses for their failures. The Athletics, Dodgers, White Sox and Rockies can be reasonably placed into this category. Without going into detail, you can look at a team like the A’s—who were overrated for numerous reasons—and say that the injuries to their pitchers Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson hurt them on the mound; that the slow starts from Josh Willingham and David DeJesus robbed them of an improved offense.

The White Sox have been a dysfunctional train wreck for whom GM Kenny Williams is about to hit the trapdoor to send his players—en masse—into his James Bond villain style trap of crocodiles with laser beams attached to their heads.

The Dodgers are mired in (Mc)Court with legal proceedings hovering over them. In fairness, had they stayed healthy, they had a chance to be pretty good. (And I’m not pulling a Francesa and saying that because I picked them; it’s true.)

Certain clubs regularly straddle the line between good and mediocre and they do it on an annual basis; they’re treading the fine line between being deadline buyers and sellers. The Rockies are one such club.

Then there are teams for whom the writing was on the wall if you chose to read it. The concept of the Astros replicating the 2009 Padres and making drastic improvement because of a strong second half the previous season was idiotic.  The Padres had a lot of talent to justify their play; the Astros didn’t. It was a groundless, baseless assertion that came from absolutely nothing other than both playing well for a memorably stretch; there was no context, nothing.

And finally there are the overachievers. The Pirates have been around .500 and near first place when no one expected them to do so. While they’ve slumped lately, they gave their fans a reason to think they could get better eventually. The Mets have played above their heads in the face of rampant injuries; they overcame a horrific start and legal/sale issues of their own to play respectably.

The Diamondbacks have been a revelation.

No matter how a knowledgable voice comes to his conclusions, there are bound to be deviations; but for the most part, teams are going to play up to their talent levels. Did anyone believe that the Red Sox were going to have an off year after their atrocious start? With that talent?

Who saw Albert Pujols having the year he’s had?

That the White Sox would’ve gotten similar production had they chosen to the pitcher hit rather than using Adam Dunn as their DH?

Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia doing the work they’ve done for the Yankees?

Joe Mauer being booed?

There’s a reason they play the games and no one’s infallible, but with a fundamental understanding of players and people you can—within a framework—pigeonhole clubs and players as to where they’re going to be and what they’re going to do.

For many, that fundamental understanding is missing, clouded by a smug arrogance and a refusal to admit that they may be wrong.

Either they’re pledging allegiance to a corporate entity nudging them into a certain direction (the Favre Effect of needing webhits and ratings) or they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Or both.

Will they admit they were wrong? Will they come up with a nonsensical caveat? Will they cling to their agendas regardless of reality?

It depends. The insecure, egomaniacal and partisan will justify themselves like a paid endorser; the truth-tellers with self-belief and confidence will admit mistakes and chalk them up to experience.

It depends one where you’re getting your information and what you believe.

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Swift And Deadly 6.7.2011

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The MLB Draft and destruction of legendary tales.

I…I’m almost unable to speak; to fathom; to understand.

The new Mets front office was supposed to be immersed in Moneyball, objective analysis, and all the faith-based tenets.

I’m shaken to the core.

The Mets drafted…HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS; and worse, they drafted a…HIGH SCHOOL PITCHER!

Selecting high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo and high school pitcher Michael Fulmer directly contradicts that which he who appeared from the heavens to teach us the proper way to run a baseball team.

Wasn’t it Michael Lewis who wrote in the sacrosanct text of Moneyball that drafting a high school pitcher was “delightfully mad”; that it “defied reason”?

What happened?

Are they not “card-counting”? Was it a ruse?

I…I can’t believe in anything anymore. My faith has been shattered.

Leave me be. Please. I…need some time to myself.

Speaking of Moneyball, Billy Beane and “genius”…

In all seriousness, I wasn’t as sold on the Athletics before the season as others were.

Much like in 2009, there was a benefit of the doubt aspect to assessing the Athletics. Intentional or not, there is an underlying expectation of Beane figuring it out, somehow.

I had them at 84-78 and a few games out of the top spot in the AL West.

My book with said predictions is still available by the way. Click on the links in the left column.

I did provide warnings as to the fleeting nature of young pitching. Dallas Braden is already out with Tommy John surgery and Brett Anderson might need the procedure.

There’s no one to blame for that, but it’s symptomatic and proves my point that there’s no “genius”. There never was.

The A’s have lost 7 straight, demoted Kevin Kouzmanoff and manager Bob Geren doesn’t appear long for his job.

I can write the pending press conference statement for the eventual Geren firing if the “genius” likes.

“This is no reflection on Bob.”

“Everyone in the organization is at fault and the main culprit is me.”

“We feel we’ve underperformed and something needed to change.”

“We’re better than this.”

“I’m taking full responsibility for this club’s problems.”

Blah, blah, blah.

I can’t wait for the Moneyball movie; although I don’t know if 74-88 will be a selling point for the “genius” of Billy Beane.

Lenny’s new accommodations kinda fit.

Lenny Dykstra wanted to be a billionaire; he talked and spent as if he was.

People believed him until they were caught in the middle of his schemes, scams, tricks and lies.

Now he’s in jail on a whole slew of different charges from those he was arrested for last month—NY Times Story.

I doubt we’ll see Dykstra at any Mets/Phillies reunions unless it’s to hit people up for his legal defense fund.

It’s just as well.

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