Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin announced his intention of playing Cuban defector and inexplicable Athletics’ free agent signing Yoenis Cespedes in center field and Coco Crisp in left.
In a baseball discussion, I defy you to justify this decision.
Crisp was signed because he’s a top-notch defensive center fielder. We don’t know if Cespedes can play center in the big leagues and it’s absurd to think he can be even 75% of what Crisp is defensively.
But this is what they’re doing.
Because they have nothing else to bank their 2012 season on apart from the development and hope that Cespedes can draw interest and fans to a team that promises to be an absolute eyesore on the field.
They didn’t draw well when they were winning 100 games a year at the apex of Billy Beane’s mythical “genius” in the heady days of Moneyball before the rest of baseball caught on to what he was doing and began paying big money for players who got on base and hit the ball out of the park, doing little else.
So where’s the “genius”?
Genius is not fleeting and judged on the results in and of themselves.
Genius is innovation. Genius is creativity. Genius is having a plan, following through on it and finding a way to make it work.
Is Beane doing any of that with this current Athletics’ configuration? With a series of desperate trades to deal away young, cost-controlled arms for packages of prospects in the “someday” hope that they’ll develop and be playing in a brand new ballpark in San Jose and the A’s will have the cash influx to compete with the big boys of baseball? That at some point during the contract extension that Beane signed to keep him with the A’s through 2019 that they’ll once again be good and his brilliance will again be validated by the subjectivity of the won/lost column?
He’s banking on Bud Selig and MLB finding a way to get the new A’s ballpark approved with the Giants letting the A’s infringe on their territorial rights; they want to sell the idea of the young players they acquired being part of the A’s renaissance in…I don’t know when! Is it 2015? 2016? 2017?
They re-signed Crisp even though he’s not going to do them much good on the field. They’d lose 95 games with him; they’ll lose 95 games without him. He’s still an Athletics’ player because of his speed and defense in center field. Now he’s not going to play center field. He’s going to play left.
No one knows what Cespedes is going to be and he’s the epitome of the type of player that Moneyball specifically said Beane wanted his scouts to avoid: he looks good with no verifiable results.
Maybe they can use his shredded physique in the tradition of Bo Jackson to sell jeans.
There’s no blueprint and Beane isn’t “smarter than the average bear”.
Don’t claim that this is a baseball move.
Don’t say it’s necessary.
Don’t imply some vague, unseen notion of a plan that’s known only to the evil genius Billy Beane.
And do not reference Moneyball as if the book and movie “prove” Beane’s aptitude in running a major league baseball team as if one thing feeds into the other without reality backing up the assertion.
He’s a baseball GM whose reputation became something that no one could live up to based on creative non-fiction and the sale of a story that doesn’t exist. He’s flinging things at the wall in a similar fashion to the reviled “non-analytical” GMs who were the bane of the existence of those who were promulgating the concept of a so-called revolution that would turn every baseball front office into something resembling a Star Trek convention and take over the world rendering the old-schoolers obsolete.
He’s in a war of attrition and running a dying franchise with nowhere to go and nothing to do to turn things around, so he’s reduced to gimmicks.
And he’s losing.
Cespedes to center field is more evidence of idiocy and/or desperation.
Don’t dare say it’s anything else.