Billy Beane Returns To The Moneyball Basics…

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Just in time for the movie too.

Except he’s doing it without the winning and “genius”.

I guess it’s not as easy when the rest of the baseball has caught up with a junk bond trader masquerading as a venture capitalist; a lounge lizard clad in polyester rather than a high-rolling card-counter in the casino; when there’s no Steve Phillips to hoodwink; no scouts to bully; no fawning writers to treat every word as if it’s gospel; no unsophisticated bumpkin without statistical advisers telling him when Beane’s trying to run a scam.

Billy Beane made one trade for the Athletics before the deadline despite having a number of movable parts on a team that is going nowhere literally and figuratively.

That’s aside from, perhaps, a September field trip to the movies to see either Moneyball or The Smurfs—both are about as realistic as the other—and break the monotony of a 75-87 season.

The one trade Beane made and another he tried to make hearkened back to yesteryear when he was still putting forth the pretense of being “ahead” of everyone else.

He acquired Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto from the Diamondbacks for submarine righty Brad Ziegler.

Yay.

Allen has put up great numbers in the minors with power and on-base skills, but hasn’t gotten a legitimate chance to play in the majors. He’s an average at best defender and can run a little bit.

Norberto is a lefty who’s posted big strikeout numbers and has control problems.

This is following his attempt to peddle Rich Harden on the Red Sox for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Naturally, Harden failed his physical and stayed with the A’s. Anderson is another slow-footed, formerly hyped prospect of a first baseman whose path is blocked for…well…forever with Adrian Gonzalez now entrenched at the position.

In short, Beane’s looking for his great white whale Jeremy Brown. Considering the attributes of Brown when his story was told in Moneyball, that’s a perfect metaphor as an underappreciated, overweight, one-dimensional player Beane can stick someplace and hope the ball doesn’t find him while he walks, walks, walks into everyone’s hearts and minds.

Allen might produce; he might not. Anderson could be something, somewhere. Norberto’s lefty, so he’ll always have a job.

None of this is relevant to the major point of Beane’s “genius”. He’s gone back to basics, but the basics are no longer the same. He’s counting cards, but he’s lost count and isn’t dealing with the same hand anymore.

The entire concept of that notion of “genius” was based on exposing inefficiencies in the market. That’s not creating anything; that’s not engaging in some profound “new” way of thinking; it’s a form of bottom-feeding to fill in a gap and it was a short-term boost that had to be adjusted as others caught onto the ruse.

Others smartened up and passed Beane; regardless of the continued attempts—based on an agenda—to play up his supposed brilliance, his results have been wanting and the excuses have been prevalent.

The “we have no money” lament was the genesis of Beane’s discovery of on-base percentage as an undervalued asset; you can’t use the same excuse for your success as you do for your failures—it doesn’t work that way.

You don’t hear the Rays—whose front office is truly brilliant—complaining about their lack of money until it sounds like whining. They accept and move on. And that’s what Beane should do. Possibly completely out of Oakland and onto pastures where he can be judged for what he is and not what was implied by Michael Lewis’s narrative skill and propensity to exaggerate to convenience his crafted ending.

Then maybe his staunchest defenders will see the truth.

After the movie financials are in of course.

It might happen.

But I doubt it.

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Carlos Beltran’s Star-Crossed Mets Career Comes To A Fitting End

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The trade sending Carlos Beltran to the Giants for minor league righty Zack Wheeler isn’t officially official, but it sounds done, so I’ll treat it as if it is done.

We don’t know whether it was a concession to the will of the player or some evil scheme he’d cooked up, but the fact is that when Beltran was making his free agency rounds after the 2004 season, agent Scott Boras offered his client’s services to the Yankees for fewer years and less money than what the Mets had offered.

A more bitter pill for Mets fans to swallow is hard to find.

Right there it was set in stone that the relationship between the Mets and Beltran—short of a Hall of Fame run in a Mets uniform and at least one championship—was going to be one of pure business with little genuine affinity.

Beltran was a great and loyal player for the Mets. He provided everything they could’ve expected on and off the field. Remembered predominately for looking at a called strike three in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and his contentious disagreements with the club concerning his injured knee and subsequent club-unsanctioned surgery, Beltran’s achievements as a Met are glossed over.

He produced and behaved professionally. While never a vocal leader, his teammates often spoke well of his understated influence; he spoke to the media, was respected by all; he played hard.

But he was never embraced by Mets fans because of the perception that he not only didn’t really want to be a Met, but had the audacity to choose the Yankees and offer a discount. It was the Yankees who rejected Beltran with the Mets being his consolation choice; had that not happened, he’d have been a Yankee.

It shouldn’t make a difference, but it does. There’s nothing overtly wrong with chasing every single penny on the open market, but that decision—for whatever reason—hovered over him during his entire Mets tenure and it’s going to linger as a negative just like the strikeout.

Fans worshipped Pedro Martinez when he signed with the Mets in the same winter of 2004-2005 that they acquired Beltran. Is it really hard to see why they’d love Pedro and not Beltran? Even when Beltran was much better as a Met is understandable in the statistical sense?

No. Because stats don’t have anything to do with emotions and the emotional connection to Mets fans was never present with Beltran. He was too shy; too smooth; too quiet…and he offered himself to the Yankees.

Beltran signed with the Mets because they offered the most money; he was traded because the Mets are moving forward without him under a new regime; and both sides got a majority of what they wanted from the relationship, beginning to end.

10-20 years from now, don’t think that Beltran will be a worshipped Met of yesteryear, because he won’t be.

That sense is innate and unfair, but it’s real because in the end, he really didn’t want to be a Met. It was a marriage of convenience when it started and that’s how it’s ending.

To conclude the story of Beltran and the Mets properly and without romantic notions of fantasy as to what would be pleasing to the eye, it couldn’t go any other way.

And it didn’t.

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