Phillies Sign Jack Cust—Not Sexy But Maybe Important

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Sometimes it’s the understated and ignored acquisition or signing that turns out to be most important.

Eyes rolled at the Giants signing Pat Burrell and claiming Cody Ross last season, but without Burrell and Ross there likely wouldn’t have been a Giants World Series win.

In 1985, the Cardinals made a late-August trade for the stretch run when they acquired Cesar Cedeno for a nondescript minor leaguer named Mark Jackson who never made it to the majors. Cedeno was an unproductive part-timer in the twilight of his career with the Reds before getting to the Cardinals—upon which he went on a tear.

Over that final month in 1985, Cedeno batted .434 in 82 plate appearances with an absurd 1.213 OPS and 6 homers—some of which were game-winners. (I was at the September game in which Dwight Gooden and John Tudor hooked up for a scoreless tie through 9 innings; Cedeno pinch hit in the top of the 10th against Jesse Orosco and homered. Tudor finished the shutout in the bottom of the inning.)

Without Cedeno, the Cardinals would probably not have held the Mets off that September.

In what were essentially “nothing” moves, the Cardinals and Giants made it to the World Series.

It’s not sexy, but the Phillies signing of Jack Cust to a minor league deal could eventually be seen as big.

Cust was a washout with the Mariners this year, but that team is currently a lost cause; he was jerked around by the Athletics after rejuvenating his career with the organization, but the A’s are a farce of their very own with an upcoming feature film to prove it.

The difference with the Phillies is that he’s only going to be asked to do what he does in a limited role rather than as the lone power threat for two desperately short-handed clubs.

What Cust does is hit the ball out of the park; strike out; or walk.

The Phillies home of Citizens Bank Park will be more enticing to him than the vast dimensions of the Oakland Coliseum and Safeco Field, and he can hit a fastball. He murders the Giants’ Matt Cain and can catch up to Brian Wilson‘s fastball or walk if Wilson loses the strike zone.

Much like Matt Stairs‘s towering homer against a 100-mph fastball from Jonathan Broxton spun the 2009 NLCS into the Phillies favor and sent Broxton into a confidence-sapped tailspin from which he’s yet to recover, Cust could perform a similar function of a lefty bat off the bench against the Giants, Braves, Brewers or Cardinals—all potential playoff opponents for the Phillies.

Occasionally, all it takes is the smell of a pennant race to wake up a veteran’s bat. These inexpensive acquisitions wind up being turning points in a championship season without anyone realizing it at the time they were completed and it could be so with the Phillies signing of Cust.



Pirates Need To Accentuate The Positives

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The same qualities that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle used to get his club to overachieve into late July and be buyers rather than sellers is what he’ll need to use to keep the club focused and positive as they’ve hit this horrific stretch of losing 10 straight and 11 of 12.

An easy explanation to their current woes is the emotional hit they took by first losing that 19-inning marathon to the Braves on a horrifically blown call at the plate and then losing in 10 innings the next night.

Would the subsequent games have gone differently had they won those games?

No one can answer the question of momentum and whether they would’ve ignored the all-encompassing—some would say inevitably negative—aspects of being the Pirates.

Did they run into hot teams? Did their pitching, fielding, hitting fail them? Was it a combination?

I don’t know.

Hurdle’s main attribute as a manager is that he doesn’t take crap.

That’s it.

And it worked for the Pirates until recently. There was no logical statistical explanation for their success other than a superlative bullpen of scrapheap pickups; a good defense; and parity among the National League.

It caught up to them just as people were getting excited over the possibility of a playoff race in Pittsburgh for the first time since Barry Bonds played for them and was thin enough to pass for a background dancer at a New Edition concert.

They did make some aggressive—but smartly conservative—moves for Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. They surrendered a negligible prospect, Aaron Baker, for Lee; a player to be named later or cash (which means they gave up nothing) for Ludwick.

I’d said that the Pirates should go for the deep strike and try to win now when the opportunity presented itself without giving up prospects they’d regret losing. They tried, failed and played it safe with Lee and Ludwick. It was the intelligent thing to do.

The key for the 2011 Pirates is how they rebound. If Hurdle can coax them to finish at or above .500, that could be a key to their future; toward recruiting free agents who want to go to Pittsburgh as a choice rather than a last resort.

Hurdle has a sense of when to flip the post-game spread and light into his players and when to give a pep talk to uplift the club. Now’s the time for the pep talk.

As the bandwagon empties, it’s more important now than ever in the efforts to change the culture of a dying franchise. Hurdle’s done a great job of that so far and it’s up to him to accentuate the positives.


The Devaluing Of Heath Bell

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There’s no need to rehash the debate as to whether the Mets—in gentle terms—misused Heath Bell. The pitcher believes it. He uses as fuel the idea that then-pitching coach Rick Peterson didn’t like him; that the club underestimated his talents and used him as the extra guy and never gave him a real chance; and that they traded him for nothing.

It’s perspective-based and moderately true.

But he certainly can’t blame the Mets for his current position—a position that could be called a predicament; a predicament in which he’s also engulfed the Padres.

The club’s lives would’ve been much easier had they traded Bell before Bell’s idiotic behaviors and “honesty” boxed them in.

Bell’s got an outgoing personality and as long as he’s pitching well, it’s tolerated; but there are clubs in baseball who wouldn’t want him as their spokesman—he’d be a better fit on a veteran team that’s going to keep him in check.

He’s pitched well this season. The decline in his strikeout numbers is a worry to some, but judging from last night’s blown save against the Mets, I’d say the dip in velocity from 98 to 93 is one reason; and the loss of command in his breaking pitches is the other. He’s not allowing any more homers than he did in earlier years with the Padres, so hitters aren’t squaring him up any better than they did before—that would be my focus before shunning him due to numbers.

But Bell’s mouth is again running him afoul of his front office even if they don’t admit it. What was the purpose of the pitcher openly stating that if the Padres offer him arbitration after the season that he’ll take it? Was he trying to hurt them for not offering him a long-term deal and for listening to trade offers? Was he trying to expedite his departure from San Diego in a Machiavellian, scheming way? Or did he just speak his mind without considering the consequences?

Regardless of the specific circumstances, the Padres are in a terrible position now. Bell’s value wasn’t as high as it once was because of the declining K-rate and that he’s a free agent at the end of the year. They were asking for a lot in a trade. Now it’s worse because the Padres tenuous situation is known—all because of Bell’s yapping. He’s going to get a big award in arbitration if it’s offered; they really can’t get full value in trading him now; and if they do keep him, they’re likely to be going through this again next year.

Bell’s not getting through waivers in August and the claiming team will give up a fraction of the minimized offers the Padres were getting a few weeks ago.

In essence, it makes no sense to trade him now.

Here’s what I would do if I were the Padres: I’d keep him, offer him arbitration after the season, wait to see where the other available closers on the market—Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Lidge—wind up, then trade Bell to a closer-hungry team and get him out of town.

It’s too late to get all they could’ve gotten for him. They have to cut their losses and let Bell be someone else’s problem since he’s no longer much of an asset and the market is flooded with closers.

I’m sure they wish they’d done it earlier.


The Tigers Quick Trigger On Contract Extensions

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The Tigers extended the contracts of GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland. Dombrowski’s goes through 2015; Leyland’s through 2012.

I wouldn’t read anything into the shorter-term nature of Leyland’s contract; he’s not young and presumably doesn’t know how much longer he’s going to manage.

This is a curious maneuver considering that it was only a few weeks ago when owner Mike Ilitch implied there would be changes if this Tigers team didn’t make the post-season. It was a quick turnaround from that to keeping the GM for three more years.

Dombrowski and Leyland are good baseball men and the contract security eclipses a concern that I expressed when there was talk of the club gutting the farm system for veteran help at the trading deadline—that concern centered around a manager and executive whose short-term needs precluded rational thinking for the future.

That’s no longer an issue because whatever problems arise from a trade, they’ll fall on the desk of the GM and manager.

The Tigers have had a tendency to be reactionary in these cases. For example, they doled out contract extensions on Gary Sheffield, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis among others when it wasn’t necessary to do so and all turned out to be costly mistakes.

Because they’ve played better after an inconsistent start and have taken some semblance of control over the AL Central, the Tigers look like a pretty good bet for the playoffs—something that wasn’t the case when Ilitch made his cryptic statement.

They could’ve waited to extend the contracts, but it’s not a glaring mistake to do it now.


The Crawford-Reyes Comparison

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With each missed game due to the unpredictability (or predictability depending on where you sit) of Jose Reyes‘s hamstring, the Mets decision on whether or not to go all-out to keep the shortstop or let him leave becomes easier.

Reyes exited Sunday’s game against the Braves with “tightness” in his left hamstring; the same hamstring that sent him to the disabled list in early July. He was scheduled for an MRI on Sunday evening.

Now what?

The comparisons of Reyes to Carl Crawford has become a regular part of baseball vernacular. Reyes was set to sift through offers of “Carl Crawford money” meaning a contract that equals or surpasses the 7-year, $142 million Crawford received from the Red Sox.

Early in the season, when Reyes was the talk of baseball with his all-around play and boundless energy, that end looked inevitable.

Then he strained his hamstring and the questions started up again.

That was a month ago.

He’s hurt with some permutation of the same injury. The bane to his existence and obstruction to maximizing his potential has always been his troublesome hamstrings. No amount of bolstering of the true but someone inaccurate statements of his consistent health can eliminate that perception that he’s always one step away from going back on the disabled list for an extended period because of his penchant for hamstring woes that have sabotaged several seasons of his career.

Before that fateful day in July, the speculated dollar amounts were rising exponentially. Scott Boras was hotly pursuing Reyes as a client and was undoubtedly promising to get him more money than Crawford got. After the Jayson Werth contract, it’s foolish to doubt the ability of Boras to achieve that end. Reyes chose to stay with his current representatives.

Reyes was limited in his suitors before the injury. The two biggest financial juggernauts—the Yankees and Red Sox—are not going to be pursuing him. The Giants aren’t going to have the money to throw $140 million+ at Reyes; the Angels, Nationals and Tigers have the money; and if things break strangely perhaps the Cardinals and Dodgers could jump in.

Where else?

And how does Crawford fit into this equation?

Inadvertently, Carl Crawford and the Red Sox set the market for Jose Reyes when the somewhat surprising (post-Werth) deal came down. The Angels thought they had a competitive offer for Crawford of over $100 million, but were blown away by the Red Sox decisive maneuver to get him.

Crawford and Reyes are basically the same players. Crawford has been remarkably durable in his career and his disabled list stays haven’t been because of his legs. Crawford has more power; Reyes plays a more demanding and difficult-to-fill position, but they’re eerily close in what they do—stolen bases; some pop; lots of triples; wreaking havoc on the basepaths.

Crawford’s been a borderline disaster with the Red Sox in 2011.

Reyes was well on the way to surpassing “Crawford money” in his foray into free agency—someone was going to pay him. Now will there be that one dumb owner who ignores the warning signs and throws that $142 million+ at Reyes hoping that he’ll stay on the field?

What will the Mets do?

Reyes, like Crawford, is not a “speed only” player like Vince Coleman was; a player who, once that speed is gone, doesn’t do much of anything. He’ll always have that arm; he switch hits; has that pop to hit 10-15 homers a year; and will produce without the stolen bases. But produce to the tune of $142 million+?

It’s a tough question.

GM Sandy Alderson is not the type to overpay for a player when his club has numerous other holes to fill and is still in financial limbo. Things have settled down with the Mets after forecasts of bankruptcy, an MLB takeover and imminent collapse; but they’re still unclear. They’ve extricated themselves from the circling vulture of Francisco Rodriguez‘s $17.5 million contract option and have played well enough on the field and been respectable enough off the field so they’re no longer a last resort for prospective free agents.

Will Alderson want to allocate a vast chunk of club payroll on Reyes when that money could be used to find 4-5 players who would be less of a gamble and would fill in pieces of the puzzle while not being the superstar individual? When they’re going to get two draft picks as compensation for Reyes?

Reyes’s injuries have provided a sense of freedom for the front office to do what they think is right sans the pressure of fan/media reaction and the fallout for letting Reyes leave. They can frame this any way they choose and get away with it with a negligible response in the news cycle. The firestorm will be brief and lamenting that he’s gone, but understood.

Believe me when I tell you that Alderson and his deputies have a contingency plan in place without Reyes. It may not be as exciting, but it could be as good or better.

To justify Reyes’s departure, all they have to do is point to his history, the hamstring tweaks and subtly explain why they chose this course of action. They’ll make him a lucrative offer to remain a Met. But if someone trumps it, the Mets can shrug and move on. It might even be better in the long term. No one will blame them anymore.


The Bourn-Lidge Trade Revisited

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After the 2007 season, the Phillies needed a legitimate closer and traded for Brad Lidge; the Astros GM Ed Wade had drafted Michael Bourn while he was Phillies GM and wanted him for the Astros.

It made sense for both sides. Lidge had been alternately brilliant and awful as the Astros closer; Bourn was 25, had speed and played good defense in center field.

For 2008, the trade worked markedly in the Phillies favor. They wanted reliability and got the missing piece in their championship puzzle. Regardless of the stat person’s statement that “anyone can close” or “if Lidge didn’t rack up the meaningless save stat, someone would’ve”, the 2008 Phillies probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Lidge, let alone won the World Series.

He was masterful from the beginning of the season all the way through the World Series and years ago he would have been in serious contention the Cy Young Award and the MVP. (He was an also-ran, finishing 4th in the CYA voting and 8th for the MVP.)

Bourn had a bad year in 2008 batting .228 with a .285 on base percentage and few other attributes to make him worthwhile apart from potential.

After 2008 though, the Astros got the better end of the trade.

Lidge was a free agent after 2008 and signed a contract extension at mid-season for $37.5 million through 2011 with an option for 2012 that’s not getting picked up. He’s been injured, inconsistent and outright terrible for much of that time. The Phillies have had the offense and depth to account for it, but it’s been essentially wasted money paid because of his greatness in 2008.

Bourn delivered what the Astros were expecting from 2009 until he was traded to the Braves last week. He’s been a prolific basestealer, leading the league in every season; he’s hit for extra bases and gotten on base consistently; and he’s played excellent defense winning two deserved Gold Gloves.

This is a classic win-win trade. Lidge’s high-low confidence levels had become a bane for the Astros, but he was the ingredient the Phillies needed. Bourn wasn’t in the Phillies future plans and was expendable.

Neither team should have any regrets nor would re-do the trade because it worked exactly as was envisioned.


Viewer Mail 8.2.2011

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Todd Boss at Nationals Arm Race writes RE Jonny Gomes and the Nats:

The Nationals’ acquisition of Jonny Gomes was all about the comp pick. He’ll be type-B and net a compensation pick. Looking at the trade itself, I notice you didn’t even bother to weigh the value of the players we traded to get Gomes. Even if you quibble with the purpose of the trade in the “now” (get right-handed hitting bench strength), Trading two marginal prospects for a major leaguer is a win by itself.

You mention right-handed bench strength and in the same vein of the original point of why they need Jonny Gomes, why do they need right-handed bench strength? This, in turn, returns to the question of what the Nationals are and what they think they are.

If they were hovering around the fringes of contention, I’d say okay, they got themselves a veteran bat just in case something magical happens; a veteran bat who’s respected in the clubhouse and has gotten some big hits for contending clubs and has experience.

They’re not. They acquire Gomes, trade Jerry Hairston, Jr. and start bloviating about making a big offer for B.J. Upton. There’s no cohesive plan in place other than just doing things for reasons that are unclear.

As for the minor league players, I did look at their numbers.

Bill Rhinehart is going to be 27 and has spent his entire career in the minors despite very solid stats. Without having seen him, he could be a Triple A player or he could be a Casey Blake who needs a chance to play in the big leagues; someone with that production can certainly be an extra outfielder/first baseman in the big leagues.

With Christopher Manno, he’s lefty and his strikeout numbers in the minors (103 in 63 innings) are bordering on the ridiculous. If the Nats get a better arm than that in the draft as compensation for Gomes, I’d like to see who or what it is.

The deal made no sense.


The Twins’ Unique Pursuits

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One of the bigger head-scratching rumors over the weekend of the MLB trading deadline revolved around the Twins and the Nationals talks to send Denard Span to the Nats.

Various stories had the Twins wanting Drew Storen; the Nats offering Tyler Clippard; the Twins demanding that Roger Bernadina and Stephen Lombardozzi be part of the deal—then things falling apart.

Who knows how close they came and how accurate the reporting was?

But the Twins desires were indicative of the unique way they run their club.

They have a plan and a template, but often appear to have their judgment clouded by insignificant aspects such as designation of “closer” and organizational connections.

You could make the argument that, financially, they’d be better off with Storen over Clippard; Clippard is arbitration-eligible after this year and due for a big raise; Storen has one year of service time. There are also the questions about former Nats manager Jim Riggleman‘s overuse of Clippard affecting him negatively going forward.

But the money isn’t as big a problem as it once was for the Twins; they can’t justifiably be called a “small market” team anymore with a 2011 payroll hovering around $113 million. They’re upper-mid-market, if anything.

I get the impression that they wanted Storen because he’s a “closer” as if the appellation of the term means something. He’s got great stuff, but has been shaky in the role and allowed 7 homers; Clippard is dominant with plenty of strikeouts and a funky, over-the-top motion that is sneaky fast and unusual for hitters to have to face. Clippard gives up his share of homers too, but all things being equal, I’d rather have Clippard.

Why they wound demand Bernadina is a mystery. But Lombardozzi is the son of former Twins infielder Steve Lombardozzi who was a part of the 1987 championship team. The legacy aspect can’t be ignored if a player who was a 19th round draft pick is so fervently desired by a club with family ties. The younger Lombardozzi has put up solid minor league numbers, but is he someone to hold it up on either side?

Ancillary issues are at play with these talks. Span is signed inexpensively through 2015, but was just activated from the disabled list after a concussion. Could the continued problems with post-concussion syndrome suffered by Justin Morneau have influenced the Twins to try to get something for Span now before any after effects show themselves? Ben Revere is younger and cheaper and can catch the ball in center field.

The way the Twins run games under Ron Gardenhire makes it imperative that they have a deep bullpen; this was why they made the trade for Matt Capps last year surrendering top catching prospect Wilson Ramos; and why they would presumably want Storen.

The trade was never completed and I have to give credit to the Twins for holding true to their beliefs.

That said, maybe those beliefs need some tweaking because they’re causing them to do things which make little sense in theory and probably won’t be smart in practice either.


Girardi And Cashman’s Underappreciated Skills

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What would you have said in March if you were told that the 2011 Yankees would get nothing positive from Rafael Soriano, Phil Hughes and Pedro Feliciano; that they’d lose Joba Chamberlain for the season and Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter for extended periods on the disabled list; that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon would be key parts of their starting rotation all season long; and that Jorge Posada would be a petulant, unproductive nuisance?

Would you expect them to have the second best record in the American League? Or would you have said that it’s a down year for the club in which bad luck and miscalculating talent caught up to them in a way that money was unable to gloss over?

If you’re telling the truth, you’d say the latter.

But somehow manager Joe Girardi has navigated the minefield of the above issues and held the team together and more.

You can criticize Girardi’s bullpen management and occasionally bizarre strategic decisions if you like, but no one should wonder about his handling of the divergent personalities, superstars, interfering ownership, fading players and the reactionary, ignorant media.

Regardless of the false belief that anyone could win with a $200 million payroll, Girardi—and Joe Torre before him—deserved more credit than they received for keeping it all together amid the distractions and demands that accompany that payroll.

Other managers get the accolades and Girardi will be hindered by the benefits of being the Yankees manager when it comes to voting on Manager of the Year, but he—more than the other candidates Manny Acta, Ron Washington and Mike Scioscia—might be more a better choice than anyone because of everything on his plate. He should be recognized for it.

GM Brian Cashman was proven right with his adamant opposition to the Soriano signing and subsequent loss of draft picks, but that evidently didn’t prevent ownership from again trying to usurp his authority and go after Wandy Rodriguez—a pitcher I can’t imagine Cashman wanted any part of, financially or otherwise.

How much can he take and what will ownership do if he plays out his option and leaves at the end of this season?

Like Girardi, Cashman has learned to skate his way around all the distractions inherent with being the front man of the Yankees.

Amid all the rightful criticisms to be doled out for the mishandling of the young pitchers he so desperately tried to protect; for his self-indulgent blaming of others for his gaffes like the signing of Feliciano, somehow the team is 65-42.

Cashman has tolerated a lot to maintain the high-profile job, money and cachet he wouldn’t get anywhere else but with the Yankees and steered the ship deftly. But what if the season ends and he has opportunities elsewhere in enticing venues like with the Cubs, Tigers, Dodgers or Nationals?

Then what?

I asked this earlier in the year and I’ll ask again: what are the Yankees going to do without Cashman? What if he’s not there to be the one voice to prevent Randy Levine and Hank Steinbrenner from doing such short-sighted and stupid things as outbidding themselves for a pitcher with issues on and off the field like Soriano? To stop them from trading for Wandy Rodriguez when he’s not suited to the American League East?

You can scoff at the idea of anyone choosing to shun the Yankees in a smug, arrogant and partisan Michael Kay-way (“why wouldn’t he want to be part of the rich history of the Yankees?”), but at what point does it become a case of diminishing returns for Cashman? Could he come to the conclusion that there are other jobs out there in which he’d have money to spend and an owner who’ll let him do what he wants as he would in Detroit? That there are two historic franchise whose rebuilding he could oversee and possibly punch a ticket to the Hall of Fame if he managed to pull it off on the North Side of Chicago or in Hollywood? Or that it might be worthwhile to jump into a spot where he’d be paid handsomely, have a star nucleus in place with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper and be surrounded by power like in Washington DC?

There are other problems he has to deal with if he stays like the CC Sabathia opt-out and how to move forward with Hughes, Jeter, Nick Swisher and the pitching questions.

Does he want to continue fighting ownership as they interfere with his plans?

Or would he want to be left to his own devices?

The Yankees have to wonder about this. And they have to be concerned.

What I’d find hilarious is if Cashman exited the Yankees and the situation in Oakland becomes so untenable (and the Moneyball farce is over freeing Billy Beane from the need to keep up appearances) that Beane extricates himself from the Athletics and the Steinbrenners and Levine—desperate for a “name” to replace Cashman—anoint Beane as their new GM.

The “genius” and his practical mediocrity dueling the New York media would be a historic train wreck.

It’s New York.

Crazier things have—and presumably will—happen.

I don’t anticipate Cashman playing out his option and departing.

But he could.


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.


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.