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Do We Give Billy Beane to much credit?

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Postby AcidRock23 » Sun Mar 13, 2005 1:52 pm

ramble2 wrote:I have a question for the Beane detractors. What would it take to convince you that Beane knows what he's doing? How many wins do the A's need this year? What about over the next 5 years?

Beane has stated in interviews that part of his reasoning for the trades is that he doesn't want the team slipping into a 5-year rebuilding process. He was around for the lean years in the late 90's, and doesn't want to see that again. His hope is that in making the offseason trades that he did, the A's will continue to be competitive over the next 5 years. What about this year? Well, I think the A's will surprise some people - they certainly won't just be deep cellar dwellers all year long ...


I didn't really mean that Beane DOESN'T know what he's doing as much as that most of the GMs also know what they are doing and would have equally colorful stories were we allowed access to their (formerly?) smoke-filled rooms/ servers/ lists of players who don't look like underwear models. :-)

I do think that the AL West should be one of the more interesting divisions this year, with pretty much all of the teams tossing money and or other assets around the way they did in the off season.
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Postby Lofunzo » Sun Mar 13, 2005 1:57 pm

Without reading the 4 pages that accompany this thread, I believe that Beane gets too much credit. I say this being impressed by many of his techniques but wondering why so many people pray to him at night. Until I see his Moneyball techniques win championships, I refuse to do that. I say this knowing that he didn't write the book and I also refuse to say that the Sox are a Moneyball team. From what I see, he gets a lot of bang for his buck but I am not overly impressed by a team that continues to get bounced out in the 1st round of the playoffs.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:21 pm

The other thing is, given the popularity of 'Moneyball' the book, however absurd 'moneyball the theory' is in MLB, is that this should be getting the publishing industry going on a bunch of sequels w/ more insights into other teams w/ slightly different points of view.

There's clearly a market for it....although I got Moneyball at the library, paying only a fraction of the cover price...hmmmm....
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:49 pm

AcidRock23 wrote:I didn't really mean that Beane DOESN'T know what he's doing as much as that most of the GMs also know what they are doing and would have equally colorful stories were we allowed access to their (formerly?) smoke-filled rooms/ servers/ lists of players who don't look like underwear models. :-)

I do think that the AL West should be one of the more interesting divisions this year, with pretty much all of the teams tossing money and or other assets around the way they did in the off season.


Actually, I can think of a LOT of GMs that clearly don't know what they are doing. Syd Thrift's tenure with the Orioles clearly showed simply horribl planning. Bowden is clueless. Pittsburgh (Bonifay and now Littlefield) don't have any idea what they are doing. Those are just a few off of the top of my head.

There are clearly lots of smart guys and clearly several different ways to put a winning team together. But, to argue that Beane has not been about as successful as you could want your GM to be implementing a well designed and carefully executed strategy, is simply to ignore the facts.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Sun Mar 13, 2005 2:59 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote:
AcidRock23 wrote:I didn't really mean that Beane DOESN'T know what he's doing as much as that most of the GMs also know what they are doing and would have equally colorful stories were we allowed access to their (formerly?) smoke-filled rooms/ servers/ lists of players who don't look like underwear models. :-)

I do think that the AL West should be one of the more interesting divisions this year, with pretty much all of the teams tossing money and or other assets around the way they did in the off season.


Actually, I can think of a LOT of GMs that clearly don't know what they are doing. Syd Thrift's tenure with the Orioles clearly showed simply horribl planning. Bowden is clueless. Pittsburgh (Bonifay and now Littlefield) don't have any idea what they are doing. Those are just a few off of the top of my head.

There are clearly lots of smart guys and clearly several different ways to put a winning team together. But, to argue that Beane has not been about as successful as you could want your GM to be implementing a well designed and carefully executed strategy, is simply to ignore the facts.


+1 to Bowden being a grade a tool who has no business running a McDonalds, much less the 'cash cow' that baseball wants the Nationals to be. I still think that his story might have some interest though, I'm talking about the publishing side of it more than the baseball side of it.

I'm not ignoring the fact that the subset of book customers who might be interested in reading the colorful history of Oakland's success might be larger than the subset who want to read a bunch of interviews about how Bowden sank the Reds just about into the river but the story itself is what was sold in the book, not a 'philosophical model' that predated Beane taking over. Arthur C Clarke put it nicely at Ebertfest one year when asked 'why did you right 2001: A Space Odyssey' to which he replied (by phone from Sri Lanka...) 'a big green monolith with dollar signs on it told me to'. Hee hee.... ;-)

The egg of the stats came first, then the 'chicken' of Beane taking over the As and running them as he saw fit. The point of "The Numbers Game" a history of statistics and baseball. Which is also very interesting and perhaps a bit less journalistically skewed than Moneyball...
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:21 pm

Actually, there is a book coming out soon about the success of the Braves which is being touted as "anti-Moneyball", although I don't know if that is what the book really says.

There's also a book coming out where a guy basically followed Larussa around for 3 straight days.

Good stuff either way.

Beane was certainly not the first to use stats, but he has to be given credit for being the first to really make the systematic integration of cutting-edge objective statistical analysis part of each decision in baseball management.

And as for the play-offs, there are many of us in baseball land who pray for a GM who can just get their team over .500. I'd lick the shoes clean of the GM who would give the Orioles as many chances at winning it all as Beane has given the A's. Defining success ONLY in terms of playoff wins is a ridiculously high standard.
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Postby Lofunzo » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:27 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote:Actually, there is a book coming out soon about the success of the Braves which is being touted as "anti-Moneyball", although I don't know if that is what the book really says.

There's also a book coming out where a guy basically followed Larussa around for 3 straight days.

Good stuff either way.

Beane was certainly not the first to use stats, but he has to be given credit for being the first to really make the systematic integration of cutting-edge objective statistical analysis part of each decision in baseball management.

And as for the play-offs, there are many of us in baseball land who pray for a GM who can just get their team over .500. I'd lick the shoes clean of the GM who would give the Orioles as many chances at winning it all as Beane has given the A's. Defining success ONLY in terms of playoff wins is a ridiculously high standard.


You may think so but the name of the game is winning. There are a lot of people that swear by his beliefs yet it has never won a championship. I reiterate that I refuse to bunch the Sox with them. I don't see how people can swear by him when he can't get out of the 1st round. You'd think that with that staff, they would have done it at least once. I'm not saying that he's bad. I'm just saying that between the books and the people swearing by him, I think that's a bit much when his success isn't that great when you look at the overall results rather than the relative results.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:27 pm

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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:30 pm

Lofunzo wrote:
You may think so but the name of the game is winning. There are a lot of people that swear by his beliefs yet it has never won a championship. I reiterate that I refuse to bunch the Sox with them. I don't see how people can swear by him when he can't get out of the 1st round. You'd think that with that staff, they would have done it at least once. I'm not saying that he's bad. I'm just saying that between the books and the people swearing by him, I think that's a bit much when his success isn't that great when you look at the overall results rather than the relative results.


Depends on what you mean by "the overall results". I see a team that has many fewer resources being the second winningest team in baseball as being much more of an important factor in "the overall results" than a couple of series in October. You don't. There's too much randomness involved in a short series to give that so much weight, in my opinion.
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Postby ramble2 » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:38 pm

As a rough first approximation, I'd define GM success as the following:

1. Putting his team in a position to make the playoffs.
2. Effectively evaluating and acquiring his team's needs.
3. Maintaing competitiveness year to year.
4. Giving fans a reason to have hope.

Obviously Moneyball isn't the only way to accomplish this. Neither is simply throwing a lot of money around. I give Beane a ton of credit for what he's done. How many teams in the majors have GMs who can say they've consistently accomplished all four of those criteria?

Some people want to add a 5th criterion:

5. Winning in the playoffs.

Fair enough, although I think a GM has a minimal role here. Any team that makes the playoffs has a shot at winning the whole thing. We've seen this ever since the wild card was added. For evaluating a GM, I'd say a better 5th criterion would be:

5a. Giving his team the tools to win a playoff series.

Has Beane done this? I'd argue yes, even though they haven't won a series -- yet. They've come awful close. Did they lose because they were missing parts that Beane should have provided? Obviously that's not a very easy question to answer ...
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