Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Would the Athletics Ever Fire Billy Beane?

In case you haven't noticed, the Oakland Athletics are on pace to have their third consecutive sub .500 season. Since they were eliminated from the ALCS in 2006, the Athletics have been unable to capture their previous glory, despite the supposed genius of GM Billy Beane.

For years, Beane was thought of as the premier GM in baseball. He took a struggling, small market franchise and transformed them into a perennial powerhouse led by emerging young stars. Beane was a master at getting the most out of his limited payroll, in large part because of his "moneyball" approach, which valued OBP and power at the expense of stolen bases and defense.

In many ways, the Athletics decline over the past three years is somewhat expected. For a small market team like the Athletics, there is no way for the team to be able to keep all their young talent because at a certain point, all of these guys will become too expensive for the Athletics limited budget. The Athletics have lost so much premier talent simply because of the economics of baseball: Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Barry Zito, Johnny Damon, Tim Hudson (traded), Mark Mulder (traded), Rich Harden (traded), Keith Foulke, Jermaine Dye, and more. No matter how brilliant Beane is, the odds of replacing all the talent is a very daunting task.

However, at what (if any) point would the Athletics consider firing Billy Beane? I know he's beloved by ownership and that he has done more with less than any GM on the planet, but there aren't too many GMs that can survive three consecutive losing seasons without even a whisper of being fired.

But in my opinion, Beane is one of them. For starters, when we talk about Athletics ownership, you have to remember that Beane owns a 4% stake in the team. Not a huge amount, but substantial. In addition, Beane is signed through 2014 as GM and I'm positive that the small market A's have no intention of relieving Beane of his duties anytime soon and paying him for multiple seasons.

And finally, to steal a line (sort of) from John McCain, the fundamentals of the Athletics are strong. Even though the major league team is struggling, the Athletics have a bundle of young and very talented players that are either impressing in the minors (Wallace, Weeks, Cardenas, etc.) or beginning to impact the major league team (Mazzaro, Anderson, Cahill, etc). In addition, Eric Chavez's horrific contract finally expires after next season, which will give the Athletics some payroll flexibility. You have to think that will all this talent on the horizon, the Athletics will get their act together in the next few seasons.

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Zach Sanders said...

He will never be fired, only promoted to president in the next couple of years.

Chris said...

He's too good to be fired. The A's are poised to be a powerhouse once more in the next few years. They're one of the few teams that actually understand what it means to rebuild.

Brad Templeman said...

They should be getting better, but its anyone's guess if they losing 90-100 games next year. He's done an incredible job, so I hope not.

I would love to see Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein try to win after being forced to trade 2 of their top 3 starters in one offseason and without the ability to sign big-time free agents, like the A's did with Hudson and Mulder in before the 2005 season. Despite that, they still won 88 games in 2005 and made the playoffs in 2006.

Jorge Says No! said...

Did anyone see olneys piece the other day where he puts beane on the list of possible mets gm candidates? Could you imagine what beane could do witha huge payroll?