From Bud to Beane – We Were Wrong

An article by posted on September 26, 2012

As a fan it’s practically our job to hate Bud Selig, but say whatever you want to say – his plan has worked.

The second playoff spot has created the most interesting September I can remember.

Realistically in the AL you have 8 out of 14 teams with less than ten games to go and all still have playoff hopes.

None of the division leaders would dare choose to win the wild card rather than go all out for the division.

In the NL you have three divisions clinched and five more teams still with life. Atlanta should lock up the first spot so you’ve got one spot for four teams.

How do you think it shakes out? I still believe whoever wins one of the “wild card games” will win the World Series. I think it gives a team so much momentum heading into a playoff series.

In the NL, I’m hoping the Cardinals get in because I like the idea of a team rebounding from losing the best player and maybe manager in the sport and still getting to the playoffs.

In the AL, I am hoping Baltimore gets in, and personally I’d like to see Oakland get in. They both represent what is great about baseball.

I’ll tell you one thing – I know it’s practically a curse word here but you got to look at Oakland and tip your cap to Beane and his team.

That team is exactly why you can’t only judge a GM on World Series or bust.

The A’s play in a division with the two-time defending AL Champs AND a team many predicted would win it all after spending $300mil in the offseason and how were they successful?

Think about that for a second. The Rangers payroll is $120m, the Angels is $154m and the A’s are at $55m

So how did they do it? By trading away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey? Wait, what?

No seriously, how did they get where they are?

They beat the ever loving crap out of the ball, they were aggressive for Cespedes, they have an amazing bullpen and their young starters have 1 thing most young pitchers do not have, control.

Some will look at them and say “they didnt win it all, fail.” but they couldn’t be more wrong.

They once again proved naysayers to be wrong about whether or not that management style can produce a quality ballclub. I’m sorry but if you have bad things to say about how Oakland is presently built and performing then you are looking for a reason to be negative.

Look at their bullpen for a second.

Grant Balfour, a journeyman reliever who had a very nice season last year for them and at 34 is having an even better season. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t need a $17.5 million contract to close games

Ryan Cook (25), acquired in the deal that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona. In 2011 he appeared in 12 games and gave up 6 runs in 7 innings. 2012 he’s appeared in 66 games, with a 0.95 WHIP and a 2.23 ERA.

Jerry Blevins (29), acquired in 2007 in the deal that sent Jason Kendall to the Cubs. From 2008-2011 he threw a total of a 137 Innings with an ERA of 3.55 and a WHIP of 1.31. This year, Blevins has 61 innings of work with a 1.10 WHIP and 2.66 ERA.

Currently injured Jordan Norberto (25), acquired in 2011 when Brad Ziegler went to Arizona. He appeared in 39 games this year with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

Sean Doolittle (25), 1st round compensation pick back in 2007. In 38 games he has an ERA of 3.32 and a WHIP of 1.13.

Jim Miller (30), a low budget free agent signing this winter. Miller appeared in 14 games since 2008 prior to this year. In 2012 he has 45 innings of work, a 2.40 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.

They have also been playing quality defense. The book on Billy Beane was that he didn’t care about defense right? Well, you can toss that out the window now. This team fields the ball very well and helps a young pitching staff stay out of trouble.

Some have said that there is no more undervalued statistic in the sport. It’s possible that Billy Beane may have proven that theory wrong yet again.

If Beane figured out a way to predict a bullpen and accurately measure defense – then maybe, just maybe there is something everybody can learn from it. Only time will tell if that is the case though.

What I think a fan with an open mind realizes from watching Oakland should be is that in order to build a bullpen, it’s not about what you spend – it’s about finding the right pieces at the right time. A $17 million, or $6 million closer doesn’t mean they are going to perform any better than a league minimum player.

Rewind to March 2012.

If Sandy Alderson put together a bullpen that comprised of a 34 year old journeyman, a 25 year old with 12 games experience, a 29 year old with average numbers, a rookie, and a 30 year old league minimum free agent with 14 appearances since 2008 – he would have been called every name in the book by his critics.

I can promise you that, and they’d all be wrong. So don’t tell me you need to spend huge amounts of money to win, because we’ve seen countless teams prove that theory wrong. It’s about creativity just as much as budget allocation. Now, I hope to see some creativity in the coming years in Flushing.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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