I really like Billy Beane a lot.
I know he has his critics, but he is a very bright guy, and I know he wants to win. And, well, he has always been more than gracious with me.
He does get local flak for trading away players that locals thought would help the team be competitive, but forget it. Matt Holliday and Nick Swisher were not going to make the difference no matter what anyone says. And, if Danny Haren was going to make a difference, he needed the Swishers and Hollidays in the lineup at the same time. And, like it or not, the Athletics did not have the horses to make all that work.
But, they do have the core of a very good young rotation now, and a very good bullpen.
And, it is easy to second guess and say that Beane should have kept Miguel Tejada and let Eric Chavez go, but at the time the move was a toss up, and the team did have Bobby Crosby in the wings.
Truth is I have destroyed enough roto teams in my day making and anticipating player performance that I cannot criticize Mr Beane.
But, he made a great move picking up Kevin Kouzmanof for just Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham, neither of whom really factored as players in the Oakland future, while Kouz does.
With the deft Chad Pennington at short, the left side of the Athletics infield is now as good as anyone's defensively. And that will make their young pitchers that much better.
If Mark Ellis can stay healthy, and if Jake Fox can deliver at first base (or Daric Barton) the team really does have a solid infield, if not fragile on the right side.
Add Raj Davis in center, and Ryan Sweeney in right, and again the defense is starting to look great, and there is also some upside to the offense.
True, the team is one more banger outfielder, and maybe a year away from being a dominant team, but, for the first time in a few years the team looks like a team.
Even with Jack Cust still in tow (as long as he is the DH).