Let's be clear: I like Billy Beane.
I know him. I have spoken with him on numerous occasions, and although I am not sure whether he likes me or not, I do know he does not regard me as stupid. Which, with Billy is half the battle.
Furthermore, I completely agree with his basic approach to winning in a number of ways. Pitchers who can strike out hitters, and keep runners off base are good, while batters who can get on base are also good. Signing players long term before they are arbitration eligibile, something Beane pioneered (though not alone) is also a great move, as is trading players as they become more expensive for younger players, turning them over and continuing to rebuild is also not just a good move, it is one borrowed from the Branch Rickey School of "trade 'em with one more good season in them" book.
That said, the last handful of years in Oakland have been beyond frustrating, watching stop gap moves and some good players filter in and out while the real team needs--that of a power source at first base at least--continue to be both ephemeral and effusive.
But turning Gonzalez into the short-lived Matt Holliday fiasco was one move I hated (in fact I have trouble picking up Holliday on any roto team because the three months I saw him play left a terrible taste in my mouth).
Had Beane been a little patient even a little before he parted with Cargo, the potential Athletics outfield of today might have been Andre Ethier, Nelson Cruz, and Gonzalez, and that certainly would have addressed enough power issues that maybe Daric Barton's minimal contributions would have been better exploited.
For, in exchange with two very strong starters, Beane and Oakland picked up six prospects, four pitchers (Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, Ryan Cook and Jarrod Parker), a decent looking catching prospect in Derek Norris, and hopefully a major league ready outfielder in Collin Cowgill.
Cowgill actually nabbed 100 at-bats last year for Arizona (.239-1-9) and was originally a 29th round pick of Beane's in 2007, though the speedy flychaser chose to attend Kentucky instead.
But, this leaves the Oakland offense even iffier than before, with questions at first base, third base, and all around the outfield, meaning the only givens are catcher Kurt Suzuki, second baseman Jemile Weeks, and shortstop Cliff Pennington.
Certainly among Michael Choice, Jai Miller, Grant Green, and Cowgill, there are some young prospect possibilities, but right now that is all there is. More interesting, the core of a pretty good rotation has been removed, leaving brittle Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden (coming off surgery), and a lot of questions, but very little stability.
Meaning that though Oakland has a lot of really nice looking prospect chips, for now that is all they are, and as such the prospects for Oakland in 2012 point to a lot more rebuilding.
It kind of reminds me of my Scoresheet League, where there are a number of solid competitors each year in the 24-team set up. But, there are also a bunch of owners constantly tweaking and trading for the next big star, rather than focusing on what they have and can realistically build around to be competitive in the short term (and short term means over the next couple of years).
Mind you, I love having prospects and feeling that chest poffering feeling when I indeed nab the next Albert Pujols, but I also like to win and be competitive every year if I can.
For, it is fun to be smarter than everyone else by picking the next big thing, but it is better to be smarter than everyone else by winning.
That said, on this holiday weekend, I wish all of you out there a safe and happy holiday with family and friends. That is where it all is really at!