With Athletics executive vice president Billy Beane in his 20th year atop the team’s baseball department, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle takes an interesting look at his legacy. Beane’s best known as the subject of the 2003 book “Moneyball,” which has made the executive an iconic figure in business circles, Slusser writes. The author, Michael Lewis, told Slusser that Beane “made it cool to bring science into player evaluation, and because of that, every businessperson in America wants to meet him.” Lewis’ book followed the 2002 A’s, who won 103 games and were part of a run that included four straight playoff berths and eight consecutive seasons of at least 87 victories for the franchise. The low-payroll A’s haven’t been nearly that successful in recent years (they’ll finish well below .500 for the third season in a row in 2017), in part because of the trade that sent third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto in 2014. Beane offered an unenthusiastic review of the move to Slusser, saying: “In hindsight, that was certainly questionable — and I’m being kind to myself. There were a number of reasons why, and Josh was a good player who became a great player — but when you make as many transactions as we do, some are going to be good and some are not going to be good.”
While the Donaldson deal will likely go down as a misfire, Beane’s entire body of work has clearly earned him the respect of his peers across big league front offices, as Slusser details in a piece that’s worthy of a full read.
More from the American League:
- The Astros announced a series of front office changes on Friday, as Brian McTaggart of MLB.com details in full. The mutual parting between the team and assistant director of player personnel Quinton McCracken was among those moves. McCracken, who had been in the Astros’ front office since 2012 and even drew interest from Boston when it was looking for a GM in 2015, talked about his exit with Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. “(With) the recent reconfiguration of the front office staff, we mutually agreed it was best for me to pursue other opportunities in the baseball community,” McCracken said. “It was a mutual agreement. My contract was due at the end of this cycle, and we decided that it just wasn’t a proper fit moving forward.” McCracken’s departure comes on the heels of the Astros firing eight scouts earlier this month.
- Signing infielder Danny Espinosa and optioning Daniel Robertson to the minors is the latest example of the Rays balancing the present and the future, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times observes. While Espinosa struggled mightily this season in stints with the Angels and Mariners, both of whom released him, the 23-year-old Robertson wasn’t exactly indispensable to the Rays’ lineup during his first 223 major league plate appearances (.211/.302/.340). But if the former top 100 prospect does develop into a quality big leaguer, Tampa Bay could end up controlling him for another year thanks in part to the Espinosa signing, Topkin points out. If Robertson stays in the minors for at least 20 days, he won’t accrue a year of service time this season, putting him on pace to become a free agent entering 2024 instead of 2023.