Blez: Would you had made the decision to bring Frank [Thomas] back if the team hadn’t gotten off to a pretty good start?The A's traded two of their best players in the off-season--Dan Haren, and Nick Swisher. 2008 was supposed to be a "rebuilding" year, so if they hadn't won early and often, conventional wisdom dictated that they should have avoided signing an aging slugger who may only play part of one season. But when the roster is viewed like a stock portfolio, the market for players appears fluid, and the distinctions between "rebuilding" and "competing" seasons instantly blur. Beane is saying here that Thomas may not be an appreciating asset, but he was still undervalued by the market and therefore worth adding to the portfolio, regardless of whether the team can make a run at the playoffs. The dividend? In 27 games with the team this year, Thomas has hit 4 home runs, and sports a .921 OPS, fifth best in the American League, while the A's pay Thomas a pro-rated amount of the league minimum $400,000. Notably, the Blue Jays, who inexplicably released Thomas in April, will pay most of his $8 million salary. Additions like Thomas, motivated by this incremental approach, help explain why the A's have won so many games in recent years even though they've consistently traded away or declined to re-sign their top players (Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, etc.), who demand top dollar--and largely on the basis of past performance. In short, Beane has bought low and sold high repeatedly and systematically, and as a result the A's have won more games this decade than every team in the league except the Yankees (whose team payroll is routinely two-to-four times larger than Oakland's).
Beane: Yeah, I think so. Our history suggests that if you can make incremental improvements, you should. Yeah, it’s hard to imagine not being interested in Frank.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The Big Hurt as undervalued stock--Moneyball, cont.
The Oakland A's have established a reputation as a heterodox organization ever since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, which focuses on the market-oriented, stats-driven model advanced by GM Billy Beane. Earlier today sports blog Athletics Nation posted an interview with Beane, who's recently been looking like a magician again: