Dan (Miami): Joe, I know you're tried of answering questions about Billy Beane, but two weeks ago you opened the chat with this: "Anyone that makes the postseason can make it to the WS, you just have to get hot at the right time in the short series. Getting to the playoffs is the priority." With that in mind, how you can not respect a man who has taken a team with a shoestring budget to the playoffs four (soon to be five) straight years?
Who said I didn't respect Billy Beane. I said we have a different philosophy on how to win in the postseason. They haven't won in the post season. We've had two teams in the last two years win the championship that were wild card teams. That tells me anyone in the playoffs can win. Just b/c I don't kneel down at Billy's feet, doesn't mean i don't like him. I like Billy personally very much, but until he can manufacture runs in the post season by playing some small ball and bunt and steal and hit and run -- produce and score runs -- I am not going to agree with his philosophy. Look at the history. There's only one way to win. I don't know what you want from me. You should think about how teams have won and realize THAT is the way to do it. SO for the final time. I don't dislike or disrespect Billy Beane, I disagree with his philosophy. .... Second, the Minnesota Twins have had a lower payroll and they've been in the playoffs 3-straight years. The Marlins have a low budget, they won a championship. THe Angles had a lower payroll at the time THEY won a championship. It's not about money. It's about other teams winning World Series and his falling short. Call me back when he wins the title playing with that philosophy and then I'll change my mind.
[Mike: ATFQ! Who cares if Joe respects Beane? The point of the question was that Beane has gotten his team to the postseason and by Joe's own admission that's the goal, "the priority"; everything else is a crapshoot. He also said last week that all you need are two good starters and a closer to win in the postseason. That's what the A's have had in spades. It sounds like Beane is following his "philosophy to win in the postseason" to me, the worst indictment of Billy Beane that I've ever heard.
Now, as far as "There's only one way to win", that's quite a change from last week's chat. Joe said, "Anyone that makes the postseason can make it to the WS, you just have to get hot at the right time in the short series." I guess that doesn't apply to Billy Beane and the A's.
As far as payroll (from Doug Pappas research), the A's had the 25th highest in 2000, 29th in 2001, 28th in 2002, and 23rrd in 2003. They made the playoffs each year. That's pretty good.
The Twins actually have made the playoffs just two straight years but stand a very good chance this year pf making it. In 2002, the Twins had a payroll slightly higher than the A's. In 2003, the Twins were actually 18th in payroll, five places ahead of the A's.
The Marlins did have a payroll slightly lower than the A's in 2003. However the Angels had a payroll 50% higher than the A's in 2002.]
Ryan (Albany NY): It's ironic that you don't believe in Beane's theories when you were a perfect player for his system.
Well, first of all, I'm not a perfect player in his system. I stole bases, I bunted, I did the little things -- and so did my teammates at the Big Red Machine -- to score runs. When you start with Zito, Mulder and Hudson and you lose in the post season time after time, that HAS to tell you something is wrong. I am not a perfect player in that system -- don't ever accuse me of that. I was a complete player, I did NOT wait for the three run homer. Now, Ken Macha has instituted some changes on the A's offense. I give him credit. But somebody has to do something to figure out why they have lost in the first round 5-straight years and more importantly how to change that. Bottom line of all this is I respect Billy Beane, I respect Billy Beane, I respect Billy Beane. I don't like his philosophy. End of discussion.
Let's understand one thing, what you do in the regular season, you are often playing against mediocre teams so you can walk and hit home runs. In the playoffs, good teams aren't going to walk you and they are not going to give up a lot of homers. If you are counting on that -- even if you have the best pitching in baseball -- you're going to lose. It's that simple. I can't see what's not to understand. The problem is obviously coming from the offensive side. You must make adjustments in October.
[Mike: Joe was the perfect player for Beane's system. It's just that Joe doesn't get Beane's system. Beane realized that he had a limited budget so he invested his funds in players who get on base by any means possible. That is his main criterion to produce runs: OBP.
Morgan had a .392 OBP in a pitcher's era. He also stole bases at an 81% successful clip. Beane doesn't want players to attempt to steal unless he has an excellent chance to be successful.
Also, Joe repeatedly says that the A's lost in the first round five straight years. It's actually four unless Joe knows something about this October that we don't know yet.
As far as Ken Macha changing things, I think Morgan gives him way too much credit. He spreads more of this malarkey in his article this week:
Most of the credit for that should go to the manager, Ken Macha. He's done an excellent job getting the most out of the players he has and making them believe in themselves. Oakland was built around pitching and has been for the past few years, but the keys to the team are that the A's play good defense, they've been more aggressive on the bases and they've even bunted in some situations.
I like that approach because it uses all the strengths of the team rather than just waiting for players to get base hits. Oakland is doing a lot of different things to score runs.
[Mike: Here are the bunt-per-total plate appearance ratios for the A's from 2000 on including a 162-game projection for 2004 (TPA= AB+ BB+ HBP + SF+ SH):
Note that not only has bunting NOT gone up for the A's, but it's actually at its lowest ebb in their current successful run. However, they are scoring more runs than they have since 2001. Also, note that they are projected to steal as many bases as last year, but get caught 11 more times. The stole more bases in 2001 and many more in 2000.
Finally, is Joe's assertion that Oakland's postseason woes are on the offensive side accurate: "The problem is obviously coming from the offensive side." They have lost four series that went 5 full games. They actually outscored their opponents twice, 23-19 against the Yankees in 2000 and 18-17 vs. the Red Sox last year. They also scored over five runs per game in 2002 but allowed almost five and one half. The only year that their offense was to blame was in 2001 (2.4 runs per game). If you'll remember the umps helped hand the division series to the Sox last year, and it took an unbelievable play by Derek Jeter to defeat them in 2001. They have been outscored by a grand total of two runs in those four years. Remember what Joe said about anything happening in a short series?]