Does Money Ball Work?

For years now, Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane has been hailed the king of GMs, but is he worthy of this title? The Athletics have a resolute philosophy of developing talent in their farm system and not wasting money on over-priced free agents. Beane brought this system to the A’s and it seemed to work, but as A’s fans look back over the last decade, how much success has this philosophy really brought them? Since Beane took over in 1997, Oakland has won a total of one playoff series. If the goal was to reach and win a World Series, then Beane has certainly come up short. That’s not to say Beane’s strategy did not pay dividends. From 2000-2004, the Athletics won at least 91 games every season and made the playoffs four out of those five years. They lost in the first round every one of those years, but nonetheless, they made the playoffs. They developed strong starting pitching from their farm system and they used every inning out of those young arms. Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito are three of the most notable pitchers to come through the A’s system and subsequently be traded away as their free agency approached. Beane knew he could not compete with teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, who have nearly unlimited funds. Thus he did the smart thing and traded his pitchers away right before they hit the open market. He wasn’t going to be able to sign them, but by trading them, at least he got something in return. Continue reading “Does Money Ball Work?”