November 11, 2002
I wrote the entry you will soon read sometime yesterday afternoon.
Late last night, some major news broke that completely changed the entire story.
So, I was basically going to erase the entire column and start from scratch.
But, I started reading it again and it seemed kind of interesting, in light of what happened in the hours after I wrote it.
Here is the entry I wrote sometime AFTER it was announced Billy Beane WOULD be heading to the Red Sox and sometime BEFORE it was announced he WOULD NOT:
ESPN.com is reporting that Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane will be leaving the A's to become the GM of the Boston Red Sox.
This comes a few days after the Godfather of Sabermetrics, Bill James, became an employee of the Red Sox himself.
I am reluctant to believe James will be anything more than a consultant, someone they ask to crunch some numbers or contribute an opinion to a discussion about something.
Billy Beane however, will have a massive impact on the Red Sox organization.
I believe Billy Beane is the best general manager in baseball.
He has a great track record, having put together teams that have won 383 games over the past 4 seasons, including 3 straight playoff appearances and 2 consecutive 100+ win seasons.
And, he has done it all with one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball.
If Beane can build a highly successful organization with a $40 million dollar payroll, what can he do with a payroll of $100 million?
One of Beane's biggest strengths is being able to find quality major league players for very little money.
Guys like Olmedo Saenz or Chad Bradford or Frank Menechino or Jeff Tam or Jim Mecir or Erik Hiljus or Gil Heredia, the list goes on and on.
None of those guys are going to be Hall-of-Famers, but they all had productive stints with the A's and they also were very cheap, both to acquire and to pay.
That skill was obviously very key with the A's because of their extremely limited payroll.
Beane simply could not afford to pay a mediocre player $2 million a year.
So, instead of giving a 3 year/$6 million contract to some "veteran" middle reliever, he signed a guy like Chad Bradford to a league minimum contract and he had one of the best relievers in the AL for 2002, all for about $235,000.
It is not easy to find guys like Bradford.
First and foremost you have to have the skill of finding diamonds in the rough, or at least middle relievers in the minor leagues.
You also need to willing to go against "convential wisdom" and trust career minor leagues or major league fringe players with jobs that most teams give to "veterans."
Billy Beane brings those skills to Boston.
Will it be as important to find a middle reliever than pitch well for league minimum with a $100 million payroll as it was in Oakland?
Probably not, but it is still very significant.
The Red Sox have several "star" players, guys like Pedro and Nomar and Manny and Lowe.
And, star players make a lot of money and take up big chunks of even the largest payrolls.
Which is where Beane comes in.
With Pedro, Nomar, Manny, Lowe and guys like Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon, the Red Sox are paying a lot of money to a lot of "front line" players, which is certainly fine.
Beane will be able to plug holes in the roster for very little money.
Instead of spending $2 million on a backup middle infielder or $5 million over two seasons on a middle reliever, Beane can find productive players at those spots for right around the league minimum, freeing up more money to allocate to keep the star players, something he did not have the luxury of doing in Oakland.
In essence, Billy Beane will still be working with a $40 million dollar payroll.
The difference will be that he already has Pedro, Manny, Nomar, Lowe and a few other guys on the team.
All he needs to do is fill in the gaps with productive players that fit within the budget.
I don't believe in things like "The Curse of the Bambino," but, if I did, I would say that The Curse is on its last legs.
There is a new sheriff in Boston and he has a history of preaching OBP, finding cheap, productive players and making great trades.
The Red Sox front office became "stathead central" all of sudden.
They have the most Sabermetrically inclined owner in all of baseball, guys like Billy Beane and Theo Epstein running the show, with consultants like Bill James and Voros McCracken pitching in.
And they also have a massive budget and some pretty good players in place as building blocks.
It is only a matter of time before there are two dynasties residing in the American League East.
I just became a Red Sox fan.
And now? Not so much.
ESPN.com reported very late last night that Billy Beane would in fact be staying with the A's.
It is a very strange situation and I will be interested to hear if any of the juicy details come out in the near future.