Billy Beane AN Interview September 07 Part II

Last Thursday, I ran the first part of AN's exclusive interview with Billy Beane.  Today is the conclusion of my hour and 20 minute conversation with the A's GM.  I will say that this was one of my favorite interviews with Beane and we've done six others at this point.  So I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed conducting the interview.

Blez:  Where does the opportunity lie in the free agent market these days?  Especially for a market like Oakland.  The Yankees, Red Sox and Angels are on a different level.  But how do you view it?

Beane:  We’ve had our share of good ones and not so good ones.  The ones that have turned out great for us are guys like Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas last year and Embree has been outstanding.  The low risk, high reward ones.  If you really look at the history of free agents and the ones that have been signed over the last six, seven years, it’s a flip a coin on how these guys are going to perform relative to the cost.  We’re never going to be guys that jump out there because of our market.  But we’re not the only ones like that.  There are certainly market setters out there and market setting players.  We can probably figure out who those guys are going to be and they are guys we probably won’t be going after.  It isn’t as though we don’t have interest in them, but they are beyond our means.

Blez:  Buster Olney claimed on his blog that the mandate that you have is to build towards being competitive again when the new Fremont stadium opens.  Was this just more speculation?

Beane:  There is no mandate.  The thing about working for Lew Wolff is that I don’t think that term is a part of his vocabulary.  

Blez:  Mandate?

Beane: Yeah.  I’ll say this, Lew is the most optimistic person and as many fans as you have reading Athletics Nation, there is no person like Lew Wolff.  Lew wants to win all the time and every year.  Quite frankly, and I’ll be the bad guy here, if it was up to Lew, we’d be spending a lot more than we have to be honest with you.  He loves to win and he’s a fan.  I say that in a good way.  You can have guys that want to win so bad that it’s hard to work for them, but Lew has never, ever used the term mandate in his life.  Listen, when that stadium is built you’d like to have a similar trend line as the Cleveland Indians had.  That being said, that process could’ve started a year ago when we secured the land deal.  There will be a time when, new stadium or not, when we’re going to have to say, OK we need to rebuild.  But when you say rebuild you have to completely do it similar to before when the Tejadas and Grieves came up.  You either do it or you don’t.  Doing it part way just kind of extends the process.  I don’t think we’re there yet.  But once again, a lot of this depends on where our guys project health-wise this offseason.

Blez:  Are we getting much closer to a point where you can start anticipating a bigger payroll from the stadium move or is that still a ways off?

Beane:  I’ll speak for myself in that once you actually start laying bricks then you can consider doing some things that are considered deficit spending.  Until that’s secured, until you know the brick is going to be laid, you don’t want to get yourself into a problem long-term financially.  I think it’s going to happen and we’re optimistic it’s going to happen, but you need to wait until then and then you can consider doing some spending for the next couple of years knowing that you’re going into a higher revenue situation.

Blez:  Do you anticipate the A’s fighting for a division crown again in 2008?

Beane:  I would answer that with the way that I would answer us still competing for the rest of 2007 with 24 games left.  I can’t imagine ever not going into a season without doing everything you can to get the team in a position to win.  That’s the plan, absolutely.  Once again the players that should be here and should return, there shouldn’t be any reason we shouldn’t be able to compete for the division.

Blez:  You’ve talked a lot about Rich and how important he is to the future and how the team will come together.  Is it one of those situations where it’s better to approach it assuming that he isn’t going to be healthy and if he is, then it becomes a luxury on top of whatever you’ve built for that season?

Beane:  I’ve heard that before.  It’s sort of buyer beware going in in that you have to do that.  But that being said, the idea that you assume that Rich will only pitch X innings for us next year so let’s go find someone with his stuff and who is going to be a number one or number two starter.  You can find another starter, but you’re never going to find another starter of Rich’s caliber or talent.  If it was that easy, I’d go find five of those guys every year and end up with ten guys.  There’s no question given the injury history that you have to be prepared with someone else but you also have to be prepared that that player isn’t going to be Rich Harden because guys like Rich Harden and their talent don’t grow on trees.

Blez:  You’ve addressed this a bit already, but are you surprised at how quickly Jack Hannahan seems to be becoming a major league third baseman?

Beane:  There’s a lot of players out there who if they’re given an opportunity, they are major league players.  I don’t think we’re shocked by what he’s done at this point because he’s been a very good player in the minor leagues.  Players like both Jacks, Cust and Hannahan, who’ve been around so long, people have a tendency of focusing on the things they can’t do well instead of focusing on what they do well enough to be major league players.  I don’t know why that is.  You’ll hear people say, that guy doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that well and it may be two or three things, but there’s about seven things they do really well.  At the same time, younger prospects have it easier because people fantasize about what they’re going to do.  So I think you have to look at what they’ve done and the track record is the best indicator of what they’re going to do.  Jack’s had a good track record.  It’s fun watching a kid get an opportunity and he’s a great kid.  He’s so appreciative.  It’s fun watching him come to the plate every day; whether he succeeds or fails long term, we’ll see.  But the other thing is finding a third baseman is tough.  Marco (Scutaro) was filling in there, but Marco is better suited for the middle infield.  To be able to go find a guy who has literally played every day since he’s been here and have him do what he’s doing, that’s the fun part about injuries is getting to do that.

Blez:  One of the knocks on both Cust and Hannahan is their defense.  Not everyone is Eric Chavez at third.  You have these guys who seemingly can contribute quite a bit offensively.  Where do you have to draw the line on he’s this good defensively, but he brings X numbers offensively and is better than the other guy that might be playing that position so how do you weigh one versus the other?

Beane:  That’s always the balance for the whole team and every player.  You ask yourself that question on every single player.  Just the way you presented that question shows why this job in this market is tough.  You’re always going to have something that isn’t as good as everyone else.  So what you’re going to have to do is take pitching, defense and offense and measure one against the other.  Look at our teams.  In 1999 and 2000, great offensive teams.  Then we became pitching and defense teams.  When that happened then the questions became, when are you going to get offense?  That’s the challenge of this job.  You asked where the balance is and the balance lies in all 25 guys and not just the individual because you’re going to have guys that are better offensive players than defensive players.  For us, in the past it’s been that guys are better offensive players than defensively players, but more recently it’s been that they’re better defensively than offensively.  That’s the question that we ask ourselves on every single player.  What is the balance?  How much is too little offense to carry his glove?   How much does this guy hit enough to carry his glove?  And vice versa.  You go around the diamond and we have to do it all the time.  You did mention one thing that we’ve dealt with quite a bit recently and that’s offense.  We haven’t been accused in recent years of having guys whose bats are better than their gloves but that’s just the way the team has been put together.  It’s definitely been weighted on pitching and defense the last few years but we’ve won and in previous years it was the offense that carried us.  

Blez:  Do you ever look back at some of the moves you’ve made and think, I wasn’t really expecting THAT to happen?  Things like Cust and Hannahan being so good so quickly or someone like Carlos Pena finally maturing and becoming the player you anticipated him being five years after he’s out of the Oakland picture?

Beane:  You’re being far too kind.  Then there’s guys that you are thinking about and wondering what happened?  

Blez:  I know there are a lot of other examples of unexpected things happening, but I figured I’d pick two of the more recent ones.

Beane:  Yeah there are.  Not to digress, but the longer you do this job I think the more you realize that you don’t know.

Blez:  You sound like Socrates in his “all I know is that I know nothing.”

Beane:  Yeah, exactly.  It’s a healthy perspective too as long as you don’t let the things that you don’t know freeze your decision making.  The one thing we’ve always tried to do back to when Paul (DePodesta) was here and on through David and Farhan is try to be decisive.  We’ve tried to do something as opposed to just sitting and watching it.  In Carlos’ case, he’s been through a few teams at this point, but it’s nice to see because there are times when you’ll have a player that you think very highly of and you think is going to be successful and he’s not.  Then you go back, similar to the injuries, and ask yourself why did I like this player so much?  Why did we think this didn’t work out?  So when you have a player like Carlos Pena do what he’s doing, at least you realize that some of the things you looked at then were right in that he’s starting to do it now.

Blez:  It just took him longer to get there.

Beane:  Yeah and Jack (Cust) is the same way.  Joe Garagiola, who works in the commissioner’s office, I talked to him about a month after Jack was here and he joked in saying, well you finally got Jack Cust because we were trying to get him from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a number of years.  It’s nice when they justify your evaluations.  In Carlos’ case and other guys’ case, there were other guys that I thought for sure were going to succeed and they didn’t succeed and vice versa where I thought no way was this guy going to succeed and he did.  

Blez:  There was a lot of discussion on AN about Kendall and his impact on some of the starters.  Many felt like he was a security blanket to guys, particularly someone like Blanton.  Do you think that the pitchers had a rough adjustment from Kendall to Suzuki behind the plate?

Beane:  Is there going to be an adjustment?  Absolutely.  How you would define rough comes into play.  It’s different, there’s no question.  Jason was a rock for some of these guys.  He had a confident demeanor.  Everything that went in the dirt he sacrificed his body and face to stop it.  There probably was a little bit of an adjustment.  That being said, even our really good pitchers, this is the first time they’ve had to go through that.  Kendall’s always been there for Joe.  He’s always been there for Haren.  They’re so talented though I think it was a quick adjustment.  For Chad I think it was a big adjustment because Chad was just getting his sea legs underneath him.  I think they’ve adjusted nicely since then because there is a working relationship that happens there.  For me to discount it as a “suit,” which I never wear, wouldn’t really be fair.  They do have to learn to fly on their own at some point and it becomes part of maturity.  I think they’ve adjusted nicely.  For Kurt too, he’s aware that they have a veteran guy in there and he was a little nervous about it.  It was an adjustment for him too and he’s still going through it.  Kurt is still a work in progress.  We’re very excited about him.  He’s only 23 years old.  And he’s still a work in progress which is why we needed this half year to go through it.  He’s probably going to go through it a bit next year too.  But there’s some things that Jason Kendall did that are unrated such as blocking balls in the dirt and his desire to win.  You hear the term “sacrifice your body” a lot in sports and a lot of times it sounds better than the reality of it.  But Jason really did.  He’s a unique individual.  There’s some things that Kurt has brought to the table that are very helpful as well.  

Blez: You brought Mike Piazza in to be this year’s Frank Thomas and while I don’t think anyone expected him to produce the numbers Frank did last year, it must’ve been frustrating for you to have him go through the injury problems.  And then towards the trade deadline, was there a market for him or did people want to see how he came back?

Beane:  I’m always hesitant to talk about trade interest.  From Mike’s standpoint, for a guy who is going to go to the Hall of Fame, he checked his ego at the door when he came to Oakland.  It’s been a tough year.  He got injured and while he’s injured Jack comes in and does what he does.  Mike’s response all along is that he’ll do whatever the team wants and needs.  That’s another line you hear in sports.  I’m here to tell you that you hear that a lot but it’s not always the case.  Mike didn’t just say that, he’s backed up his words.  From Mike’s end, here he is DHing and it’s supposed to be keeping him healthier and he gets a knee into a shoulder on accident and he’s out for two months.  He’s basically been playing catch up since then and he’s had some big hits for us.  Once again I think the best thing about him is that he’s a guy that is going to go to the Hall of Fame and is really a team guy.  It’s hard to find guys like that.

Blez:  How would you grade Bob Geren’s first season as a major league manager?

Beane:  I think Bob has done a spectacular job.  We’ve gone over what he’s had to go through with his personnel and I shudder to think without his optimism and energy then it would’ve been a really difficult year for all of us to be really honest with you.  There isn’t a day that Bob can’t wait to start.  He gets up every morning and is just the most positive guy.  It’s just always been the way he is.  I think that what he’s had to endure and what he’s done is as good a job as you’d ever want a guy to do.

Blez:  There has been criticism through unnamed sources of him in the media of him not necessarily being as hard on players at times when he needed to be.

Beane:  I think you have to consider that it’s an anonymous source and take it with a grain of salt.  That’s probably the best way of saying it.  If you were ever going to pick a guy on the team who you wanted to have as a son it would be Mark Ellis and when a guy like Mark Ellis trumpets you as he’s an absolute professional I think that’s a better indication of what people’s feelings are.  We’ve had guys who have since moved on and sometimes when things aren’t going their way it’s easy to say things.  I think the majority of people in that clubhouse are big supporters of Bob.  Particularly, and I’ve said this to you many times, clubhouse chemistry is a function of winning.  When you’re not winning as much as you have in the past, it’s not always going to be a happy family.

Blez:  Is there anything you think Bob could be better at?

Beane:  Something like this is probably better for David, Bob and myself privately.  But it’s a fair question to ask.  Sure there are things we could all be better at.  The thing about Bob is that he’s so in tune.  He’s the kind of guy who wants to be as good as he can be.  Bob would be the first guy to tell you that there’s things he could be better at, but there’s things we could all be better at.  I could sit down with a lot GMs who’ve been doing this job a lot longer than I have and have them tell me a lot things I could improve on.  I ask David sometimes, do you think we should’ve done that and did you think I made the right decision?  After the fact, of course.  Self analysis and self evaluation is healthy.  The day you stop doing it is the day you probably become a bit too narcissistic for any position.

Blez:  There has been a lot of speculation that Dallas Braden was told that he couldn’t throw his screwball anymore because of the injury risk.  Is that the case or is there something else going on?

Beane:  I certainly didn’t tell him not to do that.  

Blez:  Is he still throwing his screwball?

Beane:  That’s a better question for Curt (Young).  He had his arm surgery and as far as that being a mandate…well, that’s the interesting thing about this organization.  For all the perception that there are all these mandates floating around, it’s something I don’t think that we’ve done.  It’s probably a good question for Curt.  I do know that it was a pitch when we first drafted him that was not only a really good pitch but a very unique pitch in today’s game and it is obvious to me that he isn’t throwing it as much.  That might be a question for Dallas as well.  That’s one of the micro-details that I won’t get very involved in.  

Blez:  How good is it to see Dan Meyer pitching well again and do you think he has the stuff to still be that stud pitcher you targeted in the Hudson deal?

Beane:  He’s a lot further along now than we suspected.  There was a question as to whether he was ever going to pitch again.  To do what he did in Triple-A this year which is to not only pitch well, but to get better over the course of the season, is very encouraging.  Hopefully he’ll have an opportunity this September for us to see.  It’s tough.  He came up for his first start and popular opinion is that he has it easy because he’s pitching against the Royals.  Well, they’re no fun to pitch against as they’re a team on the rise and they can bite you in the rear end.  I think that was one of the games where Jack (Cust) dropped the first ball of the game which put Danny in a hole.  I’d like to see him and get a chance to see exactly where he is, but based on his Triple-A performance for him to come back as quickly as he has is very encouraging.

Blez:  Besides guys like Braden, Meyer and Daric Barton, who are some prospects in the system that you think are really close to contributing to the big club?  In other words, names we should keep a close eye on.  I don’t suppose the system could give another Buck soon?

Beane:  That’s the other thing too.  I’ll answer that question in a minute, but one of the things about the injuries is that it’s put so much stress on our system.  A reporter recently said, “Your farm system seems thin.”  You’ve got to understand that a guy like Braden would’ve probably been in Double-A this year.  A guy like Travis Buck probably would’ve spent the year in Triple-A.  Daric (Barton) is one we’ve kept down there all year because he’s very young.  Danny Putnam was up here even though he was supposed to spend the entire year in Double-A.  As a result he ends up spending a lot of time here and a lot of time in Triple-A.  It stresses the whole organization.  But, getting to your question, and I always answer this a similar way because you hate to single guys out because you’re going to leave some guys out or you’re going to create the perception that you like some guys better than others.  I think what I’ll do is jump a little bit.  Barton and Meyer are close.  (Gregorio) Petit, a shortstop we pushed to Triple-A, has made great strides.  Dropping down, I always resist saying this, but we’ve had guys from this year’s draft that we’re very excited about.  (James) Simmons has done very well in Double-A.  Corey Brown and guys like that.  Two pitchers in Kane County who are very young and very talented.  Probably as any good two young pitchers we’ve had in a long time.  19-year-old kids (Henry Alberto) Rodriguez and (Trevor) Cahill.  Rodriguez had a little bit of a finger problem and missed a start or two.  But Cahill, for a 19 year old, just keeps getting better and better to the point where he’s one of the best pitching prospects in the midwest league.  With guys knocking on the door, you’re probably going to forget somebody.  You look at our team and Swisher is just in his third year in the major leagues.  Travis Buck is just a rookie.  You’ve got Daric Barton who we expect to see here very soon.  Gaudin has been here for a couple of years already but he’s only 24 years old.  You open up a Baseball America and go through some of the best prospects, some of them might be 24 years old and in Double-A.  Huston Street is in his third year.  It’s a very, very young team still.  We’ve got the benefit of some time with those guys too.  To answer your question, we do need to get some guys to the upper level, but I think they’re going to be there soon enough.

Blez:  What about Michael Madsen?

Beane:  Yeah, he was in the futures game.  (Andrew) Bailey, the kid in Stockton is progressing nicely.  Jared Lansford missed most of the year with a pectoral muscle problem, but he should pitch in instructional league and should be fine.  

Blez:  You mentioned Travis Buck and one of the things that has impressed me about Buck and that he’s been so consistently good.  Why do you think it is that some players come up and excel right from the start while who are highly touted like maybe a Bobby Crosby, he doesn’t reach the levels right away?  Why does Buck get there immediately and another one like a Carlos Pena take a more circuitous route?

Beane:  Bobby has had injuries.  I mean he went from A-ball to basically being the PCL rookie of the year to the rookie of the year up here in the majors.  Then boom, the injuries started happening.  He hit 21 homers and played great defense.  He’s been sidetracked by injuries.  When you have injuries, you miss a lot of time that is the development process.  I think that’s had a significant impact on him.  That’s something that you worry about with Travis.  There are very few guys that come right up and you think, this guy is a third hitter right here and Travis has the ability to hit third in the lineup.  It seems like every time the bat touches the ball it’s an extra base hit.  He’s hitting balls opposite field for homers and hitting gaps and as he gets older a lot of those gap balls are going to be home runs.  Guys like Travis are unique and most guys struggle a little bit.  Most of our young guys have struggled.  The one guy I really remember who came up and never struggled was Tim Hudson.  He came up and went 11-1.  Mulder had a five-something ERA his first year.  Barry (Zito) was very successful right away.  But very few guys just go straight up.  It’s a shame that Travis couldn’t stay healthy because I truly think he could’ve been a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

Blez:  You mentioned Bobby Crosby. Crosby has been an enigma to A’s fans.  I think so many of them expected him to be a franchise shortstop and that hasn’t really materialized yet.  I know injuries have slowed him down, but when he’s been in there he still doesn’t seem to have put it all together at least offensively.  He’s great defensively and I don’t think anyone could argue that, but do you still think Crosby has great upside or have we seen the best of Bobby already?

Beane:  People get so passionate about the team and people get passionate about Bobby because they do see the things that we see.  They see a great athlete and a guy who cares.  When you see a player who doesn’t have talent and they struggle, you don’t get as frustrated with them, but when you see a guy like Bobby, no one doubts his physical abilities because when he’s going he can hit the ball out of any part of the ballpark and runs well and plays great defense.  You see the frustration come out when it doesn’t click.  Bobby has had his whole career get interrupted since his rookie year.  The great thing about Bobby is that he’s miserable when he’s hurt.  He’s got a little bit of Jason Kendall in him and I mean that in a positive sense.  Bobby is just miserable when he’s not playing.  He cares so much and is such a great competitor.  That’s the side I get to see.  Bobby and I have a very good relationship and I’m a big fan of Bobby’s talent.  He’s too great a talent to give up on.  If he wasn’t injured, I think we’d be having a different conversation.  You don’t want to be Pollyannaish about the whole thing, but he’s had critical injuries these last three years and I think that’s impacted his development.  

Blez:  Who has been the biggest surprise for you this season as a pitcher and as a hitter?  Someone you didn’t really expect to do what they did.

Beane:  From a pitcher standpoint, I think we were all pleasantly surprised that Chad made the jump into he rotation.  

Blez:  Do you think he’s tired as the season has progressed?

Beane:  I don’t think we’ve noticed anything.  His velocity still seems good and it was just the start before last where he struck out 10 in Tampa.  He also went seven innings in his last start.  He’s given no indication on performance or velocity that he is.  I think we’re pleasantly surprised with DiNardo stepping into the rotation.  He’s been out there for every start and pitched some great games for us.  He’s a guy we picked up on waivers and for a guy to take the ball in the rotation and do some of the things he has, I don’t think we envisioned that coming into the year.

Blez:  You mentioned waivers and it seems to me like the best moves you seem to make that turn into something golden are the moves where no one, except for the folks on Athletics Nation, seem to notice.  The casual baseball fan doesn’t notice it and then suddenly people are asking, “Who the hell is Jack Hannahan?

Beane:  Those are definitely some of the fun ones.  

Blez:  Those often seem to work out very well for you.  Does it ever get to a point where…

Beane:  I should just do those?

Blez:  Yeah.  I know it’s in part because the expectations aren’t there.

Beane:  Yeah.  I think that when they don’t (work out), no one really notices.  If it was that easy, you just do those all the time and you’d have a $10 million payroll.  I think the entire staff should take some credit for having patience with guys like that and not sort of buying into their faults.  I remember having a conversation with Jack (Cust) after his first week when he hit six home runs.  Then he went on the road trip and went one for 17 or something like that when he went near his hometown.  That’s the time when I think a lot of people say, “Oh this guy is just a AAAA player.”  That’s really so unfair because people don’t allow those guys to struggle whereas Derek Jeter goes one for 17 and it’s well, it’s Derek Jeter.  Simply because he’s got a major league track record.  But with guys like both Jacks because they’re 26 or 27, people have a tendency of wanting to sort of attach that label to them.

Blez:  Like the major leaguers have figured them out.

Beane:   Yeah, which is something everyone says.  And it’s really unfair.  Jack Cust has hit 30 home runs and driven in 100 runs just about every year he has been on a baseball field.  You need to allow them the same opportunity just as you would allow those who might have had similar or, in some cases, even less success.  What we do is have patience for guys who have minor league track records.

Blez:  It seems like the A’s have struggled to score runs for the past several years now and I know that it’s, in part, a product of design because the team was built around pitching and defense. Not only that, but offense and power is expensive in the open market.  I guess what I’m trying to ask is, do you think that you can realistically make the offense better without unearthing another eight Travis Bucks from somewhere in the system?

Beane:  That’s why it’s critical for clubs like us and Minnesota to have a good system.  If you look at Minnesota one the things they’ve done is developing a Mauer and Morneau in their system and we did that with Giambi and Tejada and Chavy when he came up.  Ultimately you like to develop it and have those guys come through your system.  To go out on the free agent market and compete for all the types of players teams would like to have, it’s just not possible.  Or at least it’s very difficult.  It also goes in cycles.  Given the choice between the two, I’d rather have the pitching.  I’ve been here when we had terrible pitching and you have no chance.  It really is still a zero sum game.  The goal is to score more than the other team whether it’s to win 1-0 or 10-9 you have to figure out a way to do that.  You look at the Yankees and with the resources they have, they have some young pitching coming now, but for the last year or year and half they’ve had parts of their clubs that weren’t perfect.  They’d score close to 1,000 runs.  You’re going to, more often than not, be short in some area.

Blez:  What’s your favorite part of the game to watch?  Would you like to watch a great AB or a great pitching performance or some sparkling defense?  

Beane:  I enjoy watching young players when they’re really starting to get it and it’s starting to click for them.  When you see a guy like Travis Buck…

Blez:  I was going to say that in some ways it has been an enjoyable year because we’ve been able to see some great young players mature.

Beane:  Yeah, definitely.  It’s fun seeing a guy like Jack Cust getting an opportunity.  Or Jack Hannahan over the weekend (with the game winning hit).  I enjoy when young players get over the hump.  Like Suzuki.  The thing about young players, and Kurt is a great example, as there have been games where he’s been overmatched at the plate and then come up and I think that happened in the Chicago game where Thornton was throwing 96, 97 miles per hour and blowing through guys and BLAM, Suzuki hits the ball 410 feet.  That’s fun and exciting to see that.  I don’t think you ever get past the point of enjoying that and if you do, you’re missing a lot.  I mean seeing guys you drafted get comfortable and showing some of the skills you’d hoped for.

Blez:  I’ve asked you this before but now that you’ve had a down season, maybe this is a better time to ask you this.  Do you ever have any regrets that you didn’t take that Boston job?

Beane:  Oh heavens no.  No.  Never.  Not one single day.  

Blez:  But when you’re dealing with these questions about whether to have to sacrifice a more potent offense in favor of pitching and defense, well, I could’ve had a $115 million budget to work with.

Beane:  At the same time, there’s a lot of things I wouldn’t have had.  I say that respectfully.  That’s one of the greatest franchises in all of sports and a great city.  But I absolutely love where I’m at.  I’ve said it to you before.  This is the one baseball team I love working for and the only one I’ll work for.  There’s so many parts about this job that are great.  Nothing’s perfect and there are things that Brian Cashman and Theo (Epstein) have to deal with.  You could ask them different questions on a different subject like if they’d want to be in Oakland.  My self esteem isn’t based on having the perfect baseball team.  Now, I enjoy trying to create the perfect baseball team, but I figure I have the best job in the game.  There’s no sense in saying it too many times, Lew Wolff is such a great person to work for.  You guys see him out there sitting in that front row.  He is such a fan and such a gentleman to work for that you feel such a sense of responsibility when you work for a guy like that.

Blez:  Finally, if you could pick any song that would summarize your feelings about the 2007 baseball season, what would it be?

Beane:  Oh gosh.  Oh man, how about Smash It Up by The Damned.  (laughing)  I mean that in the sense of injuries.  That’s the first one to come to mind.  I was trying to think of something to correlate to injuries.  I think it was redone by the Offspring, but I’d go with the original version by The Damned.  I think of that song and I think of Bobby Crosby getting hit in the hand and Mike Piazza getting a knee into his shoulder.  You have to have a quick answer and that’s the only one that came to mind.  I’m sure I could probably come up with a more appropriate one given more time.

Blez:  Thank you so much for all the time, Billy.

Beane:  As always, Tyler, it’s great talking with you.

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