Despite gross generalizations about the A's front office not caring about character and only looking at numbers when it comes to considering a player (due largely to their concentration on stats and spreadsheets), Moneyball devotes a whole portion of the book to discussing the A's looking into player's character. Players who are deemed to be potential problems down the road had Milos put on them.
So where does this leave us in the day when the A's just picked up a player with legal problems (Sauerbeck) and another one who was pulled over for a DUI (Loaiza)? Do they still believe in the power of the Milo?
Susan Slusser had a little bit of a throwaway line in her story this morning dealing with this very topic.
"Clubhouse chemistry and character are something we take into account and strive for," Forst said. "We talked to numerous people about Scott and got nothing but good reports about him personally."
This does beg the question, are the A's really trying to take advantage of a market that shies away from perceived character issues? I mean, many can say it started when the A's got Jose Guillen, who had a history of blowups...it continued on when they got Milton Bradley, Frank Thomas and Esteban Loaiza. All of those guys had varying reports of being either clubhouse problems or other perceived character issues.
The truth of the matter is that I do think that players with perceived character issues, whether it's real or not, can be had on the cheap. Milton Bradley was picked up for a prospect largely because of those "character" issues and health issues. A player with Bradley's talent shouldn't be able to be nabbed for just a prospect, no matter how well Ethier is hitting. Still, he was there.
Being in the market situation the A's, they need to look for advantages wherever they can get them. But the biggest fact remains that Billy Beane believes in the strength of character of his clubhouse leaders. The Kendalls, Kotsays and Chavezs of the world. He believes that the great chemistry in the clubhouse can not be unbalanced, no matter what personality fits in. No matter how destructive or what the past is, the A's believe that they will fit into the A's clubhouse because of the character of the leaders.
And by all reported accounts, the experiment has worked so far. At least when it comes to clubhouse chemistry. Swisher and Bradley have become very close. Frank Thomas has helped several players like DJ and Crosby with batting advice. Loaiza hasn't been a problem. The bigger problem has been health with those three as Thomas, the one who most people had the biggest health concerns, has been the healthiest of the bunch.
Now, don't misunderstand me, the biggest reason Frank Thomas was available on the cheap was because of his broken wheels not because of character problems. Milton Bradley was probably a combination of both health and character concerns. I just really think it comes down to Beane's firm belief that the A's clubhouse is rubber in that anything will bounce off of it.
Anyone know if Albert Belle is still around? (just kidding, folks - you can put a Milo on me)