The Simple Logic of Billy Beane

The only line of reasoning that can possibly fully explain the myriad of puzzling personnel moves and non-moves of Billy Beane over the past several months is something that was hinted at by Tim Kawakami's quasi-interview with Beane of several weeks ago, but has been more succinctly and aptly expounded by Hardball Times contributor (and not-so-secret A's admirer) Bryan Tsao::

Tsao surmises, and I agree with him, that this relentless dumping of player contracts for nothing of tangible value belies the currency that Beane is seeking most at this moment in A's history:


Beane is most certainly a fiercely competitive individual who hates to lose. But in recent offerings to selected media members, he has seemed to hint that he's playing the game with cards he doesn't like and that the sooner and more often he trades those cards in, the more quickly he will find some that he DOES like and that he'll actually bet on. In other words, the quickest way to get a team better is to let younger, cheaper and better players get major league experience - and the only way to do that, in this peculiar marketplace, is to free up space to give them that opportunity.

By moving expensive veterans to other teams (and NOT seeking 40-man players in return) Beane simultaneously saves money AND frees up roster spots that he can use on his rapidly-expanding cache of recently-acquired, overlooked, relatively young and cheap talent while using the final month+ of this lost season to give young players' experience and to determine exactly what he has in his hand going forward.

So, in the context of the Loaiza move (and to a lesser extent the Kendall, Kielty and Kennedy waiver moves and non-moves) the point of the transaction was not to gain financial flexibility or blue chip prospects, but rather just to get an open 40-man roster spot to use in whichever way Beane sees fit.

The decision to go forward with this unorthodox roster deconstruction was also probably made a lot easier when Beane realized that, unlike previous seasons, most teams were by and large very reluctant to trade any decent young players at the trade deadline for anything he was offering...or really anybody any team was offering, save John Scheurholz and Ted Turner.

So instead of targeting young players and masterminding blockbuster, 3-team trades, Beane made the decision to simply pass everyone he didn't want anymore through waivers and let the team de-construct itself, all the while he plugged the holes with the two assets he is the best at valuing: his own minor league talent and other teams' overlooked minor league talent.

Makes enough sense to me, and certainly comes the closest to anything I've read previously to explaining some VERY odd months of the Billy Beane dynasty.