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Billy Beane And The 3-Year Cycle Of Sellbuying

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Nice catch, eh?
Nice catch, eh?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If Billy Beane is the master of anything lately, it appears to be the "sellbuy". This is not to be confused with the "sell by" date on a gallon of milk, because gallons of milk last far longer than the average A's player.

If I could make the screen on your computer go wavy accompanied by mysterious music, so that you knew you were seeing a flashback (or that the psychedelic mushrooms were finally kicking in), I would ... as I take you back to 2012 when Oakland shed Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey in a publicly stated quest to "get younger".

Pundits viewed this as a euphemism for "rebuild" as Oakland restocked the farm system a bit, most notably the upper minors. They also restocked the big league roster with cheaper replicas, swapping lefty Gonzalez for lefty Tommy Milone, righty Cahill for righty Jarrod Parker, and lefty RFer Sweeney for lefty RFer Josh Reddick.

Growing pains? Not so much. After the big sells came the big buys: Beane signed veteran SP Bartolo Colon and then Yoenis Cespedes was signed to help strengthen a team that -- admittedly thanks in large part to the "out of nowhere" star contributions from Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson -- contended in 2012, won the AL West in 2012, and went on to contend for three years straight.

It appears Beane may have done it again. So that Oakland could replenish its farm system with the additions of Franklin Barreto, Joey Wendle, and the next crop of young starting pitchers (Jesse Hahn, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt), the A's swapped Josh Donaldson for the younger and less-accomplished-so-far Brett Lawrie, sent in-their-30s-and-not-so-cheap Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija packing, exchanged Jed Lowrie for a cheaper player with a similar skill-set in Marcus Semien, and swapped Derek Norris for the lower profile platoon combo of Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley.

The thing about getting younger and cheaper is that at the end of the day you have more payroll flexibility and more prospects. And what Beane knows is that after "selling" it's not the end of the day yet. So later in the day he becomes a buyer, trading one of his better prospects (Daniel Robertson) in a deal to net a "win now" player (Ben Zobrist, under contract for only one year but immediately one of the team's very best players) and a true shortstop.

It's no longer the 5-year cycle of "buy" and "sell," of "win now" and "rebuild," of "contention window" and "nab high draft picks". What Beane has essentially done is a time lapse: He has consolidated the rebuild and the win now into the same off-season. Which means that the period of time when Oakland is rebuilding and can't contend? That would be December.

Well played, Mr. Beane.