Last week Athletics Nation ran a series of interviews with A's GM Billy Beane. They are really really worth reading. Beane is a fascinating guy, and hearing any GM talk shop is interesting.
- Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, Post-Moneyball, Visits Athletics Nation - Part I - Athletics Nation
- Part II - Athletics Nation
- Part III - Athletics Nation
Here's a selection from the first part to give you a sense of how engaging the interview was:
TB: Speaking of having the correct players and everything, you've talked about embarking on kind of a - I know you hate the "rebuilding" term - but you did embark on a rebuilding of this team. And I think the aim was really toward 2011/2012, possibly for the team to be back where it was 2001/2002 days. Where do you think the rebuilding process stands right now and do you think the team is that far away from being that powerhouse again?
BB: In this market, to be a consistent playoff contender, you really have to have a group of young players that have come to your system and it has to be on both sides, not just the pitching. It has to be on the offensive side as well. I think we've proven that just having the best pitching staff in the league is not going to necessarily get you a division. And so you need it for both sides. Most of it has to come through the farm system. Every once in a while you get a little lucky on a trade, or a young player that emerges that you didn't expect. But for us to do that it takes time. I think in some respects, we've been blessed and cursed by just being mediocre. The impact-type of player will probably come through the draft. And by and large, that player comes at the top of the draft. And even if you look back at the earlier part of the decade, a large part of the core of that team were basically top ten picks. Where you take a Mulder, you take a Chavez, you take a Zito, those are all top 10 guys. I think we've drafted 10th - is the highest we've drafted since we drafted Zito back in 99 and that was Michael Choice. I mean, it's very difficult to attract star players, not just from a compensation standpoint but for other reasons which are well documented and there's no sense belaboring that point. So really the only way to get them is through the draft. And certainly through the draft, you're going to have guys that are second or third round picks that come out of nowhere and turn into stars. You take like a Mike Stanton from Florida who certainly has that ability. But if you're really examining the draft and looking at the real sort of high-upside premium, premium guys, by and large they're coming in the top three, four, five picks of the draft.
TB: As a GM, is there ever a temptation to ...
BB: No, you can ask the question - I know exactly what you're going to ask. And I say this because we sit here now. Listen, you know what? I was so happy that we won yesterday and I want to win today, and I want to win tomorrow, and I want to win Wednesday, ok? Bobby Melvin feels the same way. I want to win every day, you know? But once again there is a curse of mediocrity from a draft position. I mean, I think you see it in the NFL a little bit. Going 8 and 8 in the NFL isn't really you know - you feel good about being .500, but there you are come May, drafting in the middle. That's just it, that's just the way it is. But the fact of the matter is I don't think I get to this position, or Bobby Melvin gets to his position unless they want to win every day. And I was happier than happy when we won yesterday (against the Angels). We scored in the 9th to come back and beat a team going for the playoffs. I want to win all three games (starting in Seattle). That's just the deal. There is never a day we win that I'm not in a good mood. But once again, it is what it is. You asked about a rebuilding mode and listen the biggest challenge we have right now is putting together a business plan. And I've said it more publicly lately and will continue to do so, whether we're staying in Oakland or going to San Jose. At some point, we have to have some clarification about our situation so at least we can put together a business plan that lasts longer than six months.
Now I just need to start prepping my interview notes for my hour long sit down with Dayton Moore!