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  1. #1
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    Moneyball Revisited

    Posted below are excerpts from an article on baseballamerica.com....

    Eight years later, glare of ‘Moneyball’ shows flaws
    BY CASEY TEFERTILLER

    It seems so long ago, when a book managed to capture the conversation around baseball and captivate readers who yearned for something new in a sport filled with tradition.

    That was 2003, when “Moneyball” hit the bookstores and became the primary topic of discussion around the game...No book so rocked the game since Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four,” which in 1970 told about the real lives of players. “Moneyball” was very different. It directly confronted the baseball establishment, showing how the smart guys were about to take over the game from those old curmudgeons; how objective analysis was superior to the subjective opinions of scouts. “Moneyball” did not just challenge the traditional ways of thinking, it ridiculed them.

    The book was not just about how the Athletics had succeeded: it was a dictum on how the organization would continue to excel by using new tactics in the draft. According to the book, the A’s had developed a new way to evaluate talent. With computers and statistical analysis, they wouldn’t have to rely on those stodgy old scouts with their individualistic and inconsistent evaluations. Amateur talent and the draft had always been a haphazard, subjective process. Now it could become objective and consistent.

    From the beginning, this was more about Lewis’s vision of the A’s than reality. Beane was never so arrogant that he believed scouts were outmoded and worthless. He had been an advance scout himself, with a terrific eye for talent. He knew there were things scouts could know that computers could not. He had maintained a scouting corps that included both veteran and young scouts under the guidance of former scouting director Grady Fuson, who had built a reputation of his own as a draft guru after such selections as Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. Yet Lewis presents Fuson as the foil—and fool—of the book.

    Beane and Fuson did have a falling out of sorts at the 2001 draft. Moments before the draft, Beane screamed a profanity and threw a chair against a wall as he looked at Fuson’s draft board. Fuson wanted a high school pitcher, either Jeremy Bonderman or Cole Hamels, and prep pitchers did not fit the Moneyball plan. Fuson liked them enough to deviate from the plan, and he selected Bonderman. He left the A’s after the season and was an assistant GM with the Rangers when Lewis received access to the Athletics’ inner sanctum in 2002.

    ...Lewis saw only the first year of the new era in A’s scouting, and he told the story with a brash “we’re smarter than you” perspective. Baseball has a tradition of humility, almost to the point of superstition, and that carries into the front offices. And there was absolutely nothing humble about “Moneyball.” So before the A’s scout-by-the-numbers plan even had time to evolve, it was presented in a national best-seller as the future of baseball. Lewis placed Beane in the bizarre position of being labeled a genius for a plan that had not even been tested. Eight seasons later, as the movie hits theaters, how has the whole Magnificent Athletics Plan For the Future worked out?

    Little short of a disaster.

    That 2002 draft was to be the beginning of a rebuild. The A’s had seven of the first 39 picks because of free-agent departures, and a big draft could mean a big future. With Fuson gone to Texas, this was the year Beane instituted a new way of thinking. Lewis reported how Beane and DePodesta took over the 2002 draft meeting, and DePodesta put up a list of targeted players, many of whom were not highly valued by traditional scouting standards: Jeremy Brown, Stephen Stanley, John Baker, Mark Kiger, Shaun Larkin, John McCurdy, Brant Colamarino and Brian Stavisky.

    Don’t bother to check the all-star rosters. Only Baker has had significant big league time, as a backup catcher. The ’02 draft did produce Nick Swisher, Mark Teahen and Joe Blanton among the A’s first seven picks, but Swisher and Blanton were both consensus first-round talents. Teahen has survived in the majors mostly as a backup.

    Oakland did another by-the-numbers draft in ’03, selecting pitcher Brad Sullivan and third baseman Brian Snyder in the first round. Sullivan was a top-ranked pitcher who was coming back from injuries, and that gamble did not work out. Snyder went the way of the other Moneyballers. Second-rounder Andre Ethier became a star after being traded to the Dodgers, but the athletic outfielder does not fit the Moneyball prototype.

    The A’s would reach the playoffs again, in 2006, making it to the American League Championship Series before losing to the Tigers. Beane then began a rebuilding effort that has moved in fits and starts but never really come together. The once-prized minor league system has fallen into mediocrity, still recovering from the bad drafts of the Moneyball era and numerous trades that failed to produce.

    The A’s quietly stepped away from the mantras of “Moneyball.” By 2006, they used their top pick on high school pitcher Trevor Cahill, a refutation of the principles that dictated that premium picks should not be squandered on prep pitchers. Fuson returned to the organization before the 2010 season as a special adviser.

    The draft strategy that Lewis touted simply did not work. The A’s elevated on-base ability to the level of the most coveted tool, and the organization found itself with one-dimensional players who could not find positions or excel in the majors, leaving the A’s short on talent and struggling at the big league level. For a small-market team, drafting and development is critical, and the draft had failed the Athletics.
    The article is a lot longer. I can't post the entire article because it is accessible by subscription only.
    Last edited by Dugmet; 09-21-2011 at 11:28 AM.
    "The 90 wins is about challenge. It's about changing the conversation. It's about framing questions for ourselves as to how we get there. So I stand by the notion that we need to get better, and in doing so we need to set concrete goals for ourselves so that we have sort of specific conversations among ourselves about how we're going to get there." -- Mr. Alderson

  2. #2
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    As I read Moneyball a few years ago, I wondered how this new age thinking would all net out. But here's the thing: Many people thought Beane himself wrote Moneyball. As your article correctly stressed, it was written by Michael Lewis.

    Beane and Sandy Alderson on many occasions have said that Lewis misrepresented their philosophies. Hell, even in this forum, everyone wrongly believes that Moneyball is all about signing players with high on base percentages while ignoring batting averages.

    Moneyball is a very compelling read. It paints a clear, black and white picture of good versus bad, smart versus incompetant, new-age thinking versus old assumptions. The reader is drawn to root for the young upstart way of doing things versus the ignorant tried and true.

    The reality is filled with much more gray but is considerably less compelling. But if Lewis had written a more accurate overview of the Alderson-Beane philosophies, no one would have asked Brad Pitt to star in the movie.
    "Mr. Martin Tanner, Baritone, of Dayton, Ohio made his Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but unfortunately his presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards. His voice lacks the range of tonal color necessary to make it consistently interesting. Full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order."

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    I haven't read the book Moneyball, but from what I know of Moneyball, it does get misinterpreted and its not just about high on base percentages. Its much more complicated than that. A lot of different factors come into play.

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    Maddog had a great point yesterday. During the years of the As success, Moulder/Hudson/Zito, were something 28X-and some low number of loses with 3 ERAs. They had two guys juicing...Giambi/Tejada (at the least) and Moulder and Zito were both 1st overall picks (so its not like WOAH NO ONE KNEW THEY'D BE GOOD EXCEPT moneyball people). They had a near mvp in Chavez (who, oh yeah, was the 10th overall pick in the first round). They lost in the divisional series four years in a row, twice in which they led 2-0.

    Maybe, just maybe, they won because they had top talent who happened to be young and therefore affordable, not affordable because no one else wanted them based on regular stats?
    Last edited by metsgiants35; 09-21-2011 at 11:47 AM.
    The Mets: Continually finding a way to lower a bar already on the ground.

    "You either get your #$% kicked or you donít, but get on the mound and throw the baseball"

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    Quote Originally Posted by NYman15 View Post
    I haven't read the book Moneyball, but from what I know of Moneyball, it does get misinterpreted and its not just about high on base percentages. Its much more complicated than that. A lot of different factors come into play.
    I highly recommend it. My favorite part is when Beane discusses his philosophy for scouting players. He talked about when he was minor league teammates with Lenny Dykstra was recalled sitting next to him in the Mets dugout when both were Mets in late 1985.

    Dykstra told Beane (paraphrasing, dont have the book in front of me), "If they put me in against that pitcher, I'm gonna hit the crap out of him."

    Beane said, "What are you talking about? That's Steve Carlton on the mound." Dykstra said, "I don't care. I'm gonna hit the crap out of him."

    That's when Beane realized that Dykstra had the attitude to be a major league player while he didn't. When he became a scout and then later a GM, he vowed to sign the Lenny Dykstras of the world, not the Billy Beanes, even though the Dykstra was about 5-foot-9 and Beane was 6-foot-4 and everyone thought Beane had much more talent than Dykstra.
    "Mr. Martin Tanner, Baritone, of Dayton, Ohio made his Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but unfortunately his presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards. His voice lacks the range of tonal color necessary to make it consistently interesting. Full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order."

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    The book did do the A's a bit of injustice. As FoC mentioned, moneyball isn't just about "omg batting average sux obp rulez," it's about finding inefficiencies in the market (finding players who are underpaid because their skill set is under-appreciated) and exploiting them. In the late 90's/early 2000's, it just so happened that it was on base percentage. The A's haven't been nearly as successful because almost all of their competitive advantage has disappeared. Now the A's are trying out all-defense-no-offense players as undervalued, but it's not working nearly as effectively.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYman15 View Post
    I haven't read the book Moneyball, but from what I know of Moneyball, it does get misinterpreted and its not just about high on base percentages. Its much more complicated than that. A lot of different factors come into play.
    In it's most simplest form, it's about finding undervalued players and defining qualities that are not yet recognized by the baseball establishment including player agents.
    "The 90 wins is about challenge. It's about changing the conversation. It's about framing questions for ourselves as to how we get there. So I stand by the notion that we need to get better, and in doing so we need to set concrete goals for ourselves so that we have sort of specific conversations among ourselves about how we're going to get there." -- Mr. Alderson

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    you know or having three dominant pitchers, two of who were first round picks, two guys juicing and yet another guy who was a first round pick who was a mvp candidate.
    The Mets: Continually finding a way to lower a bar already on the ground.

    "You either get your #$% kicked or you donít, but get on the mound and throw the baseball"

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    I think the fundamental concept behind Moneyball, or whatever you want to call it, is having an intelligent approach to acquiring talent so you maximize every dollar you spend.

    No, it hasn't exactly brought major success to Oakland. But I think it's a bit harsh to call what Beane has done a failure. He still does more with less.

    The Mets in the past few years have been the opposite of that. They have gotten very little value from the money they have invested. And that's the point of bringing in Alderson.

    You want to see the philosophy of maximizing return on investment work? Look at the Red Sox. They have an intelligent approach to player moves, and they do it with a big budget.
    Go Grab My Belt

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    Kind of off-topic, but I work for a large "defense manufacturer" and the theme of my department's meeting was based on Moneyball LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Schmooze View Post
    Kind of off-topic, but I work for a large "defense manufacturer" and the theme of my department's meeting was based on Moneyball LOL
    I wonder what ugly-fat guy they can get to play you in the movie.


    ďNinety percent Iíll spend on good times, women, and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent Iíll probably waste.Ē
    - Tug McGraw, on his plans for his $75,000 salary

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    Quote Originally Posted by clayamtion View Post
    I wonder what ugly-fat guy they can get to play you in the movie.
    ???????

    Is that a joke? Don't quit your day job buddy.

    Besides which I didn't say we were having a play to re-enact the movie, but rather the concept of Moneyball is trying to be applied to our business.

  13. #13
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    moneyball is one of my favorite books, and i've been looking forward to see the movie for quite sometime now. (although i feel bad that depo is being played by mr. chubbs jonah hill)

    im particularly looking forward to see how the steve phillips parts will be portrayed in the movie, especially the infamous billy taylor for izzy and terrance long trade.

    one of my favorite parts of the book is where beane talks about how kenny williams passed on joe blanton in the draft and a took a reliever, royce ring ahead of him....the book is a great read on many levels, and there are so many issues that deal with the mets it's a must read/see for mets and baseball fans in general....
    Who knew kool aid made condoms?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Schmooze View Post
    ???????

    Is that a joke? Don't quit your day job buddy.

    Besides which I didn't say we were having a play to re-enact the movie, but rather the concept of Moneyball is trying to be applied to our business.
    I understand what you meant, but when they make a movie about your company (Moneyball the movie), just wonder who would play you (Jonah Hill, is kind of chubby).

    Mental note Schmooze has no sense of humor and believes Doug Sisk is an awesome reliever. Wants to get an autographed Doug Sisk ball for his dad.


    ďNinety percent Iíll spend on good times, women, and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent Iíll probably waste.Ē
    - Tug McGraw, on his plans for his $75,000 salary

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by clayamtion View Post
    i understand what you meant, but when they make a movie about your company (moneyball the movie), just wonder who would play you (jonah hill, is kind of chubby).

    mental note schmooze has no sense of humor and believes doug sisk is an awesome reliever. Wants to get an autographed doug sisk ball for his dad.
    :d

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