Why Jack Zduriencik is Not Billy Beane
From David Schoenfield's ESPN.com blog, in the post “The Mariners' historically awful defense”:
At this point, it's pretty obvious: Jack Zduriencik is not Billy Beane. Maybe that's unfair to say; maybe no general manager is Billy Beane. As Dave Cameron pointed out on FanGraphs, even the Rays have spent more on big league payroll than the A's the past two seasons and yet the A's have won 10 more games.
You can argue the A's have been lucky — nobody expected Josh Donaldson or Brandon Moss to be this good, or Bartolo Colon to resurface as an elite pitcher. But the A's also have a plan; as Joe Sheehan pointed out this week on his podcast, the A's target a certain type of player (Colon being the big — literally — exception): Players 25 to 29 years old, the age at which they should either break out or have a career year. Look at the current ages of the players they've added in the past two years: Moss (29), Jed Lowrie (29), Yoenis Cespedes (27), Josh Reddick (26), Chris Young (29), John Jaso (29). OK, Seth Smith is now 30 and closer Grant Balfour is 35. Other than Cespedes, those were all players considered disposable by their former teams. Individually, they don't look that impressive; collectively, they're a team.
Now look at who the Mariners added this offseason: Raul Ibanez (41), Aaron Harang (35), Jason Bay (34), Kelly Shoppach (33), Joe Saunders (32), Mike Morse (31), Kendrys Morales (30). That's not a plan. That's a tragedy.