Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Moneyball wasn't Moneyball: Overpaid Athletics

As the Moneyball movie comes out (to some very positive reviews), its interesting to look at where the Athletics are currently. Not only are they third place in the AL West, but they have found themselves in some very bad contracts. The whole point of "moneyball" was to maximize production in a very small payroll. This is why they groomed the trio of Hudson, Mulder, and Zito, but let them go when they got expensive, and replaced them with groomed Rich Harden, Houston Street, and Joe Blanton, only to get rid of them when they got expensive to replace them with Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden (who can't stay healthy it seems). For the most part, the pitching has worked, but their struggles to develop hitters have cost them. Not to mention, Billy Beane has done something very anti-moneyball. This offseason, he signed/traded for 3 aging players with large deals. Hideki Matsui is making 4.25 million dollars this year (he was clearly worth this much when he was with the Yankees, but didn't show enough with the Angels last year to merit this), but barely has a positive WAR, giving him a WASP of over 6000. Josh Willingham is making 6 million dollars with a WAR of 1.5, giving him a sub-par 4000 WASP. Reliever Brian Fuentes is making a mind-numbing 5 million dollars, and with his .3 WAR, he has a WASP of 16,666. A GM that built his team using sabermetrics and avoiding deals like this has turned into the Cubs, who sign a bunch of old players that are overpaid and watch the thing blow up.

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