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Chat: Billy Beane

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday July 29, 2005 2:00 PM ET chat session with Billy Beane.

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Billy Beane is the general manager of the Oakland A's.

Billy Beane: Couple minutes early guys...ready to go!

dantroy (davis, ca): Are you comcerned at all that Haren and Blanton may start to wear down as the season goes on? They're both on pace to blow past career high in IP.

Billy Beane: It's something we do keep an eye on during the course of the season. We monitor every pitch, including side sessions done between starts. We're also careful to consider innings logged in previous years. As the season wears on, there will be times when we make sure they have extra rest when the opportunities present themselves.

Steve (NYC): Why all the HS pitchers in this years draft? Didn't you once fire somebody for drafting HS pitchers too early?

Billy Beane: No, we've never fired anyone for drafting HS pitchers...urban legend. In looking at this year's draft, we just felt that a lot of the premium college players were being pushed up in the last few drafts, and there was some premium HS talent that was falling as a result. Despite reports to the contrary, we don't deal in absolutes here, and are always looking for the best value relative to the draft position and the talent that's available.

justin (Providence RI): Do you still hide in the wieght room during games, or can you watch them now?

Billy Beane: Yes, I still hide in the weight room during games, but contrary to the past, have enjoyed watching this season. We've got a lot of young players and it's been satisfying watching their progress. I've apparently mellowed with age.

BradHoltzman (Chicago): Billy, What are the plans for Daric Barton, when can I expect to see him in the majors?

Billy Beane: As most of you probably know by know, Daric was recently moved up to Midland in the Texas League (AA). As expected, he's making great progress. It's hard to put a timetable on his arrival, but as everyone here knows, once you start producing at the AA level, anything can happen.

Chomsky (Brooklyn): Billy, how will the sale of the team (to a group of which you are a part) have an impact on future budgets? Do you foresee a payroll increase in the coming years?

Billy Beane: As in the past, our budgets going forward will be a direct reflection of our revenues. It's no secret that it's imperative we secure a new venue here in Oakland. In the brief time I've been associated with Lew Wolff, I can say that if he can't do it, no one can. I would also that, though, that Lew is at the same time a big fan, and if there's a "right move" -- whether a trade or signing a free agent -- he's open-minded to being fleible with the budget.

DI (LA, CA): What types of things do you have Farhan Zaidi working on? is it mostly defense-related? and how much say does he have in player personnel decisions?

Billy Beane: Yeah...it's defense-related...right now, he's defending me from butchering this keyboard...he's the most overeducated personal typist around...the only one I know of with a Ph.D.

John (Burlington, Vermont): Billy, do you think there will be more large deals made at the non-waiver deadline or the August 31 waiver deadline? There are still so many teams in the race for the playoffs,so I think there will be more deals after August 1.

Billy Beane: This has been the most unusual trade market I've experience since I've been a GM. There's a lot more buyers than there are sellers, and I think that's a credit to the fact that there are many teams that are still in the playoff hunt. There's also a number of teams that, despite not being in the playoff chase, are trying to create some momentum forward, and feel it's important for their young players' development to continue to try and win games. That being said, it would not surprise me to see at least a couple of big deals nobody expected.

Mike (Branford, CT): Billy - With the surging popularity of Will Carroll's UTK columns, and the increased focus (at least in stathead circles) on training staffs, do you find that more teams are valuing the importance of top-quality medical personnel? Is this the case in Oakland?

Billy Beane: We read Will's columns as well and find them both interesting and valuable. Given the investment in players that clubs have, it's imperative that you not only hire, but have access to the best medical personnel -- not just in your hometown but across the country.

Mike (Los Gatos): Billy, hypothetical Go back to 1997 give yourself a 100 million dollar payroll and continue with the same until the present. Do you think the A's would have been more successful, less or about the same? Now I dont mean just add in the extra cash when Giambi and Tejadas contract come up. I mean go back and redo the whole history, everything Thanks

Billy Beane: It's hard to speak in hypotheticals, but our situation has certainly forced us to be far more creative. Being in a small-market allows you to do things that larger market wouldn't allow.

Zach Houseal (PA): Billy, would you be interested in Billy Wagner despite Street's sweetness?

Billy Beane: Street's "sweetness" will do for now.

Twins and Athletics Fan (DC): Congratulations on making another great 2nd-half run and doing what all us statheads knew you could, and on the great Mulder-Hudson trades. Since the decision to keep Zito is long over, would you mind sharing with us your thought process in deciding which of the Big Three to keep? Thanks.

Billy Beane: Thank you. I'm lucky to have some real smart people around me. Quite frankly, if you were going to trade any 2 of the 3 guys, you'd still be left with a great pitcher. One of the great things about Barry is that in his entire team here in Oakland, he's never, ever shown up on a trainer's log for any type of injury whatsoever. His durability has been as good as anybody's in the game.

bobnheadollman (rolling meadow il): Some comments on Mark Shapiro. Is he trying to do it the "right" way? Is he succeeding?

Billy Beane: Mark and his staff in Cleveland are among the best in the business. Yes, he's doing it the "right" way in my opinion, and he is succeeding. They've got one of the best young teams in baseball, and a minor league system that rivals the best in the game...and I'm glad they're out of town!

Gavin (San Francisco): Juan Cruz has been absolutely dominating in AAA (57/14 K/BB in 41 innings; 1.54 ERA). It seems to me he has to be put into the rotation - as much as I like Saarloos and what he has done for us this year Cruz has earned a shot at the rotation (which he has wanted his whole career). What's the plan with Juan?

Billy Beane: When we acquired Juan, we felt his long-term future was probably as a starter. As you point out, he's been absolutely spectacular in Sacramento, and building up the confidence and experience he needs to be a major league starter. His opportunity to contribute to our major-league team will come.

justin (Providence, RI): I've notice that the A's have very good defensive players compared to a few years ago. Does reflect a change is philosophy, do you value defense more, or is it just a coincidence?

Billy Beane: We've had to evolve to try and find gaps in the marketplace, and determine where the best values were. It wasn't that long ago that we were a very poor defensive team that did nothing but walk and hit homers. The Kotsay acquisition was a direct reflection of this shift. I think you can point to the Red Sox' Garciaparra trade last year as another example of this. There are some real smart people out there running teams these days, so opportunities are fewer and these windows close quickly.

klmorrison (Boston, MA): Does it bother you that various pundits and media-types are still taking potshots at you for that book you "wrote"? Or do you just shove it all aside and just keep on keepin' on?

Billy Beane: First of all, if I could write like Michael Lewis, I'd be in St. Bart's working on my next project. Criticism and opinions are part of the deal of being a General Manager, and quite frankly, the media's opinions can actually create opportunites by helping form the opinions of others. If you're going to be praised, you have to be willing to be criticized. The best thing is to listen to neither, and, in your words, "shove it all aside and keep on keepin' on."

Gary (NY): Who's your favorite "value acquisition" during your tenure as GM? IOW, the guy that nobody seemed to want that produced big for you on the cheap. Jaha? Stairs?

Billy Beane: I would say three guys that were 6-year minor league free agents and signed for $6K per month -- Matt Stairs, Billy Taylor, and Geronimo Berroa. Stairs and Berroa each hit over 30 homers with over 100 RBIs in a season for us, and Taylor had over 100 career saves.

Jon (Bismarck): Any chance that the A's can move over to the NL so that the Twins don't have to deal with you guys every year? Seriously, A's are my favorite team after the Twins because of the way they are run. Keep up the great work!

Billy Beane: It'd be nice not having to deal with the Twins, either!

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Billy, Thanks for chatting. What's the most rewarding part of your job? Making a deadline trade that helps your team? Watching players you drafted develop into productive major league regulars?

Billy Beane: I would say watching players you drafted turn into productive major league players. It's something the entire organization can take pride in, from the scout that signed him, to the player development system, all the way up to the major league staff.

lisa (san francisco, CA): Hi Billy. I heard that your dog Tag was ill. Is he doing better?

Billy Beane: Lisa, thanks for asking. Mr. Taggert, my border collie and a constant presence at the Coliseum, is recovering nicely. As we speak, he's at the vet for a check-up on his most recent surgery which he had while Kielty was hitting that walk-off home run against the Texas Rangers last weekend.

Andrew C. (Conn.): Billy, are you surprised with Bobby Crosby's success? And do expect to see him continue to flourish and become one of the best in the league over the next few seasons?

Billy Beane: Not at all surprised by his success. Bobby has a chance to be a very special player, and one of the best shortstops, if not players in the league. A lot of credit should go to our former scouting director Grady Fuson for his adamant belief in Bobby the year we drafted him in 2001.

Nathan (Chicago, IL): Have you and Joe Morgan ever set down to discuss your book?

Billy Beane: Haven't had the opportunity, and surprisingly, he only lives about a mile away from me.

Horaceclark (New York): What did your 2004 scouting reports say about Cano and/or Wang on the Yankees? Cashman surely would have offered these players last year for one of your Big Three.

Billy Beane: Our scouting reports suggest Cano's line would look something like .313/.334/.489 after 4 months. Our guys are good.

Brad (PA): Do you find yourself "rooting" for teams that employ your former proteges?

Billy Beane: No question. JP and Paul are two of my closest friends and outstanding GM's as well. It's human nature to want to see your friends succeed.

Andy (Conn.): Billy, how many resumes do you get per month?

Billy Beane: We receive hundreds of resumes each month. One of the great things about the game today is that some very bright minds are being given the opportunity to be a part of MLB front offices. No longer is it a prerequisite to have played the game to run a team. This bodes well for the future efficiency of the game and the business of baseball.

One more question everyone. Then I've got to run.......

Ben (Livermore, CA): long time A's fan, thanks for pulling us out of the dark ages (93-97) anyway, i know your a big music fan too, any recent records you'd like to reccomend?

Billy Beane: In a tribute to HOF Peter Gammons, I'll finish up with a music question. I'm a big Oasis fan, so I recommend the new album. Also, the Futureheads and the new Dropkick Murphy's album, Warriors Code, are great.

Billy Beane: Thanks for the questions, everyone.


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