Billy Beane means business when it comes to his Oakland Athletics making a serious playoff run this season. The general manager pulled off an impressive trade right before the Major League Baseball July 31 trade deadline that brings Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester to the west coast in exchange for A’s All-Star left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Learn more about the former player turned notable GM.
1. Beane Bolsters the Athletics Starting Rotation With Lester
Beane cemented his starting rotation with the acquisition of Lester, a pick up on the heels of Beane’s earlier trade for Cubs’ pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. Lester has a 10-7 record in 21 games for the Red Sox this season with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 149 strikeouts to 32 walks in 143 innings pitched.
Baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian broke down for ESPN what Lester’s arrival in Oakland will mean for the team:
In the end, you win with great starting pitching and now the A’s can go Lester, Gray, Samardzija and Kazmir. That’s pretty good four to get in the playoffs, that’s going to matchup with Detroit or anybody else.
Cespedes, who defected from Cuba to join the A’s in 2012, participated in his first All-Star game this season and won his second-consecutive Home Run Derby. He has a .256 batting average this season with 17 home runs in 101 games.
2. Beane Uses Sabermetrics to Evaluate Baseball Talent
Beane became an advanced scout for the Oakland Athletics in 1990. Former A’s general manager Sandy Alderson taught him how to evaluate ballplayers based on a system known as sabermetrics, the system of using statistics to measure a player’s in-game abilities. After the 1997 season, Beane was named the Athletics new GM and continued the use of the sabermetrics to cut down on the club’s payroll while still fielding a competitive team.
In 2002, the Red Sox offered Beane a five-year deal for $12.5 million to become the team’s new general manager. Beane ultimately turned down the job and the Red Sox tapped Theo Epstein, who led the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004 after an 86 year drought.
Beane reflected on his decision with WEEI radio in 2012:
I look back and some of it is surreal. Obviously it’s been replayed a few times in different arenas. I always ask if I regret it and I say I don’t regret it because I try and make decisions for different reasons. I think I made the right choice, and in turn the Red Sox ended up getting the right guy for the job.
3. The Oakland Athletics Haven’t Won a World Series Since 1989
The Athletics have made seven playoff appearances during Beane’s tenure, but have never made it to the World Series during that time. They came closest in 2006 with a trip to the American League Championship Series, but lost to the Detroit Tigers in four games.
Beane’s recent transaction shows he wants his team to make a run this season, as Sports Illustrated’s Fansided suggested:
He’s built a very good team and it just seems to keep getting better. Now that things are seem to be in that direction, this is the year the he’s putting everything in the pot to win it all.
4. Brad Pitt Portrayed Beane in the 2011 film ‘Moneyball’
Michael Lewis wrote the book Moneyball in 2003 about Beane and his team’s 2002 season when they won 103 games, and set an American League record for longest winning streak with 20 games (the MLB record is 21 games by the Chicago Cubs in 1935). In 2011, Brad Pitt starred as the famous GM in the film Moneyball. Pitt and the film received Oscar nominations as well as nominations for supporting actor Jonah Hill and the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian and Stan Chervin.
5. Beane Played Major League Baseball for 5 Seasons
The New York Mets drafted Beane as its 23rd pick in the 1980 draft. He made his major league debut in 1984 for the Mets, playing in five games total for the season. The next season he spent most his time with the club’s AAA team, getting called up for only eight games.
His most appearances in a single season came in 1986 for the Minnesota Twins where he batted .216. After being traded by the Twins, he played for the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics until hanging it up in 1990.