Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Moneyball Killed the A's

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 2:23 PM

The premiere of the film Moneyball has been a big boost this week for Oakland, particularly with Brad Pitt showing up Monday night at the Paramount Theatre. But there’s also a compelling case being made that the bestselling book on which the film was based helped prompt the downfall of Oakland’s beloved baseball team.

Veteran sportswriter Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated points out that other Major League Baseball teams took note when Michael Lewis’s book on A’s General Manager Billy Beane hit the New York Times bestseller list. The book, Moneyball, revealed Beane’s secrets for creating a winning team on shoestring budget (Beane relies heavily on baseball stats to judge players’ abilities).

Now, years later, up to twenty other teams have taken Moneyball to heart and are copying Beane’s basic approach for how to build a winner. And because many of those other ballclubs have more money to spend on the players that Beane covets, the A’s — starved for revenues in an outdated stadium — can no longer compete for those players. Not surprisingly, the A’s have been a losing team for the past several years.

According to Verducci, Theo Epstein, general manager of the Boston Red Sox and one of Beane’s disciples, couldn’t believe that Beane told Lewis all his secrets. "I can't believe Billy is letting him write this book," Epstein told his colleagues, Verducci wrote.

Ironically, the Red Sox have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Beane’s ideas, because they’re a very lucrative team with lots of money to spend on the types of players that Beane alone used to go after.

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