There seems to be a lot of posts in the "WWBBD
" genre. That's "What Would Billy Beane Do?
So, why not look at what Billy Beane did? Despite the near silence on the subject in Moneyball (The Movie), the strength of the early 2000's A's was pitching. Remember the "Big Three" - the starting pitching combo of Hudson, Mulder and Zito? That's what made Oakland great. Plus the team had a pretty strong farm system. So, with three ace pitchers, all heading towards being too expensive, and a bunch of young, promising arms in the high minors, what did Beane do?
After 2004, Mark Mulder was getting expensive and had one year left on his contract. During the offseason, he was traded to the Cardinals for Daric Barton, Kiko Calero and Dan Haren.
- Barton is still their starting 1B, but he's been average at best. In his best season, he ALMOST had an .800 OPS. This season, he's hitting .198/.325/.283/.608, which is an improvement over the mess he put together last season.
- Calero was a serviceable reliever for three seasons.
- Haren stepped right in to the slot vacated by Mulder and was a great pitcher for three seasons with Oakland. Then he got expensive and was traded for Brett Anderson (OK), Chris Carter (Bust), Aaron Cunningham (below avg utility player), Dana Eveland (Bust), Carlos Gonzalez (flipped with other pieces to get the Matt Holiday rental) and Greg Smith (same as Gonzalez, but Gonzalez was actually worth something).
After 2004, Tim Hudson was ALSO getting expensive and had a year left on his contract. He was traded to the Braves for a steaming pile of garbage.
- Juan Cruz had one crappy (7.44 ERA) season with Oakland, then traded for Brad Halsey, who was just as bad.
- Dan Meyer had two crappy (7.98 ERA) seasons with Oakland and was released.
- Charles Thomas had one crappy season (.109/.255/.109/.363) with Oakland, was traded for JD Closser, and neither player had an At Bat in the majors again.
Barry Zito had one more contract year than Hudson and Mulder. For whatever reason, Beane chose to keep Zito all the way to free agency. 2005 and 2006 were both good years for him, notching 30 wins and an ERA+ of 114 over the span. We all know what happened next. The M's (luckily) got outbid for his services and Zito went on to a massively overpaid contract with the Giants.
Then there's Rich Harden - the reason why Beane felt secure in trading off some of his league-best stating rotation. In 2004, Harden had started over 30 games with an ERA+ of 114. He was cheap. He was talented. There was no reason not to send Hudson elsewhere when you've got a guy like that to replace him. Now... the rest of the story. OK, you already know the rest of the story. Despite a plethora of talent, Harden couldn't stay healthy. He started 32 games over the next three seasons. When he pitched, he was great. When he didn't pitch, he was Dana Eveland or Joe Blanton or Dallas Braden or some other scrub fill-in. Eventually, he was traded with Chad Gaudin for:
- Josh Donaldson (Bust)
- Sean Gallagher (Bust)
- Matt Murton (bust)
- Eric Patterson (bust).
There you go. Five Ace-level pitchers who went through the Billy Beane process.
- One traded for a bunch of good to great pieces.
- Three traded for prospects who turned out to be nothing.
- One kept for two good seasons and lost to free agency.
So, what would Beane do with Felix? History tells us that Felix would likely be traded. History tells us that there's a 25% chance of getting something better in return and a 75% chance that the team downgrades in the process.