While “Moneyball” will ultimately be Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane's legacy, this season will go down as Beane's biggest failure.
He thought the Athletics showed real promise to win it all and he went all in.
For that, he deserves a standing applause. It's a difficult thing to do for a guy who is known for being so calculating.
The problem is, it didn't work out.
On Wednesday, he tried to justify it all. But it fell on deaf ears. His team was in first place, it unloaded its prospects to beef up its chances, then things fell off the hinges and concluded with Tuesday night's one-game wildcard playoff loss to the Kansas City Royals.
"The Angels were going to catch us," Beane told reporters. "They played nearly .700 ball from a certain point. If you go back to my quotes from when we made those trades, despite the fact of where we were, at no point were those trades made for the playoffs. I was adamant about it. I could feel the Angels breathing down our necks.
"What I didn't reveal was that I was also concerned about us, which was the point of the trades. I have said this many times: It's not where you are, it's where you're headed. And I like to think being here every day, I have a feel for where we're headed."
What did he do?
While Yoenis Cespedes was the biggest name that Beane sent away, it was the Cubs trade that will have the largest long-term impact. You simply can't replace trading away one of baseball's top prospects in shortstop Addison Russell, especially when that hole will be obvious now that the Athletics don't have a shortstop under contract for next season.
But that wasn't all. They also sent off Dan Straily and prospect Billy McKinney in the deal. He sent off pitching prospect Nolan Sanburn to the White Sox for Adam Dunn and he sent Cespedes for Jon Lester.
What does he have left now? Lester and Hammel are free agents, Dunn will retire and he has Samardzija under contract for one more year.
"When we traded for Samardzija and Hammel, I think one of the first questions was, 'Why would you trade for two pitchers, you're first in the league in ERA?'" Beane told reporters. "We weren't going to stay there. We knew it. Our job is to try and correct things before they become a problem, and some of the problems that we had we could see coming."
There have got to be some private regrets now. He's looking at the future roster and now will fully feel the pain of this season's moves.
"It's somewhat cathartic for us to start working on next year," Beane said. "There's still a lot of good pieces here. We're very much a jigsaw puzzle."
But one of the biggest regrets will be not playing Dunn in the postseason.
That means Dunn will retire with 462 homers and zero postseason appearances. Only former Cub, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks (512), had more without a postseason appearance. Next is Rocky Colavito (374) and Ralph Kiner (369).
"Horrible, it's an awful feeling," manager Bob Melvin, who fully expected to be in the ALDS and use Dunn, said. "I have so much respect for Adam Dunn that it kills me he didn't get in that game."
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