There hasn't been a GM more criticized this offseason than Billy Beane, and for good reasons. He's traded five of the A's seven all-stars from last year, (cut to Billy Butler saying, "Hey, this isn't what I signed here for!") all of whom are under team control until at least 2016. But could this offseason come back to be positive for Oakland? Could all the critics end up eating their words? Crap, I hope I didn't just give some movie producer an idea for an awful sequel to Moneyball. Let's just move on the deals.
We'll start with the Derek Norris deal. While the catcher posted a respectable .270/.361/.403 line last year, that doesn't show how much he dropped off after the All-Star break, hitting just .245/.314/.344. He first half surge can be explained by an abnormally high BABIP of .336, compared to just .312 in the second half.
On the other side of the deal, the A's received Jesse Hahn, a right handed pitcher who went 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA last year after being considered a top prospect for both the Padres and Rays, where he was previously. He has the potential to be an all-star sometime in the near future.
About 90 feet away from Norris last year was first baseman Brandon Moss, who hit .234 with 25 homers last year. However, much like Norris, his production was very front loaded. In the first half of last year, he hit .268 and 21 of his 25 homers, followed by Drew Butera numbers in the second half: .173, batting average 15 RBI, 31 hits, 21 of which were singles. He was traded to Cleveland about two weeks ago for minor league second baseman Joe Wendle.
Wendle just finished up a decent year in AA Akron last year, where he hit .253/.311/.414 in 87 games. He has good gap power, smacking 20 doubles in that short amount of time. One more thought on Moss: While Norris is only 25, creating a bit more risk to that trade, (of course, they got a better haul in return) Moss is 31, so that combined with his regression could make him a very big disappointment next year for the Indians.
Age was the reason I defended the A's Josh Donaldson trade a few weeks ago. Namely because he's going to be 30 next year and his average dropped about 50 points between 2013 and 2014. He'll still be a fine player in Toronto, but maybe not the same one he was for the A's.
Beane has a good history, and he's known for being unorthodox, so let's at least give these moves a chance before we criticize them. They might be a lot better than we think.