By Jason Wojciechowski on February 11, 2004 at 10:12 PM
ESPN is saying that Paul DePodesta is about to be named GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just as when Grady Fuson left for Texas and JP Ricciardi left for Toronto, I'm sure there'll be the gloom-and-doomers shouting that the sky is falling, that Beane isn't so smart, that DePodesta was the brains behind the organization, and that Oakland's wizard will be revealed when the man behind it heads to greener pastures.
Which is probably a load of hooey. Is Beane as smart as people thought he was a few years ago? Probably not. He did sign Scott Hatteberg to a puzzling extension, after all, Terrence Long was probably never worth signing to a "buy out the arbitration years" deal, though nobody could have predicted the awful collapse, and Jermaine Dye's deal looks mighty expensive right now.
The real question, though, is whether Beane is as dumb as some people want to make him out to be. And he's certainly not that. In a winter of "market correction" driving teams to not offer arbitration to star players, the A's earned draft picks from the defections of Miguel Tejada and Keith Foulke. He traded Ramon Hernandez at the top of his trade value for two upgrades: Terrence Long by subtraction and Mark Kotsay by addition. Arthur Rhodes came awfully cheap for a reliever of his caliber. And so on.
Maybe the A's will take a hit when DePodesta leaves. But it's less likely that hit will come because the A's front office is dumber, and more likely the hit will come because there'll be one more really smart front office in the majors to compete for talent against. In the last year or two, teams like the Blue Jays, Indians, and Red Sox have been making the kinds of moves that only Oakland had made previously. In other words, Oakland has had competition for the players like David Ortiz and Kevin Millar that helped make Boston so successful last year.
On the other hand, if the Ricciardi-Beane connection is any indication, we'll be seeing plenty of A's-Dodgers trades over the next few years.