When Michael Lewis released Moneyball in 2003, praising the
genius of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, he showed how numbers-crunching
and esoteric statistics could help a small-market team win. Problem is, the
A’s never made it to the big show. Now, the large-market Dodgers have adopted
the strategy. The Angels take a different approach. They make the trades, sign
the players, pay the dough and let the front office do its job without owner
interference. Red vs. Blue, you decide:
1. Blue Crew. This off-season, having already traded Paul
Lo Duca and Dave Roberts, the Dodgers failed to re-sign Adrian Beltre, Steve
Finley, Alex Cora and Jose Lima, fired 18-year Dodger announcer Ross Porter,
gave manager Jim Tracy an underpaid two-year extension, and have been contemplating
trading away team favorite Shawn Green, pitcher Brad Penny and up-and-comer
Yhency Brazoban in a thinly veiled salary dump. Meanwhile, down in the O.C.,
the Angels just paid big bucks for Steve Finley and Orlando Cabrera (albeit
losing fan favorite David Eckstein in the process) to add to their already high-flying,
big-money team and are talking more moves before April. Verdict: Red.
2. Paul Ball. A’s general manager Billy Beane is a genius,
but his former assistant–turned–Dodgers general manager, the pencil-necked,
statistics-loving geek Paul DePodesta, is not. Meanwhile, Angels general manager
Bill Stoneman works it the old-school, gut-check way, picking up great players
who fit the team rather than some computer model. Look for this to come full
effect when the Angels make the playoffs in September while the Dodgers are
busy turning off the lights in Chavez Ravine. Verdict: Red.
3. Red Menace. How about a team that can play, Dodgers?
Elmer Dessens, old-timer Jeff Kent, Ricky Ledee and Jose Valentin added to a
lineup that includes David Ross, Hee-Seop Choi, Jason Grabowski — c’mon. The
Angels, on the other hand, have Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson, Cabrera,
Finley, the Molina brothers and a sweet-ass rally monkey to knock fly balls
all the way to the Tijuana border. Verdict: Red.
4. Hair, Beautiful Hair. Both teams need more players with
hair like Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez. With a roster full of major-league
Latin American Afros, a World Series ring is a lock. Verdict: draw with edge
to Red thanks to Vladimir Guerrero.
5. Ownership Matters. Angels owner Arte Moreno lowered
beer prices, mixes it up with the fans and puts his money where his mouth is
— on the field. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is raising seat and parking prices,
and his biggest Dodger move so far is paying $3 million for Pee-Wee Reese’s
tea set. Oh, and don’t forget the rumors of an impending personal bankruptcy.
Verdict: a Red sea.