Moneyball and the Rockies: How the Rockies Don't Participate

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 19: Cameron Maybin #24 of the San Diego Padres steals second base as shortstop Thomas Field #6 of the Colorado Rockies takes the late throw at Coors Field on September 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

If the site advertising themes didn't clue you in, there's a movie coming out this weekend. A movie starring Brad Pitt. A movie about baseball. A movie that was a book. A book, written by Michael Lewis, called Moneyball. That's right, not written by Billy Beane, despite what Joe Morgan would have you believe.

The concept of Moneyball is that baseball is an unfair game. Teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs, they just flat out have more money than other teams in the league. Whether they make wise spending decisions or not, the fact is that they can make them. Billy Beane's Athletics found themselves in a financial jam, unable to spend money on the big names they wanted. They had to try and find an edge, find a way of acquiring baseball talent on the absolute cheap while filling holes and remaining competitive. This is Moneyball. It's a mistake to say that Moneyball is purely stats. 

Advanced stats were the original Moneyball because at the time, Scouting, AVG, RBI, Pitching Wins - that was all the talent evaluators needed to see. At the time, it was fine. But with the high RBI/AVG/whatever guys going for the big bucks, the Athletics needed to find something else. Enter OBP and its ensuing children. Now, OBP wasn't anything new, but it was largely overlooked by the baseball world. The Athletics were able to find guys who posted good OBP numbers who weren't being clamored for by the big money teams, and had a nice run of success with them.

The most common "Moneyball" strategy is just to build from within. It's cheaper... and sort of works. The Rockies very clearly build from within, but they don't display the detachment from their players necessary to succeed in the perpetual Youth movement.  Moneyball is more about finding an edge that other teams DON'T have. Finding the NEW Moneyball is what so many small-budget teams are looking for. Royals Review suggests that it's veteran FA players. Pinstripe Alley points out back-end starters as the new market inefficiency. The Rockies clearly feel that their road to success is going to be young players and bringing in strong-character veterans to round out the team.

It doesn't seem to be working right now.

Market inefficiencies are always tricky to spot. Since the rise of Moneyball, every team has worked that much harder to think outside of the box and find that breed of player that everyone else seems to miss. Now that statistical evaluation has caught on with nearly every MLB club, that inefficiency has been pretty much fully exploited. Frankly, the Rockies don't seem like a club willing enough to take a risk like that anyhow. The Rockies fall more in line with the small-to-mid-market standard MO: fall apart for awhile, get a good flow of minor league talent heading to the majors, grab a few bargain FAs here and there, and voila, a MLB team.

It worked for awhile, but as we've seen with guys like Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins, the Rockies aren't willing to move guys at the most cost effective moments, and as such aren't able to reinforce their minor league depth with quality prospects, and instead bring in overpaid marginal FAs. As far as running a baseball team in a relatively cost-effective way, the Rockies are certainly well established in that group. But finding means of consistent success? That eludes them yet.

Is there an unexplored area of the market you think the Rockies could capitalize on? Or am I wrong, and the Rockies ARE a Moneyball team, and I just missed it?

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