Billy Beane looking like a genius

For someone that considers the A’s general manager the most overrated GM in baseball, that’s a tough headline to write.

But it just might be true.

Analysts wonder what the hell Beane was doing over the winter when he traded three All-Star pitchers: Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey.

A’s fans were left scratching their heads, wondering what their GM was doing to their beloved team.

But as the 2012 regular season gets begins this week, those three pitchers have had a spring training they’d rather forget.

Cahill, an All-Star in 2010, was tagged with a 6.39 ERA in 12 2/3 innings pitched this spring with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He made four starts and never managed to make it through five innings in any of those starts. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale quoted a scout who said Cahill looked like he was “throwing (batting practice) out there.”

Bailey, the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, is set for surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching hand. Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine thinks Bailey is out until at least the All-Star break in July.

Bailey was having a solid spring before the injury. In six innings pitched this spring, he only gave up three runs and struck out seven.

Gio Gonzalez, the ace of the A’s staff last season, was having a great spring until he face-planted against the Cardinals on March 22, giving up eight runs. He settled down in his last two starts, giving up just four runs in 10 innings and striking out 13.

The A’s snatched a number of promising young players in those trades, but the sleeper of the Gonzalez deal was lefty Tom Milone. He wasn’t considered a top prospect—- the A’s also received Brad Peacock, AJ Cole and Derrick Norris — but Milone pitched well enough this spring to earn the #3 slot in the starting rotation.

And who can forget the stealthy signing of Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. When it seemed like Beane had put the A’s into rebuilding mode, the GM snuck in and stole the center fielder away from the Miami Marlins.

Again, experts were wondering why Beane would make such a move, especially after they re-signed Coco Crisp.

But Cespedes gives the A’s a power bat that they desperately need, and in a market when elite bats are routinely getting $15-20 million per season, $9 million for Cespedes doesn’t seem so bad.

Oh, and Cespedes is another trade chip Beane can flip in two or three years. He’ll probably look like a genius then as well.