Oakland A’s Moneyball Draft of 2002…Intangible Assets?

 Michael D. Moberly   September 11, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’.

The frequently overlooked, under-used, and under-valued 900 pound elephants always present in conference rooms…

Unfortunately, for many companies, their intangible assets remain the overlooked, under-used, and under-valued ‘900 pound’ economic and competitive advantage elephant’ sitting un-noticed, unattended, and unclearly defined in conference rooms globally.

Below reflects  a perspective gleaned from an interaction between Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane and his player scouts and development staff extracted from the film Moneyball regarding the famed “Moneyball” draft of 2002.

Beane:  We’re trying to solve a problem here, but you are trying to solve the problem as you still see it, which is the same way Major League Baseball has approached it for the past 120 years by finding ballplayers to replace ballplayers!  You want to find another Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon, but both are gone, their history!

Scouts:  I think we all know what the problem is.  There is a lot of experience in this room and you need to let us do our job of replacing two key players, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon.

Beane: But, you are not looking at the real problem!

Scouts: No, we are very aware of the problem!

Beane: OK, so what’s the problem?

Scouts:  We have to replace two star players.

Beane:  NO!  The problem we are trying to solve is that you scouts are sitting around talking the same old ‘body’ non-sense, like you’re selling blue jeans and looking for another Fabio!  We’ve got to think differently about how we find ballplayers, assemble a team, and put a team on the field!

Scouts:  Sounds like fortune cookie wisdom to me.

Beane:  NO!  It’s just logic!

Beane:  There is epidemic failure in the game of baseball. Baseball is medieval.  Teams are asking the wrong questions because they don’t understand what is really happening. This leads the people who run MLB teams to misjudge their players. People who run ball clubs think in terms of buying players!

Beane:  Their goal should not be to buy players, their goal should be to buy wins, and in order to buy wins a team needs to buy runs, and what I see is an imperfect understanding of where runs come from or how runs are generated!

Scouts:  But baseball is not just about numbers. Google boy here just doesn’t know what we know.  He doesn’t have our experience or our intuition.  There are ‘intangibles’ that only baseball people like us who know and understand.  You are simply discounting what baseball scouts and player development staff have done for the past 120 years.  So, we don’t care what you think, because MLB thinks the way we think with our evaluative experience and our intuition.  This is not a game about statistics it’s a game about people!

Beane:  We will find value in players which no one else sees!  Good players are routinely overlooked or dismissed for a variety of biased reasons, mostly because this is the way we’ve always done it! Are there really other players out there like Giambi and Damon?  No!  So, what we can do is recreate Giambi and Damon in the aggregate!

Scouts:  Yes, but will they get on base?

Beane:  Do I really care how a ballplayer gets on base, whether it’s by a hit or a walk?  On-base percentage is what we’re looking for now!  This is the new direction of the Oakland A’s.  We are now card counters!

Beane:  The truth is, we can find 25 winning players because everyone else in baseball under values them.  So, if we try to approach the game the same way it’s been done for the past 120 years, then we will lose on the field!  MLB teams must adapt or die!

Beane:  It’s a process…it’s a process…it’s a process!

Similar to Billy Beane’s perspectives, intangible asset strategists  have an attitude about…

  • the way many management teams and companies conduct business and engage in transactions often without regard for the intangible assets they are producing and will inevitably be in play, and
  • the economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability today lie in – evolve directly from intangible assets. (Brookings Institution, Intangibles Project) 

It’s simply no longer business as usual, regardless of management teams’ wishes or past practice!


Each blog post is researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serves as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   Most of my posts focus on issues related to identifying, unraveling, and sustaining control, use, ownership, and monitoring asset value, materiality, and risk.  As such, my blog posts are not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected. Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected and always appreciated. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or [email protected].


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