Billy Beane's reality: His A's can't do 'total rebuild' like Cubs, Astros

Billy Beane recently expounded upon some of the challenges he faces as the Oakland Athletics' GM. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Houston Astros seem to have struck gold with 21-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa, who was the perfect midseason addition to the Astros' young, talented lineup as the team rode its power and 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel to a playoff berth. The Chicago Cubs have great young position players popping up left and right, and they have spent good money in the past 12 or so months to add some reliable veterans to that core. Both teams appear to have very bright futures.

The Oakland Athletics, meanwhile, just signed a reliever with a lengthy injury history to a three-year deal (Ryan Madson) and traded away their 25-year-old third baseman (Brett Lawrie) for two mid-level pitching prospects.

It's fair to question those moves. It's fair to wonder why they seem to be moving in two directions at once. In fact, it's fair to ask where the team is headed and what in the world A's executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane is up to now.

So I did.

At last week's winter meetings, I asked Beane, he of "Moneyball" fame, why he wouldn't do a tear-it-down, sell-all-assets rebuild like the Cubs and Astros did, like the Braves and Brewers appear to be doing now and maybe what the Reds are in the early stages of doing. Doesn't that approach help you get higher draft picks and collect talent for your next run? Doesn't that help you find those young, cost-controlled players that drive winning teams?

Beane saw things differently -- and uniquely, of course.