Could Billy Beane end up with Angels?
If there is one team that could entice Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane into leaving Oakland, it’s probably the LA Angels, not the Chicago Cubs.
Beane practically would be going home; he is from San Diego. He finally would be joining a high-revenue franchise. Yet in Anaheim, he would face little of the outsized pressures that he would experience in an intense market such as New York, Boston or Chicago.
The Angels, following the abrupt resignation of Tony Reagins on Friday, suddenly need a general manager. The team has not yet indicated the type of GM it wants. Most in the industry perceived Reagins as a mere functionary for owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia.
Beane, the Athletics’ GM since 1998, would have no interest in such a subservient role — his strong beliefs made him the subject of a book, and now a movie — “Moneyball.” He also is under contract through 2014, and holds a four percent ownership stake in the A’s.
Still, it would be understandable if Beane was growing restless.
He rejected a five-year, $12.5 million offer from the Red Sox after the 2002 season, in part because he wanted to stay close to his daughter Casey, who then was living in southern California (she is now in college). The intensity of a large market never seemed to suit him. But in Oakland, he is rotting in baseball jail.
The Athletics continue to await a decision from baseball on whether they will be allowed to relocate to San Jose. Even if baseball approves, it will be years before the franchise begins to realize the benefits of any move.
Athletics owner Lewis Woolf recently indicated that he would not prevent Beane from interviewing with the Cubs. Woolf might be more reluctant to allow Beane to depart for a division rival, but he recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I would never inhibit anyone from bettering themselves because of a contract.”
The Athletics, undone by injuries, limited resources and their unappealing ballpark, have not had a winning season since 2006. Beane, though, is still viewed within the industry as a bright, formidable executive, and he surely would be energized by a new challenge.
Assuming the Angels want him.
The first question, perhaps, would be whether Beane could co-exist with Scioscia, who is signed through 2018 and exerts more power within his organization than almost every other manager.
Beane and Scioscia are hardly philosophical twins; Beane favors advanced statistical analysis, while Scioscia occasionally makes decisions in defiance of the numbers.
On the other hand, Beane and Scioscia undoubtedly share a mutual respect from competing against each other in the AL West. The combination of the two, even if they sometimes disagreed, would give the Angels an enviable braintrust.
The team obviously could use another significant voice; the ill-fated trades for Vernon Wells and Scott Kazmir reflected poor decision-making, whether Reagins was the driving force behind such deals or not.
Some player agents say Reagins employed a peculiar negotiating strategy with free agents. He might only have been receiving direction from Moreno. But to get the players they want, the Angels need to adopt a different style.
Maybe the Angels would prefer a rising executive such as White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn than an established veteran such as Beane. Regardless, it’s time for the team to install an actual GM.
Beane, at the very least, needs to be on the Angels’ list.