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Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane was, at one time, the poster boy for everything Chicago Cubs’ Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts says he wants in a GM: bright, successful, blending traditional scouting with advanced statistical analysis, and always emphasizing player development.

Indeed, if it were 2006, you can bet the Cubs would be banging down Beane’s door just for the chance to speak to him. But in the five years that followed, the luster on Beane’s shoulders has dimmed, and the A’s haven’t had a winning season.

But, because of that poster-boy stuff, and the fact that Beane does satisfy Ricketts’ criteria for the next Cubs GM, odds are good the Cubs will want to talk to him.

And they can. And he’ll probably listen.

Beane, who is signed through 2014, is close friends with A’s owner Lew Wolff. Because of that relationship, presumably, Wolff recently said that he “would never inhibit anybody from bettering themselves because of a contract.” In other words, if the Cubs come asking about Beane and he’d like to talk to them, Wolff won’t stand in the way.

Based on a San Francisco Chronicle article, it sounds like Beane would probably be happy to entertain the Cubs’ entreaties.

Beane made a legendary comment after the A’s lost to Boston in the 2003 Division Series – “Give me $50 million” for a promise of more postseason success. He’d get that extra $50 million with the Cubs and a chance to bring Chicago’s North Side a championship after 103 years without one, which would crown him Emperor of the Midwest.

Instead of Marco Scutaro, he’d be wooing Albert Pujols, a bit more fruitful asset. But Beane paraded down this road before, accepting and then rejecting a five-year contract to run the Red Sox. He liked the challenge (and freedom to wear flip-flops) in Oakland as well as the creativity required to equip David (not Forst) against Goliath.

But a guy can maintain passion only so long when the leaders of his industry think so unfavorably of his franchise that they ask it to sit tight for 29 months on an issue that should be front and center.

The issue to which the article refers is the current home of the A’s. A big reason the team has been middling for years is because of a stadium that doesn’t afford ownership the opportunity to spend the kind of money it needs to in order to be competitive year after year.

Of the stadium woes, Beane said last week, “The biggest problem is that until we get a stadium, it’s going to be treading water for us. There cannot be any long-term planning. It’s likely to get worse before it gets any better.” Digging the A’s out of this hole is certainly a challenge worthy of Beane’s apparent talents, but, with no immediate solution on the horizon, you’d forgive him for looking to escape and take on something more surmountable.

Ultimately, it’s hard to know what you’d be getting in Beane. He continues to develop good players, but his team has not been successful in half a decade. Was he a flash in the pan? Was he simply ahead of his time, and, when Beane failed to continue innovating, the rest of baseball caught up? Or is he a man who could reinvent the game again if he had the resources?

Whatever the case, you can expect that the Cubs will take Wolff up on that offer to let other teams speak to Beane.

  • Fishin Phil

    I’m not sure how I feel about Beane. He is ahead of Colletti on my list, but so is Toosh.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Don’t hire Toosh. He doesn’t care about making the Hall of Fame.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        (And Toosh, I hope you know I’m just bustin’ your chops.)

        • Toosh

          Yes, Brett, I know that. 1 more reason I like this site. The posters know there stuff and aren’t afraid to opine or debate.

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          Jeez, it’s been a while since we’ve had a good flame war around here. Come ON, Ray-Bob, hit him back!

      • Toosh

        I do agree with you on that, Brett. If I were a successful, young GM or if I had my choice, a successful, young Major League baseball player, my focus would be on that day. I guarantee you I would never be looking into the future wondering if I was going to make the Hall of Fame someday. I know it seems to mean a lot to some these “juicers” like Clemens and McGwire, but to me, if I had that talent, I wouldn’t even think about the Hall of Fame until maybe near the end of my career.

  • Jeff

    Everyone says he hasn’t had recent success, but until injuries took hold, he had built another pretty good starting rotation. I don’t see too many position players that they A’s have produced under Beane, but I do think the additional money for draft picks, scouting, and free agents would only serve to amplify what Beane is good at. I would take Beane over Colletti, Rick Hahn, and most of the other guys that have been mentioned. I think if it’s not a big name like Beane or Epstein, they need to go the assistant GM route and let their own guy grow into the job, as opposed to hiring a re-tread or has been like Colletti.

    • Drake

      He’s had some success as far as developing position players: Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher, etc.

  • Coal

    Nothing against Billy Beane, Michael Lewis, or Brad Pitt. I like all of them. But I think Billy Beane would be the wrong fit for the Ricketts-Cubs, precisely because it feels like the kind of knee jerk reaction we’ve seen so many times this last decade. Beane was as hot as any baseball commodity. (Emphasis, “was”.) He’s would be the GM equivalent of Soriano (pretty amazing in his prime, but his best years were behind him by the time the Cubs got involved). Picking Beane would be like picking Pinella over Girardi. We need to find somebody that is on the upward trajectory with staying power. If Ricketts expect us to be patient with a quasi-rebuild, then we need to be patient regarding the next GM. It will take some time. And we need somebody with talent, but also somebody who is willing to work the hours and the angles that somebody whose entire reputation and livelihood depends on their success in this role. I don’t think you can get that (anymore) with Beane.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Though there are a lot of things we don’t know as outsiders, I gotta say, this sums up what my gut is telling me about Beane, but which I couldn’t quite articulate. Well put.

      • Caleb

        Agreed

    • Drake

      Soriano, Beane comparison is absolutely terrible.

  • philoe beddoe

    I would be fine with Beane…new ownership with $ in Texas and Anaheim have made that a tough division to compete in….

    as long as it’s an experienced candidate

  • hardtop

    Is Freidman off the list? He reminds me of Beane (able to do a lot with a little) and Epstein (using a combination of free agent/vets and system guys to field a good team). He’s obviously neither of them, but still a good candidate becasue he has similarities to both… unless he’s been taken out of the running for some reason I missed. I like his youth too. If Epstein would leave boston he’d be my first choice. But I’d take Freidman over Beane. BB seems over committed to his style of analysis and may pass on someone simply becasue they “scout well” using the traditional metrics. I’m not convinced his way is the only way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Friedman is most definitely NOT off the list (though, of course, given the tight-lipped nature of the search, none of us TRULY knows the list) as far as any of us know.

  • dreese

    Im not sure about beane. Yes, he still might be just as good as we once thought but with the A’s club going down the toilet his talent could be hidden. But I agree more with Coal than anything

  • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

    I really don’t much care for Billy Beane. While my reasons include most of the concerns raised above, mostly I’m still pissed that *every* *damn* 1987 Topps wax pack that I bought contained his useless, worthless card. I couldn’t trade those away for ANYTHING.

  • philoe beddoe

    sorry but NONE of those 1987 Topps cards are worth anything…you might get a buck for the Bonds…

    • miggy80

      I got a pretty sweet Rafael Palmeiro Future star 87′ topps that I’ll sell you for 75

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        How’s about we trade. I’ve got a Luis Quinones and a Mike Greenwell for that Palmeiro. Deal?

        • miggy80

          I was all about getting Mike Green back in the day. Throw in a Bo Jackson Future Star and I’ll throw in Zane Smith

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            Man, this discussion is getting me all choked up. Soon you’re gonna tell me you have Donruss ’88 puzzle pieces, too.

            • miggy80

              I DO! and a whole slue of 82′ and 83′ Donruss that my neighbor gave me when I was a little kid. It started my collection. I got a pretty good Andre Dawson with the expos in that plie, oh and an 84 O’peeche Chilli Davis I would trade for a Billy Ripken 89′ Fleer error card

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Right. Now they’re worth nothing, but back then? Man, that set was killer!

    • miggy80

      75 cents

    • MichiganGoat

      this has really made me want to drive to my mother’s and look through my cards

      • miggy80

        If you find a Damon Berryhill I’ll trade you for my Oil Can Body

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        About 8 years ago, my mom moved out of the house the we grew up and moved to MN. At that time I went back and went through *thousands* of cards in shoeboxes, sleeves, binders, and paper bags… and realized that I had a terrible card collection. I was so proud of it, too!

        How many packs of (fill in the blank) did I buy to acquire a complete set? It’s insane the number of couch cushions, car seats, etc. that I turned over to find 25 cents to ride my bike up to Osco to buy another wax pack, inevitably to fail to find what I needed, and get stuck with another Dante Bichette Rated Rookie card.

        I condensed everything down to one binder and one small card box, which are now gathering dust somewhere in the back of my basement closet. One of these days, I’m positive that the Jerome Walton Bowman rookie card I have will put my son through college.

        • miggy80

          I have the same exact crappy collection that I believe is priceless. I would collect cans from my dads softball games and on the street when I was out riding my bike and when I had 20 cans saved up, a dallor, I would go by Baseball cards and the occasional pack of Garbage Pal Kids.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            Man, you kids lucky enough to live in a can/bottle deposit state had it made!

            • MichiganGoat

              Yeah but as an adult it sucks, there is nothing as dirty as the return area of a grocery store… the smell, the horror

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I have an awesome collection. And it isn’t worth shit.

          • Kyle N

            This makes me think of tbe old Simpsons episode where Milhouse and his girlfriend are making out and Bart is trading baseball cards with him.

            “I’ll take your 1958 Mickey Mantle for my Omar Vizquel.”. . .
            *Holding up a bent card*
            “Deal!”

            The funny thing is when that episode came out, Vizquel was early in his career and hadn’t done much yet. Haha.

            • Caleb

              Lolz

  • Toosh

    Speaking of new GMs, 3 Cubs cleared waivers. Ramirez, Soriano and Zambrano. Hey, Randy Bush, you have 3 days. How about you DO SOMETHING, besides keeping the chair warm. On second thought, make more excuses.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Grabow cleared as well. Shocker.

    • BT

      What do you want him to do? They cleared waivers because NO ONE WANTS THEM. All 3 have no trade clauses, all 3 are prohibitively expensive, and the only one people would want has stated that he won’t waive his NTC. What is your solution for getting rid of a guy who has 3 more years at almost 20 million a year, a guy who is currently suspended for being a tool, and a guy who won’t let you trade him?

  • Toosh

    I’m thinking Soriano to Texas. Cruz is going to be out for a while.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It certainly would be a time to strike – if the Cubs can get *literally* just $3 million per year in savings over the next three years (i.e., they eat this year, and $15 million each of the next three years), they should do it. Just get what you can, and move on.

    • MichiganGoat

      Doesn’t Texas hate Sori, I thought I heard he really burned some bridges there

  • Kyle N

    The drafting strategies have changed dramatically since the “Moneyball era. It used to be about college players and their stats. Billy Beane took advantage of that to the fullest and now the landscape has changed. Oakland has a lot of good pitching, but their hitting is terrible. Their draft picks may have not panned out, which happens. Keith Law has since pointed out how teams are now taking a throwback approach and are drafting high-school position players with huge athletic upside at the top of the draft and are looking for pitching later.

    As for the who might be Cubs GM. . .

    Let the record stand that I would LOVE Andrew Friedman to become GM of the Chicago Cubs.

    That being said, I’m sure his job security is assured in Tampa Bay if he goes that route. With a much smaller payroll he knows he can’t afford top free-agents, so he trades them for players and prospects he believes are undervalued or lets them sign elsewhere. Emphasis is put on drafting the best players. His mentality would still be a lot similar if he jumped to Houston, a bigger market team (but still not big-market) in complete disarray. The small-market caters to his strengths.

    Does he have to deal with overpaying a declining legend like Derek Jeter simply because of his past contributions? Nope.
    What about overpaying to keep a fan-favorite? Negative. Crawford was the closest thing to a franchise player and it was clear they weren’t going to re-sign him.
    If he gets a job with a bigger market team, these are things he’ll have to deal with, adding another potential wrinkle to his decision-making.
    This is no knock on Friedman and Beane, both incredibly successful GMs. They strike me as the kind of guys who have a great chance succeed in a big market. This is simply fact. The biggest stage means the failures of a trade/free-agent deal are more amplified.

    I’m just saying, if you were a young baseball executive surveying the job market, what would seem like an ideal job for you?

    A) Staying in your element, managing a smaller payroll with efficiency, past successes making your job secure, with much less stress.

    or

    B) Enter a high-risk/high-reward situation where you might have to think out of your comfort-zone way more than you had to. The money is much more, but the possibility of getting fired is much more. Think Paul DePodesta in LA. . . (For the record, I think he deserved way more time and his firing was a knee-jerk reaction)

    It takes a certain kind of person to be successful long-term with option B. It’s similar to the situation when a successful small-college coach makes the jump to a major program. Or a major coach jumping to the professional ranks.

    Even Theo Epstein (again, an AWESOME GM) has made some interesting (some would say questionable, or even flat-out mistake) signings, proof that pressure from the owners, the media, and the Yankees may have forced him to make these moves when he would have preferred not.

    7-years/$142 million for Carl Crawford, a guy who is entering his early 30s who is having a dreadful year with a .251/.285/.388 line with 17 SB in 434 PA? (all career lows for a full season, the second-lowest slugging percentage)
    I think he’ll bounce back next season, but that is a LOT of money to pay a guy who had his best season last year, in his prime, during a contract year.

    John Lackey. Daisuke Matazuska. Mike Cameron.
    Mistakes can happen. Hindsight can be a bitch.

    The point is, he has done way more right than wrong, especially with the development of young players and signing of other key free-agents to make Boston an incredibly competitive team during his tenure. I’m hoping that ownership and the fans are patient. We can’t expect perfection from a GM, even someone with positive track records like Epstein, Friedman, and Beane.

    Thoughts?

    • hardtop

      nice comment. no one is perfect. i’d probably be happy with any of them though you’ve made excellent points about all. conisdering we have so much “junk” on the books and we’ve had a poor farm system for quite some time, Im willing to be patient with whoever the Cubs select (as long as it isnt coletti). I am a little worried about Ricketts making this decision though. as much as he wants to be a baseball guy, he’s still learning….

      • Fishin Phil

        ” I am a little worried about Ricketts making this decision though. as much as he wants to be a baseball guy, he’s still learning….”

        Really? I get less worried about Ricketts and his decision making abilities everyday. He seems to take his time and make well thought out decisions. I also like that he keeps things close to the vest until he is actually ready to make an announcement.

        • hardtop

          oh, dont get me wrong, im less worried than i would have been before the draft or before the hendry shit-canning… but im still just a *little* worried. He’s obviously a student of the game, but im assuming front office “smarts” aren’t aquired overnight (or even over a couple year period). I’d just feel a lot better if a life time baseball guru were advising him… and all evidence suggests that crane kenney is as knowledgable about baseball as my 3 year old daughter.

          • MichiganGoat

            I’m sure he has some very baseball minded individuals advising him through this decision, we will just never hear who they might be until after the GM is signed.

            • Fishin Phil

              He did say he would be getting input from other owners and baseball execs on what he should be looking for.

            • Lou

              Well, Hunsicker is one guy.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I know it’s stupid to point to one extreme example and have that stand as your point, but I’m going to do it anyway:

            Andrew Friedman, the guy we all want as GM, was a 28 year-old financial analyst in 2004. A year and a half later after being the team’s Director of Development, Friedman was the Tampa Bay GM. It doesn’t always take a lot of time.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Kyle – I love these long comments. I hope they are still your style, let’s say, for at least another week… (oooh, cryptic…)

      While you might be right that the small market guys would be better served staying in the small pond, I’m sure at least a handful WANT the high risk/high reward, heavy-scrutiny type job. But you’re right, I’m sure there are more failures than successes.

      • MichiganGoat

        ohhh tease away, tease away

  • Cheryl

    There may be only a few that want to make the leap into the cubs hot seat. Cushman may find it uncomfortable with the Steinbreners but he is a New Yorker. Friedman has it made where he is. Beane may want to change addresses but there is a question of fit. Hahn is probably available but again the fit may not be right. Epstein is comfortable where he is. Do I dare bring up Ng? She’d probbly relish the challenge, but the likelihood of her being GM is close to nil. So, the question is who would be a really good fit? (You notice I leave out Byrne and Colletti)

    • bacboris

      Cheryl, that’s a good observation but I have to point out how much faith this new GM will need from the base. The reason why Friedman would be so good, is that even if we suck for the next 2 to 3 years, very few will be calling for his head because of incompetence/ineptitude. That same thing goes for Epstein.

      While Coal (earlier up in the comments) made a good note about the new GM being hungry, there has to be a quality track record to appease the fans. Ng and Hahn don’t have that and no matter what they do it will make things far more difficult. Just like behavioral economics, perception is very much in question here. With the same trade deadline, if Friedman, Epstein, or Anthopoulos had done nothing many fans would still be going to Wrigley and blogs would write about the smart play being to stand pat. Put in other names, and they would have a new hole ripped by the media or bloggers.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        For the record, if the new GM was in place before this season, and things played out exactly as they did, I’d be shredding that guy (or gal). But your point is a good one.

      • Cheryl

        Your observations about Friedman and Epstein make sense. All we can do is wait and see what happens. I like both and would be happy with either one.

  • Dude-er

    the cubs need like an Oceans 11 type cast for the role of GM.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. I love it.

  • Coal

    Well put, Brett. Hungry but with a quality track record to appease the fans. Needs to have sufficient “street cred” but also upside. That’s where Friedman seems to make more and more sense to me (as the ideal candidate, not saying he’d take it).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agreed.

  • cubsklm

    Small market GM vs Large market GM. Really has nothing to do with Ricketts criteria.
    1. Player development – no one can argue with Friedman’s record there.
    2. A high tech GM – again Friedman fits the bill.
    3. MLB experience – no problem there either.

    I have no problem with a guy earning his chops in a small market, as prep for a big market.
    I think the skills transfer. This is a top 5 job. If Friedman doesn’t want to come, then he is not hungry, and not the right guy. We want a climber, an aggressive, energetic GM up to the challenge.

  • Dave

    Can Beane bring along a 2003-era Mulder, Hudson, Zito, Giambi and Tejada?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m pretty sure it’s a package deal.

    • JulioZuleta

      Talk about falling off the map after that, Hudson and Mulder couldn’t sustain that type of pace, Zito became arguably (actually really hard to argue against it) the most overpaid player in baseball. Giambi did the juice, Tejada did the juice andddd turned out to be a few years older than the sheet of paper written in crayon, aka “birth certificate” said he was.

  • Sam

    I would love to see Beane as the next GM, I think Beane could thrive in Chcago, especially given the resources he would have in Chicago as opposed to what he got in Oaklan (where he had almost no money.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Many folks think that’s the way the wind is blowing.

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