Meet the Cubs’ GM Candidates Cheat Sheet: Billy Beane

[This series intends to introduce you to each of the legitimate Chicago Cubs GM candidates, and give you a quick, clean rundown of the most important information to know about that candidate as the Cubs' search process continues. Previously: Brian Cashman, Theo EpsteinAndrew Friedman.]

Name and Age: Billy Beane, 49.

Current Role and Contract Status: Oakland A’s General Manager since 1998. His current salary is something north of $1 million per year, and he’s under contract through 2014. He also holds a 4% ownership interest in the team.

Previously on BN: Beane Likely Permitted to Speak to Cubs, Beane Bullets,  More Bullets, Still More Bullets, Even More Bullets

Record in Current Role: The A’s haven’t had a winning record in half a decade, but, before that, the team was a constant playoff contender under Beane’s watch. They made the playoffs five times in the first seven years of the 2000s, but advanced beyond the first round only once (in 2006, before being swept by the Tigers in the ALCS).

Notable Prior Experience: Beane is an Oakland A’s lifer, at least as far as his executive experience goes. He started as an advanced scout before becoming an assistant GM under Sandy Alderson in the early 1990s. Before that, Beane was a terrible baseball player, bouncing around in six seasons as a reserve outfielder. Beane was famously the Red Sox’s first choice for GM in the early 2000s before he backed out, leaving the job to Theo Epstein.

Reason(s) for Including as Candidate: Beane is considered the father of the use of modern statistical analysis in big league front offices, whether that title is deserved or not. With his recent years in Oakland marred by an ownership group that is unwilling to spend until a new stadium is opened (and a stadium that won’t be opened until MLB helps the A’s out, which has been some three years in waiting), many speculate that Beane is ready to move on to something else.

Tom Ricketts’ Criteria: Track record of success in a winning organization? Check. Demonstrated commitment to player development? Check. Strong analytical background? Big check.

Pros/Hype: Setting aside the zeitgeist associated with the ‘Moneyball’ movie, Beane has been a big name in the baseball world for a long time – and deservedly so. He’s smart, able, successful, and willing to take chances. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of guy who could finally do it for the Cubs? Beane combines a background in scouting with his current understanding of statistical analysis, and surrounds himself with assistants who help drive his model.

Cons/Cynical Criticism: Beane’s recent celebrity obscures his recent failures. The A’s have been terrible for a number of years, and, given Beane’s claim to fame, it’s hardly fair that he could use ownership’s refusal to spend big bucks as a shield. His team has not had a winning record in five years. How much credit does Beane deserve for the A’s success in the early 2000s, and how much credit goes to the prior regime, which drafted huge talent? Sure, Beane helped develop Hudson/Zito/Mulder, but any team with those three was going to win some games. Further, like the three previous candidates in this series (Epstein, Cashman, and Friedman), Beane would cost the Cubs big bucks. He’s a part owner of the A’s, after all.

Desirability: High. With Beane’s background and personality, it’s impossible to see him not being an upgrade in Chicago. While he’s running the show in a smaller market, he is always the subject of intense scrutiny, and has been since the 2003 publication of ‘Moneyball’ (the book). Rather than wilt under that pressure, he’s flourished. Call it a hunch, but he feels like a guy who could excel under the thumb of Chicago fans and media. I like that he’s got a great deal of experience (albeit in one place), and comes from a scouting background (but isn’t married to the scouting approach).

Likelihood/Probable Outcome: Low, but higher than Epstein/Cashman/Friedman. While many speculate that Beane would be all too happy to look around, it’s just that – speculation. He apparently enjoys being out West, and let’s not forget: he did turn down the Red Sox once. Maybe a great deal has changed since then, but if past is prologue, the Cubs might find him uninterested in taking the leap – Beane has been a part of the A’s organization for 23 years. You’ve also got to wonder whether Beane’s outsized personality might clash with an owner who clearly wants to be involved in baseball operations. I suspect Beane is a guy whom the Cubs will target for an interview, and, I’d say it’s better than 50/50 that Beane takes the interview. From there, of course, anything can happen.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

25 responses to “Meet the Cubs’ GM Candidates Cheat Sheet: Billy Beane”

  1. die hard

    Brad Pitt would do a better job….I expect candidate favored by Ricketts will be low profile and without baggage so can control him and wont have to worry about skeletons…so far none meeting this criteria have been mentioned in press….wouldnt rule out someone with solid major league experience who currently is in minors….would cost less and be under radar

    1. Bails17

      Why do you say that Die Hard.  What has Ricketts done that makes you think he is a “dictator” type of owner.  I think you are being a little bit too critical here.  I would have a hard time believing that he would turn down one of the big three (Epstein, Cashman, Fiedman) for some one you say he can control.  Just because he wants to be involved doesn’t make him a control freak.  I could see him passing on Beane because of his lack of recent success, but not the other three.

      1. CubFan Paul

        i totally agree with Die Hard & ricketts has done more than enough to show that he wants to be involved

        1. Bails17

          You are forgetting the fact that Rickett’s involvement was NEEDED.  Hell…he fired his GM.  What did you expect?

           

          1. CubFan Paul

            NEEDED? i’m forgetting? or Die Hard is forgetting? ever read any of my posts pertaining to Ricketts? my picture? he was NEEDED 2years ago to make changes and build a winner when he first bought the team, maybe You forgot or disagree with that, but i am a Die Hard Fan and have forgotten nothing. The Cubs Suck Now because he was NEEDED and did NOTHING

            1. Jeff

              I’m not going to say he’s done a ton, or even that he’s done enough.  When he bought the team it was coming off of back to back division titles for the first time in franchise history.  So saying he should have cleaned house the first off season he was here, is ridiculous to say the least.

              1. CubFan Paul

                ridiculous? i didnt say Clean House. i said make changes & build a winner.. he didnt. he cut payroll

                1. EQ76

                  none of this is the true problem with this team.. clean house, don’t clean house, ricketts,.etc.  The true problem is that Lee, ARam, Big Z, Soriano all started degressing.. all of our big contract players started declining in 2010 and have gotten worse.  that’s why we suck now.

                  Go to any team and analyze their top 4 or 5 paid players, we are by far worse off in that area.  (Big Z, Soriano, Demp, ARam, Fukudome)  All are making over 14 mil this year and only ARam has come close to earning it.  That is why we suck, plain and simple.

                  We can win next year if our top paid players perform.. whoever they are, if they play well, we’ll be better.

                2. Jeff

                  He took over the team at the end of October 09, so that offseason was already under way, so I’m not sure what you wanted a guy who just took over a team to do.  The payroll hasn’t been reduced, the contracts of the veterans hit their elevated years, the payroll has been pretty consistent.  He has been in charge for exactly one full off season, which was last year.  Since he took over he’s been pouring money into international scouting, the Dominican project, the new Spring Training facility, and invested heavily in the draft and international signings.  I don’t see why he is getting so much flack for holding his cards for this season, when it’s pretty clear from all of his moves and non-moves that he has been building towards this off season where the new gm and new manager can help him shape the team.

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    the playoffs were still underway October 9th & didnt end until November…

                    And Ricketts did lower the 2010 payroll

                    And he’s been in charge for 2 full seasons: 2010 & 2011

                    “pouring” money in the new Dominican facility? not really, that project was in works/on the books before he bought the team & correct me if i’m wrong but I don’t think the construstion has even begun yet! so no pouring here..

                    “pouring” money in the new Spring Training Facility? not one dollar ..The city of Mesa is paying for it, remember Ricketts personally leveraging Mesa against a Florida city to see who would pay up?

                    “pouring” money in international scouting? 4 or 5 latin players this year but no top latin players like these were signed last year ..invested heavily in the draft? what about the 2010 draft? It was only this year – 2011, that he invested $10-12million into the amateur draft. He was in charge in 2010 when Wilkens & Fleita had only scraps to work with, just like with previous owners, so let’s not overstate it

                    1. Jeff

                      He did not take over the team until October 31st.  Which was after the season, he had a gm in place with a team coming off of back to back division titles, so clearly drastic change wasn’t the order of the day there.  I can also understand his hesitance to spend big money this past offseason while allowing the most successful gm in team history have one last shot at making a playoff run without mortgaging the future.  Which is also why I can almost forgive the idea of letting Quade manage for a year.  The work he’s been doing behind the scenes seems to point to a man who knew that this is a long term project.  The backwater search for gm candidates, the conversations with Pat Gillick, and the move to lock up Flieta and his army of scouts point to a man with a plan.  The team has bought the land for the Dominican Project and I’m sure that if they are breaking ground in January that some kind of substantial money has changed hands already.  I know the taxpayers are footing most of the bill for the spring training facility, but I don’t see why you would hold that against him.  He is still looking out for the future of the team.  I’m not really sure what free agents you were wanting last off season, but if the bank was open for Hendry, we might be staring at the back end of the Adam Dunn and Carl Crawford deals.  Granted, I would have liked to see him make a run for Cliff Lee, but I’m not sure paying a guy that much when he’s as old as he is was a smart idea either.   And yes, he has been pouring money into the international scouting.  He signed a Korean pitcher for a record international deal as one of his first moves and hasn’t stopped signing guys since.  Aside from Simpson, the draft from last year is looking outstanding in hindsight.  He overpaid for Sczur and Goldon, and the team drafted some pretty good prospects in Gibbs, Kurcz, and Jokisch.  It was an unconventional draft, but it fit with his m.o. for the season in being cautious in long term investments.  I think in all fairness we have to give the guy at least this off season to see what kind of owner he’s going to be.  I also know patience is truly a virtue for Cubs fans and we are all running out of it.  If Mike Quade is retained as manager, and we see Ramirez, Soriano, Pena, and Dempster all return as if nothing bad happened this year, I’ll be sharpening my pitchfork to stand beside you in the unruly mob.  Until then, like you said, let’s not overstate things.

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      i have extra super sharp pitchforks in my shed along with a lot of brooms for the sweeps we didn’t accomplish this year, so no need to waste time sharpening your own

                      you’re blurring the lines on your original claim of Ricketts having only being “in charge for exactly one full off season” ..the 2009 World Series ended November 4th; the team was His & only his at that point making it 2 Full offseasons..

                      You mentioned ‘drastic change wasn’t the order of the day’ after that 2009 WS, again, I didn’t say drastic change Or a cleaning of the house was necessary. i said “Make changes & build a winner” because despite recent success the team was still swept two years in a row and player development was lagging

                      your ‘understanding’ of his hesitance to spend big money this past offseason is agreeable but he did lower the 2011 Big League payroll by at least $10million on an aging team and when long term injuries struck the pitching staff Week 1 he let the team, coaching staff, front office & fans down by not allowing Hendry to make moves for at least average players to keep the team afloat. Hendry had to trade Gorzelanny for magic beans, just to save $2million

                      Your praise to Ricketts’ work behind the scenes is ..well, your praise and faith and too little, too late (in my opinion) It’s a no-brainer that he was looking at this 2011 offseason to ‘make moves’ because of money coming off the books (we all have) but he went cheap in 2010, lowered the payroll even lower in 2011 and made Hendry the media scape-goat to buy time till the offseason and has since disappeared from the media

                      im not holding the Mesa Spring Training thing against him, i was just pointing out he’s not “pouring” money into it, the City is.

                      it’s not so much as what free agents could have helped the Cubs this year, for me it’s limiting Hendry’s resources to put a competitive team on the field in 2011. Forcing the trade of a quality 5th/6th starter in Gorzelanny to ‘save’ $2million, going cheap at 2nd base, not pulling the trigger on Adrian Gonzalez (probably because of the $22mill annually he now gets that he’ll end up spending on Fielder or Pujols this offseason), not telling Silva to “shut up & take the damn ball in AAA” and paying him $12million to pitch for the Yankees AAA team, and most importantly limiting Hendry in the replacement of Wells & Cashner w/ major league ready pitchers.

                      the 2010 draft is looking “outstanding”? Dude thats overstating! LOL! my whole point about the 2010 draft is: everyone is kissing Tom’s ass for the 2011 amateur draft as if he did the same thing for the 2010 draft. he didnt, but just imagine had he gave Wilkens & Fleita $10million dollars (ash tray money for a billionaire) in flexibility in 2010 and add that probability to this 2011 draft class…. i’d be kissing his ass up and down Clarke&Addison ..Ricketts blew off the 2010 draft and season waiting for the 2011 offseason and i’m just sick of people’s excuses on why he did so

                      as far as waiting til this offseason to see what kind of owner he’s going to be, I said the exact same thing Here yesterday when talking about who he hires as the new GM/what type of GM accepts the position (big name guy who wants juice or an assisstant scrub who takes the job because the big name guys turn down the job)

                      to sum up, we agree on most things ..you have more faith in a cheap stranger than i do (cheap in my opinion despite spending $845mil, stranger because he dodges the media know that the team sucks & its barely been 2yrs) ..but to be clear, after the 2009 season I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who thought that Ricketts should have hired a “baseball guy”/President/Baseball Ops Guy/Someone with a strong Analytical Background to report to him since Ricketts himself wasn’t & still isnt a Baseball Guy

            2. Bails17

              @ CubFan Paul:  I just think your wrong then.  He has went about this in the right way.  IF you know anything about business…you need to KNOW your business before you just come in and make a bunch of changes.  He has made PLENTY of changes in my opinion and in the right time frame.  It takes time to BUILD a winner.  And I do have faith that he is doing so.  And just because he cut payroll has nothing to do with him NOT doing enough.  I am happy that he cut payroll if that meant we get to have drafts like we had this year and more of the Latin American signings!  This is clearly his plan and I support that 100%.  Then…when it is time to really spend the money…we will see who is really right about him.

              I have a feeling that when he thinks we have a legit chance…the purse strings will open and open wide!  But until then I don’t blame him one bit for the way he is going about his business!!

              1. CubFan Paul

                you are welcome to your Opinion

                1. Bails17

                  I am curious as to what you would have done differently??

        2. Joe Cartwright

          Again he’s proved he wants to be involved. Not that he wants to completely control who he hires. There’s a huge difference between the two.

          1. JulioZuleta

            I’m a little confused here, so are we suggesting that it would have been better for a guy with zero background in baseball to come in and make over night changes?? I’m not claiming that he’s been a perfect owner, but for the first time in forever, I do see elements of a long term plan. I get it that we all want to win now, hell my great grandpa was born the year AFTER we last won a world series, but we have seen for the past, oh I dont know, 103 years, that the obvious quick fix does not always work. I don’t get it, of course he is going to keep an eye on the GM, would you rather him give some guy a 12 year contract and not evaluate him until year 11? He is the owner, he is signing the huge checks, it’s his right to monitor and protect his investment the best way possible (or at least the best way he thinks is possible). Ricketts is a businessman first, but he also wants to win and understands the type of riot-inducing, gold mine a Cubs World Series would be. He isn’t an idiot. Rome wasn’t built in a day. He has used the laast 2 years to learn the game, make connections. Now is his moment to act. Give him a little time here.

  2. Sam

    Personally Beane is my top pick for GM. He has done a good job in Oakland despite the teams troubles the past few years. Nobody seems willing to give him credit for Trevor Cahill Brett Anderson Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey. The only thing keeping the As from being competative is the lack of money and good player facilities (stadium) to attract good hitters. Beane is a good GM and he will be a good GM in chicago. I think it is very likely that Beane gets the job, (1) the cubs will provide Beane with an oppertunity to redeem himself and to silence his critics (2) sources close to Beane have suggested that he is interested in the Cubs job including the As owner (3) Beane’s biggest issue with the As is a lack of money to attract big players which the cubs will be able to give him.

  3. die hard

    go to http://www.incapital.com/…will get a sense of his management style… control is paramount….whoever he picks will be on very short leash…may get 3-6 yr contract but devils in the details of how terminated …we will never see those details…hes not going to give the keys to the store..he will open up and close each night..and double count the cash register each night and once during the day…as he should cause its his money….not complaining or criticizing..just saying

    1. CubFan Paul

      dead on again DH ..a lot of fans know nothing of InCapital

  4. Cheryl

    Would any of the candidates mentioned so far tahe the job without having some power to make decisions? Ricketts already knows he’ll have to ease off in that area. Naturally Ricketts would want to be kept aware of what is going on with the team. I don’t see that as big an issue as whether the new GM will try to make the team over entirely by trading. The farm system has to be a key part of developing the cubs.

    1. Boogens

      Cheryl’s right about her questions and points. If Ricketts was as much of a micro manager / control freak as he’s being accused of by some, why did he allow Hendry to trade several good minor leaguers for Garza? Why did he let Hendry hire Quade over Sandberg? It’s been widely reported that Ricketts didn’t support either move yet he let Hendry make them. Doesn’t sound like a control freak to me.

      When Ricketts originally assumed control of the team and many suggested that he clean house immediately, he said that he would allow people to do their jobs and he would hold them accountable at a later point. It appears the only genuine limit Hendry had in those two years was the budget, which was still reasonable @ approximately $125 million in 2011 (6th highest in baseball). He allowed Hendry to make the moves he wanted in two offseasons and then held him accountable by firing him when the results weren’t achieved. How does that make him a micro-manager afraid of a strong willed GM?

  5. die hard

    good questions and points….the concern is how strong willed of a gm will Mr. Ricketts allow? Nobody knows. Autonomy often translates into success. This usually includes some access to the cash register. Some like myself believe that Mr. Ricketts will throw around nickels like they were manhole covers (to paraphrase Mike Ditka’s quote on George Halas)…The reference to Mr. Ricketts’ day job as a type of hedge fund manager addresses this concern

  6. business

    Diehard–> Incapital, of the business world which the Ricketts family (Big Papa Ricketts) owns/operates, is COMPLETELY different than baseball. Yes, baseball is a business but not a business that you go to school to learn about how to operate and oversee. The way a family or man operates a business and how the run a sports team could not be further from each other. That’d be the equivalent to saying that the way MJ plays his golf is the way that he oversees the Jordan Brand.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “dead on again DH ..a lot of fans know nothing of InCapital” – me

      Big Papa Ricketts does Not own/operate Incapital, Tom Ricketts does as its Executive Chairman since he founded the company 12 years ago

      “equivalent to saying that the way MJ plays his golf is the way that he oversees the Jordan Brand” – you, ‘business’

      Sooo, Ricketts owning the cubs (after spending $845million) is just recreation to him like playing golf or handball (or whatever billionaires do on the weekends)??