We've mentioned Billy Beane as a GM candidate here in the past. The question has always been whether he would leave Oakland, the place where he became an icon and his scrappy, cleverly constructed teams regularly gave the Yankees all they could handle -- with just a fraction of their payroll.
An article today by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times seems to confirm suspicions that Beane is become frustrated with the financial iniquities that exist in modern baseball. Where once he was able to find undervalued players and sign them underneath everyone's noses, now he has to compete with teams who have adopted his philosophies -- but can do it with more resources. His advantages seem to have been taken away. Craig Breslow, a reliever on the team who attended Yale, makes a similar observation,
“For a while, it was a market inefficiency. Certain players were undervalued, and Billy could identify them, the guys who projected well. Now, we’re obviously not going to be able to outbid some of the other teams that are using those same metrics. Now guys that hit home runs and get on base a lot cost $20 million a year. Where’s the next place to look?”
But it isn't Breslow just saying this. It's Beane himself. He's competitive guy and he misses the ability to compete with the big boys. With the Cubs, he would be one of those big boys -- in fact, he'd be the team with the most resources in his division, if not the whole league. Here's what Beane said about trying to compete in baseball's new environment,
“You’re never going to have equilibrium in terms of revenues everywhere. But, listen, we’re all competitive, so it certainly gets frustrating. Just being able to carve out a future for the franchise has been most frustrating. Because of the venue situation, it’s hard to put together a business plan beyond the next fiscal year. There are a lot of smart guys running teams now, and a lot of the guys who are smart also have a lot of money. That’s a pretty tough combination to go against. We’ve all started valuing the same things. "
Beane wouldn't have these problems as GM of the Cubs. He'd have the ability to identify the players he likes and the money to bid for them if he has to compete with other teams. He still won't have the money that the Yankees do, but he'll have much more than the Brewers and the Cardinals, and he will have as much, if not more, than the Phillies, Braves, and other competitors in the National League. A competitive guy like Beane would love another shot at a World Series title. He'd certainly welcome the chance to go another few rounds with the Yankees, but this time he could be going up against them as a fellow heavyweight. Could that opportunity be too much for him to pass up?
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