Is billy beane still in baseball? After leading the A’s baseball operations department for over three decades, Billy Beane is taking on a new position within the organization.
The A’s announced on Friday morning that Beane, currently Oakland’s executive vice president of baseball operations, is moving into a new role as senior advisor to owner John Fisher, working together closely on strategic decisions.
In addition to providing Fisher with guidance on broader organizational matters, Beane will still provide support for A’s general manager David Forst, who now takes over as head of the club’s baseball operations.
“This is really as much about not just me transitioning into a new role, but also David taking on a responsibility that he’s earned as one of the top executives in the game, in my opinion,” said Beane. “I’m still a member of the Athletics’ family. I’m very grateful to John and the relationship that we’ve forged over the time since he’s taken over ownership. I’ll continue being a good advisor for him going forward.”
Billy Beane baseball career
Beane was chosen by the Mets in the 1980 MLB Draft. He made his debut for the Mets in 1984.
His MLB career was barely five years long, as he was never able to realize his full ability. He worked with Sandy Alderson, the general manager of the A’s, for three years before being promoted to assistant general manager of the company.
On Oct. 17, 1997, Beane was chosen to serve as the general manager of the California MLB franchise. He was taught sabermetrics by his predecessor with the A’s and is most recognized for his analytics-driven approach and concentration on it. The A’s, under him, became the first AL team to win 20 straight games.
The Athletics had the fifth-best regular-season record but were rated 24th in player wages out of 30 big league teams in the 2006 MLB season.
From 2000 through 2003, the Athletics made the playoffs four straight times. Under Beane, the Athletics once again advanced to the postseason in 2012, taking home the American League West crown on the last day of the regular season.
During Beane’s tenure as head of the baseball operations, the A’s have made the playoffs 11 times, including six times over the past 10 years. However, the club — after a series of cost-saving trades this spring — lost more than 100 games for the first time since 1979.
He expressed regret that the team was never able to win the World Series, but pointed to the final day of the 2012 regular season, when the A’s clinched an American League West title after coming into the year forecasted to lose 100 games, as his favorite single moment as the head of the A’s baseball operations.
“I remember thinking that if I never had the job another day that that would be OK, because that was just an amazing day and season,” he said.
Beane will probably most be remembered for his role in “Moneyball,” but Forst said that Beane’s legacy is that he opened the door for a different type of baseball executive.
“So much has changed about who is working in baseball over the last 20-plus years that he had a lot to do with, about how the game gets evaluated and how we see things,” Forst said. “There’s no denying the impact that ‘Moneyball’ and Billy’s high profile had on how we operate now in baseball and how the game is viewed.”
Beane deflected taking credit for ushering in this new era of front office executives but said he’s excited with the direction that front offices around the game are headed.
“I think within the game, in some sense, the executive position has become a meritocracy. The best and the brightest are getting these jobs, and I think that’s great,” Beane said. “There’s still a lot of progress we need to continue, but it’s an amazing group of smart executives (around baseball), not just at the top of baseball operations, but all the way down. I’m humbled and I’m grateful that I could be a part of that.”
What’s next for Beane
Beane was co-chair of RedBall Acquisition Corp., which reportedly came close to merging with Fenway Sports Group before the deal fell apart in January of 2021.
He has long expressed interest in professional soccer. He previously had an ownership share in Barnsley FC, an English team, and said he’s involved with a soccer club in Holland, has an ownership interest in a soccer team in France, an ownership interest in an analytics company and in a cricket team in India.
“The great thing is that I’m still a member of the Athletics family,” he said. “I’ve had some interests that have grown over the last couple of years, and (the new role) will give me some freedom to also pursue some of those — not with a baseball team — but maybe with some other things that have developed over the course of the last decade or so. I’ll certainly get more involved in that. And I’ve also got two kids who are in high school that can be a member of the carpool team that is so badly needed.”
In October, Beane reiterated his commitment to staying with the A’s in some capacity for the long term and was outspoken about his desire to keep the A’s in Oakland. The team has been on “parallel paths” as they explore a new stadium site in Oakland and in Las Vegas for the past two years.
Beane has no formal plans to be involved in the A’s stadium pursuit but will be available if Fisher or A’s team president Dave Kaval needs his help, he said. He also expressed interest in being involved in some capacity with some of Fisher’s other business pursuits, including Fisher’s MLS club, the San Jose Earthquakes.
Impact on the A’s
Forst, who has been with the A’s for 24 years, formally takes on the role of head of baseball operations, though he has been the point person on most transactions for the organization for the past seven years.
Beane said the transition to Forst taking on the largest role in the baseball operations department is “something he’s earned over the 20 or so year period of him being my right-hand guy.”
“This is really just as much about me taking on a new role as David taking on a responsibility that he’s earned as one of probably the top executives in the game, at least in my opinion,” Beane said, noting that he’ll probably still call Forst — who he termed as one of his best friends — several times a day.
Forst indicated that there won’t be a significant shift in the structure in the A’s front office, with Forst remaining as general manager and the team continuing to employ three assistant general managers (Dan Feinstein, Billy Owens and Rob Naberhaus). He doesn’t anticipate hiring any additional senior-level executives to replace Beane.
“I don’t know that things will be all that different other than I think it will be a little bit different voice. If nothing else, it will raise up the voices of the people underneath me and Dan and Billy Owens and Rob,” Forst said. “It will be important for now to fill in the gap where I had Billy’s voice in my ear from one end, I’ll need to make sure I get a lot of input from everybody else on the other side.”
Coming off one of the most difficult seasons in Oakland A’s franchise history, Forst said he has been in regular contact with manager Mark Kotsay about changes that the front office hopes to make with the roster before the start of next season.
“We are having lots of conversations, both trade and free agency, to try and get better,” he said. “I think we took some strides in our farm system in 2022 as far as development of a lot of players. But obviously we know that we need to do better on the field in Oakland.”
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