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A's let Red Sox pursue Beane
By Murray Chass, The New York Times, 11/09/02
The Oakland Athletics, who gave the Mets their manager, Art Howe, have taken the first step toward giving the Boston Red Sox their general manager, Billy Beane.
A baseball official confirmed last night that the Athletics had given the Red Sox permission to speak with Beane. In fact, the official said, they might have already spoken.
"Whether anything comes of it, no one knows," the official said.
For weeks, the Red Sox have sought permission to speak with Beane, who is under contract to the Athletics through 2008. Oakland officials had ignored the Red Sox; why they changed their minds is unknown.
No one was talking about the matter yesterday.
"I can't talk about it," Beane said when reached by telephone. "I don't have any comment about it."
Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox chief executive, said: "We have no comment on the matter. Too much has been said in the newspapers about this matter."
Lucchino was asked why he would not deny the report if it were not true, and he repeated his no comment.
Steve Schott, Oakland's managing partner, did not return a call.
According to an executive of another club, talk had begun circulating in baseball circles that the Athletics might be in the process of granting permission, and the baseball official confirmed that they had taken that step.
A popular view among baseball people has been that Beane wanted to stay on the West Coast. But the other side of the equation is that the Red Sox would provide the creative Beane with the kind of payroll the Athletics are unlikely ever to have. This year the Athletics had a $65.4 million luxury tax payroll, 22nd among the 30 teams, while the Red Sox' payroll was $114.8 million, the fourth highest.
With Beane performing the baseball equivalent of magic tricks, the Athletics have reached the playoffs the past three seasons, twice as American League West champions. Beane, 40, is considered one of the best general managers, if not the best, in baseball.
Last month, Beane made a highly unusual move with his manager. He gave the Mets permission to speak to Howe, and in less than a day Howe agreed to become their manager. That left Beane free to name Ken Macha, Oakland's bench coach, as the Athletics' manager, a step many in baseball felt Beane wanted to make all along.
The Red Sox have interviewed seven candidates for their general manager's job, and their interim general manager, Mike Port, is also a candidate, Lucchino has said. Among the interviewed candidates is Jim Duquette, the Mets' senior assistant general manager.