With the recent speculation from Buster Olney and Susan Slusser that Billy Beane could consider the Cubs' GM job, it appears there's a non-zero chance that Beane could be running things on the North Side come April.
It's no doubt that the Oakland is the toughest GM job in baseball, when you couple the lack of funds with the lack of long-term certainty. I couldn't blame Beane if he decided to leave. He's recently made statements about his frustration with what he sees as a widening gap between baseball's haves and have-nots. At this point in his career and in the franchise's history, jumping ship would be excusable.
Most of us are aware of the events of the 2002-2003 winter that almost led to Beane leaving for Boston, which would have hurt (but we would've gotten Youkilis!). Billy ultimately decided to stay, but that was then. Now, the franchise around him is burning whilst Bud fiddles, and Beane isn't getting any younger. Free agents want to play in Chicago, and the Cubs have the money to bring them in. Billy Beane goes to Chicago and wins a World Series and between that and Moneyball, he's the most legendary front office type in baseball history. They're a legendary franchise with a legendary stadium and a nationwide hardcore fanbase. They sell out Wrigley even in losing seasons, whereas the A's draw 20,000 a game during winning years. If MLB gets to the point where the rich teams can even buy out the front office, well then that wouldn't be very good now would it, Mr. Selig?
Billy Beane is somewhat polarizing around here, but I'm fully in the support camp. He's stuck with the franchise through terrible economic and stadium conditions despite being able to land offers from teams in much better financial states. He's committed to the East Bay and has been successful for most of his tenure. He kept our favorite franchise relevant through lean economic times.
The stadium situation has been destructive enough on this franchise without it breaking up the front office. To be honest, I can't think of a single thing this franchise could do that would upset me more than Beane leaving for another team (save for a relocation out of the Bay Area). It would be the single most costly event in this whole drawn out (dddrraaaawwnnnn oooouuuuttttt) stadium drama. If he leaves, I would have nobody to blame except MLB. And this would make me livid at MLB.
Regardless, I think he stays. I think he's too committed to the franchise he's been with for 20+ years, too committed to his ownership stake, too committed to his friend Lew Wolff, and too proud to leave the franchise because "it's too hard."
But then, I don't know Billy Beane. This could be it for his time in Oakland. Would you be as upset as I would be? Is it excusable that MLB has allowed one of their thirty franchises to get to the point that not just their players but their front office types are even susceptible to big money offers from the haves?