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Beane Town

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I have an idea for him. It would require some, um, paperwork.

When Omar Minaya petulantly called out Daily News beat writer Adam Rubin at the press conference about the firing of team official Tony Bernazard last week, a widely held suspicion about the Mets became concrete: They are falling apart on the field and off. (Minaya, who preposterously accused Rubin of breaking the story about Bernazard’s misconduct because Rubin wanted a player personnel job, was chastised by Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and later apologized.) Minaya signed an extension with the Mets just ten months ago, but since then, well, we all know what’s happened. This season has been a disaster. Yes, injuries have been devastating, and there’s not much anybody can do about that. But the Mets so lacked depth that they've had to put ancient castoff Fernando Tatis in the cleanup spot. And there was never any excuse for the contracts Minaya lavished on Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, lucrative deals that will haunt the team for years. Other than his trade for Johan Santana and the signing of Carlos Beltran, which any GM with his budget would’ve done, everything Minaya has done has backfired. The Mets are chaos, and Minaya will ultimately take the fall. Barring an improbable comeback from the shambling scrubs who make up the Flushing Nine this season, it’ll happen sooner rather than later. So let’s fix the Mets’—and Billy Beane’s—problems.

Technically, Beane has a contract with the Oakland A’s until 2014, with partial ownership of the team. The A’s have one of the five lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball, and with a new ballpark in limbo and lackluster attendance even when the team’s winning, they’re not going to start shelling out cash anytime soon. I’m sure it’s fun for Beane to play the underdog card, but that time has passed. The A’s can’t hang anymore.

What Beane needs, let’s face it, is a competitive payroll (the man can develop prospects; the A’s farm system is stocked, as always), and, if nothing else, the Mets have that. They are spending $147,417,987 on that team you’re watching flail around every night. And after leading the A’s back into the wilderness from which he originally delivered them, Beane needs a place where he can be the savior. Flushing beckons. When the Mets fire Minaya, they’ll need a big name, and there are precious few in baseball’s executive ranks. This might be the last time Beane will qualify as a big name. Theoretically, it wouldn’t be that onerous to bring Beane here; the A’s will pay him less this season, and the next five seasons, than the Mets are currently paying Tatis. A buyout, no matter how much money Bernie Madoff took from the Wilpons, would be chump change.

In 2002, as dramatized in the book, Beane agonized over whether to leave the A’s to become GM of the Red Sox. He ultimately declined, in part because he didn’t want to be far from his daughter, who was 13 years old at the time. She’s in college now. She’ll be fine, Billy. Now’s the time to make the leap.

The Mets need Beane badly. And he might need them even more. There’s nothing left to prove in Oakland. Beane would make Mets fans and the media forget Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazard overnight. A fresh start for everybody, including, perhaps, the Moneyball movie. A World Series victory in New York is precisely the redemptive Hollywood climax the book lacks. But who would play Mr. Met?

E-mail: will.leitch@nymag.com.


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