Angels sale: Billy Beane, Theo Epstein could join ownership group

The Angels’ sale process is not expected to get going until after the season. As you do so, you will hear the names of a number of very wealthy people – some you know and some you don’t. I had no idea who Mark Walter was until he and his partners bought the Dodgers a decade ago; Now he is considered one of the best owners in the sport.

The main reason for this is that he and his partners pursued Andrew Friedman to lead the team until Friedman said yes. Money is great, lots of money is better, and spending lots of money wisely is best.

In a sport where executives chirp on success cycles and winning windows, the combination of Walter’s spending and Friedman’s shrewdness has blessed the Dodgers and their fans with a decade of consistent superiority.

The Angels are expected to be sold for at least $2.5 billion, more than any owner has ever paid to buy a baseball team. At this price point, you should add a proven winner to your ownership group.

And that’s why the names to look out for in the Angels sweepstakes might not be the often anonymous deep-pocketed types. The most intriguing names to watch might be Billy Beane and Theo Epstein.

After 25 years of assembling low-cost winners in Oakland, Beane is said to be disillusioned with the wrecking ball Athletics owner John Fisher added to the team’s payroll this year, with the long-promised new baseball field still years from the earliest possible reality .

The highest-paying player on the current roster: infielder-outfielder Chad Pinder at $2.725 million. The A’s have the worst record in the American League, losing 100 games for the first time since 1979.

Beane, 60, is best known for “Moneyball” — the book, the movie, the popular shorthand for analytic revolution — and is often despised by some baseball diehards because all the attention is focused on a man whose teams have never been in moved up the World Series.

Still, in his 25 seasons in Oakland, the A’s made the playoffs 11 times and the Angels made it seven times.

He has turned down opportunities to manage the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets, preferring to raise his family in the Bay Area. But he grew up in San Diego, the kids are in high school now, and over the years he’s toyed with the idea of ​​taking on a team in Southern California.

When Beane turned down the Red Sox in 2002, the team hired Epstein as general manager. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918 and then again in 2007.

In 2011, Epstein was promoted to the Chicago Cubs. In 2016, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908.

Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations, speaks at a media availability.

Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, speaks at a media availability during the annual Major League Baseball General Managers’ Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 13, 2019.

(Matt York/Associated Press)

If Epstein could end the curse of the Bambino and the curse of the Goat, he could certainly end the curse of Harry Sidhu.

In 18 years, his teams reached the playoffs eleven times. As he left the Cubs, he said: “Being part of an ownership group has always appealed to me, but it can seem so out of reach that I haven’t really been realistic about it.”

Any Angels ownership group would be lucky enough to include Beane or Epstein as the public face of the group. That would be even more true of the numerous Japanese investors – almost all of whom would be unknown to fans here – who are considering bidding for the Angels.

Angels games are regularly televised in Japan thanks to Shohei Ohtani, so brand awareness there is huge, big enough that Angels could do well there even if Ohtani leaves after next season. But you never know: A combination of Japanese investors and Beane or Epstein leading the team could help convince him to stay in Anaheim.

Beane or Epstein would help an investor group get the approval of Major League Baseball owners, who could count on someone who’s proven they can win without spending like crazy to launch a team in the league’s second-largest market would lead.

Epstein could be particularly hard for owners to turn down, having worked tirelessly as an advisor at the league office, evaluating reforms designed to make baseball more appealing and snappier to the paying customer. Reforms expected to be announced Friday for the 2023 season include a pitch clock and restrictions on defensive shifts.

For an ownership group, the financial part of the approval process is crucial: does this group have the cash to buy the team and run it competitively?

For fans, the most valuable player in an ownership group might be the one who signs the hitters and pitchers, not the one who signs the checks.

Runner-up in the Dodgers bid, current New York Mets owner Steven Cohen, had targeted Tony La Russa to manage the team. That would have been a disaster based on La Russa’s subsequent tenure in the same position with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Instead, the Dodgers got Walter and then Friedman. The Angels’ new owners, whoever they may be, would do well to get Beane or Epstein. Angels sale: Billy Beane, Theo Epstein could join ownership group

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