TUCSON, Ariz. - The Boston Red Sox weren't the only ones feeling like they missed out on Billy Beane yesterday. Turns out, the Orioles were trying to talk to the highly coveted Oakland Athletics general manager, too.
The Orioles, who are searching for a replacement for vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift, requested permission to talk to Beane last week, but Oakland owner Steve Schott denied them the chance.
After weeks of trying, Boston got permission this weekend and offered Beane a five-year, $13 million contract, but he decided to stay in Oakland, where his deal runs through 2008.
"At the same time the Red Sox were calling, Peter Angelos called and said he'd like to talk to Billy Beane," Schott said. "I said, `You can't talk to him. We're not going to open that door.' Angelos must be thinking this guy is a big liar."
But Angelos said he wasn't upset when asked yesterday about Boston getting a chance to talk to Beane when the Orioles didn't. "The way [Schott] expressed himself, I knew he was going to hold onto Beane," Angelos said. "I didn't think he was being untruthful."
There had been speculation that if Beane left Oakland, the A's would hand the job to his 29-year-old assistant GM, Paul DePodesta. Asked if the Orioles should pursue DePodesta - an Alexandria, Va., native - Beane offered a ringing endorsement.
"If I was an owner, I would absolutely jump at the chance to hire Paul," Beane said yesterday.
But high-ranking Orioles sources said the club believes DePodesta is simply too young.
Mike Flanagan, a candidate for both the Red Sox and Orioles jobs, said he did not hear from Boston yesterday in the wake of the Beane news.
"I'm sure with what's transpired," Flanagan said, "they need a little more time."