A's GM Billy Beane joins former Yankee in bringing Moneyball to Dutch soccer team
Soccer is not baseball. That seems obvious, right? Well, these two former MLB players seem to be blurring the line.
Athletics vice president, general manager and overall Moneyball maestro Billy Beane has long had a hobbyist's interest in soccer -- he told the Guardian in 2014, "Quite frankly, I can't get enough of soccer," and admitted to taping as many matches as he could.
Beane first became interested in the game in 2003 after a trip to London included some English Premier League viewing, and he's been a passionate fan ever since -- even befriending former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool Director of Football Damien Comolli as well as Arsenal's longtime manager Arsene Wenger. Wenger has also adopted something of a Moneyball-style approach in his tenure with the club.
Then, in 2008, A's owner Lew Wolff resurrected MLS' San Jose Earthquakes, for which Beane has provided some support as well.
But now, Beane is venturing to Europe to help out another soccer team in an official capacity.
According to Dutch soccer team AZ Alkmaar, Beane is joining the team as an advisor. In the announcement of the hiring, the club proclaimed its great respect for the former Mets prospect-turned-Front Office figure:
Stewart's colleague, AZ general director Robert Eenhoorn, likely played a large part in recruiting Beane since he, too, made the transition from baseball to soccer.
Eenhoorn began his baseball career in his home country of the Netherlands, playing in the nation's top professional league and representing the team in international competition. He quickly caught the eye of MLB scouts and was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft and was part of a draft haul for the Bombers that included Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.
Unlike those two, however, Eenhoorn never made a lasting impact in the Majors, earning only short stints with the Yankees and Angels between 1994 and 1997. He then opted to return to the Netherlands, where he played a few more years before ultimately serving as manager (and later technical director) for the Dutch national team -- earning them numerous international championships in his tenure and helping develop a structure that has since produced Dutch prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmons.
Then, in October of 2014, Eenhoorn changed sports, joining AZ as the club's general director. Apparently, he sought to bring some other baseball know-how with him to the Netherlands' soccer league -- hence, the Beane recruitment:
AZ is currently ranked fourth in the league, but if they rattle off 20 wins after this, you'll know who to thank: