A's Brown, central subject in 'Moneyball' book, plans to retire

PHOENIX -- Catcher Jeremy Brown, one of the central subjects in the book "Moneyball" that chronicled Billy Beane's unconventional methods as Oakland general manager, told the Athletics he's calling it a career.

The A's said Friday that Brown would not report to spring training after telling them Tuesday he planned to retire for personal reasons. In response, they agreed to terms with free agent catcher Matt LeCroy on a minor league deal to help fill the void of Brown's departure. He was due to arrive at spring training Saturday.

The A's will leave open the opportunity for the 28-year-old Brown to come back to the organization if that's something he decides he wants down the road.

"It's a shame. The kid could really hit. We certainly understand his family's more important at this point," Beane said. "It caught us a little by surprise. Things like this, personal issues, come up. ... It's absolutely an open door."

The 5-foot-10, 226-pound Brown, whose bulky frame and high on-base percentage made him the kind of player Beane sought, was selected 35th overall in the 2002 draft out of Alabama.

He's played five games in the big leagues, all in 2006, and had two doubles and a single in 10 career at-bats. He was a non-roster invitee to camp this year after batting .276 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs for Triple-A Sacramento in 2007.

Beane knows Brown was probably affected by the attention from "Moneyball," the best-selling book that provided an in-depth look at Beane's innovative management style and reliance on statistics.

"I'm sure to some point [it did]," Beane said. "He was basically a pretty shy kid and became nationally known. You can usually hide in the minor leagues. I think Jeremy was pretty well known by the time he was hitting A-ball."

LeCroy has spent seven of his eight of his major league seasons with the Minnesota Twins and has a .260 career average with 60 home runs and 218 RBIs. The 32-year-old was with Triple-A Rochester for most of last season, playing seven games with 20 at-bats for the Twins. He played for the Washington Nationals in 2006.

"Certainly there are no promises for Matt," Beane said. "He needed a job. It's an opportunity, albeit a small opportunity."