Beane manages a small-market team and must operate on a budget. His modus operandi is to build the team via the draft and trades and to eschew free agents. This has led to short-term complaints when he has elected not to re-sign popular players such as Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, or when he traded Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. Nonetheless few can argue with the success the A's have had under his stewardship. ed: 4 division championships in that time.
He started in the front office of the A's in 1990 and by 1997 he was the GM. He is known for paying close attention to sabermetrics. Beane has had a high profile as GM. Rob Neyer once wrote an article asking if Beane was on his way to the Hall of Fame, fully cognizant that there are few GM's in the Hall. Some call his style "Beane Ball".
His big success in 2006 was Frank Thomas. Thomas, after having two injury-plagued seasons in 2004 and 2005, was deemed expendable by the Chicago White Sox. The A's were able to sign him for a mere $500,000 plus incentives. Thomas, who was unable to play during most of spring training, had to use major league games in April as his form of spring training, and thus started very slowly. But he led the A's in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and earned $1.5 million in incentives for his play that year. The A's won the AL West title in large part due to Beane signing Frank Thomas.
The Athletics' own website calls him "progressive and talented", and notes he has a .565 winning percentage - and also notes that in the last six seasons his winning percentage is even higher at .588. Players under his watch have won two MVP awards, one Cy Young Award, and one Rookie of the Year award. Beane doesn't ignore the minors - his teams in the minors played at a .545 clip in 2005. The website continues to note that Beane has been very active in making trades before the trading deadline, and that his teams do even better after the deadline.
He was the Sporting News Executive of the Year in 1999, and won Baseball America's 2002 award as Major League Baseball's Executive of the Year.