Back when “MLB Front Office Manager” was announced in October, it sounded like a dream come true for folks who religiously comb statistics-driven baseball sites like The Hardball Times and Retrosheet. After all, here’s a game that lets stathead Giants fans outraged that the team continues to employ Dave Roberts and his sub-.350 on-base percentage see if they can do better than San Francisco GM Brian Sabean.

Even better for Bay Area fans, the public face of the game is A’s GM Billy Beane, who will offer in-game advice to players wrestling with whether they should count on the development of a prospect in AA ball or pay a posting fee to negotiate with a free agent from Japan to fill that hole in the middle infield in 2010. With his emphasis on keeping the low-budget A’s competitive by looking for baseball players whose talents are undervalued in the current marketplace, Beane has long enjoyed status as sort of a folk hero for nerdy fans and Yankee haters alike.

While “MLB Front Office Manager” still looks like it has potential to be stat geek gold, the Cult of Beane took a hit Tuesday, with the unveiling of the game’s box art. Instead of Beane overlooking the decrepit, half-empty architectural horror that is McAfee Coliseum — tarped over upper deck and all — we get a generic silhouette of a guy in a suit overlooking Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The slender silhouette, it’s worth noting, looks nothing like the Phillies’ doughy, retiring GM Pat Gillick. It could be modeled after incoming rookie GM Ruben Amaro Jr., but what’s he done?