DLD 12/4/06--Making Beane Work Harder

The Hot Stove Season is into full swing with the start of this week's winter GM meetings.  For updates on events as they happen, tune into ESPN's live coverage, as well as Rotoworld's.

One update from Jayson Stark in the aforementioned ESPN coverage that's worth noting--the Angels are now also "kicking the tires" on Mike Piazza:

While the A's and Rangers are still Mike Piazza's chief pursuers, there were rumblings Monday that the Angels had also kicked the tires on Piazza, who is expected to sign with one of those clubs sometime this week.

Since the start of this offseason, the Rangers appear to have realized that getting in on players that interest the A's is a good idea, because driving up their price exacerbates the A's competitive weakness in the market--the ability to pay big bucks.  Not surprisingly, it appears the Angels might now be figuring this out as well.  Really, it's a bit surprising our competition has taken this long to figure this out.  I wouldn't be surprised if we hear chatter from the Mariners, Angels or Rangers about Cliff Floyd as well as the week progresses.

Beane says the A's don't really need much anyway:

``The good thing, as anyone who follows our team closely or anybody who is a close fan of our team should realize, is that we don't have much to do,'' Beane said. ``Most of our team is already in place.''

Well, I agree it would take a fan to realize that replacing Frank Thomas, Jay Payton, and Barry Zito "isn't much to do."  If we can take what he's saying at face value, it looks like just one free-agent signing is in out future this offseason, and we should expect Dan Johnson and Daric Barton to be non-Gintered this offseason.

In former Athletic hot stove news, Jose Guillen's deal with the Mariners has been finalized.  It's not quite as attractive as previously reported, since he gets a little more money than previously thought ($5.5M), and a lot more if he has a typical Jose Guillen season ($3M in incentives).  Also, there is a $9M mutual option for next year, with a $500K buyout.  That said, I'm impressed with this move by the Mariners.  When you think about the money the A's are rumored to be offered for aging/damaged players on a one-year basis, Guillen at slightly less money looks awfully attractive.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox may end up with a bullpen that could be called the Oakland A's Closer Alumni Association, as both Keith Foulke and Octavio Dotel could wind up in the Sox's pen next year.  

I've said this before, but I'll say it again--Huston Street could potentially have enormous trade value in a market like these, where set-up men are commanding three-year deals at $6M/per.  What about giving the Devil Rays a call?  They have a surplus of outfielders, and we need outfielders.  They also don't have anything that resembles a closer, and lost an awful lot of games last year because of their bullpen.  This article speculates on a Baldelli for Blanton and Windsor trade; I don't know if Baldelli is the spare outfielder they have that I'd want, but Tampa's deep farm system and OF talent seem like a very good trading match for the A's.

There are still two, um, interesting free-agents out there that want to play next year, and might have a shot if Nathaniel Hawthorne were resurrected and given an expansion franchise.  In an interview on "Outside The Lines," Sammy Sosa expressed his desire to play next year, and offered up his opinions on Mark McGwire's HOF chances:

"I love Mark McGwire. Everybody knows that I have so much respect for Mark. But I'm not gonna speak for Mark McGwire. I'm nobody," Sosa said. "I have so much problems in my life to try and think about somebody else, but my opinion I think there was a few questions they [Congress] was asking Mark that [McGwire] should have answered a different way. That's my opinion now. On the other side, the Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame for me regardless, no matter what happened."

I was going to point out that Sosa was also criticized for his handling of those proceedings because he hired an interpreter, but the quote above pretty much explains that choice.

Rafael Palmeiro also wants to play next year.  If either of them really think they have a chance, I'm surprised they're not playing winter ball for someone.  They both need to prove they can still play.

That's plenty of links to dump for now.  I hope to see some A's-related news added later...

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