Before I allow my panic and disgust to reach full gorge, I will point out that it seems to me that GA is most likely either a false-flag operation (intended to drive down the asking prices of Abreu and Giamsorri) or at best the trailing third option. I mean, this paragraph all but spells that out:
The Chronicle has learned that the team has had preliminary conversations about free-agent outfielders Bobby Abreu and Garret Anderson as possible options should Giambi stick firmly to his wish for a three-year deal. A's general manager Billy Beane has had brief contact with the agents for Abreu and Anderson.
None of that indicates any serious interest.
However ... the Rays are apparently pretty serious about Giamsorri, and if Beane wasn't willing to pay above-market price for Furcal, he sure as heck won't for Abreu, who's asking for ... well, an above-market price. (And if Beane is willing to pay above-market price for Abreu but not Furcal ... well, more about that below.)
So if Giamsorri and Abreu do spurn the A's (for whatever reasons), is GA really someone that Beane would sign?
I sure hope not, because if that does come to pass, I'm walking away. Done. Handing in my keys to front page. Turning a blind eye to the A's and baseball entirely.
Look, I've got nothing against GA personally or professionally. (OK, I might have a little something against him professionally ever since he beat me at the '07 MLB Hootenanny with his ad lib adaptation of Phil Ochs' first album, but that's another story entirely.) While he's always done damage against the A's, he's always seemed to me to be the sort of noble-adversary-warrior type who went about his thing with a professional demeanor. Who he is as a person or Angels icon has zilch to do with my disgust at the prospect of his wearing green and gold.
Now, this certainly has something to do with my particular case of A's fandom; as I've explained before, I'm a relatively recent (ca. 1995) A's convert, having been initially lured by the proximity of the Coliseum to BART, the cheap admission, the ease of FSU'ing, and, yes, the FREE KRAUT! , and I converted smoothly to a Flavor Aid-drinkin' Moneyballer soon thereafter. "Billy Beane" -- and by the scare quotes I mean all that Beane stands for, as well as the staff assisting him in the FO -- play a big part in my A's appreciation, for their idiosyncratic, risk:reward-centered approach to managing the team.
Of course, there have been classic Beane blunders, blows to his personal scorecard, over the years: Kendall, Kotsay, the Dye extension, Queen Arthur, Kielty-Lilly, Shannon Stewart, Jay Payton, Piazza, Loaiza. (I'm not going to get into the whole Larry Davis thing; that, to me, has always been about a simple case of blackmail.) But those seemed to be blips on the radar screen.
Now, however, there's an incoming JDAM, and it walks with a limp and swings at the first pitch.
Let's get this out of the way: Garret Anderson sucks, is old, and is chronically injured. He's a below-average hitter as a corner outfielder, and he's no longer capable of playing the outfield. His value as a hitter is entirely dependent on his batting average, and he has Crosbyesque power (save for that stretch of years that should be known as Buds Bunny's Rabbit-Ball Era) -- actually, strike that: Crosby has about 20% higher isoSLG than GA does.
What's more, the A's have a guy who's a world-class (and cheap) DH (and a lousy, but improving outfielder) plus about 76 replacement-level outfielders on their depth chart. (GA is basically a cross between Ryan Sweeney and Estelle Getty.)
GA potentially blocking the development of one of those younger OFs doesn't bug me (mostly because none of them promise to ever be all that great) -- the very idea of GA getting PT (and, presumably, guaranteed money) bugs the crap out of me.
There's no reason to sign GA except for the fact that he's available, and relatively cheap (relative to his free-agent cohort, that is, not his absolute performance value). He's the kind of free-agent signing made by the Pirates, or the Orioles, or the Royals, just getting a warm body who can approach but not reach league-average-for-his-position production, but for way too much money. Signing a guy who's got "established MLB bona fides" (which is always less about respecting the veteran players than it is about respecting the judgment of one's fellow GMs for giving this sack of shit guaranteed money for so long). It's signing a second-tier FA because your owner has determined you don't have the scratch to sign a first-tier guy, and you Pointy-Haired Boss up the rationale that if you don't spend up to this year's budget you'll get less discretionary funding next fiscal year. (Which seems to be essentially the case with Beane electing not to make a serious effort at signing Furcal and now turning to the three stooges.)
He's the kind of signing that's made by a team that doesn't care about winning.
And seeing as how, in many respects, GA actually wouldn't be a departure at all for Beane to sign, I'd definitely put Beane and the A's in that category (and perhaps retroactively).
GA is a slap-happy eager beaver who wouldn't take a pitch if Jack Bauer was holding a .44 to his grandmother's kneecap (Stewart, Payton).
He's an aging, crippled vet who obviously can't perform on a consistent basis (Justice, Gant, Piazza, Big Hurt II).
He's priced lower than his FA cohort, but still not as low as his projected performance (Loaiza ... heck, all of them except Big Hurt II).
In short, Garret Anderson is the very apotheosis of a Billy Beane free-agent signee. If Beane signs him, it's a sure sign that Beane is following the worse angels of his own nature. And with that, I'd be done.