While many think that the hot stove slows to a simmer in and around the Thanksgiving holiday, a few seasons ago, Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein famously used the Thanksgiving holiday to break bread with Curt Schilling. The two discussed many things and ultimately, came to the collective decision that Boston was the right destination for the obnoxiously loud Schilling. It would ultimately lead to the Red Sox winning the World Series.
It got me to thinking about what players might Billy Beane have turkey and the fixins with this T-Day who could make a difference for the team in 2007.
The two position players that I think would help the A's the most would be Barry Bonds, which has me extremely conflicted and former Cardinals/Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Both would be a Type-A free agent and would cost the A's draft picks. Bonds would help the A's for obvious reasons. But Belliard would help the A's not merely from an offensive standpoint, but he's always been a very good defensive second baseman. I know, I know we have Ellis already and Scoot, but as last season proved, you can never have too much depth in the infield. Beane has always loved Belliard (almost as much as he loved Polanco when he came close several times to getting him, wouldn't THAT have been nice?) and the temptation of adding him might outweigh the risks that there won't be enough infield spots available. Course, if the A's miss out on Bonds, there is always that DH spot. I realize that I might be convinced Belliard is better than he is because he always seems to eat the A's alive.
A second-tier free agent I can see the A's chasing if they lose Payton would be Trot Nixon. Beane has also always loved Nixon and if there isn't any Bonds, then you could make sure you keep Nixon healthy by batting him in the DH spot. I don't think you'll see the A's chasing J.D. Drew even though Beane also loves Drew. I think J.D. will want a ridiculous contract for a ridiculous number of years which is why he opted out in Los Angeles. The only problem with getting Nixon is that then you have a very lefty-heavy lineup. Although you do have two key switch hitters in Bradley and Swisher.
As for what pitchers might gulp down a box of wine to go along with that turkey the Beane household is serving, I don't see the A's pursuing any of the guys in the Type A department. So no Suppan, Pettitte or Schmidt. I could see Beane reuniting with old friend Mark Mulder just in time for the pumpkin pie. The reason? Simple, Mulder will probably get a short-term incentive laden contract similar to the type that Frank Thomas received last season. Mulder would be coming someplace where he would know that the pressure is much less than if he signed with a bigger market team and he knows Oakland and the fans well.
I would guess that Lilly would be in there too, but given how crazy the market seems to be this offseason with several huge contracts already being given out, I wouldn't suspect that Lilly will be in the A's price range. At the same time, if the A's are really going after guys who are deemed to have troublesome natures to them, Vicente Padilla could flip over a chair or two at the Beane residence this Thanksgiving. Rumor has it that Padilla is a heavy drinker and isn't exactly a fun guy to be around. I don't know how accurate those things are, but Padilla can be a huge bulldog on the mound and if Rich Harden is healthy, the A's wouldn't need Padilla to be the ace of the staff. He'd just be taking over the Loaiza role of lower expectations. Let's just hope he doesn't find Loaiza's other roles intriguing as well, you know the one where he plays a DUI inmate.
I don't think that the A's will be investing a lot of time in the relief pitcher area given that they likely feel fairly comfortable with their current group. But if they did, there are quite a few lefty speciaists available, including Scott Schoeneweis, Ray King, Alan Embree and Steve Kline. Course, Joe Kennedy proved last year that sometimes it's better to have a guy who isn't restricted to that LOOGY role.
Any way, which of the free agents would you like to see on the couch watching the games at the Beane household?