It has been, by most A's fans accounts, a frustrating off-season. The search for an upgrade to a truly woeful COF started, and then continued, with the addition of "pretty good player" David DeJesus -- and that has remained the highlight. Then the A's made an offer to Adrian Beltre that he appeared not to notice. Then the A's non-tendered Jack Cust and started talking earnestly to more expensive DHs who were likely not as good. Meanwhile, the Angels set their sights on Carl Crawford and the Rangers decided to go "all in" to keep Cliff Lee. Then Hisashi Iwakuma's agent went, or stayed, insane and that was that with Iwakuma. Then everyone who might seemed interested in Beltre got a different 3Bman, but Beltre still didn't appear to notice the A's offer -- still the only one that has actually been made to him -- until the A's finally threw up
my lunch their arms and took it off the table.
Crawford is signed, and he's not an Angel, and rumor has it that the blockbuster signing of Scott Downs, Pretty Good Middle Reliever, might have maxed out their payroll. Lee surprised everyone and spurned both the Rangers and the Yankees, to join the Phillies and co-ace with the man for whom he was traded away, Roy Halladay.
Beltre has still been made an offer by all of one team -- the Oakland A's -- and while agent Scott Boras claims there are "about 5 teams interested," Boras is hardly the most reliable source here and the fact remains: Exactly one team has actually made Beltre a konwn offer and it's the A's, who also are among the few teams with a lot of money still available to spend in the free agent market.
Today's signing of Hideki Matsui to a contract of just $4,5M constitutes one of the few scenarios where the A's did not necessarily come out behind on the "jettison Cust" fiasco -- Matsui will arguably produce as well as Cust in 2011, at a price right around what Cust would have commanded had the A's tendered him. So a lateral move, yes, but at least not one where the A's get worse by spending more money -- which is how things were looking for a while.
In the same way things couldn't have been looking a whole lot bleaker two weeks ago, right now things couldn't be looking a whole lot better for the A's relative to their division rivals. I believe things have turned around just enough that the A's will, in the coming weeks, either sign Beltre or trade for a COFer, in order to elevate themselves into "you have to worry about us" territory in the AL West. And that's really all we can ask.