Oakland Athletics General Manager held a conference call with reporters this morning discussing the singing of Billy Butler and other topics of interest.
Beane first noted that Butler is likely to play a good deal more first base, specifically noting that he would play first base against left-handed pitching. It's a curious thought, but the scenario that immediately jumps to mind is that Sam Fuld might not have a place in the outfield against left-handers. The outfield could be Brandon Moss, Craig Gentry, and Kyle Blanks, with Coco Crisp as the designated hitter against left-handed pitching. Such a configuration could indicate that the A's think Crisp's recent defensive shortfalls may continue beyond his injury-plagued 2014.
As for the idea of an everyday designated hitter, Beane was careful to point out that Bob Melvin's decision really comes down to just who is available each day, because the team is certainly not going to be at constant 100% health.
When asked about the process for signing Butler, Beane pointed out that the A's were "aggressive from the start" and wanted to move quickly before Butler climbed the free agent boards of other teams that missed out on their more expensive first choice signings. The A's would have been outbid for Butler but for his down year making Butler less of a priority for other teams.
As for whether Butler will rebound, Beane said while there are no guarantees, there are reasons to be optimistic. Butler is young and has always been a player in good health. Butler has never been on the disabled list in his MLB career, and injury history logs I've read note missing a game or two after either being hit by a pitch or coming down with the flu. He has played at least 150 games per year for the last six seasons.
The conference call also touched on other topics.
As David Forst told then-95.7 the Game host Troy Clardy about a week ago, John Jaso has been cleared for all duties by concussion specialists in Pittsburgh. When asked about the possibility of playing first base, Beane said that it had been talked about, but demurred on offering anything definitive and noting that the game can be dangerous at any position.
A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker
The two Athletics pitchers recovering from Tommy John Surgery are on track with no setbacks. "Both cleared every hurdle," Beane said.
On the shortstop search
It's still early in the offseason, Beane noted, and there is "not a really robust market" with a lot of other clubs in pursuit of that position. Beane refused to rule out internal options or a trade, and noted that Andy Parrino had an overall good year, including his minor league statistics.
On potential trades
Asked about the contention window, Beane said that this year was probably a year where he was going to allow the farm system develop, or even bring in some younger guys. When asked specifically about Jeff Samardzija, Beane replied, "Right now, we're very happy to have Jeff at the top of our rotation."
Billy Butler will speak with reporters in a conference call at 1:00 PM Pacific Time today.