Taking a moment to look back, look ahead, and fire off some random observations as I turn the page on the calendar to December.
* Rumors, rumors, rumors!
MLB commish Bud Selig is going to let the A’s move to San Jose! Andrew Bailey is about to be traded to the Reds! Gio Gonzalez is going to the Marlins … or the Red Sox … or somewhere, anywhere, everywhere else but Oakland! Or maybe I can just make up something that’ll make the rounds on Twitter for a day or two and then eventually lead to zip, zilch, nada.
Gotta love the Hot Stove League. Lotsa smoke and very little fire at this stage of the game.
* The fact that the “news” about the A’s talking to Sidney Ponson’s agent generated some buzz says everything you need to know about the absurdity of the rumor mill and the sad state of A’s baseball.
* Baseball settled on a new collective bargaining agreement that seems to work against small fries like the A’s. It’ll be fascinating to see if one of the small market clubs can find a creative way to make the new system to work for them. Can the A’s be the one team that’s smart enough to successfully zig while the rest of the league zags under the new terms of the CBA?
* Guess who finally has a hitting coach? That’s right, it’s your Oakland A’s. Manager Bob Melvin’s flirtation with Mike Aldrete failed to lure the former Athletic away from the Cardinals so BoMel turned to former teammate Chili Davis to fill the last opening on his staff.
Davis immediately became the most dangerous hitter in Oakland.
Good luck to Davis who’ll need it considering the fact that he’s inheriting a far weaker lineup than the one that got former hitting coach Gerald Perry a ticket out of town. Time to see if Davis can make chicken salad and lemonade out of what he’s been given to work with.
On a positive note, I was always a big Chili Davis fan back in his playing days and I think going outside of the organization for a hitting coach could be just what the team needs. I’m sure Davis will bring a fresh perspective and real passion for the craft of hitting in his first shot at a big league coaching job.
* The A’s aren’t happy with any of their home ballparks. Not in Oakland for the Major League season and not in Phoenix for spring training. According to some reports the A’s are kicking around the idea of moving into Hohokam Park in Mesa after the Cubs leave town. There’s something sad about the fact that while most baseball teams are able to work out deals for brand new spring training facilities all the A’s can come up with is an old venue like Hohokam.
I guess I’d care more about this news if annual spring training trips were still a part of my life but the money that used to go toward beer and baseball in the desert is now going toward diapers and formula in suburbia. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything … not even Gio Gonzalez or Andrew Bailey if general manager Billy Beane called and made me an offer.
* David DeJesus signed with the Cubbies for $10 million over 2 years and traded Mount Davis for the ivy of Wrigley Field. The man is on the wrong side of 30, coming off the worst year of his career and he’s taking $10 million to the bank. More power to him and best of luck to DeJesus who was a class act during a tough year in Oakland but something seems ridiculous about that deal.
* The month ended with these depressing tweets from Jim Bowden (JimBowdenESPNxm):
“David Forst AGM A’s told us @mlbnetworkradio they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball and that the new CBA Draft rules will help”
“Forst AGM A’s told us @mlbnetworkradio that besides Michael Taylor they have no ML OFers &if season started today ball would just drop in OF”
Unless the tweets are some kind of bad joke, Beane’s right hand man basically thinks the franchise he helps run is a wasteland. Are you fired up right now? Are you inspired? Are you getting ready to run out and buy season tickets? Me neither.
Maybe they’re just being painfully honest and blunt but it seems like almost every high ranking member of the organization is dead set on playing down the franchise until they get the green light to move to San Jose.
It’s a tired act and it doesn’t do the coaches, players or fans any good.
* Where will Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui land as free agency picks up? I would assume that a lot of the action will be on hold until Albert Pujols/Prince Fielder/Jose Reyes start inking deals. After that the market should open up and the some of the key members of Oakland’s 2011 starting outfield will find new homes. I just hope none of them end up with the Giants or another team in the AL West because it would add insult to injury if they thrived with rivals while the A’s flirt with last place in 2012.
* When will some of those rumors swirling around the A’s turn into real news? If the A’s aren’t going to open up their wallets to sign some interesting, exciting players they might as well shake things up and make some deals because this offseason is getting dull and depressing in a hurry. There’s a part of me that just wants to be entertained and wrapping my head around a big trade involving someone like Gonzalez would spice up December.
Does that mean I want to see Gonzalez or Bailey leave town? No, not at all. But this is clearly a franchise that isn’t going to contend anytime soon so they might as well find a creative way to load up for the future.
* There has to be an outfielder or two coming to Oakland soon, right? I can’t imagine Beane taking the club into spring training with the current crop of unproven in-house options. There has to be a couple of bargain basement free agents on his radar or some young outfielders he has as trade targets in any deal for Gonzalez or Bailey. It’ll be interesting to see how the outfield situation plays out in the next month or two.
• If ownership’s leading man Lew Wolff is so determined to move the team from Oakland to San Jose or from Phoenix to Mesa he should hang out with me when I help my friends move later this month.
I’d love to see him show up on moving day just so I could yell, “Hey Wolfie, stop standing around staring into the distance toward San Jose! Grab the other end of this couch and get your rear in gear, we’ve got a lot of work to do today!”
Shoot me an e-mail Lew, I’d love to work with you and kick back with some pizza and beer at the end of moving day.
* I’ve got a couple of ideas for taking care of that little “We don’t have a starting outfield” problem in Oakland. No. 1 is to bring back Rickey Henderson. You know he’d jump at the chance to suit up again and I can’t imagine him being any worse than Emil Brown who ate up a lot of playing time several year ago.
No. 2 is to have an Outfielder of the Day fan promotion at the ballpark. Set aside one section and sell some special ticket packages where everyone is in a pre-game drawing to start in right field if their name is drawn. It’ll be a hit and it won’t cost ownership a dime which is all that seems to matter sometimes.
* Speaking of ownership, doesn’t it turn your stomach that John Fisher is one of the richest men in this corner of the universe but he just quietly collects revenue sharing checks from Major League Baseball and sits on his wallet as the A’s drift into irrelevance? I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about the man talking about the A’s. Does he even care about baseball? I’d love to hear his side of things one of these days so he can prove me wrong and show he actually cares about this team and its fans.
I can’t even describe how much I miss the Haas family. I’ll always like Levis more than anything sold at the Gap just because of the stark contrast between what the Haas family and Fisher have done for Oakland A’s baseball.
* Right this second I have a really bad feeling about this outfield situation. Not having some young, strong in-house candidates just reeks of bad planning and failed player development.
On the other hand, this could produce some real positives because the wide open competition for playing time could lead to major progress in player development.
Maybe Taylor shows flashes of being the middle-of-the-order threat Oakland desperately needs. Maybe Jermaine Mitchell can be a late bloomer who carves out a few surprisingly productive years in the big leagues. Maybe Jai Miller shows last year’s power surge in Triple A was no fluke and he develops into the second coming of Geronimo Berroa. Maybe Chili Davis can work some magic with Ryan Sweeney and it won’t look like he’s meekly swinging a Wiffle Ball bat anymore.
* Is it too early to start the Grant Green Watch? I can’t imagine anyone in the minor leagues with a clearer path to Oakland than Green. I can see a strong spring training and hot start to the season in Triple A opening the door for a quick big league debut if some of the players in the A’s outfield fail miserably.
* Is it too early to start the Michael Choice Watch? Maybe we can start this one around the All-Star Break if the big guy can build on last year’s monster season in Stockton and push his way from Double A to Sacramento in short order.
* How about a Sonny Gray Watch? I say we start this one around August and hope for a September call-up if the young pitcher can rise to the challenge of being put on the fast track by the front office.
If you couldn’t tell, you’re catching me at a moment where I don’t think there’s going to be much to watch in Oakland next season if Beane starts shipping players out of town and ownership continues to pinch pennies.
At least I have the Outfielder of the Day promotion and moving day with Lew Wolff tomorrow if someone out there in the A’ s organization is reading this right now.
Don’t worry everyone, by spring training I’ll be all fired up about A’s baseball again.