The A's went through the entire 2005 season without a single player on their roster who was older than me. Unless the A's sign Julio Franco or somebody, Mark McLemore and Chris Hammond will be the last Athletics players born before me.
The A's just added Javier Herrera to their 40-man roster. Now, for the first time, there's a player on the A's roster who was born after I graduated from high school.
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Watching Billy Beane fill out the roster at Sacramento is one of my favorite offseason pleasures. He always manages to find some hidden gems to fill the A's depth chart with players who can provide above-replacement-level production.
This year, this show begins with the signing of Matt Roney as a free agent. I didn't know anything about him, but a quick look at his stats shows why the A's signed him. He had struggled as a starter for most of his career, but he responded well to a switch to the bullpen in 2005. His K/9 rate jumped from about 5.5 in 2004 to nearly 9.0 at AA and AAA in 2005. Worth a flyer, in case he turns out to have some Chad Bradford-type ROOGY usefulness. Even if he doesn't, having the depth at Sacramento is always a good thing.
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The A's 40-man roster now stands at 38 players, after the A's added their Rule 5 protections (Herrera, Andre Ethier, and Shane Komine). Who are those last two roster spots being held open for? A trade perhaps?
Maybe one of them is being held for Ricardo Rincon, in case the A's manage to bring him back. But with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, among others, now rumored to be after Rincon's services, it's likely someone else will overpay for him.
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Here's a weird thing: in the same Star-Ledger article which mentions the Yankees' interest in Rincon, it also claims that the Yankees asked Beane about Mark Kotsay:
A baseball official familiar with the Yankees' plans said they recently reached out to the Oakland A's to ask about the availability of center fielder Mark Kotsay. The official said the A's aren't opposed to moving Kotsay, but that talks stalled when Oakland asked about second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang -- the two players everybody keeps asking the Yankees about.
Maybe. Or maybe talks stalled when somebody mentioned that Kotsay has a full no-trade clause through 2006, and might not want to go.
But Jay Payton doesn't have a no-trade clause. His $4 million salary is relatively cheap. His defensive numbers in center field are quite good. So why would the Yankees ask about Kotsay, and not about Payton?
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Billy Beane can now realistically ask for the moon for Barry Zito, and expect to get it. The Red Sox gave up one of the Top 10 prospects in baseball, plus two really powerful young arms, in exchange for an injury-prone #1 starter, and a guy with a bloated contract coming off a terrible year.
So what's the asking price for a 27-year-old #1 starter with a reasonable contract who has never missed a single start in five years?
Beane has to be asking for at least the same as the Marlins' haul, if not more: one can't-miss top prospect, and two more real good ones. Certainly somebody will pony up that price, if not more, especially after some of the other pitchers come off the market.
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And finally, the A's also announced their minor league coaching staffs for 2006. Nothing particularly interesting in the hires they listed. But there is one noticeable hole: there is no manager in Vancouver, the A's short-season affiliate.
Think maybe that job is being held open for Washington resident Scott Hatteberg?
Seems to be the perfect fit. A's executives love the guy, and want to keep him in the organization. At the same time, if Hatteberg is going to retire from playing, he would probably like to stay close to home. I'd wager that if Hatteberg isn't on a major league roster come opening day, he'll be driving across the border to coach the Canadians come June.
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Younger men than I are now retiring and becoming coaches. Yup, I'm officially old.