The rumor mill for the A's "senters" around three big names:
Barry Zito. Reading between Billy Beane's lines at the Loaiza press conference, it sounds like trading Zito is still an open issue. Beane has his price. Nobody has met that price yet, and he's not sure that anybody will.
That's fine. Beane doesn't have to trade Zito. From what I could tell, Beane's budget had about $7-$10 million to play with this offseason, maybe more if Wolff loosened the purse strings a bit. Beane doesn't need to shed salary, and he may have room for one more signing.
Milton Bradley. The A's have one spot to fill in their lineup. They could fill it with an outfielder or a DH.
Word in the Hell Senter is that Bradley will end up either with the A's or the Cubs. Bradley requires some delicate handling, but if Paul DePodesta liked him, Beane probably would, too.
Playing Bradley in right field would upgrade both the offense and defense. It would allow Ken Macha to move Nick Swisher around depending on the matchups. Against right handed pitchers, Swisher probably shifts to first base, and Dan Johnson becomes the DH. Swisher is a better defensive first baseman than he is an outfielder, and also better at first base than Johnson. With a lineup like that, the only spot on the field where the A's wouldn't be above average defensively would be at catcher. If Swisher continues to struggle hitting right-handed, he could platoon with Bobby Kielty, with Kielty DHing vs. lefties, and Johnson manning first base on those days.
Frank Thomas. With Konerko and Thome both with the White Sox now, the odds that Thomas would end up in Oakland increased quite a bit. Thomas would be the DH, with Swisher in right and Johnson at first every day. Obviously, Thomas won't improve the defense, but the right-handed power and OBP would be a nice fit, if Thomas can stay healthy.
The Thomas rumors seem to be based on writers speculating where he'd best fit, rather than any noise coming out of either Oakland or the Thomas camp.
Brrr. I feel a draft. I gotta go put on a sweater.