Ah, I love it when Billy Beane is being honest with me.
This is the time of year where Billy Beane really shines: when all the big names have been shuffled around, and the press goes home from the Winter Meetings and go into hibernation until spring training, watching Beane pluck guys off the wires and fill in the roster at Sacramento is a blast.
Signing Durazo--who may finally be healthy for the first time in over two years (he's currently destroying the Mexican Winter League)--would make perfect sense for the 25-man roster if the A's hadn't just signed Mike Piazza to DH, or if Durazo could actually play a position. Theoretically, Durazo can play first base, or even outfield (as he did in Arizona back in 2001), but OWWW MY EYES IT BURNS IT BURNS! Even the mere thought of watching Durazo in the field is torturous. Of course, they could let Durazo DH, and try Piazza at first. YEEEEEEEOOOWWWWCHH NO PLEASE STOP PLEASE MAKE IT GO AWAY!
Maybe Durazo will be improved in the field now that he is fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery. And maybe Jason Kendall will hit 20 home runs next year. We all love a happy surprise.
But really, this doesn't change Plan A: Piazza is the everyday DH, and Dan Johnson is in an effective platoon with Bobby Kielty (Kielty in LF and Swisher at 1B vs. lefties; Swisher in LF and Johnson at 1B vs. righties). Billy Beane would never, ever lie to us, you know.
Although Durazo doesn't really fill an immediate hole on the 25-man roster, the signing is still quite clever. Even if you have to stash Durazo at Sacramento for awhile, having him in the organization provides depth at four positions:
First base: Painful though it may be to watch, Durazo is 1B insurance in case Johnson struggles or gets hurt.
Outfield: When Kotsay and Bradley go down with their inevitable injuries, Durazo provides more flexibility to keep Swisher in the outfield, and could maybe even be a warm body they could run out there in an emergency.
Catcher: If Kendall or Melhuse get hurt, you slide Piazza into a catching role. Durazo takes over at DH while Piazza catches.
So much upside, and very little risk. Nicely done, Mr. Beane!