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Foulke Returning to Oakland
2008-02-08 13:44
by Ken Arneson

OK, here's a curious move: the A's are bringing back Keith Foulke, who had retired last year. It's an eyebrow-raiser in that it's a major league deal, and the A's 40-man roster is full. So unless they cut Alan Embree, someone younger than Foulke will have to be cut to make room for him. I suppose they think they can sneak someone like Wes Bankston, who has been waiver wire fodder twice this year already, through on waivers to the minors without losing him. Still, Foulke isn't going to be around for the next good A's team, so what's the motivation? Is this a prelude to a trade of Embree or Huston Street?

It's also curious in that when asked at the FanFest if the A's had any interest in Barry Bonds, Billy Beane said he wouldn't comment on free agents, but pointed towards the new direction of the club for a hint. But isn't signing Foulke just as contrary to the new direction of the club as signing Bonds would be? It's a move strictly for 2008; you can't expect any payoff beyond that.

On another note, Beane also said during the FanFest that he always roots for the other teams in the AL West to trade away their young players. He must be happy today as the Mariners sent off four youngsters (including Adam Jones) plus George Sherrill for two years of Eric Bedard. Since the A's are punting the next two years anyway, the deal is nothing but good news for A's fans.

2008-02-08 14:43:15
1.   trainwreck
Hopefully, he somehow rebounds and then the A's can trade him for some prospects.

I really hope the A's can trade Blanton to the Reds, because they have some great minor league talent.

2008-02-08 15:32:40
2.   LoneStranger
1) Folke to A's
2) Huston traded somewhere else to add to prospects
3) Folke/Embree close this year
4) Folke does well enough to get traded to someone at deadline for more prospects (or at least well enough to get a sandwich pick?)
5) In 2009 a youngster is ready to close.

Could that be what Beane is thinking?

2008-02-08 15:55:09
3.   Ken Arneson
2 Maybe. Or maybe Embree is traded elsewhere, and Foulke takes over the veteran-in-the-pen role from Embree.

Street is still only 24 years old; he has lots of good years ahead. I'd like to see the A's sign him to an extension rather than trade him. Street confirmed that he and the A's had talked about a long-term deal. It didn't sound like an agreement was imminent, though; I read it as meaning the A's wanted to shop him around before deciding whether to trade him, or give him a long-term deal.

2008-02-08 17:32:22
4.   Ken Arneson
I was right; the A's designated Bankston for assignment.
2008-02-08 22:41:14
5.   jmoney
What's the point? Even if Foulke is great, come July you won't get more than a B-/C+ prospect for him. If it was an NRI it would be one thing, but a major league deal? Inane.

Here's where I go on an irrational rant: I will never forgive Foulke for not throwing David Ortiz a changeup in Game 4 of the 2003 ALDS. And then signing with the Red Sox that offseason and pitching like a champ during their World Series run. Fuck Keith Foulke. I hope I'm at the Coliseum when he makes his season debut, so I can boo him.

2008-02-09 02:35:20
6.   El Lay Dave
2 4) If fFoulke does do well enough to merit draft pick compensation as an FA next offseason, the A's would have to offer him arbitration. Do you want to risk that he accepts that offer?
2008-02-10 15:05:30
7.   factoryten
I think this is an outstanding signing by BB. Here's why:

Foulke is going to make $700k in base salary. Peanuts, basically. He'll get a lot of money in incentives, not unlike Frank Thomas. If he fails, the A's aren't really out any money. If he succeeds I'm sure the A's are happy to pay him the $2.5 million he could possibly earn. Its a one-year deal so he won't become an anchor around the A's neck.

Secondly, by signing him, it means the A's don't necessarily have to bring up a minor leaguer and start their arbitration clock earlier than the A's would like. This means that someone who could be very good will be with the A's a year longer. It enhances the A's long term opportunities.

Finally, when the A's are fifteen games out come the All-Star break and a team is desperate for a closer, the A's can trade Houston Street and have Foulke return to closing, or set-up for Embree. Or perhaps Street will be traded before Opening Day. Or maybe he won't be traded at all, in which case Foulke is part of an insurance policy for when Street gets hurt, again, this season.

Basically, Foulke has a lot of potential benefit with the A's and very little downside: he's cheap, not blocking anyone from the major leagues, and is only with the A's for a year. This is a smart move by BB, in my opinion.

2008-02-11 12:34:35
8.   oaklandinboston
getting a B- prospect could, in fact, be the goal.
i think many of the cost-conscious clubs saw the Rangers' Gagne deal last year as a savvy way to get mid-level prospects. take a chance on a guy other clubs won't for relatively cheap, and if he performs, deal him mid-season.

factoryten, lonestranger and ken arnsen have legit explanations as well.

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