Tag Archives: winter meetings

End Of An Error

We’re still waiting for our first big free agent signing of the offseason out here in Oakland. Though the biggest move to date may be addition by subtraction, as another MLB club has finally taken Jack Cust of our hands. The A’s have been seemingly trying to get rid of Cust for a few seasons now, and today the Seattle Mariners took a chance on the slugger/walker/striker-outer. At the beginning of last season, the A’s designated Cust for assignment, hoping another team would claim him. After he cleared waivers, he reported to AAA-Sacramento until injuries on the big league roster would force him up. He played uninspired ball the rest of the season and helped the A’s to another underwhelming offensive campaign. Cust made popular the “three true outcome player.” Each of his at-bats would surely end in one of three outcomes: a home run, walk, or strikeout. Problem is, two out of every three ended in a strikeout. His homers never seem to come when they counted, and his walks were mostly the result of resting the bat on his shoulders for 6 or 7 pitches. Throw a breaking ball, and you’ll surely strike him out. I know what the Mariners were thinking, he’s a guaranteed 20 HRs a year, but does this mean they’ve been sitting there for the last three years thinking, “where can we find a left-handed Richie Sexson?” Seriously, Mariner fans, that’s what you should be thinking right now.

Cust has got to be my most loathed player on the A’s in the last decade. There aren’t many, since the A’s have a knack for having blue-collar hustle guys. Pitching, defense, and basically fundamentals reigned supreme. Cust is none of these. Instead, he occupied the fat, lazy designated hitter spot and led the league in strikeouts three consecutive years. His 197 in 2008 were particularly impressive. I won’t even get into his defensive shortcomings. The good news is this opens up a spot for a power hitter the A’s so desperately need. I share Chappy’s sentiment in that I don’t want them to break the bank on an older player who’s best days are behind them, but that may be our only option. And, if you give me a choice, I’ll take anybody over Cust. Right now it’s looking like Hideki Matsui, but I’d be happy with Doris Matsui at this point. Alright, so Cust isn’t that bad; I’m just happy for a change.

“You want to go where you’re wanted,” Cust said. “In Oakland, even though I always did pretty well there…I’m sure they’d say I struggled in spring and what I did the three years before wasn’t good enough to make that team, I guess…..When I talk about Oakland last year especially, it’s definitely not a very positive experience for me. So I’m trying to block that out a little.”

Aren’t we all, Jack. Aren’t we all…..

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MLB Winter Meetings

Probably the most exciting time of the MLB offseason is seeing the hundreds of millions of dollars flying around. The winter meetings always produce plenty of rumors, and usually end with at least a few big names traded or signed to new teams. I was especially excited about this year, since I wrote a while back that the A’s actually have some money to spend on some free agents this year. It has just made me follow the winter meetings all that much closer! Here’s a few thoughts on the things I thought that were interesting that have taken place so far.

Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox seems like a solid deal for both sides. The Padres lost their best player and fan favorite, but got prospects that they are very familiar with since Jed Hoyer (Padres GM) used to work in Boston’s front office. We won’t know if the trade was all that even until the prospects hit the majors for a couple of years, but if they somehow pulled a Hanley Ramierez type player out of the deal it might not be as lopsided as everyone thinks right now. The Padres knew they couldn’t afford him next year, and I thought that they would give it a run this year after last year’s solid season. I thought they’d wait and see where they were at the All-Star break, but it’s probably better to trade a healthy Gonzalez now, instead of risking that he’ll be injured with diminished value later. Adrian just shot up my draft board for fantasy baseball. Just look how good Beltre did last year moving from the unfriendly hitting confines of Seattle to the playing pepper with the Green Monster.

Jayson Werth’s megadeal of 7 years and $126M seems like a horrible signing to me. Boras gets money for his clients though, and his clients are always happy with the deal. Does Werth have Carlos Beltran written all over it? Don’t get me wrong, I love the way Jayson plays, but for this much money after only two productive years in a hitters park is a head scratcher to me. Why are the Nats bogging down their payroll when they suck? It feels like the same kind of deal Gary Matthews got with the Angels. Just ask them how much they like that guy! Doesn’t signing Adam Dunn seem like a more reasonable option? I’d rather keep Dunn with less years, and maybe struggle for a year or two. When Bryce Harper and Steven Strasburg are playing at the level we all think they will, then would be the time to figure out what you need most and spend all your money. Not now, when you aren’t positive of what your team needs really are. I guess they might have a real plan if they really do throw “huge” money at Cliff Lee, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Tiger, Frank, and Jaime can all get a good laugh about this divorce stuff!

McCourt Vs. McCourt in court. Jaime and Frank finished up their first trial as they were competing for the rights to own the Dodgers in what has been a very messy divorce. The court ruled that Frank’s document stating he was the sole owner of the team will be thrown out because it was illegally made after the original prenup, so the team is still 50% hers and 50% his. If one of the two can’t buy the team outright, it’s been assumed that they will sell the team, which would make a lot of Dodger fans happy. Unfortunately though that won’t happen soon, and there will be another trial trying to prove that Frank’s original company was the reason they were able to purchase the Dodgers, so he will try to prove that he should have sole ownership. Looks like the Dodgers are going to be battling with Arizona for last place in the division this year.

The A’s offseason started with a bang as they made a couple trades and pickups with David Dejesus and Edwin Encarnacion. They won the rights to talk to Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma as well. We already dumped Encarnacion, and never really came close to signing Iwakuma, so I guess all that was smoke and mirrors. We may have just been blocking the Rangers and Mariners from Iwakuma since they were the two teams we outbid to have the rights to negotiate with him. It never really felt like a deal was getting done for him, especially for the money he was asking for to be our 5th starter.

I do want the A’s to spend this year, and they have the money to do so, but I think I’m more encouraged on what they haven’t spent their money on! They were rumored to be talking to Lance Berkman, which sounded like bringing back Giambi, Sweeney, or Piazza type in. I’m not a fan of that method anymore, because we’ve only gotten one Frank Thomas, and the rest looked washed up like they were. Now Berkman’s the Cardinals problem, and I still don’t understand why they got him when he has to play in the outfield, unless they want to slot him in instead of Pujols. Another guy they were rumored going after was Adrian Beltre. I was just as happy to see that they withdrew their contract offer to him, because he only plays good in contract years. I hope the Angels end up with him, and he turns into Seattle Beltre that didn’t care. I’d much rather go for a guy like Josh Willingham at a highly discounted price…


Did the Rangers and Mariners Get Better?

So the winter meetings are over, and there were two teams that made a few noteworthy moves in the AL West. Chone Figgins signed with the Mariners. Interesting move, now they have one of the best leadoff duos you could possibly have pairing Figgy with Ichiro. Maybe they’ll set some kind of record for double steals, or not, since Ichiro seems to be stealing a little less than he once did. They were reportedly thinking of re-signing Adrian Beltre, which sounds like a retarded idea, and would put a black hole in the lineup right after two on-base guys. The only way this deal will make them better is if they get some consistent power behind the two. Maybe Lopez will have a huge year and they could put him higher in the order. Maybe Griffey can have one last magic season for them, but looking at his stats from last year, I don’t see that being very likely… Side note, I am happy to see that he is going to play one more year, good for him! He’s the anti-Bonds, and it’s good to see he can still get some work past his prime.

The Rangers also made a couple moves signing one of my favorite love/hate players on the A’s over the past decade in Rich Harden. I love the way the guy pitches, and he CAN pitch, even Nolan Ryan is impressed by the guy, but hate how he is never healthy enough to pitch more than 100 or so innings. Supposedly he’s trying to make it to 200 innings to get a bunch of incentive money, but I’ll believe that when I see it! Dealing away Kevin Millwood’s elephant contract should allow them to sign a couple of guys at a much better price. Sounds like they have an interest in Mike Lowell as well. The Rangers weren’t bad last year, they just fell apart in the end with a mix of injuries and bad play.