A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Macha let go; offseason pickup?

So, as we all know by now, Ken Macha was allowed to walk as a free agent (not exactly fired, but he won't be coming back.) The word on the street seems to be that Bob Geren, a close personal friend of Billy Beane who earned raves as Sacramento's manager before becoming bullpen coach on the big league team, is the frontrunner to get the job, with Ron Washington the leading darkhorse. I think both would be better than Macha, although it is hard to know.

Meanwhile, the team heads into 2006 roughly intact. Assuming the organization is committed to Bobby Kielty (please, Bobby, give up swinging left-handed... please), there is one spot available, for a DH-type, assuming Hatteberg isn't re-signed (it's hard to see how or why that would happen), and Payton is also allowed to leave (I think the club has an option for $4M, though I may be wrong.) Even if Payton stays, he's a great fourth outfielder / time-sharer with Kielty.

So, who will the A's be targeting? With Barton down the road, what we need is a guy who can play now, not necessarily a long-term fix. I would say that the chances are that Billy will get someone off our radar... like he did with Hatteberg four years ago. But here are some thoughts:

1. Jonny Gomes, Tampa Bay. Gomes has legitimate power and his defense is terrible, which are two things that the A's could really use. He strikes out a ton, but walks an adequate amount and hit 21 HRs in 348 at-bats. With the Rays having a ton of young outfielders (Crawford, Baldelli, Gathright, Young), they don't really need Gomes, and he's not terribly young (he'll be 25 in November.) He could probably be had, as the Devil Rays have sort of jerked him around this year.

2. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia. Like Gomes, Howard strikes out a ton, and has great power. Like Gomes, he's been jerked around by his organization, and like Gomes, he is blocked, by Jim Thome, who has many years and many millions of dollars left on his contract. He can really only play first base, and not well, which again makes him a good fit for the AL. There is talk that the Phillies will try to trade Thome, but I can't imagine that they'll make much headway there. Howard is like Erubiel Durazo, although Thome was a much better player than Mark Grace -- he simply has nowhere to play an has an AL skill set. Ed Wade seems to like relievers, and we have a ton of them. I'd gladly trade a Jairo Garcia for Howard. Another plus about Howard is that he has a huge platoon split (he's a left-handed hitter), so if Payton or someone is around they'd be good to spell him against lefties.

3. Roberto Petagine, Boston. The Red Sox don't need him. They probably don't even have him signed beyond this year. He's old and he can hit. He's worth a look and would likely come cheap. I don't see the downside here.

4. Conor Jackson/Carlos Quentin, Arizona. The D'Backs have a glut of outfield/first base types (between these guys, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Tony Clark, and Chad Tracy, who can play third but is blocked by Troy Glaus.) Quentin is the better defender, while Jackson is more of a pure hitter, so Jackson would be a better fit for the A's (he also went to Cal, making him something of a geographical fit.) Arizona has consistently said that they value these guys very highly, and with good reason, but they do have to do something. Even Shawn Green would be useful for the A's (assuming Arizona picks up most of his salary), but Green and Gonzalez both seem untradeable, and Clark just signed an extension. Two of these guys have to go. Even Tracy would definitely be worth picking up (and would be useful as a backup third baseman.) It seems like there is a deal to be made here.

5. Lyle Overbay, Milwaukee. With Prince Fielder in the picture, Overbay has nowhere to play. He doesn't really have the power that you would like, but is a solid player, and should be expendable -- of course all of this was true at the trading deadline, the Brewers weren't in the race, and he still didn't go anywhere. I wouldn't give up too much for him, but he won't break the bank, and he shouldn't cost too much.

6. Mike Sweeney, Kansas City. The Royals are back in the doldrums. Sweeney has dropped off from his peak, but is still useful, and is a free agent after 2007; the Royals are unlikely to contend before then. If the Royals pick up a bunch of the cash, he'd be a good fit as a rental. All he's likely to cost is money and a C+ prospect or two. Sweeney doesn't seem to like the limelight, which makes Oakland a good spot -- a "small-market" team that still contends.

But, like I said, it'll probably be someone we've never heard of.

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