Bay Area Hot Stove Special

Bay Area Hot Stove Special
January 6, 2010, 9:34 pm
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It's been a while since I've dropped an A's Hot Stove update on you, and given Adrian Beltre's recent removal from the mix, now seems like a good time.It's also about time for an update on what I'm hearing from my Giants sources, so let's call this a Bay Area Hot Stove Special.A's: Billy Beane is on vacation with his wife and toddler twins, but that doesn't mean he's not working. Heck, traveling with twins is serious work in itself. But Beane's also been crushing whatever minutestext plan he has on his Blackberry, and his assistant, GM-in-waiting David Forst, is surely doing as much work as anyone in the organization. On what are they working? Well, finding a third baseman is certainly a priority right now, as evidenced by Oakland's very real pursuit of Beltre. They certainly weren't going to go 9 mil a year for him, as did the Red Sox, but they did make a big play for the guy.Alas, it didn't work out. Personally, I don't think Beltre ever wanted to go to Oakland. I think he pulled a Rafael Furcal. But that's neither here nor Sebastopol. Bottom line, the A's still need a third baseman, and they still need some pop.As far as third basemen go, I know the team has at least broached the subject of trading for Andy LaRoche, a 26-year-old under contract with the Pirates who has some pop and hits from the right side but made 14 errors last season. A trade for the Padres' Kevin Kouzmanoff, who is two years older than LaRoche with a similar offensive profile (with a lower OBP) but a better glove, has been batted about, too. Neither of those guys will give you the guaranteed 25 bombs that Jack Cust would provide, though, and that's why the A's are still talking with Cust's agent about a possible return. Oakland hasn't yet made an offer, and Cust has already gotten at least a couple offers and is expecting a couple more, but I get the sense that the A's will be given an opportunity to match whatever offer Cust deems most attractive before he actually takes it.And if you're wondering why the A's are so interested in getting a third baseman despite having Jake Fox and Eric Chavez, it's because Fox isn't really a third baseman -- Oakland isn't comfortable with him there on an everyday basis -- and Chavez is, well, you know, Chavez. Nobody sane would be counting on him to be an everyday position player at this point.What about Adam Kennedy, you ask? He'd be a Plan D or E. I'm surprised he hasn't gotten more serious looks this offseason, but there just aren't many openings for a starting second baseman around the game this winter, and that's what he wants to be. Giants: You've probably heard Cust's name in association with the Giants at least a couple of times this winter, and it's probably had you scratching your head. As I've noted before, Cust's defensive issues in the outfield should negate any pitching-based team's infatuation with his power and OBP. But as Cust himself recently told me in a text, "Stranger things have happened."He was talking about returning to the A's at the time, but it applies here, too. The Giants really want to add a left-handed bat, and it seems they're not sold on Nate Schierholtz or any of their other young outfielders, including second-half surprise Eugenio Velez. But would they actually have the stones to throw out Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand and Cust in the outfield at AT&T? Look, kiddies: TWO triples alleys!And last I checked, Cust punches out about 4,500 times a year. A good fit this is not.Adam LaRoche, on the other hand, would be a nice fit. He's a lefty with proven pop, he gets on base (.343 career OBP), he drives in his share of runs, and he made only two errors in 148 games at first base last season. There's no question he'd make the Giants a better offensive club, and Pablo Sandoval's ability to play the hot corner would give the team perhaps its best corner infield combo since Matt Williams and Will Clark.But LaRoche must know something about the market that the rest of us don't, because he's said to have turned down a two-year deal worth 17 million from the Giants.So now what? Do you hear it?It's getting louder It's the Miguel Tejada drum, and I'm banging it again. I'd be willing to bet that Tejada has two more good years in him, so why not throw a restructured version of LaRoche's deal at him? One year at 8 million, with a vesting option for 2011 at another 8 mil. If he flops this year, he's gone. If he kills and hits certain statistical heights, he stays and gets paid great money for a 47-year-old.A full year of Freddy Sanchez at second, DeRosa in left, Tejada at third, Panda at first and Juan Uribe at the ready to fill in for Edgar Renteria and everyone else sounds pretty good. Not wow, but pretty good. And put Schierholtz in right for at least the first two months of the season. I'm telling you, the guy can play.Oh, and who's the catcher and fifth starter? Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants won't shout it from the rooftops, but they think both of them will be just fine in a sink-or-swim situation. They might not be Michael Phelps right away, but they'll won't be Eric the Eel from the 2000 Summer Olympics, either.By the way, if you have no clue who Eric the Eel is, look it up. Hilarious videos out there.