Jan. 15, 2010A'S PAGE
TheRaiders dominated the local news cycle again Friday with, um, zeronews whatsoever.Then,late in the day, along came the other professional sports franchise withOakland in its name. And the A's came with real news. Prettybig news, actually. In trading a Quadruple-A outfielder (Aaron Cunningham) andanother outfielder who just didn't seem to fit (Scott Hairston) to the Padresfor Kevin Kouzmanoff, the A's finally landed a solid young third baseman to carrythe position a few years into their seemingly bright future.As Inoted in a blog last week, the A's have been talking to San Diego aboutKouzmanoff for quite some time. That those talks have finally shaken fruit fromthe tree is the biggest win of the offseason for Oakland GM Billy Beane.And giventhat Beane has been dealing with an extremely sick son for the better part oftwo weeks, credit likely should go to his assistant GM, David Forst. Togetherthey filled their team's most glaring need and turned a so-so winter intosomething much closer to good.
There wassimply no way the A's were going to count on Eric Chavez. That would be insanegiven his health history. And they weren't thrilled with the notion of Jake Foxat third on a regular basis, so they went out and got what they needed whilegiving up very little of consequence.Why wouldthe Padres make such a seemingly lopsided deal? Pretty simple. Kouzmanoff, a28-year-old with decent pop (18 homers, 88 RBIs last year) and a solid glove atthe hot corner, is eligible for arbitration, and the San Diego is in noposition to add to its payroll. Hairstonis arb-eligible, too, but he's not going to get anything close to the kind ofraise for which Kouzmanoff is in line. But wait,you might say. Aren't the A's supposed to be cheap, too?Not ascheap as the Padres need to be right now. Messy divorce down there, you know.Must be a SoCal thing; the Dodgers are wearing it, too.Besides,Beane and Forst always had some money set aside for this rainy day, thanks inpart of the shell game that resulted in getting CoCo Crisp, Jack Cust andJustin Duchscherer for about 10 million this year.So wheredoes Fox play? He'll probably play all over. Maybe he ends up holding downfirst base; nothing is going to be handed to Daric Barton as this point, and ifthe A's can prevent super-prospect Chris Carter's arb clock from starting for awhile, they most certainly will.Does itreally matter where Fox plays, though? This deal was about the A's getting allof their bases covered, and third base was the only one still bare.Interesting,too, that the A's would manage to wrangle the spotlight from the Raiders.Oakland's two teams -- the Warriors can't fully claim the Biggidy-O until it'sstitched on their jerseys -- are the only two teams in pro sports that have anexecutive as the face of the franchise.As AlDavis is the Raiders, Billy Beane is theA's.But justas there's a huge difference between no news being news and news being made,there's a huge difference in the levels of respect each man has with his team'sfan base. One manis behind the times, and the other always seems one step ahead.