Urban: Bay Ball, Hot Stove edition (Dec. 1)

December 2, 2010, 1:00 am
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Dec. 1, 2010

With baseball's annual Winter Meetings set to jump off in full force Monday in Florida, it's exactly the right time to hop into that dusty old dinghy and head out into the restless bay before the next storm hits. The A's are in the lead spot today, so let's start at Jack London Square and head toward McCovey Cove to start what figures to be a fairly bumpy ride The Giants have dominated the Bay Area's Hot Stove doings for the past week or two, but the A's jumped back into the spotlight late Monday when CSNBayArea.com got confirmation that GM Billy Beane was set to meet with free agent Lance Berkman on Tuesday.
RELATED: A's to meet with Berkman
The spotlight got brighter still early Wednesday, when it was reported elsewhere -- by a veteran, conscientious, well-respected local scribe -- that the A's also met Tuesday in Houston with free agent Adam Dunn. Serious candidates for Dunn's services, the A's were said to be, and that got Oakland fans all atwitter (pun intended). Let's face it: Dunn is a heck of a lot more exciting as a potential addition to that power-deficient lineup. Berkman? Not the needle-mover A's fans want to see, and it doesn't help that he's gone public with his disdain for being a DH -- that's kind of where you'd fit best in Oakland, buddy and his preference for playing in the National League.Alll indications are that Beane's meeting with Berkman went well, but Berkman isn't good enough to prompt any sort of move regarding Daric Barton, who is nine years younger (25 vs. 34) and a far a far superior defensive player. Yeah, Berkman hit 45 homers in 2006, but that was while playing in the thimble that is the Astros park, and he had plenty of lineup protection at the time. His power production had dipped every year since, though, and he'd be virtually naked in Oakland's lineup. There's no room for him in the A's outfield, either, so he's a DH at best -- and not the most attractive or healthy option at that. Hideki Matsui would be a far better fit.Dunn, however, would definitely prompt a move to make room at first base. He's a legit slugger, still in his prime, and four years at, say, 60 million total would be a worthy investment despite his defensive shortcomings. He's the epitome of the power bat Oakland needs.Alas, bad things happen to good people, and the report of the BeaneDunn meeting was withdrawn later in the day. Even the very best reporters in the business get burned by bad information from time to ts interest in free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre thus far unrequited, its Berkman or bust. And those two words are a little too close for comfort right now. Brandon Belt, the Giants top prospect, isn't exactly basking in the glow of his stellar 2010 season, which included a star turn as a member of the Arizona Fall League champion Scottsdale Scorpions.I spoke to Belt on the phone Wednesday to set up an interview Friday, but he said, "That's not a great day for me."To clarify: It's not a great day for an interview. It's sure to be a great day in general, though, Belt, back home in West Texas now, is getting married Friday.So we're going to talk again Thursday or early next week. The honeymoon is going to have to wait; his bride-to-be is still in college. The interview, though, will be right here on CSNBayArea.com before you know it. Stay tuned. What of Beltre? I hear he's got an eye on the Angels, who are going to spend whatever it takes this offseason to get back into the contender mix in the AL West next season. Carl Crawford is likely to land there, too, and Crawford and Beltre would turn things around in Anaheim in a hurry.That makes adding a Matsui type -- Berkman at the very least, because Jack Cust is all but gone -- all the more urgent for the A's, whose pitching is great but not so great that it can carry a team that scores less than Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati. The Giants' signing of Miguel Tejada should serve as another kick in the butt for Pablo Sandoval, who appears to be penciled in as the starting third baseman in 2011. But that pencil has a big, fat eraser on it, and with Mark DeRosa said to be headed for 100 percent readiness come spring, Sandoval better be digging him some lettuce sandwiches for the holidays.DeRosa is being paid starter's money, too, and if he's healthy and Sandoval comes to camp still looking like the Michelin Man, DeRosa will happily claim the hot corner. Food for thought for the Panda; just don't smother it with cheese and sour cream, big boy.Smart move by the Giants, by the way, to basically tell their dough boy that he's on his own this winter. No more "Camp Panda" or hand-holding. It's time to find out, once and for all, exactly what makes the guy tick, and leaving him to his own devices -- and vices -- this time around should provide the all-important answer come February. That's it for now, folks. I'm leaving for the Winter Meetings on Sunday, so if you have a coverage idea, drop me a line at murban@comcastsportsnet.com. Until then, peace, Taco Bell's chicken flatbread sandwiches, and Love Gun by Kiss to all.
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