Dec. 21, 2010
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TheGiants were very busy early, tending to Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada andPat Burrell. The As have been fairly busy throughout, adding DavidDeJesus, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham. The Hot Stove of baseballsoffseason is always on, though, and both teams have plenty of time tocontinue shaping what each hopes will be a 2011 contender.
Andwith Christmas but four days away, what better time to hop onto aspeedboat modified to look like Santas sleigh and criss-cross the Bay?From the shores of McCovey Cove to Jack London Square we go On Tuesday the As landed Rich Harden, formerly known to someOaklanders as King Richard. A king no more, Harden is a low-risksigning at 1.5 million, and hes apparently going to get a chance towin the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation. If hes healthy, hell winit. But starting pitchers are asked to go more than five innings maybetwice all spring, and the much safer play for the As would be to turnHarden into a seventh- or eighth-inning guy. Way more bang for the buckthat way.
NEWS: A's deal for Harden finalized
You can stop hyperventilating about those Aaron Rowand-for-KosukeFukudome trade rumors, Giants fans. A Giants source tells me itshighly unlikely to happen for the same reason Rowand-for-Raul Ibaneznever could. Rowand has two years left on his horrible contract, at 12mil a season. Fukudome, like the Phillies Ibanez, has one year left ona bad deal. Oh, and in case you missed it, the Giants and Phils nevertalked about a Rowand trade. Brian Sabean made that clear at the wintermeetings.The one pro to consider -- and surely the As have and are --regarding Harden as a potential starter: If hes healthy enough tomake, say, 15 solid starts, they could flip him before the inevitabletrip to the DL to a team desperate for rotation help. By that time,Josh Outman, who has missed the past season and a half while recoveringfrom Tommy John surgery, should be more than ready to step in. SoOakland would be getting 15 solid starts and a couple of prospects forabout 750,000 without suffering any sort of dropoff when Outman jumpsin.As predicted, Edgar Renterias agent claims his client was misquotedabout being insulted by the Giants offer to pay him 1 million to beTejadas backup. Good for Giants VP of baseball ops Bobby Evans foressentially calling B.S. Theres no way the reporter, ESPNdeportesEnrique Rojas, who is well-respected and highly trusted among Latinballers, makes a mistake like that.
REWIND: Renteria says Giants' offer shows 'lack of respect'
Remember when Billy Beane announced, for the first time as OaklandsGM, that he was going to blow it all up and rebuild? That was beforethe 2008 season, and he said he hoped to have a stable, sustainable,competitive team by 2010. He did. He does. If the 2010 As are healthy,theyre battling the Rangers to the wire. If the 2011 As are healthy,theyve got a good shot at winning the AL West. And while Matsui andWillingham are free agents after this season, with the pitching in handand the restored depth of the farm system, Beane and his crew should becommended for nailing the plan.
NEWS: A's signing of Matsui official
Based on the responses generated via Twitter to last weeks columnbashing Renteria, its been suggested that the Giants might have a PRproblem on their hands if they end up bringing him back. Hard toimagine any ill will lingering past the World Series ring presentationceremony in April, though. Willing it all -- and hitting the home runthat clinched it -- buys that much forgiveness.Forget about the ballpark mess for a moment, and whatever you think ofthe ownership group. Focus on the baseball. The As are a team thatcounts the Pirates, Indians and Royals among their revenuepayrollpeers, yet in Beanes 14 years at the helm, the As have the sixth-bestrecord in all of baseball. Pretty good stuff.
Ratto: Oakland still in game for new A's stadium
Nice to see Tim Lincecum starting to get recognized for what truly wasa sensational year. The further away we get from those rough times inAugust, the easier it is to put the whole picture in perspective. Hewas dominant when he needed to be, and thats the true measure ofgreatness in sports.And finally, dont hold your breath on Adrian Beltre, As fans. Theteam hasnt spoken to Beltres agent, Scott Boras, for a while, andBeane likes his holidays quiet. Maybe things heat up quickly, but fornow that section of the stove is cool to the touch.Thatsall for which we have time, gang. Rides over, and the year is endingsoon, too. Your MLB Insider will never be far away, however, and comenext week we present the Top 10 Stories in Bay Ball 2010. Until then,peace, peppermint bark and Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt -- always gowith the orchestral original whenever possible on holiday tunes -- toall.