Winter Meetings musings

December 3, 2012, 7:43 pm
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NASHVILLE - As soon as you move through the rotating door to enter Gaylord Opryland's lobby you are handed a map. That's how massive the site of the 2012 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings is. It is a bit of a sensory overload. Immediately recognizable in the lobby are prominent members of the media, baseball executives, some current managers, and one very impressive manager of the past, Tommy Lasorda. The baseball people all mingle on a bridge directly outside the lobby. At times the narrow bridge that takes you over a large man-made pond gets so crowded that it is hard to pass through. Being exchanged are business cards, pleasantries, and information. As you take a couple of escalators the hotel opens up to a massive garden conservatory with thousands of dangling strands of white light. You can see a quaint gazebo and much more water as you take the skywalk to to the area that eventually winds around to the make-shift television sets, and MLB press conference rooms. More people are standing around talking. Most people are in suits -- surprisingly with no ties -- or company branded polo shirts. There's a surprising amount of job seekers here.You introduce yourself, get business cards, talk to agents, and try to catch wind of moves that could be on the horizon. Inside the hotel there are about eight bars. Most people just partake at night. Below the television area there is a guided boat tour that takes you around the inside of the hotel. It costs 9.50 but they let us ride for free because we brought a high-def camera to shoot scenics. Outside there is a dazzling display of holiday lights. It's easy to get lost here. It's even easier to cover massive amounts of distance without realizing it. For now, these observations are the only ones that matter from the Oakland A's side of the beat. A's general manager Billy Beane and assistant general manager David Forst will be arrived this evening. They will speak with the A's writers and then get to work. If you think it is surprisingly quiet from the A's perspective, this is why. Even when they are here, the A's tend to be relatively quiet at the Winter Meetings. Oakland needs a shortstop. Whether or not they can bring back Stephen Drew is the biggest question. His agent Scott Boras is one of the toughest negotiators in the business. He is here. Drew is drawing interest from several clubs. If the A's can't bring him back, the shortstop market is thin. I spoke with the agents of Yuniesky Betancourt. They say they have been in contact with Oakland but haven't had any serious talks. Betancourt could be had for pretty cheap. He signed a one-year deal with the Royals last offseason for 2,000,000. He only played 57 games last season, but played over 150 games in five of the last six seasons. For now, most of the news that relates to the A's has to do with moves other clubs have made. Mike Napoli has signed with the Boston Red Sox. Napoli, 31, got a three-year deal. He hit 54 homers for the Rangers in the past two seasons, and it certainly hurts Texas' lineup to lose him. The other big news that might have a mild trickle down effect for Oakland is that Alex Rodriguez is going to miss extensive time after undergoing right hip surgery. With the Yankees in need of a back up at third base, Brandon Inge could be a solid solution. That might make it harder for the A's to bring Inge back. With Jonny Gomes joining the Red Sox, Inge could be valuable to the A's as a clubhouse leader and provide depth behind Josh Donaldson at the hot corner. Much more to come. Make sure to check out SportNet Central, and Chronicle Live tonight. We'll have A's manager Bob Melvin on both shows. I'll also be attempting to grab him for a one-on-one interview for SportNet Central: Hot Stove on Tuesday.

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