Captain America

You know, I hear other people complaining about their team’s newspaper coverage, but I feel pretty fortunate in that respect.

I get the San Francisco Chronicle on my doorstep every morning, and A’s beat writer Susan Slusser is a damn good reporter. This story about Eric Byrnes in the Dominican Republic is another example of her fine work.

She deserves some props.

By the way, this picture of Byrnes from Slusser’s article is the perfect example of why Billy Beane may swap him for Mike Cameron. How often do you make a catch like that in the outfield if you haven’t misjudged the ball to begin with?

Rumors! We Got Rumors!

It appears that Matt Keough, the A’s scout responsible for Asia the last few years, has finally reeled in an Asian player. USS Mariner is reporting that the A’s are closing in on signing Keiichi Yabu, a 36-year-old starting pitcher from the Hanshin Tigers of Japan.

Apparently, it’s a one-year deal with a team option for 2006. He’ll get $750,000, with incentives that could raise it to $1.25 million.

Yabu has a career ERA of 3.57, striking out 5.6 batters/9ip, while walking 2.5. In other words, he’s more the crafty right-hander type than an overpowering pitcher.

It looks like a good move. If he pans out, he could let the A’s keep Dan Meyer and/or Joe Blanton down in Sacramento for a few months to get some more seasoning, and to push back their arbitration eligibility another year.

It adds to the depth of the starting pitcher corps, too. The A’s list of potential starters for 2005 now goes eight deep:

Barry Zito
Rich Harden
Danny Haren
Seth Etherton
Justin Duchscherer
Keiichi Yabu
Joe Blanton
Dan Meyer

with John Rheinecker, Tim Harikkala, and Juan Cruz also as possibilities, I suppose.

Adding Yabu’s $1M salary probably means that someone else’s $1M salary is headed elsewhere. Chad Bradford and Eric Byrnes fit that bill most closely. The acquisition of Cruz, Calero and Thomas make that pair more replaceable.

Carlos Beltran‘s signing with the Mets probably eliminates one rumored suitor for Byrnes, but rumors are hot and heavy out of Arizona that the Diamondbacks are in pursuit.

If the A’s can finagle Carlos Quentin or Conor Jackson out of the D-Backs, that would be ideal. The Arizona Republic is suggesting an infielder, though, either Matt Kata, Alex Cintron, or Scott Hairston. Hairston is the most attractive of that trio, and the only one I’d give up Byrnes for. But after the acquisition of Keith Ginter, I’m not so sure why the A’s would do that.

UPDATE: There are also rumors that the Cubs are chasing Octavio Dotel.

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Big Unit to Big Apple
Shoves Vazquez out the door.
Vance Wilson to the Tigers.
The Rockies ask for Mohr.
Desi, too, to Denver.
Ismael nabs the Fish.
The Mets, the Cubs and Astros
Have Beltran as their wish.
Zaun is back at SkyDome.
Put Grudz in Cardinal red.
But Green’s still sporting Dodger blue
His deal is likely dead.

Name Change

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
I love that extravagant phrase!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Unrivaled by M’s or by A’s!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Sounds juicy and squishy and lush!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
I think I’ve developed a crush!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
I’d love to be cheering behind them.
But Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?
I’m not quite sure where I would find them.

Tickets to Ride

I share a set of season tickets with a group of others. One of the group members is leaving, so we have an opening. We have five seats in section 115, Row 20. If you’re interested in joining our group for 5-20 games, send me an email at seasontix @ zombia.com, and let me know your level of interest.

Having had time to absorb the shock of the big trades, I’m starting to come around to liking them. I really didn’t like the 2004 Athletics much as a team. It was very frustrating to see guys who had performed well in the past, like Mulder, Zito, Mecir, Rhodes, Redman, Bradford, and Dye all give less-than-peak performances. Except for Zito, those guys are all on the wrong side of 27.

It was time for an overhaul. That generation had run its course. I’m really going to miss Tim Hudson, who was my favorite player. But I think I’ll like the 2005 team more.

For some reason, I think I enjoy baseball more with lowered expectations. Each close failure by the 1999-2004 generation to win a pennant built up my desire and expectations even more. It made each successive failure even more agonizing to watch. In the end, I think I hardly enjoyed it at all.

I need a fresh slate. I’m ready to turn the page. I want to relax, take my time, and get to know these new players. I’m looking forward to the spring. Care to join me?