February 2010

Chavez says Mulder is done

It looks like all the speculation surrounding Mark Mulder’s retirement decision can end now. When I made a call to Eric Chavez this morning to see if he had recently talked to Mark or heard about the reports that the former A’s pitcher had decided to retire, he replied, “Did he? No, I haven’t heard that.” Eric’s voice sounded slightly surprised but far from shocked. He used to live with Mark when the two were teammates in Oakland and says they still talk every couple of weeks. Eric proceeded to tell me Mark had been considering retirement if he knew he couldn’t perform at 100 percent but said he’d try to call Mark immediately to find out if he had indeed made a decision. The result: a text from Chavez saying he had just talked to Mark and that the All-Star southpaw is officially “done.”

So while Mark’s agent, Gregg Clifton, told me in an e-mail today that his client is still “reassessing his options in his efforts to come back,” you’d have to believe he really is set on retiring if he confided his decision in not just a former teammate but a good friend.

Thursday Tidbits

GREGORIO PETIT OUTRIGHTED TO SACRAMENTO
The A’s on Thursday outrighted Petit and invited him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. He was designated for assignment Feb. 1 when the team claimed Steve Tolleson off waivers from Minnesota. Petit struggled in Oakland last year, batting .226 (7 for 31) in 11 games, but many think he could be an above-average player if given the chance to contribute on a consistent basis. I’m not sure how much of a chance he’ll get this year, though, with new utility infielder Adam Rosales in the mix now.

A’S 2010 TV SCHEDULE RELEASED
On Wednesday night, Comcast SportsNet California announced it will be showing 145 regular-season games (plus two exhibition contests), with all the regular-season games available in high-definition for the first time. Big news, though, came in the form of the station’s announcement that former A’s third baseman Carney Lansford is joining the broadcast team as a pregame/postgame analysis. Looks like the former Giants hitting coach has found his way back to the other side of the Bay. He’ll join Mindi Bach, Shooty Babitt and Matt Morrison on camera, with familiar face Mychael Urban making multiple contributions as well.

Creating a 25-man roster

It’s early in the game, but here’s my pre-Spring Training prediction for what the A’s 25-man roster will look like come Opening Day. The bench situation is a tough call and will pretty much depend on Eric Chavez’s health. If he’s injury-free, he’s Mr. Utility. If not, he’ll go home to be Mr. Family Man.

PITCHING
Ben Sheets
Justin Duchscherer
Dallas Braden
Brett Anderson
Trevor Cahill
Andrew Bailey
Craig Breslow
Michael Wuertz
Brad Ziegler
Joey Devine
Jerry Blevins
Brad Kilby

CATCHERS
Kurt Suzuki
Landon Powell

INFIELD
Daric Barton
Mark Ellis
Cliff Pennington
Kevin Kouzmanoff

OUTFIELD
Coco Crisp
Ryan Sweeney
Rajai Davis

DH
Jack Cust

BENCH
Jake Fox
Adam Rosales
Gabe Gross

Thoughts? Rants? Changes you would make? I’m sure Gio Gonzalez’s name is going to come up. If Gio doesn’t make the starting rotation and Geren decides to keep him in the bullpen, I would imagine he would take Blevins’ spot. And, no, I don’t have Chavez in there despite all my hopeful thoughts for him. So have at it…

More on Marty

As I’m sure most of you read, A’s host Marty Lurie will be taking his pregame radio show over to the Giants affiliate, KNBR, this season. Meanwhile, KTRB — which recently entered a long-term contract with the A’s to broadcast all games — decided to bring in conservative talk-show host Michael Savage to man the airways from 3-6 p.m. It’s no secret that Marty is loved by the entire A’s community, and that goes for the A’s front office staff as well. They very much support and respect Marty’s work, but at the same time they want A’s fans disappointed in the news to understand KTRB’s reasoning. The radio station, says A’s vice president of broadcasting Ken Pries, is still young and getting its feet wet. Thus, ratings are extremely important for them right now, and Savage brings them just that. Lurie’s show, meanwhile, does not give them a varied audience. Pries did add, however, that the station could be in a better position this time next year to add a show like Lurie’s to include in the A’s pregame programming. 

On another note, exactly two weeks until A’s pitchers and catchers report. Andrew Bailey, for one, is already in Arizona working out, as is Michael Wuertz, who makes his offseason home in Scottsdale…

Question for you to ponder over the weekend: What is the most pressing issue this A’s team faces heading into Spring Training?

Will we see Taylor before Buck?

I think I’ve finally recovered from Monday’s wacky series of events. When I confirmed the Gabe Gross signing news Sunday, I was pretty certain Monday could turn out to be interesting knowing that a trade was most likely to follow to make room on the 40-man. But never would I have pegged it to be a day when we saw not one but two utility infielders come in, not to mention a brief hour-long stint by a $4 million outfielder (Willy Taveras) only to watch him be designated for assignment. And in the meantime, Dana Eveland and Gregorio Petit were DFA’d as well. Needless to say, I was afraid to leave my laptop and/or phone in the event news was waiting about the groundbreaking of a new A’s stadium and/or confirmation that Grant Desme changed his mind about the priesthood. It was THAT kind of day. A kind of day on which anything could happen.

What didn’t happen, aside from fans’ fantasies about the stadium and Desme, was anything involving Travis Buck. In fact, no news of Buck has surfaced in quite awhile. And the way I see it — through reports and personal observations — is that tension is running mighty high between the once promising goldilocks outfielder and the organization. When I talked to David Forst on Monday, he made no mention of Buck when asked about the fourth/fifth outfield slots. Neither did Billy Beane when discussing the matter with the Contra Costa Times.

That being said, I could seriously see Michael Taylor picking out white cleats before Buck does so again. And for Buck’s sake, I hope he’s gone by Opening Day. The kid needs a change of scenery — a new team to prove his worth. So let’s take it to the polls:

Where will we see Travis Buck on Opening Day?
A. Getting reacquainted with new and old teammates in Sacramento.
B. Sitting on the bench in Oakland.
C. Sitting on a big league bench somewhere far away.
D. Standing in a big league outfield somewhere far away.
  

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