December 2011

Bailey reacts to trade

Just got off the phone with Andrew Bailey, who sounded both genuinely excited about his new opportunity in Boston but — as expected given the consummate professional and class act that he is — also very grateful for the years he spent in Oakland. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“I love the Bay Area, but if you’re going to get traded, I can’t think of a better situation for myself and my family to be in. It’s a big market, big team, and I’m excited about the opportunity to win over there, especially knowing Bobby V.”

On his chat with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington:

“He wanted to just welcome me to the team. They said I’ve been of interest to them for most of the offseason and they were close a number of times and they couldn’t think of a better time to get a deal done. He said they’re looking forward to having me in Boston, and I’m looking forward to getting started in Spring Training.”

On his time in Oakland:

“I had a good conversation with Billy. I understand. They’re moving in a different direction and want to get younger and are hopefully looking forward to a new stadium in San Jose. I can’t say enough about the A’s organization because, looking back, not many guys would be given the opportunity I was given back in 2009, coming off a terrible, terrible year in Double-A to making the big league team and, a couple months later, being closer. So hats off to them and the opportunity they gave to me. I’m just glad I was able to help them get better for the future.”

Bailey, Sweeney dealt to Red Sox

Confirmed: The A’s have traded Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston for outfielder Josh Reddick, third baseman Miles Head and right-hander Raul Alcantara.

Beane addresses Gio trade

Quick hits from A’s general manager Billy Beane’s conference call with reporters this evening:

On why he pulled the trigger on the Nationals’ offer:

“We were pretty clear from the start that we were going to leverage one team against the other. We were transparent about that. First of all, I think the caliber of the prospects, they’re guys we think very, very highly of, and in a couple of cases guys we think are very, very close. Milone and Peacock were in the big leagues at the end of the year and showed themselves pretty well. The other thing, we’re giving up a pitcher, and the ability to acquire three — what we think are three very good Major League prospects was what won it for us. There were a couple of teams involved, and it was a very difficult decision because there was another club that put together a deal that was different in terms of prospects, but we just slightly leaned this way.”

On not taking a more offensive-conscious approach when assessing return packages:

“I think we focused on getting the best players we could get, whether they be pitchers or position players. I think we’ve got a long way to go and we just wanted to basically take the best deals and not be overly specific with it. We thought that was the best long-term approach.”

On the effect the Angels and Rangers have had on his planning:

“I think we’ve been pretty public about the position we’re in, the expectation that we need a new venue to compete and that we expect that decision pretty soon. So this would have been the same approach we would have taken two months ago, but as it applies to their moves, it would be disingenuous to say, particularly in Anaheim’s case, that it certainly was a little bit of a nudge in this direction, that’s for sure.”

On his response to fans who are saying goodbye to some of the team’s best playerss:

“We’ve been through this cycle numerous times, and it gets shorter and shorter because the gap between us and everybody else grows. Ultimately, the fact of the matter is, and we’ve been a little more vocal about it lately, for us to compete we’re going to have to have a new stadium, and I don’t think there was a move we could have made that would put is in a posiition to compete with a club like the Angels or Texas given what they have and where they’re headed and some of those signings. You’re talking about two clubs in the division that are probably in the $150-$170 million range, and we’re not a business that can put that payroll on the field. Just for us to catch up to Seattle, we’d have to spend an extra $40 or $50 million to catch the person above us. From our standpoint, I don’t know there’s a move out there that could have put us in a position to compete with them next year.

“I’d rather run a club that has a plan, a three- or four-year plan, and see that plan implemented, and see the team get better over time, as opposed to putting together a patchwork on a year-to-year basis which has a very limited future. Whenever we’ve been successful is when we’ve had a plan and stuck to it, and when we haven’t been successful is when we try to act on a year-by-year basis.”

On teams’ remaining interest in his other players:

“Yes, as we expected. We’re still going to be very open-minded. Whether it happens or not, we’re putting together a team with the idea that we’re going to have a new stadium because I don’t think we have any other choice, to be honest.”

On the stadium decision:

“We’ve just been hearing soon. Any other information, I would probably keep to myself. We have no choice but to operate this way. The fact of the matter is, if you have a new stadium, there’s been one model, and it’s what the Cleveland Indians did. They did it first, and they did it best. Nobody’s done it the same way since. We’re going to take the same approach, and if there’s a little bit of pain inbetween, so be it. If we get the opportunity to open a new stadium, we’re going to take advantage of it. it may sound a bit Pollyanish, but I don’t think we have too many other options.

“The plan I’d like to have is like Cleveland, where the core of your team enters a stadium and they’re already productive Major League players, based on giving them the opportunity before you go in there, and that one sustains itself for a long, long time. The Indians were arguably one of the most dominant teams of the 90’s, and to me that’s the blueprint and the template of the way to do it. They went through some pain over there, but they had the guts to do it right, and they did it best.”

On potential outfield additions:

“There are certainly a couple we’re speaking to now. And we’ve had trade conversations that would involve that position, too.”

Gio reportedly headed to Nationals

It’s no secret that the A’s are in a giving mood this holiday season, and on Thursday they dealt their most prized possession, reportedly sending away Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals for four prospects.

According to ESPN.com’s Keith Law, who first reported the deal, Oakland will receive Washington’s top pitching prospect, Brad Peacock, along with catcher Derek Norris and hurlers A.J. Cole and Tom Milone, in exchange for the All-Star lefty.

Neither club has confirmed the move, which comes just two weeks after pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow were traded to Arizona in a deal that netted the A’s three players, bringing their total haul to seven well-regarded prospects.

That group is expected to add up to a competing team the A’s hope will christen a new stadium in San Jose as soon as 2014. Oakland has been awaiting a stadium decision for nearly three years, but there is speculation an answer could come as soon as January.

Gonzalez, 26, was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 202 innings this season and is under club control through 2015.

Peacock, meanwhile, went a combined 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A this year before being promoted to the big-league level late in the season and allowing just one run in 12 innings.

Norris, considered Washington’s top catching prospect, is coming off his worst Minor League season, hitting .210 with 20 homers and 46 RBIs. The right-handed Cole went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 20 games — 18 starts — at the Class A level this year, and lefty Milone posted a 3.81 ERA in five starts for the Nationals this year. He also compiled a 3.22 ERA with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 148 1.3 frames at the Triple-A level.

Forst on Cahill trade

A’s assistant general manager David Forst on today’s trade:

“The D-backs had checked in with us a couple of times before we got to Dallas and made it clear they were interested in a starter. Once we got together, it sounded like Trevor was going to be the guy that would be a good fit for them. And it was important to us that if we were going to trade Trevor, we were going to get a guy that has the chance to be a frontline starter back, and we feel like Jarrod is that guy. From that point, we went about trying to figure out which other pieces could help our Major League club in 2012.”

More to come on MLB.com.

A’s Cahill involved in trade with D-backs

By Steve Gilbert and Jane Lee / MLB.com

The A’s and D-backs are closing in on a deal that will send right-hander Trevor Cahill and lefty reliever Craig Breslow to Arizona, MLB.com learned on Friday.

In return, Oakland is expected to receive prized pitching prospect Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill, baseball sources confirmed. Another player could also be heading Oakland’s way in the multi-player package.

Cahill, who would fortify an already strong D-backs rotation, is owed $29 million over the next four years in a deal that also includes two club options. Oakland’s decision to move the 23-year-old only further represents their latest attempt at a rebuild while they wait word on a new stadium.

After a career 2010 season, which included an 18-8 record and 2.97 ERA, Cahill took a downturn in 2011, collecting a 12-14 mark and 4.16 ERA. However, he made a career-high 34 starts and has made at least 30 starts in each of his three big league seasons.

The 31-year-old Breslow is arbitration-eligible and has served as one of the game’s best left-handed relievers over the past three seasons, most recently putting together a 3.79 ERA in 69 games this season.

By reeling in Parker, a first-round Draft pick in 2007, the A’s get what’s considered to be Arizona’s top prospect. Following rehab from his 2010 Tommy John surgery, the 23-year-old right-hander posted an 11-8 record and 3.79 ERA for Arizona’s Double-A club this year.

Cowgill, meanwhile, batted .354 with 13 home runs and 70 RBIs in 98 games at the Triple-A level. He appeared in 36 contests with Arizona, hitting .239 with one homer and nine RBIs.

Day 3: A recap

DALLAS — At this time last year, A’s assistant general manager David Forst was fairly new to the concept of Twitter — or, rather, “The Tweeter,” as he called it at the time.

Forst has since become a fervent user of the online social networking service, not to relay his own thoughts and comments but to see those made by others, notably of the local and national media type covering the A’s.

So when Forst, who is representing the A’s through the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday following general manager Billy Beane’s Tuesday night departure, greeted just a small handful of reporters in his suite on Wednesday, he broke into a smile.

“The difference between me and Billy is that you know I have read every single thing all of you have written in the last 24 hours,” he said.

Plenty was written, particularly about All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who has been linked to the Blue Jays, D-backs, Phillies, Tigers, Reds, Marlins and, most recently, the Nationals. It’s likely more are in on the coveted southpaw, who is just 26 and under club control for four more years.

But the A’s are using the 2007 Dan Haren haul — Oakland landed Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith from the D-backs for Haren and Connor Robertson — as parameters for a potential deal involving Gonzalez, and Forst noted Wednesday that “if something were what we were looking for, we could have done it by now.”

Still, Forst assured the club has “a lot of options” when asked if he’s been pleased with the offers that have been put forward for Oakland’s top players. But he didn’t expect a deal to be completed Wednesday night.

“I can confirm significant interest,” he said. “I’m not going to go through team by team. I’ve read all the names that have been thrown out there, all the scenarios. I wish I could respond to each rumor one by one, but 95 percent of that stuff is absolutely not true, when you’re talking about specific players. There’s a reason we try to keep that between us and the other team.

“Despite the fact Billy isn’t here, we’ve talked maybe a dozen times today. Separately, he and I have spoken to a handful of clubs. There’s no shortage of work being done, despite the fact he’s not physically here.”

Not surprisingly, there have been teams showing interest in more than one of Oakland’s players. The A’s are listening on all of them, excluding Jemile Weeks, and it’s safe thinking they’ve not only garnered interest in Gonzalez and fellow All-Star closer Andrew Bailey — linked already with the Red Sox, Rangers, Reds and Angels — but also righty Trevor Cahill and possibly a few of the club’s relievers.

When seeking return goods, Forst reiterated the fact that the team is looking to reel in “young guys who are controllable.” That includes players at all positions, at all levels — whether they’re just getting their feet wet at Class-A or knocking on the door to The Show. Simply put, think best prospects available.

But in the midst of the dozen rumors surrounding the A’s, there’s perhaps been a misunderstanding about their desire to move guys like Gonzalez and Bailey. In reality, there’s no need or want to. They’d gladly keep both around but, at the same time, recognize their situation — the green light on a new stadium could come through as soon as January, and a bunch of top-notch prospects could be ready when that stadium is ready, if built — allows them to keep their options open.

“There’s no mandate to trade guys,” Forst said. “We happen to have guys who are valuable, who have the potential to bring back players. But if you don’t trade them now, and you sit here 12 months from now, they’re still under control.”

The A’s, then, could very well find themselves with Gonzalez and/or Bailey still in tow come April, and they could explore dealing again around the Trade Deadline or at season’s end. But the possibility of any one of their players moving shortly after the Winter Meetings is still very real.

“It’s hard to say whether all of this leads to a completion of a deal,” Forst said of their five-day stay in Dallas. “But we certainly have a better view of the landscape than we did on Sunday. Billy always talks about how being here sort of generates conversation. Some of that is rumor, and some of that is actual work. The nice thing about being here — Billy complains a lot about the environment — is when opportunities or options come in, our entire staff is here and we have the proximity to have that conversation.”

But the A’s mindset about it all has remained unchanged. They’re staying course with the patient route.

“There’s no reason to jump in and do something,” Forst said.

Not until they’re overwhelmed with an offer.

Tigers inquire on Gio Gonzalez

From fellow MLB.com writer Jason Beck:

The Tigers are among the teams interested in A’s left-hander Gio Gonzalez should Oakland GM Billy Beane decide to deal him, but any chance of a big push appears to be dim at this point.

The Tigers inquired on Gonzalez here at the Winter Meetings as an idea to see if they could do something bigger than expected for a good price. The asking price in return, however, apparently cooled that interest. While top pitching prospect Jacob Turner could be expendable in a package for Gonzalez, who has four years left before free agency, other potential pieces in a package beyond that appear to be a problem.

The Tigers are open to improving, but they’re not going to do it while taking away from the core of the team that won the AL Central and made it to within two games of the World Series. Unless the asking price comes down, it doesn’t appear to be a good fit, and with so many additional teams reported to be interested, a discount doesn’t look likely.

Beane: No long-term contract for Gio … right now

Along with Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez has been a popular name here at the Winter Meetings this week. He’s obviously been the subject of much trade talk — the Marlins, Red Sox and Yankees are among the rumored teams to be interested, while Billy Beane shot down talk of the Royals being in. But on Tuesday he was asked if he has considered locking up Gonzalez to a long-term contract, as he’s already done with young hurlers Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, along with catcher Kurt Suzuki. It’s a fair question and one I know several fans have asked all year.

Billy’s response?

“We had had some conversations last year, but not right now I don’t think, because of some other things more immediate, more pressing.”

Translation: The A’s really can’t touch payroll until a stadium decision comes through, which is why they’re leaving open the possibility of trading Gonzalez in an effort to net a handful of prospects that could welcome in fans to a potential new stadium in San Jose in a few years.

Of the Marlins, Red Sox and Yankees, the Marlins appear to represent the best trade partner at this point for Gonzalez — especially if they sign Albert Pujols, at which point their budget would likely force them to turn to the trade market rather than the free-agent crop. With Pujols in tow,Miami would seemingly be able to move either outfielder Logan Morrison and/or first baseman Gaby Sanchez — guys that could make a big impact in Oakland.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, depleted their farm system when acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, and the Yankees don’t exactly have the high-upside outfielders the A’s need and want. Boston could be better positioned to land Andrew Bailey.

Beane talks outfield

While the entire outfield represents a glaring issue for the A’s this winter, A’s general manager Billy Beane noted the most pressing concern rests in center field since they would like to keep Ryan Sweeney in right field — Beane deemed him their starting right fielder, as the roster stands now. The A’s GM said he’s stayed in touch with Coco Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte, but noted he does so with several agents. It remains unlikely that Crisp would make a return to Oakland. As for Michael Taylor, Beane said he’s had “good performances,” but the A’s are waiting for “dominant” before giving him a shot at 500 ABs at the big league level. The only proven youngster, Beane said, is Jermaine Mitchell, but the outfielder had knee surgery in September and isn’t expected to be up to speed by season’s start. The A’s won’t look to fill these spots in the free-agent market, at least not now. Beane expects to hold out and, in the meantime, could possibly find just what he wants via trade.

Not much news came out of his suite tonight, and, per usual, Beane is departing early tonight, leaving assistant GM David Forst as the A’s head honcho through Thursday. As mentioned yesterday, Beane doesn’t expect to get a deal done during the Winter Meetings, but that’s not to say something couldn’t happen shortly after.

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