Inbox: Delving into the new outfield
Beat reporter Jane Lee answers A's fans' questions
Why did the A's trade for David DeJesus? Looking at his stats, he doesn't look all that special, aside from his good batting average. I don't see him as a big upgrade over Rajai Davis. In fact, I felt like Rajai was a sparkplug to the team and was always a threat on the bases. His batting average wasn't bad, either. I just don't understand these trades.
-- Albert Y., Fremont, Calif.
-- Matt F., San Francisco It might be easy to say he wasn't, based on the way he was used, but at the end of the day, I do think he was given a fair shot. Davis would likely agree, too. In fact, he extensively thanked the A's for the opportunities he was given when I talked to him the day he was traded. Playing time is playing time, and Davis played in 143 games this season. That's a good dose, no matter how it's given. Sure, there were plenty times this year when he sat out despite an impressive performance the night before, but he wasn't the only victim of a crowded outfield. Manager Bob Geren is big on matchups, so opposing pitchers often dictate his lineups more so than a hot bat.
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I would have preferred to see the injury-free Davis as the club's fourth outfielder next season, as opposed to Conor Jackson, whose time in the trainer's room this year was extensive. But that's exactly why Davis was so attractive to other teams. That trade value paved the way for the club to add bullpen depth, something to be said of significance this offseason. Both relievers acquired in the trade, from an early look, seem like the real deal, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see at least one -- Trystan Magnuson -- in the bigs in 2011.With Justin Upton being made available, what are the A's chances of acquiring him? He fits everything we need. He's young, under contract for several years, has good power and wouldn't even cost us our defense. We also have the necessary prospects to trade away.
-- Nick, Memphis I don't see this one happening, Nick. Surely Upton is young and under contract for multiple years and carries a sack of potential, but he's also going to require a hefty package in return -- too hefty for the A's liking. Upton reportedly has nearly half of all Major League teams showing serious interest in him, and the D-backs are said to be looking for at least four or five players on the flip side to help their shaky franchise stay afloat with the fans. Kevin Towers is the new head honcho over there, and I can't see him moving Upton unless he comes away the genius, as dangling the outfielder as trade bait already has all of Arizona up in arms. How he's going to do that, I'm not so sure. But don't expect it to involve the A's, who now seem to be pretty set with their outfield roster of DeJesus, Crisp, Sweeney and Jackson, not to mention Chris Carter. The power, it seems, is going to come at another position. Is there interest from GM Billy Beane and the staff in some ex-A's players like Miguel Tejada and Jermaine Dye, or do they fall into the "we don't want another Frank Thomas situation" bucket?
-- Jin W., Concord, Calif. I don't think there's much -- if any -- interest in either player, but not because of the Thomas theory. The A's are set with middle infielders, and while the club's starting third baseman for 2011 seems far from determined, their list of options won't include Tejada. They're already having to decide what to do with incumbent third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and newcomer Edwin Encarnacion while also making a run at free agent Adrian Beltre, who was reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $64 million from the A's this week. The club is obviously looking to upgrade offensively at the hot corner, and Tejada wouldn't necessarily fill that need. As for Dye, he appears to be gaining several National League suitors who are willing to include him in the first-base or outfield mix. He could obviously be a DH option for an American League team like the A's, who are looking to add power there, but they currently seem more interested in options like Hideki Matsui and Lance Berkman. Since the A's are looking for a DH and paid $10 million for Ben Sheets as a pitcher last year, do you think they should take a chance on Manny Ramirez at $12 million for one year?
-- Jason F., Placerville, Calif. Nope. I can't see the A's paying that kind of money for Ramirez, who wouldn't exactly fit the veteran-leadership mold the club is looking to also get out of their DH next year. This is a team that has no choice but to overpay free agents -- as they did Sheets -- to make up for a weak facility, so that means they have to choose wisely in that market. The word is that Eric Chavez is working out five days a week now and wants to play somewhere in 2011. Considering no one is going to hand him an Opening Day job, is there any chance the A's might give him a Minor League deal in case he's healthy and wants to play off the bench? Or just rake in Sacramento? Seems pretty low risk.
-- Chris P., Portland I'm sure many A's fans would love to see Chavez in green and gold again, but it's just not going to happen. After the A's declined his humongous option for next season, as was expected, Chavez made it clear that if he chooses to return to the game of baseball, it won't be in Oakland. At first, the notion sounds a little odd considering how much patience and support Chavez received from the A's during his last few injury-filled years. But when I talked to him last week, he explained he simply couldn't imagine disappointing the franchise yet again if he were to get injured again. He said it would be devastating for both parties so, as hard as it was for him to realize his whole career might not be spent in Oakand, he'd rather experience a change of scenery. Chavez mentioned he's already garnered interest from several teams, and he's hoping one will give him a decent shot in Spring Training. No matter how frustrating it was watching his final years with Oakalnd unfold the way they did, there's still no denying Chavez is one of the greatest guys in the game. He's always been honest and shows nothing but respect and gratitude for the people who have helped him along the way. That being said, I wish Eric nothing but the best and, for his sake, hope he can latch on somewhere.