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08/06/07 8:17 PM ET

Mailbag: Evaluating Oakland's roster

Beat reporter Mychael Urban answers A's fans' questions

Got any idea how close the A's were to dealing Mike Piazza? I read somewhere that the Angels could have gotten him for nothing more than assuming the rest of his contract. That can't be true, right?
--Jenny R., American Canyon, Calif.

I don't have any idea how any talks about Piazza played out, but if the Angels really did have a chance to get him without giving up anything, they're nuts for not doing it. I have a hard time believing that rumor.

Here's what I do know about some of the deadline dealing: The Yankees and A's definitely talked -- several times -- about a Dan Johnson deal that would have brought the A's some prospects, but in the end the Yankees decided to back off. Ditto the Dodgers in the Joe Blanton talks; those rumors were true. And finally, the A's tried but couldn't give away Bobby Kielty. That's pretty obvious now, though.

Why did Joe Kennedy fall out of favor so quickly? As a lefty with starting experience, I thought he had some trade value, but the A's lost him on waivers. Does that mean they were trying to trade him, but the Diamondbacks killed it by stepping in with the claim?
--Frank D., Pleasanton, Calif.

I thought the A's would be able to deal Kennedy before the deadline, too. He didn't pitch well near the end of his time here, obviously, but I think a big part of his problem was his displeasure with being pulled from the rotation. He opened the season as the No. 5 starter and pitched well for the first couple of months, but after a series of bad outings he was sent to the bullpen when he was just four starts away from earning an extra $100,000 for making 20 starts. And he would have made another $100,000 had he made 25 starts. A happy worker is a good worker, so ...

I doubt if the D-Backs swooped in and killed a deal in place with another team, but that is a possibility. Remember, Arizona has to pick up what's left on the $2.4 million deal Kennedy signed in December, and he's a free agent at the end of the season, so the A's saved some money here.

Isn't it time the A's get rid of Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby? They're always hurt, and they don't produce when they play. I know there aren't any stud third basemen in the upper levels of Oakland's farm system, and I like Donnie Murphy at short, but I don't love him. Is there anything the A's can do about these albatrosses with expensive multi-year deals?
--Bob P., San Francisco, Calif.

What do you think they were trying to get from the Dodgers for Blanton? It wasn't pitching. Check out the L.A. system. Some nice young left-side infielders down there.

Does Travis Buck have a shot at winning the American League Rookie of the Year award? And if not, do you think he's going to be a star?
--Kenneth L., Laramie, Wyo.

He'll have to go on a big-time tear in these final two months of the season to win the AL ROY. As of onw, he just hasn't played enough. Boston's Dustin Pedroia, for instance, has played in 20 more games, is hitting nearly .320 to Buck's .280-something, and has a better on-base percentage. And don't forget about Daisuke Matsuzaka. If he gets to 16 or 17 wins with a sub-4.00 ERA, it'd be hard for a lot of folks not to vote for him.

Will Buck be a star? Way too early to tell. He certainly has the ability to be one, and I like his subtle swagger. But he has been hurt quite a bit already, so that should scare anyone familiar with Crosby's unfortunate career, and Buck has quite a bit of work to do on defense. But if he stays healthy, I think he'll be an above-average hitter for a long time. He's an ideal No. 2 guy.

What, in your opinion, do the 2008 A's need to be title contenders?
--Donald A., Orange, Calif.

Two right-handed power hitters and a break from the injury gods.

There's a nice base of talent on hand, and I have a feeling this is going to be another blockbuster winter for Billy Beane, but none of that will mean anything if the overall health of the team doesn't improve dramatically over the past few seasons.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.