POSTCARDS FROM THE 2011 WINTER MEETINGS #3
Well, another day is in the books at the Winter Meetings for the Oakland A’s. To best describe what transpired at Billy Beane Central, I’ll borrow a line once written by my good friend Ben Hyman while he was plying his trade at The Baltimore Sun. “On a day that nothing happened, nothing happened.” That about sums it up, boys and girls. Well, maybe not exactly. Certainly the A’s braintrust had further meetings and phone calls with other teams today, and possible deals were discussed. Any of those conversations could be important steps in a process that eventually triggers a trade. But for now, Billy’s state-of-the-day address to Bay Area beat writers in his suite last night was without much substance or fanfare – or pretense on Billy’s part.
For a second straight night, a recurring subject was the A’s outfield positions. Billy acknowledged that Ryan Sweeney would be the team’s starting right fielder if Opening Day were tomorrow. However, beyond that, he could make no definitive statements. Of the young, upcoming players in the system, he said no one had distinguished themselves with a dominant performance that would merit “500 at-bats this year in Oakland.” Billy did offer kudos to Jermaine Mitchell, an outfielder who impressed in Sacramento last year before a knee injury required surgery. He also said Michael Taylor had a solid year with the River Cats last season, but still ideally wants to see him “dominate” on the Triple-A level.
Probably the lightest moment of the media session came later, when Billy poked a little fun at Gaku Tashiro, the affable dean of Japanese baseball writers in the United States who is serving as a pool reporter. He asked Gaku why the Japanese media corps continues to cover him and the A’s even though Hideki Matsui is no longer under contract with Oakland. “Are you guys going to cover us for the rest of my life?” the A’s GM quipped. He then told Gaku about his experience at the coffee shop in the morning. He was having breakfast with another team’s GM when he spotted a Japanese photographer with a zoom lense. “I leaned behind a column, and he leaned right with me and took another shot.” It appears that Billy, while not leading the league in free agent signings this week, may very well lead the majors in paparazzi.
Mr. Beane was headed to the airport last night to catch a flight, leaving our hotel suite operations to the capable Assistant GM David Forst. Whether he’ll have new quips for Gaku or other Bay Area writers tomorrow remains to be seen. In the meantime, I personally made a major acquisition this evening. I visited the Original Sonny Bryan’s for some down-home Texas barbecue brisket. It’s a quirky place in that diners, since 1958, have been eating their meals sitting in school classroom desks. The trick is to not eat so much brisket or Frito Pie that you get stuck in your seat. After much sampling, I can honestly say Sonny’s cue is big league. I luckily sprung free from the desk, post-feast, and returned to the Hilton Anatole unscathed. It’s back to baseball and the Winter Meetings today, though, the final full day in Dallas.