A’S LOOKING ONLY TO TWEAK AT WINTER MEETINGS
For the first time in several years, the A’s baseball brass heads to the Winter Meetings in a rare position. They only have to make minor tweaks to a team that won 94 games last season—the second most in the American League behind the Yankees. Of course, the odds are those tweaks won’t actually occur at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel this week. It would be Billy Beane’s hope that at least some substantive conversations with agents and other team general managers will take place, perhaps laying the foundation for deals in the weeks ahead.
The A’s already acquired one of the better all-around outfielders in the National League when they traded Cliff Pennington to Arizona to obtain Chris Young, whose powerful bat, speed and defensive prowess will give Bob Melvin flexibility and one more weapon in his arsenal in 2013. Maybe we should petition the league to see if we can add a 10th man to our defense. That way Young, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith can flip to see who plays “rover.”
While there’s no reason for Billy to tip his hand on what he and his trusty triumvirate of David Forst, Farhan Zaidi and Dan Feinstein are planning to do, it would be safe to say that a front-line shortstop, and maybe to a lesser extent, a veteran starting pitcher, are on the list. Although we chose not to exercise the option of late-season addition Stephen Drew, it appears we remain interested in him and appreciate what he contributed down the stretch to our division title run. However, as a free agent, there are certain to be other suitors for Drew’s services as well. With four more months before Opening Night, there still is plenty of time to address the shortstop situation.
For me personally, the greater challenge this week will be navigating the gargantuan property called the Opryland Hotel. Whoever designed this place must have had a sense of humor. It is comprised of an endless expanse of lobbies, atriums, bars and indoor plants. Last time I was here, I learned quickly that every quadrant, corner or section of the inner sanctum looks identical to the other. While it certainly is a beautiful venue, you are guaranteed to get lost several times during the Meetings. And this is not a good thing, since the primary objective of the Winter Meetings is to, ugh, meet. Blank stare, increased breathing…and then the inevitable double take… It’s not pretty. I know. I have been one of those wandering souls in the Opryland’s Land of the Lost. I would think GMs and player agents can circumvent this by simply meeting in their suites, which I guess has become the most common method no matter where the Meetings are held.
It’s not quite that simple as a club PR director. You are charged with the responsibility of delivering your general manager and manager to the various media locations off the various foyers during the week. There are appearances on the live sets of ESPN and MLB Network, Sirius/XM Radio and informal media conferences for the national and Bay Area media covering the event. Every year, I make a point of surveying the hotel layout before those interviews take place. It has crossed my mind that leaving bread crumbs from each location to the hotel elevator might not be such a bad idea. It’s embarrassing enough if I get lost, but the last thing I want to do is get the 2012 Executive of the Year and AL Manager of the Year lost, too. Maybe I should invest in a GPS navigator.
No matter, we forge on. BoMel does his 30-minute informal session with the media corps later today. He also is scheduled to appear on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s “Chronicle Live” show in the 5 o’clock hour. If you tune in and he’s a no-show, you’ll know his PR guy took a wrong turn at the shrubs and his worst fear has been realized.