Why would the A's brass continue to "wait" for a decision on a stadium? Seems to me that no matter the result of that issue, wouldn't it be prudent to always work toward building a winner?
-- Dave M., Palm Desert, Calif.
Of course. But building a winner means spending money, and the A's won't be doing much of that if the club's San Jose plans are approved, as they would rather then turn their focus to the Draft, player development and international signings -- all of which would, hopefully, equate to a contending team just in time for the opening of a new ballpark. However, if they're denied such plans, the A's would likely open the checkbook in an effort to not only draw bigger crowds to the Coliseum, but make the franchise appear attractive to potential buyers.
What is the plan for the A's regarding third base? Scott Sizemore can be OK, but we definitely want more offensive upside from a corner infielder. Can Stephen Parker be a legitimate candidate for the everyday third-base job?
-- Hiroshi K., Tokyo
Though Sizemore's numbers at the plate will never be overwhelming, the A's were pleased with his offensive performance (.249/.345/.433) this year and equally impressed with the strides he made on defense in such a short amount of time. That makes him the front-runner for the job, at this point. But general manager Billy Beane has always noted the corner-infield slots, as well as the designated-hitter role, as positions of long-term concern -- making an upgrade possible, if doable.
Few names -- think Aramis Ramirez and Wilson Betemit -- stand out as potential options in the free-agent market, and clubs like the Rockies, Angels and Tigers are likely to pursue a third baseman than the A's. But a fun trade name to consider if the A's forego the youth route? Boston's Kevin Youkilis.
As for Parker, expect him to continue to be groomed in the Minors for at least another full season.
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Why did Bob Melvin not give Jai Miller a legitimate chance to play after being called up late? Miller is hungry and will hit better than Chris Carter, and he can hit for power.
-- Eddie C., Diggins, Mo.
It was a tough juggling act for Melvin during the final month of the season, as he was trying to keep free agents-to-be Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus on the field, while also awarding his September callups -- namely Carter, Miller and Michael Taylor -- a handful of playing time.
Considering the hype and expectations surrounding Carter and Taylor, who have long been pictured together in Oakland's future outfield, I don't think it was any surprise they saw their names in the lineup more times than Miller, a 26-year-old veteran of 948 Minor League games. But after Miller homered in Seattle on the final night of the season, Melvin acknowledged his talent and noted he'd be in the mix come Spring Training.
If the team loses both Willingham and Crisp and decides to look in-house for replacements, count Miller as a strong starting candidate.
What free agents are the A's most likely targeting this offseason?
-- James D., Pinole, Calif.
Considering the fact Oakland's spending decisions are temporarily on hold until a stadium decision comes through, the current answer is none. The A's are more concerned about losing players like Willingham and Crisp to free agency than they are about grabbing hold of others on the market.
I read that the A's are interested in David Ortiz. Do you think he would make a good DH for Oakland?
-- Amanda C., Easton, Mass.
I'm sure Ortiz's buddy, Gio Gonzalez, loves this idea. There's no doubt Ortiz would provide more offense for the A's, but he'd also be significantly more expensive than what they're willing to spend. I'd still assume the team is leaning toward bringing back fan favorite Hideki Matsui on a one-year deal, considering his strong second-half performance and the fact he won't command more than, maybe, $2 million.