-- George R., Los Banos, Calif.
I definitely wouldn't rule it out, considering it's likely that not a single outfielder from the 2011 version of the A's will return. Though Sizemore has played in just 210 games over the past three seasons because of a laundry list of injuries, he was one of the best players in the game from 2005 through 2008. And if you can get past the risk factor -- any player, essentially, is a risk -- there's not much to dislike about him. A healthy Sizemore boasts excellent defensive skills, a threat on the basepaths and a good bat at the plate, and his presence would be huge for the younger cast of characters -- think Michael Taylor -- likely set to fill out Oakland's outfield next year. He'd be a good fit in center field and would also give manager Bob Melvin an option in both corners, too.
I'd think Sizemore is very much attainable because of his injury-prone ways, and the A's could afford to give him a good-sized one-year deal -- maybe around the $4 million range -- and then send him on his way at season's end. Exactly how young the A's want to go hinges on the stadium situation, but they still have to bring in crowds in the meantime, and a Grady Sizemore in center field wouldn't hurt.
First base looks bleak for the A's in 2012. Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Chris Carter and Kila Ka'aihue are not great options. Do you think there's any chance the A's bring in anyone else?
-- Andrew B., Gilroy, Calif.
Sure, there's always a chance. Derrek Lee is on the market again, and the A's could try to make a run at him for a second straight year. But, realistically, they're likely to stick with their in-house options rather than fight their way through a crowded scene -- it's fair to say half of the league could be in the market for first-base help this winter. I think the A's are eager to see what Allen can do in Spring Training, and they're not ready to give up hope yet on Carter, especially since they'd prefer to keep him away from the designated hitter role at such a young age.
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Next year for the A's, do you see Allen moving to left field, with Barton back at first base?
-- Armando M., Lockeford, Calif.
My immediate response is no, but it might actually be something to think about in Spring Training. At the time the A's acquired Allen, Melvin noted his athleticism and versatility, namely his ability to potentially make a move to the outfield. And while I think such a scenario is something the team would like to avoid, if possible, it at least gives the A's options should Barton enjoy a standout Spring Training. Still, the presence of a power-hitting first baseman has been missing in Oakland since the 2001 version of Jason Giambi, and if the A's think Allen could soon be of that similar caliber, they'd be hard-pressed to give up on him so quickly.
Which starting and relief pitchers do you think [general manager] Billy Beane would like to obtain for next season?
-- James D., Pinole, Calif.
If anything, Beane is going to be selling, not buying, pitchers this winter. The A's are stocked in the pitching department, and should they get the green light to build a new stadium, which would force them into rebuilding mode, don't be surprised if they consider shopping an Andrew Bailey or even a Gio Gonzalez in an effort to reload a thin farm system. Plenty of trade rumors circulated around Bailey in July, and it's quite possible they'll begin escalating again here shortly. Once Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Madson are off the market, Bailey's name will likely be at the top of the list for clubs looking for a closer. And Beane seems to be willing to listen to any and all offers that come his way.
Any chance the A's look at Mark McGwire as their hitting coach? He lives in California, and with Tony La Russa not returning [to St. Louis], he would be a great option, especially with the work he did with young Cardinals hitters.
-- Fernando G., Tracy, Calif.
A McGwire reunion in Oakland would surely be fun for the fans, but the A's already have their eyes set on Mike Aldrete, McGwire's assistant hitting coach in St. Louis. Aldrete is a friend of Melvin, who has repeatedly mentioned his desire to bring aboard coaches with whom he's familiar and comfortable. So far, he's done just that, and he'll likely complete the task with the signing of Aldrete any day now.
I am baffled by the A's front office's reluctance to commit to the team and fans, financially. How is this offseason any different from last? Last year, we had no ruling from MLB on relocation, so why should this year be any different? Last year, we had no word and went out and made commitments to players through free agency and trade, so why can't we do the same this year?
-- Jonathan B., San Lorenzo, Calif.
This year, Beane insists a stadium decision is coming soon. And while we've heard that before, including last year, he appears more certain this time. The hope is that final word will come by January, and the A's are choosing to believe such a notion, so in the meantime fans will have to trust in it.