Checked in this afternoon with Rafael Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer, who is getting as much ink as his star clients lately. Kinzer also represents free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez, so Kinzer’s phone has been buzzing off the hook, no doubt. Anyway, Kinzer doesn’t expect much to happen with the A’s or any other team regarding Furcal in the next few days. Dialogue has been slow with the Thanksgiving holiday. “It will probably be the middle of next week before I know anything,” Kinzer said. He had told mlb.com that Furcal might narrow his choice to two teams by the end of the weekend, but it doesn’t appear that will happen. If it seems the timetables keep changing with this story, that’s because they do. I still think the A’s are front runners for Furcal, but the longer things drag out, the more chance for a team like the Braves (who could trade Yunel Escobar) to throw their hat in the ring.
Some other A’s-related tidbits:
–Teams aren’t usually looking for coaches in late November, but the A’s may need to hire for two key spots on Bob Geren’s staff. They already need a bench coach after Don Wakamatsu left to be Seattle’s manager. They may also be hiring a new hitting coach with Ty Van Burkleo considered a strong bet to become Wakamatsu’s bench coach with the M’s. Based on the A’s dismal offensive showing over the past two seasons, I can imagine many fans would gladly show Van Burkleo the nearest exit out of Oakland. But several A’s players have spoken highly of the work Van Burkleo has done with them individually, and let’s be honest, you can only expect so much from the lineups the A’s have trotted out the past two seasons.
— Monday is the deadline for teams to offer their own free agents arbitration if they want to be compensated should those players sign with other teams. The only decisions the A’s have to make regard reliever Alan Embree and DH Frank Thomas. Both are ranked as “Type B” free agents, meaning the A’s would receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft if those players were offered arbitration and signed elsewhere. The risk: If one of them unexpectedly accepted the arbitration offer. Then the A’s could be stuck with a player they don’t really want (and paying him a large chunk of cash, depending on how the arbitration case played out).
Embree is said to be getting interest on the open market from the Colorado Rockies. Though neither he nor the A’s have ruled out him returning to Oakland on a low-cost, one-year deal, Embree knows there wouldn’t be many innings for him in the A’s bullpen. Thomas, after an injury-plagued ’08, could retire even though he said last season he’d like to play in ’09.
— Last but not least: A tip of the cap to the fundraising effort of A’s radio play-by-play man Ken Korach. His “Winning for the Community” charity raised $26,000 throughout the ’08 season to benefit the high school baseball programs of the Oakland Athletic League. That’s $2,000 more than Ken had set as a goal in the charity’s first season. Ken is a very humble guy who would never seek out a pat on the back over this, so we’ll do it for him. Read more about how Ken started the charity …