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A’s reportedly interested in Cuban pitcher Noel Arguelles

Check out this story from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, which discusses the A’s interest in Cuban defector Noel Arguelles, a highly touted left-handed pitcher. I know fans at Athletics Nation are all over this, too. The story says Arguelles attracted quite a crowd of major league executives while pitching in the Dominican Republic recently. It also mentions that A’s GM Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst met with him in the Dominican. I haven’t asked Beane or Forst about Arguelles. But during my interview with A’s co-owner Lew Wolff yesterday, Wolff mentioned more than once that continuing to sign international talent was a top priority for the team. Something to keep an eye out for …

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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A’s add Chris Carter to 40-man roster — where does he fit best?

As you all know, the battle at first base will be one of the more interesting storylines for the A’s come spring training. Clearly, they need more pop at the plate from whoever’s playing first. The A’s have a logjam of youngsters at the position, but things would be less crowded if stud hitting prospect Chris Carter could play the outfield adequately. Check out this interview at Minor League Ball, where GM Billy Beane addresses that very topic. He says the ideal scenario would have Carter playing the outfield once he’s brought up to the majors. A couple different A’s officials have told me for some time now that Carter has the tools to be a decent left fielder.   And honestly, would he have to be that great? The A’s have shown they’re willing to use a defensive question mark in the outfield if it means getting a needed bat in the lineup.

Carter, by the way, was added to the A’s 40-man roster Friday, along with pitchers Fautino De Los Santos, Pedro Figueroa and Justin Souza.

But here’s a couple issues to consider: How soon will Carter be ready for the majors? Will one of the other first base candidates – Daric Barton, Sean Doolittle, Tommy Everidge, etc. – hit well enough to allow Carter to play somewhere else? Doolittle missed most of the 2009 season recovering from a tear in his left patella tendon, which he tried to rehab without surgery. He encountered road blocks in his recovery, and scout.com reported that Doolittle recently underwent knee surgery to fix the tear. It’s unknown whether he’ll be ready for the start of spring training.

Let’s remember that Scott Hairston’s status also will affect Carter, if Carter is indeed considered for left field. I honestly don’t have a read on how the A’s feel about Hairston at this point. They gave up three pitchers to get him from San Diego in July, and used him as the regular left fielder when he was healthy. Now Hairston is arbitration-eligible. I see the A’s tendering him a contract, but he got a rather lukewarm endorsement from Beane at the end of the season.

How do you see Carter fitting into the A’s puzzle???

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A’s tied to Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero in speculation

Can we expect the A’s to make as big an offseason splash as they did last winter? That might be hard to top. But with the World Series wrapped up, the Hot Stove speculation can officially begin. The MLB Network’s Jon Heyman discussed this winter’s crop of free agents, and he mentioned the A’s as potential suitors for third baseman Chone Figgins and outfielder/DH Vladimir Guerrero.

Juicy names, indeed. But I don’t see the A’s making a push for Figgins. Clearly, they need to sign someone at third. The odds are stacked against Eric Chavez remaining healthy, and it’s asking a lot of prospect Brett Wallace to be ready Opening Day. That’s why making the call on whether to re-sign Adam Kennedy is the A’s first crucial decision of the winter.

Figgins would cost a bundle, with some speculating he could command $10 million per season on a multi-year deal. Look at the A’s offensive strength right now – it’s tied to their speed and athleticism with guys like Rajai Davis and Cliff Pennington. They don’t need another burner such as Figgins. They need someone who can drive in those speedy guys once they get on base.

Guerrero is intriguing, if only because his injury struggles in 2009 should drive his price down. But he’s a huge gamble even at a bargain cost. I’m more intrigued by the A’s pursuing someone like Jermaine Dye. His 2010 option was declined by the White Sox on Friday, making him a free agent. He’ll turn 36 in January (making him a year older than Vlad), but he’s coming off a far more healthy and productive season. Dye plays right field, where the A’s have a terrific defender and still-developing hitter in Ryan Sweeney. But remember, Billy Beane acknowledged that the A’s need more offense from the corner outfield spots, and that they could look to upgrade in left or right.

Team owner Lew Wolff wants the A’s to abandon the philosophy of signing aging sluggers. But let’s face it – the A’s aren’t going to outspend the big-budget teams to sign any superstars. And trading for an impact hitter in his prime will cost the A’s some of their elite pitching prospects. I don’t see them easily parting with those players (then again, I didn’t see them trading for Matt Holliday last winter, either).

Just a few thoughts for you to ponder as the Hot Stove season starts heating up. Let’s here what some of you think …

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Desme, Weeks to play in televised Arizona Fall League showcase

I saw that the MLB Network will broadcast Saturday’s Rising Stars Showcase live from Surprise, Ariz. It’s basically the All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League, and first pitch is 5:15 p.m. (West Coast). Outfielder Grant Desme and second baseman Jemile Weeks will represent the A’s, and heralded prospect Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to start on the mound for the East Division squad.

Desme, as you may know, has been the AFL’s offensive star, hitting 10 homers in just 16 games and leading the league in RBI. He’s four homers shy of the AFL’s season home run mark with three games remaining. Tune in Saturday to see him for yourself …

–About a year ago, I drew your attention to a Web site run by baseball fanatic Paul Sullivan, where he ranked all-time teams for all 30 major league franchises. He’s at it again … now giving his thoughts on the most forgettable baseball uniforms of the past 30 years. You can check it out here