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Oakland A’s release Santiago Casilla; select reliever Bobby Cassevah in Rule 5 draft

The A’s selected right-hander Bobby Cassevah, a reliever from the Los Angeles Angels’ organization, in this morning’s Rule 5 draft that concluded the winter meetings. To make room on their 40-man roster, they released reliever Santiago Casilla, a member of the bullpen off and on since 2004.

The A’s will send $50,000 to the Angels for Cassevah’s rights. Cassevah, 24, must remain on Oakland’s 25-man roster for the entire 2010 season or be offered back to the Angels for $25,000.

“We felt like he had a good shot to come in and compete in our bullpen,” assistant GM David Forst said. “He had a phenomenal year in the Texas League, a 4-to-1 ground-ball ratio, and he’s given up six homers in his entire minor league career.”

The A’s didn’t have any of their prospects chosen in the draft …

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Bobby Crosby looks Pittsburgh-bound; thoughts on A’s and Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero

We had snow here in Indianapolis on Monday, then wind and rain yesterday. Today, it’s a combination of wind and snow … putting the “winter” in winter meetings.

A few thoughts as Day 3 of this four-day fiesta gets underway:

–Looks like former A’s infielder Bobby Crosby is going to ink a reported one-year, $1.5 million deal w/the Pirates. That would set him up for an Oakland homecoming June 25-27, when Pittsburgh visits the A’s for an interleague series. That will mean a lot to Crosby’s biggest fan, a young woman who sits in the second deck of the Coliseum and has yelled out “Bobby, you’re hot!!!” approximately 1,367 times per game.

–It makes sense that the A’s would at least entertain the idea of signing DH/outfielder Hideki Matsui. One school of thought says the Yankees’ acquisition of Curtis Granderson might push Matsui out of New York. But it’s also possible that Granderson’s presence makes Johnny Damon expendable, and the Yanks may view Matsui as a better (or slightly more affordable) DH option than Damon.

–With the A’s willing to consider signing veteran hitters, it opens up a lot of options. Vladimir Guerrero could be one, but he’s similar to Matsui — an aging outfielder who may be relegated strictly to DH. And Guerrero’s apparent wish for a two-year contract might keep the A’s away.

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Bob Geren’s thoughts on Hideki Matsui, Chris Carter, Brett Wallace, Jake Fox, etc.

Here’s a few quick hitters from A’s manager Bob Geren’s media Q&A that just wrapped up:

–Ideally, Geren would like to see top hitting prospects Chris Carter and Brett Wallace begin the season in Triple-A to get more seasoning. Though he said Wallace is currently a third baseman, he didn’t rule out an eventual switch to first base.

–Geren was asked about Hideki Matsui, amid speculation that the free agent slugger could be a fit for Oakland. Surprisingly, Geren didn’t shut down as A’s officials usually do when asked about prospective free agents. “He’s certainly one of the better players in the league for sure. He’s had some great years in New York.” Then he asked a reporter, with a slight smile: “Where’s he going? Have you heard anything?”

–He said the A’s could benefit from pursuing a free agent starting pitcher to bolster the rotation.

–Geren would like to play newly acquired Jake Fox at several different positions during spring training to see where he fits best. Fox is primarily a third baseman but can also play first or left field and serve as DH. Geren considers Fox a middle-of-the-order bat. “I don’t think there’s any one position where he stands out defensively. But he doesn’t necessarily have any bad deficiencies anywhere. He’s really known for his offense and his versatility.”

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Peter Gammons leaving ESPN

Thought I’d pass this along: ESPN just issued a press release announcing that Peter Gammons will be leaving the network after the winter meetings “to pursue new endeavors.” The release also included a classy statement from Gammons in which he thanked numerous people he’s worked with over the years at ESPN.

It’ll be weird watching ESPN’s baseball coverage and not seeing Gammons. If my TV is on and I’m in another room, the sound of his voice usually grabs my attention because he’s always got something insightful to offer. Anyone else sorry to see him move on?

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Yankees, Tigers, Diamondbacks talking mega-trade

Things are just getting rolling here on Day 2 of the winter meetings. The Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks are reportedly discussing a three-way trade, with Detroit outfielder Curtis Granderson and pitcher Edwin Jackson two of the marquee players involved. Lots of speculation is being reported, so we’ll see if this blockbuster materializes and adds some spice to this function.

–The winter meetings shift to a different city each year, and every site offers its own logistical challenges. My early impression is that the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott works much better than the Bellagio in Las Vegas, home of the 2008 meetings. The Bellagio was luxurious – and let’s face it, it’s Vegas – but it was too massive. You never knew where GMs, scouts and agents might be found. Here in Indy, the hotel lobby is relatively small and everybody congregates in the same general area, which is perfect …

–I’m not alone in saying the toughest thing about covering these meetings is identifying the agents you want to interview. Most team officials (and all reporters) wear credentials with their names on them, so if you don’t know somebody by face, you can shoot a quick glance at their credential and catch who they are. But agents aren’t wearing credentials.

Basically, if a guy looks like he’s spent a lot of time in front of the mirror and has an entourage of interns following him, I assume he’s an agent. That’s a safe rule of thumb.

Check in w/you later …

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Duchscherer declines arbitration from A’s

Just a quick update that Justin Duchscherer officially declined an offer of arbitration from the A’s, according to his agent Damon Lapa. The A’s can continue to negotiate with him as he’s a free agent. But since he’s a Type B free agent, they will be compensated with a sandwich pick in next year’s draft (between the first and second rounds) if he signs with another club.

If Duchscherer doesn’t get any offers to his liking from other teams, talks with the A’s could pick up again. The A’s would use him as a starter since that’s where their greatest pitching need is, and Duchscherer’s made no secret he wants to start …

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Adam Kennedy appears all but gone from Oakland

This news shouldn’t rock your world, A’s fans, but it continues to look like the A’s and Adam Kennedy will cut ties.. I just talked with Kennedy’s agent, Paul Cohen, and he didn’t sound optimistic about Kennedy re-signing with Oakland. The free agent infielder has gotten solid interest from about six or seven teams, Cohen said, and Kennedy is looking for opportunities to play second base. He was forced to play third base with the A’s for 2009, and if he re-signed, that’s where Oakland would need him most.

The A’s are hopeful Eric Chavez is healthy enough to play third. But they’ve also traded for Jake Fox, signed Dallas McPherson to a minor league deal, and have prospect Brett Wallace waiting in the wings. And they’re looking to sign another young third baseman, GM Billy Beane has said.

Kennedy will be missed if he signs elsewhere. He was a solid clubhouse guy and very good clutch hitter for Oakland. But this breakup seems to be mutual.

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Decision time for Justin Duchscherer

Still no word on whether Justin Duchscherer will accept the A’s arbitration offer. He has until 9 p.m. (Pacific time) tonight to decide. This is pivotal for the A’s. If Duchscherer accepts arbitration, he’s an Athletic for 2010. The pitcher and the team would go to an arbitration hearing in February to decide his salary, or they could negotiate a contract before then.

It’s a tricky decision for Duchscherer. He could opt to test free agency, but he’d probably be looking at a one-year deal with a low base salary, with performance incentives giving him the chance to make much more. Were he to accept arbitration and return to the A’s, he’d probably earn a higher base salary. But since he missed all of last season (he had elbow surgery and then was diagnosed with depression), it might not be as much as last year’s $3.9 million figure.

Make sense?

Duchscherer strongly prefers starting over relieving, and that’s definitely where he could fill the biggest need for the A’s. But it might be a moot point if he declines arbitration in a few hours …

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What’s in store for A’s as winter meetings open?

Greetings from Indianapolis, folks …

Check back here throughout the week for my posts from the winter meetings. This year’s event will be far different from last year’s in Las Vegas. That much was clear when I looked out my hotel window this morning and saw snow covering everything in sight. It’s freezing here … I’ll be interested to see if the A’s get any business done over the next four days. GM Billy Beane said he’d be more likely to sign a free agent than swing a trade. And while adding hitters tops the list of needs, let’s remember Beane said back in October that the starting rotation needs help too. I expect the A’s to seriously pursue a starting pitcher to complement the youngsters in their rotation, and I’d think they’d start exploring options this week.

Check back w/you soon …