Here’s some random tidbits from what’s been a busy start to the A’s offseason. We’ll begin with updates on some noteworthy prospects playing ball this winter …
–The plan is for Chris Carter to gain more outfield experience playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. But the A’s top prospect has yet to leave for Venezuela as he’s still recovering from a left thumb injury that cost him games late in the regular season. A’s assistant GM David Forst said Carter was scheduled to see a doctor this week, and only after being fully cleared will he head to Venezuela and suit up for Tiburones de La Guaira. Despite the delay, Forst stressed that Carter hasn’t suffered any setbacks in his recovery.
The A’s trade for David DeJesus indicates the team might feel Carter needs more minor league seasoning. Do the A’s view him more as a DH now? I keep remembering back to what GM Billy Beane told me during the regular season: The A’s aren’t crazy about relegating Carter to full-time DH duty at such a young age. Perhaps that view will change given the surplus of outfielders right now. At any rate, the A’s don’t have to make that decision until Carter proves he’s ready to be a productive everyday hitter in the majors.
–The Arizona Fall League regular season wraps up Thursday, and outfielder Michael Taylor has gotten steady playing time for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Through Monday, he was hitting .278 with two HRs, eight doubles, 15 RBIs, 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in 97 at-bats. Taylor’s a long shot to make the big league team out of spring training, but the A’s surely would like to see a major step forward in his second season at Triple-A.
–Shortstop Grant Green is another of the seven A’s prospects playing in the AFL. Green was slated to be the team’s representative in the Rising Stars Game – the AFL’s All-Star showcase – but was held out as a precaution. He’d played just 12 games as of Monday because of some calf soreness, but he returned to action a few days ago and Forst said the calf issue isn’t serious.
Third baseman Stephen Parker, who, like Green, enjoyed a big 2010 season for Single-A Stockton, was hitting .318 with one homer and six RBIs in 88 at-bats for the Desert Dogs. Check out the full winter league stats for A’s prospects.
–Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes says the A’s are once again pursuing free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Oakland made a serious run at this guy last winter, but Beltre turned down their reported offer of three years and $24 million. At the time, Beltre was coming off a poor season with Seattle and had something to prove. He opted for a one-year, $9 million deal with Boston and enjoyed a fantastic season that boosted his value once again. He’ll have no shortage of suitors, and he’d have to undergo a serious about-face in his thinking to consider the A’s this time around. But Oakland has a nice selling point with its strong pitching staff, which has the A’s in position to contend if some offense can be acquired.
The team already has two third basemen in the fold with Kevin Kouzmanoff and recently acquired Edwin Encarnacion, but obviously Beltre would be a colossal upgrade. Either Kouzmanoff or Encarnacion figures to be non-tendered or traded even if Beltre isn’t signed. And based on what I’m hearing, I’d say Encarnacion stands the better chance of being retained of the two.
What’s your guess on whether the A’s keep Encarnacion, Kouzmanoff or both?