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A’s finalize one-year contract with outfielder Jonny Gomes

The A’s finally made official the signing of outfielder Jonny Gomes to a one-year contract, reportedly worth $1 million plus $200,000 in possible incentives. To make room for Gomes on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated for assignment infielder Adrian Cardenas, meaning they have 10 days to trade or release Cardenas, or send him to the minors if he clears waivers.

This decision might have surprised some fans. Cardenas was the marquee prospect obtained from Philadelphia in the Joe Blanton trade of 2008, but he’s failed to crack the majors to this point. “There’s a lot of people in this organization who believe in Adrian and put in a lot of time (with him),” A’s assistant GM David Forst said. “This time of year, you end up having to make tough roster decisions.”

Cardenas’ main position is second base (where Jemile Weeks is now entrenched), and the A’s have also tried him at third base and left field. He’s a career .303 hitter in the minors but has never reached double-digit homers in a single season. You would like to see more power from a potential third baseman or corner outfielder.

The A’s received three players in that 2008 Blanton trade: Cardenas, lefty Josh Outman (recently traded to Colorado along with Guillermo Moscoso for outfielder Seth Smith) and outfielder Matt Spencer (traded to the Cubs along with two others after the 2009 season for Jake Fox and Aaron Miles). Looking back, that deal simply hasn’t panned out.

But it’s worth noting that Cardenas is still just 24. Forst said the A’s would like to retain him if he clears waivers, so perhaps he can still make an impact.

As for the right-handed hitting Gomes, he’ll definitely get at-bats against lefties, either in the outfield or at DH. Smith, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick are the A’s projected outfield starters, left to right. Smith and Reddick hit left-handed and Crisp is a switch hitter. “Clearly we’re left-handed-heavy in both corners and with our potential first base/DH options,” Forst said. “We’ve been on the lookout for an experienced right-handed bat, and Jonny has had a lot of success hitting left-handers over the years.”

0

A’s sign Dominican shortstop prospect Yairo Munoz (video)

The A’s signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Yairo Munoz on Tuesday for a $280,000 bonus, according to the Dominican Prospect League website. Munoz’s defensive skills are said to be his strongpoint, along with above-average speed. It’s tough to project how any of these international prospects will develop when they’re signed at such a young age. Will the A’s ever get a return on the $4.2 million they invested in Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa, 20, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery? The A’s are pouring lots of money into their international scouting and player development, thinking they can get a jump on teams that are focusing their big spending at the major league level …

3

Jose Canseco dreams; Bartolo Colon signs; FanFest information and other A’s news

I’m coming at you late in the day with this, but here’s a roundup of A’s-related items as we creep closer to spring training …

–If you didn’t catch this story on our website, I talked to Jose Canseco today. The man still dreams of returning to the major leagues, and he thinks he could help the A’s at DH. More than anything, he just wants a big league team to give him a tryout. I’ll say this: He came across very sincere in his ambition. I’m just not sure how much demand there is for a 47-year-old who hasn’t played in the majors since 2001.

–The A’s made it official today, signing right-hander Bartolo Colon to a one-year, $2 million contract. So that makes three spots filled in the rotation – Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden (assuming he’s healthy) and Colon. But how does the back of the rotation materialize? That’s what I’m interested to see in spring training. A couple of those young newcomers are definitely going to come into play, depending on whether Tyson Ross grabs the reins on a starting job. I definitely think the A’s needed to sign a veteran starter, but can we expect Colon, 38, to duplicate what he did with the Yankees last year? And remember, he struggled in the second half.

The A’s have yet to announce the Jonny Gomes signing, but that will come any time now, perhaps as early as Wednesday.

–The lowdown on Sunday’s FanFest at Oracle Arena: It runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids 14 and under. You can buy them at the A’s Ticket Services Office or online at oaklandathletics.com/fanfest. Parking is free … Which players will be there? Practically the entire roster, including Jemile Weeks, Coco Crisp, Dallas Braden, Kurt Suzuki, Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy. Manager Bob Melvin and his coaching staff will be on hand, along with former A’s greats Gene Tenace, Vida Blue and Joe Rudi. Scott Hatteberg and David Justice – who found themselves back in the spotlight thanks to “Moneyball” — will also attend. I’m told GM Billy Beane will not be in town Sunday, but assistant GM David Forst will take part in the fan Q & A session.

The most intriguing FanFest attraction: The chance to meet one-on-one with A’s co-owner and managing partner Lew Wolff “to discuss a variety of topics in an intimate setting,” according to a team release. I’d like to be a fly on the wall for some of these conversations. Wolff has taken substantial heat from fans in recent years for a number of reasons, so I’m somewhat surprised he’s making himself available. Fans can sign up to meet Wolff at the information booth on the plaza located between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena from 9-10:30 a.m.

–“Moneyball” scored big when Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, landing nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill) among other awards. Adding a touch of Vegas to the Hollywood proceedings, bookmaker Jimmy Shapiro placed odds at 30-1 for “Moneyball” to win Best Picture (“The Artist,” at 2-7 odds, is the favorite) and 10-1 on Pitt to win Best Actor.

–Lastly, the A’s signed 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Yairo Munoz for a $280,000 bonus, according to the Dominican Prospect League website. Munoz’s defensive skills are said to be his strongpoint, along with above-average speed. It’s tough to project how any of these international prospects will develop when they’re signed at such a young age. Will the A’s ever get a return on the $4.2 million they invested in Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa, 20, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery? The A’s are pouring lots of money into their international scouting and player development, thinking they can get a jump on teams that are focusing their big spending at the major league level …

5

A’s trade Outman, Moscoso to Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith

Some A’s news for your Monday morning:

They’ve traded pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith, who may very well be in their Opening Night lineup at one of the corner outfield spots. I’m not surprised the A’s dealt for Smith, 29, since they’ve been rumored to be interested in him. But I am surprised they dealt both Moscoso and Outman for him. The A’s have holes in the rotation (even if they do finalize a one-year deal with Bartolo Colon), and Moscoso and Outman were considered two candidates to fill out the starting five. The rotation should now go Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden (when he’s healthy) and Colon, with two spots to fill. This trade tells me the A’s are comfortable looking at the promising but inexperienced arms they’ve received in other trades this winter to possibly fill in those spots. Consider Jarrod Parker (obtained from AZ in the Trevor Cahill trade) and Brad Peacock and Tom Milone (both received from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade) to be prime candidates for rotation spots out of spring training. Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross will also be in the mix.

Here’s a look at Smith’s career stats with the Rockies. Coco Crisp will start in center field for the A’s, and he could be flanked by Smith and Josh Reddick, with Michael Taylor and Collin Cowgill also possibilities.

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Speculating on the A’s potential lineup

Just for kicks, here’s my guess at the A’s Opening Day batting order w/the current roster (I’m including Coco Crisp, though his signing hasn’t been announced yet):

1. Weeks 2B
2. Sizemore 3B
3. Crisp CF
4. Allen 1B
5. Suzuki C
6. Reddick RF
7. Carter DH
8. Taylor/Cowgill LF
9. Pennington SS

I initially penciled in Crisp as the No. 2 hitter behind Weeks because it just seemed a natural fit. But I see him as the A’s most complete hitter as things stand, so I slotted him third, where a team’s best hitter usually bats. I’m hesitant putting Allen at cleanup considering his inexperience, but given the A’s current makeup, he offers some of the best run-producing potential. I could see him and Suzuki flip-flopping, though Suzuki is not an ideal cleanup man either. I have no idea where Reddick fits best, but I put him sixth to get a little left-right-left variation going in the 4-5-6 spots.

This batting order wouldn’t exactly make pitchers run the other way, no matter how you arrange it. I expect the A’s to add another hitter or two through free agency, though I’m not sure how much more formidable they will make the offense.

Give me some feedback. What adjustments would you make?

5

Coco Crisp to re-sign with A’s on two-year, $14 million deal

Finally, there’s some A’s news about a player returning rather than being shown the door. Free agent center fielder Coco Crisp will return to Oakland on a two-year deal worth $14 million, plus a $7.5 million club option for 2014, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. All indications I’m getting are that this is all but a done deal. Here’s my story on the topic. A’s officials aren’t confirming anything and neither is Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte. But Oakland GM Billy Beane had complimentary things to say about Crisp even as he declined direct comment on whether a contract was in the works.

Does this signing surprise you? I’m a little shocked that Crisp would return given the direction of the franchise. Top starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill have been traded, as have closer Andrew Bailey and fellow reliever Craig Breslow. Beane and Co. have clearly stated they don’t think it’s realistic for the A’s to contend in the AL West this season, and they’re building for a future they hope includes a new stadium in San Jose. Crisp told me in September that playing for a contender would be important to him as he entered free agency. I asked Comte how Crisp viewed the A’s given the trades that have been made this winter. “(GM) Billy (Beane) always finds a way to piece it together,” Comte said. “ … I think we’ve seen a few teams with young talent that have probably exceeded expectations.”

A two-year, $14 million deal is pretty steep for a player with Crisp’s injury history. And you figure there weren’t many teams offering Crisp as much as the A’s did on a multi-year deal. Nonetheless, this is an important signing for the A’s simply because it brings a recognizable player back into the fold after they’ve sent so many guys packing. Does it improve Oakland’s chances in the AL West? Not really. Does Crisp bring the power this team so desperately lacks with Josh Willingham’s departure? Negative. But he provides a steady glove in center field, and manager Bob Melvin is preaching improved defense in 2012. Crisp also brings a little name recognition, as second baseman Jemile Weeks was looking like the A’s only hope to build a marketing campaign around. Given how this offseason has unfolded, I’m guessing fans are chalking this up as a surprise victory.

Am I right?