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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.”

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Scratch Adrian Beltre off A’s list of third base candidates

47 days and counting until A’s pitchers and catchers report … Here’s a few baseball tidbits in case you’re suffering bowl-game overload …

–Numerous outlets have reported details of Adrian Beltre’s deal with the Boston Red Sox. Looks like he’s getting a one-year contract for $9 million, with a $5 million player option for 2011. I don’t think he was a realistic option for the A’s at that price, but regardless, that’s one less free agent third baseman available. The A’s still want to find an insurance plan at third in case Eric Chavez isn’t healthy. What would you like to see them do? Dip into their past and sign Miguel Tejada, as they did last winter w/Jason Giambi? Give prospect Adrian Cardenas a crack at third? See if Adam Kennedy, still unsigned, would re-consider playing third again? None of the above?

–Speaking of former Athletics: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Mark Mulder is close to signing with the Brewers.

–Speaking of a much lower-profile former Athletic: right-hander Colby Lewis is looking for a major league job after two fine seasons as a starter for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. You might remember Lewis’ time with Oakland in 2007. He got hammered for 10 earned runs in his first appearance — and only start — against the White Sox, then worked out of the bullpen much of the season. Even with Justin Duchscherer back in the fold, I could see the A’s bringing another veteran to spring training, to at least provide some competition for a rotation spot. Lewis seems like a decent, low-cost option to me, although the above story quotes Lewis’ agent as saying six teams are “aggressively bidding” for him.

Check back w/you soon …

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What’s the future hold for A’s offense?

The weather here at the Coliseum was unusually warm last night. Different story tonight, as the wind is already kicking up. It’ll definitely be more chilly. And speaking of chilly, the A’s have certainly cooled off at the plate. What happened to that offensive revival? They’ve scored just 13 runs over the past six games, and haven’t topped three runs in any one of them. Adam Kennedy, who’s been such a catalyst for this team since he was acquired, is hitting just .176 (6-for-34) over his last eight games. And remember, five of those hits came in one game last week against the White Sox.

As encouraging as it’s been recently to see the A’s run wild on the bases, and see players like Rajai Davis, Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki take turns getting key hits, let’s not forget that this is still a pretty flawed team offensively when you look ahead to next season. As things stand, I don’t see the A’s being good enough offensively in 2010 to support the young pitchers that are obviously going to be the team’s strength. And as team owner Lew Wolff told Bay Area News Group in this story, he’s not crazy about the A’s bringing in more power hitters from the outside as they tried this year with Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday. Problem is, I don’t know if their best hitting prospects (Chris Carter, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Wallace and Co.) will be ready by next season.

My question for you, A’s fans: When it comes to improving this offense, would you rather see the A’s go out and try to obtain another slugger or two as they tried to do this season, or should they abandon the search for power and build a more speed and run-oriented offense, as they’ve shown signs of doing since the All-Star break?

–Not much pregame news today: Dallas Braden’s left ankle is showing no signs of improvement, according to manager Bob Geren, and you have to wonder if we’ll see him on the mound again this season. At this point, it might be better to shut him down and make sure he’s healthy to start spring training.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Daric Barton playing first for the A’s for the second straight night:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Guillen LF
Cabrera 1B
Huff DH
Thomas RF
Inge 3B
AVila C
Santiago SS

Galarraga RHP

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Chad Gaudin — familiar foe for A’s

Not much in the way of pregame updates today. But I’ll be interested to see how Chad Gaudin looks tonight going against his old Oakland teammates. Big night for the right-hander, as this is his first start for the Yankees since they acquired him in a trade from San Diego. I talked to him during the A’s trip to San Diego in June, when he was still a Padre, and he was disappointed he wasn’t on turn to face the A’s down there. Surely he’ll have some extra adrenaline flowing tonight, just as Brett Tomko did facing the Yankees on Monday night.

Check out the first four hitters in the A’s batting order tonight: Adam Kennedy, Rajai Davis, Mark Ellis, Kurt Suzuki. That’s not exactly a 1-4 sequence you expected back in spring training, eh? Things are a little funky tonight because Scott Hairston isn’t starting (his quad still isn’t 100 percent). And there isn’t a hotter hitter on the A’s than Ellis, so might as well plug him into the “3″ hole for a night. Suzuki, the DH, gets his first career start at cleanup.

–Joey Devine is backing up to 45 feet to play catch tonight. He said a couple days ago that there wasn’t a set date for him to get on the mound. It’ll be baby steps for him as he continues strengthening his elbow after Tommy John surgery.

–Bob Geren said the team has begun discussions about possible September roster call-ups, and that “obviously pitching will be at a premium.” Triple-A infielders Adrian Cardenas and Brett Wallace are swinging hot bats, as is Double-A first baseman Chris Carter. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them gets a ticket to Oakland. I’d be surprised if Carter didn’t at least get a promotion to Sacramento.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki DH
Sweeney LF
Powell C
Cust RF
Everidge 1B
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Yanks
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
A-Rod 3B
Matsui DH
Swisher RF
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Molina C

Gaudin RHP

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Looking ahead

Quick question: Is it me or does it seem like we’ve been reading or hearing about the A’s offensive struggles for oh, about a dozen years? OK, so it hasn’t been that long. But the team’s three losses to the Giants over the weekend was all too similar to all too many series for all too long. The A’s talled all of 16 hits, hit .172 and scored three runs.

Not sure how you feel, but to these eyes, it’s gotten old. So thought I’d spend Tuesday morning looking at some of the hitters who might be coming down the road for the A’s.

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A’s minor league recap: Cardenas moved to third; Weeks stays hot

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Tacoma (Mariners) 6, RiverCats 4: Story l Boxscore

Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jay Marshall gave up five runs in the final two innings as the RiverCats failed to protect a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez walked two batters and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Brad Nelson. Marshall permitted the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.

James Simmons was in line for the win after working five innings and allowing just four hits and one run. Jerry Blevins then added two scoreless innings with four strikeouts before Sacramento’s troubles began.

Travis Buck homered and drove in two runs as his rehab seems to be going well. Danny Putnam had a two-run homer, his third in 111 at-bats for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 5, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

Adrian Cardenas, who has played mostly at second base and some at shortstop this season, has spent the last two games at third base for the RockHounds, who suffered their second straight setback. Cardenas, who booted an eighth-inning grounder Thursday night, would seem to have a much clearer path to Oakland as a third baseman. Especially with Jemile Weeks playing second base at Stockton and seemingly Oakland-bound within a couple of years. The A’s obviously figure on finding room in their lineup one day soon for both Cardenas and Weeks.

Tommy Everidge had played third for Midland for most of the year, but he was promoted to Sacramento. Alex Valdez, who arrived from Stockton, is also a third baseman.

Bobby Cramer struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, but took the loss after allowing two runs. Matt Spencer and Archie Gilbert had two of the Hounds’ five hits, and Cardenas had the other.

Jose Valverde, the Astros’ closer who’s on a rehab assignment, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Corpus Christi.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports lost their eighth in a row as they were swept in Modesto. On the bright side, Jemile Weeks continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Weeks, who has hit in every game since joining Stockton from extended spring training on May 27, is now batting .370.

Christian Vitters had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Ports.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

The Cougars scored three times in the first on a two-run single by Steve Kleen and an RBI double by Grant Desme, but Wisconsin countered with four runs in the bottom of the first off Shawn Haviland on its way to victory.

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A’s minor league recap: Carson, Barton lead big Sacramento win

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 19, Salt Lake City (Angels) 10: Story l Boxscore

In a game featuring 29 runs and 37 hits, the RiverCats’ Matt Carson was the big story as the 27-year-old outfielder blasted three home runs in their victory in Utah. Carson, a former BYU star who joined the A’s this winter as a six-year minor league free agent, opened some eyes while hitting .364 in spring training. On Thursday, Carson hit a two-run homer and a pair of solo shots, giving him a team-leading nine on the season.

Daric Barton went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, four runs scored and four RBI. The first baseman is hitting .351 in his past 10 games.

Danny Putnam, the ex-Stanford star, also had three hits and four RBI. In all, 13 of the Cats’ 21 hits went for extra bases.

Eric Patterson and Eric Munson each had three hits. Patterson also stole two bases and has 22 for the season.

One of the Salt Lake relievers facing Sacramento was Antioch’s Dan Denham, who allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Denham spent part of the ’07 season in the minors with the A’s before being dealt to Cincinnati in ’07 for Kirk Saarloos.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 4, NW Arkansas (Royals) 1: Story l Boxscore

Jason Fernandez (11th round, ’06) was the story in Midland as the right-hander threw a complete-game six-hitter to notch his sixth win. Fernandez, who threw 99 pitches, struck out six and didn’t walk anyone.

Matt Spencer homered for the second consecutive game and drove in a pair. Second baseman Adrian Cardenas went 3-for-3 and now leads the Texas League with a .389 average.

Corey Brown had a game-tying RBI double in the fifth and later scored.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, High Desert (Mariners) 5 (susp.): Story l Boxscore

The Ports and Mavericks played five hours and one minute before having their game suspended after 14 innings in Stockton, due to the Cal League’s rule that no inning can begin after midnight. The teams will resume play Friday night at 6:05 p.m. and their regularly scheduled game will follow.

Jemile Weeks continued to show some pop by belting his third homer in just his eight game with the Ports. Christian Vitters went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.

Ports starter Scott Hodsdon went six innings and allowed just two earned runs. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned three.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Clinton (Mariners) 5, Cougars 4: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Steve Kleen hit a three-run home run in Kane County’s four-run fourth inning, but the Cougars couldn’t hold their lead and fell into a first-place tie with Cedar Rapids (Angels) in the Midwest League’s Western Division.

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A’s minor league recap: Rivercats win in 16; Weeks homers again

Here’s a look at the A’s minor league leaders as well as a brief look at what happened down on the farm Friday for their affiliates:
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Weeks sighting and more

The A’s top pick in last year’s draft finally is on the stat sheet at Single-A Stockton. Jemile Weeks made his debut for the Ports in Stockton’s 10-5 over Bakersfield. It wasn’t a great night for the second baseman, as he collected just one hit in six at-bats. But his lone hit did drive in two runs to give the Ports a nice start to a seven-game road trip, their longest of the season.

More encouraging news out of Stockton. Tyson Ross, the Cal product who followed Weeks on the A’s draft list last season, retired the final 11 of the final 12 he faced. His overall line needs to be better, but he continues to work on being more effecient and getting his pitch-count up. The A’s are being careful with him.

Last for Stockton: A very good night for Frank Martinez. The shortstop doubled twice and had three RBI.

Elsewhere:

TRIPLE-A SACRAMENTO

— “Vin Mazzaro, white courtesy telephone. Vin Mazzaro, white courtesy telephone.” You half expect a public address announcement to go out, given how this kid is pitching lately. Mazzaro lowered his ERA to 2.38 in his third straight outstanding outing. By the way, talked with A’s assistant general manager Davd Forst this week, and Mazzaro would have to be called up right around the June 15-20 period to avoid becoming a Super2 guy and becoming eligible for arbitration an extra year earlier.

— Another promising pitching prospect did his thing in the second game of a doubleheader. Nice to see that James Simmons is gaining some consistency.

DOUBLE-A MIDLAND

— Highlight of the night was Graham Godfrey. Dynamite stuff while fanning 11 in  a 9-4 win over Northwest Arkansas. Godfrey has 28 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings during May.

— Adrian Cardenas, who recently was sent back to down from Triple-A Sacramento, continues to smoke Double-A pitching. He’ll get another opportunity in Triple-A at some point.

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A’s minor league recap: Mazzaro looks ready for big leagues

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Friday for the A’s affiliates:

The arbitration clock appears to be the only thing standing between Vin Mazzaro and a spot in the A’s rotation. After Mazzaro’s dominating effort Friday night, what other reason could there be for not promoting the 22-year-old right-hander?

Mazzaro flirted with a no-hitter against Omaha and it figures to be just a matter of a bad start or two by a current A’s starter before he’s in Oakland.

Meanwhile, Adrian Cardenas’ difficult time in Triple-A have come to an end as the A’s top middle infielder prospect was sent back to Double-A Midland. However, Cardenas was in the middle of another huge night offensively for the RockHounds on Friday.

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Omaha (Royals) 1: Story l Boxscore

Vin Mazzaro fired eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball against Omaha to lower his ERA to 2.66. Mazzaro, who got no decision in the Cats’ 12-inning win, walked just one and struck out six. Over his last three starts, the A’s third-round pick from ’05 has gone 21 innings and given up just five hits and one earned run _ for an ERA of 0.43.

Eric Patterson had an RBI triple and Danny Putnam followed with an RBI single in Sacramento’s two-run 12th inning. Gregorio Petit had snapped a 0-0 tie with a run-scoring hit in the top of the 11th, but the struggling Jerry Blevins gave up the tying run in the bottom of the inning.

Cliff Pennington was 3-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .283.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

RockHounds 24, Corpus Christi (Astros) 6: Story l Boxscore

Midland abused Corpus Christi pitching while amassing 24 runs on 28 hits, including four apiece by four different players. Here’s the RockHounds’ honor roll from last night:

Adrian Cardenas: After hitting .177 in Sacramento, he resumed his torrid Texas League hitting by going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. Cardenas is hitting .398 with 22 RBI in 20 Double-A games.

Corey Brown: Went 4-for-5 with six RBI and five runs, and came within a single of the cycle. He’s hitting .326 with five HRs and 22 RBI with an OPS of 1.044 in 95 at-bats.

Archie Gilbert: Ex-James Logan High star went 4-for-7 as his OBP stays over .400.

Matt Spencer: Went 4-for-5 with four RBI.

Matt Sulentic: Had two hits and 3 RBI and the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .444 over his last eight games, boosting his average to .306.

Josh Donaldson: Went 3-for-3 with two RBI and is hitting a season-high .273.

Chris Carter: Had 2 doubles, 3 RBI and is hitting .268 with four homers, 32 RBI.

Tommy Everidge: Had three RBI and is now second in league with 37 RBI.

In injury news, 20-year-old reliever Arnold Leon is on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 4, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 1: Story l Boxscore

Things are looking up in Stockton, as witnessed by a thoroughly dominating show by Ben Hornbeck. The 21-year-old lefty, making his Stockton debut, struck out a career-high 12 in six innings and allowed just one hit and one walk.

Hornbeck (32nd round, ’08) has probably been the best pitcher in the minors this year, having gone 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA at Kane County before last week’s promotion to the Ports. On Friday, Hornbeck struck out the side in two consecutive innings and finished by striking out eight of his last nine batters.

Larry Cobb drove in two runs, including one on a solo homer, to spark the Ports’ offense. Justin Friend of Tracy picked up his first save, as regular Ports closer Jon Hunton was promoted to Double-A.

Hard-throwing Henry Rodriguez recently was activated after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Rodriguez, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, has pitched in two games for Stockton, throwing three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.

More excitement should be on the way shortly as second baseman Jemile Weeks, last year’s No. 1 pick, figures to arrive from extended spring training in Arizona in a matter of days.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 6, Wisconsin (Brewers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa, a smallish (6-foot-1, 164 pounds) left-hander, threw seven strong innings as the Cougars (25-16) stretched their Western Division lead to 2 1/2 games. Figueroa (4-1, 5.40 ERA) gave up six hits, three runs, one walk and struck out five.

Franklin Hernandez had three RBI.