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A’s find there are too many buyers at deadline, but they’d like to add a starter and a second baseman

The A’s have not been buyers at the trade deadline often in the last decade.

Now that they are, so, apparently, is everybody else.

All of which is going to make it more difficult for the A’s to get something done at the deadline.

“It’s about how many players are available, simple supply and demand,’’ A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year.’’

The A’s want to be one of the buyers when the deadline rolls around Wednesday.

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A’s, Holliday both in better places since 2009 union

Matt Holliday was supposed to change the way things were done in Oakland.

An outfielder with a big bat, big RBI potential and a big salary, Holliday was the A’s foray into big-money baseball.

That lasted for less than a full season. Oakland general manager Billy Beane acquired Holliday for a hefty price – letting a proven reliever, Huston Street, and a would-be star, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, go to Colorado.

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Hot streak from A’s helping keep Hiro in minors

What, exactly, does it take to get to the big leagues with the Oakland A’s?

In the case of Hiro Nakajima, more of what he’s been doing of late. Maybe a lot more.

With two more hits, including his second home run Sunday in Tacoma for Triple-A Sacramento, Nakajima is on a roll that has seen his average get to new heights at .322. He came into Monday with a seven-game streak in which he’s 15-for-33 (.455).

That’s good, even if it’s not enough to get him to the majors right now.

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Game 24 wrapup: Lowrie could be looking shuttling between shortstop and second base

Jed Lowrie was confronted with something odd Friday.

He came to the Coliseum and saw his name in the lineup, as usual.

He was listed as the second baseman, which was anything but usual. He was a semi-regular second baseman with the Red Sox back in 2010, but he’d only played one game there since, that in 2011.

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Game 20 wrapup: Griffin points no fingers, but A’s defense did him no favors

Nothing seems to bother A’s starter A.J. Griffin when he’s on the mound, which makes him just the sort you’d like to have going for you in an emotional game.

And there was more emotion Monday than you would have in your standard April 22 game, given that it was in Fenway Park just a week after the bombings at the Boston Marathon that bruised a nation’s sense of itself.

“You just go out and pitch, do the same things you always do,’’ was the way Griffin put it going into the game.

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Yoenis Cespedes takes batting practice, meets media; will he be ready for start of A’s season?

The A’s introduced outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the media on Sunday, but they are not saying whether he will be on the team’s opening day roster. Cespedes’ four-year contract became official Saturday, and there’s just three-plus weeks before the A’s open the regular season in Japan against the Mariners. That’s earlier than typical seasons.

Cespedes, speaking through translator Juan Navarrete, said he can be ready to play in exhibitions in five or six days. He was scheduled to do conditioning and take batting practice and do some outfield drills Sunday. “I expect he’ll see quite a bit of activity before the Japan series,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “Whether or not he’s on the active opening day roster remains to be seen. We’ll play that by ear.”

Cespedes said he’s eager to prove he’s up to the challenge of succeeding in the majors. One player he looks up to in particular is A’s teammate Manny Ramirez. The two talked extensively while hitting in the same batting practice group and then chatted more in the outfield.

Beane talked about the A’s willingness to give Cespedes, 26, a four-year $36 million contract. “He is a pretty unique physical talent,” Beane said. “You don’t see guys like this come along too often.”

Beane did not say whether he envisioned Cespedes or Coco Crisp playing center field.

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Lew Wolff, Bob Melvin both address team before A’s first full-squad workout

We’re getting very lucky with the Phoenix weather early in spring training. It’s been sunny and very warm. Typically, the first couple of weeks of camp can be cool, before it gets warmer in March. I hope it sticks around. As for the morning news …

A’s managing partner Lew Wolff addressed the team along with manager Bob Melvin before the first full-squad workout. Melvin did not share specifics of Wolff’s message, but Melvin said he himself was eager to see his full team on the field for the first time.

“There are a lot of firsts over the course of a season and none bigger than this one, once everybody gets together and hears your message and gets out on the field,” he said. “Especially with as many new guys and younger guys as we have, first impressions I think go a long way.” Pitchers threw live batting practice – from the mound full-bore, as opposed to coaches throwing behind a screen – on Friday and were set to do so again Saturday.

On a different topic, Melvin said he would be rooting hard for “Moneyball” during Sunday’s Academy Awards. The movie, adapted from the 2003 book that was written largely about general manager Billy Beane, is nominated for six Oscars. “It was a good movie and I think it relates not only to baseball, but life in general,” Melvin said.

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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 …

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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?

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Oakland A’s winter meetings update: Day Two

Scratch the Toronto Blue Jays off the list of potential teams targeting closer Andrew Bailey. Toronto acquired Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox and plans to plug him in at closer. I’d heard Tuesday that the A’s and Jays engaged in some pretty serious talks about Bailey.

While the buzz continues over which trades Oakland might make, there are other roster-related issues to consider. Here’s a few:

–It’s looking less and less likely that Hideki Matsui will be back in an Oakland uniform. That was the clear impression from manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane in their comments Monday night. As the roster currently stands, Melvin said Chris Carter – who has terrific power but has hit .167 in 39 career big league games – might be the most logical man at DH. But you can toss a couple other first-base candidates – Brandon Allen and Kila Ka’aihue — into the mix as well. “Conceivably, we have a number of guys that can go into that role,” Beane said. “It’s a matter of one of those guys grasping the opportunity and running with it.” Melvin is a huge Matsui fan – the two have dined together twice recently in New York – but he also sounded skeptical about a Godzilla return.

–As I mentioned yesterday, the A’s are very likely to explore the free agent market for outfielders to plug in on a short-term basis. Beane said the team talked with Laynce Nix before he signed with Philadelphia.

–Regarding first base, Melvin said defensive ability would play a factor into who wins that job, given the A’s team-wide struggles with the glove last season. Is that bad news for Carter, who is hardly the slickest fielder? Melvin said he thought Carter looked more comfortable defensively toward the end of last season. But you figure if Brandon Allen – who showed good potential defensively – can hit at all in the spring and cut down on strikeouts, he might have the inside track. He offers the best combo of power and competent defense.

–Something to watch in spring training is whether new (and old) pitching coach Curt Young can help Trevor Cahill return to his All-Star form. “That’s why we targeted Curt and thought he could be an important piece for us here,” Melvin said. Young served as the A’s pitching coach from 2004-10 before spending last season in the same role with Boston.

–Melvin spoke highly of outfielders Michael Choice and Grant Green – the A’s top two hitting prospects – but he suggested that Choice (a 2010 first-round pick) could be on the faster track to the bigs. Choice hit 30 homers last season with Single-A Stockton and the initial thought was that another full season in the minors was needed. But Melvin believes there’s a chance Choice might force his way into the picture next season. “I think Michael Choice is coming along a lot quicker than people would have thought,” he said. While it might be a stretch to expect Choice to make the big league club this spring, Melvin added: “There always seems to be a couple guys that pop up in spring training that do something that you don’t expect.”

Green, the A’s 2009 first-round pick, has more professional experience under his belt, but considering he just converted from shortstop to center field midway through last season, it’s not surprising that Choice might be on the faster track as of now.

In case you missed it, check out my story from the first day of the winter meetings