Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slap Hitter: A'sja-Vu

By Kibby Kleiman
Sat, Jan 9, 2010 at 11:55 AM

The Oakland A's just re-signed (resigned?) Jack Cust to keep doing what he's been doing for the past three years. Hit about 20 home runs, strike out a million times, and drop the post game beer. They signed Lenny DiNardo yesterday to be the soft throwing number six starter and long reliever for the annual 16-inning marathon. Now they're looking at Miguel Tejada to make sure that the fans wearing replica A's jerseys to the Coliseum will at least have one current ballplayer's name on their back. Is this how we rebuild? Can't we at least use new bricks?

This sucks. We just got through with a couple of seasons where we found Frank Thomas the return part two was not tenable. Ask any A's fan, and they would rather get beat with a 23-year old prospect than a 32-year old reject. Coco Crisp performed far worse and less often than Rajai Davis, yet he is getting the centerfield job. Cust completely underperformed in the least demanding job in baseball and will probably be batting fourth as our Designated Out.

When a slew of minor league pitchers were promoted ahead of their ripeness to the big leagues and did pretty damn well, instead of taking the lesson, maybe our minor league batters can do the same, Billy Beane, Moneyballer seems to have concluded, "and maybe with a few marginal veteran stop-gaps we can stall long enough to be competitive in 2011."

Myself and every major league scout had Cliff Pennington penciled in as first-round bust rather than starting shortstop, but by gum, he looked like one by season's end. What better reward than a seat back on the bench while Tejada drains the water pitcher hoping to quaff from the fountain of youth? We now have about six or seven part-time quality outfielders and today are looking to pick up yet another Hairston to complete the set.

Bob Geren, the only Athletics manager not to win a playoff spot in the 00's also gets to keep his job into the new decade. Spring Training will be the general manager shaking out the box and hoping that the promised 40 unassembled ballplayers packed within will, when the instructions have long been lost, form something close to 25 major league quality athletes.

I imagine most A's fans would be cheerier if we had not gone back to the future to build a ball club. The only A's winner in Oakland built out of rejected players from elsewhere were the '86 vintage, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley team. The core of that team, was of course, young stars like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and other chemically created stars. Starting from scratch would have ultimately been less risky and certainly more fun. I've lost faith that the Billy Beane has much of a plan for the present. I am certain that rooting around in the past isn't a winning one.

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