A's moving in the direction of possibly contending
December, 4, 2008
Robothal on what might be a fascinating turn of events in Oakland:
The A's remain the front-runner to sign free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, but that might not be their last major off-season move.
Picture Randy Johnson in the green and gold, winning his 300th game in an Oakland uniform.
The idea is not as bizarre as it might sound.
The A's are targeting Johnson to be their fifth starter, major-league sources say, figuring he would give their rotation a veteran presence while commanding only a one-year deal.
At the moment, the A's top four starters are Justin Duchscherer, Dana Eveland, Gio Gonzalez and Sean Gallagher. None of them threw as many innings last season as Johnson did for the Diamondbacks -- 184.
Johnson, who is only five victories short of 300, could boost attendance as he approached that milestone. With Johnson, Furcal and left fielder Matt Holliday, the A's would gain not only star power, but also the chance to contend.
Don't look for free-agent designated hitter Jason Giambi to join that group. Rather than bring him back, the A's might prefer to take a chance on a trade for Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, who missed most of last season with a right-wrist injury.
If the A's sign Rafael Furcal and Randy Johnson and Jason Giambi (oft-injured Johnson is the last thing the oft-injured Athletics need), they'll be my front-runners in the American League West. Particularly if the Angels don't sign CC Sabathia or bring back Mark Teixeira. Furcal, if he's healthy, would represent a huge upgrade over Bobby Crosby. Johnson and Giambi's underlying performances in 2008 both suggest they'll be relative bargains in 2009.