Well I posted a short while ago that more moves would happen over the next few days and the next thing I know, the A’s are signing a player (or two?).
Picking up Alan Embree is not exactly a headline grabbing move, but it encapsulates what the A’s are all about. With Barry Zito’s smile getting ever bigger as less talented players get paid by the bucket load, it’s pretty obvious that Z has pitched his last game for the A’s. Oakland don’t have the luxury of going out on the free agent market and snapping up a ready made replacement though. So the A’s get creative and find a piece they like and they can afford in Embree. Making that move allows them to move Joe Kennedy into the rotation, and Zito is replaced (in theory).
More headline worthy perhaps is the report on ESPN that the A’s are close to sealing Mike Piazza’s signature. Once again this is a classic example of the Oakland way. Billy Beane played a masterstroke by landing Frank Thomas on an incentive laden deal last winter and that paid off handsomely; however his 2006 performance put him out of Oakland’s reach and he took Toronto’s money and ran (understandable considering the way the White Sox unceremoniously dumped him the year before). So he needs to be replaced as well and Piazza is seemingly the man who has been chosen. Piazza showed with the Padre’s last season that he can still hit and his diminishing catching ability will be put to one side by slotting him into the DH spot.
The Piazza deal is not yet confirmed but it looks like it will happen. My one concern is that Piazza is going to have to face American League pitching for the first time in his career, which is not going to be an easy task. I’m not expecting Piazza to have the impact that the Big Hurt did, but if some other A’s hitters can stay healthy in 2007 (not least Chavez and Crosby) then he can play a useful part in a system where the whole is always greater than the individual parts.