Susan Slusser Rumors
MLBTR: Some have called Billy Beane's return on Dan Haren "quantity over quality." Do you agree? What is your opinion on the Haren haul?
Slusser: My understanding is that the A's felt that Arizona might be the best match all along for Haren and that they received pretty much exactly what they asked for, so clearly these are prospects the A's valued highly, Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson in particular. Maybe there's some belief the A's should have gotten one of the Diamondbacks' young big-leaguers, but that was never on the table. I'm not sure they would have done better elsewhere, and they got some quality and certainly quantity - which isn't a bad thing. Mark Ellis was a throw-in in the Damon deal, essentially; no one really noticed him at the time. He turned out to be the most valuable piece, long-term.
MLBTR: Could you see any team beside the A's signing Barry Bonds? In your estimation, what's the most the A's would pay for a year of Bonds
Slusser: An insider told me at the winter meetings that two other teams besides the A's had asked about Bonds, so it's impossible to rule out. If he plays - and that seems to be a pretty big if -- Oakland has the best shot, but estimating a salary is really tough. If there's no other interest and Bonds really wants to play, considering all the issues that surround him, the price tag could be pretty cheap, say $5-$6 million. If there's more interest, it could go up. The A's did pay Mike Piazza $8 million last year.
Do the A's really want Bonds, though? There are good reasons to sign him, and equally solid reasons not to. They need to put fans in the seats after moving their most popular player, and they don't have much in the middle of the order right now. On the other hand, they might alienate much of their fan base with Bonds, and a team that is in "full bore'' rebuilding mode might not be looking to spend on a 43-year-old free agent with lots of legal problems and an iffy clubhouse reputation. There is no doubt it has been discussed internally, however.
MLBTR: It seems Joe Blanton is a hot commodity, but we're not hearing much about Huston Street or Mark Ellis. Do you expect any of these three to be with the team on Opening Day?
Slusser: I think Blanton gets moved by the trading deadline, at the latest, but probably before then. Street opens the season with the team but potentially could get moved by the deadline if a contender were to lose a closer, but overall, he's less likely than Blanton to get dealt - he's three years younger and, coming off an arm injury, he's not going to bring back as much. Ellis has one year left on his deal, so wouldn't bring a ton in return, plus he's a great guy to have as a role model for young players. Clearly, no one is untouchable at this point, but of all the A's more veteran guys, he's the best bet to be around all year.
As originally described here, Rumor Royalty is an MLBTR series where I name the one journalist for each team who has done the most for us hot stove junkies. If the writer is up for it, I ask that person questions for publication on the site. You can see all of the entries in the series here.
Today we present the honor for the Oakland Athletics to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's a link to the newspaper's A's page. Slusser also contributes to their A's Drumbeat blog. Slusser has been the A's beat writer for the Chronicle for over a decade, bringing a refreshing sense of humor to what can be a grueling job. She has answered three questions for MLBTR, and they'll be running over the next few days.
Other journalists on tap: La Velle E. Neal III (Twins) and Mike DiGiovanna (Angels).