TUCSON, Ariz. -- Billy Beane was in the lobby of the Westin La Paloma on Tuesday as Oakland's general manager. No record salary, no private suite for his family, just a mission to pare some payroll and find a way to get the A's back into the playoffs on a payroll less than $50 million.
"I have no regrets," Beane said. "But I'm back in coach again."
And Miguel Tejada was calling from the Presidential Palace in the Dominican Republic.
Tuesday, Beane fielded many questions about his latest MVP, and whether or not the A's can keep Tejada from free agency at the end of the 2003 season.
"It's one of those things that we'll address in time," Beane said. "Miggy had a great season, and he deserves to be paid handsomely. It's something we'll try to work out (with agent Diego Benz) this winter."
The reality is that when Jason Giambi was voted AL MVP two years ago, Beane faced the same dilemma. Eventually, Giambi went to the Yankees because the A's could not afford to pay one player approximately 40 percent of the club's total payroll. The year after Giambi walked, Oakland's wins went from 102 to 103.
One way Beane is contemplating preparing for the 2003 season is by re-signing Ray Durham. That way in 2004, if youngsters like Adam Morrissey (who is tearing it up in the Arizona League) or Bobby Crosby aren't ready, Durham could play second base and Mark Ellis could move to shortstop, his natural position. Tejada will not be an easy sign, not when Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are looking at contracts with average annual values of $25 million and $19 million, respectively, and Nomar Garciaparra is headed for free agency in 2004 as well. However, some weigh the notion that within a year, Tejada, Garciaparra and Japanese phenom Kaz Matsui will all be shortstops in the free-agent market.
Meanwhile, Beane is out looking to move some salary (Cory Lidle to the White Sox for catcher Mark Johnson is a possibility) and add a center fielder if that player meets the Oakland criteria.
The Colorado-Arizona deal that would be built around Larry Walker and Matt Williams isn't yet to the point where Williams has been asked to waive his no-trade clause, but sources indicate that it has a legitimate chance of happening -- and pretty quickly. The Diamondbacks are very serious about having David Bell as their third baseman -- so much so that he was in Jerry Colangelo's office Monday -- that they would move Danny Bautista to center field, figuring the cost of re-signing Steve Finley will be steep. Finley may be 38, but he remains one of the best free agents on the market. He is a seemingly natural fit for the Rangers if they can move a couple of salaries (and GM John Hart has been trying to shop Juan Gonzalez). Arizona was talking to the Yankees about a trade that would have sent Greg Swindell and Damian Miller to New York for Raul Mondesi, but the Yanks pulled the plug. Incidentally, Bell's grandfather Gus and D-Backs GM Joe Garagiola Jr.'s father Joe were teammates on the 1951-52 Pirates.
Bell is one of those rare players whose worth in character, defense and intangibles transcends statistics. Several teams are courting Bell, and a three year, $15M deal is within sight. But Bell also ranked 16th in OPS among third basemen, two slots below Joe Randa. OK, Bell played in a pitchers' park, but even his .808 road OPS slid between Herbert Perry and Geoff Blum. "There are six or seven teams who feel David is a viable alternative," said agent Adam Katz. "He's shown he's a winner, and he's getting better." The Phillies have tendered an offer, and he may have others coming from the Cubs, Yankees, Mets, D-Backs and others.
The Dusty Baker negotiations began Tuesday morning and will continue by phone. One Cubs said that he felt a deal would be done in a few days. Speaking of Dusty, rules were discussed that would prohibit children from being on the field or in the dugout once batting practice begins.
The way some read the Braves is that the one-year, $8.5 million offer to Tom Glavine was a way of handing him his gold watch and revealing their intentions of re-signing Greg Maddux instead. But no one knows. The Phillies have been the aggressor in the pursuit of Glavine, and agent Gregg Clifton identified the Mets as the next-most aggressive despite Mets vice president Jeff Wilpon being quoted as saying they could get Glavine for less than the $9M they're paying Al Leiter. They cannot.
There have been precious few trade rumors, although Lidle-for-Johnson and another player is a realistic possibility. The White Sox are trying to find a couple of veteran starters to fit between Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland and Danny Wright. They have also set their sights on Jamie Moyer.
Twins GM Terry Ryan on being voted by his fellow GMs as The Sporting News Executive of the Year: "Last year on this date I was taking long, lonely drives trying to figure out where I'd get a job. This is incredible."
Phillies manager Larry Bowa on MVP runner-up Alex Rodriguez: "He's the hardest working, most honest and most prepared player I've ever been around (as a one-time coach in Seattle). There aren't enough good things that could happen to him, because he cares and he plays his best every pitch of the entire season."