Click photo to enlarge
Dan Haren of the Oakland Athletics was the American League's starting pitcher. Coverage of the 2007 All-Star Game at AT&T Park, San Francisco, July 10, 2007.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Even as he spent the days leading up to the winter meetings letting the public know that his two best starting pitchers might be had for the right price, A's general manager Billy Beane also was quick to point out something else.

Only an offer that truly knocked his socks off would cause him to bid farewell to Dan Haren and Joe Blanton. Two days into the meetings, it appears that nothing close to such a scenario has occurred.

"No," Beane said Tuesday when asked if he'd been wowed by any club. "Which is fine. I'm totally comfortable with that, too."

Indeed, Beane spent part of his first full day at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center telling the media that rampant speculation about the A's desire to move Haren and/or Blanton is misleading, and that he is partially to blame. Beane acknowledged the "buzz" that a deal is inevitable and that "if anything, I've been guilty of creating expectations. ... We are aware of the assets we have. ... At no point in the offseason have we said we're shopping them. The term 'shop' is far from the truth."

Beane said the situation is much different than it was in 2004, when he traded starters Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder in a three-day span. On that occasion, Beane said, he used the GM meetings to inform the baseball fraternity that he'd be moving two of his Big Three (Barry Zito being the third), and that he encouraged the shopping.

This time, Beane said, he sees no urgency to move either pitcher. Both will be 27 on Opening Day, both are cheap -- Haren is on the books for $4.


Advertisement

5 million next season, and Blanton, in his first eligible year for arbitration, won't make that much -- and both have surpassed 200 innings the past two seasons.

Still, Beane again acknowledged that he has to listen, and interest in Haren -- the American League All-Star starter and 15-game winner last season -- continued to percolate. Industry sources confirmed the A's were meeting with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. The Dodgers, according to one report, were prepared to send right fielder Matt Kemp and reliever Jonathan Broxton to the Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard, and the market for Haren and Bedard are expected to be similar.

Just what might dazzle Beane remains nebulous, however. The conventional thinking around the meetings is that Haren will have to net as much as Johan Santana, the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner from the Minnesota Twins whose eventual landing point remains the primary focus of the meetings. A National League source said Beane will ask only slightly less for Blanton, who was pursued by the Dodgers at last season's trade deadline.

The Boston Red Sox are considered the leading contender for Santana, though several reports indicated the Los Angeles Angels might get involved by using the same prospects they had dangled in a bid to trade for former Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Angels general manager Tony Reagins denied interest in Santana, and Beane insisted his actions won't be influenced by Santana.

"Our approach is independent of all that," he said. "I keep hearing terms like, 'Plan B.' I wouldn't consider any of our players as a Plan B. ... I could care less whether (Santana) is moved. If he is, I hope it's to a team we don't play."

In the meantime, manager Bob Geren said he's moving forward with the assumption Haren and Blanton will be atop his rotation next season.

"Billy has been doing this a long time, and I have complete confidence in his ability to run the organization," Geren said. "Not just him, but everybody else. They may ask me something, and I'll tell them what I think, but I'm not lobbying one way or another."

The A's also may be taking the first small steps in retaining closer Huston Street for the long run. Beane said he was scheduled to meet with Street's agent, Alan Hendricks, on Tuesday.

"To my knowledge, no numbers have been exchanged, and we haven't talked about years yet. So no specifics," Street said. "But I think both sides should be able to come up with a framework pretty quickly. Both sides are eager to get it done, and there's no real urgency, and when you have that, you generally can find a middle ground. I'm very optimistic."

Street said his hope would be a four-year deal that would take him up to his first year of free agency.

Notes: Legendary A's announcer Bill King will be on the final ballot in voting for the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award, the receiver of which enters the broadcasters wing of the baseball Hall of Fame. King, who died in October 2005, finished second in online balloting with 7,659 votes, far behind late Cincinnati Reds announcer Joe Nuxhall (82,304) and ahead of Joe Morgan (6,065), both of whom also will be on the final ballot, along with Tom Cheek, Ken Coleman, Dizzy Dean, Tony Kubek, Graham McNamee, Dave Niehaus and Dave Van Horne. ... The A's revealed their spring-training schedule Tuesday, and the highlights are two exhibition games in Japan. The A's will face the Yomiuri Giants on March 22 and the Hanshin Tigers on March 23 before opening the regular season with two games against the Boston Red Sox at the Tokyo Dome on March 25-26. The A's then return home and close out the exhibition season with a three-game Bay Bridge Series against the Giants on March 28-30. They open exhibition play against Milwaukee on Feb. 29 in Maryvale, Ariz.

Contact Rick Hurd at rhurd@bayareanewsgroup.com.