Is it just me or is it getting really cold in Oakland?

Taking a break from an increasingly busy life to contemplate all things green and gold in A’s Musings ….

What better time than Baseball Blogger’s Alliance Day to sneak in one more baseball post before my daughter is born?

In case you’re not familiar with the BBA, it’s an online organization full of passionate baseball fans and it’s worth checking out as part of your daily rounds through the Web if you love reading about all facets of the game.

I’ve been a member for a few months and I’ve enjoyed the enthusiasm the members have for the grand old game.

Now, on to the A’s:

* Has any team’s offseason lost steam as fast as Oakland’s?

They came out of the gate fast with a successful bid for Hisashi Iwakuma, a trade for David DeJesus, a waiver claim on Edwin Encarnacion and a strong push for free agents Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman.

About a month later all they have to show for it is DeJesus after failing to work out a contract with Iwakuma, non-tendering Encarnacion, being ignored by Beltre and spurned by Berkman for the Cardinals.

On top of all that they’re still in ballpark limbo as commissioner Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon panel continues to drag its heels on deciding where the team will end up.

Playing in the moribund, mostly-empty Oakland Coliseum is clearly turning off free agents.

The A’s finally have some money to throw around but the fact that the market has gone crazy with the contracts doled out to Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth leaves Oakland in the familiar spot of being on the outside looking in when it comes to joining the free agent party.

It’s become a frustrating month to be an A’s fan.

* One free agent slugger who appears to be a strong possibility to land in Oakland is Hideki Matsui.  That’s not the most exciting news I’ve ever heard but it’s better than nothing.

Like most people who cheer for the guys in white shoes I’ve grown tired of Jack Cust so a new face at DH would be a welcome sight.

But as the Contra Costa Times’ Carl Steward points out, even Matsui is no sure thing for the A’s since there are plenty of teams looking for a DH.

Will Matsui be the next player to pass on joining the A’s or will general manager Billy Beane finally sign someone he’s targeting?

Who knows?  One way or another the A’s will probably end up with a veteran slugger at DH but if all they manage to do this offseason is add DeJesus and a DH it won’t be enough to be even a longshot World Series contender in 2011.

I think the Giants’ miraculous run to a World Series trophy has created some false hope that all you need is a little hitting as long as you have great young pitching.

The A’s definitely have the pitching to be a contender but you need more than a decent lineup to make it through the American League.

There’s no way a weak A’s lineup from 2010 can simply add players such as DeJesus and Matsui and expect to push their way past offensive powerhouses like the Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers.  The Angels may be a force to be reckoned with if they sign Adrian Beltre and the White Sox should score a ton of runs with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko at the heart of their lineup.

Let’s not forget that the Giants barely won their division and were fortunate to draw an injury-riddled Braves team with iron-gloved Brooks Conrad at second base giving games away.  After that they rode an amazing pitching staff and a suddenly-hot lineup full of decent hitters to a championship.

I just don’t see San Francisco’s 2010 game plan working for the A’s in 2011.  They simply have to find a way to add more thunder to their lineup.

* One other item that Steward touched on in his article for the Times is the uncertain place that Chris Carter has in Oakland’s plans for 2011.

If Oakland signs a veteran DH there won’t be any place in the lineup for Carter, a young slugger won’t play ahead of DeJesus, CoCo Crisp or Ryan Sweeney in the outfield or Daric Barton at first base.

In my opinion the A’s need to sign a veteran DH, find one more slugger via free agency or trade and then find a way to get Carter regular at bats if they want to make a run at the playoffs next season.

I’m actually a little surprised that the A’s seem to be making every effort to block the kid out of the starting lineup at the moment.

It should be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason and spring training unfolds for Carter.

* Is there hope for a new ballpark in Oakland?  According to a story by Robert Gammon in the East Bay Express, Oakland seems to think so.

A tip of the hat goes to Newballpark.org for flagging the story.  If you want to keep up on the A’s ballpark quest this Web site should be one of your first stops.

The East Bay Express article makes it clear that Oakland has plenty of hurdles to clear before anyone’s playing ball in Victory Court but the city may have more going for it than San Jose right now.

I’ll keep crossing my fingers that a new venue can be found for the A’s in Northern California in the near future but I’m not going to waste any time getting excited until there are finally some shovels in the ground.

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