Anyone who follows baseball knew months ago that this would happen and that Oakland's aim will be to sign Eric Chavez, a potential Hall of Famer and potential free agent at the end of next season. Oakland lost Jason Giambi and went from 102 to 103 wins in the season after he left. They begin this season projected to be the best team in baseball.
Former No. 1 pick Bobby Crosby has had a great spring, which projects him into the potential successor category to Tejada -- although that's way down the line. And at the end of the year, it is shortstop free agent heaven, with Tejada, Rich Aurilia and the best Matsui from Japan -- Kaz -- on the market.
Is the sky falling in Oakland? In 2001, with Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen on the roster, the A's won 102 games. In 2002, with Giambi, Damon, and Isringhausen earning $25 million -- for other teams -- the A's won 103 games.
Are the A's going to win 105 games in 2004, with Tejada finally making enough dough to provide for his family?
No, probably not. But anybody who thinks that losing Tejada spells disaster for the Athletics probably hasn't been paying much attention to the standings.
I would be remiss if I didn't direct the reader to the Elephants in Oakland webpage for more expert 411 on Tejada and the A's.
All winter long, the Red Sox have been shopping Shea Hillenbrand, while the Yankees are looking to move Rondell White and Sterling Hitchcock. As spring training draws to a close, the rumor mill has heated up again.
3) According to the Boston Herald, the Redsox have intensified trade talks
for 3B Shea Hillenbrand, with the Cubs being the frontrunner, and the
Redsox having their eyes on P Juan Cruz. On the other hand, several reports
from Chicago indicate Hillenbrand to the Cubs isn't on the front burner.
4) The trade talks between the Yankees and Padres, involving Yankees OF
Rondell White, and maybe also Sterling Hitchcock, and Padres OF Bubba
Trammell have reportedly intensified. According to the Newark Star Ledger,
the Yankees would like the Padres to add P Brian Lawrence into a deal.
Yankee reliever Steve Karsay will not start the season with the ballclub, and it's not looking too good for El Duque either.
Meanwhile, Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who had a terrific season last year, continues to struggle this spring.
LIL SORI MAKES BIG IMPRESSION
There is a good article in the Times today about our boy Soriano. Both Juan Samuel and Sparky Anderson had nothing but rave reviews for the Yankees' diminutive slugger.
"I didn't realize how big he was," [Anderson] said. "That's a big boy, with a tremendous body. I guarantee he's got no body fat on him. That's all him.
"He sets in there with those quick hands, and that bat ¡ª he's got a big old war club! I tell you what, if this young man don't get hurt and can play 15, 16 years, I promise you this: You're going to have to sit down and address the second basemen, who was the best."
The biggest knock on Soriano is his lack of patience offensively. Mickey Rivers didn't walk either, but Mick the Quick never had pop in his bat like Sori does.
"I don't think about taking pitches," Soriano said. "I want to stay like I am. I feel good like I am now, aggressive at home plate. I don't want to change."
..."When I tried to be patient, I was getting jammed a lot because I wasn't ready to hit all the time," he said. "I was in the take-take-take mode instead of thinking hit-hit-hit and take after you identify the pitch. Some guys learn to lay off bad pitches by being aggressive."
..."I don't even mess with him," Manager Joe Torre said. "He's a natural athlete. He'll learn, just from experience. He'll get better."
Maybe, but Anderson was excited enough to tell Torre his impressions. Watching Soriano made Anderson's day.
"I'm so glad I saw him in person," he said. "On television, you just can't get the same thing. I told Joe, `This is such a treat.' I don't care if you're the manager of the other team, it's a treat to see somebody like that. If you're a fan today and you're going to spend your money, spend your money to see someone like him. It's worth it."
I'm not exactly sure what to expect from Soriano this year, but I agree that he's exciting to watch and well worth the price of admission.