Beane dispels rumor, hints at talks
A's normally tight-lipped GM lets hair down with reporters
LAS VEGAS -- A's general manager Billy Beane again didn't have much earth-shattering to say when he hosted reporters Tuesday evening on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but if the Bellagio Hotel and Casino finds itself needing to breath a little life into their stage shows any time soon, they might want to consider putting Beane to work.
The man can flat entertain.
Beane said little of note baseball-wise Tuesday evening other than twice breaking his own policy against discussing free agents.
First he called a rumor that first baseman Jason Giambi would sign with the A's over the next couple of days "a total fabrication." That doesn't mean Giambi isn't on Oakland's radar; he is. But if they sign him, it will be later in the winter, after the market settles. Beane's point was that he definitely won't be signing Giambi here in Vegas.
Then, in a fairly dramatic break from policy, the GM said he planned to meet with the agent for shortstop Rafael Furcal within the next couple of days.
Paul Kinzer is the agent's name, and last week he said Furcal had turned down a four-year offer from the A's reported to be in the $35-$40 million range.
"We'll talk to him at some point here, yeah," Beane confirmed. "To say we won't would be stupidly deceiving. We'll meet at some point. It's still an open issue."
"But I'm not technically [breaking policy]," Beane added with a sly smile, "because we were talking about a representative -- who could represent a number of people."
That opened the door for a question about whether Beane had spoken to the representatives for free-agent lefty Randy Johnson.
"We have not," Beane said.
Any plans to?
"No comment," Beane said with a laugh.
There was plenty of laughter, if not hardcore news, in Beane's suite. Over the course of 30 minutes, Beane kept the atmosphere light with a variety of off-the-wall references.
When his wife called his cell phone during the session, he showed off the caller ID displaying the name "Pinky" and said it was an homage or sorts to the Pinky Tuscadero character in the 1970's sitcom "Happy Days." And Beane was clearly delighted when a reporter correctly identified Pinky's sister as Leather, whom Beane noted was played by Suzi Quatro.
"Suzi ... Qua-tro! She was like a huge rock star in England back in the day," he said.
Among other things, Beane also joked about secret pockets of Blue Jays fans in Benicia, Calif., after asking a reporter in attendance why he'd seen him huddling with Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi in the lobby earlier in the day, he referred to his daily workout as his need to "go sculpt," and he somehow referenced Montessori school programs when talking about his young club.
The kicker, however, came when he said he had a few more meetings planned for after dinner.
"We actually owe a couple calls to some people and have some things possibly scheduled for later," he said. "Hopefully not too late. I stayed up later than I would have liked last night, basically doing nothing but turning this into a fraternity house -- in a calm way.
"It was basically a bunch of us sitting around playing Al Bundy..."
Back onto baseball, Beane talked a little about his bullpen, which he likes. But he isn't adverse to adding depth to it to make up for the loss of Huston Street in the Matt Holliday trade.
Beane also said he'd taken part in a lunch interview with Rick Down, who is a candidate for the hitting-coach job that opened up when Ty Van Burkleo followed former A's bench coach Don Wakamatsu to Seattle. Down has been the hitting coach for the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels and Orioles and is currently an assistant to Giants GM Brian Sabean.
"He has a pretty impressive resume," Beane said. "Rick's always been a guy I've had some interest in."
As for filling the bench coach opening, Beane suggested that would come from within, and he didn't rule out former Triple-A Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco, who was promoted to the big league staff before last season but reassigned within the organization after the season.
But mostly, Beane was in relax mode, as evidenced by his admission that he was pleased to hear that closer Francisco Rodriguez had left the rival Angels to sign with the Mets.
"It is nice," Beane said. "We've certainly had our shares of battles with him. ... But yeah, I'm glad he's out of the division, I'm glad he's out of the league. Now there's a few more guys on that team; we're waiting for them to leave the league, too. That might help."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.