First Orlando Cabrera, Now Nomar Garciaparra, Next the A.L. West

Martin GarabedianContributor IMarch 3, 2009

Just like that penny-pinching shopper rummaging through the clearance rack in the pursuit of that undiscovered treasure at the Salvation Army, Billy Beane has found and paid for his overlooked merchandise as he gets ready to compete for a title in a wide-open A.L. West.


With the recent signings of veteran players Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra, the Oakland A’s are making it clear that the time is now to make it back to the playoffs, despite their limited budget.


These roster additions will give the A’s the much-needed roster flexibility, along with consistent veteran hitters to go with a revamped lineup.


Ever since losing out on Rafael Furcal, it has been no secret that Beane has been in hot pursuit of a quality shortstop to replace his once-prized prospect, Bobby Crosby.


And no doubt because of increased interest from the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland signed Cabrera to a one-year, $4 million contract on March 2.


Cabrera will slide into the starting gig at short after hitting .281 with eight home runs, 57 RBI and 19 stolen bases with the Chicago White Sox.


After Furcal signed for $30 million and Edgar Renteria for $18.5 million, Cabrera’s $4 million contract is a great deal considering Oakland’s small budget and the fact it only had to give up a second-round pick for the Type-A free agent.


Cabrera will also bring two Gold Gloves (Expos, 2001 and Angels, 2007) to solidify the middle part of the infield. Not since 1985, when Alfredo Griffin won the prestigious award, has another Oakland shortstop walked away with the honor.


This move will also allow manager Bob Geren to work with a legitimate leadoff hitter. Last year, Geren looked confused starting off lineups with the likes of Mark Ellis, Travis Buck, Kurt Suzuki, and Jack Hannahan. Cabrera will surly ease Geren’s mind in trying to figure out who will go in that No. 1 spot.


Making way for the addition of Cabrera will be former A.L. Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby. Crosby along with his lifetime .239 batting average will now move to the bench as a pricey ($5.25 million) utility player, a role he isn’t satisfied with, as he has now expressed he wants out of Oakland.  


Unfortunately for Crosby, Oakland was unsuccessful in trying to ditch his contract back in December when they placed Crosby on waivers. With no other team valuing him high enough to pick up his contract, Crosby ended up back in Oakland.

But that signing didn’t mark the end for the diligent general manager, as he signed future Hall of Fame player Nomar Garciaparra just a day later.


It has been reported by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser that Garciaparra has signed a one-year deal with Oakland. While the details of the contract have not been released yet, it would be safe to say that this signing didn’t break the bank by any means, as the 35-year-old free agent was contemplating retirement if a deal didn’t get done.


The addition of Garciaparra and his lifetime .313 average will give Oakland a serviceable backup to the oft-injured Eric Chavez. Though his average has dropped the last two years, Garciaparra is an experienced veteran that will give Geren an ample replacement when he decides to rest his starters.


Garciaparra will also provide that right-handed bat at the corners and DH for Oakland to work with as it tries to play the hitter-pitcher match ups.


Just last year in the 55 games with the Dodgers the former A.L. batting champ hit .339 (19-for-56) against left-handers, despite battling numerious injuries (knee, calf, finger).


Over the years, we have become accustomed to these types of signings by Beane, as he always seems to find those good values. With these most recent transactions, Oakland should have enough firepower to compete with the a Teixeira-less Angels as Beane kicks back and relaxes until a man by the name Matt Holliday becomes available.