Halsey The Next Duke Or Kirk?

The A's have a knack for acquiring quality pitchers in under-the-radar trades late in spring training or early in the regular season. They landed Justin Duchscherer in 2002 and Kirk Saarloos in 2004.

The latest could be netting lefty starter Brad Halsey for Juan Cruz.

Halsey, 25, was drafted by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2002 draft, out of the University of Texas.

"He was a major part of our national championship team, he was our Friday night starter," said A's closer Huston Street, a freshman on that team.

"He's a left-hander and knows how to pitch. He came up with the Yankees. If you can handle New York, you can pitch anywhere."

Halsey sped through the Yankees system, making his major league debut in 2004, and was included in the Randy Johnson trade last January. He won the fifth spot in Arizona's rotation last spring, going 8-12 with a 4.61 ERA in 160 innings, but he allowed 191 hits.

This spring, he always seemed to pitch in bad weather, and he had allowed 11 earned runs (including five home runs) in 11 innings at the time of the trade. But he pitched three scoreless innings Monday for the A's against his former Diamondbacks teammates.

"Anytime you are supposed to be in competition for a job and you are traded, they think somebody else can do the job better," Halsey said.

"That's their opinion. I have mine. (Spring training) was just a situation where I didn't pitch well."

Halsey, like Duchscherer and Saarloos after their acquisitions, is expected to begin the season in AAA-Sacramento. Duchscherer won the PCL Pitcher of the Year award in 2003 before making his A's debut late that season. He earned a permanent spot in the A's bullpen in 2004, when he beat out Chad Harville for the last spot on the roster.

Harville was then dealt to Houston for Saarloos, who appeared briefly with Oakland in 2004 as Tim Hudson's replacement and then won the fifth starter spot in 2005. He will be joining Duchscherer in the bullpen in 2006. If history repeats itself with Halsey, the A's may see a big reward from the acquisition as soon as 2007.

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