A's Notes: Ellis Excited For A's Future

Newly re-signed second baseman Mark Ellis sees bigs things in the future for the Oakland A's, while former A's manager Ken Macha may be back in baseball next season. We have plenty of Oakland A's related news, including winter and fall league updates, inside...

Mark Ellis could have hit the open market after the World Series, but instead, the second baseman became one of the few players the A's have not allowed to get away as free agents. Ellis signed a two-year deal worth $11 million, and the A's have an option for a third season. With incentives, the total package could be worth nearly $20 million, and Ellis also has a limited no-trade clause.

The 31-year-old had arthroscopic shoulder surgery last month and he had been concerned that the procedure might affect his value in free agency. All the other prominent A's players of the past decade have left as free agents (Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Jason Isringhausen, Johnny Damon) or have been traded before free agency (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, Nick Swisher, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, among others).

Along with the shoulder injury, which shortened his season by more than a month, Ellis had a poor season at the plate, batting .233 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He is a front-runner for the Gold Glove award at second, however, despite missing time.

"I know it wasn't a very good year for anyone in the organization, myself included," Ellis said. "But I'm very proud to be a part of this organization, and I'm excited about things here."

Macha To Milwaukee?

The Brewers' managerial search apparently is coming down to three candidates. General manager Doug Melvin has interviewed former Oakland A's manager Ken Macha, former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph and former Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly. And Melvin said he'd probably stop right there.

"I don't know if I'm going to interview a fourth or fifth (candidate)," Melvin said. "I think they are three strong candidates.

"I know that they all have been let go by other teams, but they have pretty good track records."

Rumors have indicated that Macha may be the front-runner for the job. Macha won two AL West titles with the A's in 2003 and 2006 and had winning seasons in each of his four years as the A's manager. Oakland hasn't had a winning season since firing Macha after the 2006 season, the year the A's advanced to the American League Championship Series. Macha was the A's bench coach for their playoff teams in 2000-2002.

Melvin said he has had indirect contact with other candidates, including Bobby Valentine, now managing in Japan. But none of those other possibilities has evolved to the point of scheduling further interviews.

"There are other candidates, people we can look at," Melvin said. "With our resources, we can weed people out. I'm not sure we'll do a formal interview with anyone else."

Melvin said he was impressed with each of the three former managers he interviewed.

"They're all good candidates," he said. "It's going to be a tough call."

Melvin hopes to name a new manager some time after the World Series.

Blanton An October Hero

Joe Blanton became the first pitcher to homer in a World Series game since Ken Holtzman did it for the A's in 1974 when he went deep versus Edwin Jackson in Game Four of the Series. Blanton has a 2-0 record and a 3.18 ERA in three post-season starts for the Phillies. He didn't lose a game after being traded to Philadelphia, although his ERA was a mediocre 4.20 with the Phillies. However, given his work in the post-season, there could be a strong argument made that Blanton had the greatest impact on his team of any of the four pitchers dealt by Oakland since the end of last season (Dan Haren, Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin being the other three). The Blanton trade could be one that is remembered fondly by both teams involved. The A's acquired three prospects for Blanton, Josh Outman, Adrian Cardenas and Matt Spencer, and all three have played well since joining the A's organization. Outman made it to the big leagues and struck-out 19 in 25.2 innings while flashing a 94 MPH fastball. Cardenas, 21, hit .279 for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland and he is currently batting .286 with a .355 OBP at the Arizona Fall League. Spencer helped the Stockton Ports win a California League championship by hitting .333 with eight homers and a 935 OPS in 41 games.

Fall and Winter League Highlights

Sean Doolittle is tied for the Arizona Fall League's lead in homeruns with five in 15 games played. He is batting .305 with a .610 SLG for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Josh Donaldson has a .324 average in 12 games for Phoenix. Andrew Bailey has opened some eyes by striking-out nine and walking none in his first 5.2 innings at the AFL. He has allowed one run on nine hits and he has a save.

RHP Brett Hunter had a big debut in Hawaii for the North Shore Honu. The A's 2008 seventh round pick struck-out the side in a perfect inning of work.

A's infielder Gregorio Petit is off to a good start for his hometown Caracas ballclub this winter. In 10 games for the Leones, Petit is batting .278 with a homer and six RBIs. He hit .269 in 79 games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and .348 in 14 games for the A's in 2008. Fellow A's farmhands Jesus Guzman and Raul Padron are also playing well for Caracas. Guzman, who won the Texas League batting title with Midland, is hitting .425 with three homers and a 1381 OPS in 11 games for Caracas. Padron is batting .333 with an 812 OPS in six games. A's outfield prospect Javier Herrera is not faring as well, however. He is hitting only .211 through five games for Caracas.

A's outfielder Rajai Davis is also playing in the Venezuelan Winter League and he is hitting .258 with four stolen bases in eight games for the Caribes de Anzoategui. He stole 29 bases for the A's and Giants this season. A's third base prospect Jeff Baisley, who made his big league debut this season, is batting .231 with two homers in seven games for the Tiburones de La Guaira of the VWL.

A's prospect Arnold Leon has thrown 1.2 scoreless innings since he allowed three runs in one inning on October 19 for Culiacan of the Mexican Winter League. Removing that October 19th outing, Leon has thrown 4.2 scoreless innings, in which he has allowed one hit and two walks while striking out five.

In the Dominican Winter League, a few A's farmhands are off to slow starts. Catcher Anthony Recker is batting .143 with five RBIs in six games, while right-hander Jose Garcia has a 5.79 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched with three walks and five strike-outs. Reliever Brad Kilby has an 11.57 ERA in 2.1 innings spread over four outings. Infielder Frank Martinez has one hit in three at-bats.

Oakland A's Notes

3B Eric Chavez told the San Francisco Chronicle that he expects to be fully recovered from right shoulder surgery by the end of December. Chavez, who has missed much of the past three seasons with injuries, had back surgery and two shoulder surgeries last winter, and he had more work done on his shoulder in August. The A's are hopeful that he can return to the position where he has won six Gold Gloves, but first base could be an option.

SS Bobby Crosby's status could be affected by the team's decision to bring back veteran 2B Mark Ellis. Crosby will be a free agent after the 2009 season, and with one veteran middle infielder (Ellis) in place, it's possible that the rebuilding A's will look to trade Crosby this winter and give rookie Cliff Pennington a shot at shortstop.

RHP Justin Duchscherer said that the hip trouble he had near the end of the season was the result of loose cartilage, which he had cleaned up in a minor procedure at the end of September. Duchscherer, who had the labrum repaired in the same hip (his right) and the femur shaved down in July 2007, said that he will be completely healthy for spring training and should not be limited in any way. The 30-year-old is the only veteran in Oakland's rotation.

LHP Alan Embree will hear by the end of October or early November whether the A's will pick up his $3 million option for 2009. Embree, 38, is the only member of the Oakland bullpen with significant service time, apart from closer Huston Street, who is likely to be traded this off-season. Embree was 2-5 with a 4.96 ERA last season, but he typically has followed poor seasons with excellent seasons.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- First-time free agents the A's have signed in the Billy Beane era: OF Jermaine Dye, LHP Ricardo Rincon, 3B Eric Chavez, 2B Mark Ellis.

TheSportsXChange contributed to this report.

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