The Word from Oakland

Most fans have a handle on the Ramon Hernandez for Mark Kotsay talks that are going on between the San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics. It has become common knowledge that the Friars prefer obtaining Hernandez as opposed to anyone else. The question many have is:

Is this reality or another case of lies?

"We are talking with the Padres," a source in the A's organization told us.

Talking, is that all? I talk to a lot of people. Doesn't mean things will get done.

"Names are being tossed around," the source confirmed.

Pressed for more we ran into a clam. There is leverage at stake. The less others know about the proceedings, the better. There are still other "potentials" in the air and leaking too much can endanger those talks.

There are talks going on, but that is standard in the business. We could have called any team and asked if there were talks going on and nine times out of nine, we will get the affirmative.

The Padres know they cannot enter Petco field without an improved team. A fans idea of improved is different than ownerships. Fans want a splash. The problem is the past. Teams entering new stadiums have made that splash and failed. They have then seen attendance drop to insignificant amounts that have forced massive slashes in payroll. A smarter move and one the Padres plan to employ is slowly raising the money they spend on free agents. Rather than putting all their eggs in one season, they are being fiscally responsible to ensure they do not become the Cincinnati Reds who slashed payroll in the first year of their new stadium.

Numbers have been tossed out. No one has said whether they are real or simply made up by those in the media. Until we hear it from Kevin Towers, we must wait and see. There is a plan to add payroll. This is a team that has a chance to build for the long haul. The young arms of Adam Eaton and Jake Peavy ensure they will last. The young guns Sean Burroughs and Khalil Greene are the future to build around.

The team is talented now, though. Fans are interested in today. Ramon Hernandez is instant gratification in what could be a solid offseason. He does not handcuff the team in terms of money, making him that much more attractive. He would bring some pop at catcher and maybe even settle into a position that has seen more revolving than a turnstile.

Fans don't want the nostalgia of Benito Santiago. He may be serviceable, but he is no young buck and the lobby door would continue to swing. If they are serious about building a contender for years to come, the team should use grab this young catcher who has worked with some of the best arms in the game (too many to list), one of the better pitching coaches in the game (Rick Peterson) and is just starting to really hit major league pitching.

We mentioned the other day that Terrence Long is likely headed to San Diego in any deal. What to do with Long remains the biggest question mark in the proceedings.

"It is likely if a deal goes down, Long will be headed with it," said a league source.

Sometimes you have to take one so the rest of the team can move forward.


Incidentally the picture used in this story shows Hernandez scoring as he runs over Geronimo Gil of Baltimore on a single by none other than Terrence Long. No coincidence that we used this shot.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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