For the last 10 years or so, everyone has said Oakland was the "Small Market" A's, but I remember when we were on top going to the World Series and we'd still go out and get the top players available. Do you think if we go to the World Series and win, that'll change our financial approach (keeping Barry Zito and getting a supplemental bat for Frank Thomas)?
-- Mark C., Windsor Locks, Conn.
Right now, it seems like Zito doesn't want to stay in Oakland. He seems to want to pitch in a bigger market, either New York or Southern California. The Athletics aren't likely to become big spenders until they either get a new stadium or they convince more people to come out to the Coliseum. The Athletics drew under two million this year, and only Kansas City and Tampa Bay drew worse.
What do you think about Marco Scutaro's performance in the Division Series?
-- Daniel G., Gustine, Calif.
He was definitely the Most Valuable Player of the series. Problem is, they don't have that award in the Division Series. But if they did, it would seem obvious that he would be the winner.
What is the status on Hunter's contract? The Twins have the option of picking up his 2007 option for like $12 million, or buying out his contract for $2.5 million. Are the Twins saying anything yet? Has there been any more talk, or have you heard anything on whether Torii will be in a Twins uniform next season?
-- Jamey K., Rochester, Minn.
There has been some discussion about a contract extension that would defer some of that money to later years. Hunter would like a four-year deal, which would get him into the new stadium in 2010. He is 31 years old, and this was his best offensive season over the past three years. There is still a good chance that the Twins will pick up Hunter's option but, nothing has been decided.
How big is the loss of Mark Ellis for the A's, considering they are a team that has lived and died primarily by defense and pitching?
-- Jeff S., Spanish Fork, Utah
D'Angelo Jimenez is not a bad player. But a guy earns a spot in the starting lineup because he is the best player, and Ellis was that for the Athletics. I don't know if it will be a big loss as much as a subtle one -- a double play not turned or a runner not moved over when needed.
Why does every commentator and analyst keep bagging on the A's like they have already blown their 2-0 lead in the series? Can we at least have someone in our corner?
-- Kyle P., Pleasanton, Calif.
I guess it doesn't matter anymore. It was simply a significant storyline that the Athletics had trouble putting away teams in Division Series play. That is no longer the case.
I was wondering what happened to Mike Rouse from the A's. He got his first hit this year against the Yankees and was a big part in helping the A's sweep the Yanks in New York. Now that Ellis is hurt, Macha is putting in Jimenez, who I have not seen play for the A's once this year. What is going on?
-- Richard W., San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Rouse was designated for assignment in September, put on waivers and claimed by the Cleveland Indians.