Nomar Says No To Retirement, Yes To A's

The A's are grabbing up veteran shortstops like gamblers are grabbing up Mega Millions tickets.

The day after they successfully signed Orlando Cabrera for half of what he was originally asking, sources close to Nomar Garciaparra are confirming that the six-time All-Star shortstop has agreed to terms with the Oakland A's. The 35-year-old had been considering retirement. Garciaparra will presumably back up Cabrera, as well as Jack Cust at third base and Jason Giambi at first.

Susan Slusser's A's blog The Drumbeat at The Chronicle pegs the one-year deal at $1.5 million to $2 million.

Just wondering -- Ms. Slusser's blog is presumably called The Drumbeat because of the guy who pounds a bass drum in the right field stands at Oakland Coliseum. Shouldn't there also be a blog named for that crazy dude who plays the banjo?

Nomar is nowhere near the shortstop he was during the Red Sox title runs. He appeared in only 55 games last year for the Dodgers, hitting .264 with 28 RBI. But he provides insurance for nearly every infield position, and hits exceptionally well off of left-handed pitching.

Now can we stop for a moment and appreciate the cheapskate brilliance that is Billy Beane? On the other side of the bay, the Giants have recently acquired shortstop Edgar Renteria. Renteria will turn 34 this year, and he'll be paid $9 million this season. The A's, meanwhile, now have Garciaparra, Orlando Cabrera, and Bobby Crosby to play short -- at a combined salary of practically the same total that the Giants are paying to just Renteria. Should they successfully trade Crosby, the A's have two quality shortstops for half of Renteria's salary.

So the perpetually "youth movement" A's become now become interesting because of all the old dudes in their thirties on this year's roster. They had already brought Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi on board, and now have Cabrera and Garciaparra. It's almost looking like one of those aging classic rock band reunion tours.

And we all know who's going to play the banjo.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer and an old dude in his thirties.

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