10/17/2003 3:09 PM ET
A's notes: Newcomers add depth
By Kent Schacht / MLB.com WorldSeries.com
OAKLAND -- Oakland's signing last week of former Mets Marco Scutaro and Matt Watson gives the club a solid player in the middle infield and adds depth to the A's minor league system, according to assistant general manager Paul DePodesta.
"We like both of them," DePodesta said. "I have a bit of a history with Scutaro. When I was in Cleveland he was there in the minor league system."
Scutaro, 27, predominantly a second baseman, appeared in 48 games in two stints with New York in 2003 and batted .213 with two home runs and six RBIs.
The native of Venezuela also played in 70 games for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, where he batted .311 with nine home runs, 32 RBIs and 33 walks for a .401 on-base percentage.
"He's been a good minor league player. He's a guy who can play second, short or third," DePodesta said.
"He's our kind of offensive player," DePodesta added, referring to Scutaro's on-base percentage.
Watson, 24, made his Major League debut in September and went 4-for-23 with two RBIs in 15 games. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he batted .295 and led the team with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs.
DePodesta said that with the contribution and advancement of several A's minor league outfielders, there's a "big void in our system for an upper-level outfielder."
Watson should fill that role well.
"He's a guy we've always liked, he fits in real nicely for us," DePodesta said. Watson is a nice complete player."
A look ahead: DePodesta said he and the front-office staff will be spending some of their time in the coming days evaluating minor league free agents.
The list of free agents available was released earlier this week.
It's an important process, DePodesta said, noting that the A's ended up using several of their minor league free-agent signees in 2003, including Billy McMillon and Adam Melhuse.
"We'll have some guys internally who will get a chance to play at Triple-A," DePodesta said. "My guess is that we probably won't sign quite as many as last year."
Fall League update: Several players in the A's organization are participating in the Arizona Fall League, including four players who are attempting to qualify for the traveling squad of Team USA, which will play for a spot in the Athens Olympic Games next month.
On Thursday, Justin Dushscherer pitched five innings of shutout ball against AFL opponent Peoria and "helped cement his position as the No. 2 starter on the Team USA staff," according to MLB.com's Barry Bloom.
Jeremy Fikac, Mike Rouse and Graham Koonce are also working with the national team, with Koonce leading the offensive effort for Team USA. In his first five games, Koonce hit .571 with two homers and seven RBIs.