PHOENIX -- Five things to know about the Oakland Athletics:
1. Maybe this will be the year for the A's to find a long-term home. The betting now is that it will be in San Jose, rather than Oakland, Fremont or even somewhere outside the Bay Area. There are also people familiar with the organization who believe that if a new ballpark isn't agreed on this year, the A's could be up for sale.
2. The A's expect Ben Sheets to contribute on the mound, and it's very possible that his biggest contribution will be in the prospects he brings back in a July trade. But in the early days of spring training, the A's have simply enjoyed having Sheets around. "He's loud," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "We need someone loud." Sure enough, Sheets' voice is the one you're most likely to hear in the A's spring clubhouse.
3. Billy Beane says he still prefers home runs over stolen bases. But Beane also says that the A's go with "what's available to us," and right now that means they have a lot more speed than power. That's why the A's led all of baseball in steals after the All-Star break in 2009, and it's also why Rickey Henderson is a part-time instructor in spring training this year. Henderson favors the stolen base, of course, and is already on record saying that Rajai Davis could steal 75-80 bases in a season.
4. The one guy on the A's roster who has hit a lot of home runs is Eric Chavez, who has 229 in his career and twice topped 30 in a season. But Chavez has just two home runs in just 119 at-bats the last two years, and rather than count on him at third base the A's traded for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Because Chavez is still under contract, in the final year of a six-year, $66 million deal signed when he was coming off a 101-RBI season, he's still here, but now is working out at first base as well as third. And, he said, he feels good physically. "I'd like to be saying that in September, too," Chavez said.
5. With the signing of Sheets and the return of Justin Duchscherer, who also missed all of last season, the A's have much more depth in their rotation this spring. They're so deep, in fact, that Trevor Cahill, who started more games in 2009 than any other A's pitcher, isn't even guaranteed a spot in the season-opening rotation. As of now, that rotation would include Sheets, Duchscherer, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden, with the final spot open for competition. Others who could take it include Gio Gonzalez or Vin Mazzaro, or maybe even the just-signed Jason Jennings, who has 180 big league starts but was strictly a reliever in Texas last year.