Francona has seen Moss make big strides

BY foxsports • December 10, 2014

SAN DIEGO -- When Terry Francona had Brandon Moss in Boston during the 2007 and '08 seasons, Moss was a young player trying to establish himself. With the Indians acquiring Moss from Oakland on Monday, Francona is getting an established power hitter who he has seen make a lot of strides.

"When he left Boston, even by his account, I think he was almost out of baseball. Then he kind of found it," Francona said. "I remember talking to him at the All-€‘Star Game this summer. I pulled him aside and said, "Man, I'm so proud of you." He had turned into this man. That happens.

"Now to get him that many years later, he's a tremendous teammate. He's the type of player that we're really excited to have, and we wanted to get a bat and not disrupt what we had. I thought (general manager) Chris (Antonetti) did a great job doing that. We've got a guy that can play first, left, right and DH, and that kind of mixes in with everybody else. Not knowing some of our health issues going into Spring Training, we have some flexibility."

Moss came up through the Boston organization after being drafted in the eighth round in 2002. He made it to the majors in 2007 and played in 49 games over the two seasons, batting .291 with two home runs and 12 RBI. He was traded to the Pirates near the trade deadline in 2008 and also played with the Phillies in 2011 before heading to Oakland in 2012 and finding success.

Over his three seasons with the Athletics, Moss batted .254 with 76 home runs and 220 RBI along with averaging a home run per 15.93 at-bats, which is eighth best in the American League. The one big question remains his health after having hip surgery on Oct. 21. Francona said he would talk to Moss more over the next couple weeks in terms of figuring out a timetable.

With Carlos Santana at first and Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn also in the fold in right, there is a logjam that could be alleviated with a trade. However with Swisher coming off double knee surgery and Raburn also coming off knee surgery, they're not exactly healthy at the moment.

Moss was one of many issues that Francona touched on during his half-hour of availability at the Winter Meetings.

On the state of the division: "Right now we're all even. You don't know. It's December. When the meetings are over, everybody's like here are the winners, here are the losers, here's the guy. Teams aren't complete. There are some really good pitchers that are still out there, and when that starts to unfold, you'll start to know where people are going to lean towards thinking who is going to win. But our division is tough. I think the whole league is tough. When you look at the schedule, it just seems difficult."

On Jon Lester signing with the Cubs: "I don't think it's a coincidence there were a lot of teams that were chasing him around for his services. He's a big strong, left-€‘handed kid that gives you 200 innings every year unless you need more. He can pitch in the postseason, and he's a great kid. That's a pretty nice combination.

On adding depth to the rotation: "I don't think we quite have a name yet, but I think it's safe to say he wants to add depth. ... I think our staff, they were young last year at the end of the year and they did just fine. (Corey) Kluber is understanding his importance and his responsibilities to the staff, a lot like (Michael) Brantley is to our lineup. But I didn't see any of our youth really getting in the way last year down the stretch."

On Swisher: "I texted with him a lot. He continues to try to hit goals along the way. Every week or so there is something else he can do or at a more intense pace. I guess the first time I'll probably see him is at the Tribefest (in late January)."

On if Swisher would be primarily a designated hitter: "No, I wouldn't say that. I actually think he thinks that playing some outfield is easier. So, again, those are conversations we can have. But this in no way limits him to just DH or first base."

On Kluber winning the Cy Young despite not being a big name: "I think that's how it should be. I mean, there is a reason Felix (Hernandez) has a reputation, because he's done it year after year after year, and he continues to do it. He's about as impressive a pitcher as you're going to find. But for this one year, Corey Kluber went toe to toe, and in the writers' opinion, probably edged him out. And I would have a hard time disagreeing with that."

On Michael Brantley finishing third in MVP voting: "I was glad because leading up to the end of the season, I try to shy away from maybe talking about some of that stuff as we're trying to compete for a spot in the playoffs. But I was a little disappointed that he wasn't getting more play. Then you start hearing about other guys in the league. It was like, man, why aren't they talking about Brantley? Well, evidently they were. People must have been listening because that was pretty impressive where he ended up, and I thought it was very deserving."

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