OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane reiterated Saturday that the movement of his club toward youth and development is a sign home run king Barry Bonds probably isn't in the plans.
``I don't comment on free agents,'' Beane told the crowd during a question and answer session at A's Fan Fest. ``I think we've defined our direction. That's probably the best answer I can give you.''
When a man asked the GM about the chances of Bonds moving across the bay to the A's after 15 seasons with San Francisco, dozens of others in the bleachers screamed ``No!''
The A's had interest in the 43-year-old free agent slugger before he was indicted in November on perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his 2003 testimony to a grand jury that he never knowingly took steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
But Oakland traded away ace Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December, and popular outfielders Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay were dealt earlier this month - all for lesser-known players or prospects. Super-sub Marco Scutaro was the first to go, sent to Toronto for a pair of minor league pitchers.
``It's just something you have to go through,'' second baseman Mark Ellis said of constant change on this team. ``It's one of those things you have to move on.''
The trades made it clear Oakland is committed to building toward the future - and not with No. 25 and all the baggage he brings.
The A's finished a game out of last place in 2007, moving ahead of the Texas Rangers on the final day. That, and significant injury problems to many key players in recent seasons, weighed most heavily on Beane's mind as he decided it was time to restock the franchise's farm system and focus on long-term success.
``What I'm going to do is get them (fans) excited about the next five or six years,'' Beane said. ``We were a game out of last last year. Is that OK? A game out of last is our most recent performance. What's exciting about keeping that going? I'm not excited about that. ... It's time to get bottom heavy now.''
Oakland was 76-86 last season after reaching the AL championship series in 2006, and had its streak of winning seasons end at eight. The A's went 9-17 in September for their worst final month since going 8-20 in 1985. They had their first losing season since going 74-88 in 1998.
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