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Sports & Recreation

Best Baseball Team 

The 2006 Oakland A's

"I'm excited about 2005," A's General Manager Billy Beane told an interviewer not long ago. "I'm even more excited about 2006." And well he should be. This past winter, in the span of a week, Beane overhauled a team that has won at least 90 games in each of the past five seasons, turning two expensive All-Star pitchers on the wrong end of their career arcs (Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson) into six cheap young players on the make (most notably pitcher Danny Haren and catcher Daric Barton). They're joining a core of players who should be hitting their peaks in the coming seasons, and, barring injury, next year's team is likely the odds-on favorite to win the division, and maybe more. From time to time, every ball club will have what's known, in the current euphemism, as a "rebuilding year," during which even the most rabid of fans shelve their foam fingers. Beane's facelift of the A's, however, is a rarity: He's built a beauty for the future, but right now the bandages don't look so bad.


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