A’s GM Billy Beane set to exit winter meetings without an outfielder

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Billy Beane never sticks around until the end of the winter meetings, and this year won’t be any different, even though he could be looking at an outfield of Jermaine Mitchell, Jai Miller and Ryan Sweeney if the season started tomorrow.

MLB.com’s Jane Lee points out that Beane is leaving Dallas tonight without the A’s having made a move. Assistant GM David Forst will lead the way until the winter meetings conclude Thursday.

With Oakland’s entire starting outfield of Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus having filed for free agency, the lone outfielders left on the team’s 40-man roster after Mitchell, Miller, Sweeney and Michael Taylor. Sweeney is the only one of the bunch to have done anything in the majors, and he’s struggled to establish himself as more than a fourth outfielder.

The A’s will seek outfield help in trade talks, but they’ll likely end up bargain hunting later this winter. J.D. Drew, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Ludwick and Mike Cameron are some of the veteran outfielders staring down paycuts this winter.

There is help on the way beyond 2012. Converted shortstop Grant Green and fellow former first-round pick Michael Choice rank among the team’s best prospects. Green could factor into the center field mix as next season progresses, and Choice might be an option come 2013.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.