We’re pushing two years since baseball said it was “studying” the issue of where the Athletics should play. Could they find a way around the Giants’ territorial rights in San Jose? Is Oakland, in fact, a viable home for the A’s going forward? We don’t know! Because apparently doing some basic economic studies, looking at publicly-available data and having some tough meetings with the owners of the Giants is more complex than the Manhattan Project. Either that or baseball is just sitting on this, hoping the problem solves itself while the A’s fan base continues to become more disillusioned. And to shrink.
Baseball’s inaction is causing more concrete problems too. For example, San Jose had until this past Tuesday to put a stadium initiative on the spring ballot, but that deadline came and went because no one in San Jose wants to stake their political capital on a campaign that baseball could doom by inaction or by choosing Oakland.
At the same time, Oakland stepped up with an actual stadium proposal and a public hearing on the matter the other night that has reignited interest on the part of some Oakland fans. However, the step needed to make the ballpark an actual possibility — and environmental impact assessment — is likely to be put on hold. Why? Because Oakland officials wisely are loathe to spend millions on such a study if baseball is unwilling to commit to the A’s staying in town.
Mr. Selig: get on with it. Your continued inaction on the matter of the Athletics’ future is killing the team. If no deal can be cut with the Giants, pull the plug on Lew Wolff’s designs on San Jose. If Oakland is truly not a viable market for the A’s, say so and do what is necessary to forge a compromise on territorial rights. You’re supposed to be the leader of this sport. Friggin’ lead for once, will ya?
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.