If you believe what we’ve been hearing about the Atheltics’ clubhouse issues — and I tend to believe it — Bob Geren had to go. He had lost his team, assuming he ever had ’em, and it was time for a change.
The second pass at all of that — that it wasn’t Bob Geren who kept the A’s from hitting and kept the pitchers from being healthy — is also true. The A’s have a bunch of problems. Firing Geren may have been necessary because no one wants to go to work in an office where everyone hates the boss, but it’s not going to dramatically change the factors that are keeping the A’s from winning these days.
But there’s a third layer to the Atheltics’ issues, and that’s fan apathy and the overall health of the franchise, and today Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Examiner fires both barrels at the man responsible: A’s owner Lew Wolff:
Wolff and John Fisher, his money man, have taken the A’s from a perennially contending team which drew more than 2 million people a year and turned it into an also-ran which is near the bottom in attendance each year. Not easy, but Wolff has been determined to run down the franchise so he can argue that he should be allowed to move to San Jose … This is the way Wolff wants it. He’s done everything he can to force attendance down, closing off almost all the upper deck, ending the popular Fan Fest, sending out media emails prior to seasons saying he has no interest in Oakland. Though he and Fisher are, according to Forbes magazine, the fourth-richest owners in baseball, they’ve spent no money on comforts for fans, content to collect revenue-sharing money from other clubs each year.
The South has tornadoes, the East Coast has hurricanes, Oakland has Lew Wolff.
The A’s could be losing no matter who sat in the owners’ chair. But they didn’t have to be a depressing slog for the fans who have been given absolutely no reason to care about the future of the team.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.