It won’t make them feel much better tonight and replacing the team’s ace for a second straight offseason would be a tall order, but Rangers fans should take some solace in the fact that C.J. Wilson is their only significant free agent.
Wilson, who earned $7 million in his final year of arbitration, figures to be the second-most sought after starting pitcher on the market behind CC Sabathia. He struggled in the postseason again, but Wilson threw 223 innings with a 2.94 ERA and 206 strikeouts in the regular season and is a relatively young free agent at age 30.
Replacing him would obviously be tough, but the Rangers’ only other free agent regulars are 40-year-old middle reliever Darren Oliver and third-stringer catcher Matt Treanor. Everyone else is either under contract or arbitration eligible, although they may look to make some moves involving, say, Yorvit Torrealba and Koji Uehara. Or maybe shop Michael Young and the $32 million remaining on his deal around the league again.
Regardless of what happens with Wilson this Rangers team is without question set up to make another deep run next season. Nolan Ryan somehow gets all the credit, but the team’s actual general manager, Jon Daniels, has done a very good job building a deep, talented roster. It’ll be interesting to see how strongly their effort is to re-sign Wilson and how tempted they’ll be to shake things up for the sake of shaking things up.
Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.
This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.
Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.