When we last left the Oakland A’s Coliseum drama, it appeared as though the lease will finally be approved over the objections of many on City Council. The reason? Last week Bud Selig gave the A’s permission to leave Oakland if they want to, which apparently scared some Oakland officials.
Seems like a bluff to me. Just being allowed to leave is not the issue; approval to actually go someplace where a viable baseball team could actually operate is a way bigger issue, and nothing reported last week suggested the existence of any such place. Where ya gonna go, Athletics?
Someone on the Oakland City Council thinks they have a place in mind:
Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid says he doesn’t believe the A’s are bluffing in their threat to leave the city if they don’t get a 10-year lease extension at the Coliseum, and he pointed to a pair of possible destinations — Montreal and San Antonio, Texas.
Reid said that was the word he got from the Coliseum Authority negotiators who have been working for the past 14 months to try to reach an A’s lease extension.
“They have options,’’ Reid said.
Montreal presents a crumbling stadium and market which were utterly neglected by Major League Baseball for years. Which is exactly what they have in Oakland right now, so why pay Allied Vans extra on top of that?
San Antonio could theoretically work someday, but at the moment there is only a football stadium they use for occasional exhibition games with a 280-foot porch in right field. Because of weather in the dog days of summer which can only be described as “AHHHHHHGGHHH!!!! THIS IS HORRIBLE,” the San Antonio A’s would need a new domed or retractable roof stadium. Did I mention that, currently, there is no appetite to give the Double-A San Antonio Missions a new park? I’ve been to their current one. If that’s any gauge, no one down there is all that prepared to give the A’s a billion bucks for a new park.
Sorry, I think those are bluffs. And I will continue to believe that unless and until Major League Baseball says the A’s can move to San Jose or gives them approval to go to a place that has already demonstrated a desire to build the A’s a new park.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.