Athletics have narrowed down preferred ballpark sites to two

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With the Oakland Raiders leaving town and the Golden State Warriors moving across the Bay to San Francisco, the momentum and enthusiasm for a new Oakland Athletics stadium has ratcheted up considerably. Now, Oakland Magazine reports, the A’s have narrowed down the potential sites for a new ballpark to two:

The Oakland A’s are now focusing on two sites in the city for a new ballpark: Laney College near Lake Merritt and Howard Terminal on the waterfront next to Jack London Square, according to four knowledgeable sources. Two of those sources say the Laney College property has edged into the lead as the team’s preferred spot.

Laney College area is close to downtown between Interstate 880 and Lake Merritt and near a BART station. According to the article, the preferred site is the Peralta Community College site noted on this map:

Oakland folks: weigh in to give your thoughts about that site, would ya?

The secondary site, Howard Terminal, is close to the waterway that leads into the Bay, but is farther from public transportation. There are concerns about heavily-used railroad tracks near there, however, which fans would have to cross in order to get to games.

The article says that the Laney College site seems to be preferred based on public polling being conducted by the A’s which focuses more heavily on that site, but A’s president Dave Kaval told Oakland Magazine that all three sites — these two and the Coliseum site — are all still on the table. He would not be likely to admit that one site is preferred over others, however, as the club wouldn’t want to tip its hand in negotiations.

Either way, the club is supposed to announce a site selection by the end of the year. What they’ll do, I have no idea. All I hope is that they choose a site that is 100% unable to be used by the Oakland Raiders if and when they come back from Las Vegas, once again looking to squat on A’s property.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.