Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Lew Wolff is stepping down as the managing partner of the Oakland Athletics. The club’s majority owner, John Fisher, is taking over the lead role. Wolff is selling most of his shares in the club. He only owned about 10% of the club, though, with Fisher owning 80 percent and being content to be a silent partner.
Meanwhile, team president Michael Crowley will move into an advisory role to the ownership group. The new A’s team president will be Dave Kaval of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Wolff has been the control person of the organization for 11 years. Crowley has been the team president for 19 years. Under their leadership the A’s have had some success on the field — three American League West titles and four playoff appearances — but they’ve finished last for the past two years and, as the years go on, have become known more for their budget-conscious management and seemingly never ending quest to get a new ballpark for the club than for baseball excellence. A fan base once understanding of the A’s limitations has become increasingly annoyed as other traditionally lower-revenue clubs like the Royals and Indians have made World Series appearances while the A’s sell off players each year.
Slusser and the Chronicle suggest that the impetus for this move is that, under the forthcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Athletics may no longer be recipients of as much revenue sharing money as they’ve received in the past, making the ownership of the low-revenue A’s a far less pleasant experience than it was prior. In recent months, Fisher, though a silent presence, has been reported to be more active in looking for a new home for the A’s in Oakland.