Willingham signing hinges on stadium resolution

Susan Slusser’s report on Josh Willingham’s status makes my last post look downright prophetic (I swear I had no idea). According to Willingham’s agent, Matt Sosnick, any kind of multiyear deal is completely dependent on whether or not the A’s get the green light to move to San Jose.

“We gave the A’s an idea of where we were, and we were told they have interest in bringing Josh back, but before they did anything, they want to see what happens with the stadium,” Sosnick said. “Josh and I both made it clear he’d like to stay, but at this point, I’m pretty sure he’ll test the free-agent market.

“We talked about a time frame, given that Billy would like Josh back, but it seems like Billy is sort of hamstrung right now.”

Now if you haven’t read the last post on the Moneyball script, read it now. And enjoy the symmetry.

Slusser also notes that if the A’s get that green light, they’ll reduce payroll and go into a full rebuilding mode. That would make sense, since Beane and Wolff/Fisher would probably want to time the opening of Cisco Field with a fully resurgent team, one that could maximize revenue. That probably means trading any or all of the cost-controlled young starters, Kurt Suzuki if he has any value left, and maybe even *gulp* Jemile Weeks. The moves wouldn’t have to happen right away, though I figure that Beane will spend some time trying to find a sucker to take Brian Fuentes’ $5 million for 2012. The moves are one more reason for the pro-Oakland folks to hate ownership, though I have to point out that if they were to build in Oakland they’d go through the same phase. If they were to stay in the Coliseum indefinitely, they’d have to keep payroll at the $70 million level in hopes of attracting more fans at the gate, though $70 million doesn’t get you more than scraps as we’ve seen over the last few years. Want to see how Taylor and Carter look with 500+ PAs? We might finally find out.

Thing is, such a hardline stance may not be necessary since several players may not be expected to re-sign with the A’s, and will have their money come off the books in the offseason. That includes $5.75 million for David DeJesus (despite the strange love affair with the guy) and $4.25 million for Hideki Matsui. Plus there’s the dead money of Kevin Kouzmanoff ($4.75 million) and Conor Jackson ($3.2 million). So even if they re-sign both Willingham and Coco Crisp, they can keep their payroll under $55 million while giving the kids precious playing time.

Without Willingham and Crisp, the payroll would be around $40 million, roughly the same amount as the 2002 Moneyball A’s. It would seem that signing both of those players might make sense in that both of them might yield something better in trade near next season’s trading deadline than the first round/sandwich picks the team would get for letting them walk. Beane’s argument is that without a resolution of the stadium situation, there can be no effective long-range planning, since there would be an endless cycle of building up and selling off. As more of the youngsters hit arbitration eligible years, Beane has to keep that in mind and plan accordingly. It’s a tough spot to be in.

72 thoughts on “Willingham signing hinges on stadium resolution

  1. Why a player like Weeks? Wouldn’t ownership want to have those type of players on opening day? Or would it take the 6 or so years he is under club control to get a stadium built?

  2. The problem with that “Yes to San Jose” reaction is that it acknowledges that even if they were to fail at successfully rebuilding the team in time for the opening, the A’s can still field a crappy team for the first three years of a new stadium without much repercussion.

    Their thought process should be that any time you have a window, you take it, because you run the risk of an endless spiral of failure. The significant increase in revenue would still fall short in allowing the A’s to sign multiple free agents to head off fielding a dud. Either way they would have to dig into the pocket for additional funds so they might as well do that now, regardless of the whether they can move or not.

    These comments from the unknown source speak to how bad the Ownership group would be running this team; the Giants did not initiate a firesale after the approval of the ballpark plan. In fact, they built up their team and used the new revenue to extend that team’s window.

    I don’t think this can be made out to be anything other than awful.

  3. Weeks is definitely a fan fave, so with this ownership I can see him being dealt off before he makes too much money.The crap we go through of being A’s fans is too much at times.

  4. if 2015 is opening day for cisco field, they gotta have an established core to go into the new park. now they don’t have to be world series contenders ala how cle for instance opened up jacobs field but i see no reason why they have to deal any of their current core players especially those who either just came up ala weeks or those who signed a long term deal in cahill or gio who most likely will sign a 4-5 year extension like anderson/cahill did in the past two seasons which would make him signed thru 2016 if the a’s sign him thru one year of his free agency as gio is signed thru 2015.

    weeks, cahill, gio and maybe the likes of taylor, allen, carter all should be cost controlled for the first 2-3 years when cisco field is opened from 2015-2017. not to mention those who could be up within the next season or two in the last seasons playing in oakland with green, gray, and choice who’d be cost controlled anywhere from 2017 or 18 if they’re brought up in the next season or two after may ala weeks was this past season.

    i guess i could see them letting go of willingham if it nets them a first round pick in 2012 from the 17-32 spots plus a sandwich pick after the first and seconds rounds and you hoped those players drafted are a success in the minors and could be ready to come up in 2-3 years when cisco field is about to open. also could maybe net a good prospect if they deal bailey either this offseason or next trade deadline to rebuild up his trade value if teams don’t value a closer coming off another injury prone season.

    but in no way should the a’s just sell off their entire young core right now.

  5. @Johnny Carcinogen – Beane could get a really great offer for Weeks. I hope he doesn’t, but you can’t count it out.

    @Genaro – They already use the M.O. that having a crappy team is part of being the Oakland Athletics as long as they’re in the Coliseum. Is this really any different? What this really means is that there will be fewer marginal free agent signings and no Beltre-type chase, which is fine if the youth progresses as we hope they do. If they don’t, well, you get what you pay for.

    One other thing – In 1997 the Giants traded for Jeff Kent, who had similar numbers that year to Willingham this year (although Willingham is older than Kent was and should decline over time). Back then the Giants also had Bonds. The A’s have no such player. Also, the Giant payrolls in 1997-99 were $34, $40, and $46 million, then rising to $53 million for the opening of China Basin. At no point during that era were they in the top half of baseball in terms of payroll. To get into the top half next year, the A’s would probably have to spend $90 million.

  6. They are different situations because they would be asserting that saving for a rainy day is more important than trying to win now. In the proposed scenario, the A’s would have already gotten their wish in moving to San Jose but would go even further in lowering the product, a completely unnecessary act designed only to increase profit. This type of move is meant to offset cost overrun, not to prevent fielding a loser.

    Even the cash-hording Marlins did not gut themselves of all talent to prepare for their stadium.

  7. ML, I’m not clear on what the delineation, with respect to the Giants, is getting at. If anything, the retention of Bonds and Kent’s sizable contracts would be the exact opposite of this supposed tact the A’s would be undertaking should they get the OK to move. Note the contrasts between this article and Slusser’s: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1997/01/26/SPORTS12418.dtl

    • @Genaro – Kent was a gamble that paid off. Few people thought he’d be a perennial MVP contender when the trade was made. Even with his signing, the Giants kept payroll very manageable and that’s the point. I’d personally love if Billy kept Willingham and Crisp with an eye towards transitioning to Choice and Green when the time is right. What I don’t want is $20 million in filler players who prevent the youngsters from developing. When the rubber meets the road, the stadium situation is only one of many factors. A major one, but still only one. Last season’s .500 record fooled many into thinking a window of contention was opening. More $65-70 million payrolls are not going to make the A’s more competitive. What has been happening is a sort of half-assed rebuilding. A real rebuilding is needed.

  8. I guess they want to be consistent and make sure they place 29th or 30th in attendance like they have the last few years, and then blame the fans and the Coliseum for it. The constant rebuilding every couple years is getting old. Walter Haas is rolling in his grave some more now.

  9. @jk-usa : actually, Haas would be proud of old Lew, outdrawing Walter’s team at the gate during his last year of ownership. LOL! Funny, attendance actually increased this year, not because of bad ownership, new marketing, or threats of movement. Most likely it’s because the A’s record improved and it remains the lowest cost venue for baseball fans in all of MLB.
    @ML: I can’t believe his agent went public with that announcement. Wonder if its a ploy to try to bait BS?! 2006 seems so far away now…/sigh

  10. @Anon–Haas would be ashamed of old Lew and how he’s mishandled the team, disrespected the fans, community and venue.

  11. The Giants situation points to how Magowan did not use the auspice of a new ballpark as a means to eschew winning for development. Yes, they added pieces within reason, but they were pieces to a team that had just lost 94 games with a star who could have been easily traded at true value. With that in mind, I’m not sure what you are advocating because retaining Willingham and Crisp is not rebuilding.
    I agree with the sentiment that they have half-assed the rebuilding process a few times since 2006 but right now they have a team that could win if supplemented. That’s why I say this idea of selling everything just so they can save revenue and take a shotgun approach to development is wrong because it’s unnecessary not only on the risk side, but also on the financial side. There’s an admission there of 70’s-ish payroll should they not be able to stay in Oakland so they can afford the same if they are moving. One should also consider that the CBA might include a reverse luxury tax.

    • @Genaro – You’re looking at this the wrong way. Bonds was the Giants’ meal ticket and the only guy on the team who truly sold tickets. He was never going to be traded. Magowan, probably pushed by Harmon Burns (a friend of Bonds), had to make moves to prevent the legendarily surly Bonds, who was in his prime at 32, from asking for a trade. No such player exists for the A’s, and that alone makes the comparison very much apples and oranges.

  12. at this point whoever isn’t signed thru the first year or two of cisco field opening possibly in 2015, i could see them being dealt relatively soon if the a’s are going that direction of going extremely young the next year or two and see for sure whether the likes of taylor, allen, and carter especially are true mlb starters.

    c-suzuki is signed thru 2014. i don’t see a legit option in the minors right now. ortiz whos at aa midland started off red hot at stk and in his first few weeks at mid but has cooled down. stassi has been a disappointed after he was a highly regarded pick out of high school a few years ago.

    1b-is allen the answer, sure hope he could be. started off great in aug but has been prolonged tailspin in sep where he just looks lost at the plate. 1b options in the minors possibly could be somebody like parker who’ll likely start 2012 at aaa as the starting 1b but i don’t know in terms of power if he’s a legitimite mlb 1b long term. carter is not a 1b, think we’ve seen that in his short stints there. still way too early to talk about the likes of leyland who spent this past season in azi.

    2b-obviously weeks is the answer and is cost controlled until 2017 i think and should be one of the faces of this org heading into a new park. obviously he’s had issues with health in the minors, so far hasn’t shown up in his half season or so in the bigs. still probably the a’s best rookie positional talent since swisher came up full time in 2005.

    ss-pennington i think is cost controlled until 2015 and these next three seasons will be his arb years. unfortunately there isn’t a ss prospect in the system right now that i can see coming up in the next year or two. cabrera the a’s 2nd round pick in 2010 was a high school ss but likely will be moved to 3b or of if he ever makes it to the bigs.

    3b-sizemore is still not the ideal 3b but at this point he’s the best the a’s have for the foreseeable future and i think is controlled until at least 2016. if you average his current #s out to a full season he’d hit you 20 hrs with 100 rbis which is a stat tittle on radio has used in recent weeks in his pro sizemore stance. a’s do have options at 3b in the minors with the before mentioned cabrera but also have potentiall solano and nunez two of the highly paid international prospects teh a’s have signed the past few years during the international signing period. also posssibly vollmuth the a’s 3rd round pick this past june who had a decent showing in his first stint of minor league ball granted it was only a handful of games in the lower levels. also have somebody like lewis who was a high pick out of high school in the 2010 draft whos also a possibility as a mlb 3b or could be also moved to 1b.

    lf-obviously i hope somebody like taylor can fill this spot for this team for the next 5-6 years.

    cf-green looks like he’s positioned to be the a’s cf of the future maybe as soon as 2012 depending on whos their cf to begin the year. will they resign coco, will it be somebody like sweeney although don’t know if his knees can take the wear and tear of the starting cf spot for 150+ games.
    rf-choice you’d hope is the answer at rf and finally a legit power threat in this lineup, something at this time you don’t know if they’ll have with taylor, carter, and allen. course choice himself isnt’ a guranteed lock to make it t the bigs and become a legit success but at this time is probably the a’s best positional prospect. he’d probably be a level per year type of player so maybe project him as a big league regular by 2014 which possibly could be the last year the a’s play in oakland if the cisco field in sj opening date is 2015 as has been pointed out a lot.

    some possiblities in the minors would include newly signed/drafted players like shipman, de la cruz, crocker and others in the lower minors who still could be seen as legit prospects in a few years with dixon,

    dh-who knows at this time. could see carter given the chance to start off next season as the dh especially if willingham isn’t brought back. for once i’d like to see carter given maybe half a season’s worth of at bats and see if he can or can’t hack it as a big league regular.
    starting pithers already mentioned cahill who just signed thru 2017, gio you’d hope would be signed to a similar type deal that would keep him around thru the first 2-3 years at cisco field. gray looks legit and if he comes up sometime after may in 2012, he’ll be cost controlled thru 2018. anderson at this point not counting him as somebody who’ll be around by 2015 which is his last year he’s signed. could easily see the a’s dealing anderson if he somehow can stay healthy during the last few years of his deal. in terms of those in the minors, not looking all that great. krol probably would be the a’s best starting pitcher at this point but he’s missed most of this year due to injury and an off the field incident. still he’s at this point besides gray as the a’s starting pitching prospect in the minors who could make it up to the bigs and be somethng of worth. the big wild card would be ynoa. he’ll likely come back in 2012 after missing all of this past season due to tjs. if he can ever regain the form when he signed or just be even a good pitching prospect with the ceiling of a middle of the rotation arm instead of being the next king felix when he was signed in 2007, then he could also be a key part of the a’s rotation heading into cisco field.

    course a lot more talent will be brought into the system in the next few drafts that can fill a system that isn’t exactly overflowing with major league talented. a’s could have possibly two 1st round picks next year in the 2012 draft with their own top ten pick possibly and if a contender signs willingham whos a type a free agent they’d probably get a pick somewhere in the high teens-early 20s in next year’s draft too to help restock the system and maybe be players who 2-3 years from now could be key pieces on the a’s roster heading into the new park. imo at this time the only legit options currently on the mlb roster that could be here for a 2015 opening of cisco field are weeks, cahill and possibly gio.

  13. Well you do see in that statement that if Burns was worried about profit and building a team for the new ballpark, he would have traded his star; that revenue created by Bonds from 97-99 wouldn’t have matter just as paying to win wouldn’t matter to the A’s to increase revenue.
    If you want to make the stark difference to be that the Giants had one superstar hitter to the A’s none, you’re absolutely right, they’re completely different situations. But not having a superstar hitter does not prevent a team from winning or losing, only where they are on the scale. The A’s have a much better staff than that 97 Giants team, and with the retention of Willingham and Crisp, they would have a comparable total offense.

    • @Genaro – Look, you set up a straw man and I tore it down. The fact is that circumstances are a lot more complicated than stadium or none. It goes back to the teams’ operating philosophies, which remain largely intact and diametrically opposed all these years. The real questions we have to ask are: Does the SJ green light make the A’s more likely to sign Willingham and Crisp? Does it make free agents more interested in the A’s? We won’t know the answers to these by conjecture, only by action.

  14. re: I guess they want to be consistent and make sure they place 29th or 30th in attendance like they have the last few years, and then blame the fans and the Coliseum for it.

    …well, it’s the fans who don’t show up, isn’t it? Yes, we know Wolff and Fischer are “bad guys” because they don’t want to go broke donating a $500 mill ballpark to Oakland. Everything is always the owners’ fault. OK…

  15. re: Haas would be ashamed of old Lew a
    ..as great a guy as Haas was, wasn’t it he who only asked for two counties as the A’s “territory” while the Giants got six counties? I remember Neukom a couple years ago saying something to the effect that the A’s only asked for two counties “and they got them.” And that decision has left the A’s confined to a small area where they can’t get a new ballpark. Thus the mess we’re in now.

  16. @genaro,
    Ok, you’re right; the A’s are going to suck for a few years leading up to Opening Day 2015 at Cisco Field. There! Are you happy now. But once our spanking ballpark is open and the A’s become legit contenders, the upcoming lean years will all be forgotten (by most A’s fans at least). By the way, a line in Slusser’s piece speaks volumes, “guys aren’t beating down doors to hit in Oakland.”

  17. @Tony – pitchers like coming to Oakland. Its no secret that the coliseum favors pitchers. Willingham just showed “everyone” who forgot about Giambi and Tejada, that real hitters can flourish in any park. I think our current GM and ownership group are responsible for the atmosphere that keeps FA hitters from entertaining playing for the A’s. My humble opinion.

  18. ….free agents don’t want to play in an empty football stadium. It’s as simple as that.

  19. from my seat… it looks like Willingham stays in Oakland, as the Athletics’ franchise builds in the town (Alameda Co.).

  20. @pjk – I don’t recall any of the FA pitchers the A’s have pursued turning the team down.

  21. The Giants, having to pay off AT&T Park, had to show restraint when it came to payroll. Which is the reason players like Marvin Bernard showed up in their everyday lineup. Giant fans at the time wondered why the team didn’t go out and get true frontline ballplayers to help out Bonds and Kent. At that time they had to rely on trades (Their farm system at the time was miserable) to get anyone reasonable on the team. They couldn’t go out and spend money like the Yankees to be sure. The Giants got lucky with one free agent signing (Barry Bonds) before AT&T was created, and got burned with another after the park opened (Barry Zito).

  22. @david,
    Just stop while you’re way behind already. FA hitters don’t want to play in Oakland because of ownership? C’mon brah, you’re a Raiders fan, you’re better than that! (At least I hope)

  23. It’s hard for me to comprehend the idea that some Oakland A’s fans are ok with tearing down the team, trading bright young talent and losing for at least three more years (making it 8 years of losing baseball). Even if you tear it all down and start again, there is no guarantee the new pieces will create a winner, further extending our losing. I’m not okay following a franchise that doesn’t try to win. As an Oakland A’s fan that’s not something I want to see my team do. If, god forbid, San Jose happens, management should keep their priorities on what’s more important, winning the world series.

  24. @eb–“If, god forbid, San Jose happens, management should keep their priorities on what’s more important, winning the world series.”
    Amen to that, bro.

  25. If, God forbid, San Jose does not happen, we will be (at best) subjected to the same dismal status quo that has come to define Oakland A’s baseball: Low payrolls, empty seats, and a losing team.

  26. re:If, God forbid, San Jose does not happen, we will be (at best) subjected to the same dismal status quo that has come to define Oakland A’s baseball: Low payrolls, empty seats, and a losing team.

    …and that’s if we’re lucky and MLB keep the A’s confined to the Coliseum. The other avenue if San Jose doesn’t happen is moving the team far away…

  27. Thats why I said “at best”.

  28. God forbid San Jose happens? WTF!? Shaking head very, very slowly to those in complete denial and residing in an alternate reality (better you then me I guess)…GO RAIDERS!

  29. wolff on the tv side of things right now, just turned on the a’s game and caught only the end although wolff will be back the next half inning continuing the talk about sj.

    • More from Slusser today:

      I’m getting lots of email on the Willingham story and the Moneyball piece. There is surprise the A’s would cut payroll if they get the OK to go to San Jose, and it surprised me too, when I heard it, but if you think about someone such as Willingham, in particular, you can see the reasoning: 1) a new stadium wouldn’t be ready for three years and his deal would run out before they’d move into a new place and 2) if they plan to rebuild with an eye toward San Jose – and they do, if they get approval for it – why sink $27-30 million into a player if the team is not going to contend in that time?

      Others ask how the team expects to keep fans if that’s the case, and that’s a tough one. Some fans enjoy watching the rebuild process because then they’ve seen the development of something special when the team becomes good, but others jump off, especially when the rebuilds continue and continue, ala the Royals. But mainly, I think the team believes that a move to San Jose with a good young core of players will attract far more fans in the end than they might lose with a rebuild.

      The major problem for the team is that there is no “young core” outside of the pitching. We know that they’re not going on a buying spree, so it’s going to take at least another year for that core to emerge. I’ve run the numbers and payroll could be anywhere from $40-55 million depending on if they keep either Willingham or Crisp or both (and they don’t trade any starters).

      So the question I have to post to the community is this: What do you think it’ll take for this team to be competitive in terms of payroll and signings? I don’t see $70-75 million as nearly enough. $90 million would run the team significantly in the red.

  30. So now the argument is a straw man; how exactly are the situations so completely different that there is not more than a superficial connection? Just because the organizations would chose different outcomes does not mean the situations are completely different.
    ML, you’ve been taking my premise from a perspective that I believe the A’s can sustain themselves in the Coliseum and that’s simply wrong. Whether or not the A’s can move should not dictate whether they can reasonably improve the team. That’s the issue I have with what the A’s have intimated either through their own words or from various agents. Wanting “to see what happens to the stadium” before signing Willingham presupposes that the A’s would have to make up the cost of signing him regardless of the stadium outcome.
    Even you skewed from the “hardline stance/Yes To San Jose reaction” in this posting because in reality, everyone was not wrong when they saw 2010 as a new window for contention. The team downgraded in RF and DH, stayed with a declining 3rd baseman, and lost their first baseman due to injury; everywhere else was an upgrade or status quo. The true fallacy is to pretend like there isn’t a real core that can be built around and whether it comes from accepting mediocrity or cynicism I’m not sure but it unfortunately pervades the fan base.

  31. A couple of nuggets from Wolff’s TV/radio interviews today:

    1. Wolff could call for a vote at any time.
    2. The team plans for payroll as far as three years ahead.

    @Genaro – Please, take this opportunity to explain how the A’s can regain respectability with real payroll projections and signing possibilities. If you can’t see how having Bonds and not having Bonds is more than merely superficial, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve tried to define what “rebuilding” and “staying competitive” means. I could be completely wrong on both counts. There is a huge range of possibilities in between, including what could be a desirable-for-all-parties middle way.

  32. @ML–good, lets have the vote tomorrow. It won’t pass. You’ll get no votes from the G’s, the three 2 team markets , and the other two teams in the AL West who want the A’s right where they are.
    Add it up and it’s 21-9. Bud wants at least 29-1.

  33. @jk-usa – Well then you’ve nothing to worry about, do you? I’m glad you’ve got such a good read of the owners, your understanding of the rest of the business of baseball makes that abundantly clear. /s

  34. @ML–no, I’m still somewhat worried, but you pro-SJ guys should be to. How do you think it will come out? If it was such a slam dunk on a vote, how come it didn’t happen long ago?

  35. @jk-usa – I’m worried for the future of the A’s, period. My love for the team isn’t conditional. Get that straight. As for “why hasn’t…” there are more than enough instances of that in all corners to fill John Fisher’s mansion.

  36. You’ve pretty much proven the point in your post ML, the A’s could have afford Crisp and Willingham at those dollars had they signed them eariler in the season, with no competition. Instead, they chose to make winning conditional on something they have little control over, all the while acknowledging that they would have to pay those players out of pocket regardless of the MLB decision. There’s even more leeway to be had because some of those numbers are too much, like Braden’s arbitration salary or the 3 million allotted to a non-starting free agent OF’er.
    The issue with Bonds is that you could say that a winning product would be the same as having one star in terms of the upfront cost to generate future revenue. In both situations, the team had an option to spend with in reason in order to build a winning club. The Giants had been under 500 for two years prior to that decision and they got the stadium issue resolved in their favor yet they still chose to spend, for whatever reason. That’s the fault of this Ownership, that would risk winning, at the very least for the next two years, even though they got the stadium resolution they had wanted.
    Again, the “hardline stance” is an incredibly risky proposition that one only makes if 1. they are completely forced by the utter dearth of talent or 2. because they are taking the path of economic efficiency.

  37. Yes, it’s in the AL owners’ best interest to keep the A’s as a money-loser playing in an empty house and it’s in the NL owners’ best interest to cede the entire Bay Area to the Giants (which would be the eventual result of no -ballpark-in-San Jose), thereby making the Giants a money machine, a Yankee$ West of sorts able to pick off the other NL team’s free agents. Is that what we’re supposed to believe? I think a vote on the t rights would go in Wolff’s flavor….FYI – the play-by-play man on the Raiders game just noted how the Raiders will have the only dual-purpose stadium in the league, a “nuisance” for the NFL

  38. @pjk–i just heard that too. Good game. Just 10-15 years ago, many teams had the multi-purpose parks. I’d say use it to your advantage in both sports while you’re palying there.


  40. ML, I can’t remember if you’ve ever specifically addressed it in a post, but if there’s a vote, what do you think the parameters of the vote would actually be? JK seems to interpret it as MLB allowing the A’s into SF’s defined “territory”. No offense JK, but I think it would be more sophisticated than that and the vote would be to re-define the Bay Area as a shared territory between the Giants & A’s franchises. I don’t think this is necessarily something the LA, Chicago & NY markets would then be opposed to (since it would protect their markets from a 3rd franchise possibl entering), especially if it takes the A’s off welfare. I think MLB & Selig, are smart enough to know how to present this to all the owners for approval (if that’s what they ultimately want to see happen).

  41. “God forbid San Jose happens? WTF!? Shaking head very, very slowly to those in complete denial and residing in an alternate reality (better you then me I guess)…GO RAIDERS!”

    You do know that there are a sizable amount of Oakland A’s fans who share my sentiment, right? No need to throw the insults. You’re an Oakland Raider fan, you’re better than that. ( At least I hope.) Also, yes, Oakland Raider football is back, baby!

  42. Giants owner news:


    “Charles Johnson, chairman and co-founder of Franklin Resources, one of the nation’s largest investment companies, has quietly become the team’s largest stakeholder. He recently purchased a portion of the shares held by Trina Dean and Tori Humphrey, daughters of the late financier Harmon “Buzz” Burns, who along with Johnson was part of the group that rescued the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay in the early 1990s.”

  43. @Dirty – I imagine that it’ll be a shared Bay Area with the exception of SF, which will be Giants territory.

  44. @ML–“I imagine that it’ll be a shared Bay Area with the exception of SF, which will be Giants territory.”
    I’m sure that will make the Giants feel a lot better now.

  45. I figured that exactly.
    JK – more important;y, it would possibly negate your argument as to why the owners in the Chicago, LA & NY markets would be opposed to the A’s move. Screw the Giants.

  46. …too bad some people insist that moving the team 35 miles south is the same as moving it to Mars. I could see it if Oakland had given the A’s decades of sellouts and helped the team whenever it needed, but the exact opposite is true – dead-last in attendance and city-imposed detriments and roadblocks for the A’s for years.

  47. @pjk–is that what it takes for Oakland to be given a fair shot, decades of sellouts? What MLB team has given decades of sell-outs? None. The only one that stands out with near capacity crowds over a long period is maybe the Bosox. The Yanks didn’t really start packing them in until 8-10 years ago. In fact, the A’s outdrew the Yanks and Bosox from 89-92.
    The LA Dodgers have been consistent very high draws for their entire history in LA. This is the first time in 50 years that the Angels drew more than the Dodgers, and the Angels have been very decent most years It just shows you what good ownership (Art Moreno) and bad ownership (the McCourts) can do to a team’s attendance.

  48. But what do you say to the teams paying the luxury tax money to the A’s? “F you Yankees, Cubs, Angels, Red Sox, we’re pocketing it?!?” That doesn’t seem kosher to me at all, and not something those teams, some of whose people are already on record that they view the lux tax as undesirable “socialism,” will stand for IMO.

    • @EN – You say, “You’re getting or will probably get hundreds of millions in tax breaks or a publicly financed venue. We aren’t. We need to scrape every penny to get right in order to build our own place and to properly build a team. We as owners aren’t just 30 franchises. We are one $7 billion business that is only as strong as its weakest link.”

  49. emp, it’s not considered pocketing it if the money goes into signing draft choices and player development. that’s how the Pirates got out of the doghouse.

  50. @ML–But LW’s scraping those pennies while playing in Oakland, getting a sweetheart lease in Oakland, and big bucks in revenue sharing cuz you are the Oakland A’s. Put all that and some and make a new park in Oakland happen, keeping the great history and continunity of the Oakland A’s going instead of killing it off for SJ, which he’s had on his mind for at least 13 years.

  51. @jk-usa – If he’s scraping to get something built in a place as rich as Silicon Valley, what chance does he have of getting it done in Oakland without massive public assistance? Slim and none.

  52. JK ignores the status of the A’s attendance: Dead-last..Just listened to Wolff’s interview during the game today. He expects Selig to make a decision, apparently soon. Wolff is not convinced the deliberations from 20 years ago mean the Giants control Santa Clara County forever. He also is clearly frustrated with people who don’t think he made much of an effort to build within the A’s current territory and notes the blue ribbon committee, in 900-days-plus, has not come to him with anything he’s missed…

  53. I’m aware of the dead last attendance. It sucks. He just hasn’t helped it any.

  54. I was at a bachelor party in San Diego this past weekend. A San Jose city council member was part of the group and we discussed the A’s in detail.

    What he told me was this:

    1. ATT is being a “pain in the ass” and will not move unless forced to by eminent domain. Even re-zoning the land for ATT in West San Jose did not help the cause at all. In fact the city council in hindsight would have never agreed to it had they known ATT would still refuse to leave.

    2. The city will not use eminent domain on ATT unless MLB gives the OK that the A’s can move to San Jose. Therefore this is not a “race” between OAK and SJ. San Jose like Oakland is in a holding pattern waiting for MLB to make a decision…..Two cities, same boat.
    He told me that they cannot “justify” using eminent domain on ATT without MLB approval to move forward.

    3. He stated to me their RDA is pretty much done and he “implied” to me Wolff will have to buy the last 2 parcels himself but would not out right say it when I tried to question him more on it. The city council knows full well that Wolff will pay for it because everyone knows it is a “drop in the ocean” of the overall cost of the stadium. He also mentioned SJ unlike most cities did not misuse their RDA funds and used it for several successful developments across the city.

    4. He agrees with me Lew Wolff has some kind of “backdoor” deal with Selig as being a former lawyer he does not understand Wolff’s patience with the situation. The city has brought up an anti-trust lawsuit to Wolff and he has told the city “not to sue” and to let the process play out despite San Jose having an excellent case in anti-trust court, which he agreed with me is “solid”.

    5. Without Wolff supporting an anti-trust lawsuit San Jose is stuck in mud and he is very pessimistic the A’s to San Jose will ever occur. Although he is still holding out some hope.

    6. He also agreed San Jose is getting the “best ballpark deal” of any city in history of MLB. The city is not paying for anything outside of what they have so far. Diridon will be re-developed regardless of the ball park but not for several years to come. BART or High Speed rail would have to be within 3-5 years of being in San Jose.

    I wanted to share this info with everyone as this is first hand info from a SJ city council member that is as recent as yesterday.

  55. ML, if you are thinking that the A’s are having to scrape by in order to build a stadium, wouldn’t that agree with Ratto’s comments on funding being the real roadblock? I can’t believe that an ownership group unable to fully-fund a stadium if the situation required it would be OK’d.

  56. @Sid–interesting stuff. Thank you. 🙂

  57. @Sid – That’s huge news and politically prickly. That makes the referendum absolutely necessary, even if Wolff were to reimburse the city for the land costs. I hope you’re prepared for this to be the topic of a new post because it’s a scoop.

    @Genaro – How many teams have recently had to go out of pocket to buy land for a ballpark? Especially when their revenue streams can’t provide much of a contribution? That’s the reality we’re dealing with.

    • @Sid – That’s huge news and politically prickly. That makes the referendum absolutely necessary, even if Wolff were to reimburse the city for the land costs. I hope you’re prepared for this to be the topic of a new post because it’s a scoop.@Genaro – How many teams have recently had to go out of pocket to buy land for a ballpark? Especially when their revenue streams can’t provide much of a contribution? That’s the reality we’re dealing with.

      RAIDERS! Actually (technically) R.M., E.D. for the AT&T parcel doesn’t make a referendum absolutely necessary, since the muni code dealing with this makes no mention of E.D. (if what Sid stated is correct, AT&T are damn bastards for backing out of the quid pro quo for their re-zoned property). Again, going by the letter of the law of SJ Muni Code, a vote is only necessary if taxpayer funds go directly towards venue construction +5,000 seats. As for AT&T: E.D. their asses, sell the parcels to Wolff and get to building; no vote necessary! And again, if what Sid stated is correct, I don’t see why the council member is being pessimistic about the A’s moving to San Jose. No A.T. lawsuit will be necessary because Wolff knows exactly how this will play out in the end (Billy Beane news of the last few days anyone?). It’s amazing how cool and collective Wolff is being, while some SJ supporters are ready to run for the hills. Lewie has a “backdoor” deal with Buddy? Let the process play out? What more can you ask for? Good work Sid.

  58. I can’t refute the vast majority of recent deals cities/counties have made, but practically none have been made in CA. That had to be a part of the calculus in approving Fisher/Wolff and if it wasn’t, that’s a real shame.

    Again, look at the shortsightedness of this whole affair; if what Sid is saying is valid, the City of San Jose just pulled the same maneuver that gave the Giants SCC. It’s completely amateur.

    • I can’t refute the vast majority of recent deals cities/counties have made, but practically none have been made in CA. That had to be a part of the calculus in approving Fisher/Wolff and if it wasn’t, that’s a real shame. Again, look at the shortsightedness of this whole affair; if what Sid is saying is valid, the City of San Jose just pulled the same maneuver that gave the Giants SCC. It’s completely amateur.

      City of SJ pulled the same maneuver that gave the G’s SCC? Huhh? City of SJ “amateur?” Then what does that make Oakland and their effort (or complete lack thereof)?

  59. Sid, stellar journalism there, major kudos.

  60. Both times something was negotiated without a lapse/trigger/clear affirmation of what was given.
    The City of SJ would not be the only amateurs, Oakland/Alameda Co., Wolff/Fisher, Selig; they have all handled the A’s situation with about as much grace as a bull in a china shop.

  61. @Sid–you claim that LW and BS have a “backdoor” deal–the council member agrees with you—but then goes on to say he is pessimistic about the A’s going to SJ…gotta explain the logic there-
    also–if there is a “deal” between LW and BS than why would anyone consider anti-trust and why is SJ stuck in the mud?

    Ironic that your information directly conflicts with Columbo’s “insider” information that said LW was going to get what he wants…can only expect that some SJ councilman will have his tail between his legs once he hears you reported “the conversation….”

  62. By the way, just a thought: perhaps AT&T wants to deal with the city on the final Diridon parcel, but perhaps they feel they’re not getting the deal that they want. I’d expect that when the “decision” becomes official, the city (with Wolff’s financial assistance) will truly work with AT&T to avoid having to use E.D. E.D. will only be used as the nuclear option.

  63. @Tony D–in a recent interview LW did mention the “ED” word when talking about SJ–considering how frustrated I am with AT&T as the service provider on my iphone/ipad this only adds to my annoyance level–

  64. Just as GoA’s says I was going to say if there is some kind of backdoor deal they truly feel is there. Why would they pessimistic unless someone is trying to angle at the unlikely dodgers to Lew story again.

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