Athletics

A's announce significant front office changes

A's announce significant front office changes

A's Managing Partner Lew Wolff will transition to Chairman Emeritus and John Fisher will replace him as Managing Partner, the A's announced on Thursday.

MLB owners approved the leadership transition during today’s meeting in Chicago. Additionally, Wolff and Fisher have agreed in principal to Wolff selling his interest in the team to the remaining owners of the A’s and will retain a small stake in the club moving forward.

“It has been an honor serving as Managing Partner and I thank our fans, staff, and players for the opportunity I’ve had to lead this great organization,” said Wolff. “John and I have talked in great length about the future of this club and I am ready to pass the reins to him.”

“I want to thank Lew for his leadership over the last 11 years,” said Fisher. “His initiative and love of the game of baseball brought my family to the A’s, and we would not be involved without him. Lew has given the organization all of his energy and experience for the last 11 years and I look forward to a new chapter in our working relationship and friendship. It is a privilege for me to steward the A’s at this important moment for the franchise.”                                                     

Additionally, after almost 20 years as President of the A’s, Michael Crowley has decided to transition from day-to-day operations. Crowley will continue to serve as a senior advisor to the A’s ownership group. He will use his decades of experience to provide strategic guidance on a wide range of issues. Dave Kaval will assume the role as A’s President. He also serves as President of the San Jose Earthquakes.

“I am eternally grateful to our wonderful fans, the team, staff, and the A’s ownership for what we have been able to accomplish together,” said Crowley. “I’m at the point in my career where I am ready to take on new professional challenges while continuing to support the organization I love.” Crowley attended the MLB owners meeting in Chicago today with Fisher, as part of the transition process.

“We have a deep appreciation for Mike’s service and leadership and we are pleased that he will continue to play a role in the future of the A’s,” said Wolff and Fisher. Under Crowley and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane, the A’s made the playoffs eight times, including setting a Major League record by winning 20 games in a row in 2002. In addition to his leadership of the Club, Crowley was instrumental in relaunching the San Jose Earthquakes in 2008 and the hiring of Kaval as President. Crowley will continue to serve on the Board of Directors of the Quakes and advise the Quakes on a range of issues.

Dave Kaval has served as the President of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer for six years. He oversees the business of the Quakes and represents the club on the Major League Soccer Board of Governors. In his time with the Quakes, Kaval has led a transformation of the organization elevating the stature and awareness of the club, culminating in opening the Quakes new $100M privately financed soccer stadium – Avaya Stadium – in March 2015. Prior to joining the Quakes, he founded the independent Golden Baseball League (GBL) in 2003. In 2000, Kaval co-authored a book, “The Summer that Saved Baseball,” which highlighted a tour of all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums in the summer of 1998.

“I’ve worked closely with Dave at the Quakes and I know he’ll bring tremendous energy to the organization as the team continues to pursue a new venue,” said Crowley. “He has an undeniable passion to carry on our goals of fielding a competitive team and engaging our community through the game of baseball.”

“I am excited to take on the role of President of the Oakland Athletics. I want to thank Lew Wolff and Mike Crowley for their confidence in me and support,” said Kaval. “Given my longstanding love of baseball and my experience building Avaya Stadium, I am enthusiastic to join the Athletics as the Club pursues a world-class ballpark in Oakland for the best fans in baseball.”

Wolff and Fisher, along with a limited partnership group, purchased the A’s on April 1, 2005, and have been partners in various activities and companies since 1994.

Oakland A's media services 
 

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

The A’s swung a trade on the first day of the Winter Meetings, but it wasn’t the type of swap that’s been anticipated.

Oakland dealt second baseman Joey Wendle to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The storyline for the rest of the week is whether the A’s complete a deal for their biggest target— a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.

They weren’t involved in heavy dialogue Monday as the four-day Winter Meetings opened at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla. But they’re on the lookout for an outfielder that will allow them to shift Khris Davis from left field to designated hitter.

Billy Beane, the A’s head of baseball operations, reiterated to reporters that the team ideally wants to acquire an outfielder who’s under team control for multiple years. The Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty fits that bill and is known to be a primary target, but the A’s have been linked to others too, including Miami’s Marcell Ozuna.

If a trade doesn’t pan out, Beane didn’t rule out the possibility of signing a free agent outfielder, but the focus is trading for one who’s signed to an affordable contract. Beyond that, the A’s seek a left-handed reliever to continue fortifying a bullpen they’ve already added to this offseason.

“We were pretty specific with who and what we want, whether it be a free agent or a trade,” Beane said of the team’s approach to the meetings. “There’s a few free agents we have interest in, a trade here and there. And if we don’t get them, we’ll just wait for the offseason” to continue.

Wendle, who saw slices of big league time in 2016 and 2017, was originally acquired from Cleveland for Brandon Moss during the 2014 Winter Meetings. He drew some comparisons to Mark Ellis for both his style of play and work ethic but found himself blocked at second base despite an impressive big league debut in September 2016.

He hit .260 that month in 28 games, and though that average doesn’t stand out, he impressed defensively and proved to be a spark plug hitting leadoff, drawing praise from manager Bob Melvin. But a shoulder injury cost the 27-year-old Wendle valuable time in spring training last season and extended into the regular season. It didn’t help his cause that Chad Pinder emerged as a second base option and valuable utility man, and that Franklin Barreto — the A’s top-rated prospect — also arrived on the big league scene for stretches.

In addition, the A’s think highly of another up-and-coming second base prospect, Max Schrock. Acquired from Washington for reliever Marc Rzepczynski in August 2016, the 23-year-old Schrock opened the eyes of Melvin’s staff last spring and hit .321 for Double-A Midland in 2017.

Jed Lowrie, of course, is the A’s veteran incumbent at second base but is a logical trade candidate at any point given Barreto’s inevitable full-time arrival in the majors.

Despite stadium uncertainty, Beane stands by long-term plan for A's youngsters

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USATSI

Despite stadium uncertainty, Beane stands by long-term plan for A's youngsters

The deterioration of ballpark talks at the Peralta site won’t affect the A’s grand plan on the baseball side of things.

At least that’s what vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane told reporters Monday as the Winter Meetings opened in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The A’s promoted a number of highly regarded minor leaguers last season who showed promise that they could be future foundation pieces. Along those lines, Beane and his staff planned to target some of those youngsters for long-term contract extensions, with an eye toward generating momentum as a new ballpark was built near downtown Oakland.

The A’s will still look to lock up some of those players, Beane said, even after last week’s news that the Peralta Community College District board halted negotiations for the team to build a new ballpark on land that sits near Laney College.

“I think it’s still a strategy we try to embark on,” Beane said of signing young players.

Consider third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson, who both entrenched themselves last season as rookies, as two obvious candidates for long-term deals at some point. But they aren’t the only two.

When could the first deals come?

“Realistically, the sooner the better,” Beane said. “Certainly we’ve got between now and spring training to introduce the idea. But probably more sooner than later.”

It’s an uncertain time for this franchise. Will the A’s look elsewhere to build in Oakland? They don’t seem thrilled with the idea of revisiting the current Coliseum site or Howard Terminal as possible locations. Could majority owner John Fisher consider selling? And if so, does that open the door to the franchise leaving the Bay Area? It doesn’t seem any scenario should be counted out right now.

No one representing the club, including team president Dave Kaval, has spoken publicly about ballpark plans since the Peralta talks abruptly ended Wednesday.

As far as baseball operations go, it only makes sense to continue down the path that they recently committed to. The only bad course of action for the A’s is not to take any action at all.

Beane and general manager David Forst need to stay the course and continue their commitment to young players, crossing their fingers that the business side of the operation can pivot and find a new direction for building a ballpark.