Athletics

A's ballpark plans left in limbo after Peralta site falls through

kaval-ap.jpg
AP

A's ballpark plans left in limbo after Peralta site falls through

The A’s expressed shock Wednesday morning after their plans to build a new ballpark near downtown Oakland were dashed.

The governing board of the Peralta Community College District, which owns the land near Laney College where the A’s wanted to build, voted in a closed-session meeting Tuesday to stop talks with the team.

“We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” a team press statement said. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”

The development leaves the long-term future of the franchise up in the air, with the A’s seemingly left to search out other locations to build in Oakland if they go that route at all. They are currently on a 10-year lease to play at the Coliseum which runs through the 2025 season.

On Sept. 12, they announced the Peralta site as their choice on which to build their new ballpark, news that was more than a decade in the making as the A’s were forced to scrap plans for a stadium in both Fremont and San Jose over the years. Just two weeks ago, the A’s announced the hiring of a design team for the ballpark and the surrounding “ballpark village” they planned to build. Their plan was to begin building in 2021 with the idea of moving into the new stadium for the start of the 2023 season.

They chose the Peralta site — located across the street from Laney and just off of Interstate 880 — over two others in Oakland, Howard Terminal and the current Coliseum site. But from the get-go, their decision faced steep opposition.

Faculty and student groups at Laney raised concerns about how the ballpark, and the traffic it would bring to the area, would affect the student population. Community groups were worried about the possible displacement of local businesses and residents, including the nearby Chinatown district. Environmental groups raised concerns about how construction of a ballpark would impact wildlife in the nearby estuary.

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf openly preferred the Howard Terminal location, a waterfront site at the Port of Oakland, though that site presented its own well-documented road blocks to completing a ballpark project.

Schaaf issued the following statement Wednesday: "Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the A's in Oakland. It is unfortunate the discussion with Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we are committed, more than ever, to working with the A's and our community to find the right spot in Oakland for a privately-financed ballpark."

What’s the A’s next step? That’s the big question. The logical speculation is whether they revisit as an option the Coliseum site, which they have called home since moving to Oakland in 1968. It always has represented the easiest, and some would argue, the best location on which to build anywhere in the city. Environmental impact reports already have been completed at the Coliseum, and there’s terrific BART and freeway access.

The downside, in the A’s point of view, is that the Coliseum doesn’t offer the vibrancy of an urban area that team president Dave Kaval craves for a location to build.

 

Adding insult to injury: A's must regroup after rough start to season

olsonusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Adding insult to injury: A's must regroup after rough start to season

It's hard to imagine a worse start to the season for the Oakland A's.

Sure it's only two games, but the A's return home from Japan with a pair of losses on the field and two more off of it.

On Wednesday we learned that talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo will be shut down for four to six weeks with a strained rotator cuff. That's a significant blow to an already thin starting rotation.

Then in Thursday's game, first baseman Matt Olson left with right-hand discomfort after fouling off a pitch in the fifth inning. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, Olson had trouble gripping a bat after the foul ball.

Of course, it's much too early to panic. Even if Olson has to miss some time, the A's have the infield depth to get by without him. Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, and Jurickson Profar can all play first base and Franklin Barreto can play second.

The real concern lies in the starting pitching. Luzardo wasn't a sure thing to make the rotation out of spring camp, but he certainly figured to be a factor at some point in the near future. Without him, the A's might need help.

Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada, the team's top two starters, both struggled in their season debuts. Fiers only lasted three innings, allowing five earned runs. Estrada got through five innings, giving up three earned runs and two home runs.

The A's are counting on Fiers and Estrada to pitch much better than they did in Japan. Whether they can anchor the rotation throughout the season remains to be seen.

Veteran left-hander Brett Anderson is penciled in as the number three starter, though he struggled much of last year, both with performance and injuries. Frankie Montas will start the year as the number four starter, with Aaron Brooks and Chris Bassitt battling for the number five job.

Starting pitching is clearly the weak point of an otherwise excellent roster. Oakland's hitting, defense, and bullpen are all good enough to reach the postseason and perhaps even the World Series.

[RELATED: A's running out of options following Luzardo injury]

The big question will be whether the A's starters can deliver five solid innings to give the offense and bullpen a chance. Fiers couldn't in his debut. Estrada did a bit better, but it still wasn't enough.

The A's now have a chance to regroup and reset before their home opener March 28 against the Angels. From there, they'll have 160 games to try to repeat last year's magic.
 

Jesús Luzardo's injury a major blow for A's, as team scrambles for options

Jesús Luzardo's injury a major blow for A's, as team scrambles for options

Oakland's already shaky starting rotation took a major blow Wednesday night when it was revealed that 21-year-old left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

While Luzardo has not yet thrown a major league pitch, the A's top prospect appeared poised to make the starting rotation following a phenomenal spring training. His big league debut will now have to wait and Oakland will have to scramble to shore up its rotation.

In the short term, the competition for the A's number five starter job is likely down to right-handers Chris Bassitt and Aaron Brooks. Bassitt still has a minor league option remaining while Brooks does not, giving the latter a slight edge.

In the bigger picture, the A's will likely have to add another starting pitcher to the mix. Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson remains available on the free agent market and the team has been in contact with him throughout the offseason. The 35-year-old put together a strong 2018 season in Oakland and was a critical presence in the clubhouse.

As it currently stands, the A's starting rotation features Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas, and either Brooks or Bassitt. Right-hander Jharel Cotton and southpaws Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk are still recovering from injuries but should be back in the mix sometime this season.

[RELATED: Matt Olson exits game with hand discomfort]

Unfortunately, the A's can't afford to sit around and wait for their potential returns. Signing Jackson has gone from a luxury to a necessity. His return would at least give Oakland four veteran starters to hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive. 

Oakland still features one of the best bullpens in all of baseball, which means they don't need their starters to go more than five innings. They just need pitchers who can keep them in the game early on. Jackson has certainly proven more than capable of that.