Athletics

Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark

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JOE STIGLICH

Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark

OAKLAND — The A’s moved into some plush new office space this week at Jack London Square, with hallways wide enough to ride a skateboard through, as one team executive already discovered.

That ever-elusive search for a new ballpark site?

Still TBA.

After guiding reporters through a tour of his team’s 40,000-square foot new office Tuesday, A’s president Dave Kaval made his first public comments on the ballpark topic since the Peralta Community College District pulled the plug on his plans to build a stadium near Laney College.

“I just want to re-emphasize we’re 100 percent committed to Oakland and a location for a privately financed ballpark here,” Kaval said.

“We’ve identified three final locations. We had a preferred location, a lot of thought went into that. We just want to make sure before we make another announcement that we’re very thoughtful about how we approach it.”

Those three locations were Peralta, which seems off the table unless Laney College leaders have a change of heart and the sides re-negotiate; the A’s current home at the Coliseum complex; and Howard Terminal, which is in clear view from the team’s new second-floor office windows at 55 Harrison St.

The A’s chose this site for their offices while originally planning their ballpark at Peralta, so the proximity to Howard Terminal is not an indication that the A’s are now leaning toward that site.

But Howard Terminal and the Coliseum are back in play, Kaval confirmed, though the fact the A’s bypassed both during the original search demonstrates that they feel each has serious drawbacks. Howard Terminal is the preferred site of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, but includes headaches having to do with infrastructure needs and environmental clean-ups. The Coliseum would provide the quickest route to completion, but the A’s reportedly have questions about whether the site can generate enough revenue to build a new venue privately.

Whatever direction the search takes, Kaval believes the A’s new executive offices are an important step in the process. The team spent between $4 and $5 million, and the massive space includes an entryway that showcases the nine World Series championship trophies in franchise history, a full gym and a batting cage for employees to enjoy.

There’s also memorabilia from throughout A’s history at every corner, including the white cleats first introduced by Charlie Finley in 1967 and the team’s original scouting report on Reggie Jackson.

Kaval compared the new-age office to those found in Silicon Valley, because he says the A’s will compete with Silicon Valley to recruit the Bay Area’s top business minds. He’s hopeful the new space also helps woo potential sponsors.

“It shows the type of environment we want to create with a new ballpark,” Kaval said, “celebrating our past, having a collaborative work environment. When people see this, they can see the vision we have for a new ballpark. It’s almost like a sampler.”

A’s chief operating officer Chris Giles rode a skateboard Monday down a long hall that connects different departments. Troy Smith, the A’s vice president of marketing, said the new office “really changes the way you view your job. It’s almost like having a brand new job.”

Though the A’s are dedicating plenty of resources to build a new office culture, they’re not as likely to spend aggressively from a baseball standpoint, at least not this season.

Factoring in guaranteed contracts, estimated salaries for arbitration players via mlbtradeumors.com, and estimated salaries for pre-arbitration players via Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the A’s current 2018 payroll sits at roughly $56.75 million.

It’s likely that the Opening Day payroll won’t crack $70 million, which would be well below the roughly $81 million of 2017. But perhaps that’s not a shock. The A’s are still likely a season away, at least, from being a true contender, and they’re building around a core of young players who are making near the major league minimum.

The good news for fans is that Kaval says he doesn’t envision the failed Peralta ballpark plan interrupting the A’s grand vision from a roster standpoint. That would suggest Oakland still plans to sign some of those young core players to long-term extensions, which front office officials have stated as a goal.

A's notes: Khris Davis continues to own Astros ace Justin Verlander

A's notes: Khris Davis continues to own Astros ace Justin Verlander

OAKLAND — Justin Verlander has made a lot of good hitters look silly over the years. Khris Davis is not one of them.

The A's slugger belted two home runs off Verlander, followed by a single, improving to 6-for-11 with four home runs in his career against the former MVP.

This was Davis' 21st career multi-homer game, and his sixth this season, tied for third most in Oakland history behind Reggie Jackson (eight), Jose Canseco (seven), and Mark McGwire (seven). Davis also set a career high with his eighth three-hit game of the season.

--- Despite allowing four earned runs, Verlander earned his 200th career win. He joins Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia as the only active pitchers with at least 200 wins and 2,500 strikeouts.

--- The five home runs allowed by the A's tied a season high. Oakland also gave up five home runs June 5 at Texas.

--- The nine runs allowed by the A's were their most in a game since July 24 at Texas, a 13-10 win in 10 innings.

--- Sean Manaea allowed six runs, tying his season high. He gave up nine hits, also tying a season high.

--- Matt Olson went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games, tying a career high.

--- Mark Canha is 0 for his last 11 at the plate. He is batting .125 (5-for-40) in the month of August.

--- Jonathan Lucroy snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a base hit in the seventh inning. He is batting .189 (7-for-37) in August.

What the A's proved after taking four of six from Astros and Mariners

What the A's proved after taking four of six from Astros and Mariners

OAKLAND — Take notice, Major League Baseball. The A's have declared themselves here to stay.

Despite Sunday's loss, Oakland finished off an impressive 4-2 week with series victories against both the Astros and Mariners, their top two competitors in the AL West.

Now with 38 games remaining, the A's sit at 74-50, just a game behind Houston for first place, and 3 1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the Wild Card race. It has become clear that Oakland will be in this division race until the very end.

“We've believed in ourselves since Spring Training, even when not a lot of people thought we should,” reliever Emilio Pagan said. “I think we made a statement coming out and taking the series against them, and Seattle, two really good teams. We feel good going forward.”

“Other teams know that we're good and we're a legit team,” added catcher Jonathan Lucroy. “They know that they have to have their best stuff to beat us.”

The A's have been the hottest team in baseball for more than two months now. Oakland is 40-14 in the last 54 games, a pretty significant sample size, signifying that this is not a fluke. The A's have proven they are one of the elite teams in the sport.

“I would definitely say we're very confident,” reliever Lou Trivino said. “Obviously it would have been nice to get the win here today, but as long as you can continue to win every series, that's really all you need to do. If we can continue to play like we're playing, we're definitely very confident.”

“I think it shows what kind of team we've got, the depth we've got, and how we play,” outfielder Nick Martini added.

The A's have also shown they can beat the league's other top teams. Oakland is 5-4 against the Red Sox and Yankees, who own the two best records in MLB. After losing eight in a row to the Astros, the A's have taken five of the last seven meetings.

“We're just a better team now,” said manager Bob Melvin. “Before, maybe we go out and hope to win those games against them, and now I think we go out and expect to win the games.”

And why shouldn't they? The A's have only lost one of their last 18 series. That type of consistency builds incredible confidence, even for a team lacking experience. This group knows they can compete with anyone in the league, even the defending World Series champions, and they won't settle for anything less than a division title.

It's now a 38-game sprint to the finish. Game on.