Lew Wolff would not be stepping down if he was 20 years younger

Lew Wolff would not be stepping down if he was 20 years younger

A major shift in the A’s hierarchy came down Thursday as the team announced Lew Wolff will step down as managing partner and sell most of his ownership stake in the club.

Majority owner John Fisher, who has become more actively involved in the A’s ballpark search, will assume managing partner duties with Wolff, 81, being given the title of chairman emeritus. Major League owners approved the transition Thursday during meetings in Chicago.

In addition, team president Michael Crowley is vacating his role and will slide into a senior advisor role, with San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval now taking over as the A’s president as well. The Earthquakes are under the same ownership as the A’s.

“John and I have been working through (the transition) for over a year,” Wolff told CSN California in a phone interview. “I think it’s time for me to be the gray-haired guru or that kind of sort. John’s got a lot of energy, and he should enjoy this like I’ve enjoyed it. I’m pretty pleased with everything. It’s a still a great organization, despite a couple of down years.”

Fisher, in a club statement, thanked Wolff for his time at the helm.

“I want to thank Lew for his leadership over the last 11 years,” Fisher said. “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.”

The A’s have made the postseason four times in the 11 years since Fisher and Wolff purchased the team in April 2005. But they’re coming off back-to-back last place finishes for just the second time in Oakland history, and fans have long been disenchanted with what they view as a wealthy ownership group unwilling to invest the money necessary to acquire and/or maintain star players.

The A’s believe their fortunes moving forward are tied to building a new ballpark that will attract bigger crowds and create revenue in ways the outdated and broken down Oakland Coliseum can’t. That search for a ballpark has dragged on for a decade, though Wolff reiterated Thursday that Fisher is focused on remaining in Oakland.

Wolff has said in the past that he sees the current Coliseum site as the best spot for the A’s to build a new stadium. Though he wouldn’t comment specifically on a ballpark location Thursday, it’s known that he and Fisher haven’t always seen eye to eye over the ballpark search, with Fisher perhaps being more enthusiastic about the possibility of options elsewhere in Oakland.

But despite Fisher getting more hands-on in the pursuit of a ballpark, Wolff said that didn’t persuade him to sell most of his ownership stake and step down as managing partner.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I was 20 years younger,” Wolff said.

He expressed optimism that the A’s would decide on a stadium site soon. Things still remain unsettled, particularly in relation to building at the Coliseum, because of the Raiders’ presence as a co-tenant at the Coliseum. Raiders owner Mark Davis has been negotiating to move his team to Las Vegas, though that situation has yet to be resolved.

“I think the big issue is putting together the size of (any new baseball) stadium and a bunch of technical details that they’re all working on right now,” Wolff said. “ … I think what John wants to do is make sure that the next commitment of this kind of nature — which is gonna be for 50 years or more, who knows how long? — is in the best location possible. It’s worth the time to look at what might be available. Any ballpark that can be closer to downtown is better if it can be (accomplished), if economically it works. You’re dealing with an urban community and sites are difficult.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued the following statement: "As Oakland’s Mayor, I want to say how much I have personally enjoyed working with Lew Wolff.

"Under Lew Wolff and Mike Crowley the A’s recommitted to Oakland.  And now with John Fisher and Dave Kaval’s new roles within the organization and their extensive expertise in private stadium development, I look forward to ushering in another incredible era for the team and our city.

"I am thrilled to be in partnership with the A’s on the development of a new facility for the team in Oakland, and will enjoy continuing to work with Lew Wolff as he moves to build a much-needed, new hotel in Downtown Oakland."

A team spokesperson said Fisher wouldn’t be commenting beyond the club statement. He has declined to address the media entirely in recent years.

A's award-winning run this offseason 'really special' to organization


A's award-winning run this offseason 'really special' to organization

The hardware just keeps rolling in for the Oakland A's.

Just look at the list of awards the A's have claimed over the past two weeks:
• AL Manager of the Year -- Bob Melvin
• Sporting News AL Manager of the Year -- Melvin
• MLB Executive of the Year -- Billy Beane
• Two Gold Gloves -- Matt Chapman and Matt Olson (plus two more finalists in Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien)
• AL Platinum Glove -- Chapman
• Wilson Defensive Player of the Year -- Chapman

"It's really special," A's general manager David Forst said. "Seeing the individual awards has been great. It means a lot to everybody in the organization."

That list doesn't even include Edwin Jackson, who was named a finalist for the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Monday.

The A's also were represented in the AL Cy Young Award and MVP voting -- Blake Treinen tied for sixth in the Cy Young race, and four A's finished in the top 20 of the MVP voting: Chapman (seventh), Khris Davis (eighth), Treinen (tied for 15th), and Jed Lowrie (tied for 20th).

"When it was announced on the network that Bob (Melvin) had won (AL Manager of the Year), you could hear the applause from all corners of our new office in Jack London Square," Forst said. "That was the case for both Gold Glove Awards, and really everything this offseason that has kind of energized the organization. It has been really special the last month."

Quite the momentum to take into an important offseason, as the A's search for starting pitching and other components that can help return them to the playoffs.

MLB rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal, but no trade imminent


MLB rumors: A's, Yankees talked Sonny Gray deal, but no trade imminent

It could be Sonny again in Oakland, but there's reportedly still a long way to go. 

The A's reached out to the Yankees about acquiring right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, "but there is no present momentum in talks," MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Friday. 

Last week, Fancred's Jon Heyman reported the A's were interested in re-acquiring Gray, who pitched in Oakland from 2013 to 2017 before being traded to New York. As Morosi noted, they've had no problem bringing back former pitchers, and there's good reason that a return to Oakland could bring the best out of Gray.

For one thing, he was a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium since the Bronx Bombers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2017. Gray went 6-7 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 88.0 innings in the Bronx. By contrast, he was 9-9 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the road. In 386.0 innings at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with the A's, Gray was 25-20 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

Injuries to promising young starters such as Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk forced the A's to use a patchwork starting rotation down the stretch last season, and the team relied on a bullpenning strategy en route to its first playoff appearance in four years. As a result, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane identified starting pitching as the team's top priority this offseason.

[ROSS: How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market]

[MORE: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]

Re-acquiring Gray would maintain the approach that kept the rotation afloat last season but offer the A's much more upside than bringing back Cahill and Anderson. With the Yankees actively looking to trade Gray, it makes a lot of sense for both teams.

Based on Morosi's report, it sounds like they'll have to start picking up the phone, though.