Athletics

Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm

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USATSI

Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm

While the A's hope to soon have a new stadium in the East Bay, they haven't forgotten about their current home.

For the third straight year, the Oakland Coliseum is getting significant upgrades. Among the new improvements for next season are theater boxes, lounge seats, and terrace tables, with more to come.

A's Chief Operating Officer Chris Giles graciously took a few minutes to chat with us about the stadium enhancements, the new ballpark, and more.

NBC Sports California: First of all, congratulations on the upgrades. What went into them and how excited are you to improve the Coliseum once again this offseason?

Chris Giles: We got a lot of good feedback on the upgrades we've done over the last two years, starting with Shibe Park Tavern and Championship Plaza, and then The Treehouse that we did last year. We really started to look holistically at the Coliseum and what our fans were asking for. We had completely sold out of all the premium experiences at the Coliseum and were really looking to build out some variety in that area. We'll be building lounge seats, theater boxes, and a brand new table terrace section as well as two new group spaces.

With all the talk about the new ballpark, how important is it to still upgrade the Coliseum and keep improving the fan experience there?

We look at the fan experience that we have at the Coliseum as really one of our top priorities. We're not abandoning the Coliseum by any means. Not only are we not abandoning it, we're continuing to invest. It's not only good for our fans, but it's good for us as a learning opportunity.

Looking at all the young talent on the A's roster and the success you had last year on the field, not to mention a new ballpark hopefully in the works, how much fun is it to be part of the organization right now?

Yeah, it's been really cool to just watch the accolades come in. The team last year was incredible and we expect it to be another exciting year. We're obviously continuing to work hard on the new ballpark efforts and we really think about this as an opportunity to really revitalize our fan base. We sold four times as many A's Access memberships this offseason as we did season tickets the year before. We're really pleased with how the fan base is responding.

That actually leads us right into our next question: You clearly are not afraid to try things that haven't been done before in baseball, or sports in general. All Access is a great example of that. How much do you look to stay ahead of the curve in that sense?

We're never afraid to try new things. We're also not reluctant to stick with things that work. We're just taking a careful look at our business. It starts by listening to our fans and understanding what they want and then being responsive to those requests.

You sent a tweet mentioning the possibility of some more upgrades coming. Any hints you can give us?

Yeah, we've got another one coming. It's probably going to be a few months until we're prepared to say anything more about it.

Fair enough. How about an update on the new ballpark?

We continue to make great progress with both sides and we're putting together a plan. We put out there that we're going to open a ballpark by 2023 and we still believe we can achieve that timing.

A's 2019 Projections: Franklin Barreto could make impact, if he plays

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A's 2019 Projections: Franklin Barreto could make impact, if he plays

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Franklin Barreto might be the toughest A's player to project for next season.

First of all, we don't have any idea where, or how much, he's going to play. With Jurickson Profar taking over the starting second baseman job, Barreto could find at-bats hard to come by.

The 22-year-old has played the outfield before and could get some action in left field, but he'll have to battle with Nick Martini, Mark Canha, and Dustin Fowler. There's also still a chance the A's could trade Barreto, possibly for a starting pitcher.

Last season, Barreto hit .233/.253/.493 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 32 games. He spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, where he hit .259/.357/.514 with 18 homers and 46 RBI in 77 games.

Barreto has shown flashes of his potential, but he is still far too inconsistent at the plate, striking out 62 times in 144 career at-bats, compared to just six walks.

Baseball Reference projects Barreto to get 224 at-bats next season and hit .241/.299/.424 with nine home runs and 32 RBI. While the slash line looks realistic, we don't see how he will be able to compile that many at-bats.

Barreto could fill in for Profar or Marcus Semien here and there, but those opportunities will be few and far between. In the outfield, he figures to be fifth, at best, on the depth chart, and that's assuming he's ahead of Fowler and Chad Pinder.

[RELATED: Semien's 2019 projections]

It could be another trying year for the talented 22-year-old, at least in terms of playing time. However, Barreto should continue to develop as a hitter and his easy power is undeniable.

Projection: .244/.306/.434, 9 HR, 23 RBI

Deion Sanders explains why Kyler Murray should pick baseball over NFL

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AP

Deion Sanders explains why Kyler Murray should pick baseball over NFL

If anyone knows what Kyler Murray is going through right now, it's Deion Sanders.

"Prime Time" is one of the most successful two-sport athletes. He played 14 seasons in the NFL with five teams, was a six-time All-Pro and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Sanders also played parts of nine MLB seasons with four teams, including 52 games with the Giants.

So does the NFL Network analyst believe Murray, whom the A's took No. 9 overall in last year's MLB draft, made the right choice by declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft on Monday?

"If I'm in his shoes, I'm picking up that baseball bat and I'm not looking back," Sanders told ESPN's Cari Champion on Monday night.

Why?

"Because, that's just for me," Sanders said. "Sometimes, I still have regret that I didn't give [baseball] more. But you know, I got a gold [Hall of Fame] jacket in the closet. I'm straight. But I wish I would have given [baseball] more.

"But for Kyler, that's tough at his position, and I don't think he realizes the ridicule you go through once you declare and say, 'I'm going to be a football player.' Now people start talking about your height, your size, what you can't do. He hasn't dealt with that yet."

NFL experts and scouts are torn on the Heisman Trophy winner. Several outlets have released mock drafts that project Murray as a first-round pick. But NFL Network's Ian Rapoport has spoken to some NFL scouts who believe Murray will fall to the second or third round.

Sanders is, excited, though, to see what Murray does in the future.

"I think he can do whatever he wants to do," Sanders said. "He's that type of athlete."