The Oakland A's have done the easy thing in re-upping their baseball operations people. Now comes the rest of the winter, and the bigger decisions they can, should and will make to overthrow the Boston Red Sox.
Or undercut the Chicago White Sox. With the A’s, progress always is a nerve-wracking thing.
Anyway, here’s the A's offseason agenda, which will be met or there will be hell to pay.
Get all the starting pitchers
The A’s are known for their contrarian notions as regards to zigging and zagging, and with relief pitchers being the market’s new hyper-efficiency, Billy Beane and David Forst can start collecting starters at distressed prices -- and then use them as openers, or second-through-fifth-inning specialists. I can see Clayton Kershaw or Nathan Eovaldi here, if only for name-recognition purposes.
Figure out which player or players will autocorrect to previous seasons
They got better seasons than they could have expected from a number of players, including Steven Piscotty, Marcus Semien, Matt Olson, Ramon Laureano and Blake Treinen, and some of them are less likely to repeat their 2018 seasons because, well, because baseball.
Beane can gold-plate his genius plaque by guessing ahead of time which players will revert, which only requires that he be able to see into the future -- and at these prices, he damned well ought to be able to do just that.
Time-share Bryce Harper
The A’s need a gate boost to make their games appointment attending as the next course adjustment toward filling the new stadium, tentatively called Peet’s Coffee Mythical Pastures Of Joy. Beane could find another team to sign half of Harper, and the two clubs could time-share the outfielder for home games as he regains his mojo (we’d suggest the Giants for geographical reasons, but that wouldn’t fly for psychological ones).
Pick a place to have a future
Speaking of PCMPOJ, the day of site reckoning is upon us, and the A’s have to do something they have been unable to do for at least a decade.
Pick a place that will have them.
North of the Coliseum didn’t work. South of the Coliseum didn’t work. Fremont didn’t work. San Jose didn’t work. Peralta College didn’t work. Portland won’t be permitted.
In short, time’s up, Johnny Boy. Time to name a spot that will accommodate your shovels, and build without complaint. You’re not leaving town because either you or Lew Wolff decided to vote against Rob Manfred in the commissioner’s election, and Manfred remembers things. In any event, get on with it.
Make Billy watch
Beane gets too nervous during games and either leaves the stadium, rides a stationary bike or otherwise amuses himself by avoiding the game that determines what he does as head of the baseball operations department. Thus, the obvious promotion this year is to put him in a glass booth and make him watch the game or escape the booth.
Money goes to the A’s Community Fund, or the John Fisher Revenue Sharing Augmentation Consortium, whichever comes first.
Bring in a real elephant
Stomper has more than run its anthropomorphic course, and the time has come to retire it with Thunder and Krazy Krab and all the other lint cartoons of their long past-it time. The elephant is a great logo, and the kids will love the real thing, especially if it has to ride into the field in that miserable little car. Plus, it can stay in the treehouse on road trips.
Oh, and bring back the '60s sleeveless jerseys -- though not on the elephant.
And finally, take advantage of the moment
The Giants are in one of their occasional fallow periods, which means the A’s can claim to be the place where the cool baseball fans go. Taking the high road never has worked for Oakland audiences, so sticking the knee into the nethers of the boys across the bay not only is a base line for marketing, but it must be ratcheted up, along the lines of hiring Klay Thompson to do a commercial with the line: “This is what happens when you flog past glories and forget the future. We are the future. Go watch the A’s.” Or Kevin Durant saying: “I’m staying, but mostly it’s to watch the A’s.” Or Steve Kerr: “I grew up liking the Dodgers, but I’m off them now because childhood memories are crap. Go watch the A’s.”
Maybe they can even hire Larry Baer to read some ad copy. I mean, opportunities like this shouldn’t be missed, and even if he says no, you can say you reached out, you cheeky bastards. The audience will love it.