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Bud Selig’s latest words on A’s and Barry Bonds

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 01:11:41 UT

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — On Bud Selig’s watch as commissioner, many teams got new ballparks, including the Giants, but the A’s keep waiting. Selig was selected to the Hall of Fame on Sunday in voting by the Today’s Game Era Committee, an offshoot of the old Veterans Committee, along with longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz. Last month, the A’s shook up their ownership when John Fisher replaced Lew Wolff — Selig’s friend since their days at the University of Wisconsin — as managing general partner. Dave Kaval replaced Mike Crowley as president and is point man for the stadium pursuit. In the new collective bargaining agreement, reached last week, the A’s will lose their generous revenue-sharing checks over the next four years, creating more of an urgency to get a ballpark. Selig formed a three-man committee in March 2009, 93 months ago, to examine the A’s ballpark situation. Selig was commissioner for much of the steroid era and was criticized for not doing enough to stop it. Bonds broke the single-season home run record and career record, previously owned by Selig’s longtime friend, Hank Aaron. [...] we solved it a lot better than I think any of us had a right to believe. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who voted for Selig, was asked if the Selig selection will make it more possible for players linked to PEDs to get elected.

New A’s president on CBA, revenues and ‘fan experience’

Sat, 3 Dec 2016 07:02:28 UT

Prettying up the Coliseum is as tough as prettying up Candlestick Park back in the day, but with revenue-sharing checks evaporating, the A’s will be forced to change how they conduct business at 7000 Coliseum Way. Kaval said every dollar of revenue generated will go to “the on-field product and the fan experience.” “We’re 100 percent focused on reinvesting all the revenues that we have on the Coliseum as well as the on-field product and making sure we can be as good as we can, getting the resources necessary to Billy (Beane) and the team to be successful,” Kaval said on a conference call. Kaval said extra revenue could be generated from ticket sales, sponsorships and other sources. The reality is, when you have a vibrant, energized Oakland Athletics fan base at the Coliseum, that’s one of the best experiences in professional sports. Every week for two hours, beginning at 3 p.m., he welcomes fans to visit at the Coliseum owners’ suite. The A’s have reached a contract agreement with first baseman Yonder Alonso. The A’s tendered contracts to all their arbitration-eligible players, including Sonny Gray, Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt and Liam Hendriks. Friday was baseball’s non-tender day, and any players eligible for arbitration who weren’t tendered become free agents. [...] infielder Rangel Ravelo, who was designated for assignment Wednesday when the A’s signed outfielder Matt Joyce, was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville and will be a nonroster invitee to spring training.

A’s, Yonder Alonso agree on new deal

Fri, 2 Dec 2016 22:09:20 UT

The A’s tendered contracts to all their arbitration-eligible players, including Sonny Gray, Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt and Liam Hendriks. Friday is baseball’s non-tender day, so any players eligible for arbitration who aren’t tendered become free agents. Pitchers love Alonso’s defense, and he was a reason shortstop Marcus Semien’s error total dropped significantly. Alonso hit .302 with runners on base and went 7-for-11 with the bases loaded. Infielder Ranel Ravelo was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville and will be a non-roster invitee to spring training.

A’s sign outfielder Matt Joyce for 2 years, $11 million

Thu, 1 Dec 2016 07:25:39 UT

“I don’t know if that’s just fate, but I thought that was really cool,” Joyce said Wednesday after the A’s signed him to a two-year, $11 million contract. Joyce’s .403 on-base percentage was an obvious attraction for the A’s, who ranked 28th in the majors in OBP and 27th in walks. Joyce’s OBP was fourth best in the National League among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances. Joyce won’t pinch hit 81 times in the American League as he did in 2016 when he played 140 games but started just 40 and had just 293 plate appearances. Joyce is career .252 hitter against righties, .185 against lefties, but he improved a bit last season to hit .235 in limited action against lefties with a .381 OBP. Forst expressed early interest to Joyce’s agent, Seth Levinson, and Joyce got a good feeling about the A’s from Pirates teammate John Jaso, who played in Oakland in 2013 and 2014. Joyce, whose wife, Brittany, will give birth to the couple’s first child, a girl, in January, was in Oakland on Tuesday for a physical and to have lunch with Forst, manager Bob Melvin, assistant GM Dan Feinstein and trainer Nick Paparesta. [...] Forst said he’s seeking a new center fielder to play between Khris Davis in left and Joyce and a platoon partner in right. To make room on the 40-man roster for Joyce, the A’s designated infielder Rangel Ravelo for assignment.

A’s protect five, including Brugman, Barreto, from Rule-5 draft

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 20:42:14 UT

The A’s protected five promising minor-league players from the Rule-5 draft Friday, placing right-handers Paul Blackburn and Bobby Wahl on the 40-man roster, along with shortstop Franklin Barreto, infielder Yairo Muñoz and outfielder Jaycob Brugman. Muñoz, 21, can play shortstop, second and third and he especially opened up eyes during the Texas League postseason this year, batting .387 in eight games for Double-A Midland en route to the league title. There are some notable names left unprotected, including reliever Tucker Healy, who had a standout season at Nashville, allowing opponents just a .202 average and striking out 76 in 52 1/3 innings; reliever Sam Bragg, who has had a nice Arizona Fall League season, putting up a 1.98 ERA; and well-regarded starter Dylan Covey, who was 2-1 with a 1.84 ERA in six starts at Midland before missing the remainder of the season with an oblique strain. Covey is pitching in the Fall League and combined with another A’s minor-league, Frankie Montas, and Marlins prospect Drew Steckenrider on a no-hitter earlier this month.

New A’s president Dave Kaval focused on stadium, community

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 06:21:00 UT

New A’s President Dave Kaval believes so strongly that the community should have a say in its sports franchises that he plans to continue his regular open office hours for the public 3-5 p.m. Tuesdays at the Coliseum. During Kaval’s open hours with the Earthquakes, a Bulgarian gentleman frequently visited to urge Kaval to start using 14 players at a time. Kaval, 41, brings a fresh approach and some good humor to the A’s for a task that to date has been nothing but a misery: trying to find a new stadium site for the team. Ultimately, we want to have a stadium that has an ambience around it; those are the stadiums that transform cities,” said Kaval, who added that the A’s were looking at “several areas. Kaval co-wrote a book, “The Summer That Saved Baseball,” about traveling to all 30 of the then-big-league stadiums in 1998, and he has East Bay ties: his wife, Maria, is from Newark, and while based in San Ramon, Kaval founded the independent Golden Baseball League in 2003. Howard Terminal, Laney College and the current Coliseum site are believed to be the top considerations, and Kaval emphasized that the A’s would like to construct shopping and dining options around the privately funded ballpark, too. Kaval will be in charge of the A’s overall budget, but he didn’t commit to an increase in payroll, saying the team might spend more or it might not. [...] could some long-term deals be on the horizon for some of the team’s young players? “I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Kaval said.

A’s shakeup: Wolff, Crowley out as team redoubles stadium efforts

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 04:10:29 UT

The A’s shook up their upper management Thursday and reasserted their commitment to building a privately funded stadium at an unspecified location in Oakland. Dave Kaval, the president of the San Jose Earthquakes soccer team, becomes the team president, replacing Michael Crowley, who had served in that role since 1998. Kaval recently spearheaded the construction of Avaya Stadium, a soccer facility in Santa Clara, and will become the point man to build the A’s a ballpark. Fisher, who has not made himself available to the media, is believed to be most enthusiastic about the proposed Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square; Wolff has been a proponent of building at the Coliseum site once the Raiders’ situation becomes clear. Kaval, who will continue to serve as the Earthquakes’ president, said that all the sites, including the Coliseum, have the potential for a “ballpark village” around them, noting that San Jose’s vibrant Santana Row shopping and dining area was once a parking lot. Wolff, 80, said by phone that his age was a consideration in stepping down, but he will not be departing entirely and plans to be at many games and spring training. The Chronicle reported Oct. 31 that with the possibility the A’s might lose their annual revenue-sharing check — worth upward of $30 million — in the collective bargaining agreement being negotiated between players and owners, one of the owners might look to sell. Wolff will sell most of his stake to the rest of the ownership group and become chairman emeritus of the club. [...] 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. There are no indications that the leadership shakeup will have any impact on the A’s 2017 payroll — Kaval said spending might go up or it may not — but it’s possible the change could help forestall the loss of revenue-sharing should the union and MLB owners be convinced the team is in serious pursuit of a new stadium.

Lew Wolff out as A’s managing partner; new role for Michael Crowley, too

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 17:30:58 UT

Lew Wolff, the longtime managing partner of the A’s ownership group, is stepping away from that role and selling most of his stake in the club to the team’s other owners, The Chronicle has learned. [...] Michael Crowley will move from team president to a senior advisor to the ownership group. The Chronicle reported on Oct. 31 that one or more of the A’s owners might sell stakes in the club because of the looming possibility that the team will no longer receive revenue-sharing money in the new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association.

Dave Roberts, Terry Francona earn Manager of Year awards

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 02:52:46 UT

Dave Roberts of the Dodgers won the National League Manager of the Year award and Terry Francona, who took Cleveland to the World Series, earned AL honors. Roberts led Los Angeles to the NL West title despite the Dodgers putting 28 different players on the disabled list, more than any other team in the past 30 years. Francona guided a club beset by injuries and drug suspensions to a surprising first-place finish. Christenson won titles with Double-A Midland in each of the past two seasons and has not failed to make the postseason in four seasons as a minor-league manager, putting up a record of 323-236. The Chronicle learned that the A’s have brought back three of their minor-league free agents, including left-handed starter Felix Doubront, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, and catcher Matt McBride, who had three stints in Oakland and appeared in 12 games. Major League Baseball gave 50-game drug suspensions to two A’s minor-leaguers: left-handed pitcher Kevin Duchene (drug of abuse) and catcher Beau Taylor (amphetamine).

Ex-A’s outfielder Ryan Christenson a hot managerial prospect

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 01:25:06 UT

Former A’s outfielder Ryan Christenson solidified his status as a potential future big-league manager when he was promoted to manager at Triple-A Nashville. Christenson, 42, won titles with Double-A Midland in each of the past two seasons and never has failed to make the postseason in four seasons as a minor-league manager, putting up a record of 323-236. In other A’s news Tuesday, two minor leaguers, rookie-league pitcher Kevin Duchene and Triple-A catcher Beau Taylor, were suspended for violating the minor-league drug policy. Duchene, a left-hander, received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse, while Taylor received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for amphetamine.

A’s re-sign Felix Doubront, Matt McBride

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 01:06:27 UT

The A’s have re-signed three more of their own minor-league free agents, The Chronicle has learned, including a starter who is coming off Tommy John surgery who says he feels stronger than ever. Left-hander Felix Doubront, who missed all of last season after having elbow ligament replacement surgery in April, is returning to Oakland on a minor-league deal and he could be back in action in the first half, providing some depth in the rotation. Doubront, 29, pitched in 11 games with Oakland in 2015, including eight starts, and he also has pitched for the Red Sox, Cubs and Blue Jays, going 31-26 with a 4.89 ERA in 119 appearances, 85 starts. The A’s are thin in catching in the upper levels of the system, and Matt McBride, a utility player who primarly was a catcher in the A’s system last year, also was re-signed on a minor-league deal after three stints in Oakland last season, including appearances in 12 games.

A’s trade Danny Valencia to Seattle for pitcher from East Bay

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 03:41:27 UT

Danny Valencia resurrected his career as an everyday player with his strong offensive numbers in Oakland, but Saturday the A’s sent the much-traveled outfielder-third baseman to the Mariners in exchange for minor-league right-hander Paul Blackburn, who is from Brentwood. Valencia, 32, said he feels good about heading to Seattle, where the Mariners have a team on the rise and plan to use him primarily at first base. Valencia, acquired by the A’s on waivers from Toronto in August 2015, is heading for his seventh team in six years and has gained something of a mixed reputation along the way. Valencia, who hit 28 homers and drove in 88 runs in 177 games with Oakland, said he heard from many A’s teammates Saturday. Blackburn, who will be 23 on Dec. 4, played at Heritage High School and was a first-round pick by the Cubs in 2012. Blackburn, who could open next season at Triple-A Nashville depending on the composition of Oakland’s big-league roster, has been on the A’s radar for a long time. “This was another opportunity for us to add an exciting young starting pitcher — and a product of the East Bay — to the organization as we try to put together a rotation we can build around in Oakland,” said general manager David Forst.

A’s search for free-agent outfielders begins

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 01:01:27 UT

A’s search for free-agent outfielders begins Josh Reddick is expected to be too pricey, and Brandon Moss — who said in a text that he would love to return to the A’s — also is a long shot at the age of 33 with limited defensive range. A left-handed batter, Thames could be a nice complement to right-handed slugger Khris Davis in the middle of the order at below-market cost for most power hitters. Oakland remains unlikely to trade ace Sonny Gray, though Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported this week that the team will listen to trade offers for Gray, catcher Stephen Vogt and reliever Sean Doolittle. Gray is coming off the worst season of his career and missed much of the second half with an arm injury, and the A’s seldom sell low on their top talent. All three are team leaders, and with a young club that is likely to get only younger next year, continuity and leadership might count for more than a minimal return to avoid the fairly low costs for all three players.

Andrew Lambo re-signs with A’s on minor-league deal

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 03:11:15 UT

Andrew Lambo, out most of the season at Triple-A Nashville after surgery for testicular cancer, signed a minor-league deal with Oakland and will be in big-league camp. Lambo, 28, was on Oakland’s Opening Day roster but played only one game with the A’s. He has appeared in 60 big-league games, the rest with the Pirates. He has fully recovered from surgery, Lambo said while visiting the A’s in Anaheim in September. The A’s re-signed two others among their minor-league free agents, relievers Ryan Brasier and Chris Smith, to minor-league deals. — Susan Slusser

Toronto tops Cleveland to stay alive in ALCS

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 05:11:57 UT

TORONTO — Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally had a breakthrough with the bats, beating Cleveland 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series. The Indians lead the matchup 3-1, but Donaldson and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this postseason. Edwin Encarnacion later hit a two-run single, a welcome sight for a raucous Rogers Centre crowd that had fallen silent watching its team reach the brink of elimination because of a slumbering offense. Donaldson’s solo shot to left-center field off Corey Kluber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all series. Two innings after that, the former A’s third baseman made an outstanding diving stop to preserve a one-run edge. Sanchez, the American League ERA champion, allowed a run and two hits in six innings, and the bullpen finished with three perfect innings. Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP and sporting a still freshly shaved face, opened the scoring with his first home run of these playoffs. The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ezequiel Carrera’s blooper fell between three Cleveland fielders in left-center for an RBI single. Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for the Jays. Taking no chances, Toronto manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland. The Indians had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice. The Blue Jays added two more runs in the seventh after a throwing error by reliever Bryan Shaw. Encarnacion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chanting “Eddie” — and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into center field to make it 4-1.