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Merry Christmas San Jose! (and Iwakuma?)

December 25, 2011

The big news of course is the report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, yet strangely seemingly unconfirmed by any other source as of yet, that he delivered via Twitter tweeting,

“All signs and top #MLB sources say that the #Athletics will be granted permission by Feb to move to San Jose.”

The media has taken off with this one however despite the fact is that for example, I have said basically the same thing for a while now minus the top MLB sources part of course, which I suppose is where this tweet receives its gravitas. In response to a follow up question from a reader Nightengale tweeted,

“The #Athletics have received private assurances from #MLB can’t speak about it publicly”

This really does not come as any surprise to me. The talk from Billy Beane has been that the team would take one of two courses of action, rebuild if they felt a move was imminent or stock up if not in the hopes of finding a buyer for the team. The lack of an attempt to re-sign Josh Willingham and subsequent trades of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez made it very clear which course of action the team was taking to me and I had to believe Beane and the front office had assurances and weren’t making a wild bet while dismantling their team. Nightengale seems to indicate that this is indeed the case.

What does this mean for A’s fans? While there are many who will be upset to see the A’s leave Oakland, which is understandable surely, it is not a move on par with the Expos vacating Montreal or well before that the Senators leaving for Arlington, Texas a much more significant move than if they had relocated across the Potomac to Arlington, Virginia. As a non-regional A’s fan in Southern California the A’s now will be about thirty miles closer to me, but even for fans who live within a few miles of the Coliseum the move while upsetting shouldn’t threaten their fandom as the A’s are still a relative quick drive down I-880 still. The A’s are still in the Bay Area, the A’s will now have access to corporate revenue streams via luxury box sales and the like, they will have a brand new stadium, and hopefully (despite my concerns that so much of baseball revenue is dictated by television contracts – something that this move should cause no change to) that in turn means that instead of trading the likes of Cahill and Gonzalez (though one can argue both those moves with very strong merit from a baseball standpoint) we will be keeping our homegrown stars. This in an of itself should give A’s fans peace of mind even if their trip to the ballpark has become slightly elongated. In my mind today is a good today, but it is bittersweet, to know that the road jerseys will say something different and that we will vacate the stadium where we won four championships as old as it may be, as ugly as Mount Davis may be, it is still a place that has been called home.

In other A’s news, and the cause for the half Japanese title, the A’s apparently are interested in signing free-agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The A’s of course won the rights to Iwakuma last year when the Golden Eagles posted him and the A’s bid of $19.1M beat out all the competitors. The two sides could not come to any conclusion as the A’s offered a four-year $15.25M deal comparing Iwakuma to Kei Igawa and Colby Lewis while his agents felt he was more like Hiroki Kuroda or Daisuke Matsuzaka and as a result Iwakuma returned to Japan. Now a free-agent a posting fee does not fall into the equation meaning the A’s could conceivably make a commitment of roughly $35M with Iwakuma getting all of it as opposed to some of it. This past season Iwakuma posted a 2.42 ERA, in 119 innings pitched in 17 outings (which all appear to have been starts), managing 6.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9. It is unclear why the A’s have interest in Iwakuma given that they seem like that have a good staple of pitchers available via the recent trades, that even if in 2012 they are a bit thin with the types of pitchers they want starting in the Majors that by 2013 that issue will have resolved itself.

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