A tale of two Decembers for Coliseum-weary A’s owner

NOTFORSALE

On Dec. 24, 2011, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted that it looked like MLB would approve the Oakland A’s proposed move to San Jose soon. But on Dec. 7, 2013, Nathaniel Grow of Sports Law Blog broke the news that MLB rejected the A’s request in June. Just like that, it appeared that owner Lew Wolff‘s attempt to relocate the franchise to the South Bay was, at best, barely on life support. Quite a dramatic turnaround from one December to another.

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “A tale of two Decembers for Coliseum-weary A’s owner” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

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Lew Wolff and the ‘evil’ owner Battle Royale

The notion of an "evil" owner is a silly one, but if such a thing really existed where would Oakland's much-maligned Lew Wolff rank?

The notion of an “evil” owner is a silly one, but if such a thing really existed where would Oakland’s much-maligned Lew Wolff rank?

In a refreshing change of pace, there’s recently been some interesting news about the Oakland A’s quest for a new ballpark. Yesterday news broke that there’s a new proposal for a stadium at Howard Terminal in Oakland which generated understandable enthusiasm among the fanbase. That was followed later in the day by a story from the Bay Area News Group in which maligned team owner Lew Wolff quickly shot down the idea. The whole thing sent a large number of A’s fans on Twitter into a tizzy with Wolff serving as a punching bag and the tiresome evil owner narrative playing out the way it always does when he opens his mouth.

If there really are “evil” sports owners out there I’m not sure Wolff truly ranks in that category. Here’s my quick, totally unscientific, look at how Wolff stacks up against some real and fictional “evil” sports owners …

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “Lew Wolff and the ‘Evil’ owner Battle Royale” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

The A’s fan’s non-buyer’s Christmas gift guide

If this fuzzy nightmare shows up in my stocking on Christmas morning I will not be a happy A's fan.

If this fuzzy nightmare shows up in my stocking on Christmas morning I will not be a happy A’s fan.

Christmas is right around the corner and if you’re an A’s fan like me you’re probably getting hit by a lot of promotional e-mails from OaklandAthletics.com pitching their holiday sales. What better way to say I love you and merry Christmas to the die-hard A’s fan in your life than with a genuine piece of MLB merchandise from the team’s online shop? I’ll freely admit that I’m a sucker for any A’s-themed gift and about 90 percent of the stuff at the the team’s Web shop is pretty good. But some of the items are total duds, some are purely amusing and some are head-scratchers.

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “The A’s fan’s non-buyer’s Christmas gift guide” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

Dead Celebrity Friday: Bo Diaz

An occasional tribute to a totally random gone but not forgotten — at least not on Fridays — star.

Bo Diaz, catcher. Died on Nov. 23, 1990 when he was crushed by a satellite dish at the age of 37.

Diaz had a great season with the Phillies in 1982 when he posted a 3.6 WAR.

Diaz had a great season with the Phillies in 1982 when he posted a 3.6 WAR. (And yes, I know this is a 1985 card but I have a cold and don’t feel like scouring the Internet for a photo of an ’82 Diaz card right this minute)

It’s been a long time since I cranked out a Dead Celebrity Friday post so I thought I’d dust the feature off and start it up again. That led me over to BrainyHistory.com to browse their list of notable people who died around now and non-celebrity Bo Diaz caught my eye.

I guess I could have gone with Larry Hagman (loved ya in “I Dream of Jeanie“) or Roald Dahl (my daughter loves the movie “Matilda”) or Junior Walker (“Shotgun” is a great tune) for today. If I wanted a bigger baseball name I could have gone with “Hack” Wilson. They all died around now too, but Diaz caught my eye because I wanted to know more about Bo.

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Dreaming about A’s draft picks, Michael Ynoa, and beer girls

Like far too many players to wear green and gold the past several years, Michael Ynoa has been chewed up and spit out by the injury bug. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

RANDOM RAMBLINGS FOR JUNE

All the odds and ends that were too odd to end up in the monthly Rewind and Fast Forwarding posts.

* With the amateur draft right around the corner ESPN’s SweetSpot took a nice look at all-time draft teams for the AL West  and Oakland stands out as one of the best in the league. They’ve done a helluva job drafting over the years and hopefully they can strike some gold with this year’s batch of selections to keep the rebuilding effort moving toward a successful end result.

The A’s have the No. 11 overall pick in the first round, five of the first 74 overall picks, and selections 62 and 74 in the second round.

* Considering the success the A’s are having with first baseman-turned-relief pitcher Sean Doolittle in the minor leagues this season maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on the idea of Michael Ynoa ever delivering more than a dozen pitches in a row without getting hurt and convert the kid to a position player. Of course, the only minor problem with that totally absurd idea is that Doolittle actually pitched in college and Ynoa barely had any experience pitching in organized baseball when the A’s signed him as a teen out of the Dominican Republic.

I know I should have let go of the idea of Ynoa being part of Oakland’s future a long time ago but for some reason the longer the odds become on him ever putting it together the more determined I get to see him amount to something as a baseball player. Clearly, in my more desperate moments of boredom I even briefly envision Ynoa as a position player just to see the A’s get something out of their investment.

At this rate smart money says the kid will probably vanish from professional baseball but there’s a part of me that thinks he could resurface in several years with another team as a live-armed shutdown relief pitcher who still has a long career ahead of him.

Michael Taylor is hitting well in his fourth trip through Triple A but his path to Oakland isn’t clear. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

* If I’m Michael Taylor I grab a first baseman’s glove and start taking grounders in Sacramento just to find a clearer path to the major leagues with the A’s. I’m sure it’d be a waste of Taylor’s outfield defense and he probably doesn’t hit for enough power to pull it off, but shifting to first base would give him an open shot at playing time in Oakland assuming that the organization is done with Chris Carter and Daric Barton and Kila Ka’aihue aren’t long-term solutions.

With a batting average well over .300 and an OPS in the neighborhood of .900 in his fourth run through Triple A I don’t think Taylor has a whole lot more to gain from playing at that level. His inability to handle center field and Oakland’s glut out of outfielders has him trapped in the state’s capitol and a move to first base, which appears to be a black hole in the organization, may be just what the doctor ordered to jump start his career and provide me with a little entertainment if it pans out.

* I’m too cheap to pay for ESPN insider access to read the rest of this article by former MLB general manager Jim Bowden, but I certainly agree with the premise that the A’s would be better off if they had a couple of truly horrible seasons during this rebuild so they can land some premium draft picks.

* Blast homers off a battleship? This minor league home run derby is all kinds of awesome.

* Always nice to see someone from outside the Bay Area weigh in on the A’s stadium issue and apply some pressure on commissioner Bud Selig to finally make a decision.

And I’m sure the people behind the full-page ad in the Oakland Tribune were overjoyed to see that their PR move got them some coverage in the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, John Fisher and Lew Wolff probably couldn’t care less about the open letter in the Trib and have no interest in selling the team or breaking ground on a new ballpark in Oakland.

As usual, there’s nothing but hot air being weakly blown around and none of it is getting the A’s any closer to a new home anytime soon.

* If we want to look way ahead, we can set our sights on August when the owners meet again and we might get some more noise about the A’s stadium issue.

* Pet peeve of the month: Hearing someone called a professional hitter by a broadcaster during a game. I just hate that one. No one’s out there playing ball for free.

The mad, hacking fool who gets himself out swinging at a ball in the dirt? The patient guy who works the count and goes with the pitch to the opposite field? They’re all getting a paycheck most of us would die for so they’re all professional hitters.

* The more I watch Daric Barton “hit” the more I believe that he actually wants to be a home plate umpire. Seeing him get demoted to Sacramento is one of the early highlights of the year. It’d be nice if Kila Ka’aihue actually represented a notable upgrade over Barton in the lineup.

One more thing about Barton: He’s a professional hitter which is one more example that the cliche is basically worthless.

Edwin Encarnacion hits the ball with authority which is more than you can say about most of the guys in Oakland's lineup. (Reuters)

Edwin Encarnacion hits the ball with authority which is more than you can say about most of the guys in Oakland’s lineup. (Reuters)

* When I look at a Blue Jays box score Edwin Encarnacion’s name and stats always catch my eye. The A’s claimed him off waivers from Toronto in 2010 but quickly let him go and he’s arguably been more productive than just about anyone the A’s have had in the lineup since then.

What was the point in shelling out the money for the waiver claim in the first place? I’d take Encarnacion’s bat at third, first, or DH over anyone the A’s have run out there over the past couple of years.

The front office was smart enough to grab him but they weren’t smart enough to hold onto him.

* If the A’s want to find some creative ways to try and improve the ballpark experience for fans and boost attendance they can look to the country where they opened the 2012 season. Japanese baseball has cheerleaders in miniskirts and beer girls with kegs of ice-cold suds strapped to their backs. Brilliant. I wholeheartedly approve.

Note to owner Lew Wolff: Less tarp, more beer girls.

FILL THE MAILBAG

In an effort to make things a little more interactive here at Junkball please feel free to send me some questions or comments about the A’s, Major League Baseball or … well … whatever and I’ll try and get around to answering them once a month.

I know I promised to dig into the mailbox in this post but time didn’t exactly cooperate with me this weekend so I’ll get to it in a few days.

Fire away on Twitter at @JunkballBlogger or via e-mail at junkball99@gmail.com and we’ll kick some stuff around for the sake of amusement.