The toughest role in professional sports these past years? Being an A’s fan.
The team that performs in a mostly empty Coliseum hasn’t reached the postseason since 2014, has yet to decide on the location of a new ballpark and continues dumping on the theory that fans want their favorites to develop and stick around for a while.
But that’s not how the A’s work. The roster remains more fluid than Trump’s chaotic White House. Despite their hefty revenue sharing haul in recent seasons, team officials continue to cry poverty and use the cavernous ballpark as an excuse to save money by gutting the roster and trading away stars.
Monday’s swap of ace Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees is the most troubling of recent front office maneuverings. The popular right-hander was traded for three minor league prospects who are merely that: Prospects.
While Gray is pitching superbly of late, with a 1.37 ERA and 36 strikeouts in his last six starts – clearly strengthening a Yankees franchise in a tight race with the Boston Red Sox for the division title – only one of Oakland’s three acquisitions is even on the field.
Shortstop/outfielder Jorge Mateo, the key component of the deal, has been all over the map – from being a top prospect, to earning a suspension for insubordination, to struggling in the minors before a recent revival in Double A (Eastern League Player of the Week). The Dominican Republic native was hitting .306 in Trenton and finally displaying his much-discussed speed on the base paths.
Outfielder Dustin Fowler is sidelined indefinitely after tearing his right patellar tendon in his major league debut in June, while right-hander James Kaprielian is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April.
The departure of Gray, 27, a former River Cat who was under the A’s organization’s control for two more seasons, leaves Jed Lowrie as the only current player who was in the lineup for the 2014 wild card game – and the team’s last postseason appearance.
So about that new ballpark. What about building it and ending the excuses? Enough of the “rent but don’t buy” approach.