When the Astros launch their voyage into the American League West in 2013 they will have a hard time keeping up with the Angels and Rangers. But there is one team in the division that could prove to be an even match for the rebuilding Astros- the Oakland Athletics. By that time they could be the San Jose Athletics. The Oakland franchise is currently in a state of upheaval, something Astros fans can relate to. The A’s traded closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Boston today in exchange for outfielder Josh Reddick and a pair of prospects. Young closer to Boston, that has a familiar ring to it.
The trade was Oakland’s third major deal this off-season that sent an established pitcher out of the Bay Area in exchange for a group of youngsters. Starters Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez were both traded earlier this month. If there were any questions about the A’s being in a rebuilding mode, those questions have officially been answered. The team has been trying to gain approval for a new stadium for the past three years. Now that the Marlins have a new home, I think Oakland is the only MLB team that still plays in a football stadium.
The Athletics have been seeking approval from the Commissioner’s office to move the team 40 miles south to San Jose. The word on the internet is that permission could be granted as early as February. One possible hurdle for the Athletics could be their National League neighbors in San Francisco. Back in 1992 the Giants were in the midst of a similar stadium dilema and were all set to move to St. Petersburg Florida. In an effort to keep the Giants in the Bay Area, A’s ownership agreed to grant the Giants territorial rights to Santa Clara County which includes the city of San Jose. The Giants could claim that those rights are still applicable. Ultimately the Commissioner and MLB owners will probably get to make that determination.
Either way, the A’s and the Astros seem to be paddling upstream in small and similar boats. How fast those boats move could be dependent upon the performance of the young prospects the two teams have recently acquired. Right-hander Brad Peacock, the jewel of the Gio Gonzalez trade with the Nationals, could start paying immediate dividends for Oakland. Both teams are in the hands of capable General Managers committed to building the right way. But unlike Jeff Luuhnow, Billy Beane has been down this road before. He’s so good at building a winner they wrote a book about him. More recently that book was turned into a movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is on my to do list.
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