We’re now only four weeks away from the start of Spring Training and it’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Oakland A’s as they get ready for the 2023 season.
That gave Dom and I a whole host of topics to discuss in our latest podcast episode when we recorded it on Friday night. You can find it on all the major podcast platforms and today we published a video excerpt on the YouTube channel talking about the ‘Elon Musk in an A’s jersey’ story.
We’ll leave that story to one side and catch up on some of the others.
Saying Goodbye to Cole Irvin
This off-season has been relatively easy to cope with as most of our tradeable assets had already been shipped out, so we just had the inevitable Sean Murphy trade to process.
That changed on Thursday when it was announced that Cole Irvin had been traded to Baltimore.
It was surprising in the sense that it came out of the blue without any rumours to prepare us for the news, beyond the fact that A’s fans are always prepared to some degree for any player to be traded away at the drop of a hat.
As so often is the case, when you take the emotion out of it there is a fair amount of logic behind the decision. Cole is 29 and a back-of-rotation starter with quite extreme home-road splits in his performance, so he wasn’t considered to be a longer-term building block, for all that his competitiveness and personality endeared himself to the fans.
The fact that he was the one guy that Mark Kotsay had previously said would be locked into the rotation is the main issue. Form, injuries and inexperience of others meant that Irvin was the anchor in an otherwise unproven plethora of starting pitcher options; however, the amount of other options we have is the crucial context.
In another situation there would be more value placed on having a steady-hand around which to give starting opportunities to the likes of Shintaro Fujinami, Drew Rucinski, JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, Adrián Martínez, Kyle Muller, Adam Oller and maybe A.J. Puk.
The honest truth is that, in our current state, it’s probably not so important. We may as well get a good young infield prospect for Irvin – in the form of Darell Hernaiz – and then share out those 30 starts to others to see what they can offer.
A’s General Manager David Forst also confirmed on Friday that Paul Blackburn and James Kaprielian are progressing well in their injury rehabilitation programmes. The expectation is that they will be “ready to go” for Opening Day, so that has played a part in making the team comfortable in letting Irvin go.
Jesús Aguilar signing confirmed
There is still a balance to be struck between youth and experience and that comes into play with the signing of Jesús Aguilar.
The first baseman was available at a modest one-year, $3M cost following a down year in 2022. There’s a chance that his form last season was a sign of things to come, but that risk is what made him available within our budget.
Aguilar is an experienced hitter with a reputation as a great character in the clubhouse, so he falls squarely into the category of being a low-risk, decent-upside signing who can share time at first base with Rule 5 pick Ryan Noda and also pick up at-bats as a Designated Hitter.
Minor League Coaching Assignments Announced
Of course, the A’s 2023 is as much about development at the Minor League level as it is in the Big Leagues. With that in mind, the team announced the Player Development staff assignments this past week.
There has been the usual moving around of some coaches within the system, with the main newcomer to the organisation being someone with plenty of links to the A’s already. Gregorio Petit will be the manager at Low-A Stockton this season having previously managed the Astros’ Double-A affiliate.
Petit was signed as an amateur free agent by the A’s back in July 2001 and made his MLB debut with the team in 2008. He played in 25 games for the A’s and then had spells in the Big Leagues with the Astros, Yankees, Angels and Twins before retiring at the end of 2018.
Johnny Doskow joins the broadcast team
The A’s also made a signing to the broadcast crew by adding long-time Sacramento River Cats announcer Johnny Doskow to the radio booth. He’ll be doing pre and post-game shows as well as play-by-play across at least 65 games in the coming season.
The River Cats were the A’s Triple-A affiliate from 2000 to 2014 before switching to the Giants, so Doskow is well known in A’s circles and the reaction of fans and media members to the news tells you he will be a wonderful addition to Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo.
Listening to the Silence
The plans for a new ballpark hover above everything and, as the A’s “Spirit Week” wraps up in modest style, the continued silence from President Dave Kaval is deafening.
Casey Pratt touched on this in his recent video update, rightly condemning the lack of communication whilst also noting that negotiations are continuing behind the scenes. He also pointed out that Kaval has had a habit of making things worse when speaking over the past couple of years – like stepping on a rake and having it hit you in the face, as Casey put it – so maybe the silence is a self-preservation tactic.
In any case, it’s nowhere near good enough. Sadly, that sums up pretty much everything about the way Kaval and owner John Fisher are running their business.