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December 29, 2011

The BP First Take

Thursday, December 29

by Daniel Rathman

Three down, one to go. That’s the mindset of A’s GM Billy Beane, who sent Andrew Bailey to Boston on Wednesday on the heels of earlier trades that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona and Gio Gonzalez to Washington. If he can find a taker, catcher Kurt Suzuki will be next.

It’s clear, at this point, that the A’s are trying to add by subtracting. Beane even admitted that his team must get worse before it can get better. He would rather win 65 games in 2012 than 85, because the former would send yet another signal to the league that a move to San Jose is the team’s only path back to contention.  The A’s need a better hometown to increase revenues and, in turn, increase payroll to bridge the gap in the AL West. They need a new ballpark to attract fans. And they need to lengthen their competitive windows—to curtail the notion that they are a farm system for larger-market teams—so that those fans will stick with the team.

The problem is that their situation is not the Field of Dreams­­ian, “If you build it, he (or they) will come.” In fact, it’s closer to the reverse. Beane is selling his 2012 roster for potential parts of a 2015 contender that will hopefully be playing 40 miles down Interstate 880. If they—Cahill, Gonzalez, Bailey—leave, then he—Selig—will have to force the Giants to relent on their rights to the San Jose area and let the A’s move into the currently hypothetical Cisco Field.

There have been conflicting reports during the past week on the status of those plans. Bob Nightengale tweeted that sources told him the owners would ratify the move in February, but the San Francisco Chronicle found shortly after that a new home for the A’s is not on the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

 Sadly, Beane and owner Lew Wolff have no choice but to count on Opening Day at Cisco Field in 2015. They’ve brought in Jarrod Parker, A.J. Cole, Josh Reddick, and others for the occasion. If the team is still in Oakland four years from now, those guys will not be. The process will have to start anew, with a fresh batch of prospects preparing to take the field for the 2019 A’s at an unconstructed stadium in a city to be named later.  

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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