Athletics

How much impact will A's public stadium survey really have?

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AP

How much impact will A's public stadium survey really have?

In their tireless (or maybe tiresome, depending on how you view it) pursuit to keep their mythical new stadium in the news, the A’s announced a new ballpark website and survey to give fans a chance to help determine their geographical fate.

This comes with an immediate warning, namely, they had better make the result as transparent as the privacy laws allow. We don’t want any of that “Name The Stadium/On Second Thought We’ll Name The Stadium” jiggery-pokery.
 
This is a common okey-doke among nascent franchises – give the fans a say only to reveal later that the decision had long ago been made for something the fans didn’t want but that the owner did.
 
But let’s give the boys the benefit of the doubt and say they’re on the up-and-up. We’ll still need to verify their up-and-up-ness because these are not trusting times, and if president Dave Kaval was keen on opening his office on Tuesdays for anyone to walk in and blow the breeze, he can’t suddenly become Secret McNoneOfYourBusinesston on the key franchise decision of the next two decades.

Also, we'll need to know how much this survey counts toward a decision. If 50 percent want a park in a place owner John Fisher doesn’t, then how do you think being told all their votes didn’t weigh a single ounce will play with the customer base?
 
You see, nothing is worse than fake democracy, because even the most downtrodden and cynical of people take a dim view of being lied to, or perceiving same. These are mean-spirited times, and in the world of sport, an angry fan base is an absentee fan base. The A’s are all in on the stadium being the Benadryl for their skin rash, and it can never been looked upon as a a scam or a ripoff, the way the one in Arizona is.
 
So this survey better be good. And open. And meaningful. Otherwise, you wasted a perfectly good press release that could have been used on the Josh Phegley trade.

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

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USATSI

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell has a history with foul tips and concussion concerns, so there was cause for concern after he took a direct shot during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With one out in the ninth inning, Tigers shortstop fouled a ball square into Maxwell's facemask. The A's catcher immediately fell backwards. As manager Bob Melvin and the team trainer checked on him, he appeared dazed and rubbed his eyes. In an attempt to try to stay in the game, reliever Liam Hendriks tossed two warmup pitches. Maxwell missed the first one, but even after he caught the second one, it was clear he wasn't right and was removed from the game.

Afterwards, Melvin was asked about Maxwell's status.

"He went through all the protocol. It doesn't look like a concussion at this point. We'll probably know more in the next couple of days," Melvin told reporters in Detroit. "Took a pretty good shot. More sore on his face because of where the impact was, which was right in the middle of his face."

Josh Phegley replaced Maxwell for the final two outs of the game. Hendriks managed to close out the 3-2 win for the A's.