Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Agent: A's Front Office Complaints 'Overblown'

Oakland Tribune A's beat writer, Joe Stiglich, had a fresh take on what has become the complaint du jour for A's owners (including Billy Beane) when their low bids for free agents lately have been rejected. Here's what Stiglich wrote:

Beane has contended the Coliseum -- widely regarded as an outdated venue -- drives players away. However, two agents -- who each have represented major leaguers for many years -- said the A's stadium gets overblown as a factor that's kept many free agents away.

"What is frustrating for them is that none of them believe that they can win (with the A's)," said one agent, requesting anonymity.

We'll say it again: We believe the A's need to get a new ballpark. And we're fans of Beane's. But it's great to see a beat writer call out Beane and other A's owners for their never-ending whining. If you want more fans to come out, then stop badmouthing your own product and please, please stop making excuses after giving half-hearted attempts to sign players -- or for failing to re-sign players who you disrespected when you had them (paging Marco Scutaro) -- and then acting surprised when they spurn you.

Also, there are plenty of quality ballplayers who are coming to play ball for Oakland and are happy about it. Take Grant Balfour. According to Susan Sluser in The Drumbeat blog, Balfour said "that the A's remind him of that good, and fun, 2008 Rays team that went to the World Series because of the excellent young pitching staff, the team speed and the strong defense."

Josh Willingham also said he isn't put off by the Coliseum's pitcher-friendly reputation, and that he wants to stay with the A's for a long time. He added that he put up good numbers for both the Marlins and the Nationals, two teams whose stadiums are also considered pitcher-friendly.

Sure, a ballpark always plays some part in a free agent's decision on where to play, but not as much as some people think. Most players, especially in their prime years, want job security; they want multi-year deals but the A's front office almost never is willing to accomodate. That is the mentality of an organization that prefers to view their 25-man roster as a revolving door rather than create a milieu that breeds stability and success. Unfortunately, this will be the ethos around the A's until either Wolff gets his way (even then, no guarantee) or we get new owners who are Oakland-friendly and espouse a product-over-profit business model.

Until then ... Thanks, Joe Stiglich, for printing some facts instead of conventional wisdom. I hope your competition is taking notice.

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