OAKLAND -- Amid a flurry of enthusiasm surrounding a promising, young A's roster, questions remain about the organization's future.Fans populating the club's annual FanFest at Jack London Square on Saturday peppered the A's decision-makers with them. When will a new stadium come to fruition, and what players will be around
OAKLAND -- Amid a flurry of enthusiasm surrounding a promising, young A's roster, questions remain about the organization's future.
Fans populating the club's annual FanFest at Jack London Square on Saturday peppered the A's decision-makers with them. When will a new stadium come to fruition, and what players will be around to cut the ribbon?
"We have a fan base that's very aware what's going on with us. Sometimes they can ask some tough questions," manager Bob Melvin said, pausing with a smile, "and you usually defer those to [executive vice president of baseball operations] Billy [Beane]."
The answers were familiar. A's president Dave Kaval maintains the team remains dedicated to opening a privately financed stadium in Oakland by 2023, while Beane insists he's dedicated to changing the narrative when it comes to retaining players.
But he'll need help from Kaval -- and subsequent revenue a potential new ballpark would provide -- to do so.
When asked by a fan about constantly churning the roster, Beane relayed an anecdote from 2004, when he dealt two members of the Big Three, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, in a span of two days: "Even my own wife looked at me and said, 'Did you really just trade those guys?"
"We want to keep people here," Melvin said, "It's not like Billy wants to trade them. It just gets to a point sometimes where you have to or we're not going to be able to withstand it, payroll-wise. They're unpopular and understandably so, but now you look at our system, too, and not only do we have a younger group at the big leagues that's been impactful already, there's a whole host of them in the Minor Leagues coming, too."
It's Melvin's job, of course, to orchestrate on-field doings, and he believes this young group boasts the kind of talent that should warrant attention away from business matters. The A's have finished last in the American League West in three consecutive seasons, though they showed signs of better days ahead in September with a bevy of their top prospects in tow.
Building on that, and inching toward contention, is the goal.
"My expectations and my goals are probably a little more short-term right now," Melvin said. "The Astros are going to come to camp and say, 'We're looking toward September and we expect to win the World Series. Our is going to be more month to month, and if we can create some momentum, then maybe our goals change as the season goes along.
"But we just want to get the right 25 to start the season, prepare to where we expect to get off to a good start and kind of implement our goals as the season goes along."
Chapman to the mound?
The AL West is already preparing to welcome one two-way player into the fold this year, when pitcher and outfielder Shohei Ohtani makes his anticipated debut for the Angels. But could another be looming with the A's?
Third baseman Matt Chapman seemingly has the arm to make it happen, but it's unlikely the club would actually entertain the thought.
"There are times I go out to bring somebody in the game and Chappy looks down at the bullpen and goes, 'I can finish this game for you right now,'" Melvin said. "I go, 'Just do your job at third.' But he's serious."
Chapman, equipped with an incredibly strong arm, pitched in high school and again for Team USA, coming out of the bullpen and hitting 98 mph.
Maxwell expected in camp
The A's are moving forward with plans to have Bruce Maxwell as their primary catcher this season, despite ongoing legal matters that have soiled his offseason. Maxwell is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct stemming from an October incident in Arizona, but a plea deal is expected to be reached before his scheduled April trial date.
"We plan on him being the No. 1 catcher, and until someone tells us different, that's the process that we're going with," Melvin said. "It's not probably appropriate for me to speak about what's going on, but what's been intimated to me is, 'Expect him to be your catcher, and if we have to make an adjustment at some point in time, we will.'"
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.