One day short of 100, the MLB lockout concluded Thursday, and now the real questions will be posed and answered by the Oakland A’s.
Here are five things to consider across the franchise, now that baseball is back, with free agency beginning now, spring training games starting next week and the 2022 season just one month away.
By the time you read this, a big A’s name already could have departed.
Oakland has been greatly rumored to begin its regenerative cycle toward another round of younger players, meaning Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas and other veterans would be on the trade block. That’s certainly a somber thought for fans, considering how this core came together over the last five years, but it could be a timely turnaround if it coincides with a new Oakland ballpark.
Mark Kotsay already had big cleats to fill, and now he’s under time constraints.
There’s high optimism around Bob Melvin’s replacement, and while Kotsay never has managed a baseball team, he will be surrounded by a veteran coaching staff, and he already carries great respect and relationships inside the clubhouse. The one thing out of his control is a condensed spring training schedule, including limited training sessions and exhibition games, which will make personnel decisions and evaluations just a little bit tougher for Opening Day.
Speaking of Opening Day, that’s now tentative for April 8, in Philadelphia.
It’s a 10-game road trip to start the season through Pennsylvania, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The home opener won’t be until April 18 against the Orioles. It will be a very atypical start to the season, and being out East for such a long stretch against non-divisional opponents won’t be beneficial.
Aside from baseball itself, it will be a different experience watching A’s games without Ray Fosse.
The 74-year-old catcher-turned-analyst was a franchise staple since the A’s moved to Oakland, and his passing in October 2021 means we’ve yet to know what the next chapter looks like without his perspectives. A’s broadcasts are in very good hands, as we all know from the inside, but they certainly will miss Ray’s comforting presence.
Nothing the A’s will do on the field in 2022 can match the importance of securing the Howard Terminal Ballpark.
Consider this: While a (best case) storybook World Series run this October would live in our brains forever, it couldn’t compete with the magnitude of securing the franchise in Oakland … for the rest of our lives.