A’s searching for a ballpark, Giants for a ball club

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s only 8.7 miles from the Giants' spring ballpark to the A’s in Mesa, but distance between the ball clubs seems to be a million times that.

The Athletics have a team that's reached the American League wild card the previous two years. The Giants have reached the point of no return, three consecutive losing seasons.

Apropos of nothing but maybe pertinent to everything, the press box at Scottsdale has been reduced in size and, with new window frames, reduced in viewing area — which as someone said may be the whole idea. The Giants are better unseen.

“Do you think they could lose 100 games this season?” asked a baseball writer for a national organization. Sure they could, but they won’t.

Unless everything goes wrong and Farhan Zaidi and friends analytically decide to clean house.

Which they probably won’t, unless they want more vacant seats at Oracle Park.

What a crazy situation. The A’s, with a ball club, still searching for a ballpark in Oakland; the Giants, with a ballpark, still searching for a ball club in San Francisco.

The question of whether the Giants will lose 100 would be no less meaningful if it were, “Will the A’s win 100?” In 2019, Oakland won 97.

For the Giants, it’s a matter of respectability, as well as of progress. A couple days ago, the lineup started with Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey. Oh, if it were only 2014.

All four have been in the bigs at least a decade. Toss in Pablo Sandoval and you have the names the fans know, which is not to be dismissed. Yet change is coming, if not this year then shortly. Other teams hit better, run better and, most importantly at Oracle, pitch better.

The only problems for the Athletics — other than the irritating inability to get on a local radio — are the Astros, who whether illegally stealing signs or not have a roster that includes Jose Altuve and George Springer; and the Yankees, who went out for a mere $324 million and signed Gerrit Cole, an excellent pitcher, understating the case.

The A’s have shortstop Marcus Semien, who was third in voting for the American League MVP, and the two Matts, Olson and Chapman, who both received MVP votes.

With those guys and Khris Davis, who contends that all is well after going on a strikeout binge, Oakland will fine. Spring training need be nothing more than training, not worrying or searching.

The A’s are balanced and experienced. The Giants also are experienced. They just aren’t very good.

Spring training will be a matter of changing, of finding people who will enable them to improve.

But not so fast. When Gabe Kapler, the Giants' first-year manager, was asked if Mauricio Dubon, the infielder-outfielder obtained from Milwaukee, had a chance to make the team after a two-hit exhibition game, Kapler was evasive.

“He came out with a lot of energy,” said Kapler, “and he plays multiple positions. He tracked the ball hit to center, and we know he can play on the dirt.” Meaning second base and shortstop.

It’s going to be that sort of dialogue through March, and maybe for weeks after that.

The other day in the Cactus League opener, the Dodgers got home runs from Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger. In spring training that doesn’t mean much. Unless you’re the Giants, aware of what they need.

Over in Mesa, A’s manager Bob Melvin can deal with things differently. He has a postseason team in his dugout. In Scottsdale, Kapler and the Giants have issues.

So close the two teams are in proximity. So far apart in potential.

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