PHOENIX — A's co-owner Lew Wolff made his first appearance at spring training Wednesday and didn't hold back his hopes and expectations for his team.
Wolff believes the A's have a better roster this year than they did in 2006, when Oakland won its last American League West championship.
"I think it's a better team," he said. "This one, I think, is much more balanced. We have a combination of youth -- especially with the pitching -- and maturity. And we've got some veterans who are athletic veterans, and not on the last legs of their career. I just think we have some balance."
Wolff referred to the rebuilding plan that general manager Billy Beane started before the 2008 season, when the A's began a youth movement by trading away several marquee veterans for prospects who improved the minor league system.
He thinks the team is in position to start reaping the benefits of those trades behind a young pitching foundation that's highlighted by Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson.
"We either do it or not, that's the way I see it," Wolff said of 2011.
Wolff, who typically makes one or two trips to spring camp from his home in Southern California, had yet to meet some of the team's new players, including designated hitter Hideki Matsui. That's a main reason he showed up Wednesday.
He was asked whether he expected Matsui, who has mass international appeal due to his long career in Japan, to have a positive impact off the field with ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities.
"I think (his addition) is terrific," Wolff said. "But the game is on the field. I hear he's such a terrific guy. That's a plus." Wolff said he didn't have any new information on when he would hear back from the Major League Baseball-appointed committee that's studying where the A's should build their new ballpark.
He did say team officials have had talks with Phoenix city officials about renovating Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the A's spring training home which is looking quite outdated compared to the newer Cactus League ballparks sprouting up.
Wolff said he believes roughly $30 million of renovations are needed between Phoenix Muni and Papago Park, where the A's hold workouts and their minor league operations are based.