OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Athletics wanted to make sure they could keep David Forst in the front office after other clubs sought to hire him, so they promoted him to general manager Monday and elevated Billy Beane to executive vice president of baseball operations.
“Long overdue,” Beane said of Forst’s promotion.READ MORE: Avoiding The (Shopping) Nightmare Before Christmas: Local Retailers Brace For Holiday Shortages
Forst just completed his 16th years with the low-budget franchise and 12th as assistant GM, though Beane insists his right-hand man has been assuming general manager duties behind the scenes for some time. Forst has been committed to keeping his young family in the Bay Area and staying with an organization he loves despite the daunting challenges.
Beane, who had been GM since late 1997, said Forst has had multiple opportunities to interview elsewhere each year – “We stopped counting,” Beane quipped.
“It’s a well-deserved recognition and promotion from David’s end,” Beane said a day after Oakland finished an AL-worst 68-94 after three straight years in the playoffs. “This makes public how we were operating.”
Beane and Forst have regularly split up their duties in such a way that Forst has better relationships with some agents and opposing GMs and Beane with others. Last offseason, the A’s lost assistant GM Farhan Zaidi to the GM job with the Los Angeles Dodgers – and they didn’t dare let Forst get away.
“I’ve always wanted to stay here. Billy brought me in and from Day 1 included me in everything, and every opportunity that has come up it always came back to the fact that I wanted to be here,” Forst said. “I’m thrilled to have this happen, to know that I’m going to be here for a while and really to continue our relationship which is the most important to me.”
Here are some things to consider about the A’s season:
KEY HITS: The injury-plagued A’s finished with their worst record since going 65-97 in 1997 and a 20-victory drop from last season, when Oakland lost the wild card to Kansas City 9-8 in 12 innings. The A’s finished with the worst record in the AL for the third time in Oakland history.
“You always have higher expectations than losing the amount of games we lost,” shortstop Marcus Semien said Monday while cleaning out his locker. “We had a lot of close games where we didn’t play well or we didn’t come through and that was the difference in our season. If we do the little things a little bit better I think we come out on top in a lot of those games and we’re in a better situation than we are now.”
The A’s hope outfielder Coco Crisp can return fully healthy from a neck issue that limited him to 44 games and his lowest total since his rookie year of 2002.
COSTLY ERRORS: There were so many errors early by rookie Semien that Oakland brought back former Rangers manager and ex-A’s third base and infield coach Ron Washington to help shore up the defense. Semien committed a team-leading 35 errors ahead of second baseman Brett Lawrie’s 24.READ MORE: Fight On Campus Prompts Short Lockdown At Kennedy High School In Sacramento
Melvin is counting on both players to be more comfortable at their positions come 2016, especially Lawrie after he moved over from third for the final two months.
Oakland’s 126 errors led the majors, the first time the club has done so since 1978 (179).
PITCHING DEPTH: With injuries to nearly every starter at some point – even All-Star ace Sonny Gray was shut down late because of an ailing left hip – Oakland never had the rotation it envisioned. Closer Sean Doolittle pitched only once before Aug. 23.
Jarrod Parker, who fractured his right elbow working back from a second Tommy John surgery, is expected back in a role yet to be determined.
Jesse Hahn and Parker will head to Arizona to continue their throwing programs but wouldn’t necessarily need to pitch from the mound before going home for the offseason.
“You never have enough starting pitching,” manager Bob Melvin said.
BUILDING FROM BELOW: Beane and Forst want to keep their top prospects in the minor leagues for the time being to give them ample time to develop so when they reach the big leagues they stay there.
The plan is that players at Class-A Stockton and Double-A Midland will be kept and not traded away as the A’s build to contend again a couple of years from now.
For now, Beane is relieved.
“I’m glad it’s over,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go before we consider ourselves a contender. We’ve got some work to do.”
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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.