The Athletics' start to the 2022 season hasn't quite gone the way many had expected.
And that's great news for general manager David Forst and the entire organization.
Through the first nine games, Oakland is 5-4, a respectable record given the onslaught of opposing talent they have faced on the road to open the season. The opening three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies was followed by three against the Tampa Bay Rays and then another three against the Toronto Blue Jays -- three championship-caliber teams.
A's general manager David Forst sat down with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil for an exclusive interview, where he gave his initial impressions of the club thus far and the job that first-year manager Mark Kotsay has done.
"Well the first thing that comes to mind is [Mark Kotsay] and how great Mark has been from Day 1," Forst told Brazil. "From the day he got the job to the day he was finally allowed to talk to players two and a half months later and then all through spring training. He set a great tone with his meeting, he's been incredibly communicative with everybody from players to the staff. I think you've seen it in the dugout this week, you've seen it in his postgame conversations. Just how energized and enthusiastic he is about this group and how much he wants them to grab this opportunity."
One of the A's newest players, center fielder Cristian Pache, has burst onto the scene after being acquired by Oakland in the trade with the Braves that sent All-Star first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta.
With plenty of turnover comes plenty of opportunity. Pache, as well as other young players, are now able to carve out significant roles for themselves at the major-league level.
"Then we have seen some of that fight in the players, guys kind of grabbing on to opportunities," Forst said. "Obviously, [Cristian] Pache is the one sort of most out in front with the way he plays the game, which we knew when we traded for him. Look at the way that Sheldon Neuse swung the bat, you look at [Sean] Murphy take that sort of middle-of-the-order role and run with it. Then everyone from [Paul] Blackburn to [Cole] Irvin to [Daulton] Jefferies, quality starts on the mound. Those are things that are going to need to happen for this team to play the way we have."
With the Braves, Pache was a highly-touted prospect buried on the outfield depth chart. With Oakland, he is the starting center fielder ... at least until Ramon Laureano returns from a previous 80-game suspension he began serving at the end of last season.
"Yeah, I think so," Forst said when asked if Pache was out-performing expectations. "Talk about opportunities being created with Ramon [Laureano] out for the first month of the season, that was sort of handed to Cristian as soon as he got here. Hey, we don't have a center fielder right now. Go ahead and grab this job and take it. He's exactly what we expected. The defense is outstanding, the baserunning is great, the sort of style of play and he's gotten his hits. He's hit the ball hard, like there's some legit exit-velo there. This has really been a great showcase for him."
After yet another teardown this offseason, expectations aren't necessarily high for the A's this season. But then again, this organization has a history of out-performing expectations.