OAKLAND – Billy Beane and David Forst received promotions within the A’s power structure Monday, moves that involve a change in title more so than a major change in responsibilities.
Beane slides into the role of executive vice president of baseball operations, with Forst, his longtime assistant, taking over as the general manager. It follows a growing trend in the hierarchy of major league teams, with the Giants having made a similar move with Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans in April.
“This sort of makes public how we’ve been operating,” Beane said in an informal media session at the Coliseum. “David has a lot of autonomy, he had it before, he’ll continue to have that. It’s a promotion he deserves and we want to make sure we can keep David here with the A’s.”
That indicates Beane, 53, -- probably the majors’ most famous front office executive thanks to the movie “Moneyball” -- will remain the lead man in the A’s baseball business. But he pointed out how much he’s shared the heavy lifting in recent years with the 39-year-old Forst, a Harvard grad who just completed his 16th season with the organization and had been an assistant general manager for the past 12.
Dan Kantrovitz, who also holds an assistant GM title and recently interviewed for the Milwaukee Brewers’ GM position, is the No. 3 man in charge of baseball operations.
Michael Crowley remains the A’s president, in charge of the business side. Both he and Beane hold small ownership stakes in the team.
One change Beane does see in his day-to-day duties – he wants to be more heavily involved in the draft and player development process. The A’s hold the sixth pick in the June draft, their highest draft position since 1998, when they took Mark Mulder with the No. 2 overall selection.
After a 68-94 finish this season that ties for the fourth-worst in Oakland history, the A’s are shifting their focus to upgrading the farm system and planning for the future, a process that really began with the trades of Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist in July.
“To be honest, I’d like to be more involved than I have been the last few years as it relates to the draft and player development,” Beane said. “When Brian did the same thing in San Francisco I think he felt the same way. That’s sort of the grass roots of the business. After a while you get separated from it and you like to re-connect with it. Those areas are going to be critical for us.”
Forst long has been highly regarded in major league circles, and his name often has been connected with prior GM openings around the game. He has stuck with the A’s, gradually taking on more responsibility within the front office. It helps that Forst and his wife, Rebe, who have two young children, love the Bay Area.
“Billy brought me in and from Day 1 included me in everything, and every opportunity that has come up, it’s always come back to the fact that I wanted to be here,” Forst said. “Working for (owners) Lew (Wolff) and John (Fisher), working with Billy, for Mike, it’s what I always wanted. My family loves it here. I’m thrilled to have this happen, to know I’m gonna be here for a while.”
They’ve each cultivated their own relationships with executives from other teams when it comes to trade talks, to the point where Forst knows some GMs around the game better than Beane does.
“I know he was in some cases the No. 1 (target for other GM openings), and had he put his hat in the ring he would have received the positions in previous years,” Beane said.