Earlier this week, Oakland A's general manager David Forst did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit. These are pretty common for famous people, and many A's players and personnel have done them in the past without any mention here. Some are better than others -- you might get Bull Durham answers, or you might get someone who opens up about some interesting part of their personal life.
Forst gave some actual, worthwhile baseball talk, with a hat tip to some Redditors asking excellent baseball questions. Here are a few of the things Forst said that I found the most interesting. There are many more answers, though, so you should click through and read the rest.
1. On the two-GM model of management
The A's are one of several teams that have moved toward a management setup that includes two big hitters at the top. In addition to the general manager (in this case, Forst), there is another high-profile executive who is probably an iconic former GM in a fancier-sounding role that includes the word "president" somewhere in the title (in this case Beane, but in other cases Epstein, Friedman, Sabean, etc.).
Forst was asked how the people in those two roles work together, and he gave one interesting example regarding him and Beane:
For instance, during the trade deadline, we each have relationships with other clubs that determine who deals with who and allows us to have a number of conversations going on at once. In general though, we collaborate on nearly every decision that affects baseball operations.
That makes a lot of sense. Two heads are better than one, and two people can make twice as many phone calls as one person in the week leading up to the deadline. As always, the A's are on the cutting edge of baseball ops, though this time instead of revolutionizing the entire model of player analysis all they did was just look at their to-do list and decide to split it up between them.
On a related topic, this was my very favorite line of the whole AMA. Remember, he was doing this the day after he traded away Josh Reddick at the deadline:
Q: Do you get offended that people still think Beane is the GM?
A: I didn't yesterday! :)
2. Who got traded in under an hour?
Athletics Nation, we have a mystery to solve!
Without mentioning specific names, I can tell you that we've made a deal in the last year where the elapsed time between asking a team about a player and making the announcement was less than an hour.
Surely we can figure this out, right? It sounds like Forst is probably talking about a deal for an individual player, but I'm not taking any chances. Here are all the players the A's have acquired in trades since January 2015, in reverse chronological order:
- Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton (LAD)
- Brett Eibner (KC)
- Ross Detwiler (Cle)
- Arismendy Alcantara (ChC)
- Chris Coghlan (ChC)
- Khris Davis (Mil)
- J.B. Wendelken, Zack Erwin (ChW)
- Trey Cochran-Gill (Sea)
- Yonder Alonso, Marc Rzepczynski (SD)
- Jed Lowrie (Hou)
- Liam Hendriks (Tor)
- Daniel Coulombe (LAD)
- PTBNL Dawrin Frias (Mets)
- Felix Doubront (Tor)
- Sean Manaea, Aaron Brooks (KC)
- Casey Meisner (NyM)
- Daniel Mengden, Jacob Nottingham (Hou)
- Aaron Kurcz (Atl)
- Cody Martin (Atl)
- Edward Mujica (Bos)
- Tyler Clippard (Was)
- Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar (TB)
Holy Toledo, that's a long list. Okay, first one we can cut off is the peppercorn Dawrin Frias, since he was a PTBNL so by definition took more than an hour to choose. I also doubt any of the really big deals were that quick -- like the recent Reddick trade, or any Zobrist deal, etc.
Here's my short list: acquiring either Khris Davis, Chris Coghlan, or Jed Lowrie, since those were all deals of timing where a team needed to get rid of a player now for roster reasons and did so for a discounted return package; or acquiring Liam Hendriks, not for any reason other than it was such a clean 1-for-1 reliever trade that I like to imagine it went down awkwardly fast, with both GMs then sitting there on the phone feeling obligated to keep making small-talk for a few more minutes because it seems like this should have taken longer. I might also consider Brett Eibner, for the same reason but with outfielders that each fit their new teams' philosophies perfectly.
3. Oakland A's Mt. Rushmore
Last winter, we took a stab at coming up with an Oakland A's Mt. Rushmore. The final results of the vote in the comments: Rickey Henderson (65 votes), Dennis Eckersley (37), Billy Beane (32), Reggie Jackson (28), with the next runner-up being Rollie Fingers (25). I've honestly spent hours thinking about this, hours that I'll never get back, hours that could have gone toward absolutely anything else in life but that I put toward forming an opinion on a theoretical Mt. Oakmore. I still can't decide. I can do a Top 5 or 6, but not a Top 4.
Someone asked Forst for his version, but just since he's been with the team (so, since 2000). This is exactly the kind of question I'd expect a GM to dodge, or to give a list of like eight or 10, or say that he loves every player equally. But Forst gave a real answer, incorporating both on-field play and off-field meaning: Tim Hudson, Mark Ellis, Frank Thomas, and Josh Reddick. Dang, that's a good list. Gonna have to see if fatrolf wants to do a doodle of that one.