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Elephant Rumblings: David Forst opens up about the state of the A’s

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MLB: General Managers Meetings Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

The AL West-leading Houston Astros are in Oakland today to start a three-game series against the division-trailing A’s. We’re barely halfway through the season, but the A’s are already 26½ games behind the Astros, who have emerged as perennial contenders in recent years.

Melissa Lockard at The Athletic spoke with A’s general manager David Forst about this season’s struggles, what lies ahead, and the organization’s approach to player development, among other things.

The conversation wasn’t entirely free of PR-speak, as Forst suggested that the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and subsequent MLB lockout left the team without enough time to “get the current team to the level that we’ve sort of become accustomed to.” There is likely some truth to this, but there was very little tangible indication last offseason that the A’s were out to retool and extend the team’s streak of four winning seasons as a top priority.

Forst was open about the difficulty of coming up with a general plan for the team amidst the looming uncertainties surrounding a new stadium in Oakland or the team’s relocation. These issues aren’t new, but in contrast with the meandering dynamics of the past couple decades, there is now a sense that something is about to give: the A’s will either get a deal for a new ballpark in Oakland or relocate. Forst acknowledged that this matter has to be settled before a clear direction for the organization’s future can be determined.

Forst also spoke to the rationale behind fielding veterans like Jed Lowrie, Stephen Vogt, and Elvis Andrus instead of going all-in on giving developing players maximum playing time at the big league level. He said that even in a losing season, “winning whatever games you can” is still important for morale, so the team’s management is making an effort to balance competitiveness with prospect development.

Forst had a lot more to say about goals for the rest of this season, draft picks, the A’s injury-plagued farm system, prospect promotion, and trading Frankie Montas. Lockard is one of my favorite writers on the A’s beat and this piece is another fine example of why The Athletic is worth the price of admission. Check it out!

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