0

Alonso’s on-base percentage, defense at 1B intrigued A’s; Pomeranz surprised to leave, but happy for opportunity

Yonder Alonso moves from Padres to A's with Wednesday's trade that sends Drew Pomeranz to San Diego

Yonder Alonso moves from Padres to A’s with Wednesday’s trade that sends Drew Pomeranz to San Diego

In a prelude to what might be an active session at the winter meetings for them, the A’s traded for a long-coveted target Wednesday, landing slick fielding first baseman Yonder Alonso from the San Diego Padres.

The A’s also added left-handed situational reliever Marc Rzepczynski in the deal while sending big league lefty Drew Pomeranz, Class-A left-hander Jose Torres and a player to be named later to the Padres.

While the A’s traditionally go for power and on-base percentage from first basemen when they can, Oakland general manager David Forst and his boss, Billy Beane, have long liked Alonso for other qualities, including a glove that, Forst says, might be as good as any in the business.

Continue Reading

0

A’s ship Pomeranz to Padres, get 1B Alonso, LHP Rzepczynski

Drew Pomeran was traded to the Padres Wednesday for first baseman Yonder Alonso and lefty reliever Mark Rzepczynski.

Drew Pomeran was traded to the Padres Wednesday for first baseman Yonder Alonso and lefty reliever Mark Rzepczynski.

OAKLAND – In their traditional let’s-not-wait-for-the-winter-meetings mode, the A’s locked down a trade with the San Diego Padres that netted first baseman Yonder Alonso and left-handed pitcher Mark Rzepczynski.

The A’s sent veteran lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz from the big league roster and left-handed minor leaguer Jose Torres, a left-handed reliever who spent the 2015 season at the Class-A level. Oakland also will send a player to be named later to the Padres.

The key to the deal for the A’s is Alonso, a left-handed contact hitter who hit .282 in 2015 with a good on-base percentage (.361) in his fourth season with the Padres as a platoon player. He had five homers and 31 RBIs in 103 games.

He would likely be in a platoon in Oakland as well, sharing time with Mark Canha, a right-hander who went from Rule 5 pickup to middle-of-the-order hitter in 2015 with the A’s.

Continue Reading

0

Jed Lowrie’s return to Oakland means a probable departure for either Danny Valencia or Brett Lawrie in roster redesign

The A’s acquisition of infielder Jed Lowrie Wednesday almost certainly means the club will trade one of its two third basemen, Danny Valencia or Brett Lawrie, before too much time has passed.

The A’s are overloaded in the infield with the addition of Lowrie, who played for Oakland in 2013-14 before signing a three-year, $23 million deal with the Astros in free agency last winter.

Manager Bob Melvin said the team will “have to see where he fits in,’’ but Lowrie doesn’t have the range to play shortstop anymore and was mostly a third baseman in Houston after the arrival of Rookie of the Year shortstop Carlos Correa. The A’s turned to Marcus Semien in 2015 to play, and while he led the league in errors, he improved from start to finish and his range was more toward the A’s liking.

General manager David Forst, asked about Semien’s position with the team, he replied simply “shortstop.’’

Forst also said “we acquired Jed to play,’’ so second base would be the likeliest spot for him to get consistent at-bats. Lawrie moved to second from third, but it wasn’t a good fit defensively. The A’s thought about putting Lowrie at second base in 2013, but Japanese import Hiro Nakajima didn’t pan out at shortstop, so Lowrie wound up there.

Suddenly, the A’s infield is crowded, particular at third base.

“There has got to be a corresponding move, at least you would think so,’’ an American League executive said in looking at the A’s move Wednesday.

Lowrie, meanwhile, comes back to the A’s with mixed feelings. He liked playing for Melvin, but he makes his home in Houston, and did even before signing with the Astros last winter.

“I’m disappointed to leave Houston,’’ Lowrie, who makes his fulltime home in Houston, told MLB.com‘s Brian McTaggart. “I signed the three-year deal here thinking I’d be here for those three years.’’

Oakland sent minor league right-handed pitcher Brendan McCurry to Houston in exchange for the veteran infielder. Lowrie originally was traded to the first-place A’s by the last-place Astros just before the 2013 season began. He now leaves a wild card Astros team to head to an Oakland team that led the AL in losses.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s put reliever Daniel Coulombe on the designated for assignment list, giving them 10 days to trade him, release him or resign him to a minor league deal.

At the same time, starting pitcher A.J. Griffin, whose comeback from 2013’s Tommy-John-style ligament replacement surgery stalled late in the 2015 season, was released.

In bringing back Lowrie, the A’s are getting a known quantity. And while Lowrie, a switch-hitter, averaged just .212 with Houston in an injury-troubled 2015 season, he averaged .290 in two seasons with the A’s in 2013-14.

“We are very familiar with Jed,’’ Forst said. “It was a good opportunity for us. We acquired Jed to play. Where, we have some time to figure that out. He played a very good third base at Houston.’’

He will play somewhere, because, in Forst’s words, “he’s a really good player.’’

Melvin described Lowrie as “a very versatile guy, someone who had two good years for us, production-wise, from both sides of the plate.’’

Lowrie missed three months of the season with a torn ligament in his right thumb and was never able to regain his offensive stroke in a .222 season that saw him hit nine homers and drive in 30 runs. Before the injury Lowrie hit .300 with four homers and 10 RBI in 18 games.

“He had the one big injury with the torn thumb ligament,’’ Forst said. “And he was slowed at the end by a quad injury, but he was 100 percent by the end in the playoffs. He is healthy.’’

McCurry had 27 saves last year with Class-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, a total that led all A’s minor leaguers. The 23-year-old right-hander had a 1.95 ERA in 36 games with Stockton and a 1.62 ERA with Midland. He was the A’s 22nd-round draft pick in 2014.

Melvin said Griffin’s injuries “snowballed’’ on him in the last 12 months, but said the right-hander could be a winner again in the big leagues, given time.

Scouts say Griffin needs to throw his fastball at least 90 mph, and he didn’t show he could do that while working his way back from surgery last season.

1

A’s bring veteran infielder Jed Lowrie back from Houston

After a year in Houston, Jed Lowrie is back with the A's.

After a year in Houston, Jed Lowrie is back with the A’s.

Jed Lowrie, who helped the A’s to consecutive American League playoffs berths in 2013 and 2014, is coming back to the A’s.

Oakland sent minor league right-handed pitcher Brendan McCurry to Houston in exchange for the veteran infielder. He’d left the A’s after the 2014 season to sign a three-year contract with the Astros, so he has two years left on his deal.

The A’s will announce a 40-man roster move later in the day.

Lowrie missed three months of the season with a torn ligament in his right thumb and was never able to regain his offensive stroke in a .222 season that saw him hit nine homers and drive in 30 runs. Before the injury Lowrie hit .300 with four homers and 10 RBI in 18 games.

The veteran switch-hitter average just .194 in his final 51 games.

In his two seasons with the A’s in 2013-14 he averaged .290, hit 21 homers and drove in 125 runs in 290 games played, mostly at shortstop.

He comes back to the A’s primarily in a backup role, although he could move in at second base, a position that never got locked down in 2015. The A’s had thought of Lowrie as a second base candidate when he was with the club the first time around.

He’s said in the past he’s open to the job at second, although he would prefer not to bounce from position to position. Eric Sogard and Brett Lawrie did most of the second base work in 2015, Lawrie moving over when Danny Valencia came in to play third base the final two months of the season.

With Houston, Lowrie played mostly third base with rookie Carlos Correa moving into the shortstop’s job en route to winning Rookie of the Year honors.

McCurry had 27 saves last year with Class-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, a total that led all A’s minor leaguers. The 23-year-old right-hander had a 1.95 ERA in 36 games with Stockton and a 1.62 ERA with Midland. He was the A’s 22nd-round draft pick in 2014.

 

0

Pitching remake: Hill, Hendriks in; Chavez, Griffin out

The A’s began a wholesale restructuring of their pitching staff Friday, signing left-hander Rich Hill to fill a spot in the starting rotation and trading sometimes-starter Jesse Chavez to Toronto for right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks.

Oakland is taking a chance on both. Hill was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks mid-summer, but turned it around and by September was dominant over a four-start stretch for the Boston Red Sox.

After struggling as a starter, Hendriks, 27, came into his own as a reliever with the Blue Jays in 2015, going 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA in helping Toronto win the American League East title. He routinely pitched at 94 and 95 mph, striking out 71 in 64.2 innings while walking just 11.

The addition of Hill, which came at the expense of starter A.J. Griffin being designated for assignment, is likely a one-year move. But Hendriks will be under club control for four years. Chavez will be eligible for free agency after 2016.

“He immediately becomes a big part of our bullpen,’’ general manager David Forst said of Hendriks. “Potentially he pitches at the back end of the pen. He had a fantastic year, and it is significant to us having him under player control for four years. This move gave us a chance to set up for the longer term.’’

The move completely blindsided Chavez, who made 26 starts and ended the season bounced from the rotation by a fractured rib, which is healing nicely. He is going back to the team that sold his contract to the A’s late in 2012

“I’m surprised, especially for it to happen so early; we’re not even at the winter meetings yet,’’ Chavez said. “It threw me off. I’m very confused. This is the first place I was in for multiple years, and that’s a big thing to get over. Other than that, I’m excited. I’m going back to a place I know and I’ll help them out as best I can.’’

Chavez, 32, won’t be the only familiar face gone after a 7-15 season that included a 4.18 ERA. The A’s had 10 days to trade Griffin, release him or, if he clears waivers, sign him to a minor league deal. Griffin was a regular in the rotation the second half of 2012 and all of 2013, but he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow, then suffering shoulder surgery late in the season.

Hill gives the A’s depth in a rotation that was plagued by injuries all season long in 2015. He began the season in the minor leagues, was released by Toronto, went home, took a two-game starting gig with Long Island where he made two starts and didn’t allow a run in 11 innings.

The Red Sox signed him after that, and in the second half of September, he was the best Boston starter, going 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts, allowing just 14 hits and five walks in 29 innings. He did it by making changes, moving to the third base side of the pitching mound, returning to an over-the-top delivery and his pitches suddenly began missing hitters’ bats.

“I always had that desire to get back to starting,’’ Hill said. “The opportunity presented itself over the summer. I left Syracuse and had the opportunity to get back in what I wanted to do with Long Island, to show everybody what I could do.’’

“He effectively changed the pitcher he is,’’ Forst said. “Looking at the pitch-by-pitch data, you can see the things, the way hitters react to the ball.’’

 

NOTES

–Earlier in the day, the A’s selected the contracts of left-handed pitcher Jose Torres from Class-A Stockton and second baseman Joey Wendle from Triple-A Nashville. Torres pitched in Class-A for Beloit and Stockton and went 4-5 with a 2.56 ERA and eight saves in 47 games. Wendle, picked up from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade last off-season, hit .289 with 10 homers, and he led the Pacific Coast League in hits (137).

–At the same time, left-handed reliever Fernando Abad and outfielder Craig Gentry went on the designated for assignment list.

–The general manager didn’t say that money was no object for the traditionally low-spending team, but he did say “right now payroll is not an issue; we don’t anticipate making moves based on money. We’ve got room to spend; we’ve got to find the right guys.’’ The A’s, who had an $83 million payroll last year, have about $30 million committed to four players, including Hill, Coco Crisp ($11 million), Billy Butler ($11.667 million) and Sean Doolittle ($1.58 million).

–The A’s finished the season with seven players on the disabled list. Forst said all are progressing well, singling out starters Jarrod Parker and Hahn and first baseman Ike Davis.

 

0

A’s relying heavily on reinvented lefty Rich Hill

Rich Hill wanted to be a starting pitcher again badly enough that he went to the independent leagues this summer to get it done, reinventing himself in the process.

Things clicked, and now the left-hander is all but locked into the Oakland rotation after the A’s finalized his one-year, $6 million signing as a free agent Friday.

Hill had a good spring with Toronto, but struggled with his control at Triple-A Syracuse and moved on to the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League with the stipulation that he would go back to starting after having pitched mostly relief since 2010.

“I always had that desire to get back to starting,’’ Hill said in a conference call Friday. “The opportunity presented itself over the summer. I left Syracuse and had the opportunity to get back in what I wanted to do with Long Island, to show everybody what I could do.’’

He signed with the Red Sox in August, came up in mid-September and had a four-start stretch in which he was dominant with a 1.55 ERA, including a two-hit shutout of the Orioles.

The 35-year-old Hill used his time to make changes, and it showed. He moved to the third base side of the pitching mound, returned to an over-the-top delivery and his pitches suddenly began missing hitters’ bats. He threw 29 innings, allowed 14 hits and five walks while striking out 36.

“He effectively changed the pitcher he is,’’ A’s general manager David Forst said. “Looking at the pitch-by-pitch data, you can see the things, the way hitters react to the ball.’’

In particular, Hill found a way to dominate right-handed hitters. Admittedly it’s a small sample size, but right-handed hitters averaged just .138 against him with a .198 on-base percentage. Compare that to his career big league numbers – .245 and .325 – and the difference is startling.

“It started when I was throwing bullpens at home (after being released at Syracuse),’’ Hill said. “I could feel the ball coming out of my hand the way I wanted it to. I continued to build on that, every outing building on the prior outing. It was getting the opportunity and running with it. The confidence and the ability has always been there.’’

In bringing Hill aboard, the A’s had to say goodbye to starter A.J. Griffin, who was designated for assignment, opening up a spot on the 40-man roster. The A’s have 10 days to trade Griffin, release him or, if he clears waivers, sign him to a minor league deal. Griffin hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013 after undergoing Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery early in 2014.

“It’s a tough time of year, and specifically today,’’ Forst said. “You run into those tough choices, and we will have more tough decisions going on. It was a long road for A.J. He worked hard at rehab, but never quite made it back.’’

During the second half of the season as he was trying to pitch in the minor leagues on an injury rehabilitation assignment, Griffin suffered a shoulder injury that cut his path back to Oakland short. Forst said the A’s expect that Griffin will pitch in the big leagues, but that the A’s aren’t sure if he now fits with them.

The addition of Hill brings a veteran arm to a young starting rotation at the cost of $6 million for one year. The A’s needed the pitching depth with all of its front-line starting pitchers injured and out of action in September. Ace Sonny Gray just missed his last start of the season, but Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Chavez and Chris Bassitt all had extended time shelved by injuries.

 

NOTES

–Earlier in the day, the A’s selected the contracts of left-handed pitcher Jose Torres from Class-A Stockton and second baseman Joey Wendle from Triple-A Nashville. Torres pitched in Class-A for Beloit and Stockton and went 4-5 with a 2.56 ERA and eight saves in 47 games. He struck out 84 in 77.1 innings. Wendle was the player the A’s got from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade last off-season. He spent the season with Triple-A Nashville, hitting .289 with 10 homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games. He led the Pacific Coast League in hits (137),

–At the same time, left-handed reliever Fernando Abad and outfielder Craig Gentry went on the designated for assignment list.

–Forst said the A’s were making the bullpen a priority. “Rebuilding and reshaping the bullpen is importance for us,’’ he said. “We’ve explored free agents and trades.’’

–The general manager didn’t say that money was no object, but he did say “right now payroll is not an issue; we don’t anticipate making moves based on money. We’ve got room to spend; we’ve got to find the right guys.’’ The A’s, who had an $83 million payroll last year, have about $30 million committed to four players, including Hill, Coco Crisp ($11 million), Billy Butler ($11.667 million) and Sean Doolittle ($1.58 million).

–The A’s finished the season with seven players on the disabled list. Forst said all are progressing well, singling out starters Chavez, Jarrod Parker, Hahn and first baseman Ike Davis.

 

0

Rich Hill’s signing leads to A.J. Griffin being designated

The A’s made it official Friday, signing left-handed pitcher Rich Hill to a one-year contract.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated right-handed starter A.J. Griffin for assignment. Griffin has not pitched for the A’s since 2013, missing the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John-style, ligament replacement surgery.

The addition of Hill brings a veteran arm to a young starting rotation at the cost of $6 million for one year.

The A’s needed the pitching depth with all of its front-line starting pitchers injured and out of action in September. Ace Sonny Gray just missed his last start of the season, but Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Chavez and Chris Bassitt all had extended time shelved by injuries.

Hill, who will turn 36 in spring training, only pitched in four games for Boston this season, but they were exceptional as he went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA and a shutout. An 11-year veteran, the lefty figures to fit in the 3, 4 or 5 slot of the rotation.

But while he made four starts for the Red Sox, in the minor leagues he’s made just five starts total since 2012, so he’s used to working in the bullpen.

Given Oakland’s need for a veteran starter and Hill’s 2015 success in that role – he threw a two-hit shutout against the Baltimore Orioles in September – the A’s would like to use him as a starter.

In 29 innings he allowed just 14 hits and five walks, a performance that came out of nowhere considering he began the season pitching in an independent league and that his overall record is 26-23 with a 4.54 ERA.

Earlier in the day, the A’s selected the contracts of left-handed pitcher Jose Torres from Class-A Stockton and second baseman Joey Wendle from Triple-A Nashville.

To make room on the roster, the A’s put left-handed reliever Fernando Abad and outfielder Craig Gentry on the designated for assignment list.

Torres pitched in Class-A for Beloit and Stockton and went 4-5 with a 2.56 ERA and eight saves in 47 games. He struck out 84 in 77.1 innings. The A’s originally signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2010 and didn’t become exclusively a reliever until 2015.

Wendle was the player the A’s got from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade last off-season. He spent the season with Triple-A Nashville, hitting .289 with 10 homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games. He led the Pacific Coast League in hits (137), was tied for second in doubles (42) and was third in extra-base hits (60). In four pro seasons, the 2012 draftee has a .291 career average.

Abad had a 1.57 ERA with the A’s in 2014, but that skyrocketed to 4.15 last season with 11 homers allowed in a team-high 62 relief appearances. Gentry was on the opening day roster, but after a slow start spent most of the season at Ashville. He averaged just .120 in three stints with the A’s.

0

A’s close in on deal with left-handed starter Rich Hill; Sean Manaea named Arizona Fall League pitcher of week

It may well turn out that Tuesday was a good day for the 2016 A’s pitching staff with the news that left-handed starter Rich Hill has agreed to a one-year deal with the A’s and minor league lefty starter Sean Manaea being named pitcher of the week in the Arizona Fall League.

The signing of Hill, first reported by Robert Murray of Baseball Essential, brings a veteran arm to a young starting rotation.  Pending a successful completion of a physical exam, sources say Hill will get $6 million for the 2016 season.

At season’s end, all five of the A’s starters were injured, and while the A’s expected all to be ready for spring training, Oakland needs the depth just in case. Ace Sonny Gray just missed his last start of the season, but Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Chavez and Chris Bassitt all had extended time shelved by injuries.

The A’s also hope to have lefty Sean Nolin and right-handers A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker competing for the rotation, but Griffin and Parker haven’t pitched since 2013 thanks to having Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery early in the 2013 season.

Manaea, picked up from Kansas City in the trade of Ben Zobrist, had one start in the AFL, striking out nine and walking one in five innings of a no-decision. That’s been typical for Manaea, who has a two-year career record of 14-9 with a 2.94 ERA.

And while he’s never pitched above Double-A, Manaea may well find that the A’s are likely to give him a long look this spring after a 2015 season in which he went 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA while pitching for four teams at three levels.

Hill, who will turn 36 in spring training, only pitched in four games for Boston this season, but they were exceptional as he went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA and a shutout. An 11-year veteran, the lefty figures to fit in the 3, 4 or 5 slot of the rotation.

But while he made four starts for the Red Sox, in the minor leagues he’s made just five starts total since 2012, so he’s used to working in the bullpen.

Given Oakland’s need for a veteran starter and Hill’s 2015 success in that role – he threw a two-hit shutout against the Baltimore Orioles in September – the A’s would like to use him as a starter.

In 29 innings he allowed just 14 hits and five walks, a performance that came out of nowhere considering he began the season pitching in an independent league and that his overall record is 26-23 with a 4.54 ERA.

 

0

It’s a new season with A’s bringing Kotsay aboard

The A’s have a new bench coach in Mark Kotsay, and “new’’ is the key word.

He’s never been a bench coach, and Kotsay and manager Bob Melvin have never worked together.

If that wasn’t newness enough, Kotsay is the third bench coach for the A’s in three years, and the first of those who has never been a bench coach before, so the learning curve will be steep.

Although they’ve known each other casually, Kotsay and Melvin have never been on the same team. But after the two met a week ago Tuesday for a Jack London Square lunch, it was clear to both that this was worth exploring.

“We have mutual friends in the game, and it was communicated that Bob and I would be a good match,’’ Kotsay said in a conference call Thursday. “I’ve competed against him as he managed in Seattle, Arizona and Oakland. I know how respected he is.

“When we got together for lunch, it was evident we have very similar philosophies and approaches.’’

For Melvin, working with Kotsay is an unknown. But with Kotsay having been the A’s center fielder from 2004-2007, the new bench coach has deep roots in the organization. Melvin said because of that he and the front office brain trust of Billy Beane and David Forst have been targeting bringing Kotsay aboard for a while.

“We’ve felt it would be prudent to get him here when we could,’’ Melvin said of Kotsay, who retired as a player following the 2013 season after 17 years in the big leagues. “I’ve known him from the outside some, and I’ve seen the impact he’d had on the teams he’d been with.’’

Kotsay was the hitting coach in San Diego in 2014, which was convenient, because that’s where he and his family live. For the A’s to get permission to talk to him, the Padres insisted that the move not be lateral. The only open job on the staff was the first base coach, so that wasn’t a fit. To get the chance to even interview Kotsay, the A’s had to be prepared to offer him the more prestigious role of bench coach.

And that meant telling the 2015 bench coach, Mike Aldrete, that he’d been moved to the first base slot. Aldrete, a Northern California native, came to the A’s from a similar job in St. Louis last year to be closer to his roots in Carmel after the 2014 bench coach, Chip Hale, was hired to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It was hard to move Aldo,’’ Melvin said. “It was a difficult conversation to have. I don’t know that it works against him, but he’s done everything you can do on a big league staff and that gave us the opportunity to move him into another role.

“It was difficult. We don’t view this as a demotion. We just want as many good people in the organization as we can get, and to get Kotsay, it had to be as bench coach. This is not a demotion for Aldo. We still hold him in high regard.’’

Kotsay said that it was “great to be back in Oakland.’’

“Obviously the time I spent there from 2004-07 as I reflect back on it, there were nothing but positives,’’ he said. “I developed some great relationships that have stayed strong. It’s very exciting to come back.’’

He’s coming back into a job he’s never held, and he said he is anxious to learn.

“I have no experience in this role, so Bob can mold me in how he wants things done,’’ Kotsay said. “I’m looking forward to being a sponge and soaking things up. I understand the importance of relationships with the players and how the A’s approach the game. That is a tribute to Bob Melvin.’’

Kotsay was known as a clubhouse leader in his time, and at 39 isn’t all that much older than some of those who will be playing. There is a thought that he can help with the tenor of the clubhouse, where things were rocky for much of a last-place season in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to helping whatever facets this club can improve in, helping Bob and being and extension,’’ Melvin said. “The bench coach has to be an extension of the manager, and the manager sets the tone. I hope I can share my experience as a player, and the importance of players buying in.’’

Asked if managing was in his future, Kotsay admitted to the possibility, but “for now I just want to be the best bench coach I can be. If through that success if the managing opportunities exist, that would be a blessing.’’

With the hire of Kotsay, the A’s have finalized their coaching roster. Curt Young returns as pitching coach, Darren Bush as hitting coach, Ron Washington as third base and infield coach, Aldrete as the first base and outfield coach, Scott Emerson as bullpen coach and Marcus Jensen as assistant hitting coach and catching coach.

 

 

0

Phillies’ pursuit of Billy Owens as general manager helped motivate A’s to promote both Owens and Feinstein; Mark Kotsay will get interview to be bench coach

The A’s were probably going to get around to giving title bumps to Billy Owens and Dan Feinstein this winter, given that Billy Beane and David Forst have already been elevated.

It didn’t hurt any that when they were shopping for a general manager the Phillies interviewed Owens. Forst, now the general manager, said it made sense that if another team is going to dip into the A’s front office talent pool, it wouldn’t be any kind of sideways move.

The club announced Friday that Owens was being promoted to assistant General Manager/Director of Player Personnel and Feinstein to Assistant General Manager/Pro Scouting and Player Personnel.

“With Billy interviewing with Philly for the GM position, on a practical level a move like this allows us to recognize that if they come to get him, it has to be for that level of position.

“This is a way to recognize the job they’ve been doing. Billy is a tireless worker; he doesn’t get that many days at home in a year. And Dan has brought a lot of institutional knowledge to us and has effectively been working at this job already.’’

Owens, who’d carried the title of Director of Player Personnel since 2004, has spent 18 seasons with the A’s. Feinstein is in his second tour of duty with the A’s, having been with the club first from 1999-2004 before spending time with the Dodgers and Rays before returning to the A’s as Director of Professional Scouting and Player Development.

 

–Forst and most of the A’s brain trust are heading Sunday to the General Managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., which start Monday.

By the time they come home, the club could have a new bench coach, and a new minor league hitting instructor. The club interviewed four candidates for the instructor’s job Friday and may talk to one or two more while in Florida.

And two big league sources have confirmed that former A’s outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay will interview with the club as a candidate for the bench coach job. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the A’s were given permission by the Padres to talk with Kotsay, who just finish his first year as hitting coach with San Diego.

The club has an open spot on the big league coaching staff with the release of first base coach Tye Waller and for the moment at least is looking for a bench coach. If they find one they like, such as Kotsay, it’s probable that last year’s bench coach, Mike Aldrete, will move to another position on the staff, probably first base coach.

 

–The A’s picked up an outfielder on waivers Friday, claiming Andrew Lambo off waivers from the Pirates.

He missed almost all of the season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but Forst said he’s healthy now and playing in minicamp.

“He had an outstanding 2014,’’ Forst said, referring to Lambo’s rise from Class-A to Triple-A while hitting .312 with a dozen homers along the way. Lambo also can play some in the outfield. “He fits our need for guys who are flexible. He’s a good guy for depth who may have some upside.’’