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.’’


More on Chavez

The A’s are still holding out hope that Eric Chavez will be able to return healthy next season. A’s assistant GM David Forst says that Dr. Robert Watkins, who will perform Chavez’s June 23 back surgery, believes Chavez can rehab and be ready for spring training in February. But Forst added that the picture will be clearer after surgery. I’d certainly expect the A’s to pursue a full-time alternative at third base during the offseason, and the front office has hinted that will be the case. But Chavez has a year left on his contract (at $12 million), and he’s been determined to give the A’s some production in return for that.

Watkins also performed Chavez’s microdiscectomy in October 2007. It’s worth noting that this is not the complicated spinal fusion surgery that has been mentioned as an option for Chavez, which would definitely end his career. But Chavez told me recently that any type of surgery, even microdiscectomy, would probably leave his back too unstable to play. Tough to predict what this means for his future … Former A’s outfielder Mark Kotsay is one player who has had two microdiscectomy surgeries and returned to the field …


Talkin’ NFL while waiting for a Kotsay trade

Anybody mind if I take a detour from the usual fare this morning? After all, talking football after the NFL’s divisional round is a heckuva lot more appealing than anything baseball has to offer right now. I mean, the A’s are bracing to trade Mark Kotsay (big whoop!) to the Atlanta Braves (it should happen today); Roger Clemens’ lawyers are lawyering (a tired story already), and Johan Santana is still a Twin (can’t they get a move-on with that deal).

Anyway, the point is, baseball is a feeling a bit tired. I’ll get back to blogging about the grand ol’ game as the week goes on, but right now, what’s standing out the most to me from the weekend was the press conference held by Terrell Owens after the Cowboys bit the bullet against the New York Giants on Sunday.

If you saw the clips of T.O. or read some of the accounts, then you’re aware that the former 49ers wide receiver let loose a flood of tears in front of reporters.

The question: Was it an act?

I didn’t see it as such. Now I know I’m not nearly as up-to-speed on the personalities in that league as I am in baseball, but it seems to me that Owens did a lot of growing up this season. He rarely griped about himself. There were no off-the-field theatrics. And he didn’t throw any teammates under the bus.

In short, he seemed to grow up. At no point, did the Cowboys’ season revolve around what T.O. was doing, and at no point, did T.O. take steps to make sure it would. Should give faith to the cynical — and I’m in that camp more than most — that athletes can change their stripes. Took T.O. longer than most to realize that the less he draws attention to himself, the better it works out for everybody, including himself. But at least he seemed finally to figure it out.

Listen to the various talk shows this morning driving to the office, and I was surprised to hear how many people thought it was a premeditated stunt on Owens’ part, and that all he was showing were crocodile tears? Wonder how many of those were 49ers fans?

Anyway, figured it’d be an interesting place to start the discussion this morning while we waited for the Kotsay deal to come down. Tell me what you think.