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OaklandClubhouse: Do you think that Grant Green's permanent defensive home is centerfield now that he has moved from shortstop to center?
David Forst: We do, yeah. We think so. It's something that we talked about for awhile and considered strongly during spring training, but we wanted to let Grant go out and have some time to get acclimated in Double-A without having to make that change. As the season went along, we talked about it more internally. Billy actually ended up having a conversation with Grant's representative about it. We just felt that at the [All Star] break or just thereafter, plus with the success he had had in the Futures Game, that it was a good time. I actually was in Midland to have that conversation with Grant.
So far we think it has gone really well. All reports have been good. Everyone in the organization who has been in there to see him, including Grady [Fuson] and Chris Pittaro and Keith, have all said positive things. The one thing that we knew about Grant was that there was never a question that he was going to work at it. Since he has gotten into the organization, he has been in for early work and he has been in during the off-season to do his work. We know the work ethic is there and the desire to be good.
In fact, it was a Thursday night and we told him at about 6 o'clock before the game that we were going to move him and he went out and played his last game at shortstop. The next day it was about 105 degrees and at 2 o'clock, he was out there taking fly balls. That was certainly an important part of the equation. We knew that Grant was willing to put the time in.
OC: He's never played any other position but shortstop during his career right?
DF: Always. It could go back as far as Little League. I'm sure part of him was kind of sad about it. I'm sure part of him always envisioned himself playing short in the big leagues. I think that last night playing short, he was a little nostalgic about it, but by all accounts, he has tackled the new position with a lot of energy.
OC: The quad injury might have made the point moot, but did Green's position change have any impact on a potential decision to move Michael Choice to Double-A since they both play the same position now?
DF: Not really. I think we felt like if Michael was ready to move, we could have made it work, but like you said, the quad injury popped up and it made sense to leave him in Stockton the whole season. The possibility of sending Michael to the Fall League is always out there. We haven't made that final decision yet.
OC: How do you think his season has gone? The power has obviously been huge but the strike-out numbers have been very high as well.
DF: We knew that was what he was going to bring to the table. It isn't necessarily fair just to look at the overall strike-out numbers. Again, everyone who has gone in there through the course of the year has commented on how his approach has gotten better and the power has remained. He's a young guy in his first full season learning how to approach the pro game, so I'd say we couldn't be happier with how his first season has gone.
OC: That Stockton team has seemed to come together nicely as the season has gone on, kind of like it did last year. Was there a conscious effort to keep that group together?
DF: It kind of worked out that way throughout the system. We haven't had that much position player movement, which is kind of nice. Teams have had a chance to stay together all year. I talked to Webster Garrison [the Stockton manager] before the game [Tuesday] night in San Jose, and we talked about how all of the teams have really had a chance to keep their core together all season.
We've had some moves. Obviously Jermaine Mitchell moved up from Midland to Sacramento after his great first half and Shane Peterson bounced up and down a little bit, but for the most part, it has kind of been the role players who have moved around to fill different spots. We have needed Dusty Coleman at times in Sacramento just because of injuries and things like that, and he's done really well during his time in Triple-A, which has been nice. For the most part, the everyday guys have been able to stay in one place and get to know their teammates and get comfortable, which I think usually tends to lead to better performance overall.
OC: One guy on the Stockton team who has impressed me this season is Anthony Aliotti. Is he starting to come into his own offensively? Defensively he's always been a standout first-baseman.
DF: Yeah, he's an interesting guy. He's one of the first guys people bring up when they look at that team. When we drafted Anthony, we knew that from an average and on-base standpoint, what kind of hitter he was. And his on-base percentage has been around .400 all year, which has been great. Certainly the question for a guy who plays the corner is power.
Right now, there are comparisons with [former A's prospect and fellow St. Mary's College alum] Mark Teahen at the same point in his career. If you look at Teahen's numbers, he really made a big jump with his numbers when he went up to Midland that first year. He added over 100 points in slugging from his Cal League numbers, which isn't easy to do. Our staff thinks that Aliotti at the same point in his career already knows how to turn on the ball better than Mark did. I think we are hopeful that he comes into that power while maintaining the walks and really makes that jump next year.
OC: How about the corner guys in Midland, Michael Spina and Stephen Parker? Do you feel like they are still developing power-wise how you'd like them to?
DF: I do. Both guys got out of the gate really well and had good numbers early on. I'm guessing that the Texas summer has worn on both of those guys. I'm not sure they had experienced that before. At the end of the day, both guys were around .300 most of the year. I think they are in the mid-.280s right now. Both guys have done a good job of taking their walks. I think ultimately that power will determine how far they go and I think both of those guys still have a chance to develop.
OC: Turning to Sacramento, they just clinched another division title [on Tuesday]. No surprise there.
DF: [laughs] I know, but you try not to take it for granted though. Obviously every season is different. There's a different group of players and there's a new coaching staff. But when you sort of kick off in April, you almost expect that we will be here at this point in the season.
OC: With Sacramento making the playoffs, that means that their season will extend past September 1st. In past years, there has been some players called up on September 1st and others called up later after the River Cats' post-season run has ended. Do you anticipate a similar staggered call-up this September?
DF: Yeah. I don't think this year would be any different. It is always a balance for us between filling some needs here. When you have the opportunity to add depth and go above 25 players, you certainly have to do it. But also you understand not only the team winning down there but also the experience these guys will get in that environment is important. We will continue to balance that. You will see some guys brought up September 1st, or in our case, maybe September 2nd because it is the last day of a roadtrip on the 1st. But I think we will gradually bring guys up as the major league situation warrants it.
OC: One move you did make this week was to bring up Anthony Recker and send down Landon Powell. What was the thought process behind making the move maybe a week before you could have had both guys on the roster?
DF: It was really a matter of Anthony sort of forcing our hand. He's had such an outstanding year down there and, more than that, he has literally gotten better every year that he has been in the organization. I called him [on Tuesday] because I'm not on the road with the team, but I called him to tell him that it is hard for me to think of a guy who was more deserving of a call-up in my time here, a guy who didn't say anything and kept his nose down for six, seven years and continued to get better. He really earned that promotion.
In terms of the move, it really was a matter of there's nothing left for this guy to do than show us if he can play at the big league level.
OC: The other catcher in Sacramento, Josh Donaldson, has had a nice season as well. He's had a chance to play some other positions in addition to catcher. Do you see him as a much more versatile player coming into next year than he was at the start of this year?
DF: Yeah, I think ultimately Josh's versatility is going to help him out getting here and hopefully staying here at some point. That said, he has improved a lot behind the plate and I know that the pitchers down there feel good about him. He's thrown out runners as well this season as he ever has. He got off to such a slow start there in April and really bounced back nicely over the middle part of the season. We have made a point to make sure that he has played some third base and has played some first base and his ability to do that is going to be valuable in a big league role at some point.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this interview, in which we cover Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, whether the A's need a September assessment for their prospects heading into the off-season, Brandon Allen, the disappointment of the A's 2011 season and more...