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The Fuentes Fallout

May 25, 2011

A big article this morning by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle added an additional wrinkle to the Brian FuentesBob Geren saga. While we know that Fuentes and Geren made up – though Fuentes fell short of retracting his comments instead saying he chose the wrong outlet (the media) to vent his frustrations with, even going so far as to say he would have vented regardless of the team’s recent struggles – we know this story also isn’t entirely over.

In the article there we some interesting anecdotes and stories. Huston Street felt so compelled to complain that he texted Susan Slusser this bombshell,

“Bob was never good at communication, and I don’t want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager.”

While I think that this text didn’t serve any purpose for Street perhaps he felt the same way as Fuentes, compelled to speak his mind despite the potential consequences. But those comments are quite the indictment of Geren’s managerial style (in terms of managing people – not a baseball game which is an important and often overlooked aspect of baseball managing) and also are along the same lines as Fuentes’ concerns lending them further credence. The article however doesn’t stop there.

Mike Sweeney who has a great reputation in the game as being an honest and good guy, yet he even he and Geren got into things the article alleges. Shea writes of Sweeney that,

“Sweeney was furious with Geren for not allowing him to play more in a series in Kansas City. Sweeney thought it would be his final chance to play in K.C., where he spent most of his career. On a team flight, according to the sources, Sweeney had a blowup with Geren and was released shortly thereafter.”

Where there is smoke there is usually fire. But it does pose an interesting question, that was discussed in this post on Beaneball which is what do the A’s do now?

The A’s are stuck in a peculiar predicament because if they do fire Geren does it mean that players control this team? Why would a manager want to go to a situation where players can go to the media to get them fired? But at the same time Fuentes’ comments (and the additional comments from Street) should not go unnoticed – there is certainly something to them indicating that Geren mismanages between players ears, coupled with the countless examples of mismanagement between the lines.

Ultimately, I tried to look at this from a neutral vantage point that didn’t include my disdain for Geren’s tactics. But I agree with an article by Gwen Knapp also in today’s San Francisco Chronicle in which she wrote this,

“Fuentes had ample time to cool down, and at 35, he knows the post-loss drill pretty well. And still, he decided to risk being labeled a disrespectful whiner by calling out manager Bob Geren for poor communications.

Fuentes went on at length, without retreating from his point…

…This, in other words, was not a typical heat-of-the-moment venting…

…On Monday night, Fuentes cried out in a different way, risking backlash. But to certain ears, it didn’t sound like whining.”

Fuentes, as a veteran, has more gravitas than others on a very young team. He said what needed to be said, and the discussion that has come of it, that there is something rotten in the A’s dugout is a valuable one. If Geren is indeed fired it because he hasn’t done an adequate job, not because Brian Fuentes had an opinion. Fuentes’ remarks may have been a catalyst but they aren’t the genesis of the problem.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    May 25, 2011 3:19 pm

    I think Fuentes was a bad signing; I think he’s been awful; I hope he’s traded; when Bailey comes back he’s beyond superfluous. Bob Geren may be bad, but Brian Fuentes is the one thing on this team that’s been worse.

  2. May 25, 2011 3:23 pm

    I’ve complained ad nauseum about Brian Fuentes but… I think he is a victim more of his usage than of being a bad pitcher. I like his splits against lefties, and while he isn’t one of the best pitchers in the world, he is a certain asset if used as a lefty-specialist. I absolutely do not like him in the closer role though – I think in lieu of Bailey I’d go with Grant Balfour or possibly even Brad Ziegler in that spot. Doesn’t seem like we’ll need to deal with Fuentes the closer any longer as Balfour’ll be in that role and then of course Bailey is back. But I think Fuentes brings real value to the team as great specialist option so I am not ready to denounce the signing just yet.

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