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Bob Geren Sacked!

June 9, 2011

Bob Geren is no longer the manager of your 2011 A’s. The news was somewhat surprising as the common thought was that Geren, best man at Billy Beane‘s wedding, would not be fired midseason. But, nine game losing streaks and teams that were supposed to be in contention falling eight games back in their division by June 9th will have a way of changing typical convention and it has in Oakland. Geren mismanaged the A’s to a 334-376 (.470) record after taking the helm of the green and gold in 2007, his high water mark being last year’s 81-81 campaign. This website, and numerous others have long faulted Geren for poor bullpen management and other inexplicable daily management games, but ultimately I think his undoing is having a team that plays with no sense of urgency, no sense of anger, no sense of well anything.

Earlier today, Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels – a team mired in a comparatively minor five game losing skid – was angry when he talked about his club’s streak. This fire has not been evident from Geren at all, and that culture of a tolerance of losing began to take root.

The major coup in this whole process was clearly the second guessing of the manager by reliever Brian Fuentes. I felt that this would start a process of second-guessing that would ultimately result in Geren’s termination and today that has come to fruition. In the past few weeks more cracks have surfaced, as Hideki Matsui questioned his use in the lineup, Kevin Kouzmanoff commented about the lack of consistency from the manager, and so on. He received easily one of the harshest criticisms I’ve ever heard of a manager when former A’s closer Huston Street said of Geren,

“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.”

The drumbeat finally got loud enough.

Ultimately the difference a manager makes I feel is between 3-5 wins. So while this may not transport the A’s to a division crown, and while it looks more and more each day that 2011 is a write-off, it sends an important message about accountability to everyone in this organization and in this sense the fact that Billy Beane and Bob Geren share a close personal relationship, makes that message even louder. Matsui likely now knows he is expendable, Mark Ellis might not feel so secure, Kouzmanoff has clearly learned that his leash is not as lengthy as he thought it was as he now mans third base for the River Cats, up and down this lineup everyone knows that there will be consequences for a failure to perform, and that that consequence may be the termination of your employment.

So I am happy to see Geren go, this team needs a spark, this team needs a leader, and his oftentimes confusing lineup construction and bullpen mismanagement will not be missed by me. If there is any benefit to this nine game losing streak it is this, the team’s poor play gave Beane cover that he wasn’t just making a move due to the complaints of Fuentes, Matsui and others, he was making it because the team wasn’t performing. The litany of injuries the A’s have had just didn’t serve as a valid excuse any longer. With this losing streak I suppose Beane realized either he was going to go down with the sinking ship or he was going to cut loose the rock weighing him down.

The new skipper is Bob Melvin who has been named manager interestingly enough on an interim basis – and I am very happy with that decision because I’d like to fully explore all the options in the offseason. He managed the Seattle Mariners in 2003 and 2004 and following that the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2005 through May of 2009.  During that time he won the 2007 National League Manager of the Year Award for leading the D-Backs to the 2007 NL West title with a 90-72 record before falling to the Colorado Rockies in the NLCS. His career record stands at 493-508 (.493) and he is the winningest manager in Arizona history. Melvin is a native of the Bay Area, born in Palo Alto and growing up in Menlo Park. He also played college ball at Cal. He will be the eighteenth A’s manager since the club began play in Oakland in 1968.

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