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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I can't imagine there being too many people in the Bay Area who were surprised by the news that the Oakland Athletics relieved Bob Geren of his managerial duties on Thursday.
Forget the fact that the team is in the midst of a nine-game losing streak -- although that couldn't have helped his chances any -- Geren had started to lose the trust of some of his veterans. And judging by their performance on the field the last couple of weeks it's hard not to say that the A's had quit on Geren.
There had been some rumblings in the past that Geren hadn't been the easiest manager to play for. Reliever Brian Fuentes, though, enlightened everyone even further following a loss in late May.
"There's just no communication," Fuentes said. "Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven't stretched, I haven't prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game -- which I was -- when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."
The communication issue is something that had been brought up before with Geren, who wasn't always the easiest person to deal with from a media standpoint either. He came off as a novice in dealing with the press, and apparently that carried over to his clubhouse. It's actually kind of surprising how clueless he seemed, considering he caught in the majors five years and has been managing at some level or another for over 10 years.
Like a young debutante, Geren probably should have gone to a finishing school before he took the job with the A's.
As poor as his people skills were, though, Geren's biggest problems were on the field. Take a gander at that lineup. Coco Crisp leads the team with a .262 average. Who do you fear? Josh Willingham? Yeah, he offers a little pop, but he rarely makes contact.
I'm not sure Casey Stengel could win with this team.
When you think about it, it's almost crazy to think that they were right in the thick of the AL West not so long ago. Actually, it's not that crazy. They have a tremendous young pitching staff, a group that led them to a .500 record a year ago and a second place finish in the AL West.
I thought they would win the division, which is why Geren was my preseason choice for AL Manager of the Year. Speaking of that, by the way: It's the second year in a row my AL manager pick has been fired before the All-Star break. Last year, my NL choice was also axed, so Don Mattingly may want to start scouring the want ads.
So out goes Geren and in steps Bob Melvin, who will take over on an interim basis. It's actually a decent spot for Melvin. If we know anything about A's general manager Billy Beane, it's that he likes the status quo. Melvin's nickname should be Status Quo.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
With that pitching staff the A's are going to be in a lot of games. Now, whether they hit is another question. Melvin is about as professional as they come, both on and off the field. At the very least he won't run into the same problems Geren encountered..
Actually, he's quite similar to Geren in the fact that he will be a yes-man for Beane and the front office. The most glaring difference is that Melvin is considered a master communicator and won't hesitate to tinker with a lineup. Whatever the A's looked like from 1 through 9 last night, I have a feeling it will be quite different come Sunday.
And if that doesn't work, he'll switch again.
We've seen teams make managerial moves at what seemed like their lowest points and rebound to make the playoffs. See the 2009 Colorado Rockies -- or better yet, the 2003 Florida Marlins, who actually won a World Series after firing a manager mid-season.
The A's may get a boost at the start with Melvin at the helm, but there are too many offensive deficiencies on this team for them to make a sustained run. Good pitching or not.
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