A's fire Bob Geren -- Melvin named interim manager

A's fire Bob Geren -- Melvin named interim manager
June 9, 2011, 4:20 pm
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June 9, 2011

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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

In the middle of a nine-game losing streak, the A's on Thursday fired Bob Geren as manager and replaced him with Bob Melvin as interim manager for the remainder of the season.

A's general manager Billy Beane called it a "drastic move" in a conference call with reporters, indicating that continued speculation about Geren's job status helped move his hand.

"A change is necessary when the focus is on the status of the manager on a daily basis and no longer on the field," Beane said. "You have to shift the focus on the performance.

"We need to shift the focus back on the fieldthis was well-thought out over time."

RATTO: Firing Geren a start to fixing woeful A's

Beane would not say of players had approached him about making a change but did say, "Bob Melvin will inherit some of the challenges Bob (Geren) left. He lost four starting pitchers in the span of four weeks."

Geren, 49, had been named manager on Nov. 17, 2006 and was 334-376 (.470) in four-plus seasons. His rosters had been best by injury but this year's club, with exceptional starting pitching, was expected to contend. Instead, the A's are 27-36 and in last place in the American League West, eight games behind first-place Texas.

When hired, Geren was taking over a team coming of an appearance in the American League Championship Series, where it had been swept by the Detroit Tigers. Many observers wondered about Geren's credentials since his relationship with general manager Billy Beane and being in his wedding was well known.

"That was a problem at first," former Athletics pitcher Dan Haren told CSNCalifornia.com on May 25, in the wake of first-year A's reliever Brian Fuentes venting to the media about Geren's managerial and communication skills.

"There was a feeling like Billy was running the team through Bob"

Melvin, meanwhile, is seen as his own man and manager in baseball circles. A native of Palo Alto who graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park in 1979 before playing baseball at Cal, the 49-year-old Melvin is the winningest manager in Arizona Diamondbacks history, going 337-340 from 2005 through 2009.

Beane said it was not fair to compare the two "Bobs" as managers.

"Bob's got the rest of this year to make an impact," Beane said of Melvin.

Melvin was the National League manager of the year in 2007 after guiding the Diamondbacks to a league-best 90-72 record. He also served as the Seattle Mariners' manager in 2003 and 2004, going 93-69 as a rookie manager.

Melvin was Bob Brenly's bench coach for the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks and has also worked for Phil Garner in Milwaukee (1999) and Detroit (2000). He was also was a scout for Milwaukee in 1996, roving instructor in 1997 and an assistant to general manager Sal Bando in 1998.

Last month, Melvin rejoined Arizona as a special baseball advisor to President and CEO Derrick Hall.

As a player, Melvin spent 10 season in the big leagues after Detroit drafted him as its first selection in the January, 1981 draft. A catcher, he batted .233 with 35 home runs and 212 RBI in 692 career games. He played with the Tigers (1985), Giants (1986-88), Baltimore (1989-91), Kansas City (1992), Boston (1993), the Yankees (1994) and White Sox (1994).

Many of Geren's critics have said he was a "good man," but wondered if Geren was a good "baseball man."

Beane said he was both.

"He's a great baseball man," Beane said. "If you look at his history, look, we've had a terrible run of injuries. Definitively, he's a baseball man, and will continue to be one going forward."

Beane, though, would not say of Geren would remain with three organization, instead saying his best friend was on his way back to the Bay Area for one of his son's high school graduation.

"Any time, letting somebody go, it's never easy, regardless of relationships," Beane said, adding that their friendship may have actually helped the conversation move along that he was being fired.

Geren seemingly had the support of A's owner Lew Wolff in the days following the Fuentes episode.

"I think Bob's fantastic," Wolff said at the time. "Bob's fine, terrific. It's a tough job."

Too tough, it appears.

A'S STATEMENT
OAKLAND, Calif.Oakland Athletics Vice President & General Manager Billy Beane announced today that Bob Geren has been relieved of his duties as manager and former Major League manager Bob Melvin has been named interim manager for the remainder of the 2011 season. Geren, 49, was named the As manager on Nov. 17, 2006. He registered a 334-376 (.470) record in four-plus seasons with Oakland, including a 27-36 mark and last-place standing in the American League West this year.The Arizona Diamondbacks all-time winningest manager, Melvin arrives in Chicago today and will assume his managerial duties tonight when the As open a four-game series against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The 49-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. native has compiled an overall record of 493-508 in seven previous seasons as a Major League manager from 2003-09 with the Seattle Mariners (156-168, 2003-04) and Diamondbacks (337-340, 2005-09).In his rookie managerial season, he directed the Mariners to a 93-69 record in 2003. Four years later, he won National League Manager of the Year honors after piloting Arizona to a league-best 90-72 mark and the NL West Division title in 2007. Melvin also served as the Diamondbacks bench coach on Bob Brenlys coaching staff from 2001-02, when Arizona won the World Series in 2001 and the NL West Division championship in 2002. In addition, he held positions as Phil Garners bench coach for Milwaukee in 1999 and Detroit in 2000. Prior to those bench coach roles, he spent three seasons with Milwaukee in various capacities, serving as a scout in 1996, roving instructor in 1997 and as assistant to General Manager Sal Bando in 1998. Most recently, Melvin had rejoined the Diamondbacks as a special baseball advisor to President & CEO Derrick Hall last month, assisting the baseball operations department and other business divisions of the organization.Melvin graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park, Calif. in 1979 and later attended and played baseball at the University of California in Berkeley. Detroit selected him as its first choice in the secondary phase of the 1981 January draft and the former catcher posted a .233 batting average with 35 home runs and 212 RBI while playing in 692 games during his 10-year Major League career with the Tigers (1985), San Francisco Giants (1986-88), Baltimore Orioles (1989-91), Kansas City Royals (1992), Boston Red Sox (1993), New York Yankees (1994) and Chicago White Sox (1994).Geren first joined the As organization as a minor league manager in 1999, serving one season at Single-A Modesto before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in 2000. After three years with the River Cats, he was named to the major league coaching staff, where he was bullpen coach from 2003-05 and bench coach in 2006. His best season as Oaklands manager came last year, when he guided the As to an 81-81 record and second-place finish in the AL West. He led the team to finishes of 76-86 in 2007, 75-86 in 2008 and 75-87 in 2009.Melvin becomes the 29th manager in franchise history and 18th in Oakland annals.