Gutierrez: Geren never really had a chance with A's

June 9, 2011, 8:17 pm
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June 9, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOPaul Gutierrez

From the moment Bob Geren was announced as the A's manager on Nov. 17, 2006, his tenure was doomed to fail.Anything shy of a return to the American League Championship Series, where the A's had just been swept by Detroit under Ken Macha, and Geren would be seen as worse than a failure by A's fans.Geren's relationship with general manager Billy Beane made for a unique, somewhat unattainable set of expectations.Perception is often reality and Geren was Beane's puppet. From Day 1."There was a feeling," former A's starter Dan Haren told me in Anaheim on May 25, "like Billy was running the team through Bob."
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Fact or falsehood, right or wrong, it became sacred truth in the A's clubhouse when, in four-plus seasons as the Oakland manager, Geren did little, if anything, to dispel the notion. He was, after all, Beane's best man in a wedding.Not only was the bar set high with the A's playing in the ALCS the year before Geren took over, it might have become unreachable due to their boyhood friendship.Geren's crowning achievement came in 2010, with an 81-81 record. That's it.Yes, he had a freakish run of injuries with which to deal, but Geren did little to endear himself to many of the veterans in the clubhouse.Off-the-record rumblings over the years blew up on a public scale when a new A's player, Brian Fuentes, vented on Geren's managerial moves and communication skills.There had been talk of returning A's welcoming new signees with warnings of dysfunction running amok.And Geren further frustrated players with his lineup being posted later and later in the day."Hide the lineup," was the patronizing rallying cry in the clubhouse, even among the regulars.NEWS: A's fire Geren, tab Bob Melvin as interim skipper
When Geren was hired, Eric Chavez told me he initially he thought of Geren as a "goofy" guy, but said he was behind his hiring. Other players were excited and loved him as either a minor league manager or the A's bench coach and couldn't wait to play for him in the bigs.But something obviously changed along the way -- pressure? Beane micromanaging? -- and several players have grumbled about it in private, some more loudly than others.No wonder Beane bristled when I mentioned that no one questions whether Geren is a good man, but asked if he was a good baseball man."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."Where did it all go wrong? Day 1.

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