June 9, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEA'S PAGE A'S VIDEO
Bob Geren was living a manager's nightmare; he had become the face of a failure, a team that couldn't hit, couldn't field and was rapidly becoming a team that couldn't pitch either. The Oakland A's were faceless and fuel-less and losing what little audience they had.
Thus, something had to give and typically, the manager is that give. That it took as long as it did for Billy Beane to pull the trigger and fire Geren, as he did this morning, is surprising to many, but clearly way too much was finally enough.
Geren struggled throughout his 4 12-year tenure as the Oakland manager to win the respect of either his roster or the outside world. It wasn't that he didn't know baseball as much as he didn't know how to convey it, and those who cannot communicate are doomed no matter how smart they might be.
NEWS: A's fire Bob Geren after four-plus seasons
Bob Melvin, Geren's replacement, is that communicator. In his two previous stops, in Arizona and Seattle, he held together mediocre teams with sub-standard payrolls long enough and a reputation as a manager who could handle nearly any situation.
He is probably as good a fit for this young and dis-spirited team as there is on the market because of his communication skills. His reputation as a bullpen manager is reminiscent of though not nearly equivalent to, Bruce Bochy's, and while he is more comfortable with the National League game, he was never a real detriment in Seattle.
As for Geren, it's hard to see him getting another chance to manage given that his relationship with Beane and Beane's long-standing belief that managers are not vital to a team's performance. That isn't to say he won't get one; there are not very many managers who end up being one-and-dones.
GUTIERREZ: Geren never had a chance as A's manager
In fact, it would be fascinating to see him managing a team on a more even playing field, where the franchise is more committed to competing with the rest of the league than in keeping costs down, and where his relationship with the general manager isn't seen as such a detriment.
This isn't likely to happen soon, and it would probably be surprising if it happened at all, but stranger things have happened, and there are stranger places than Oakland.
As for the A's, Melvin's hiring represents a badly needed first step in restoring their reputation in the Bay Area. Years of complaining about a stadium have left an impression that the ownership cares more about the real estate than the product on the field, thus any change will be viewed as a good one. It's not the only move they have to make to rediscover their relevance but it is a start.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.