A's Manager Infuriating Fan BaseIf a loss was an actual statistic applied to the manager of your team, how many do you think he's accumulated so far? In Oakland, third year manager Bob Geren has already cost the team several games and fans are becoming impatient.
Hired in November of 2006, Geren replaced former Oakland skipper Ken Macha, who was fired when the A's failed to advance to the World Series after getting swept by the Tigers in the 2006 ALCS. The justifications behind the Macha firing were mainly explained by Macha's methods of communication with players and upper management. Most notably, Macha had called injured pitchers Rich Harden and Joe Kennedy "non-entities" and became frustrated when Mark Ellis didn't want to play through a hurt finger in the 2006 playoffs. He also was criticized for not communicating with bench players and had differing views from GM Billy Beane on several managerial issues. However, Macha still managed to get results during his tenure as he was 355-268 during his four years in Oakland and averaged 92 wins a season.
The same can't be said about Bob Geren.
Geren served as the A's bench coach under Macha and has been with the organization since 1999. The minor league record Geren had with various teams was 452-390, but the success hasn't translated at the major league level so far as Geren has only average 75 and a half wins a season in his first two years.
So did the A's front office make a mistake? The early results suggest that they did.
Apologists of Geren will reference the A's "rebuilding phase" they entered once Geren took over management as an excuse for his poor overall record. However, this phase was only entered into after Geren failed to take a 2007 roster, that featured 23 returning players from 2006 ALCS team, and make them winners.
Looking ahead, while fans knew the 2008 team wouldn't compete with the deals management made, there was still a strong sense of optimism that most fans had for the team entering the 2009 season. Through the various deals the previous year, Billy Beane had restocked the farm system with several promising young arms. These arms, combined with the recent acquisitions of all-star outfielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and first basemen Jason Giambi were supposed to guide this team back to "respectability".
Geren's decision making abilities was already questioned early on when he chose to go with pitcher Josh Outman as the fifth starter in his rotation over the more talented Sean Gallagher. Not only did Geren not go with Gallagher, but he didn't send Gallagher to AAA to get in work as a starter. Instead, Geren left Gallagher at the end of his bullpen and hardly ever used him in a game. In addition, Geren has been criticized by fans for failing to skip Outman when he has the chance and also for platooning outfielder Travis Buck with Rajai Davis even though Buck (a left handed hitter) has a higher average against left handed pitchers than Davis.
Throughout the year so far, the offense has been anemic, while the pitching staff has been just average. With that said, the A's have found themselves in many close ballgames and it is these type of games, where a good manager can be the difference between a win and a loss. In a game against the Yankees early in the season, Geren decided to play the infield in when the Yankees featured runners at second and third with one out in the second inning.....
Yes. I did just type second inning. However, I failed to mention that the game was tied 0-0. Why any manager would do this at this point of a game is beyond me. Little league managers know better than this. It ended up costing the A's game. The Yankees ended up scoring four runs in the inning when the next two hits could have been fielded for outs instead of singles. Had Geren played the infield back, the result would have been minimal and he would have given his team a chance to win. The Yankees only scored one run the rest of the game.
Later in that series, the team had an extra inning ballgame where Dan Giese had already gone three innings and was clearly worn out. The A's alternatives in their pen featured Sean Gallagher and Santiago Casilla. Gallagher could have worked several innings, as he was formerly a starter for the team, but Geren chose to leave Giese out to dry and the A's ended up losing the game.
In the weekend series this past week, the A's had several leads against the Seattle Mariners and failed to capitalize on them and put teams away. Instead, Geren left relievers in for way too long. The most recent was Gio Gonzalez, who made 103 pitches in relief on Sunday night. That should never happen in a relief role. Not only were the A's leading by three entering the bottom of the 13th, but the A's had several other options they could have turned to. By stretching Gio Gonzalez out, they risked injury and they also ended up losing the game.
A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez was left out to dry Sunday night
So far, not counting Monday nights game, Geren has cost this team at least two wins (if not more) and has not put the team in position to win ballgames. Even the A's pythagorean win-loss percentage suggests that the team should have two more wins than they already do.
Firing Geren would be a difficult task for GM Billy Beane to do. After all, Geren was the best man at Beane's second wedding. However, it's what many A's fans want to happen right now and there is a pretty good argument to support it. I'm not going to go there just yet, but I will say that Geren should be placed on the hot seat. If he cannot produce some results this season, perhaps he's not the right guy for the job.