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Blog Entry

What About Bob?

Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:29 am
Edited on: May 6, 2009 12:06 am
 

A's Manager Infuriating Fan Base

If 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.


Comments

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2009 4:11 pm
 

What About Bob?

you have to at least consider the possibility that Geren is running the team EXACTLY   the way the front office wants. Perhaps you should re-direct your comments accordingly. Several other articles I've read suggest otherwise, especially coming from A's beat writers Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"More restlessness with Billy Beane and Bob Geren than we've seen the last couple years, as high expectations make the results so frustrating," Slusser wrote on her blog over a week ago.

Secondly, the Athletics, despite the signing of Matt Holliday, are not a "win now" team. The starting rotation, however talented, is young and inexperienced, and the chances of all of them giving you the 160-200 quality innings needed to carry you through a 162-game season are almost zero. They are inevitably going to wear down as the season moves beyond the All-Star break. You also have some young position players who are still finding their feet in MLB. There still is a sense of optimism. The AL West is extremely weak this season, expecially with 80% of the Angels rotation and Vladimir Guerrero on the shelf. Also, it still doesn't change the fact that Bob Geren has poor decision making abilities. While the A's aren't the first place team in their division, they still should have more wins than they do now. Bob Geren is the result of several losses.

Most teams in full-scale re-building mode have to endure a period of losing before their efforts bear fruit. But most teams don't operate like Beane. Beane PROACTIVELY went into the rebuilding mode and got a ton for his valued players in Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Nick Swisher, and Mark Kotsay. Most teams would have waited it out, have their stars eat up money in arbitration and get mediocre draft picks due to mediocre records. Because Beane was able to realize that his team wasn't a competitor early on, he was able to speed up the rebuilding process so the time it takes to start winning again should be much quicker.



Since: Mar 18, 2008
Posted on: May 5, 2009 3:45 pm
 

What About Bob?

Excellent stuff, as ever BP, but I would like to make a couple of comments from an outsiders' perspective :

Firstly, given the long and close personal history between Bob Geren and Billy Beane, you have to at least consider the possibility that Geren is running the team EXACTLY  the way the front office wants. Perhaps you should re-direct your comments accordingly.

Secondly, the Athletics, despite the signing of Matt Holliday, are not a "win now" team. The starting rotation, however talented, is young and inexperienced, and the chances of all of them giving you the 160-200 quality innings needed to carry you through a 162-game season are almost zero. They are inevitably going to wear down as the season moves beyond the All-Star break. You also have some young position players who are still finding their feet in MLB.

IMO Athletics supporters have been somewhat "spoilt" by Beanes' ability to put a consistently-competitive team on the field over the last ten years, despite the huge turnover in players. The moves made over the last two years or so, point to a team in full-scale rebuilding mode (with the Holliday trade being part of this on-going process). Most teams in full-scale re-building mode have to endure a period of losing before their efforts bear fruit.

Welcome to the world inhabited by the rest of us!



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2009 3:43 pm
 

What About Bob?

The A's trade away more tallent then they get back. Did Billy Beane just get lucky with the trades earlier. He hasn't made a good trade in 5years at least . I completely disagree with this. For example, just look at the recent trades. Beane landed Joey Devine for a year of Mark Kotsay. He landed the White Sox's top hitting prospect (Ryan Sweeney) and top two pitching prospects (Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos) in the Nick Swisher deal. The Dan Haren deal basically turned into Matt Holliday, Brett Anderson, Christopher Carter (A's minor league player of the year last season), Dana Eveland, and Aaron Cunningham. The results of the Harden and Blanton deals have yet to show up, but it did free up payroll for the A's to add Orlando Cabrera and Jason Giambi.

Billy started beleaving his book and how good he thinks he is. It's not his book (Michael Lewis wrote it) and the book really isn't about him all that much. It's about how Beane manages to find flaws in the market. How he can find players that no one wants and have them be good on the A's (i.e. Scott Hatteberg and Frank Thomas).

I say look no further the the GM Billy Beane its on his shoulders. I'll blame Beane for firing Ken Macha and I also admit his draft picks haven't turned up to be much. However, for one, he wasn't receiving high draft picks all these years because his team was winning. Secondly, his recent picks have shown to be much better.



Since: Jun 7, 2007
Posted on: May 5, 2009 3:37 pm
 

What About Bob?

^^^Well Hello Koyangi^^^



Since: Feb 19, 2008
Posted on: May 5, 2009 3:16 pm
 

What About Bob?

I agree with you on Geren is not a good coach. I just don't think he is the biggest problem. The A's trade away more tallent then they get back. Did Billy Beane just get lucky with the trades earlier. He hasn't made a good trade in 5years at least .He also milks good players in there last year of their contract.Doesn't trade them and get anything back for them!!! If anyone is to blame it's Billy Beane!! He is a nother mico manager in pro sports. Yes I under stand small market money. He also hasn't draft very well in the last 7 years.He hired the manager and scouts so doesn't that leave Billy to blame. Billy started beleaving his book and how good he thinks he is. 
  
When was the last time the A's had a lead off hitter? Shouldn't a team have someone batting over 300 all good teams have more then one.Suzuki is so far this year. Who was the last one to do it for the year.Can't win if you don't score. The A's had a good team in 2006 who's to blame for the down fall ? I say look no further the the GM Billy Beane its on his shoulders.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2009 3:09 pm
 

What About Bob?

I will... it sucks that we'll have to eat over million dollars to do it... but Geren's gotta go... it's scary that I find myself listening to Reds games and thinking: "If only Geren wasn't DUMBER than Dusty Baker this year; we'd be looking pretty good"... Geren being a "players manager" is starting to bug me. I think I'd be fine with it if the A's had a strict clubhouse, but their clubhouse is one of the loosest clubhouses in the league and historically has been. The more I look into why Ken Macha was fired. the more and more I don't like that decision. Macha demanded toughness from his players and he expected them to go out and perform daily no matter what. It's no wonder that the A's have used the disabled list a record number of times since Geren took over. Most have said the A's are just unlucky, but could it be that the manager is too soft on his players?....I'm not sure.

Whatever the reason, I'm displeased with how the A's have started the season and they better start turning it around. The Angels were without John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Ervin Santana, and Vladimir Guerrero for the first month and Oakland failed to capitalize on it.



Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:07 pm
 

What About Bob?

Banned Poster, I hope you do not mind what I am about to tell you. If you do then let me know and I will remove it. I have a blog about what the games should mean to us and instead of updating it today as I would have, I put a link to this one.  To me it is exactly why I wrote the blog to begin with. Ones passion for the sport and team they love and what it does to us when things go wrong. Thank you again for a great piece.



Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: May 5, 2009 1:00 pm
 

What About Bob?

Great stuff, BP.



Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2009 12:51 pm
 

What About Bob?

Although I am not a fan of your team, I am a fan of the game. I am also a fan of your writing. This is a great piece and if every baseball fan would read it it would give them the both the incite into the game they need, as well as remind them of the passion they have all had for thier teams and players over the years. Bravo Banned Poster. As a National League guy myself, Mets fan, I would hope this is a wide spread blog that baseball fans read.



Since: Jun 7, 2007
Posted on: May 5, 2009 12:45 pm
 

What About Bob?

Wow... Incredibly written... You could probably sell this to Michael Urban in a heartbeat.

I don't have too much to add as we pretty much agree about all the poor decisions Geren's made this year, to summarize:

Outman over Gallagher (leaving Gallagher in almost a mop-up long relief role when he did more to earn the starter's job than  Josh Outman), but not allowing Gallagher to get starts in AAA.
Gio Gonzalez gets called up for one game where he had 80-85 pitches of great relief before it was obvious to EVERYONE including Seattle's radio crew, that it was BEYOND time to come get him... and Bob leaves him in there to get rocked as he needs 108 pitche before he could catch pine.
Same game as ^^^ Russ Springer in the 9th with a lead? with Weurtz on the bench (who could have come in after the A's scored 3 runs in the 13th too... but Geren UNTHINKABLY trotted Gio back out there to get shelled..
Davis over Buck against lefties?
Moving the infield in the second inning of a scoreless game~

These are absolutely absurd decisions, absurd... it's not looking like some 'strategy' it's looking like Geren's blind out there...

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,

I will... it sucks that we'll have to eat over million dollars to do it... but Geren's gotta go... it's scary that I find myself listening to Reds games and thinking: "If only Geren wasn't DUMBER than Dusty Baker this year; we'd be looking pretty good"...

we're a lost heard right now, we need a new sheppard~



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com