Tag:Bob Geren
Posted on: July 14, 2009 3:41 am

A's Midseason Report Card

2009 Record: 37-49, 4th Place in American League West
Offensive Grade: F
Defensive Grade: D
Starting Pitching Grade: B-
Bullpen Pitching Grade: B-
Managerial Grade: F
Front Office Grade: F
Overall Midseason Grade: D+

The A's entered 2009 as a darkhorse candidate to win the division. Now, at the halfway point, the team is a darkhorse candidate for the worst record in the American league. 2009 marks the first time in the past decade that the A's have entered the All-Star break with a record below .500. Offensively, the team has been a complete mess. Once again, Eric Chavez has found himself sidelined for the entire season, while the new free agent acquisitions have disappointed thus far. Even Matt Holliday , who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies , has gotten off to a slow start and there are now questions as to whether or not the A's will be able to get what they want in return in a midseason deal. Defensively, the A's have struggled, mainly because injuries to gold glove caliber players in Chavez and Mark Ellis . However, this can also be attributed to manager Bob Geren for starting Jack Cust in right field in many games thus far. The starting pitching has shown signs of promise. Trevor Cahill , Brett Anderson , and Vin Mazzaro , already christened "the new big three", have looked brilliant at times....and other times have shown their lack of experience. Dallas Braden has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, but a lack of run support has failed to earn him recognition. So has Josh Outman , but he became the third A's player to fall victim to Tommy John Surgery this offseason. The bullpen was very good at the beginning of the year, but has started falter down the stretch, mainly from being used far too much. Michael Wuertz and Andrew Bailey have been the two bright spots though. As for manager Bob Geren, he looks lost. He refuses to let starters work deep into games, has failed to play the matchups correctly, and shows no confidence in his team. If he wasn't Billy Beane's best man at his second wedding, he might be the second manager to be fired this season. Speaking of Billy Beane , he has completely mishandled the farm system all year long and his trade for Scott Hairston is questionable. It's been a rough first half for the A's.

First Half MVP: Andrew Bailey - Closer

After trading Huston Street in the offseason and seeing Joey Devine fall victim to Tommy John Surgery, many that follow the A's were wondering who would step up and take over the role of the teams closer. Andrew Bailey answered that question. Since being selected as the last reliever to make the A's bullpen out of spring training, Bailey has forced everyone around baseball to take notice of him. He is the only rookie to be selected for the All-Star Game in St. Louis and is the A's lone representative. No one could dare say Bailey isn't deserving though. Bailey leads all American League Relievers in innings pitched and strikeouts and is 4th among American League Closers with a 1.92 era. Bailey features a mid 90's fastball, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera .

Apologies to: Adam Kennedy, Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden

First Half LVP: Jason Giambi - First Basemen

If the Jason Giambi that the A's had on their team mirrored anything close to the young guy in the picture to the right, the A's were going to get a bargain in the offseason. Unfortunately, what they ended up with was an over the hill, aging veteran, whose bat can't catch up to an inside fastball. Giambi has been terrible this season. In fact, this is his worst season of his career. Currently, Giambi is hitting below the Mendoza Line at .192 on the year. The A's were hoping Giambi would be an upgrade from Daric Barton , but instead they only stunted Barton's development for no apparent reason. In addition, his inability to play the field everyday is causing manager Bob Geren to play Jack Cust in the outfield, a position that Cust should never play. Because of his performance, the A's can't trade Giambi. Jason has a team option for next year in which I don't think is going to get picked up. Unless Giambi has a strong second half, Giambi might be playing his last season in baseball.

sighs of relief for: Jack Cust, Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera

Biggest Surprise: Adam Kennedy - Infielder

At the beginning of the season, no one wanted Adam Kennedy . In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals waived Kennedy, eating the $4 million dollars he had owed on his contract. The Rays signed Kennedy to a minor league deal, but then quickly sent him to the A's for career minor leaguer Joe Dillon . Oh how those two teams GM's wish they could have do overs...Since arriving in Oakland, Kennedy has been an offensive force and is having his best season as pro baseball player. Kennedy is currently hitting .291 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Mind you, those numbers are since May, as the first month of the season Kennedy was in AAA. His home run total is his highest since 2004 when he hit 10 in a season. Kennedy is also proving to be a versatile player, playing whatever position he has been asked to receive playing time. He originally was called over to play second base in place of the injured Mark Ellis, but when Ellis returned Kennedy has made the transition to 3rd, 1st, and even some time in right field and has kept on hitting. Because Kennedy is a free agent at the end of the year though, he remains a good candidate to be traded. A team like the Cubs would be a perfect fit.

Apologies to: Josh Outman, Andrew Bailey, Dallas Braden

Player Most Likely to Be Traded: Matt Holliday - Left Field

While the A's have many players that could be dealt by the end of the month, none of them are more likely to leave than outfielder Matt Holliday. Holliday was a three time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies, but has regressed since joining the A's and leaving the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field. According to reports, the A's are said to be asking for two top of the line prospects in return for Holliday. The reasoning is because the A's would not only be trading away Holliday, but the two compensation picks that come with him if he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The teams that make the most sense to acquire Holliday seem to be the Mets , Cardinals, and possibly the Red Sox . If teams won't give A's GM Billy Beane what he wants, Beane will simply hold on to Holliday and obtain the draft picks at the end of the season. However, some skeptics suggest that if Holliday doesn't get the price he wants in the offseason, he may accept arbitration from the A's which would net him a 1 year deal around 18 million. Personally, I don't think he would do it though as the last place Holliday would want to be to rebuild his value is Oakland. If it does happen though, the A's may have the same situation at this time next season.

Don't Get Too Comfortable: Adam Kennedy, Russ Springer, Bobby Crosby

First Prospect Likely To Be Called Up in 2nd Half: Tommy Everidge - Corner Infield

Tommy Everidge is flying under the radar. So much in fact, that I hadn't even heard of him until this year. He isn't even on Baseball America's list for the A's top 10 prospects. However, I can't wait for this kid to recieve his callup. Everidge features good power and pretty solid bat. Two seasons ago in Single-A, Everidge had 26 home runs and 94 RBI's while batting .266. Last year he had 22 home runs, 115 RBI, and improved his batting average to .279 at AA Midland. This season, combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Everidge is off to a torrid start hitting .309/.375/.508 with 14 home runs and an astonishing 73 RBI at the halfway point. A natural first basemen, the A's have been gradually converting Everidge to play 3rd, a position the organizational depth is weak at. His promotion to AAA, as well as the position switch, I believe forced the A's to trade away Jack Hannahan , who was demoted to AAA after a weak start to the season. The team probably felt they didn't want a player like Hannahan taking away at bats from Everidge. I expect to see Everidge to receive his first callup in August, though the team would likely have to trade Adam Kennedy to make room on the roster. If this kid has the ability to play 3rd base, the A's might have found their replacement for Eric Chavez.

Posted on: June 23, 2009 3:03 am
Edited on: June 23, 2009 3:38 am

(Travis) Buck Stops Here

A's Young Outfielder Proving to Management He Belongs

Travis Buck is angry. He's let it be known that he's not happy with A's management, nor manager Bob Geren.

And I don't blame him.

After returning from the 15 day disabled list on June 14th, the A's optioned Buck to AAA-Sacramento.

At the time, it was thought that Buck was sent down to get work in while the A's played 9 straight interleague games in NL parks. After all, the A's had to get their everday DH and home run leader, Jack Cust, into the lineup. But now that the A's are back in American League ballparks for the rest of the way, that never seemed to be the case as Buck is still stuck in AAA.

Buck was upset about being placed on the disabled list on May 30th, a day after refusing to play in the second game of a double header against the Texas Rangers on May 29th due to a strained oblique muscle. Even though Buck supplied almost all of the A's offense in the first game, it must of made both Bob Geren and Billy Beane mad that Buck said he was pain free the next day. 
Even though the A's front office would never admit to it, it's really the only explanation that makes sense. After all, Buck has hit .323 in his last 31 at bats with the team. Most of which have come sparingly due to Bob Geren platooning Buck for the entire season.

But then that got this A's fan thinking....

Could Billy Beane's ego be that big that he would sacrifice putting a better product on the field to make a statement to a player? Or was it Bob Geren, the man that has refused to give Buck regular at bats since the beginning of the season, that wanted Buck off the roster?

The A's as a team were hitting just .242 at the time Buck was placed on the disabled list and it seems odd the team wouldn't want one of their hottest hitters in the lineup. The team batting average has since dropped to .235 through Sunday, which is worst in the majors. 

However, Buck isn't letting the demotion affect him.

So far in 46 plate appearances for the Rivercats, Buck is hitting .405 with a .478 on base percentage. Not only that, but Buck is slugging .649, with 6 doubles and 1 home run in just 11 games. He clearly is sending management a message of his own.

A message like "You made a big mistake".

A rookie in 2007, Buck played very well for the A's as he went on to hit .288 with 7 home runs in just 285 at bats. Inspired by his performance and work ethic, the A's decided to trade their oft injured star in Milton Bradley in order to secure everday playing time for him.

However, after starting out 0 for his first 20 at bats in 2008, the A's sent Travis to AAA to fix his swing rather than letting him work out his problems with the big league club.

After a few weeks, Buck had fixed his swing, but the A's found that they didn't have a roster spot for him as they had brought back Frank Thomas to fill a void in the lineup.

Buck continued to hit in the minors and finished the year batting .326 for Sacramento. In the final two weeks of September, Buck was called back up to the A's and hit .367 with four home runs and 12 RBI in that time frame. 

At the outset of spring training in 2009, Buck came into camp told that he would be battling for the starting right field job. At the conclusion, Buck put all the critics to rest hitting for a .300, a .402 on base percentage and led the team in home runs and RBI. Naturally, it was assumed that Buck would be playing everday for the A's in right field.

However, manager Bob Geren was never a member of the Travis Buck fan club.

Geren decided initially to platoon Buck, only starting him against right handers. The logic never made sense though.

Usually, when a player is to be platooned against left handed pitchers, they are platooned with a player that can hit those lefties better. Buck's platoon partner, outfielder Rajai Davis, wasn't any better at hitting lefties than Buck himself. Buck's career average against left handers was two points higher than Davis. Also, he isn't considered a core piece of the future of the Oakland A's, so it seemed odd to give him the at bats. Up until this point, it seemed as if Travis Buck was one of those players. Now, I'm not so sure....Only because A's management won't let him be.

Buck needs to be up with the major league roster and he needs to be playing everday. He is doing everything in his power to prove he belongs. Whatever the case may be, whether it's Beane or manager Bob Geren, the conflict needs to be resolved and the egos need to be checked. Travis Buck has earned his right to play everday.

If Buck can't force Beane to call him back up, then perhaps his play in Sacramento will force Billy to trade him. Either way, it's a no win situation for Oakland with Buck off of the 25 man roster.

Posted on: May 26, 2009 6:21 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 7:26 pm

Up and Adam

A's Kennedy Provides Offense With Spark

Having scored the fewest runs and having the lowest OPS of any American League team in 2008, Billy Beane's offseason goal for 2009 was simple ---The offense had to get better. So Beane started on his quest by trading for outfielder Matt Holliday, signing Jason Giambi to come back and play first base, and getting himself a top of the order middle infielder in Orlando Cabrera.

That alone should have been enough to get the A's offense out of the American League cellar for scoring runs, right? I mean, after all, Holliday was coming off of three All-Star seasons in Colorado, Giambi was coming off of a season in which he hit 32 homers and over 90 runs batted in for the Yankees, and Cabrera hit .281 last year, a batting average higher than all but one A's regular in 2008.

Overall, the team isn't doing a whole lot better with the moves, only moving up three spots in run production and still sitting dead last in OPS, but it is getting better. In the month of May alone, the A's have already hit 23 home runs and considering they hit 9 all of April, it's a definite sign that the offense is going the right way.

And despite the news that Eric Chavez's career may be a sneeze away from retiring and that Mark Ellis is expected to miss a lot of time this season, the team continues to have confidence in its offensive abilities. The acquisition of Adam Kennedy from Tampa Bay on May 8th has paid huge dividends for the team. Through 15 games, Kennedy is off to a torrid start hitting .441 with 2 home runs, 13 RBI's, 6 doubles, and 3 steals to start off his career as an Athletic.

Meanwhile, teams such as the Cardinals and Rays have to wonder whether or not they made the right decision letting him walk.

In November of 2006, the Cardinals signed Kennedy to a 3 year/10 million dollar contract to play for them. However, after Kennedy became frustrated with his lack of playing time a season ago, the Cardinals released him in February of this year, eating the $4 million dollars that Kennedy had remaining on his contract. A week later, Kennedy signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and was invited to camp, but did not make the roster. At AAA Durham, Kennedy was .280/.366/.439 in 23 games and was dealt to the A's for a player to be named later (infielder Joe Dillon) and immediately became the A's starting second basemen.

For Kennedy, he knew his opportunity would come this year with some team.

"I'm just trying to fit in, you know?" said Kennedy. "I knew I'd be back [in the majors]. I was just down there grinding away. It's not fun, but you can't not stay ready."

Truer words couldn't have been spoken. That is the kind of leadership the A's were expecting to come from Holliday and Giambi.

"What a spark plug he's been," said A's 3rd basemen Jack Hannahan. "He's kind of a lead-by-example-type guy, but at the same time, he'll talk to you about where to play guys. He's a good addition to the team."

Kennedy is expected to remain the A's starting second basemen until Mark Ellis comes back from the disabled list on June 28th. At that point, manager Bob Geren has hinted at the possibility of moving Kennedy to third base, in place of the injured Eric Chavez.

The A's are currently 17-25 and set to play divisional series this week against the Seattle Mariners and the division leading Texas Rangers.

Have a question about the A's? Send me a PM with your question and it could be featured in my latest A's blog!!!

Posted on: May 11, 2009 2:08 am
Edited on: May 11, 2009 2:53 am

Sigh of Relief

A's Rookie Leads Majors Best Bullpen

Co-closer Joey Devine is out for year needing Tommy John surgery. The teams other Co-closer has been battling the flu for the past week and a half and their main set-up man has found himself on the 15 day disabled list. Yet despite the setbacks the Oakland A's have faced in regards to their bullpen, it has been the best in the majors.

A good bullpen is invaluable, especially for a team such as Oakland, which features three rookie pitchers in its starting rotation. The A's bullpen averages four innings per game, most in the majors, but features a league leading 2.73 bullpen era, 1.15 WHIP and batters are hitting just .207 off of Oakland relievers. All three of those statistics are best in the league.

The anchor of this bullpen so far has been rookie Andrew Bailey.

Bailey has overcome a lot to get to where he is today with the A's. After a promising sophomore year at Wagner, in which Bailey recorded 84 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched, he started to gain recognition as a top tier prospect by major league scouts. However, everything took a turn for the worse during Bailey's junior season as he suffered an elbow injury and was required to get Tommy John Surgery. The injury made it so Bailey only appeared in seven games during the season and his stock dropped in the 2005 draft. He was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round, but chose to continue his career at Wagner instead of going pro. He couldn't have made a better decision.

After spending 10 months of rehab, Bailey posted his best year yet at the college ranks posting a 2.03 era and striking out 53 batters in 41 innings pitched. Bailey finished college as Wagner's career strikeout leader and was selected by the Oakland A's in the 6th round of the 2006 draft. While Bailey spent his first two seasons in the A's minor league system as a starter, it wasn't until the middle of the 2008 season at AA Midland that that the A's started viewing Bailey as a reliever and developing him in that role.

Entering camp at the beginning of this season, Bailey wasn't guaranteed a roster spot on the A's. In fact, many thought Bailey didn't stand a chance at making the opening day roster considering Bailey hadn't pitched much above AA. However, with Brad Ziegler playing in the World Baseball Classic and Joey Devine battling injury, Bailey got his opportunity to pitch in many spring games and didn't disappoint. He featured a 0.66 era in 13.2 innings. The performance was too good for the A's to ignore and with Joey Devine starting the season on the disabled list, Bailey was named the last Oakland reliever on the 25-man roster.

Bailey's "stuff" is downright scary. He features a fastball that reaches up to 98 mph, a curveball, and a cutter that does its best impression of Mariano Rivera. So far this year, Bailey stands at 3-0, with a 1.27 era in 21 and a third innings pitched this season. He has 24 strikeouts, but even more remarkabale is that Bailey has only given up 6 hits all season.

"He continues to be impressive. He throws strikes and has multiple pitches," said A's manager Bob Geren when asked about Bailey. "I feel comfortable bringing him in any time, which is a big boost."

Bailey recorded his first career save last friday in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays, doing it old fashioned style with two innings of shutout baseball. He wasn't originally planned to work the two innings, but Bailey was so effective in the 8th, the choice as to whether or not to send him out again for the 9th was a no brainer. Bailey faced the minimum number of batters, allowing no hits, striking out two, and only threw 20 pitches.

Not too bad. The closers role may be where Bailey's future lies. Brad Ziegler doesn't project as a long term closer and most expected him to lose the role to Joey Devine as the season progressed. If Bailey keeps performing like he has been, he may once again force Bob Geren's hand and require the A's to make the switch.

Regardless of where he ends up, he has helped shape the A's bullpen into the best in the majors. While the A's have gotten off to a slow start in 2009, they still show signs of improving and as their young stars continue to develop, this teams future looks bright.

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

What About Bob?

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.

Posted on: April 1, 2009 9:43 pm
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