A nine-game losing streak and four-plus seasons of mundane mediocrity have cost A's manager Bob Geren his job, the club announced Thursday.
Several other factors doomed Geren's tenure, and many of those woes will be inherited by his successor, Bob Melvin, a former Cal and Giants catcher who's previously managed the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Melvin, assigned the "interim" tag, will be introduced by general manager Billy Beane before Thursday's game at the Chicago White Sox.
The A's are in a catatonic state. No, Geren wasn't the liveliest personality. But he endured a no-win situation and turned it into a no-win-no-lose-break-even world.
Since taking over for Ken Macha in 2007, Geren was doomed by: a) Injuries every year to seemingly every player, b) no bats, c) a decrepit ballpark, d) ownership that alienated Oakland fans in favor of a San Jose relocation, e) Billy Beane's shadow as a marquee general manager and of course their best-man-wedding ties, f) his own faults as a game manager and communicator.
Geren was a calm, cordial manager who enjoyed talking about baseball. He wasn't overwhelmingly liked because the A's weren't overachievers. He wasn't vilified because the A's don't garner enough interest to fuel such passion.
How can a manager command a clubhouse when it is, basically, a graffiti-laced bus depot for players coming and going, from Triple-A prospects to last-leg veterans, with the occasional productive ballplayer getting dealt elsewhere for a package of prospects?
The A's were a pretty solid franchise before Geren took over for Macha. Since then, not so much. Their 27-36 record is worst in the American League West, a division they won in 2006 in Macha's swan song. Geren's four full seasons went like this: 76-86 in 2007, 75-86 in '08, 75-87 in '09 and 81-81 in '10.
Did Geren ruin the franchise? Nope. How could he? He didn't command the room, roster or perception as a milquetoast manager.
Can Melvin resurrect the A's? Nope. How can he? He might be more loquacious and a fresh face, but he'll need help in the form of: a) healthier players, b) productive players (paging: Hideki Matsui), c) focused players not looking for the exit.
The A's attract the third-lowest home crowds in the majors at 18,792. They are a dull draw, and they've been that way throughout Geren's tenure. Don't blame him for the A's finishing with the second-worst attendance last season or the worst in 2009. He's simply been the shift supervisor of an inferior product that, thanks to baseball's revenue system, still is a profitable entity for his bosses.
Questioning his ability to manage bullpens and ever-changing lineups have been a popular outcry this season, especially when reliever Brian Fuentes and former Athletics closer Huston Street recently shredded Geren's communication skills.
Fine, pick on him. Just understand he didn't sink the A's. This starts at the top with an ownership distracted by relocation wishes. Geren endless lineup changes were a result of widespread injuries and subpar talent.
How on earth can Melvin reverse that trend? He can't. But can jazz up the A's appearance for one day. Melvin represents change in a season that the A's have exhausted every other avenue of change: Relievers, batting orders, starting rotation, etc.
Old manager: 49-year-old, former catcher named Bob.
New manager: 49-year-old, former catcher named Bob.
And this is supposed to reverse the A's fortunes. This once-proud franchise is severely wounded from every aspect of a professional organization. Geren so happens to be the scapegoat-of-the-moment.