OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics fired manager Bob Geren on Thursday in the midst of a nine-game losing streak that has sent them tumbling to the bottom of the AL West standings.
“It felt like at this point a change was necessary,” general manager Billy Beane said. “It got to the point where the emphasis was on the status of the manager on a daily basis and no longer on the field. When that starts to happen, you need to shift the focus to what’s really important, which is performance. That’s how we came to this decision.”
Former Arizona manager Bob Melvin will take over for the rest of the season as interim manager in the first midseason managerial change for the organization in a quarter century.
Geren’s four-plus season tenure at the helm in Oakland was marked by numerous injuries, a lack of offense and high-profile departures as he was unable to post a winning season after taking over an AL West championship team from Ken Macha. Geren posted a 334-376 record, including a 27-36 mark this season that has left Oakland eight games behind Texas in the AL West. This was the final year of Geren’s contract.
The A’s currently have four starting pitchers on the disabled list, including a season-ending shoulder injury for Dallas Braden. Oakland also was without injured All-Star closer Andrew Bailey for the first two months and is last in the American League with just 223 runs through the first 63 games.
“Bob Melvin will inherit some of the challenges that Bob had,” Beane said. “Bob lost four starting pitchers in the space of three weeks. That was a tough body blow for the team. That was very difficult from Bob’s standpoint. We also have to be realistic here starting out of the gate how we manage around those four guys on the disabled list.”
The beleaguered manager had come under criticism from his bullpen in recent weeks for a lack of communication with reliever Brian Fuentes and former Oakland closer Huston Street publicly criticized him.
But it was the rash of injuries and the total lack of offense that led to the current losing streak that spelled the end of his tenure. The current skid is the longest for the A’s since a 10-gamer in July 2008 and the fifth-longest single-season losing streak since the team moved to Oakland in 1968.
This is the first time the A’s have fired a manager during the season since getting rid of Jackie Moore after 73 games in 1986. Jeff Newman took over for 10 games on an interim basis before Tony La Russa was brought in to start a run that included four division titles and the 1989 World Series championship.
Beane said he started the process of evaluating Geren’s status a few weeks ago before making the ultimate decision.
“Whenever you replace your manager, it’s a drastic move,” Beane said. “I’ve never had to do it in my tenure as general manager. This is a new script for myself. I don’t know if you ever know what the right time is.”
Geren, a longtime friend of Beane, was hired to replace Macha after the 2006 season. The A’s won the division that year and their first playoff series since 1990 before being swept in the AL championship series by Detroit.
Melvin, 49, was to take over the helm for the series opener in Chicago against the White Sox on Thursday night. The Bay Area native posted a 493-508 record in seven seasons as manager with Seattle and Arizona. He led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 1997 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with the Mariners in 2003.
“We felt somewhat fortunate that a guy with Bob’s status and credibility was available to us,” Beane said. “When it was all said and done, we felt like now was the time to make a change.”
Melvin was also on Bob Brenly’s staff as bench coach in 2001 when the Diamondbacks won the World Series and the following year when they won the NL West. Melvin also coached for Milwaukee and Detroit.
Melvin played 10 seasons in the majors as a catcher with Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Kansas City, Boston, the Yankees and White Sox. He batted .233 with 35 homers and 212 RBIs in 1,955 career at-bats.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)