Bob Melvin’s contract extension through 2019 with Oakland wasn’t nearly so much a surprise as the fact that he’s been the Athletics' manager as long as he has.
The A’s, after all, have been known for their roster volatility for years, a strategy that has hit as often as it has failed but has almost always been more frustrating than enervating.
But managers? Remarkably stable, even in the Billy Beane era, which will be precisely 20 years long in 19 days. Do send a card.
[RELATED: Beane explains Melvin's extension: 'We couldn’t have a better man' as manager]
The A’s have had but four managers – Art Howe, who was worked over in Beane’s most volatile period; Ken Macha, whose own volatility got him fired and rehired in the same managerial cycle; Bob Geren, Beane's close personal friend whose time matched a particularly stultifying period in franchise history; and Melvin, whose first three full seasons look very little like his last three.
But the A’s are acknowledging here that the team’s latest cratering is really roster-based, and that Melvin is better suited to resuscitate this franchise as it leans into its new stadium phase than anyone else either in or outside the organization.
Indeed, he is 64 games away from passing Howe for third in games managed with this team, and is three years away from passing Tony La Russa for second. Barring continued stagnation, political intrigues or some other catastrophe, he is likely to do so.
But he is under the same make-this-good-when-the-ballpark-opens pressure that general manager David Forst and even Beane himself are under. The A’s are playing not only for their place in the American League and the hearts of a city who is losing its two other teams, but for the success of a billion-dollar real estate venture.
Now guess which of those matters most owner John Fisher.