A's fire Bob Geren -- Melvin named interim manager


A's fire Bob Geren -- Melvin named interim manager

June 9, 2011


Paul Gutierrez

In the middle of a nine-game losing streak, the A's on Thursday fired Bob Geren as manager and replaced him with Bob Melvin as interim manager for the remainder of the season.

A's general manager Billy Beane called it a "drastic move" in a conference call with reporters, indicating that continued speculation about Geren's job status helped move his hand.

"A change is necessary when the focus is on the status of the manager on a daily basis and no longer on the field," Beane said. "You have to shift the focus on the performance.

"We need to shift the focus back on the fieldthis was well-thought out over time."

RATTO: Firing Geren a start to fixing woeful A's

Beane would not say of players had approached him about making a change but did say, "Bob Melvin will inherit some of the challenges Bob (Geren) left. He lost four starting pitchers in the span of four weeks."

Geren, 49, had been named manager on Nov. 17, 2006 and was 334-376 (.470) in four-plus seasons. His rosters had been best by injury but this year's club, with exceptional starting pitching, was expected to contend. Instead, the A's are 27-36 and in last place in the American League West, eight games behind first-place Texas.

When hired, Geren was taking over a team coming of an appearance in the American League Championship Series, where it had been swept by the Detroit Tigers. Many observers wondered about Geren's credentials since his relationship with general manager Billy Beane and being in his wedding was well known.

"That was a problem at first," former Athletics pitcher Dan Haren told on May 25, in the wake of first-year A's reliever Brian Fuentes venting to the media about Geren's managerial and communication skills.

"There was a feeling like Billy was running the team through Bob"

Melvin, meanwhile, is seen as his own man and manager in baseball circles. A native of Palo Alto who graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park in 1979 before playing baseball at Cal, the 49-year-old Melvin is the winningest manager in Arizona Diamondbacks history, going 337-340 from 2005 through 2009.

Beane said it was not fair to compare the two "Bobs" as managers.

"Bob's got the rest of this year to make an impact," Beane said of Melvin.

Melvin was the National League manager of the year in 2007 after guiding the Diamondbacks to a league-best 90-72 record. He also served as the Seattle Mariners' manager in 2003 and 2004, going 93-69 as a rookie manager.

Melvin was Bob Brenly's bench coach for the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks and has also worked for Phil Garner in Milwaukee (1999) and Detroit (2000). He was also was a scout for Milwaukee in 1996, roving instructor in 1997 and an assistant to general manager Sal Bando in 1998.

Last month, Melvin rejoined Arizona as a special baseball advisor to President and CEO Derrick Hall.

As a player, Melvin spent 10 season in the big leagues after Detroit drafted him as its first selection in the January, 1981 draft. A catcher, he batted .233 with 35 home runs and 212 RBI in 692 career games. He played with the Tigers (1985), Giants (1986-88), Baltimore (1989-91), Kansas City (1992), Boston (1993), the Yankees (1994) and White Sox (1994).

Many of Geren's critics have said he was a "good man," but wondered if Geren was a good "baseball man."

Beane said he was both.

"He's a great baseball man," Beane said. "If you look at his history, look, we've had a terrible run of injuries. Definitively, he's a baseball man, and will continue to be one going forward."

Beane, though, would not say of Geren would remain with three organization, instead saying his best friend was on his way back to the Bay Area for one of his son's high school graduation.

"Any time, letting somebody go, it's never easy, regardless of relationships," Beane said, adding that their friendship may have actually helped the conversation move along that he was being fired.

Geren seemingly had the support of A's owner Lew Wolff in the days following the Fuentes episode.

"I think Bob's fantastic," Wolff said at the time. "Bob's fine, terrific. It's a tough job."

Too tough, it appears.

OAKLAND, Calif.Oakland Athletics Vice President & General Manager Billy Beane announced today that Bob Geren has been relieved of his duties as manager and former Major League manager Bob Melvin has been named interim manager for the remainder of the 2011 season. Geren, 49, was named the As manager on Nov. 17, 2006. He registered a 334-376 (.470) record in four-plus seasons with Oakland, including a 27-36 mark and last-place standing in the American League West this year.The Arizona Diamondbacks all-time winningest manager, Melvin arrives in Chicago today and will assume his managerial duties tonight when the As open a four-game series against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The 49-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. native has compiled an overall record of 493-508 in seven previous seasons as a Major League manager from 2003-09 with the Seattle Mariners (156-168, 2003-04) and Diamondbacks (337-340, 2005-09).In his rookie managerial season, he directed the Mariners to a 93-69 record in 2003. Four years later, he won National League Manager of the Year honors after piloting Arizona to a league-best 90-72 mark and the NL West Division title in 2007. Melvin also served as the Diamondbacks bench coach on Bob Brenlys coaching staff from 2001-02, when Arizona won the World Series in 2001 and the NL West Division championship in 2002. In addition, he held positions as Phil Garners bench coach for Milwaukee in 1999 and Detroit in 2000. Prior to those bench coach roles, he spent three seasons with Milwaukee in various capacities, serving as a scout in 1996, roving instructor in 1997 and as assistant to General Manager Sal Bando in 1998. Most recently, Melvin had rejoined the Diamondbacks as a special baseball advisor to President & CEO Derrick Hall last month, assisting the baseball operations department and other business divisions of the organization.Melvin graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park, Calif. in 1979 and later attended and played baseball at the University of California in Berkeley. Detroit selected him as its first choice in the secondary phase of the 1981 January draft and the former catcher posted a .233 batting average with 35 home runs and 212 RBI while playing in 692 games during his 10-year Major League career with the Tigers (1985), San Francisco Giants (1986-88), Baltimore Orioles (1989-91), Kansas City Royals (1992), Boston Red Sox (1993), New York Yankees (1994) and Chicago White Sox (1994).Geren first joined the As organization as a minor league manager in 1999, serving one season at Single-A Modesto before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in 2000. After three years with the River Cats, he was named to the major league coaching staff, where he was bullpen coach from 2003-05 and bench coach in 2006. His best season as Oaklands manager came last year, when he guided the As to an 81-81 record and second-place finish in the AL West. He led the team to finishes of 76-86 in 2007, 75-86 in 2008 and 75-87 in 2009.Melvin becomes the 29th manager in franchise history and 18th in Oakland annals.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’


How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.