Athletics

Former Athletic Tony Phillips passes away at 56

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Former Athletic Tony Phillips passes away at 56

MESA, Ariz. -- Former A's infielder Tony Phillips died Wednesday in Arizona at age 56, the team announced in a statement Friday.

Phillips is the third member of Oakland's 1989 World Series championship team to pass away in less than two years. Pitcher Bob Welch died in June 2014 after an accidental fall in his bathroom, and outfielder Dave Henderson suffered a fatal heart attack in December. Both were 57. 

There was no immediate word on Phillips' cause of death, but the news was a somber note on the eve of the A's beginning spring training in Mesa. 

“The Oakland A’s lost another member of our family this week with the unexpected passing of Tony Phillips,” A's president Michael Crowley said in a statement. “We all have fond memories of Tony making the final play in the A’s 1989 World Series. He was a remarkable player. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Phillips made his Major League debut with the A’s in 1982 and spent eight seasons with Oakland through 1989. He followed that with a five-year stay with Detroit from 1990-94 and also played for California (1995), Chicago-AL (1996-97), Anaheim (1997), Toronto (1998) and New York-NL (1998) before concluding his career with the A’s in 1999. Phillips hit .266 with 160 home runs and 819 RBI in 2161 career games.

He was a member of the A’s 1989 World Series Champions as a valuable utility player who played every position except pitcher and catcher in his career. Phillips batted a career-high .313 with Detroit in 1993 and hit a career-high 27 home runs with the Angels in 1995.

Oakland A's media services contributed to this report

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Bob Melvin is Manager of the Year in the American League. Not only recognized by The Sporting News a few weeks back, but now, on the grandest stage by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Melvin clearly deserves this honor on his own merits, but it’s even more impressive that he won what could have been a popularity contest. Considering Alex Cora and the season had by his Boston Red Sox. Or Aaron Boone with the Yankees, who wasn’t even named as a finalist. Both of those first-year skippers run huge payroll teams in huge media markets, and obviously lived up to some expectations.

But for Melvin, he took an emerging 2017 A’s group and raised the bar by 22 wins. That was despite enduring a completely broken-down starting rotation and a franchise that began Opening Day with the lowest payroll in all of baseball.

For reference: No team in the last 30 years of Major League Baseball has started the first game with the lowest payroll and gone on to the playoffs. Until the A's did in 2018.

Knowing some of the inner workings of this team without giving too much away, I can tell you that Melvin has a tremendous grasp on his club, both when they are surging and when they are struggling.

After Melvin won this award, analysts will try to point to tangible things such as in-game decision-making when it comes to quantifying how he managed his group so well. And yes, the A's did lead all of baseball in one-run wins.  

But for me, it’s all that you can’t see that makes Melvin the runaway winner for Manager of the Year.

For example, he facilitated the transition of one-time left fielder Khris Davis into an everyday designated hitter, and saw him hit more homers than ever.

Melvin guided Jed Lowrie through a career season where trade talks and the potential of a young prospect taking over at any minute could not have been higher.

Melvin established a back-end of the bullpen that fashioned Lou Trevino and Blake Trienen into one of the best setup/closer tandems in the game.

And last but not least, Melvin helped evolve players like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman during their first full MLB seasons into bonafide leaders on and off the field.

In short, the A’s are lucky to have Bob Melvin in the dugout. And even luckier that his recent contract extension will keep the Bay Area native at the helm for multiple years past the 2019 season.

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

Winning Manager of the Year honors isn't something Bob Melvin is a stranger to -- he's done it three times.

On Tuesday, the BBWAA announced the 57-year-old would take home the American League award after the Oakland A's finished a 2018 campaign that boasted a 97-65 record with an appearance in the AL Wild Card Game.

Despite being accustomed to the congratulatory wishes, Bo Mel remained humble.

"I said earlier -- it just means I've been around for a while, and I'm getting older to be able to be in a position to get it a third time, but it always feels good," Melvin said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "The Happy Hour," with a smile. "It's always a group effort -- our team this year was incredible."

The A's improved by 22 games from last season, and Melvin made sure credit was served to everyone, from the front office to coaches and, of course, the players.

"We are starting to see the fruits of some of these great trades that were made over the years," Melvin said.

And as far as the low payroll the A's are synonymous with -- don't worry. He addressed that as well.

"To be able to succeed with as low as a payroll as we had just means you have young players who are going to play really well -- and we did," Melvin said with a laugh.

He's not wrong.

Second baseman Jed Lowrie and closer Blake Treinen earned All-Star selections in 2018, and first baseman Matt Olson took home a Gold Glove Award and Matt Chapman earned a Platinum Glove Award for his defensive capabilities on the hot corner.

"To be able to do what they did and look at the Khris Davises and Marcus Semiens and Jed Lowries -- everyone on our team contributed," Melvin said.

Melvin earned 18 first-place votes from the BBWAA, beating out World Series champion manager Alex Cora, who came in second, by 11.