"If Bob is there, the A's are going to be in it, flat out."
Jonny Gomes was at Dozer Park in Peoria, Ill. recently in his new position as an outfield and baserunning coordinator with the Diamondbacks organization. It didn't take him long to speak not only highly of the A's, a team he played for across two seasons, but of skipper Bob Melvin.
"If you don’t enjoy playing for him, you can just go home," he told Emily Van Buskirk, Peoria Chiefs community and fan engagement assistant. "He’s like a chameleon: Pitchers, catchers, infielders whatever -- there’s a lot of great players that have been under Bob. I think he’s probably the most underrated coach in baseball."
The Petaluma native's memories with the A's were good ones -- perhaps great ones, stemming back from when Gomes himself was just a young fan in the Coliseum stands rooting for the team he would eventually play for. This, of course, was many years before he was the one playing in those ... conditions.
“So you go into the Coliseum -- let's not call it nice, but it was history for me," Gomes explained. "It was the 1988, '89,'91 series, it was the bleachers, it was Ricky Henderson, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire -- it was everything that I knew. There was a sense of pride and a sense of ownership."
Gomes respects the A's rich history, but noted the team's high amount of roster turnover, calling it a "revolving door." He admitted he knew Oakland wasn't the only organization that did that, but the one constant that has remained is BoMel. He even said the wins and all-around numbers could be comparative to the Yankees or even the Red Sox.
And when asked if Gomes believes the three-time Manager of the Year could possibly have any frustrations that him directing this team compared to the luster of the pinstripes -- he had a simple answer: "Nope."
"He's chill, he's Cal Berkley, he's super chill," Gomes said of Melvin, a Cal alum who was born in Palo Alto.
"There’s definitely a science and it’s different per week and per series -- of putting guys in situations for them to succeed," Gomes added. "And sometimes that time is for you to sit. And to have a manager that makes you buy in on that is pretty powerful. And that’s one of the things I really bought in on him -- the ‘You know, you’re not playing today because of this or because of that.'"
As for the fans, well ...
"The fanbase is awesome," he said. "It's a weird dynamic. I call them super-educated fans. There are loyal fans and there are educated fans. For example: If you play like crap, we're not coming -- I ain't fightin' traffic."
And as for the current state of the A's, Gomes was complimentary of the team that continues to maintain its sense of scrappiness as the years go on.
But coming off 10(ish) straight wins followed by five consecutive losses could have the A's singing a different tune. Now, this interview was conducted before the A's recent struggles against the Angels and Astros, but I have a feeling Gomes would stay true to how he felt about the past and present A's.
[RELATED: A's, Giants standings in MLB power rankings]
"They do have some cornerstones right now, the first and third, [Matt] Olson and [Matt] Chapman are really good," Gomes said. "Khris Davis found a home there, so they do have what you need -- you know you need the clubhouse guys, you need the guy that’s going to take the fall for dudes and you need the dude that can stand up for the guys -- and that always can’t be Bob, although he does put that on his plate.
"So not only are they good right now, but they have lasting power, which I don’t think they have had in a while."