Hot-Seat In Oakland?
By Joseph Lopez
The title probably has most of you shaking your heads in disagreement, as it’s still too early in the season to start thinking about a possible coaching change. But then again the A’s have remained annoyingly inconsistent under skipper Bob Geren.
Not much has changed in Oakland since the conclusion of 2007 season, which marked Geren’s first year as the team’s manager. The A’s went 76-86 that year, then they followed up that season by going 75-86 in 2008. Granted, the A’s haven’t have the best of luck when it comes to keeping their players healthy, but Geren’s managerial skills have always been questionable.
Bob Geren’s 2009 squad was upgraded, on paper at least, with the additions of Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparrra. Unfortunately for Oakland, the young pitching staff had a difficult time adjusting to major league hitters, and the offense was soon dismantled. Holliday, as you all know, was shipped over to St.Louis in exchange for Brett Wallace and two other prospects. Cabrera was sent to Minnesota, and Giambi was released from the team.
Last season, several of the A’s young pitchers had break-out years, and the team finished with an 81-81 record. A’s pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez won a combined 33 games, and helped an A’s rotation that led the majors in quality starts with 103.
Offensively, however, Oakland did not put up any impressive numbers in 2010. The team struggled to score runs, not entirely Geren’s fault, and the team could never get over the .500 mark.
Oakland entered this season with higher expectations than in recent seasons, especially since the team added offensive pieces like Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus.
The pitching has been stellar thus far, leading the majors in ERA (2.78). Cahill has gone 3-0 in his first five starts, while Brett Anderson is emerging as the staff’s ace with a 2-1 record and a 1.56 ERA.
Offensively, Bob Geren’s squad is 25th in runs scored (83), 21st in batting average (.239), and 23rd in on base percentage (.307). It’s certainly not the type of offense Billy Beane and the rest of the A’s front office had envisioned in March.
Defensively, Geren’s team ranks 2nd in the majors with 23 errors, just two less than the error-prone Houston Astros. Defense is a big part of Oakland’s game, and without a solid defense backing up a young rotation, the A’s aren’t playing up to their potential.
The overly-optimistic Geren hasn’t been a good fit in Oakland, but that’s not entirely his fault I guess. Beane’s offensive additions were necessary, but the offense still lacks a big power bat, one that Oakland has missed since Frank Thomas’s remarkable run in 2006.
Oakland’s got a few offensive players in the minors (Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, Grant Green, Michael Choice), but a few of them are still not quite ready for the majors.
In the meantime, Geren is going to have to figure out a way to get the most out of his players. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Daric Barton, Mark Ellis (basically the entire offense) will need to step it up. It’s still only April, but if the A’s continue their poor play next month (and slowly fade from the standings), Geren could be in the hot-seat.