Oakland Athletics’ Manager Bob Melvin Deserves An Extension


When a season goes awry in sports, blame is assigned from every angle at every level, from players to management. At one point or another throughout the year, analysts, writers, fans and any other type of critic you can think of point fingers every which way at anyone that stands out for their poor performance. Decisions on and off the field elicit speculation about a variety of situations. Should the coach have done or not done this? Should the player have made or not made a particular play?

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Every contest is examined and analyzed to the point where one could critique each individual action if they truly desired. However, the sub-par displays of talent do also highlight the bright moments, at least for some fans. Breakout games for ‘up-and-comers’ or defining games for seasoned veterans draw the attention of those who choose to pay attention, but unfortunately inconsistency is inevitable.

The 2015 Oakland Athletics have fallen victim to this position of limbo, where its difficult to justify any constructive direction because it almost seems like whenever they take one step forward, they take two steps backwards. From the shaky defense to an even shakier bullpen, watching all nine innings per game of this year’s version of the green and gold has been difficult to manage. However, with all of the ups and (mostly) downs there has been a singular consistency to the madness.

Jul 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics manager

Bob Melvin

(6) sits in the dugout prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

His name is Bob Melvin.

Oakland’s manager has been the one constant to the intermittent seesaw that has been his ball club. Not once have A’s fans seen quit, complaint, accusation, or even frustration from a guy who might have the most to lose after an awful season, which is especially impressive considering the way he began his tenure. For his first three seasons in Oakland – post interim role in 2011 – Melvin compiled 278 wins, more than any other manager in MLB during that span.

However, this season has obviously not gone the way he – and everyone else – expected it to, yet there has been no visible difference in his demeanor. Beginning with his most impressive year in 2012 – when he won AL Manager of the Year –  he’s remained balanced throughout his tenure. Not many men could handle what has been arguably the greatest overhaul in A’s history and not show a hint of dissatisfaction.

Apart from the emotional side of being a manager, he has also been the perfect blend of mentor and mediator, which is exactly what a team needs from its skipper. As we’ve seen in past green-and-gold managers, there mudy be two essential relationships in order to be successful: one with the front office (and Billy Beane), and one with the players.

Melvin’s relationship with Beane, which is undeniably the most important one, is solid, and they both believe in the direction the team is headed. Check.

His relationship with his players is also encouraging, for not once during his time has a player ever questioned his decisions on or off the field. Check.

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In fact, the only time controversy has ever got a sniff of Melvin was when Josh Reddick complained about playing time, but that had to do with Beane and not him. Reddick then apologized to his manager directly afterwards just because his name was involved! If that doesn’t demonstrate the respect he carries in the clubhouse then I don’t know what does.

The one area that has been up for debate this season has been Melvin’s in-game decisions and sure, one could argue some – particularly concerning the bullpen – have been questionable. However, when you consider the fact he’s used 14 different pitchers to finish games – not including starters or Ike Davis – and only four have recorded a save (only Tyler Clippard and Drew Pomeranz have recorded multiple) it should be easier to understand. It certainly must feel stressful when going to your bullpen late in games is the equivalent to playing a game of Russian Roulette.

With his contract ending at the end of 2016, Melvin not only has to worry about his lineup (and bullpen) night in and night out, but also his future with the club. It’s a burden that he understood as a player playing in a contract year, and surely one he’s felt before as the manager of both the Seattle Mariners (2003-2004) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2005-2009). Not only has he proved he can lead a dominant team to three straight playoff berths, but – most importantly as the commander-in-chief – he’s proven that he can weather the storm as a professional and as a great man. He’s the perfect fit for Oakland, and the A’s should display their affection by giving him a contract extension this offseason.

That is, if they don’t trade him.

Next: A's Should Sign Pitcher Justin Masterson