Join us every Thursday for our “Crystal Ball” predictions here on White Cleat Beat. This week we look into our Crystal Ball and predict whether Bob Melvin‘s job is in jeopardy.
Oakland Athletics. Bob Melvin. The two were made for each other, right?
In the terrible-not-so-good Bob Geren era, the A’s struggled to find any competitive fire within themselves. Geren was not known for his communication skills and his managerial decisions usually warranted a second opinion from his assistants.
When Geren was fired in the middle of the 2011 season, plenty of fans were relieved and overjoyed with his departure.
Bob Melvin arrived to an A’s team that featured a young starting rotation and not much else. Melvin’s approach was simple, though, and his communication was far superior than Geren’s.
Melvin helped guide the A’s to a 47-52 record to close out the remainder of the season. Prior to that, the A’s went 27-36 under Geren.
The following year in 2012, the A’s shocked the baseball world by capturing a division title on the final day of the regular season.
The remarkable season helped earn Melvin the AL Manager of the Year Award. Oakland’s 94-68 record was unexpected, especially when you considered their roster.
The A’s had traded away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey after the 2011 season. The team received a plethora of young talent in exchange, but many experts considered Oakland a few years away from serious contention.
Melvin’s approach, however, was well received by the 2012 squad and the rest is history.
Melvin followed up his 2012 campaign with a 96 win season in 2013. The A’s repeated as division champions, but exited the first round thanks to the Detroit Tigers.
The team started the 2014 campaign as the best team in baseball, but nearly missed the playoffs thanks to a historically bad second-half.
From Playoff Contenders to Bottom Dwellers…
The A’s missed the playoffs in 2015, 2016 and they are likely going to miss them again in 2017. Bob Melvin has failed to guide the A’s past 68 wins the past two seasons and there’s a strong possibility the team falls short of that mark in 2017.
How much is Melvin to blame for the team’s reversal of fortunes, though?
Looking into our crystal ball, we can assure you that Melvin’s job isn’t in jeopardy. At least for now.
The A’s front office has always embraced success stories, but isn’t as accepting of their failures. Offering Billy Butler a three-year $30 million deal was definitely ill-advised.
Seriously, $30 million. That could have been spent to extend certain players named Josh Reddick, perhaps.
It goes without saying, then, that the A’s did not give Melvin much of a shot in 2015. Last year wasn’t much different.
Melvin has made his share of mistakes along the way (most notably his decision to stick with Lester in the ’14 WC Game), but the team’s lack of talent isn’t Melvin’s fault.
The A’s front office has made plenty of great moves over the last decade or so, but when they miss, they sure do miss.
Crystal Ball Says…
When it comes to this year, the A’s need to look not at Melvin, but their front office. For the most part, every acquisition they made this past offseason has yet to pan out.
The team has shown flashes of brilliance, namely with the success of their starting rotation. Sonny Gray has come back healthy and has shown flashes of his old dominance to lead the way for Melvin.
Offensively, however, the A’s have been wildly inconsistent. Plouffe, Davis, and Joyce have all struggled at the plate and Melvin’s usual lineup magic has seemingly disappeared.
Part of Melvin’s charm and success is his ability to shuffle his lineup efficiently and effectively. He gets the most out of his players and in turn they help the team win.
Since the abrupt end of 2014, though, the A’s haven’t given Melvin much talent to work with. A new wave should be crashing over Oakland soon, though, with certain prospects making their way to the bigs.
Matt Chapman should help excite the fanbase and team this week, as will Franklin Barreto when he makes his eventual appearance this year. The A’s should feature some young talent the rest of the year and into next season.
Melvin hasn’t had it easy, but there’s a good chance that the front office knows that. The team’s farm system is on the rise, which should make Melvin’s job a bit more entertaining.
Given the fact that the A’s have battled injuries the last few years, Melvin’s job should be just fine for now. He’s been a team player and a loyal advocate for Beane & Company, so he’s not going anywhere.
Melvin will make it out of the 2017 season with a chance of surprising more than a few people in 2018.