Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fill in the blank

The next manager of the Oakland Athletics will be ......... ?

Now that Macha is gone the media and fans alike are buzzing about who will replace Macha. From reading the many reports and commentary out there it sounds as if no one will miss Macha too much.

I'll admit I was a little surprised - a little, not a lot - when I heard that Macha was let go, but of course at the time I had not yet had a chance to read the news for myself and see the reasons he was fired. I can't say I'll miss him too terribly, but I also can't say that I am thrilled to see him go. And I think that is one of the problems with Macha - he just doesn't effect a lot of emotion in people. Most people I know don't really hate or dislike him, nor do they particularly like or love him - they just simply shrug their shoulders - nobody really cares for the man. I can't speak for the players, but perhaps that indifference, that don't-rock-the-boat, steady-as-she-goes attitude just left everyone feeling like he didn't really matter one way or the other.

I never felt he was a great manager and have been particularly critical of his management of the bullpen. But I never felt he was a particular bad manager. I think he did the best he could with the number of injuries he had to deal with this year and did what he does best - kept the ship floating and moving ahead and managed to keep the rocking to a minimum. But while that may work in the long run during a 162 game season, it means jack in the post-season when you need to get fired up and make some tough decisions that could mean sink or swim in some turbulent seas. In fact, one of the things that really bothered me in the post-season was Macha's seeming indifference to everything going on around him. It's one thing to see Macha's calm, passive self during the regular season sitting in the dugout while the game implodes around him, nary an expression of emotion on his blunt face. It's another thing entirely when you are in the middle of blowing the ALCS and you can't seem to conjour up any emotion or fire. Again I can't speak for the players, but perhaps they found it tough to get inspired against the Tigers when their admiral had no inspiration or spirit to give.

So Macha is gone and most either don't care or say "good riddance". Now discussion turns to who will replace Macha. The front office has a tradition of promoting from within, so the possible candidates include fan and media favorite Ron Washington, Beane's trusted friend Bob Geren, and Rene Lachemann.

Ray Ratto of the Chronicle says Ron Washington is the best choice.

Scott Ostler, also of the Chronicle, says firing Macha was the right thing to do and also echoes Washington as the right choice.

Both Killion and Kawakami of the Mercury News don't miss Macha, with Killion claiming that the "...players didn't care for him..." and Kawakami stating the obvious: that the real force behind the A's is Beane and not the on-field manager, and that the players know it.

Eric Gilmore of the Contra Costa Times isn't shocked either.

Blez seems to agree, stating that the manager isn't all that important, and speculates that Bob Geren is possibly the early favorite to take Macha's place.

Catfish Stew laughs out loud at the suggestion that Dusty Baker would be a good candidate for the A's. I almost spewed diet Dr. Pepper all over my keyboard when I read that as well.

Elephants, a longtime Macha critic, says Macha was done sometime around the middle of the 2003 season.

Barry Zito Forever (up for a name change once Zito gets that big paycheck somewhere else) is more worried about re-signing Zito (keep dreaming) than the future Oakland manager.

Oakland A's Days are ready for someone new.

I'll join the growing chorus in calling for Ron Washington as the new manager, but I have a hunch it will be Geren. Washington deserves a shot at a manager's job and may have to go outside Oakland to get it. Geren is one of Beane's best friends and is the current bench coach, a position Macha held for some time before assuming the reigns. I have no idea how well Geren gels with the players but Ron Washington appears to be universally beloved by players and fans alike. It would be a shame if he didn't get the job, and if not we may be seeing him managing for a rival team.


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