Winning in spite of Bob Geren

The A’s return home to Oakland tonight after a 5-4 road trip to start a homestand against the Detroit Tigers and I should be relatively happy that they held their own on the road.  But I have to admit that I’m actually a little annoyed.

I’m not cranky because they didn’t manage to have an overwhelmingly successful road trip.  I can live with a record barely over .500 on the A’s first venture outside of the Oakland Coliseum this early in the season.

What has my blood pressure up is the same thing as usual: Manager Bob Geren.  Specifically, I still can’t wrap my head around why he had Daric Barton on the bench in Chicago yesterday.

Barton was coming off a 4 for 5 game and you don’t bench a hot hitter when you’re playing an offensive juggernaut like the Chicago White Sox in their bandbox ballpark.  You need every run you can get and it seems like Managing 101 to ride a hot hand as long as you can.

On top of all that, Barton had a 1.175 career OPS against White Sox starter John Danks.  I’m no genius but that sure seems like a fine time to keep him in the lineup.

But for some reason Geren decided that yesterday was the time to give Barton a break even though he’s only in his mid-20s and we’re early in the season.  A player that young doesn’t need a break this early in April.

My rapidly expanding gut tells me the common sense move yesterday would have been to give catcher Kurt Suzuki the day off after back-to-back extra inning efforts behind the plate with a day game following a night game.  You would think a former catcher like Geren would be especially sensitive to giving Suzuki a breather after spending that much time behind the plate.

Personally, I’d like to see Geren ease off on Suzuki and try and keep him fresh for the stretch run when the A’s will need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to make a run at the playoffs.  Giving your catcher a day game after a night game off is another Managing 101 class that Geren must have skipped.

I don’t take any satisfaction in knocking Geren, I really don’t. He’s such an easy target that it seems a little cheap to pick on him.  He honestly seems like a nice guy and I give him credit for making it to the top of his profession as a player and a coach which is more than I’ll probably ever accomplish in my career.

But I can’t help but get the feeling that the A’s win in spite of him, not because of anything he brings to the dugout as a leader or tactician. I have a bad feeling that over the course of  along season he’s going to make enough head-scratching moves to cost the A’s a few  games and knock them out of contention.

My hopes for the 2011 A’s are as high as ever and I hope Geren proves me wrong and I can stop making sarcastic jokes about Oakland playing “GerenBall” every time he annoys me.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Scratch-N-Sniff Geren

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