It sucks to be Bob Geren and it sucks to play for Bob Geren

Does anyone like A’s manager Bob Geren? I mean, aside from general manager Billy Beane and Geren’s family?

It sure doesn’t feel like it after reading articles by the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS Sports last night where players and coaches eagerly followed Brian Fuentes’ lead and bashed Oakland’s fearlessly clueless leader.

Former A’s closer Huston Street delivered the best line, calling Geren “my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports.”

I’ll stick to my guns and say again that I think this kind of stuff should stay in the locker room but I won’t pretend I’m not loving every minute of  the ongoing Geren Hatefest.

How bad of a manager do you have to be to draw such open disrespect from players and coaches?  If there’s one man incompetent enough to attract this level of disdain it’s Geren.

I think everything skeptical and frustrated A’s fans have felt, observed and suspected about the A’s skipper is finally being verified through the comments of Fuentes, Street, Michael Wuertz, Bob Schaefer, et al.

Street and Mike Sweeney seem like two of the nicest, most respectful players to come through Oakland in a long time and Geren managed to frustrate and enrage each man into a heated confrontation.

It would have been easy to brush off Fuentes as an oversensitive, tactless flake taking issue with a manager no one really has a problem with if no one else joined in on the hatefest.  But at this point it’s obvious that Fuentes was simply exposing a major, long-running problem in Oakland.

It speaks volumes about how horrible Geren is as a manager that everyone quoted in these stories is willing cross a line by violating baseball’s unspoken protocol that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse if the end result is Beane’s BFF being chased out of the game.

Geren has to go.

The only thing worse than a manager losing the respect of everyone in the dugout is a manager who never had it to begin with and that’s our man Bobo.

Another problem brewing here is the light this mess casts on Beane.  He hired this dolt and he’s spent the past 5 years making every excuse in the book to keep him around.  That’s bad management.

Combine that with the fact that Beane hasn’t successfully developed any hitters for almost a decade and you have all the ingredients for a hot mess and a dull, lifeless, losing team.

Does that sound like the current A’s team to you?  Because it sure sounds like it to me.

Beane should fire Geren and if we’re all lucky he’ll do that in the next month or two if the A’s keep sinking in the AL West.  At that point he can sell it as a move that’s strictly based on results rather than being a reaction to all the bile-filled player comments coming out of the woodwork.

But will that really make any difference?  The A’s will still have a punchless lineup and there’s no reason to expect a strong, talented manager to hop on board because everyone around the league knows that managing the A’s is probably the worst gig in the majors.

I hate to say it, but part of me is already looking toward 2012 when the A’s will have a clean slate and young hitters such as Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, Grant Green, Stephen Parker, Jemile Weeks and Michael Choice may be ready to make an impact and breathe some life into the franchise.

Check back with me in a year or so and my man crush for Billy Beane may be alive and well again but for the moment he’s firmly planted next to Geren in my dog house.

Fuentes vs Geren: It’s on like Donkey Kong

If you’re an A’s fan you’ve probably already read the post-game quotes from closer Brian Fuentes tearing into manager Bob Geren.

To say the least, Fuentes isn’t Geren’s biggest fan and I’m sure the feeling is mutual now that Fuentes has gone public with his gripe.  Things are getting ugly fast in Oakland.

In the battle of crappy relief pitcher vs even crappier manager no one is really going to come out a winner unless general manager Billy Beane wakes up and fires Geren.  Of course, he never should have hired Geren in the first place but that’s a whole other story.

Here are my quick thoughts on this mess as I work my way through a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal:

FUENTES

* Bad move dude, bad move.  As much as I can’t stand Geren I also hate seeing this kind of thing play out in the press.  Dirty laundry should be kept behind closed doors and the entire organization looks bad when internal problems like this see the light of day.

* Shut up and pitch better.  Winning cures everything and Fuentes hasn’t been doing his part to make that happen.   As Dennis Eckersley said on 95.7 FM today, “He makes a ton of money, and he’s not the greatest closer in the universe. So zip it.”  Andrew Bailey can’t come off the disabled list soon enough.

* I could be wrong, but I don’t think Fuentes is going anywhere.  The A’s won’t cut him and eat his 2-year contract and no one is going to trade for a pricey malcontent who isn’t pitching well.

* The only way I can cut Fuentes some slack is by assuming that he’s actually speaking for the silent, frustrated majority in the clubhouse and trying to step up as a veteran leader on a team that doesn’t seem to have any strong personalities.  I bet if you spoke to most of the players off the record about Geren they’d probably rip the guy.  Even if they didn’t tear into the skipper I’m sure most of them wouldn’t have any high praise for the man.

For young players who have never played anywhere else they probably think this is just how an MLB team is run but for guys like Fuentes who have played for established managers on winning teams, I’m sure following a clueless dolt like Geren into battle is more than they can handle.

GEREN

* As much as I disapprove of Fuentes crying to the press about the way he’s being used, I love that this situation throws egg on Geren’s face and might push him one step closer to the unemployment line.  I know that’s not very cool but I’m just mean like that.  Geren hasn’t done anything to earn 1 ounce of my loyalty as a fan.

* You’ve finally been fully exposed as an incompetent leader of men Bobo.  A manager who can’t control his own clubhouse and gain the respect of his players can’t win in the big leagues.

* A good manager puts his players in a position to succeed and at this point Geren isn’t doing that with Fuentes.  Geren should have figured out by now that Fuentes just isn’t that good of a pitcher and he’s not comfortable or effective pitching in non-save situations.

* OK, I’ll throw Geren a bone here: He didn’t put this imperfect roster together, he’s just trying to win with the shoddy hand he’s been dealt.  Asking Fuentes to pitch in a tie ballgame shouldn’t be a big deal and, in an odd way, it’s actually a compliment to Fuentes.  Making the bizarre move of running Fuentes into the ground and regularly putting him in a position to fail is Geren’s way of saying, “You’re my best relief pitcher and I’m putting our season in your hands.”

BEANE

* Are you even paying attention to baseball anymore Billy?  Turn off whatever soccer game you’re watching and shake up your baseball team.  You’re the general manager of the Oakland A’s, isn’t that your job?

* One of the main reasons Beane cited when he fired Ken Macha several years ago was that he didn’t communicate with his players and he had lost the clubhouse.  With that precedent in place, isn’t it time to finally dump Geren?

* Everyone else in this post got a cut’em-some-slack bullet, so here’s yours: What can you really do with this team?  Is bench coach Joel Skinner really going to inspire the players, show himself to be a master tactician and spark a playoff run?  Probably not.  Is there any immediate help in the farm system to ignite the offense?  Nope (but that’s your fault).  You tried to get Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre in the offseason and ended up with Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui and they’re playing like … well …  Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui.  The team can’t really be this bad, right?  For the most part I think the A’s just have to ride this out.

The A’s are only 3 games out of first place but they’re also in last place and if you put me in a corner and force me to give you a straight answer I have to admit that they feel like a last place club.  They don’t look like I team in a strong position to go on a run and turn a 3 game deficit into a 3 game lead in a week or so.

A lot of that has to do with the roster Beane assembled.  A lot of that has to do with Fuentes’ pitching.  And a lot of it has to do with Geren’s managing.

The quickest fix is to show Geren the door and see if a new manager can be the breath of fresh air the A’s need to salvage their season but I just don’t see that happening right now.

My gut feeling is we’ll see Fuentes get fined/suspended and make a public apology.  When he comes back he’ll be relegated to being used as the second left hander in the bullpen and Geren will get a little more time to right the ship.

If the A’s are still struggling around the All-Star Break it’d be the perfect time to fire Geren without letting it look like the inmates are running the asylum.

It’s either that or throw Fuentes and Geren into the Thunderdome

[UPDATE: Twitter is abuzz with news that Fuentes and Geren have kissed and made up.  Beane reportedly is also pretty chilled out about the situation.  So much for my speculation that Fuentes would get slapped on the wrist.  I guess public humiliation is more than enough.  But I’m sticking to my guns that Geren should get canned if the A’s are still a lifeless club hovering around .500 at the break]

A brief, open love letter to Fridays

Looking outside and seeing a gorgeous sunny day with a weekend spent with family and friends just hours away has inspired me to insane sappiness.  You can’t say you haven’t been warned …

Friday, I know I’ve never said it even though I feel like I’ve always shown it, but I want to tell you that I love you.

When it comes to days of the week, you’re the tops.  You’re the finish line I can’t wait to cross at the end of the work week and you’re the glorious gateway to endless possibilities of fun and relaxation.

You have it all and I appreciate you more than ever.

I spent more than a decade working at newspapers where Friday was almost never Friday.  Sometimes, frustratingly, Fridays were my Mondays.  While most of the world was entering a fun weekend I was clocking in for the start of my work week.  In that world sometimes Tuesdays or Wednesdays were my Friday and there’s nothing exciting about that.  Good luck finding friends who are available to hang out in the middle of the week.

Social life? What social life?

But I’ve been free of that rapidly-declining environment for several years and I love Fridays with all my heart.  I relish the fact that every week I can sit here on my lunch break and know without a doubt that I’m heading into a couple of great days with my wife and kids.   There’s no family gathering, A’s game or special event that I have to miss because I’m on the clock late into the night in a newsroom.

That’s right Friday, you’re special and I want you to know it.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, the lovely Dido …

I miss you Timothy Olyphant

What happens to all the stuff that doesn’t neatly fit into a baseball post, The Junkball 10, Dead Celebrity Friday, the occasional happy birthday salute or a random standalone blog entry? It gets served up as Mental Leftovers …

* Someday I’m actually going to watch Season 2 of “Justified.”  I have no idea when or how that’s going to happen now that I have two kids and I don’t get to take a deep breath and relax until 10 or 10:30 at night but it will happen.  I miss my weekly “Justified” fix.

* I realized something while eating a bagel breakfast sandwich with cheese at work one morning: I basically hate American cheese.  I’m not even a big fan of apple pie.  Does that make me some sort of culinary Commie?

* Until my kids came along running errands on the weekend was an utterly mundane and totally annoying experience.  But now it’s a blast going out just to watch them experience the world.  I actually look forward to going to a store with my family and if you knew how much I hate shopping you would understand how crazy that is.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while grocery shopping with my son it’s that the Ranch 99 Asian market is definitely the Disneyland of grocery stores in his eyes.  That little guy could enthusiastically check out the live fish in the meat department all day long.

* One more note on shopping with the fam: Almost every weekly trip out for groceries ends with me taking our son to the pet store next door to Trader Joe’s while my wife waits in line to pay for everything.  And a trip to the pet store can only mean one thing: My boy gleefully lounging in a dog bed while people walk by looking at us like we’re totally nuts/totally cute.

That naturally leads me to thinking about all the stuff in a pet store that could be used to raise kids if you were crazy enough to try it.  A crate could double as a crib, pet toys aren’t much different from kid toys, water and food dishes could really be used to feed anyone and a leash isn’t much different from one of these things.

* Speaking of the Eddie Bauer Harness Buddy – Monkey, my wife bought one and when we finally tried it out on my son one weekend while we were running errands I got the distinct feeling that we’ll never use it again.

What has me ready to throw in the towel?  Maybe it was when he screamed like a banshee while my wife strapped him in.  Maybe it’s the fact that when we gave him a chance to walk around with us holding the monkey’s tail/leash he desperately spun around and ask me to carry him.  Maybe it’s the way he was begging us to get contraption off his back after about 10 minutes.

I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that happy to get a monkey off their back since Steve Young led the 49ers past the Chargers in the Super Bowl.

* That reminds me: I really miss the 49ers being good.  C’mon Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers Faithful are counting on you to turn things around.

* I posted a Facebook update that my son got his head stuck in a pet carrier after we brought our cat home from the vet and then I posted an update several days later that he almost got mounted by a dog at a birthday party for my friend’s son … and then it hit me: What if Child Protective Services is lurking around online checking up on parents and their status updates?  I don’t think they’d find any of the things that happened to my little man as funny as I do.

Please note that each incident barely lasted a second (at the most) and he came out of each one perfectly fine.

* Like reading about fat people trying to get thin?  OK, I didn’t think so.  But if you happen to get bored feel free to check out my side project, The Beer Gut Chronicles.  The battle of the bulge is on and I’m blogging all about it.

*  I’ll admit that I watch a lot of HGTV with my wife.  It’s mindless, mildly entertaining TV that’s perfect viewing at night when you’re wiped out from keeping up with a toddler and an infant.

After watching way too many home buyer shows I have to wonder why any first timer would appear on anything other than “My First Place.”  At the end of the show every buyer gets some cool free stuff for their new home. Why waste your time on “House Hunters” or “Property Virgins?”

I’m still a little annoyed that we didn’t go on “My First Place” several years ago when we were house hunting.

* One more thing that’s stuck in my head after watching too much HGTV:  Why the heck does HGTV have three home buying shows that are all basically the same show?

* That damn Fabio birthday post never pulled in a boatload of search engine hits.  I’m still amazed at how many hits my tributes to Sophie Marceau and Markie Post continue to bring in.  God bless all the perverts on the Internet!

* I think I’m on the verge of losing almost all my credibility as a sports fan.

At the height of my sports fandom when I was single I worked in a newspaper sports department watching games all day,  I played in a ton of fantasy sports leagues, had A’s season tickets and went to spring training every year.

Now that I have two kids?

I barely watched a minute of March Madness and I haven’t watched any of the NHL or NBA playoffs and I only play in a couple of fantasy baseball leagues.  I barely have a chance to watch a few innings of an A’s game nowadays.

It’s just a matter of time before I have almost no idea what’s happening on the Bay Area sports scene and I’m only qualified to make small talk about Sesame Street and The Backyardigans.

*  I may have struck free lunch gold with my latest cheapskate idea.

While B.S.ing with some friends at work about how it’s great to sign up for e-mails from restaurants because there’s almost always a birthday deal involved it hit me: Why not sign up with a bunch of restaurants and give each of them a different date for my birthday?  It’s an easy way to get some free grub every month of the year.

Have you ever been shaken down for your ID at a restaurant when people set you up for a free birthday dessert?  I didn’t think so.  Even if I get busted with my lunch scam a couple of times what’s the worst thing that could happen?  No one ever got thrown in jail for accepting a free burger or piece of cake, right?

I sure hope not …

Hooray for May … maybe

Taking a break from an increasingly busy life to contemplate all things green and gold in A’s Musings …

* Proud to say I’m blogging in an Osama bin Laden-free world today.

* Time to turn the calendar and quickly size up the A’s and the first thing I want to say is that I’m disappointed I can’t use the “It’s only April” excuse anymore as this team continues to tread water and score runs at a snail’s pace.  Maybe May will be a different story.

* These guys are lucky to be hovering around .500.  The pitching staff is clearly the only thing allowing the A’s to rise above manager Bob Geren’s odd moves and the offense’s inability to regularly put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.  If I was Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez or Brandon McCarthy I’d seriously consider penciling myself in for a loss as soon as I coughed up a single run in any given game.

* Speaking of McCarthy, he has to be one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball so far and one of the most entertaining A’s on Twitter.  If you’re not following @B__McCarthy you’re missing out.

* Anyone else out there starting to have momentary visions of a lost season?  Of postseason dreams being left in a smoldering pile of ashes?  With so many free agents in the starting lineup it’s easy to envision a fire sale if the club continues to waste brilliant starting pitching as the Angels and Rangers gradually pull away in the AL West.

* Overstock.com Coliseum?  I hate it.  What makes it even worse is that the A’s don’t get a single penny out of the stadium naming deal.

* The only potential bright side to a total collapse by the A’s is that Geren may finally get the boot but I’m sure general manager Billy Bean would find some way to make an excuse for the skipper and cut him some slack.   Even if they did kick Geren to the curb who would take his place?  Bench coach Joel Skinner?  I don’t know enough about the man to root for his promotion but I definitely know enough about Geren to look forward to a changing of the guard.  It’s time to move on to Beane’s next hand-picked puppet.

* It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Rich Harden update from any of the A’s beat writers but  I’m sure we’re not missing much.  I can live without the standard, “Harden was going to throw today but he felt sore and now won’t do anything for a month.”  The man is so fragile he should have a uniform made out of bubble wrap.

* The more I watch A’s hitters helplessly flail away at the plate the more I long for the arrival of prospects Chris Carter and Michael Taylor in Oakland.  But when I recently looked for news on the two outfielders I found that both of them are out with injuries.   Sometimes I think this franchise is cursed.

* I have a bad gut feeling that Taylor is going to be a bust.   He reminds me a little bit of how Beane was portrayed as a ballplayer in “Moneyball:” Highly talented and  smart enough to earn a free ride to play at Stanford, but ultimately too smart for his own good between the lines.   Taylor seems to fit the bill.

He’s a big, strong, fast kid who played on The Farm and it sounds like he put too much pressure on himself last season.  Once things started going downhill he tried to incorporate too much advice from too many people into his approach at the plate in a fruitless effort to salvage his season.

I hope I’m wrong and he ends up thriving in green and gold.  It’d be nice to have something to show for trading Carlos Gonzalez.

* The A’s new radio station SportsRadio 95.7 hasn’t grown on me yet.  Like a lot of A’s fans I was all fired up to hear that the team would have its own all-sports station.  Who doesn’t want an alternative to KNBR?  But so far the programming has largely left me disappointed.

The Monty Show in the morning is hosted by a Cubs fan and a Giants fan.  A Giants fan on the A’s flagship station?   Bad call.  I’ve already heard them talk about Brian Wilson and Tim Lincecum one too many times.

The fact that Monty insisted one morning that Daric Barton is a power hitter officially disqualifies him from ever acting like he knows anything about the A’s.

I usually switch over to Sarah and Vinnie on 97.3 after 5 or 10 unsatisfying minutes of The Monty Show in the morning.

My evening drive home isn’t much better with Rob and Arnie.  Check these dudes out.  One guy is a Rangers fan and the other guy looks like he bought his A’s jacket at a garage sale.  Of course, they’re on the radio so who cares about their looks, right?  It’s all about what they do on the air but unfortunately their schtick is largely-worthless juvenile banter.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some entertaining moments but overall the A’s new station has fallen flat during my commute.  I’m crossing my fingers that as time goes by 95.7 FM will replace The Monty Show and Rob and Arnie with some real local personalities and it’ll feel more like home for die-hard A’s fans.

* One more quick thought on Geren:  The A’s have gone from dull to duller to dullest with the managerial transition from Art Howe to Ken Macha to Geren over the years.  I miss the intensity of Tony La Russa and the insanity of Billy Martin.

* It’s great to see radio broadcaster Vince Cotroneo on Twitter.   His pre- and in-game updates are almost always insightful and informative.  Now that Vince has broken the barrier for A’s broadcasters I want to see Ken Korach and Ray Fosse join Twitter too.   Nothing would be sweeter than seeing Foss tweet about groundskeeper Clay Wood, Dibs, Ultramo and HDTV.

As for Glenn Kuiper, I get enough of him on TV.   The Twitter-verse is doing just fine without his bland observations.  He seems like a nice guy but he’s a snore-inducing broadcaster.  The team never should have let Greg Papa go.

* You know what the A’s could really use right about now?  A good young hitter in the middle of their lineup.  Someone like this guy:

Hopefully general manager Billy Beane can work on that.  Wait a second, we had this guy and we traded him away for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez.  Bummer.

Bradley’s contribution to Oakland’s last playoff team is a distant memory and the only thing fresh in my mind is the team’s current offensive funk in direct contrast to what Ethier has done in Dodger blue.

I know hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to trading young players but sometimes hindsight really stings … and stings … and stings … and stings.

* That’s enough for now, hopefully the A’s can take down the Rangers today to improve to 2-0 in May, climb to 1 game over .500 and move 1 game closer to first place in the AL West.  I’m crossing my fingers that over the long haul of the season the pitching staff keeps doing its thing and the hitters in the lineup start playing to their career averages.  Combine that with a few breaks and you could end up with 90+ wins and a trip to the playoffs.