Communication issues meant Bob Geren had to get the boot

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It’s a given that Oakland GM Billy Beane didn’t want to let his close friend go: Bob Geren was the best man at his wedding.  Still, the change needed to come with Geren having lost the A’s clubhouse.

In replacing Geren, the A’s chose a lesser baseball man but a better manager of people in Bob Melvin.  Melvin often baffled with his lineup decisions in Seattle and he didn’t get a whole lot better in Arizona, but his players liked him and generally seemed to play hard for him.

Geren has had to deal with both current reliever Brian Fuentes and former reliever Huston Street bashing him in recent weeks.  Former A’s backup catcher Rob Bowen has also chimed in, showing a strong dislike for his ex-manager:

Finally the A’s have realized Geren has destroyed a dozen pitcher’s careers and doesn’t have a clue how to manage a big league club

As CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto puts it:

Geren struggled throughout his 4 1/2-year tenure as the Oakland manager to win  the respect of either his roster or the outside world. It wasn’t that he didn’t know baseball as much as he didn’t know how to convey it, and those who cannot communicate are doomed no matter how smart they might be.

Melvin really has his work cut out for him now.   The A’s are down three starters and their top rotation replacement in Tyson Ross.  The offense is next to last in the AL with 223 runs scored, and the fact that part-timers Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson have actually been the team’s second- and third-best hitters behind Josh Willingham will make deciding on a lineup a tricky assignment each and every day.

Given the hand that Geren was dealt, I doubt the A’s would have any better of a record through 63 games had Melvin been handed the reins at the start of the year.  Still, it was time for a change.  Melvin was far from an ideal choice, but given what was available and the team’s need for harmony in the clubhouse, he’s probably the right man for now.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.