By Jason Wojciechowski on May 25, 2011 at 1:30 AM
Brian Fuentes's comments may have put the A's front office in a weird spot. Let's suppose that they know Bob Geren is a weak communicator and motivator but hoped, when they hired him a few years ago, that he might improve on that while effectively implementing the front office's ideas of smart tactical baseball (willingess to use your relief ace in more than just save situations; little bunting; stealing only by high-success base-runners; etc.).
Let's also suppose that, like many fans, the front office's patience is growing short as the A's scuffle their way through a season in which the AL West is wide open for the taking, particularly as they do so via frustrating close losses and an early-season spate of ugly error upon ugly error.
So Billy Beane and David Forst and whoever put their heads together and start thinking about plans. Should Joel Skinner be the interim manager? Are there any interesting candidates out there who don't currently have jobs and might be willing to come in at a moment's notice to run the team? What about after the season -- who's likely to be available? Is a change now going to jolt the team into action, or is it more likely to cause a disruption that sinks whatever chances they may have had under Geren? How do you break the news to Bob Geren, Billy Beane's best man?
And as all this thinking is going on, Brian Fuentes makes his comments, Huston Street follows up with some (utterly classless) words of his own, the media starts hammering down (Jane Lee, after all, got into the second-guessing of Geren with Fuentes in the first place; and Gwen Knapp ran a nice little hit job yesterday), and the Twitterati and Athletics Nation denizens get that particularly nasty bloodlust that comes over an agitated fanbase.
Now what's Beane supposed to do? Fire Geren? Because, essentially, his closer (since demoted, and no wonder) made some comments? And because some ex-player who hasn't been with the team since 2008 piled on? What sort of credibility does that give the next manager? What next manager would ever want the job if he knows his players can undermine him at a moment's notice? For the guy who takes the job, how does he treat the more volatile personalities on the team in the hopes that they won't say any mean things?
Maybe I'm unconsciously exaggerating these worries out of my belief that a manager change is as likely to hurt this team as help it, but it really seems to me that you can't just sack your manager after an uprising and expect the next uprising not to occur. Not to make this more serious than it should be with a strained metaphor, but: Abe Lincoln went to war for a reason.