We can sit here and spitball about the who the next A's manager is going to be. But you and I both know that it's almost certainly going to be Bob Geren, Oakland's current bench coach. The reasons for his forthcoming ascendancy to the throne can best be summed up thusly:
He came to the A's after managing the team's AAA squad, suggesting that he buys into Billy Beane's philosophies.
He was best man at Billy Beane's wedding, suggesting a fair amount of loyalty and compliance to the whims of Billy Beane.
He can be had for a minimal amount of expense, which probably matters very little to Billy Beane, but means a great deal to Lew Wolff.
And so, congratulations to Bob Geren, who should be named manager any day now. Unless the gig goes to Ron Washington, which wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. But it's most likely Geren, and if it turns out to be anyone other than the two men I just mentioned, I will eat my hat.
Note to Oakland A's executives reading this blog and contemplating hiring Bud Black for the sole purpose of making me look silly: "My hat" is a popular colloquialism amongst Lutherans for "a nice steak dinner with a bottle of a very dry Zinfandel." So no funny stuff.
Still, I believe the Official Charter of Baseball Weblogs requires us to speculate endlessly and ridiculously on all personnel changes, no matter how much of a foregone conclusion they may be. And so, in order for us to keep our license, I'm willing to float a few potential candidates out there. I can't promise they'll be nearly as hilarious as the thought of Dusty Baker skippering the A's, but I can guarantee they are just as unlikely to come to pass.
What on account of Bob Geren getting the job. Unless, of course, it's Ron Washington.
Anyhow, my carefully-thought-out list of candidates follows after the jump.
Tracking down long-forgotten managers who were given the boot years ago is the hot trend in baseball lately. The Florida Marlins did it in 2003 with 73-year-old Jack McKeon and won a World Series title for their efforts. The Tigers are about to do the same thing with 62-year-old Jim Leyland. Yes, turning your club over to some crotchety old man is truly all the rage, and there's no one older or more crotchety than Dick Williams. Why, the first Athletic to complain about playing time is likely to get a punch in the snout -- or be asked to repeat themselves a little louder this time so that Williams can hear them, consound it.
Advantages: Still boasts the highest winning percentage of any manager in Oakland history.
Disadvantages: If certain police reports are to be believed, walks out to the mound to change pitchers could be awkward for everyone involved.
Krazy George Henderson
Is there a more beloved character in Oakland history than super-cheerleader Krazy George Henderson? Probably. Dozens, at least. But not many of them would work cheaper. Besides, if you're looking for an enthusiastic manager, why would you look any place else? Think of it: bottom of the ninth, A's down by a run, the heart of the order is due up -- and Krazy George starts leading the A's bench in The Wave. That's inspiring. Plus, Krazy George would bring a passion long lacking on the A's bench. Say the Yankees are in town for a key series. All you'd have to do is sidle up to Krazy George before the game and say, "Hey, George, I heard Joe Torre over there claiming he invented The Wave during a Mets game in 1979." Soon, Krazy George is sprinting across the field to pummel Torre, and the A's are motivated to rack up another victory.
Advantages: If he's in the dugout, he can no longer menace fans.
Disadvantages: Since creating The Wave may land him in front of a tribunal in The Hague, road trips to The Netherlands could be dicey.
Ganthor, the Cleric of Kla-Xiu
Ganthor was a character former Assistant General Manager Paul DePodesta created for use in those late-night Dungeons & Dragons games he played while downloading bases-on-balls stats from the International League. Well, DePo may be gone, but he forgot to pack up his old D&D set, so why not put Ganthor to good use -- especially when you consider that he has +16 charisma and a surplus of hit points. Sure, Ganthor has low dexterity and, as a chaotic good, he's a might bit unpredictable. But when he shows the rest of the A's how to swing a mace, our problem of hitting with runners in scoring position will soon be a distant memory.
Advantages: Potions and spells will help A's players spend less time on the DL.
Disadvantages: Not all that effective against orcs and gelatinous cubes.
One of the more on-the-ball posters at Athletics Nation suggested adding the one-time Ranger and Oriole manager to the A's shortlist, writing that Oates "worked magic in Arlington a while ago." That Oates unfortunately passed away nearly two years ago might disqualify him in some people's minds for the managerial position. But that sort of in-the-box thinking is frowned upon in Oakland -- why should we not consider someone for the manager's gig just because they no longer walk in the physical world?
After all, who do you think is more likely to jar a team out of complacency -- some retread like Larry Bowa or a manager who suddenly appears out of thin air to haunt his players from beyond the grave? In fact, why not go with a coaching staff comprised entirely of spirits and specters? Gil Hodges as first-base coach, Charley Lau to handle the hitters, George Bamberger to spook the pitchers. And your bench coach? None other than the Athletics' own Connie Mack. (Even in the afterlife, Mr. Mack insists upon wearing a suit, thus limiting him to bench duties.)
And the best thing of all about this scheme: No A's player would miss a sign ever again, as the coaching staff would merely shout out its instructions in a ghostly wail. (This, of course, assumes that the coaching positions are filled by ghosts that only the A's players can see. If these are apparitions that appear to everybody, well then, this idea is just ridiculous.
Advantages: Perhaps mastering the black arts of the occult is the last thing standing between Oakland and a championship.
Disadvantages: Cleaning up all that ectoplasm might strain the clubhouse staff.
For years, Billy Beane has worked to exploit market inefficiencies to build the perfect baseball team -- one that mixes power with high on-base percentage while not giving away outs, either at the plate or in the field. Success has come in fits and starts, with one culprit standing between the Athletics and success -- the vicissitudes and weaknesses of man.
Behold, Gort -- a remorseless managing machine. Where other managers might see the leadoff runner get aboard and immediately order the next batter to move him over, Gort sees only the opportunity for a big inning wasted through so-called productive outs. Gort will not be restricted to bringing in his top reliever only in the ninth inning with a lead of three runs or fewer -- your human save rule is meaningless to Gort! And if Adam Melhuse feels slighted if Gort never says "hello" while passing him in the hallway, Gort can be reprogrammed to reproduce your pitiful Earth salutations. After all, the First Law of Robotics is that a robot may not harm a human or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. And the Second Law of Robotics is to never order a bunt unless it's the eighth inning or later and you're trailing by a run or tied.
Advantages: Like Billy Beane doesn't have a half-built robot or two lying around his garage. He could probably have a prototype up and running by the Winter Meetings.
Disadvantages: There is a chance -- a slight chance, mind you -- that Gort will turn on his human creators and wreak a swath of destruction that destroys much of mankind. Sort of like Ozzie Guillen last season.
Ken's Six-Year-Old Daughter
Ken has already talked up the merits of this particular candidate in the comments on this post, and I don't have that much to add because I'm not familiar with her work. (I did, however, read a Baseball America column raving about her work with pitchers in the New York-Penn League during 2004.) I'm largely including this entry for the sake of completeness and because it is my dream to open up the San Francisco Chronicle one morning and read a Susan Slusser article with the words "Sources are telling this reporter that a 6-year-old Alameda County girl has drawn interest from the A's for their open managerial position thanks to buzz on the Internet." Let's see if we can make this happen.
To me, the only downside from the A's perspective would be getting Ken's daughter a work permit. Also, there's the problem of night games -- state laws would probably prohibit her from working past 8 p.m., so the A's would have to hire an assistant manager in the vein of Burt Shotton serving as Branch Rickey's "Sunday" manager back in the 1920s.
Advantages: There is an "A" in adorable.
Disadvantages: Until she learns long division, we couldn't expect her to calculate on-base percentages on the fly.
C'mon... like he doesn't secretly dream of doing this anyhow. Besides, he already has a skilled front office staff in place to handle the day-to-day rigors of team construction. ("Forst, you mule -- get me more journeyman relievers, double quick!") And this saves the team the time and expense of having to bump up Bob Geren's pay. After all, why settle for the stand-in, when you can have the real thing?
And besides, wouldn't you love to see an ESPN Sunday night telecast of an A's game next season where Billy Beane starts sending guys up to the plate with orders to bunt just to see how many innings pass until Joe Morgan's head explodes. I can't be the only person who would pay good money to see that, can I?
Advantages: At last -- a manager Billy Beane can't second guess!
Disadvantage: Oh no -- a manager Billy Beane can't second guess!