(OAKLAND)—After today’s loss at the O.co Coliseum, the 2015 Oakland Athletics have a 2-15 record in one-run ball games so far this year, and the team is 17-32 overall. It seems very clear the team isn’t doing the little things right, and this is why that record in close games is so vile and atrocious. The A’s keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and when that happens, it’s usually due to a lack of preparation and subsequent execution.
It may seem sacrilege to suggest this, however, it’s entirely possible that Manager Bob Melvin doesn’t have the capability of communicating with this current group of players. Considering Melvin’s track record, he’s obviously a very good manager: You don’t win Manager of the Year awards in both the American (2012) and the National (2007) leagues in your career unless you’re one of the best. No one is suggesting otherwise with Melvin, but it just may be time for a change in Oakland.
These A’s continue to kick the ball around and suffer from ridiculous relief-pitcher problems. Tuesday night, Oakland lost, 1-0, to the Detroit Tigers when an unearned scored in the first inning of the game. For those keeping score at home, that’s now 50 errors in 49 games for the A’s. No other team in the major leagues had more than 40 errors after Tuesday evening’s games. Those 50 errors have led to 30 free runs for the opposition, and when you’re losing 15 games by one run, you can see how those freebies hurt a team.
It doesn’t seem to be getting much better, either. Even in Monday’s 4-0 win over the Tigers, the A’s made three errors. Oakland just can’t help itself, and that responsibility falls to the coaching staff to correct. Bringing Ron Washington in to work with the infielders doesn’t seem to be helping yet, either.
Today’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was another result of bullpen ineffectiveness. Dan Otero came into the game in the fourth inning, and promptly gave up three hits in the inning. The Tigers didn’t score, however, due to a base running blunder. Otero was lucky, but he couldn’t escape the next inning when he gave up a three-run home run to Yoenis Cespedes—yes, that Yoenis Cespedes—on a two-strike count with two outs. One would think Otero has seen enough live action of Cespedes swinging at balls in the dirt to know how to pitch him with runners on base, two outs and two strikes. Yet Otero threw a batting-practice change-up to Cespedes, who has proven in two All-Star Home Run Derby contests that he can hit the easy pitches pretty well.
First, why did Melvin go to Otero when the righty has been little better than a gas can this year on the mound? Second, doesn’t Otero know how to pitch a free swinger like Cespedes by now? Oh, if A’s fans only had a dollar for every time they’d seen Cespedes whiff on strike three at a ball in the dirt when he was with Oakland!
Both questions have disturbing answers: poor coaching and preparation. Yes, in the end, it’s the players that have to perform, but at the same time, there’s really no excuse for the A’s continued mistakes after 50 games this season. They make the same errors—figuratively and literally—over and over again. The team is not learning or growing or developing. In essence, it is regressing, and that has to be on Melvin. He keeps putting Otero into high-leverage situations and watching him blow it time after time.
Maybe this is the real reason General Manager Billy Beane brought Washington back into the fold: to replace Melvin if things didn’t turn around soon. The current manager certainly has earned a lot of patience with his stellar record from mid-2011 through mid-2014, but it’s not clear just how much longer Beane can tolerate the circus that is now A’s baseball under Melvin.
A 6-16 home record is an embarrassment, right along with the 2-15 record in one-run ball games. Neither should be happening to a team with this much talent, on the field and in the organization. Something’s got to give, and it may be that Melvin is the obvious change that needs to be made—especially with Washington waiting in the wings now to get the job he should have been given way back in 2007.