OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — Bob Melvin is Billy Beane’s new man to lead the Athletics for the long haul, or so Oakland’s general manager hopes.
Melvin is staying put to manage in his native Bay Area and considers it the perfect fit.
The feeling is mutual for Beane and the A’s, who announced Wednesday they had reached agreement on a three-year contract to keep Melvin as their permanent manager.
“It was six years, right?” Melvin joked of his new deal, turning to Beane seated to the skipper’s left.
Perhaps it will be—as Beane noted this could be just the first of multiple contracts for Melvin if all goes well.
“He’s an incredible asset to the entire organization,” Beane said.
The GM can check off his first order of business heading into what should be another busy offseason for the small-budget franchise.
The 49-year-old Melvin took over in an interim capacity for the fired Bob Geren in June and had a 42-49 record heading into Wednesday night’s game with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers at the Coliseum. Geren’s dismissal marked the first time Oakland fired a manager during the season in a quarter century.
Beane was thrilled to find Melvin available during that tough time.
Melvin, who played college baseball at California, previously managed the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks and gained Beane’s respect. Melvin was a finalist for other recent managerial openings, in Milwaukee and with the Mets.
While Melvin has long believed he would manage again, “I’ve tried to stay in the moment.”
“It just felt right. A lot of it has to do with how at ease Billy’s made me feel,” he said of getting his chance with this storied franchise.
His players respect him and sure were rooting for his return.
“Definitely a player’s manager,” outfielder Ryan Sweeney said.
“A positive guy, he wants you to go out there and win every day like everybody does. The communication is there. He tells you the day before whether you’re playing or in the lineup, so that’s always good. As far as how he handles the team, all that he does has been good. … I’ve seen nothing but positive things since he’s been here.”
While Oakland (69-85) is headed for a fifth straight season without a winning record or playoff berth since being swept in the 2006 AL championship series by Detroit, the A’s have appreciated Melvin’s leadership with a constantly changing roster of young players and his vast experience.
While Beane didn’t say whether a minority candidate was given consideration per MLB rules, he noted the A’s front office over the past month was “in constant communication with the commissioner’s office to make sure we honored the process.” Otherwise, Beane said, Melvin might have already been named the manager.
Melvin, joined at his news conference by his 22-year-old daughter, Alexi, owns a 535-557 career managerial record in eight seasons. The A’s were 27-36 and mired in a nine-game losing streak when he took over.
“That was sort of a very chaotic time for us,” Beane said. “I felt really fortunate a guy of his caliber was available at that time. I had some reservations for him whether he would want to take on this situation. … From the minute I started talking to Bob it was very positive.”
Melvin led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 2007 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with the Mariners in 2003.
He also served on Bob Brenly’s staff as bench coach in 2001 when the Diamondbacks won the World Series and the following year when they won the NL West. Melvin also coached for Milwaukee under Phil Garner, now an A’s adviser. They worked together with the Tigers, too.
Garner could return in some capacity in 2012.
“The communication between me and Bob, I talk to him more times
in a day than I talk to my wife,” Beane said, smiling. “It’s really a stimulating relationship. Bob has so much to offer. He’s got great ideas. We agree on a lot of things and I think we have an idea what it takes to put together a good club going forward. … If Bob made any mistake, we get along so well he’s probably going to have me lounging around on his couch more than he wants.”
Melvin played 10 seasons in the majors as a catcher with Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Kansas City, Boston, the Yankees and White Sox. He batted .233 with 35 homers and 212 RBIs in 1,955 career at-bats.
Closer Andrew Bailey has noticed Melvin’s tireless work ethic and commitment to this club.
“He’s the first one here,” Bailey said. “I thought I got here early and he beats me here.”
Melvin was born in Palo Alto, went to high school in Menlo Park, played at Cal and spent time with the Giants in the majors.
When he became interim manager, Melvin called it “a dream come true.” Beane approached him with the idea and Melvin asked to be signed up on the spot.
He echoes that same tune now.
“I always would have hoped it would come full circle,” he said. “It was the Oakland A’s and the relationships and all about this organization for me, wherever it ends up—San Jose or wherever—the organization I grew up watching. That was very appealing for me.”
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)