Now that the dust is settling a bit on the "worst kept secret" in baseball, that being the A's proposed move to Fremont, we've got some baseball issues to deal with. OK, the dust hasn't really settled, but I want to talk about something else for a little while.
The biggest one being the fact that the Texas Rangers are now not only pursuing Barry Zito, but Frank Thomas as well.
The Zito signing is something that feels largely out of the A's control. I would still be very surprised if Zito picked the relative obscurity of Arlington, Texas over the bright lights of New York and Los Angeles, but hey, Zito loves his money (I don't begrudge him for that) and Texas very well could be the highest bidder (see Rodriguez, Alex for an example of this).
As for the Frank Thomas signing, I think it would be a HUGE blow to the A's. At the same time, I don't want to see the A's completely overpay and extend the contract an extra year for someone who very well could break down and soon. Just because Thomas experienced such an amazing renaissance this season doesn't mean that his wheels will hold up. He's like an eighteen wheeler with nails in all 18 tires. It's freaking powerful and scary, but sooner or later those tires are going to shred. It was no secret that Ron Washington developed a bond with Frank Thomas, so this one could very well come true. Especially if the Rangers are willing to extend the contract to three years and overpay. Something, not ironically, that might be more possible if the A's were in Fremont already. Wait, I'm supposed to be getting AWAY from that topic.
As for the A's managerial search, Beane denied that the decision has already been made yesterday saying that the three candidates, A's bench coach Bob Geren, ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser and Colorado bench coach Jamie Quirk were all still in the running.
The reaction from fans, I would imagine, will likely be anger and ambivalence for the final candidates.
Most fans were angry enough to accuse the managerial search of being a sham when Beane let Washington go. A's fans will continue to claim that Beane knew he wanted Geren from the start and mostly just put on his long and exhaustive search just to make sure that some of the candidates were whittled away. That way he could choose the guy he always wanted without appearing like he was disrespecting Washington.
My feelings on this are that Beane knows what he'll likely be getting in Geren since Geren was a manager with teams in his minor league system. He knows Geren extremely well given that they are very close friends and probably has an idea if they can work together. If folks want to say that one is a lap dog for the other, that's your choice to do so. I personally don't think you should say that until you see things in action, but hey, what the hell do I know?
As for Quirk, most people know very little about him and how he would be as a manager. Beane also has a fairly established relationship with him. But I think this will be someone who will be viewed with ambivalence coming into the job. Course it will probably take about a week into spring training before someone will start the cry of "FIRE QUIRK NOW!!!" That's just the life of a manager. It doesn't take long to be despised by a baseball fanbase.
I'm relatively ambivalent myself on Quirk since I don't know much about him as a coach either. Although his name is a headline writer's dream. "A's Clubhouse Full of Quirk", "Billy Beane Chooses Quirk", "A's Lose Due to Quirk of Fate". It's just too bad he wouldn't be able to manage Zito since he's the guy most associated with quirk in these parts.
And finally, the most intriguing one and I guarantee the one that most of the media in the Bay Area is rooting for...Orel Hershiser. Could you imagine the guy that basically pwned (not a typo, this is lingo that the hip young kids are using online these days) the A's in the World Series. A guy who was basically the franchises nemesis by arguably having a greater impact on that 88 World Series than that over-replayed Gibson bomb. I imagine that would be something akin to Apollo Creed becoming Rocky Balboa's manager. Oh wait...
Seriously, I'm more willing to let bygones be bygones as long as Hershiser gets the A's to where they need to be. And I think Beane probably has a better handle on this than anyone.
Any way, I've got to imagine that folks will be angry if it winds up being Geren (it should've been WASHINGTON will be the rallying cry of this group), ambivalent with a bit more opened mindedness if it's Quirk (this dude hasn't done anything to make us dislike him yet - wait until he brings in Street too early for that to happen) and anger bordering on rioting if it's Hershiser (the memory is still too recent and I will never love the guy no matter what happens). The biggest question out of all of this is, if Beane doesn't value a manager at all, why has he spent so much time looking for a new one? Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right in that it was a deliberately long search to help other teams narrow his choices. I imagine Geren wasn't high on any other team's list.
Any way, it's exciting times in Athletics Nation. And I haven't even mentioned what the A's might do outside of Zito, Thomas and the manager. Ah, the hot stove, I missed you so.