Melvin was assured a chance to build upon his Oakland managerial legacy as the team extended his contract an additional year making the Menlo Park native the A’s leader through the 2019 season, the team announced Thursday.
Speaking via conference call with Bay Area media Thursday, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane said:
“He comes to the park every day with the same mindset. It doesn’t matter who he’s got on the roster, he tries to figure out a way to win, he’s prepared. We’re happy to extend him for another year — beyond ’18.”
Winning has not been easy for the A’s of late.
Since being bounced in the 2014 Wild Card game, and having his roster gutted in the ensuing offseason, Melvin has endured what will soon be the worst three-season run in Oakland A’s history. The A’s (73-85) finishing dead-last in the American League West in 2015 and ’16 — the franchise’s first back-to-back last-place finish, and if they are unable to swing a four-game sweep of the Rangers (76-82) in Texas to close the season, 2017 will be the third straight.
But this recent run of misfortune has not come in seasons packed with expectations. Oakland shipped out its final three holdovers from the 2014 playoff qualifying roster before the trade deadline this season — not including Jed Lowrie, who spent 2015 in Houston. Melvin has spent the past month penciling in a starting lineup with an average age of 26.2 years.
Beane applauded Melvin’s work through, what he called, a “transition.” And the numbers, particularly to end this season, agree. Melvin has led this very youthful group to the A’s first winning month since last April.
The explanation, Beane explained, comes from the ability of Melvin, a lauded “player’s manager,” to handle young players the way most managers handle veterans:
“The great thing about Bob is, he’s had veteran teams and he’s had teams here that have been very, very good, and he’s handled them brilliantly. But he also has the ability to communicate with young players. I think they feel, number one, comfortable around him — managers always say, their door is always open and they’re a good communicators and they’re open to discuss anything, but very few actually live up to what they say. In Bob’s case, that’s very much how he is.”
His young team has responded to Melvin’s open-door managerial approach, earning a 15-5 record over the past 20 games (T-2nd in MLB) and a 17-13 record in the last 30 (T-9th in MLB).
And things are getting brighter, Beane said:
“We’ve got a number of kids who are going to be knocking on the door next year. Hopefully we’ll be able to create that solid foundation of young players, that’s going to be critical for us to get back to the next level.”
This is the team that will head into the offseason on Monday, one of the best in the game in September, and this is the manager, the organization’s fourth-winningest, who will lead it into the next two Opening Days — at least.