The New Moneyball

Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Manny Ramirez against the Los Angeles Angels during a spring training game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Confused by the Oakland Athletics' offseason plan? Be confused no more, as we've been given an explanation.

The Oakland Athletics' offseason threw a lot of people for a loop. It seemed like they were tearing things down and rebuilding. Okay, fine, that's a sensible thing to do - they don't have much money, and it's not like they'll be able to compete with the Angels and Rangers in the short term. Then they started adding. They made moves that rebuilding teams ordinarily don't make. What was going on in Oakland? Why didn't they have an offseason that we could find easy to label?

Tucked deep within an Insider-only article from Jim Bowden, we have an answer. I usually don't like to quote things behind paywalls, but hopefully no one gets too mad.

Melvin called last year’s team "bland," and part of the A’s offseason plan was to add some flavor to their clubhouse. They certainly accomplished that with the additions of Manny Ramirez and Jonny Gomes and new hitting coach Chili Davis. This clubhouse suddenly got some spice; it’s much more fun and loud.

Added flavor. More taste, less filling. Unbelievably appropriate to include Chili Davis, just as it would've been unbelievably appropriate to include Herb Perry or Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Jason Bay. (Flavor jokes.) Maybe a focus on the clubhouse isn't what you'd expect from the A's, given their reputation and given how Moneyball only cemented their reputation, but the A's aren't static. The A's are always changing, because the A's always have to be changing if they want to stand any kind of chance.

Of course, the A's didn't make their moves with only the clubhouse in mind. If Trevor Cahill was bland, the A's didn't trade him because he was bland; they traded him because they saw the return they could get. Same for Gio Gonzalez. They signed Manny Ramirez because there's no commitment and he basically fell in their lap. Maybe Jonny Gomes was a clubhouse move, but Gomes is probably going to be a role player, and he is of some use on the field.

I'll be honest with you - I'm only really writing this because I wanted to point out that Bob Melvin called other people bland. Bob Melvin.

Bob_melvin_oakland_athletics_photo_day_ob_vx3clwsil_medium

Maybe Bob Melvin isn't as bland as Bob Geren, but that's like saying that old milk isn't as bland as milk. His first name is "Bob", and his last name is "Melvin". It's not fair to judge people by their names, but Bob Melvin's name fits him like khaki pants. A Google search for "Bob Melvin" + "bland" yields about 40,000 results, and those results aren't because of the remark within Bowden's article. Here are some samples:

If Bob Melvin is hired as the manager, and i hope not. Wouldn't it be a case of the Bland leading the bland?

The bland, former mediocre catcher in charge of the team

Unless Joe Girardi decides to torpedo his own career and leaves the Yankees, there’s really no standout candidate. Eric Wedge? The bland and banal Bob Melvin?

Bob Melvin - Nice guy, bland personality.

Bob Melvin is such a bland, vanilla option to be the next manager. Haven't we had enough of that with Art Howe, Willie Randolph, etc?

You get the idea. One of the responsibilities of a manager in a clubhouse is to set the clubhouse tone. Bob Melvin was the manager of the Oakland A's, and Bob Melvin thought the Oakland A's were bland. This was not a coincidence, and while the players might have been partly to blame, they were not wholly to blame.

Maybe we've spent too much time talking about the personality of the Oakland A's clubhouse. The A's won't win or lose based on whether their clubhouse is spicy or bland. But it's funny, because Bob Melvin called the team bland. Bob Melvin!

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