Blog Media Day for the Oakland Athletics – Bob Melvin Interview
At media day, we got a chance to interview Bob Melvin, Manager of the Oakland Athletics. I got in 2 questions about what the difference is in trying to hold together a younger team during a run like this season and what has he learned from his past managing positions that he has been able to apply to this team. Here is the transcript from the interview with Bob Melvin.
First Question: “Bob, 2 guys were here and then sent down and now are back again I’d like know how they are different, Jemile Weeks and Josh Donaldson.”
Bob Melvin: “As far as Donaldson goes, it was just a matter of getting here and having some success, the ability has always been there. You look at the minor league numbers and he has been able to hit, hit for power and he’s a great athlete and played multiple positions. I think it was just important, similar to a Chris Carter situation, where he came here and had some success. When he did early on, he’s just been riding on that and more or less believes in himself as a Big Leaguer now.
Follow up: ”So really it was just a matter of confidence?”
Follow up continued: ”After a little bit of success?”
BM: “Right, because the ability is there. As far as Jemile, I think it is not unlike, ya know you talk about Sophomore slumps and so forth, and you know, he’s a tough kid. Who can be hard on himself and I just think he got into a little bit of a slump where he couldn’t quite get out of it. You look up there and you have some pride and you look at your average for the first time after hitting .300 for basically a full season and then not being able to repeat that. You try a little to hard sometimes as opposed to trying a little easier and letting your ability take over. I think it was just a little bit of change of scenery and went down there and instantly hit so I don’t think this is going to effect the player he will be going forward.
Question: “Was there any technical adjustments or anything that you wanted him to tweak or work on during that process?”
BM: “I think maybe just keep the ball out of the air a little bit. I mean this year, I think he probably hit a couple of home runs early on and he will tell you that that had nothing to do with swinging a little bigger. I think he just felt more comfortable with his swing that he cold drive some balls and last year he just wasn’t trying to do too much and just putting it in play. Putting it in play on the ground and its a matter of finding a happy median for him and he will do that.”
BayAreaBall: “Bob, do you feel that you have to do anything different since the A’s are a lot younger team then most veteran teams. Or is there anything that you have to do differently as a manager like communicate more, be more vocal, in order to try and keep them in line and to keep going where they are going?”
BM: “Well I think based on where we are in the season, you try and keep the distractions to a minimum and just, I know it’s very cliche but keep all our efforts and focus on a particular day. Umm, we are playing some matchups in the second half, whether it’s a Moss/Carter type of thing and I think keeping them aware of when they are playing is important. So they know and can visualize and do some homework on potential pitchers on who they are going o face. You know whether it is Kottaras and Norris, we’ve run a little bit of a platoon, Pennington and Rosales at second. So I think they benefit by knowing which and what days they are playing. Plus I think with younger players you try and be consistent in giving them good feedback because the one thing about being a younger player coming to the Big League level is that you always have to get over is that Awe factor and Do I belong here in the Bi Leagues. We’ve not only as an organization put a lot of stock in our younger players and get them to the Big Leagues and put them in prominent roles and I think we’ve done that across the board this year. Whether its the pitching end of it, whether it’s the position player end of it and we’ve been rewarded with good performances.”
Question: “The Bullpen, the traditional closer role, one designated guy coming into every 9th inning save situation is something the A’s haven’t done quite as much just out of necessity and shuffling around. Is that a custom that you see changing in the coming years with people maybe finding more efficient ways due to a top reliever or are you kinda happy with it as it is?”
BM: “You know I, its always a catch 22 because you want to get the hot hand out there. You want to get the guys that are the best matchups yet the relievers are a little different breed. When that phone rings, they want to know when that phone rings the guys has a pretty good idea of when he is coming into the game. So if we have to change the role for a period of time, we are more apt to do that then just consistently trying to match up. We’re a little different with call ups and you have more options but I think if you look at our late guys, our plus game guys they know when they are coming in the game and I think that is a comfort to them. Whether it is a Neshek, 6th, 7th, maybe 8th inning depending on who’s available if it’s against righties. Uh Doolittle if its 7th or 8th inning. Cook either 7th or 8th depending on the matchup. I think confidence wise for them it helps them to prepare and feel good about what they are doing. Even though just looking at it statistically, it can be more of a matchup thing. So I think it’s a double edged sword, I do like defining roles but I’m not afraid to change them if we need to change them.
Question: ” As I’ve seen, which I like. I thought for double is definitely a meaningful thing”
BM: “Very much so for them.”
Question: “Chemistry is such a huge part of what the team does this year, do you recall the precise moment when you began to notice that this team was developing a unique very strange kind of chemistry to come together?”
BM: “You know I don’t know if there was a particular time. I felt good about the players that we had in Spring Training and when you look at a Big League roster or 25 man roster. Our was more like 32, that we were bringing guys back and forth depending on how they were playing at a certain time. I think once we kinda defined what roles certain guys had hence the Carter/Moss type of thing. Got the roster here, whether it was middle to late June, I think we’ve been pretty consistent especially offensively and once we started to play better offensively and hit some home runs and so forth. The team started to find an identity within itself. You know we always felt that we were a scrappy type team, a team that played well and focused later on in games. Played hard, uh that type of thing but once we started to hit the ball out of the Ballpark we kind of gained a lot more confidence because of that and we have the guys here to do that now.”
Question: “Who’s the MVP of this team?”
BM: “(Big Sigh)Phhhuuff, Um ya know”
Question: (Inaudible Comment)
BM: “There ya go, Curt Young…No you know what, I would say it’s a tough one. You know the guys that we count on are Coco the most or Coco, Reddick, and Cespedes and I think at different parts of the season they would be considered the MVP at the time. I couldn’t put my finger on just one but from an offensive standpoint those three probably stand out the most.”
Question: “It seems like throughout the year the clubhouse attitude, at least from an outsiders perspective, it’s been very positive and players get along very well. How has that changed as you sort of see the finish line and you’re still in it and do you feel like you need to do anything to influence that one way or the other?”
BM: “We’re trying not to look at the finish line and trying to take it more day to day and lets count them up at the end. ya know, we know the schedule and we know we’re playing a lot of games on the road. We’ve been fortunate enough to win some games on the road here. If you start thinking about this match up and this match up, those are just distractions you don’t need especially for a younger group. So we’re trying to remain in the moment an put all our focus on today’s game and then will worry about, I know it’s very cliche,but it has worked for us to this point this year and that is the way we will remain doing it.”
BayAreaBall: “Through your career, they say it takes a couple of times around to kind of figure out and experience all the things you need to, to become an even more effective manager. Is there something that you didn’t do before that you’re seeing now that you’re really putting a lot of stock in? In terms of communication or anything like that?
BM: “Well first of all, I don’t think you ever get comfortable and say that you’ve had all the experiences and this is how I’m going to do things. I try and learn from our players and it’s more about me acclimating to the players then the players acclimating to me. I have to work the personnel that we have in the fashion that we are best suited to do it. Meaning if we have a bunch of guys that run, you’re not going to sit around and play for the 3 run homer. If we have a bunch of guys who hit home runs, you’re not going to run into outs. This team has kinda morphed into that first type of team where we were running early on where we are not running quite as much now because we don’t want to run into outs. Because we’re hitting some balls out of the ballpark. So I think keeping guys accountable more so now and communicating in that there are certain times that you do not want to communicate whether it’s your mood or whatever. You want to stay consistent with what you’re doing as a manager. I like to be a positive guy, especially with the whole group or I wil take guys individually especially if there is something on the negative side. But I think it’s staying consistent whether you’re winning or losing and staying consistent in my approach to the players is probably what I think stands out more so for me.”
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