OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin oversaw the A’s most recent turnaround from a losing team to a postseason contender. On Wednesday, the A’s affirmed their hope that Melvin will help lead the next one as well.
The A’s announced they’ve agreed to terms with Melvin on a two-year contract extension that will keep Melvin as their manager through the 2018 season. General manager Billy Beane officially announced the extension -- terms of which were not released -- at a news conference at the O.co Coliseum in which he praised Melvin’s leadership during a trying season for the team.
"This was something that was probably fait accompli a long time ago," Beane said. "It’s somebody that we feel very proud to have running the club. From my standpoint -- and I think I speak for (assistant GM David Forst) and the front office -- it’s been a very productive relationship, and one that we’ve enjoyed both professionally and personally."
Entering Wednesday, the A’s had compiled a .532 winning percentage in Melvin’s four-plus seasons as manager, including postseason appearances in his first three full seasons from 2012-14. But they went into Wednesday’s game against the Astros with the worst record in the American League this season, at 19 games under .500.
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"It’s not lost on me that during a year like this, these are things that don’t typically happen, and I’m very fortunate and appreciative for that," Melvin said. "The one thing the front office has always done for me here is give me good players, and I believe we have underachieved this year, and I’m responsible for that.
"My time here has been great. We’ve had good years here -- certainly not this year, but I’m fully committed to this team, this organization and fan base to get this thing turned around sooner than later."
Beane said the A’s wanted to "put to rest" the idea that Melvin’s job status might be in question because of the team’s performance this year. After Melvin’s opening comments at the news conference, Beane cracked: “By the way, not all the players I gave you were good.”
Beane and Melvin get along well, and the A’s value Melvin’s ability to combine a grasp of the analytical methods used by the front office with his own experience as a former player. Beane also said that Melvin constantly monitors the A’s minor-league system, keeping an eye out for potential call-ups.
This season, Beane said, injuries have played a major factor in the A’s current record. Oakland has also been hampered by a leaky bullpen -- whose 4.42 ERA is the second-highest in the A.L. -- and disappointing offensive seasons from some of the players Beane acquired in last winter’s roster overhaul.
"Things haven’t gone as planned," Beane said. "But the thing that’s been consistent has been Bob’s leadership. He brings the same attitude every single day to every single game. He comes in believing he’s going to win regardless."
Oakland is Melvin’s third managerial stop -- he also managed in Seattle and Arizona, and has been named Manager of the Year in both the N.L. (2007) and A.L. (2012 for the A’s). He has often said, though, that as a Bay Area native and Cal alum, managing in Oakland carries special significance for him.
"This is where I want to be," Melvin said Wednesday. "It’s the most comfortable place for me. It’s home for me."
Melvin said he’s optimistic about the A’s roster going forward and pointed out the team has "turned it around very quickly in the past," citing the turnaround from a 74-88 finish in 2011 to a division title in 2012. Beane acknowledged the A’s, who dealt away several key players for prospects at this year’s trade deadline, are "going through a little bit of a transition phase."
"I want (Melvin) around as we go through this transition," Beane said. "He was the right guy for the last generation, he’ll be the right guy for the next generation."
Several A’s players voiced similar opinions Wednesday.
"He’s everything to this group," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "We’ve had some changes in the last couple years but when you keep the leader in his place, that’s what you need. You need consistency from the top. So having Bob around with this young core, this team’s going to be good for a long time."