“Hey, Jen, was Mike that bad? What are you hearing in Oakland?” – Robert Casey
A couple of days ago this question was posed to me by a fellow blogger and founder of the BYB Hub, of which I am a member/contributor. The head writer of the blog, Bleeding Yankee Blue, remembered Gallego fondly during his time with the New York Yankees ponders this question in his recent post, “Remember Mike Gallego? He Got Canned.”
“Was Gallego really that bad at being a third base coach? Really? How difficult is that job anyway? I pose that question to BYB Hub contributor and BBST (Bullpen, Baseball & Sock Talk) head, Jen Rainwater…
Hey Jen, was Mike that bad? What are you hearing out there in Oakland?”
Of course I had to answer the question, in fact, I was flattered he asked me. To be honest, all I was hearing from fellow fans was a reaction of joy! Here’s just one of the tweets I received,
@OakAsSocksGrl 99% of A’s fans are THRILLED to see Wash back in the uniform — the 1% permacritics can never be pleased.
— A’s_Truthteller (@As_Truthteller) August 25, 2015
I’m sure that this does not mean that the people/media/players in Oakland didn’t like Mike Gallego. He was a member of the 1989 World Championship team as well as two A’s American League Championship teams. We have fond memories of the man too. So here is what I do know.
Almost everyone adored “Wash” while he was with the Athletics and some had hoped that he would be made manager one day, that job later went to Bob Geren. So we were sorry to see Washington go when he took the managerial position offered to him by the Texas Rangers and went on to manage the team to two straight American League Pennants, as the Athletics struggled.
Despite his more recent transgressions, Washington is a true talent when it comes to mentoring players and coaching them in the infield. It must be a fact when six-time Gold Glove Award winner in third baseman Eric Chavez, gave Washington one of his awards, signing with not just with his name but with the words,
“Wash, not without you…”
Washington has proven before that he is the the best person for the job. He was an excellent manager in Texas leading the Rangers closer to a World Championship than any other Ranger’s skipper before him and a stellar coach in Oakland.
Having never been a third base coach, I can’t say how tough of a job it is, just that it must be a bit harder than it appears and Washington is quite simply better at it than Gallego.
Wash has done wonders for the A’s infield since May. A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, who leads the Majors in errors this season, has improved dramatically. Wash has done his job and more. The promotion back to his former position was well deserved.
It wasn’t that Gallego was a great third base coach or a truly terrible one, he just was not as good as Washington can be. While all the A’s one-run losses haven’t been contingent on calls of the third base coach, the A’s have had19 runners try to score and fail this season. That number just happens to be the highest in baseball.
More than once this season, I’ve personally questioned Gallego’s decision to send the runner home on what was going to be a close play at the plate. You only have to look to Washington’s first game back at his old post Monday in Seattle as the A’s took on the Mariners.
Down five runs in the fifth inning, the A’s pushed across seven runs with two outs. Washington saved that third out from being at the plate on more than one occasion in that inning.
Of course there are those who do not agree. A blogger from FanSided’s Swingin’ A’s Katrina Putnam, excuses Gallego’s lapses in judgment saying,
“the infield he coached this season is almost entirely different than the one he had in 2014. Eric Sogard is the only player who has remained the same, and it’s not always easy to teach an entirely new group of players to work well together – even players at the major league level. There are personalities to manage, techniques to adjust to, and shifts to learn.”
Again, remember I do not dislike Gallego, I do like him! But I think – or at least I would guess – that while personalities and learning to mesh with your new teammates/coaches does matter, so do judgement calls made in the heat of the moment. Washington just has a talent for doing both.
She calls Gallego a “scapegoat” for the front office. It’s been a rough season and OBVIOUSLY the fault does not fall on all Gallego. However, he probably won’t be the only change GM Billy Beane makes before the start of Spring Training 2016.
Granted, the team could have waited until the season ended to make the change but why wait? Semien will be the shortstop until one of the A’s many prospects at the position is ready to be promoted. I’d want him and the rest of the infield – Brett Lawrie will certainly be still be there at the hot corner in 2016 – to be working with the best candidate for the job, as soon as and as long as possible.
So, on the whole what I am hearing in Oakland is that the majority of people are simply happy to have Washington back with the team, helping to make them a better ball club. That definitely doesn’t mean that Oakland dislikes Gallego. It’s just that we already know what Washington can do, have seen it happen and sure – we just kind of like the guy!