The Merit of Bob Geren


When it comes to filling out a coaching staff, every fan has their favorite type:
-The guy with the most coaching experience
-The guy with the least coaching experience
-The guy who was a catcher
-The guy who was a pitcher
-The guy who was a bench player
-The guy who was a star
-The guy who won a World Series ring
-The guy who never won a World Series ring

The list can go on, forever.

With the New York Mets recent hire of Bob Geren as their bench coach, fans are already reacting as if Geren was just put in charge of their 401K’s. The reality of the matter is, Bob Geren was made bench coach, and that’s it. Nothing more.

Now, there’s been some chatter about how Geren, while he managed the Oakland Athletics from 2007 to 2011, made some enemies on the team. The most publicly reported enemies include Huston Street and Brian Fuentes. While it’s not the most comforting thing in the world to have these public altercations, we as fans don’t know exactly what goes on in the dugout, locker room, or chartered flights. In fact, we have zero idea. Before we Google “Bob Geren + fights” and fish out more “proof” about why the Mets hiring Geren was a bad idea, why don’t we actually learn more about Geren’s resume.

Bob Geren was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1979 with the 24th overall pick. The 17 year-old catcher climbed his way up the Minor League ladder slowly but surely, enjoying his first really promising season in 1984 at Single-A for the St. Louis Cardinals. The then 22 year-old posted a .265/.328/.493 line with 24 homeruns, 73 RBI, and 63 runs. But it wasn’t until 1984–five years after being drafted–did he see action about Single-A. Unfortunately, Geren couldn’t quite duplicate his success against stronger pitchers, slumping to a .238/.319/.413 line. The catcher was dealt again in 1986 to the New York Yankees, where he spent the majority of his stay between Double-A/Triple-A.

However, it was with the Yankees where Geren saw his first cup of coffee. The 26 year-old made his debut in the Major Leagues, collecting 12 plate appearances, and posting just a .100/.250/.100 line. The future manager garnered more playing time in 1989 (225 plate appearances), and actually produced as the Yankees backup catcher (.288/.329/.454 line). But after failing to build on his short-lived success (.215/.264/.314 line in 443 plate appearances between 1990 and 1991), the Yanks exposed Geren to waivers. The Cincinnati Reds nibbled, but decided to release him before even recording an at-bat. The Boston Red Sox decided to take a chance on the former Yankee-backup, but Geren was placed back in the Minors (.216/.272/.373 line) for the extent of his contract. After the season, Geren was granted free agency, and he signed with his sixth franchise, the San Diego Padres in 1993. At age 31, Geren posted a dismal .214/.278/.317 line in 162 plate appearances before hanging up his cleats as a player.

While Geren never quite succeeded as a player, he obvious got the attention of Bob Schaefer, the then-director of player development for the Boston Red Sox. Schaefer handed Geren his first managing gig (at Rookie and Class A), and thus, Geren’s coaching career was born. Geren managed in the Red Sox system from 1995 to 1998, but left when Schaefer was fired. Two years later, the former-catcher was hired as the Oakland Athletics Triple-A manager, and was then promoted to the Major Leagues in 2002, serving as the A’s bench coach until 2006. During his tenure as a bench coach, Geren also managed in the Dominican Winter League, even notching a championship in 2002. After A’s manager Ken Macha was fired in 2006, the A’s handed the key to long-time coach Bob Geren.

Unlike Macha–who helped the A’s reach the playoffs twice (including the ALCS)–the Geren-led Athletics never had a winning record. But then again, Geren didn’t nearly have as much as talent or help as past Athletics teams. On the 2010 A’s, who owned a 81-81 record, Kevin Kouzmanoff led the team with 16 homeruns, and youngsters like Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Vin Mazzaro, and Brett Anderson were forced into the rotation. If not for their young rotation’s quick maturation, it’s fair to assume the Athletics would not have even been a .500 team in 2010.

In 2011, Geren was fired 63 games into the season, ending with a 27-36 record. With an offense comprised of mostly Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, Cliff Pennington, Scott Sizemore, David DeJesus, and Hideki Matsui, the A’s 645 total runs ranked third worst in the American League. And while free-agent Brandon McCarthy and Minor League acquisition Guillermo Moscoso were pleasant surprises in the rotation, top-of-the-rotation hopefuls Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, and Rich Harden were limited to 184 innings combined. Without a single playoff appearance in his five-year managerial tenure, Geren’s firing mid-way through the season was certainly deserved. And despite Brian Fuentes’ “lack of communication” claim or Huston Street’s “least favorite person in baseball” jab, it’s safe to say that most players (and the front office) didn’t necessarily feel the same way about him.

But we here to evaluate Geren not as a manager, but as a bench coach for the Mets. With Geren’s fourteen gut-wrenching seasons as both a Minor League and Major League catcher, as well as his sixteen diverse seasons coaching at all levels of baseball, the Mets decision to hire him as a bench coach seems incredibly justified, and even intelligent.

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