Melvin, A's one of game's most successful unions
Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin has the respect of his peers, of his players and the media.
What really underscores Melvin's strength in the dugout, however, is he has the respect of the A's front office, too.
That's no easy task. Not in Oakland, where Melvin's three predecessors found it a challenge. Think about it.
Art Howe was let go after the 2002 season despite three consecutive postseason appearances and 296 regular-season wins from 2000-02.
Ken Macha was on the job for four years before he was let go after taking the A's to the American League Championship Series in 2006. That was the second postseason appearance during his tenure, in which Oakland won 368 regular-season games.
And Bob Geren, a childhood friend of general manager Billy Beane, was replaced after 63 games in 2011, having been unable to put together a winning season in his four-plus years on the job.
After getting a feel for things in the final 99 games of 2011, Melvin took the A's to back-to-back AL West titles in 2012-13. He has them back on top of the division again this year on a pace that would have them reach 100 wins in a season for the 11th time in the franchise's 114-year history.
With the Athletics, however, it's more than winning games, as Howe and Macha underscored, and it's more than being able to follow the orders from a front office that is very involved in the day-to-day operations, which is clear from Geren's tenure.
Melvin gets it.
"He represents the next generation of manager," said Beane. "You can't have a more perfect guy. He has that ability to be well-liked by the players, but also respected. That's a fine line.
"He's up to speed with the front office and embraces the information he is given. He is hungry for information to stay up on everything. But again, there's a fine line. He'll ask questions. He'll challenge ideas.
"And he can [give and take] with the media. From a general manager's standpoint, he always represents the organization well without being transparent. The manager talks to the media and fans on a daily basis. He is the face of the organization over the course of a season. It's important that a guy handle that."
Melvin's third time -- as a manager -- has been charming. He made his managerial debut in Seattle during a two-year stint in which the Mariners won 93 games in 2003 and lost 99 games in '04. Melvin was hired in Arizona by general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. in '05, and he took the D-backs to a National League West title in '07, only to be dismissed by Josh Byrnes -- who replaced Garagiola as GM in late 2005 -- after 29 games in '09. Farm director A.J. Hinch, who had never managed at any level in pro ball, was then handed the managerial reins.
Two years later, Melvin was hired in Oakland, and he's earned straight A's ever since.
"He has a unique background," Beane said of Melvin, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. "He played for a long time, and when he stopped playing, he worked on Wall Street before getting back into the game."
During his playing career, Melvin had a variety of personalities for a manager -- Sparky Anderson in Detroit, Roger Craig in San Francisco, Frank Robinson and Johnny Oates in Baltimore, Hal McRae in Kansas City, Butch Hobson in Boston, Buck Showalter with the Yankees and Gene Lamont with the White Sox.
Melvin has been able to build off the strengths of each while developing his own managerial style, which makes him a fit in Oakland, where others weren't.
"As an organization, we are always challenging each other," said Beane. "I want people to express themselves and voice their say. We talk about lineups and matchups, and players and changes. Those conversations happen all the time.
"Obviously, we have a strict philosophy, but there are no absolutes. It's one thing to have a template on how to run a game, but [stuff] happens."
And it's not an autocratic process.
"He's able to negotiate at times," said Beane. "I provide an ally for him and remind [front-office personnel] that on the field, the game is really fast, and adjustments have to be made on the run. He does a good job with that."
Besides, it's not like there is someone looking over Melvin's shoulder.
"He gets a lot of autonomy," said Beane. "We're not a front office that is always in the clubhouse. We are not a front office that travels with the team. Bob and I talk every day, but never after a game. I've learned that over the years. I'll call the next morning, win or lose."
With Melvin, that has most often been after a win.