It’s easy to go snotty and say, “Oh, so Mike Gallego is the reason the A’s have the worst one-run record in baseball,” or “Well, a new third-base coach will fix it,” or even “Someone has to teach Marcus Semien to handle the ball.”
So let’s go that way. I mean, the A’s have bigger trout to fillet anyway. Namely, maintaining their improbable last-place record and plus run-differential.
Gallego’s firing as Oakland's third base coach with 37 games still to play is a bizarre notion except that it seems to have been in the works since the day Ron Washington was hired to be, well, Ron Washington. He had originally been charged with straightening out Semien, the error-plagued shortstop, but Gallego knew Washington wasn’t just going to be a consultant, not on this micromanagers’ thrill ride.
So when the hammer fell, it fell the way most hammers fall – silently. Time would be taken to figure out the nicest way for Bob Melvin to explain this to the media, and Gallego’s contributions would be praised, and then the season would grind on to Game 126 and beyond.
It was indeed a move that made no sense and had little significance. Washington is a smart baseball man of the old school, yet Gallego is as well. Third base coaches don’t make a team dramatically better, and only make them worse if the team’s record of sending runners was, say, 12 percent.
But it was part of the general dissatisfaction with a season that the A’s thought would be better than they got. It wouldn’t be as good as last year’s, not after Billy Beane’s latest Ikea binge last off-season, but the bullpen wasn’t supposed to rank 24th in OPS or have a save conversion rate of 51.2 percent either. Monkeys typing Hamlet scoff at that number.
Put simply, they weren’t planning to be 20 games worse than a year ago, or having their worst record through 125 games in the Beane era.
Now there is a statement to be made that Washington’s well-documented aggression running the bases might result in an incremental improvement in the A’s horrific 14-29 one-run record. And maybe Gallego said the wrong thing the wrong way to Beane or Melvin because, well, why eliminate any possibility?
But in the greater picture, the A’s have altered nothing in an already-lost season unless Washington’s role as a shortstop-whisperer can salvage Semien’s fielding stats. He has 31 errors at the three-quarter pole, a pace that would put him at 41 for the year, or one short of Jose Offerman’s 42 in 1992. Then again, Washington had 16 errors in 54 games in Cleveland in 1988, his last full season, and his resume is pretty clean defensively.
So why now? Why does Mike Gallego get the door now? It’s the A’s. I mean, why is Josh Donaldson in Toronto? Answer that one, then you get all knotted up about Mike Gallego.