OAKLAND, Calif. – Even though his club is likely to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane saw no reason to let manager Bob Geren's contract status linger.
Confident in the direction that the youngest team in the majors is headed, Beane and the A's on Saturday exercised the club option on Geren's contract for the 2011 season, saying his influence and work with the club's younger players is critical to the franchise's future.
"At the end of the day it seemed pretty obvious to all of us," Beane said. "For us it's critical that we have a manager that's not only a teacher but has the patience to get through some of the growing pains a young player's going to have. Bob and the rest of the staff have certainly done that."
The A's have been beset by a number of injuries to their front-line players. All-Star infielder Eric Chavez played in only 33 games before being sidelined for the year because of back and shoulder issues. Pitcher Ben Sheets, who signed a $10 million, one-year deal with Oakland in the offseason, had season-ending elbow surgery in August, and center fielder Coco Crisp missed most of the first half of the year with leg injuries.
Despite all of that, the A's have managed to stay around .500 in the AL West. Oakland went into Saturday's game against Boston trailing first-place Texas by 7½ games and still clinging to slim playoff hopes.
"I talked to Billy and thanked him for the opportunity," Geren said. "We're so close to being an elite team, and to have the opportunity to manage them ... it's a real honor. To be asked back to try to bring us to the next level is a real privilege."
Geren received a one-year contract extension, with the option, in March 2009. He was promoted from bench coach in November 2006 by his close friend Beane. The GM had given Geren a vote of confidence this season, another in which the A's have been plagued by injuries but still stayed competitive in the AL West.
The 48-year-old Geren, the 28th manager in franchise history, had a 296-329 career record in four seasons heading into Saturday night's game against Boston.
"Under the circumstances they've done about as well as you could expect and probably beyond that to be totally honest," Beane said of the A's coaching staff. "As the season went on and we saw how everybody was responding, it was a question you shouldn't be in a position to have to ask given what he has done. If you've made up your mind it makes sense to do it. It allows everybody to concentrate on moving forward."
Geren played five major league seasons as a catcher with the New York Yankees and San Diego before his coaching career.
Beane said the team would address the contract status of the rest of the coaching staff later.