Dennis Allen? Please.
Mark Jackson? The man is promising but has not won anything. He exists in the "seems OK for now" category, currently a million miles from superstar. Recently, his owner, Joe Lacob, expressed impatience with him. Jackson did not handle that well, lashing out at the press — an irrelevant move if there ever was one. No superstar yet.
Then there is the amazing case of the A's Bob Melvin, an emerging superstar, a unique man who has one foot in the door of the superstar room and could burst through this season — not that there actually is a superstar room.
He's been A's manager for two-plus seasons and his record in Oakland is 237-186. He's won the American League West title two years running despite having only one potential superstar player, Yoenis Cespedes, and a revolving roster.
Unlike some other managers, he communicates with his players. This is known. He tells them clearly where they stand even if where they stand isn't so hot. No room for doubt on the A's. A grown-up corporation.
Let's dig deeper. Before Melvin came to Oakland in June 2011, the A's tried to sign some big and some fairly big free agents. They made good money offers, competitive offers. They sought Adrian Beltre twice, Lance Berkman and Marco Scutaro. In each case the players said "no thanks" to the A's — some even took less money to go elsewhere.
The A's had a crummy reputation. They were cheap. Bad ballpark. They didn't win enough. Manager Bob Geren was no selling point.
Switch to this season. The A's got Scott Kazmir in fierce competition with several clubs. Part of the reason is Melvin. His reputation has spread around the majors. It is a good reputation and has led to a feeling of envy among opposing players — the A's have a special thing going. Because of Melvin they are beginning to attract top players despite not paying top dollar. They attract A's kinds of players — team guys as opposed to prima donnas.
Players want to play for Melvin because of his honesty, his shrewdness, because he allows his players to have fun and be individuals — A.J. Griffin is considering letting his hair grow into a ponytail. Melvin says that's cool with him as long as Griffin's hair doesn't extend to his belt. A workable compromise.
Can you imagine Billy Martin allowing a pitcher to wear a ponytail? Or Frank Robinson? Not on your life.
The A's were lucky to get Melvin when they did. It was astonishing a man of his caliber was unemployed during the season in 2011. Melvin wanted the A's job because, come on, he wanted a job. But also because he's a Bay Area guy. He's a regular at Warriors games and Cal games and you can see him eating at restaurants in Berkeley.
I spoke to A's general manager Billy Beane about Melvin. Beane used to have a reputation for being hard with managers — think "Moneyball," the book and movie — I never saw the movie. None of that applies with Melvin.