It’s official; The Oakland Athletics have confirmed their new manager, and it’s Mark Kotsay.
Fellow A’s fans will remember Kotsay from his role as third-base coach last season, furiously waving players to home base or calling them back to third.
Prior to this, Kotsay was first a bench coach and then quality control coach with the A’s since 2016, having served as a hitting coach with the Padres in 2015. All of this came after a solid 17-year playing career, including four years with the A’s between 2004 and 2007.
As MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos rightly pointed out in his article announcing Kotsay’s appointment, Kotsay having spent the last six seasons as part of the A’s coaching staff means “[he] enters his managerial debut having built-in relationships with both A’s players and front-office members”.
This, in many ways, can only be a good thing; the players will already know him and have shorthand with him, as will the likes of David Frost and Billy Beane. This should mean then that Kotsay’s bedding-in period should be much easier and shorter, and the lack of player contact caused by the on-going lockout should have less of a detrimental effect than it would have if a new manager was coming in from outside of the organisation.
Furthermore, it looks like Kotsay will be keeping many of the existing coaches in place (for now at least). Again, this should help, as a level of continuity will remain in place for the returning players.Embed from Getty Images
That being said, an argument could be made that the A’s should have brought someone completely new into the organisation following Bob Melvin’s nearly eleven-year reign as manager. When I was talking to a mate of mine about Melvin leaving to take over the Padres, I expressed disappointment, as I felt he had done a very good job to get the A’s to the post-season, or at least be in playoff contention, every year on what is famously one of the smallest player payrolls in the league. However, my mate made the point that Melvin always seemed to lose in the first round of playoffs. Therefore, it was time for some fresh blood and new ideas.
It’s a fair viewpoint, and, given Kotsay had been part of Melvin’s coaching team for six seasons prior to his appointment as manager, it could be questioned just how ‘fresh’ an appointment he will be and how many of his ideas will be ‘new’.
In that sense then, it is important that he makes a point of ensuring all the players and staff know that his tenure will not simply be a continuation of the Melvin regime by bringing in some of his own guys onto the coaching team, introducing new ways of doing things and generally putting his own footprint on the team and the wider organisation going forward.
As a first-time manager too, there is also a degree of uncertainty of just how good Kotsay will be in his new role given he’s never done it before and has always previously had other guys above him in the coaching set-up.
I want to be as positive and as upbeat as possible about Kotsay’s appointment though, and so, I see it as being full of possibilities and chances for the team to progress.
It should also be said that my mate and his dad both think Kotsay is a great choice. Both say that he is already well-liked, will have the players’ respect and should be an excellent skipper for what could be a turbulent period in the short-term given that the A’s may have to leave Oakland.
I am inclined to agree.