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Tuesday, October 29
Updated: October 30, 4:10 PM ET
Macha anxious to get started after promotion

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ken Macha sat alongside general manager Billy Beane and took a couple of friendly shots at his boss.

Tuesday, Oct. 29
Continuity is generally a plus in the realm of managerial changes, especially when a team is coming off the success the A's have experienced in recent years.

Ken Macha has been the bench coach for the now-departed Art Howe, and when you can hire a manager who knows the organization and the players, I see it as a positive. If a team has struggled and is seeking a new manager, perhaps it's a good time to bring a fresh face in.

That's far from the case with the A's. I see Macha as a good fit for where they want to go. He has a good foundation of young talent and a great rotation for his first season at the helm.

Macha, promoted from bench coach to manager of the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, insists he is a different personality than his predecessor, Art Howe, and boy did he show it in a hurry.

The jabs between Beane and Howe were almost always behind the scenes -- and never in a public forum.

When asked what he learned playing baseball in Japan for four years, the 52-year-old Macha said he ''picked up patience.''

''You don't throw helmets, you don't show emotions, they like patience. Maybe you'd like to go over there for a while, Billy,'' Macha said, then quickly realized he'd been insubordinate on his first day.

''He's going to let me have it already,'' Macha said, smiling. ''One day on the job and I'm out of here.''

Not going to happen.

Macha agreed to a three-year contract to replace Howe, who officially was hired Monday as manager of the New York Mets.

''You're talking about a guy with a civil engineering degree,'' Beane said. ''He's very organized, very structured. I think Kenny's one of those guys who's matter-of-fact and easy to communicate with. He also addresses things, both good and bad.''

The A's wasted no time hiring a replacement for Howe. After interviewing for years, Macha didn't have to leave to finally become a manager.

Beane was certain he was going to lose Macha this offseason to become a manager elsewhere. He received calls from many clubs interested in Macha, and has been being contacted for a while now.

''I was the broker,'' Beane said. analysis
We've been hearing about Ken Macha as an oustanding managerial candidate for more than a year.

What we haven't heard much about is why Macha has been so popular.

Essentially, it comes down to leadership and communication. Macha talks to his players all the time, so when he's got something negative to say to a player, there's already an established level of trust. As Billy Beane told me, "He's been very pro-active as a coach: hands-on, constantly communicating."

What's more, Macha is bright -- he earned a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh -- and as Beane says, "I like bright people. And people who are academic are decisive. When you're academic you're probably going to be more objective, and if you're objective you can be decisive."

Macha's been around for a while, and knowing when to change pitchers and send up a pinch-hitter shouldn't be particularly difficult for him. The trick will be getting his players to go with the program, and if Macha does that as well as Art Howe did -- and as well as everybody seems to think he will -- then he'll be a fine manager.
-- Rob Neyer

Macha interviewed with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs earlier this month. The framework of a contract was in place with the Brewers, he said, so that's where he thought he might end up.

''I don't know who controls all this stuff,'' Macha said. ''(Maybe) a 1,000-one shot it all happened this way.''

Macha was Pittsburgh's second choice after Lloyd McClendon two years ago, and also interviewed with Cincinnati, Toronto and twice with Anaheim.

Macha and Beane said they would like to keep the coaching staff intact. The A's won 103 games this season, tied with the New York Yankees for the most wins in the major leagues, then lost to Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs.

''None of that's going to count on Opening Day,'' Macha said. ''Everybody knows we're in the strongest division in baseball and wins don't come easy.''

Macha had the inside track in Oakland from the moment Howe, the third-winningest manager in franchise history, left for the Mets for a $9.4 million, four-year deal that the small-budget A's couldn't match.

Instead of landing in Milwaukee, which reportedly offered a job to Macha, or with the Cubs, Macha will take over a talented young team that beat out World Series champion Anaheim for the AL West title but lost its third straight division series.

''I think it's time to get this ship going in the right direction again. We have a challenge ahead of us,'' he said. ''I think my job is to keep this ship on course after the success we've had over the past few years.''

He said he is demanding and never hesitated to offer his opinion to Howe when Howe asked for it. He wants his players to be prepared, and that will be a priority he stresses from the beginning.

Macha spent four years as a manager in the Boston organization before joining the A's as a bench coach before the 1999 season. He just completed his 13th season on a major league coaching staff. That includes stints with Montreal and California. He was the Eastern League manager of the year in 1996 with Double-A Trenton, and led Triple-A Pawtucket to two winning seasons.

''He has great leadership qualities, and I think that's the best quality a manager can have,'' Beane said of Macha. ''This opportunity Kenny now has is certainly deserved. This is a man who's ready to manage in the major leagues.''

Macha spent parts of six seasons playing in the majors, batting .258 with 98 hits, one home run and 35 RBI.

The A's declined to pick up a $1.1 million option on reserve catcher Greg Myers, electing to pay him a $100,000 buyout.

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