From Comcast SportsNetOAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bob Melvin has repeatedly described the comfort of managing right at home in the Bay Area -- and Billy Beane has described the comfort in having a winning, "modern-day" manager leading the Oakland Athletics.Melvin is staying put in the very place he wants to be well into the future.The A's manager received a two-year contract extension Monday that takes him through the 2016 season. Later Monday, Oakland announced it had reached agreement on a 1 million, one-year contract with catcher George Kottaras, a raise of 275,000.Beane is thrilled to have a manager in place to guide the small-budget A's for years to come."To get an extension like this from people you respect and admire and supported you, it really makes you feel good and makes you feel better about doing your job," said Melvin, voted AL Manager of the Year after leading Oakland to a surprising West division title. "My expectations are the same as last year. We're going to compete hard and expect to win. Based on having the results we had last year, we'll have that much more confidence coming into spring training."Oakland became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, sweeping three games against Texas to win the division over the Rangers."It's really a reflection of our commitment to Bob and Bob's commitment to us. If you know you have the right guy, there's no sense in waiting until he's got one year left," general manager Billy Beane said. "This was probably the simplest negotiation I've ever had in my career here. That's a reflection of the relationship that Bob has with the organization. We're happy to give him this well-deserved extension. It didn't take very long. The actual writing it up took longer than the actual negotiations."Oakland lost to Detroit 3-2 in a best-of-five AL division series. The A's ended a five-year stretch without a winning record or playoff berth, finishing 94-68.The A's did it with a payroll of 59.5 million -- lowest in the majors -- and 12 rookies. They did it with significant injuries to their starting pitchers and lost their third baseman, Scott Sizemore, to a season-ending knee injury on the first full-squad workout of spring training. And they did it after losing right-hander Bartolo Colon to a 50-game suspension in August for a positive testosterone test, then re-signed him this winter.The 51-year-old Melvin, a former big league catcher who grew up in Menlo Park and played at Cal, took over from the fired Bob Geren in June 2011. Melvin led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 2007 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with Seattle in 2003."We knew we had the right guy right from the get go. Continuity is important," Beane said. "It's really important. Once again last year was certainly enjoyable. It's easy to look at a year like last year and everybody has fun when you're winning. This relationship with Bob and myself and the front office and the players started when he took over."Melvin received a three-year contract from Oakland late in the 2011 season. The A's went 47-52 after he took over that year.His local ties are only a bonus. Melvin played three seasons with the San Francisco Giants."I was excited and impressed when Billy told me that Bob was available and accepting the manager role with us," owner Lew Wolff said. "As I observed Bob's leadership and very special drive, I was even more impressed with Billy's choice. I am so very pleased that we will have Bob with us for the foreseeable future. Bob's use of our talent was and is brilliant in my opinion."Kottaras, acquired from Milwaukee before last year's trade deadline, batted .212 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 27 games for Oakland after hitting .209 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 58 games with the Brewers.Three A's remain eligible to file for arbitration Tuesday: left-hander Jerry Blevins and outfielders Brandon Moss and Seth Smith.
Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.
Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.
That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.
It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.
Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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Five Things to Watch:
1. Road warriors.
The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.
2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.
Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).
3. Jonathan Toews on fire.
After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime.
4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.
File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.
5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.
In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.
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