Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Direction

Hi again. I haven't written in a while. I've been very busy mostly, but after my attempt at poetry after the Ned Yost firing, a few people suggested that maybe blogging wasn't my thing. Now that I have taken a few weeks off, those same people are asking me to post again. Either 'you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone,' or 'careful what you wish for.'

Just a few random thoughts to get caught back up...

I was obviously happy that the Brewers snuck into the playoffs. Game 3 at Miller Park was the most electric I've ever witnessed there. I really don't think getting in had much to do with Ned Yost being gone, nor with Dale Sveum at the helm. It just happened (with a little help from the Mets.) If the Brewers had won one of those four games against the Phillies in September, Ned Yost probably wouldn't have been fired, the Brewers probably would gotten in the playoffs anyway, lost in the first round anyway, and might still be looking for a new manager anyway.

I'll talk more later about Sveum, but I wasn't thrilled with his managing style. Way to much bunting, and bunting for the sake of bunting. I don't like bunting. Ergo...

As I watched the series against the Phillies, it stuck me how much better the Brewers would have to be to be one of the elite teams in the league. The Phillies have them beat at almost every position. For the long haul, I'd take Ryan Braun, but for a single season there isn't much of a drop off in Pat Burell. As for the other two outfield spots, I'd take Jayson Werth or Shane Victorino over either Mike Cameron or Corey Hart without too much hesitation. Prince Fielder is good, but Ryan Howard is better. Second base isn't even close with Chase Utley. Shortstop is about a wash, and neither team has a third baseman or catcher to speak of. The Brewers had an edge in pitching with CC, but he showed up to the playoffs with not much gas left in his tank and that was all the Phills needed for a convincing win.

Back to Sveum. Doug Melvin made the right move. There a perception among lots of people that once a person has played here, or has lived here, or has had some other connection to the organization in the past, that they are much better than they really are. Ned Yost made a 6 year managing career riding this perception. Craig Counsell extended his career by at least two years on this. And it is the reason that a lot of people wanted Dale Sveum to be retained as the Brewers next manager. The only reason. I'm sure Dale Sveum is a great guy, but I think he would be in over his head managing the Brewers. This is a young team in desperate need of strong direction. There is a lot of young talent that properly molded could be turned into a championship caliber team. The job of managing the Brewers in 2009 will require a much different set of skills, priorities, and impatience than it has over the last six. Dale Sveum's greatest shortcoming may be that he worked too long for Ned Yost. The Brewers can't take a chance that some of that rubbed off. Sveum said "his heart was ripped out" when he heard the news that he didn't get the job. Suck it up. You get to be friends with Robin Yount.

Because he released Sveum, it's obvious that Doug Melvin has another candidate in mind. If I had to guess, I would say that would be Ken Macha. Macha is the guy that Doug Melvin wanted in 2003 before he took the A's job. His teams averaged 91 wins a season during his four years at the helm. His failure to win in the playoffs did him in. I ran across this blog: www.firemach.blogspot.com.

"As usual, you left in the starters just long enough to give up enough runs to lose."

"...you won't sit Kendall because he might get upset."

"This team could do nothing else in the offseason and win at least five more games next year just because you're not asleep in the goddamn dugout."
Deja vu?

If I were allowed to pick, knowing what little I do, I might select Bob Brenly as the next manager of the Brewers. Brenly led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series championship in his first season managing although the makeup of that team, mostly aging veterans, was very different from the current Brewers squad. Still, it shows the ability to walk into and existing quality situation and take the team to the top. Brenly's wikipedia entry contains the following:
Bob Brenly's only curtain call in baseball occurred during a minor league game (teams and date unknown). Brenly's team was on the road, and the home team's fans designated him as the game's "Beer Batter," where if the player struck out, beer in the stadium would be sold at half price for the rest of the game. After Brenly struck out, the fans stood on their feet and cheered for him as he came back out from the dugout and acknowledged the crowd.
How can you not like that?

The most intriguing name to come up for the Brewers spot is Bobby Valentine.


Valentine has been managing in Japan since 2003. I would be curious to see what idiosyncrasies of the game he would bring back with him and how those would play out here. In Japan for example, the starting pitchers only pitch once a week. I'm not suggesting that he would do that here, but he would certainly have formed an opinion about it and it may have an influence on his managing style.

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