Sveum Out – Melvin Back

Brewer’s interim manager Dale Sveum is officially out of the running for the Brewer’s 2009 manager position.  Seems Jim Skaalen, the hitting coach, is also out.  I guess his method of “swing as hard as you can every pitch” wasn’t working.  Meanwhile, GM Doug Melvin has signed a 3-year extension.

Now Melvin has to find an experienced manager who can get this team playing up to full potential and find ways to win games on defense and base hits; something that cost a lot of wins this year.  Right now all signs are pointing to former Arizona manager Bob Brenly as the front-runner.

Brewers make changes in process, not end result

So I hesitated to jump on board with the millions of other journalists and bloggers talking about Ned Yost being fired.  Why?  What could I say that they haven’t.  Now that the Brewers have officially moved away from Yost and played (and lost) their first game without him, I feel I should add a little perspective.

First, I tend to agree with a select few folks from the Milwaukee area on this topic.  Several people have said that they believe Yost was the right guy to get the Brewers to where they are.  I’ll go as far as saying he was the right guy to get the Brewers to where they were last year.  He did a great job bringing the young players along and not doing anything to shake their confidence over their young careers.  On another team, Braun and Fielder would probably be where they are now, but players like Weeks, Hall, Hardy and Hart would likely still be in the minors.  A majority of people outside of Milwaukee (those who haven’t seen the Brewers play regularly the last 5-6 years) really don’t understand this.  I’ve seen Yost portrayed by the national media as being overly stern, but he really isn’t.  Sure, he’s a statue during games, but he’s far too kind to the players.  Few successful managers would’ve let a player like Rickie Weeks bat lead-off an entire season.  Few would have let Bill Hall cost runs on a daily basis.  Few would’ve stuck with starting pitchers who regularly could not get out of the 2nd inning.  Yost did.  He was a great leader for doing this while the team was growing and maturing.  Although it could be easily argued they are still in the maturation process, the upper-management has decided that this year is the time for winning.  The Yost method is clearly not the method for winning now.

So what are we left with?  Quite likely we are stuck with the reality that the team still isn’t ready to win.  The caliber of pitching falls off sharply after Sabathia/Sheets.  You don’t expect your 3-5 starters to get 20 wins each, but you do expect them to manage games carefully and try to get through 6-7 innings on a semi-regular basis.  The offense still is an all or nothing affair.  The team has never gained the discipline to play unselfish baseball.  They are seemingly unwilling to move runners into scoring position, take walks, bunt, etc.  The Cubs were a great lesson last night in that, as they regularly got their lead off guy on base and followed with 1-2 outs through ground balls that moved the runner over to 2nd or 3rd.  Home runs are great for fans, but being able to consistently score runs wins games and eventually pennants. Benching Hall and Weeks helps, but it won’t replace years worth of undisciplined training.

How we judge Dale Sveum as a coach will probably be unfair.  He’s going to be charged with getting the team into the post-season and anything else will likely be considered a failure.  I know that everyone else will claim that the move was more about trying to fix things before it’s too late, but let’s face it, it’s already too late.  We’ve proven we cannot beat the Cubs and last night that was confirmed.  Our once comfortable wild card lead has turned into a 1/2 game deficit.  Sadly, we’re now hoping that the Mets and Astros free-fall and we can simply do enough to hang on.  Even moer sadly, most Brewers fans are turning their attention to the Packers and forgetting about baseball as we have every time for the past 25 years.