Changes Begin as Brewers Prepare for an Important Off-Season
Based on the events that took place at the tail end of the weekend, it is fair to assume that Doug Melvin was paying attention this year.
He listened carefully to what experts and fans had to say. He looked at the stat sheets. He stepped back and examined the entire Brewers organization, looking for problems related to scouting, coaching, and player personnel operations.
The result was a move that may fly under many people's radar, but one that, to me, points to the fact that Doug Melvin understands what is at stake this winter. Not just for the club, but also for him as a general manager.
And he is ready to do his best to prove that those who were openly criticizing him all year were wrong.
On Sunday morning, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that Ken Macha will be back in 2010.
Now, speculations about him being at the helm of the Brewers next year can cease immediately. Along with Macha, Willie Randolph and Dale Sveum were also extended through the 2010 season.
A major segment of Brewers Nation was in dire straits about Macha and his approach to managing the team, which entailed no protection for the players in front of the media, but also no visible passion for backing them in controversial moments of the season.
In fact, I am one of the people, who believe that Macha has done a job no better than the job Ned Yost would have done, had he not been fired late last season. I even wrote an article about Yost, and about my disagreement with his removal.
But the reality is that the Brewers are not suffering because of the decisions the manager has made this season. They are not suffering because Randolph or Sveum did anything wrong either.
The Brewers are suffering because of their mediocre pitching staff, which successfully competed with the pitching staff of the Baltimore Orioles to be crowned the worst pitching team in the major leagues.
It was a pennant, but a pennant of a different type, as the Brewers and the Orioles walk away tied with a starting rotation ERA of 5.38 for the season.
Let me spell that out for you with English words in case the number is too difficult to grasp; FIVE point THREE EIGHT!!!
I don't care who you bring as a manager of this team. The aforementioned number is reserving you a place only to the basement of professional baseball.
With that in mind, Doug Melvin came out and made a statement that should make baseball fans in Milwaukee happy.
"Our pitching has been our problem this year," Melvin said. "I think we all can agree on that."
Principal owner Mark Attanasio and Melvin must have had some serious conversations on the topic, as the financial provider for the club stated that the Brewers are after a "world class pitching coach" for next year's campaign.
Former Oakland A's and New York Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson is receiving a mention, but he is not the only candidate.
Melvin also stated that he is looking into the scouting practices of the club and evaluating the possibility of expanding his staff and creating positions for pitching coach scouts, who would do more than just watch video all day.
A minor league pitching specialist will also likely be recruited to ensure that the work being done in the minors produces quality arms, something that proved to be a decisive factor to the collapse of the Brewers this year, after many of the already average starters went down with injuries.
What all of this meant for Chris Bosio, and Stan Kyles, interim pitching and bullpen coaches for the Brewers this season, was that they would have to look for a job elsewhere.
Although they remain in the conversation for filling in the positions, the Brewers did not extend contract offers to them. Which means that the club is ready to move in a different direction that promises long-term stability and success.
So rejoice, Brewers supporters.
It appears that the people with decision-making power on the Brewers staff were listening to your boos and cheers.
Now we will have to be patient and see how far these same people will be able to stretch Mark Attanasio's dollar in an off-season that promises a lot of conservatism from teams, hence hiking up the amount of money teams in need will spend for average players.
Over three million spectators at Miller Park gave the club a good reason to risk and invest. The Brewers know they can't take such numbers for granted, and the only way to maintain the support of the community is to give something back.
Next summer will tell the story.
Until then, tighten up those seat belts and get ready for the emotional roller-coaster called the Brewers off-season.
Boris Yovchev is a Milwaukee Brewers Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report and a supporter of the children's story "A Glove of Their Own."
"A Glove of Their Own" is the award winning children's story that teaches Pay It Forward through baseball and is being supported by Louisville Slugger, International Baseball Federation, iFungo, Rawlings, Modells, as well as players and coaches including Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Dick Drago, Ken Griffey, Craig Biggio, and Sean Casey.
Please visit www.agloveoftheirown.com for more information.
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