Open Mic: Changing Horses in Midstream

Dan WadeSenior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2008

We all know the old adage about changing horses midstream, namely, don't do it.

Apparently, someone forgot to teach the Milwaukee Brewers' front office the old cliché, because in the middle of a rising Rock River, the Beermen are hopping steeds.

Ned Yost found himself, like many Lehman Bros. bankers, out on the curb this morning, despite bringing the Brewers into the national spotlight once again during his tenure as manager.

Yost's Brewers were fading, of that there is no doubt, even after CC Sabathia was acquired for a king's ransom. They had lost 11 of their last 14 games and after leading the wild card for most of the year, they awoke this morning tied with the Phillies for the last playoff spot.

Sure, looking at the last 15 games, it makes sense for Yost to be fired. Yost would be, however, the first coach fired for his performance over the course of less than a month.

No, the real reason Yost was fired was how other teams were doing, not how his team was doing.

Despite their nearly unrivaled stable of young talent, the Brewers have been forced to play second fiddle to their southern rivals, the Chicago Cubs.

When the Brewers tried to make a splash and traded for CC Sabathia, a great move, the Cubs countered by bringing in Rich Harden. Both pitchers have been huge boons for their respective squads, but the Brewers were trying to pass the Cubbies, not keep pace.

Nevertheless, the Cubs' stellar year is hardly Yost's fault. The Brewers have played the Cubs tough this year, barely losing the season series 6-4.

A wild-card berth likely would have been good enough to save Yost's job, but the Phillies are (once again) getting hot at the right time and making life hard on the slumping Brewers. They may still secure a playoff berth, but "maybe" wasn't good enough for Doug Melvin and the Brewers' brass. They wanted to be sure their 26-year playoff drought was over.

Never mind the fact that Yost was on pace to lead the Brewers to their best season since the 1992 campaign, when the Brewers were in the AL East, or that the players still trusted and respected Yost. 

Brewers fans can once again blame their troubles on the Cubs. If the North Siders had played just a little under their current .603 winning percentage, Ned Yost would likely lead the Brew Crew to the playoffs.

Now it will be up to Dale Sveum to pick up the pieces and hope the Phillies cool off enough for his team to hold on to the lead Ned Yost helped them achieve.