Why Willie Randolph Is a Smart Pick for Brewers Bench Coach

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Why Willie Randolph Is a Smart Pick for Brewers Bench Coach

The Milwaukee Brewers hired former Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha to be skipper a day after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.

While Macha's hiring was certainly on pace to be the most exciting coaching hire for the Brewers since the October 29, 2002 hiring of Ned Yost, General Manager Doug Melvin made the call to hire ex-Mets manager Willie Randolph as bench coach on Saturday.

Randolph, who spent the last four years as the manager of the Mets, agreed to become the bench coach for Milwaukee with one strong condition, however.  If Randolph is offered the managerial job for the Seattle Mariners, he is welcome to take it.

The move may seem odd to Milwaukee outsiders, but it represents a gentleman's agreement between the Seattle Mariners' new general manager, Jack Zduriencik, who has spent the past nine years within the Milwaukee system, and current General Manager Doug Melvin.

Zduriencik is currently rebuilding a Seattle team that was the first in major league history to spent over $100,000,000 and lose 100 games, and is doing so through the ways he created a winner as scouting director for the Milwaukee Brewers, through the June draft.

But, "Jack Z" needs a skipper.  Those tied to the job include Randolph, ex-Brewers manager Ned Yost, and interim Mariners' manager Jim Riggleman, and it is up to Zduriencik to pick his candidate.

Randolph's hiring by the Brewers represents a changing of the guard, however, for Milwaukee.  While winning the wild card and entering into the playoffs for the first time since 1982 amounted to a successful campaign by the Brewers, simply making the playoffs is no longer a suitable option.

Despite the ability for the Brewers to be able to re-sign mega free agent CC Sabathia, Milwaukee has and always will remain a small-market team which must survive on building young players through the farm system and making long-term commitments to those young players, similar to the deal third baseman turned left fielder Ryan Braun received after his rookie season.

With Macha in control as manager, the mild-tempered ex-A's skipper can now rely upon a man less than a year removed from the game in Randolph for advice.  And, if Macha wants a third opinion, hitting coach Dale Sveum spent the last twelve games as interim skipper of the Brewers and knows the team better than anyone.

Bringing in Randolph, along with Macha, sends a clear message to fellow National League teams that the Brewers are not content with folding back into the middle of the pack after losing stud aces Ben Sheets and Sabathia. 

Young budding stars in Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo will eventually be able to handle the load of being front-tier starters, while David Bush will carry over the momentum of winning a playoff game into a more steady 2009 campaign. 

Throw in Seth McClung, resident everyman pitcher, and veteran Jeff Suppan, and the Brewers have a formidable starting five, which could be improved through trading.

The winning karma that the new bench coach brings, having won more games in his tenure as Mets manager than any other National League manager, along with the winning pedigree that Macha brings, gives the Brewers a renewed sense of optimism for the 2009 campaign.

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