Ken Macha: Can the Struggling Milwaukee Brewers Really Blame Him?May 19, 2010
The Milwaukee Brewers' eighth straight loss—a 5-4 heart-breaker to the division-leading Cincinnati Reds—has many fans calling for manager Ken Macha's head.
The embattled Brewers skipper is being criticized for his understated (read: boring) demeanor and methodical, analytical approach to leading the team.
Macha is certainly anything but flamboyant, but are the Brewers' early season struggles really his fault? Let's examine.
Upgrading a pitching staff that was 15th in ERA in the National League (and 27th in all of baseball) was general manager Doug Melvin's top offseason priority, as evidenced by the hiring of new pitching coach Rick Peterson and the acquisition of free agent left-handers Randy Wolf and Doug Davis and right-handed setup man LaTroy Hawkins.
Melvin also took care of business at home, re-signing all-star closer (and all-time saves leader) Trevor Hoffman and the recently dependable Claudio Vargas and Carlos Villanueva.
So how has that worked out so far?
Doug Davis is 1-4 with a 7.56 ERA and is headed to the disabled list with chest inflammation.
Hawkins is also on the DL, but not before going 0-3 with a 9.26 ERA.
Vargas has struggled out of the gates with an 8.04 ERA.
Trevor Hoffman has been downright atrocious: 1-3 with five blown saves (as many as he had in all of 2009) and a gaudy 13.15 ERA.
Randy Wolf has been decent, but underwhelming with a 3-3 record and an ERA of 4.66.
Meanwhile, Villanueva's 3.05 ERA in 19 appearances is one of the few bright spots in an awful Brewers bullpen.
How about offense? To their credit, the Brewers are putting runs on the board.
The team is sixth in RBI and runs scored, third in home runs, fifth in slugging percentage, and sixth in team batting average.
Despite these solid team numbers, Prince Fielder has been struggling (by his lofty standards anyway), creating a critical power outage in the middle of the lineup.
The young Brewers slugger has produced only six home runs (fourth most on the team) and 17 RBI (fifth most on the team) while striking out 39 times—second only to the free swinging Rickie Weeks.
As good as the Brewers have been at the plate, they have been equally ineffective in the field.
As a team, the Brewers have committed 30 errors already (third most in the NL) and are 14th overall in fielding percentage.
Alcides Escobar, Casey McGehee, and Rickie Weeks are leading Milwaukee's futile fielding charge, committing 18 of these 30 errors.
In the standings, Milwaukee is 15-24 after 39 games.
The team is already eight games out of first place and nine games under .500—bad news for a team expected, at least by their fans, to contend in the National League Central—and even worse news for Macha.
So, is this all Macha's fault? Probably not. But either way, the fans want blood.
If the Brewers don't start winning soon, it may just be Ken Macha's blood they get.