Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Should He Stay, or Should He Go?

That seems to be the question on everyone's mind right now. What are the Brewers going to do with Ken Macha?

The Brewers currently stand at 15-24. They stand alone in 5th place in the National League Central Division and are free falling towards the cellar. As is usually the case, someone needs to have blame placed on them. The resounding voice of Brewers nation thinks that man is Ken Macha.

He's boring. He's stupid. He doesn't know how to win.

Those are some of the ways fans describe Ken Macha. While I don't disagree Macha has poorly managed games this season, I think too much blame is being placed on him.

In sports, too much stock is put into managers and coaches. In baseball, that is taken to a whole new level. For the most part, the game is decided by the players. There is little a manager can do to change the fate of his team. He can change lineups, change pitchers and sit players, but at the end of the day, it's the responsibility of the players to perform.

However, while the players need to perform, the manager's job is to give his team the best chance to win. Has Ken Macha done that so far... no.

Adam Stern has gotten three important at bats. That's three too many.

Chris Narveson threw 130 pitches in his last start. Words cannot describe how incredibly unnecessary and dumb that is. Do you want to know what can happen when pitchers throw too many pitches, look at any Dusty Baker managed team. He destroyed Mark Prior's career and has is off to a similar start in Cincinnati (Edinson Volquez).

The bullpen is completely spent. Sure the starters deserve some blame, but pitching pitchers for multiple innings and on consecutive days doesn't help matters.

Jim Edmonds has started 15 games in centerfield. Despite an average UZR this season, Edmonds doesn't belong in center at this point in his career. Numerous times, Jody Gerut played a corner outfield spot even though he covers way, and I mean way, more ground than Edmonds.

Those are just some of the examples off the top of my head that would justify a pink slip in Macha's office. Personally, I don't really have a problem with his relaxed attitude. If he was winning games, fans would not grumble about it either. Just because a manager has a personality, doesn't mean he's a good manager (sorry to pick on you Dusty Baker). Jerry Royster got in a fight on the mound with Mike DeJean, he was fired. Davey Lopes was just about as fired up as they come, but couldn't dog a 3-12 start to the 2002 season andlost his job. Phil Garner is another example. The list goes on and on. Having an intense personality doesn't coincide with winning games.

Saying that Macha doesn't know how to win doesn't really speak to his tenure in Oakland. While managing the Athletics, Macha won an average of 92 games a year. Something tells me Brewers' fans would take a 92-70 record this season.

So why was Macha successful in Oakland? It all goes back to talent. Talent dictates the amount of games a team wins, not a manager. Those Oakland teams had much better pitching than the Brewers. It's tough to run a bullpen into a ground when the manager has multiple quality starters who consistently pitch deep into games. At the most, a manager can influence a couple of games a season, but the players have far more control than that.

With that being said, I think it is time for a change. Will Willie Randolph do anything better than Ken Macha? Probably not. Just ask New York Met fans their opinion of Randolph. I bet they wouldn't be the best reference on Randolph's behalf. Even so, I have to say, this team looks pretty defeated. Sometimes a shakeup is in order. What can it really hurt? The Brewers are playing some of the worst baseball I've seen since 2002. While it's not entirely in their control, that's how managers are evaluated. The Brewers are 70-92 in their last 162 games and have won 15 of 39 games so far this season. That is not a good way to keep your job in a city that is looking to win now.