Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Melvin Pissed at Braun

Seems like the Milwaukee Brewers have some turmoil heading into the last week before baseball's All-Star break.

As noted in this space Monday, Brewers slugger Ryan Braun was a tad miffed that the team got clubbed like baby seals by their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs. Chicago won three of the four games, scored 19 runs in those three wins (17 of the runs came over the first and last games of the set), and generally stomped a mudhole in the then-first place Brewers.

Instead of an intelligent, well-reasoned, behind-closed-doors response from Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin, we were treated to this.
“It was inappropriate for him to say what he said, and I’m not happy about it,” Melvin said. “To make the statements he made and also get on his teammates like that, it was irresponsible on his part. It just ticked me off.”

... “We all work every day from 9 a.m. to midnight, and basically 12 months a year,” said Melvin, referring to his baseball staff. “I’ll be glad to have Ryan help if he wants to. I’ll give him a badge and he can be my deputy.

“I don’t know his motivation for saying it. It demoralizes the people in the organization at a time when we should be pulling together. It puts a bad taste in our mouths. That’s a pretty strong statement.

“I understand that maybe he thinks it’s taking a leadership role. I don’t know if he’s trying to tell me I’m not doing my job. We need to stick together as an organization. We’re all trying to win."

Melvin said it wasn’t appropriate for Braun to make unflattering comparisons between the Brewers’ starting rotation and Chicago’s, even with two spots in flux since the losses of Bush and Parra.

“I think he made a fundamental mistake,” said Melvin. “I didn’t hear our pitchers complaining when we lost a 1-0 game (to New York last week) or the 2-1 game in 10 innings in Chicago.

"They didn’t say the hitters weren’t doing their job. He’s hitting in front of one of the best hitters (Prince Fielder) in the game.”
Aargh. Great. We're the Yankees now.

I get that Melvin doesn't like the perception that he got called out. But he didn't get called out.

Braun made it clear in his rant that the offense needed to be better, and the pitching needed to be better. He also went out of his way to not throw anyone under the bus -- even Melvin -- by acknowledging that it was not easy to make a trade with this market right now.

This wasn't about Braun trying to assert himself as the leader. It was about Braun saying what no one else in the clubhouse has the clout to say at this point. Braun, having signed a monster contract last year, has enough cred in the organization that his words will ring with many people, probably even Melvin.

Ultimately, it was about Braun being frustrated because his team just lost three of four games -- largely because of bad pitching -- to a team that had spent the entire month of June not hitting and not scoring runs.

It's one thing for a young superstar to speak out of turn (though I don't feel this is a case of that, I'll give Melvin the benefit of the doubt). It's another for an experienced executive to open his trap and make himself sound like a babbling idiot.

If he believes Braun's beef was best handled in a one-on-one meeting, this was no way to express that feeling. Instead, Melvin has only invited more criticism of his work, which has hardly been impeccable.

I'm not on the "fire ___" bandwagon, because I still think the Brewers got rid of the right guy -- albeit two years late -- last year. Melvin has to be careful, though, because he is and always will be a helluva lot more expendable than Ryan Braun.

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