Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Macha Refuses to Manage Brewers

The impact of coaches on their teams is often the subject of debate.

There is a circle of fans who believe coaches hold the key to player development and performance, and their strategic decisions have a great impact on the outcome of games.

It's also thought that coaches simply put players in a position, and it's the players' job to perform and execute the plan laid out by the coaches.

I've always sat in between, on the fence, if you will.

Coaches do have an impact on player morale and performance. They can impact development by not putting people in the right positions. They can drag down a team with poor decisions, overzealous antics, or in not showing any emotion.

There are some who simply don't get tough enough when the time is right.

It appears Brewers manager Ken Macha is one of those guys. When he was hired, Macha talked about the importance of not being a softie manager, not being too loyal to a struggling guy. It's something former manager Ned Yost was famous for -- among other things.

Anyway, here's what Macha said at his introductory press conference.

"I've got a couple things to say about that. No. 1, the job of the manager is really not to be buddies with all the players. You have to make very difficult decisions over the course of the year," he said. "Sometimes players get a little personal and think it's personal. It really isn't."

Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Fame closer once he's been retired five years. Outside of admitting to a steroid binge sometime around 1999, there isn't anything he can do that will change that.

In 2009, Hoffman was awesome in his first year as a Brewer. When he decided not to retire, it seemed to make sense that the Brewers -- a club he enjoyed playing for -- would want to bring him back.

It's not like Milwaukee is crawling with closers in their organization, after all.

Well, it's been a disaster this season. In ten save chances, Hoffman has blown five, or one more than he blew all of last year. He has a 13.51 ERA, and has already allowed 19 earned runs. He's allowed 21 hits and walked seven over 13 innings, and he has just eight strikeouts.

This is the Brewers' closer, people! And you wonder why they're threatening the basement in the National League Central.

Despite the mountain of evidence accumulated over his 14 appearances this season, Macha still wasn't ready to pull Hoffman from the closer's role after Tuesday's debacling.

Afterward, Macha was evasive when asked if Hoffman would be removed from the closer's role, saying he wanted to discuss it with pitching coach Rick Peterson.

This doesn't make any sense.

Neither does what Tom Haudricourt blogged after the game.

Hoffman has to go into manager Ken Macha’s office Wednesay and tell him to remove the 42-year-old right-hander from his role as the Milwaukee Brewers’ closer. The results demand it.

Since Haudricourt is well-connected, this leads me to a possibly unfair conclusion, because I don't believe Haudricourt pulled this concept from the back of his mind.

If he says Hoffman has to remove himself, it's because he believes Macha won't do it.

Well, if Mr. "Gotta Make Tough Decisions Sometimes" won't make this call, there's only one thing left for general manager Doug Melvin to do:

Find someone who will.

This is Job No. 1 for a manager or coach. When someone clearly doesn't have it anymore, you have to pull the plug. This isn't a time for blind loyalty, even to a decorated veteran.

The Brewers have two options here, and neither of them is enjoyable. They can either coax Hoffman into retirement, perhaps with a buyout of the money left on his contract, or they can put him on the disabled list, shelf him for two weeks, then send him to the minors to find that changeup that buckled knees around the National League for so many years.

If he doesn't find that changeup, he's as useless as any player in baseball.

As far as Macha is concerned, it's seriously time for the Brewers to consider a change. Not only have they lost eight straight, but it appears he doesn't have the stones to be the strong leader a struggling baseball team needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Outstanding column. I count on the Brewers to get me to Packers Training Camp but this year, it looks like a long summer.