Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ken Macha Takes Another Shot at Ryan Braun

When Ken Macha was fired ... er, dismissed ... er, resigned ... er, told to stay the hell away from the Brewers after last season's disaster, he decided it would be a good idea to rip his star players on his way out the door.

And a mighty fine job of bus-chucking he did.

Apparently, it wasn't an accident. Macha went back in after Ryan Braun this week.

The backstory goes like this. Braun did an interview with Tom Haudricourt in which he basically said Macha was a negative influence on the team. He didn't name Macha specifically.

"Ultimately, I think we were all fighting the negativity and the overall situation we were dealing with. I always try to be as positive and optimistic as I can but the whole environment and atmosphere, not necessarily with the players, was negative.

"It felt worse than it was. It felt like we lost 100 games. It's a thousand times different now. The whole atmosphere, the whole environment is much more positive. There's just an aura of excitement."

Macha was the problem, Braun thinks.

Whether Braun has a point or is right is irrelevant. None of us were in that clubhouse, and none of us really know except the guys who were.

For his part, Macha isn't backing down.

“My responsibility is to get the club to play well and you get judged by your wins and losses," Macha said, referring to his manager's role.  "It was a great experience for me being in Milwaukee. They have tremendous fans, tremendous fan base. I loved the city, and it’s unfortunate for me it didn’t work out that way. But hey, you know what, the pitching staff that was there in ’08 disappeared. You had (CC) Sabathia leave, Ben Sheets left, half of their bullpen left and we were in a little bit of a rebuilding mode as far as the pitching was concerned and we really didn’t have the pitching there.

"And I’ll tell you what," Macha said. " The other thing that you want to look at as far as Braun’s comments are concerned. (Prince) Fielder, (Corey) Hart, (Casey) McGehee, Rickie Weeks and Braun, all those guys - five guys - had their best years playing under me.  So, if they felt like there was oppression or it was a down atmosphere they all played great, their numbers are as good or better than they had any other year.  And look, some cases, like Fielder with 141 RBI’s the one year, it’s going to be tough to duplicate those numbers.”

Macha talked about opening up better lines of communication with the players at the beginning of the 2010 season.

... "I reached out to these players, every one of them. Ryan Braun in particular, in my office for two hours explaining to him where I was from, letting him know that this door is open, come in here all the time.  And when it was all said and done the guy came in once or twice during the course of the year and then has got some negative comments to say afterwards. And my advice to (him) is: Hey, turn the page. Your focus should be on what you’re doing this year and focus on this team and try to learn from the things that happened in the past.”

Step No. 1: Make excuses, and sort of blame management for not having enough pitching on hand.

Step No. 2: Take credit for players who should be entering the prime of their careers who get better.

Step No. 3: Blame Braun for being a jerk and not walking through the open door often enough.

Maybe Macha has a point, but normally managers don't start their second year at the helm by going out of their way to get to know the players. In a typical situation, that's taken care of in the first year. In the first month. Perhaps on the first day.

That Macha waited until his second year may go a long way toward explaining why the players didn't take very well to his leadership.

I'd say it's a lesson learned, but Macha isn't going to be sleeping in baseball dugouts anytime soon.

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