Monday, July 30, 2012

Brewers Scapegoat Bullpen Coach for Bullpen Failures

From the Brewers' website beat writer, Adam McCalvy:

The Brewers’ struggling bullpen has produced another casualty. Longtime coach Stan Kyles was “relieved of his duties” today, according to the team.

Lee Tunnell will replace Kyles on an interim basis and report to the team on Tuesday. Kyles had been in his current role since 2009 and coached in the Minor Leagues before that.

“It is important that we make every effort to try to improve our bullpen performance,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. “While Stan is not solely responsible, I felt that this change was the first step and was necessary. Stan has been a loyal member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization for 11 years. His hard work and dedication has been an integral part of the Brewers’ success and is greatly appreciated. His professionalism, personality and knowledge will be missed.”

Tunnell is  his fourth season with the organization and had been Minor League pitching coordinator. Prior to that role, he spent three seasons with the Reds as interim bullpen coach (2006) and pro scout (2007-08). He also coached in the Rangers organization for nine seasons (1997-2005).

Brewers relievers are 15-26 with a 4.80 ERA this season. The bullpen has recorded the most losses and blown saves (20) in the Major Leagues and ranks 28th in ERA and 29th in opponent batting average (.274).

Yeah, that'll fix it.

Melvin just fired the guy who answers the bullpen phone, then turns around and tells the relief pitcher of choice to start warming up. Maybe the next step is to can the bullpen catcher. After all, he should have that relief pitcher dialed in when the warmup session is over.

Maybe they can fire the guy who opens the bullpen gate so the relief pitcher can run/trot/walk to the mound. Open the door sooner, so the poor guy doesn't have to wait an extra second and get out of rhythm.

Maybe Melvin can fire the head groundskeeper to atone for all the errors being made by infielders. Must be something he's doing wrong.

Stan Kyles didn't sign Francisco Rodriguez for too much money. He didn't trade for the always-erratic Jose Veras. He isn't the one who put Manny Parra on the major-league roster, and he surely isn't the one telling John Axford how to throw the baseball.

But, apparently, Melvin thinks his embarrassment of a bullpen will turn things around, now that he's fired the guy who sits out there and keeps track of absolutely nothing until the manager calls down and asks that a pitcher be warmed up. It's the ultimate scapegoat maneuver, a classic move by a team like the Yankees where the overpaid players can't be fired, but the coaches are seen as interchangeable parts.

Of course, the Brewers aren't the Yankees. If they were, they'd still have Zack Greinke and/or CC Sabathia.

And then, just maybe, the bullpen wouldn't look like such a joke.

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