Friday, October 31, 2008

Macha Thoughts

I found it sort of fascinating to browse through the "Fire Ken Macha" blog that Woz linked to below.

If you scroll through the posts on that blog, a couple of the complaints lodged by these particular A's fans (at least I presume they were fans in between all the bitching) struck me as familiar.

1. He left marginal pitchers in the game too long, only to get rocked.

2. He didn't manage his bullpen well.

3. He didn't communicate with his players (sweet quote from Adam Melhuse, backup catcher, with whom Macha apparently just stopped speaking altogether).

4. He was too rigid in his lineups.

5. He went with the starting catcher too much.

Before getting all caught up in Macha's perceived warts and thinking we've got Ned Yost, version 2.0, we should probably try to exercise a little perspective here. Consider the source. These guys hated Macha and blogged with a pretty clear agenda, which had to slant their world view just a little bit. We're all told that Billy Beane-ius ran that team anyway, which is what led Macha to the door. Maybe this is what all fans complain about when they want their manager gone.

I was also struck by the fan reaction to the Macha hiring on AM 620 while driving home last night. Bill Michaels (who couldn't be less qualified to talk about the Brewers, by the way - he was convinced that Scott Boras was CC's agent) took 3 calls from Brewers fans about the Macha hiring. All three hated it, and preferred Bob Brenly.

What exactly leads these Brewers fans to that conclusion?

1. He won the 2001 World Series.

2. He "knows" the Brewers and the division because he's the Cubs announcer.

3. He's good with the media.

Frankly, many managers could have won the 2001 World Series with that team Brenly inherited from Buck Schowalter. Randy Johnson. Curt Schilling. Matt Williams. Steve Finley. Luis Gonzalez. Mark Grace. Veteran, skilled, good team. Huge payroll. Sort of like the Red Sox teams of recent vintage.

This is not the Brewers of 2008 or 2009. After the core of that team got old and more expensive and was dismantled, the Diamondbacks nose-dived all the way to a 51-111 record in 2004, when Brenly was fired. (Incidentally, you have to wonder if the Richie Sexson fleecing played a part in the demise of Brenly, seeing as it netted the Brewers 3 of Arizona's 2003 Opening Day starters).

Basically, I'm not buying the argument. Brenly hasn't managed a team like the Brewers, with mostly young players. Macha's A's (which averaged about 90 wins/year and made the playoffs twice in his four years) are much more similar to the Brewers situation - younger team, smaller market team, lower payroll.

As for the supposed advantage Brenly would have because he knows the Brewers and the division and he is smooth with the media - who cares? I actually like an outside perspective on the team - maybe that will shake things up with certain players (Hart, Corey? Weeks, Rickie?) And while Ned's postgame press conferences were tough to watch as he got more and more contentious with the media, I really don't think that being smooth with the media matters. Charlie Manuel isn't exactly a PR guy's dream, but he just won the World Series.

I think Macha was the best choice, out of the candidates. It was interesting to hear that Anthony Witrado say that the decision actually came down to Randolph vs. Macha. All the Bob Brenly fans will just have to get their fix by watching Cubs games on WGN next year.


brad said...

Matt - you make some great points. I was in favor of Brenly, until hearing Keith Law on the radio who reminded me of how Brenly tried to give the WS to the Yanks. Bringing in BY-Kim over and over and over despite dragging his gas can out to the mound every time out.

I also heard Macha got canned because he clashed with Beane, along with many players. He says he's a "changed man." Melvin must agree.

The most important thing you said was "I think Macha was the best choice, out of the candidates." It doesn't really matter now, but maybe there should have been more/better candidates? Agreed?

Charlie Marlow said...

I'll agree, brad. But that being said, I'm sort of indifferent. Would Showalter have been better? Maybe, though he hadn't had sustained 'success'. Valentine? Who knows, he's a nut job.

In any case, we've got the Macha Macha Man now. Hopefully he doesn't totally blow it!

Matt said...

I'm with Charlie - who else was out there?

brad said...

A few other names I've heard are: Valentine, Larry Dierker, Jim Leyland (he wants out of Detroit), and Buck Shoewalter. Also, there has to be some bench coaches inline for managing gigs. The next Ron Gardenhier, Mike Scoccia, or Joe Madden, if you will.

Would these guys do better or worse than Macha? I have no clue.

Plesac's A Traitor said...

I don't know. I'm still not thrilled by Macha. How can you overlook the similarities to Special Ned? I just can't take getting yosted again. A few ways Macha can prove me wrong:

-Talk to your players
-If someone is slumping, pull them out of the lineup
-Go to the pen early if it's called for (applies to both starters and releivers)
-Take responsibility if you screw up

I don't think that's too much to ask for. Please, let me be wrong here.