Where the Brewers need to improve part three: In-Game Managing

Posted by Steve

I knew I’d be getting around to this post eventually. A new Yost thread has surfaced at Brewerfan.net in which posters are rehashing all the terrible moves from last season. I decided to carry my resuscitated frustrations from that thread right over to this post. This way I can get it all out of the way in one shot.

Since I know you’re dying to remember them all, here’s a sample of some of Ned Yost’s most inexplicable managerial moves from the 2007 season. The “Ned Yost… Sha-wuuhhh??” category made this a pretty quick project.

A few things separate Part Three from the first two posts about weaknesses of the 2007 team. There are no “managerial stats” that I can research to draw a strong conclusion, and there’s no way to quantify how many wins or losses a manager is responsible for over the course of the season. It’s also important to note that fans of a certain team tend to see more errors from their team’s manager than others. Finally, and obviously, no manager makes all the right moves.

All those things said, there’s no doubt in my mind that Yost hurt the Brewers’ chances last season. Sure the tactic of leaving the closer in the bullpen until you get the lead is a strategy that is employed by several managers, but Yost’s bullpen management overall was, at times, awful. Guys like Seth McClung, Greg Aquino and Chris Spurling should never have pitched in close and late situations nearly as much as they did last year.

Not all of that is Yost’s fault. A lot can be blamed on Derrick Turnbow and Matt Wise fading in the second half. Some can be blamed on Doug Melvin for not assembling a better bullpen. The bottom line, though, was that Yost was often completely lost when managing the pen. That has absolutely has to get better. The good news is that the talent in the pen appears to be improved.

I do think Yost gets a bit of a raw deal at times. His reputation indicates his biggest strength is in motivating players and keeping the clubhouse relaxed. Obviously that isn’t something fans can see on a day-to-day basis. Also, last season was basically the first good team he’s had; it was new territory for him. I admit I would have liked to see the Brewers make a proactive, gutsy move and replace Yost with an experienced manager.  He has yet to prove that he is anything but a decent manager for a young, rebuilding team, but as long as 2008 is his last chance I’m not too upset.

Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin retained Yost, but they aren’t giving him more than his lame duck year at this point. The Brewers had the talent to win a weak NL Central last season, and Yost’s decisions hurt those chances. If the Brewers have disappointed by the time the All-Star Break rolls around, don’t be surprised to see Ted Simmons take over. Whether it’s Yost, Simmons or anybody else, the managing needs to improve in 2008.

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