Let’s talk about Doug Melvin

Posted by Steve

Doug Melvin. The Man, The Myth, The Mustache. I even have that on a t-shirt. Unfortunately, that t-shirt is several years old. If that t-shirt was for sale today, I would not purchase it. I’d probably ask if they had one that said, “Rock n roll is a young man’s game,” or “Dust in the Wind,” or a less subtle, “You get to hire four non-interim managers, but no more.”

Melvin has done good things for the Brewers franchise. He took over a team that was a laughingstock, rebuilt their farm system, created an exciting product, and oversaw a couple nice playoff runs. He wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big move (the CC Sabathia trade was downright ballsy), and he has had some success when selling off players who weren’t going to re-sign. He was measured, level-headed and didn’t allow emotions to get in the way of his job.

Now, the Brewers require a full, long-term rebuild–one that will likely take 3-4 years before they have a chance to contend again. Melvin is about to turn 63 (only Walt Jocketty, Sandy Alderson and Jack Zduriencik are older among MLB GMs).  GMs are not only younger, but they’re of a very different mold than Melvin. He was a minor league pitcher who entered scouting after his playing career. GMs hired today are younger, more intelligent, and more analytical than GMs who were getting hired around the time that Melvin got his first GM gig in Texas.  Certainly if the Brewers were hiring a new general manager, I’d want it to be someone who is statistically inclined and forward thinking. Additionally, someone who is a first-time GM looking to prove himself (or herself–someone’s got to finally hire Kim Ng, right?) would be a better bet to oversee a long-term rebuild.

Melvin’s age/pedigree is maybe a small reason why it’s time to move on, but it certainly isn’t the main reason. The main reason is he’s done a fairly poor job as of late.

Many of his bad moves were at least influenced by Mark Attanasio, who is slowly becoming the dreaded meddling owner. Things may have gone differently if he was given 100% autonomy to do his job. But he wasn’t, and they didn’t. He still needs to answer for the failures of the last four seasons.

Melvin’s already has his run. He took over a team that had fewer trade pieces than this version of the Brewers, and he eventually turned them into a winner. It would be fair to claim that the Braun-Fielder-Hart-Weeks era Brewers actually underachieved with only two playoff appearances, but they did still get there. There aren’t many GMs who get to oversee two rebuilds in their tenure (probably even fewer who get to hire four different managers).

None of this will matter, unfortunately, if Attanasio does not sign off on a rebuild and give full trust to the next GM who is trying to rebuild the Brewers’ farm system. I have some hope, though, that Mark A. is finally coming around on the need to blow this thing up. Assuming he does, a leadership change couldn’t hurt anything, and it would probably help.

If Melvin doesn’t want to retire, move him to a cushy Team President job for a couple years. Bring in some new blood, and let’s move on to the next version of Braun-Fielder-Weeks-Hart.

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