Tag Archives: Ken Macha

Who cares?

Posted by Steve

In an expected move, the Brewers will not be picking up Ken Macha’s option next season. If fans are supposed to be encouraged by this move, I have to ask: Why?

Macha didn’t do too much to make me think he’s a great manager or anything, but I don’t really see how he’s to blame for the last couple seasons. He inherited a team with awful starting pitching. Nobody would have won with these teams. This makes me think back to Dan’s post from earlier this season on Macha’s situation. It really doesn’t matter.

Why? Because the Brewers will just hire another “baseball guy” who will do all the same things Macha did, like hit Carlos Gomez second. The only reason I’m pleased he’s gone is that now Mat Gamel will come back from the dead (Congrats to whoever had 17 in the “Mat Gamel’s September Plate Appearances” Pool!).

What I’d love to see is someone who thinks outside the box. I’d like to see things like hitting the pitcher eighth, hitting Braun second, and using their best reliever in high leverage situations rather than just save situations. If the Brewers do something like hire Willie Randolph or Dale Sveum, they might as well have not even let Macha go. Again, though, it won’t matter one bit who’s managing if they don’t improve the defense and pitching next season.

Has anyone noticed…

Posted by Steve

There has been a lot of interesting storylines with the Brewers lately that aren’t being talked about as much as they should. For instance, has anyone noticed…

…how TERRIBLE Ryan Braun has been?

Sure, we’re hearing about Ryan Braun’s slump. He hasn’t hit many home runs. He’s struggling to see the ball, blah blah blah. But we aren’t hearing enough about just how awful it’s been. It is undoubtedly the worst stretch of his career.

Since the Arizona series that ended May 9, Braun has a line of .228/.267/.374 for a cool .641 OPS. A .267 OBP… That’s Alexei Ramirez territory.

Braun is completely lost at the plate. His discipline is shot. In a bad slump, walks are almost always down. The player swings at more bad pitches or pitchers’ pitches and gets himself out more often. Sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happened to Braun. Through that Arizona series, he had drawn 18 walks in 146 plate appearances. Since, he’s drawn six walks in 131 plate appearances.

This means that, for the second time in three seasons, Braun is likely going to get an undeserved start in the All-Star Game. Most of the voting was a result of his torrid start (and his popularity), but as of today, among qualified NL outfielders, Braun ranks 14th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, 13th in OPS, and tenth in weighted on base average. It’s incredible how far he’s fallen after such an amazing start.

…how weird Corey Hart’s line is?

Corey Hart is on a serious home run binge, which has led to comments like, “Hart’s absolutely on fire!” Except… He’s really not. He’s just hitting a lot of home runs.

His home run stretch started 28 games ago against Philadelphia. Since then he has 14 homers, and amazingly, leads the NL in home runs. But in that same stretch, he has a pedestrian batting average/on-base percentage of .264/.331. Compare that to his start of the season, when he hit just three home runs in 103 plate appearances. During that stretch, his batting average/on-base percentage was a comparable .247/.340.

It’s very odd that Hart could pile up a bunch of home runs without really getting on base any more than he did at the start of the season. In fact, he has a fairly poor on-base percentage on the season.

So what does it mean? Maybe nothing, other than supply me with something to talk about. But to me, it means that Hart should be traded. As long as Hart’s name tops the NL home run leaders, his value is high. The Brewers practically tried to give Hart away in the off-season and didn’t have any takers. Doug Melvin needs to realize that the Brewers aren’t going anywhere this season and that Hart’s value is higher to a contending team than it is hitting meaningless home runs for the Brewers. The surprising Padres seem like a perfect fit. They have a good record despite awful production from their outfield. Hart would be a nice addition to that team. Meanwhile, it would give the Brewers an opportunity to add prospects, cut salary, and give them a chance to play Lorenzo Cain the rest of the season.

… that maybe, just maybe, I was right about Casey McGehee after all?

I’m a bit ashamed of myself. I’m a firm believer that you need at least 1500 MLB plate appearances before you have a good idea of a hitter’s talent. Yet, just a month or so ago I allowed myself to fall into the trap of McGehee’s hot start and declare myself wrong on him–after only about 600 plate appearances!

McGehee has been in a horrendous slump himself, and it may just be that he’s regressing to where he should be. McGehee has a .615 OPS in the last month, which drops his season numbers to a pretty average .800 OPS for the season.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m rooting against McGehee, but I’ll say that I still have higher hopes for Mat Gamel long term than I do for McGehee. Gamel’s off to a nice start in AAA since his recent return from injury, and assuming Ken Macha is fired/not retained after the season, he’ll have a chance to start fresh in the organization.

…how awesome George Kottaras is?

Alright, so his defense is pretty terrible at this point. But I am in love with his batting eye. He’s cooled off a bit recently, but his line on the season is .194/.361/.430. That’s a very solid line for a catcher, albeit a strange one. Kottaras has 18 hits on the season, but 26 walks! I liked when Macha dabbled with him in the second spot a few times, and certainly prefer that to Carlos Gomez or Alcides Escobar.

I’m excited about the Brewers catching outlook in the next few seasons. Even with Angel Salome’s bizarre decision to switch from catcher to outfielder, I think the Brewers are in good hands. Lucroy has impressed me with his defense, and Kottaras has a pretty good bat.

that Ken Macha is back to abusing Gallardo?

This is the main reason I’d be fine with letting Macha go (along with his poor handling of young players). He is managing like the Brewers are in a pennant race. There’s no reason to be handling Gallardo this way. Look at his rising pitch counts since May 1.


There’s no reason to be leaving Gallardo in for that many pitches on a consistent basis. The Brewers aren’t going anywhere, not to mention the fact they just committed millions to Gallardo’s arm.

I’m envisioning this scenario, which seems very realistic in my mind.

It’s September. Prince Fielder and Corey Hart have been traded. Casey McGehee is playing first base on a regular basis. Mat Gamel and Lorenzo Cain are up from the minors. The Brewers are well out of it, but I go to a game anyway to see the young players. Only I arrive to find that Craig Counsell is starting at third over Gamel, and Jim Edmonds is starting over Lorenzo Cain. Gallardo throws 122 pitches.

Does that really seem that farfetched? Even though I don’t think it really matters if Macha is fired, this scenario is my biggest reason in favor of that move.

Return of Yost?

Posted by Steve

Shades of Ned Yost at Wrigley Field today, as Ken Macha channeled his inner-Yost in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two out, nobody on and the Brewers leading by three, Latroy Hawkins fell apart. Once the Cubs cut the lead to 6-5, Kosuke Fukudome, a left-handed hitter came up with no viable pinch hitting options. Both Mitch Stetter and Manny Parra were available, but somehow neither had even been warming up. In fact, nobody had warmed up. Hawkins was around 30 pitches (finished the inning with 39!), and the result was the least surprising base hit of the day.

What an inexcusable move. Are there any intelligent game managers available? We haven’t seen one in Milwaukee. If we hear something in the post-game interview from Macha along the lines of “We didn’t take out Hawkins because the eighth is his inning,” I’ll really know Ned Yost has returned.

I will say that I’m surprised at my complete lack of anger at a loss like this. Could it be due to my low expectations for this team?

Springtime Cornucopia

Posted by Steve

The snow is gone (for now), March Madness is underway, and I just had my first tennis outings of the year this week.  You know what that means:  baseball is just around the corner.  Let’s celebrate with yet another Cornucopia of Thoughts.


We’ll start with the bad news.  Mat Gamel’s strained lat has not improved, most likely because it’s actually torn.  He’ll be out six weeks.

That’s a bummer, but it’s not all bad.  After the way he misused Gamel last year, I would not put it past Ken Macha to keep Gamel on the bench simply to back up Casy McGehee at third.  This injury at least assures the Brewers won’t be burning up his service time.  Gamel will start in AAA, which means at least he’ll get regular at bats when he does come back.


I’m officially skeptical of Rick Peterson.  From that same JS article:

Stetter used to set his hands at the chin before delivering a pitch. Now, at Peterson’s suggestion, he is setting at the belt. Stetter also is throwing mostly from a lower arm angle, instead of varying it as in the past.

“My best pitch to a righty used to be an over-the-top fastball, in. Now, that’s kind of taken away from me. Now, I’m working on throwing in from that other arm slot. I’m tinkering with a couple of things, but it’s coming together good.”

That’s kind of taken away from me? Yikes.

It just seems like as an organization, the Brewers are reacting too drastically to what was simply a collection of bad pitchers.  The worst starters from last season will no longer be in the rotation, so the problem is already largely solved.  Instead, it’s like Peterson needs to be some savior who’s coming in and making changes to all these pitchers.  How many of these changes are necessary?  I am not pretending to know that, but like I said–there are definitely warning signs that point to an overreaction.


The venerable Will Leitch of Deadspin is previewing/musing on each team before the season begins.  His Brewers preview just ended up being a beautiful rant against the rules of baseball, using the Prince Fielder home run celebration as a case study.  Once again, I’ve certainly commented on this enough, but I thoroughly enjoyed this so I figured I’d pass it along.  I’m happy to see many others seem to feel this way.


Much is being made of the Brewers suddenly having too much pitching.  Let’s make one thing clear.  They definitely don’t have too much pitching.  What they have is too much mediocre pitching and guys without minor league options.  Yo Gallardo, Randy Wolf, and for some reason, Doug Davis are guaranteed spots.  I guess because Davis was a free agent signing he’s guaranteed a spot, even though nothing really separates him from Dave Bush or Manny Parra.  That leaves four guys for the final two spots: Parra, Bush, Chris Narveson, and Jeff Suppan.

Suppan should not start the year in the rotation.  Fine if you don’t want to cut him and eat the 12 mil (even though I’d be just fine with that), but please don’t compound the problem by keeping him in the rotation just because of his salary.  He’s not as good as the other three and doesn’t deserve a spot in the rotation.  If you don’t want to cut him, banish him to the long relief role.

Dave Bush should be in the rotation, and it really shouldn’t even be up for debate.  He has proven himself as a serviceable starter.  None of the others have.

That leaves Parra and Narveson for the final rotation spot.  I’d go with Parra.  Even though I hate his walk rate, he still has highest potential on the staff outside of Gallardo.  Either move Narveson to the bullpen, or, if you have to cut him, it’s probably not the end of the world.  I’d still prefer to cut Suppan over him, though.

The best part of this whole thing?  Macha actually referred to different possibilities as “combinations and permutations.” That’s almost as good as when he was flummoxed inside a zim-zam.


Rickie Weeks has a .485 OBP and homered off Reds phenom Aroldis Chapman on Wednesday.  Discuss, marvel, gape.


Despite the looming baseball season, at this time of year my attention is completely on college basketball.  I have entered Right Field Bleachers’ Bracket Challenge where I am competing against mega-celebs such as Jeff Cirillo, Trenni Kusnierek, and the agent of some Brewers minor-leaguers.  Alright, maybe they’re really D-List celebs.  But then, as founder, chief-poster and self-proclaimed President of B!B!K.T.U.T.H!, what am I?  A Z-list celeb?

Of course, I’m just messing around.  Jeff Cirillo, as Dan certainly attested to a few years ago when we ran into him at a bar, is “Seriously the coolest Brewer ever.  Seriously.  Sorry, I just had to get a handshake.  Coolest. Brewer. Ever.”  Plus, he once politely mocked me for injuring my wrist in an office kickball game at the same time that he was in a cast from taking a fastball off his hand, so that makes him even cooler.

Anywho, things are off to a riveting start after Day One.  I’m tied for fourth, Rillo is tied for 83rd (probably because he never made his picks), and Trenni never actually signed up.

Trevor Time and Macha… Malaise?

Posted by Steve

News!  One day after the season, and we already have 2010 news to talk about.

First things first.  The Crew put a nice cap on a disappointing season by sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis.  If that in any way has a negative effect on St. Louis as they head into the playoffs, I’m all for it.  In fact, I will say right now that if the Cardinals do not win the World Series, it will be because they ended the season on a low note–thanks to the Brewers.

An 80-82 record for 2009 stinks, but since I’ve been all about 2010 for the last two months, we can easily make it a good thing!  That record is in the bottom 15 of MLB teams, which means the Brewers can sign a Type A free agent and still keep their first round pick.  I don’t necessarily expect them to do so, but at least it’s an option.

Slipping through the cracks on this crazy Monday afternoon (apparently there’s some football game tonight?) may be the news that Trevor Hoffman has quickly re-signed with the Brewers for next season.  The deal is for $8 million, and Buster Olney reports that there is a mutual option for 2011.

Spending $8 million on someone who will soon be 42 years old is generally a good way to build a bad team, but Hoffman is definitely an exception.  Hoffman was fantastic this season: 1.83 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 3.43 strikeout to walk ratio.  At worst, he was one of the top 20 relief pitchers in the majors.

Hoffman is getting a raise from the $6 mil he made in 2009, and $8 mil for a closer is about the most I’m comfortable with.  He has a great track record, though, and has showed no sign of slowing down.  The Brewers have every reason to expect him to be a good closer again next season.

The other move I’d like to see get done quickly is the re-signing of Mike Cameron for another year.  Cameron made a comment a few weeks ago along the lines of being “willing to make sacrifices” to come back next season.  That certainly seems to mean a pay cut, or at least no pay raise.

There’s a sentiment that bringing back Hoffman and Cameron eats up money that should be spent on starting pitching, but I don’t agree with it.  These are productive players who are worth their salary.  There are other ways to trim the fat off the payroll and free up space to acquire pitching.  The Brewers should make the following moves:

  • Non-tender Seth McClung.  He was awful this year and will be set to make a couple million bucks next season.  No need to spend that on his 1.03 k/bb ratio.
  • Decline Braden Looper’s $6 million option.  Looper was bad this year–below replacement level, in fact.  His “production” should be replaced and improved upon by a newcomer.
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT RE-SIGN JASON KENDALL.  He was quite possibly the worst everyday player in baseball.  Seeing his $4.25 million salary come off the books is a beautiful sight to behold.  I’d much rather let Jonathan Lucroy, Angel Salome and Mike Rivera battle it out and split time.  It probably still won’t be very productive, but it can’t be any worse than what they had this season–and it will be cheap.  Plus, the Brewers are likely to have one black hole in their everyday lineup next year (Escobar), so they can’t afford to play both Escobar and Kendall.
  • Decline David Weathers’ $3.7 million option.  Weathers is no longer good.  His overall numbers this season are poor.  There’s no reason not to give some youngers guys a shot next year.  Someone like John Axford is likely to put up at least the 1.5-ish whip that Weathers brings, only he’ll do it for the league minimum.  I will miss his new nickname used in the BIS office, though:  Jeff Karstens’ dad.

I’m also pretty much resigned to the fact that the Brewers will probably be trading J.J. Hardy, which means at least $4.5 million more off the books (before the salaries of the player(s) they receive in return).

That’s roughly $20 million right there that can be trimmed without losing very much production.  I’d much rather save money there than save it by letting actual productive players (Hoffman and Cameron) walk.

Finally, we’re on to Ken Macha.  He is being brought back next season, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  Doug Melvin was not the driving force behind the firing of Ned Yost, and it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t want to fire a manager that he hand-picked one year ago.

I’m not crazy about the move, but I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world.  He’s certainly not as bad as Ned Yost.  What’s funny is Macha and Yost seem to be polar opposites in a lot of ways.  For the first two months of the season, I thought Macha did an outstanding job with bullpen management.  Meanwhile, “Ned Yost” and “outstanding bullpen management” have never been used in the same sentence until this one was created.

Yost’s strength was with a young team with no pressure to win.  He wasn’t bad when Fielder, Hart, Hardy, Weeks, etc. were all breaking into the big leagues and nobody expected the Brewers to win games.  He was protective of his players to the point of absurdity.  But when the team’s talent grew, Yost was in way over his head.

On the other hand, Macha has only managed winning teams until this season.  He isn’t afraid to criticize a player in the media, which is fine.  He never did anything over the top, and to be honest it was refreshing after listening to Yost say “Soup pitched great!” so many times in 2008.  Because he’s only had winning teams, I didn’t realize that he apparently hates playing young players.  His mishandling of Mat Gamel all season is embarrassing and completely inexcusable.  He abused Yovani Gallardo.  He wasn’t even crazy about playing Alcides Escobar full time when J.J. Hardy was in AAA.  He said Josh Butler would get a start.  Not only did he not give Butler a start; but Butler was sent home before the season even ended with only four major league innings under his belt.  That Craig Counsell continued to get starts in September was also an embarrassment.  Counsell had a good season, but you know what you have in him.  September is the time for non-contenders to get a better look at their young players, and Macha just refused to do that.

Here’s hoping the Brewers field a more talented team next year, because I’m guessing (okay, hoping) that Macha is more equipped for that type of team.

Say, this was fun.  I really enjoyed getting to use the Sha-wuuhhh?? tag again for nostalgia’s sake.

What in tarnation is Ken Macha thinking?

Posted by Steve

Ken Macha’s propensity to play veterans over young players bugged me at times this season, but now it’s reached a different level.  Did Mat Gamel kick Macha’s dog?  Do Casey McGehee or Craig Counsell have incriminating photos of him?  Because something like that would be the only explanation for not playing Gamel at least half the time the rest of the way.

Here’s what Macha had to say once Gamel was called up.  “I’m sure (Gamel) will get a couple of games.  But it’s tough to get McGehee out of there.  He has done a great job.”

Ugh.  Yes, McGehee has been one of the only bright spots of this season, but we’ve seen him all year.  Aren’t the Brewers at least curious to see what Gamel would do with a few weeks of regular playing time?  They never gave him that the last time they called him up.

McGehee over Gamel is one thing.  But today, I went to JSOnline and saw this headline: Counsell at third.  This is the tipping point for me.  Playing Counsell at third over Gamel when the team has no playoff aspirations is absurd and unacceptable.  Teams do not play 39-year-olds over their top prospect when they’re 16 games out of first in September.  They play their young players.  Counsell is another guy who’s had a very good year, but there is no reason he should start at third or short the rest of the season.  The Brewers have really botched their handling of Mat Gamel this season.

While we’re at it, am I going insane, or has Corey Patterson started in center field for the Brewers the last few days?  And hit leadoff?! Perhaps I’m just having a nightmare.  Corey Patterson is not a major league player.  He’s had more than ample time (3751 plate appearances) to prove that–and his career .290 on-base percentage speaks for itself.  Corey Hart was activated yesterday, yet Macha still decided to play Patterson over Hart.  Looking at a boxscore and seeing him at the top of the lineup just about sums up this season perfectly for me: it’s a disaster.

Sorting through “Black Wednesday”

Posted by Steve

Things sure hit the fan today.  You’ve probably heard by now, but just to recap, the Brewers made the following moves today.

DFA’d Bill Hall

Optioned J.J. Hardy to AAA Nashville

Called up Alcides Escobar

Called up Jason Bourgeois

Fired Bill Castro

Wow.  That’s a lot to compute, and to be honest, a lot to be angry about.


Let’s start with the most shocking move, which has to be sending J.J. Hardy down to AAA.  Hardy has been a gigantic disappointment this year.  He had a great season last year, and he should be right in his physical prime, so this nosedive is perplexing.  Still, this move definitely caught me off guard.

A big wrinkle in this appears to be what this will do for Hardy’s service time.  It seems possible that by sending him to the minors now, he’d lose enough service time to delay his free agent year from 2010 to 2011.  If this move allows the Brewers to keep Hardy for two more year after this season rather than one, it’s a shrewd/dirty move depending on your perspective.  It would allow Hardy another year to rebuild his diminished trade value.

I personally think that if this is the motivation behind the move, it’s a smart play.  Hardy can only blame himself; if he hadn’t had such a poor 2009 he wouldn’t have been sent down.  Doug Melvin seemed to play dumb when asked about this situation, but of course it’s in his best interest to make this move seem entirely performance-based.  Hardy’s performance does justify the demotion, so I’m willing to buy that reasoning.


A lot about calling up Alcides Escobar doesn’t sit well with me.  For one, he hasn’t shown he’s at all ready for the Majors.  What’s so special about a .762 OPS in AAA?  He’s only 22; why not make him actually earn his way onto the roster?  By doing this, you’re burning up two months of his service time.  Ironically, this is the same mistake they made with J.J. Hardy years ago.  Hardy was rushed to the big leagues, struggled mightily and is now set to hit free agency a year earlier than if he was kept in AAA.  Escobar at 29 is much more valuable than Escobar at 22.

The other aspect of this that bugs me is Ken Macha’s refusal to play young players.  He botched the Mat Gamel situation miserably, and he seems poised to do it again with Escobar.  Macha is already talking about using Escobar mainly against lefties.  How absurd.  Is Doug Melvin actually going to let this guy platoon each of their two top prospects for extended periods in the same season?  Top prospects need to be playing everyday somewhere.

Much of this Escobar/Hardy situation hinges on what is done for next season.  It is my firm belief that Escobar belongs in AAA to start next season.  He is just not ready to contribute offensively at the big league level.  Jose Reyes, a player many seem to hope Escobar can become, struggled mightily in the Majors early in his career when he should have been down in the minors.  Reyes wasn’t a good offensive player until his fourth season in the majors.  Elvis Andrus, another young shortstop Escobar is often compared to (both are great defenders with good speed), is also an example of a player who’s been rushed.  Andrus has a .685 OPS.  That’s terrible, and the Rangers are foolish for having him up in the majors this season.  I don’t want to see this happen with Escobar, especially if Hardy ends up getting his free agency delayed a year.  Hardy should be the Brewers’ shortstop next year.  As bad as he’s been, he still has had prolonged success at the Major League level and is therefore a much better bet than Escobar in 2010.  If Hardy’s traded, the Brewers need to find a stopgap.  Escobar is still the future, but he needs to earn his way into the starting spot.  It would be nice if he wasn’t an offensive black hole when he took over the shortstop job.


This really is just an ugly ending to a long, bad story.  This is one that I can’t blame the Brewers for at all.  Hall has been bad ever since signing his contract extension, and he’s actually gotten progressively worse each season.  He even stopped hitting lefties this year, which was his only redeeming quality outside of defense last season.  The Brewers are on the hook for quite a bit of money, but I can’t even blame them for giving Hall that contract.  At that time, he was coming off a great year, and even had a good year prior to that one.  There was no sign whatsoever of such a drastic collapse.  Just about every fan was thrilled when they signed Hall to that deal.  Heck, one of the first posts I ever made here was praising the extension.  Hall was one of my favorite Brewers, and his departure also means the end to my favorite Brewers cheer of all time: Eight Letters! Four Ls!


This move bugs me as much as anything else that happened today.  Bill Castro, an organizational soldier for the last 18 years, is fired before even completing his first season as pitching coach?  That’s deflecting blame and making Castro the scapegoat for the terrible pitching this year.  Is Castro the one who assembled a rotation featuring the Terrible Twosome of Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper?  Did Castro injure Dave Bush?  Castro was only able to work with what he was given, and what he was given this season was crap.  Castro was as responsible for the successes of pitchers over the years as any pitching coach the Brewers have had during the course of his 17 years as bullpen coach.  I understand that there’s no evidence that Castro has done a good job, but 17 years as a respected bullpen coach should earn him the chance to coach next year’s pitching staff with (hopefully) an upgrade in talent.

Again, this reminds me of the Yost firing from last year, minus the justification.  This seems more like a Mark Attanasio move than a Doug Melvin move.

These are some dark times in the Brewers organization.  Ken Macha is likely to be reevaluated after the season, and I’ve been disappointed with him continually since the end of May.  Abusing Gallardo and mismanaging Gamel are inexcusable.  I like Doug Melvin, but he deserves some blame for this season as well.  Most GMs aren’t allowed to hire a third manager.  I hope not, but I can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the Mustachioed Marvel.