Friday, October 31, 2008
OS Story on Player reactions
Video of the news conference
Associated Press story
USA Today story
Macha was the obvious choice from the get-go. He was all but in the jersey 5 years ago when he was offered a promotion to manager in the A's system. He stayed in Oakland and Ned Yost took the job in Milwaukee.
As soon as the Brewers' job was opened beyond Dale Sveum, it was clear that Ken Macha was the number one guy on Doug Melvin's list. Macha's appointment might have been one of the worst kept secrets of the past few weeks.
Having learned nothing from jumping the gun on Ryan Grant, the Packers have extended Aaron Rodgers' contract for 6 years.Look - he's been pretty damn good so far, and I'm totally grateful for that. But he still hasn't proved he isn't the Packers equivalent of Ben Sheets "The Man of Glass." It's great that Rodgers has been playing through the pain - but still. It's been 7 games. I'd love to see a bit more proof before I go tying our future to him for the next six years....
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It was no secret that there were going to be more penalties called in college hockey this season, what with the emphasis on punishing crimes that previously went without a whistle.
Wisconsin Badgers coach Mike Eaves was one of those who said the game would be better if players didn't have to fight through holding and interference -- a change the NHL had already successfully made, albeit with growing pains.
Eaves didn't know the pains at his level would be quite like this.
As the Badgers open a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at North Dakota Friday, they are no different than any other college hockey team -- trying to adjust to the new way that things are being done.
But Eaves is concerned that referees, in an effort to push the NCAA rules emphasis, have gone a little overboard.
He sent WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd a series of video clips from last weekend's series against Minnesota to illustrate his concerns about the officiating.
"They're going through a learning process, too," Eaves said. "The comments that I had on my clips were along those lines: Let's not make up penalties here. We want to make calls, but there were a couple calls that were ghost calls."
Eaves heard back from Shepherd, who said he had a conference call this week with all league referees to point out some of the concerns.
After last Friday's 2-2 tie with Minnesota, which featured 10 power plays for the Gophers and nine for the Badgers, accounting for nearly 28 of the 65 minutes, Eaves said he understood there would be an adjustment period, but that "it's not fun coaching" right now.
Imagine how it is playing.
"These first couple of weeks are going to be tough because the players are adjusting, the coaches are adjusting, the refs are adjusting," Wisconsin freshman forward Derek Stepan said.
Through 12 league games, power plays are up 3.5 per game over the same span last season. Penalty minutes are up 11.5 per game.
That may not sound like much, but 3.5 power plays, taken at the full two minutes, is the equivalent of seven more minutes of special teams time, which puts more of a strain on those players who are asked to play on the power play and penalty kill in addition to their normal 5-on-5 shifts.
Eaves said he'd like to see all sides develop to the point where, by Christmas, teams are down to seven or eight penalties per game. That, he said, would allow for the kind of flow to the game that allows for quality play.
Is that possible? Eaves is keeping hope alive.
"I'm hoping that Greg Shepherd has the wherewithal and leadership to hold guys accountable," Eaves said. "And the referees know that we all want to get better. We're trying to coach our players better. We want them to make the calls that are there better.
"Hope runs eternal, and let's see what happens here. Because if it does work out, in the long run, we're going to have a better game."
Noticeably absent from that list is Mike Maddux.
This column talks about the situation
The Dallas Morning News is keeping a keen eye on the situation and notes that the Rangers will be able to talk to Maddux scott free tomorrow.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
|The Coaches poll is out for Men's Basketball. Marquette at 17 and Wisconsin at 21.|
SPN/USA Today Poll
|1. North Carolina (31) 0-0 775|
|2. Connecticut 0-0 707|
|3. Louisville 0-0 694|
|4. UCLA 0-0 650|
|5. Duke 0-0 578|
|6. Pittsburgh 0-0 576|
|7. Michigan State 0-0 572|
|8. Texas 0-0 538|
|9. Notre Dame 0-0 525|
|10. Purdue 0-0 465|
|11. Gonzaga 0-0 437|
|12. Memphis 0-0 425|
|13. Tennessee 0-0 408|
|14. Oklahoma 0-0 387|
|15. Arizona State 0-0 304|
|16. Miami (FL) 0-0 233|
|17. Marquette 0-0 219|
|18. Georgetown 0-0 175|
|19. Florida 0-0 161|
|20. Davidson 0-0 158|
|21. USC 0-0 153|
|21. Wisconsin 0-0 153|
|23. Kansas 0-0 130|
|24. Wake Forest 0-0 129|
|25. Villanova 0-0 122|
Others Receiving VotesUNLV 60, Saint Mary's 59, Ohio State 54, Baylor 47, Xavier 27, Syracuse 23, Texas A&M 19, LSU 19, Arizona 18, Virginia Tech 15, Brigham Young 13, West Virginia 10, Washington 8, Siena 8, Kentucky 7, Vanderbilt 7, Oklahoma State 4, Clemson 2, Washington State 1.
10/30/08 1:00 PM ET
Brewers to name Macha manager
Former A's skipper won two division titles with Oakland
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Six years after Brewers general manager Doug Melvin first asked Ken Macha to be the team's field manager, Macha is poised to accept.
The Brewers called a 2 p.m. CT press conference Thursday during which they will name Macha, 58, as the 16th skipper in club history. Macha passed on the Brewers' offer in October 2002 to remain in Oakland, but quickly became the leading candidate earlier this month as Melvin searched for a replacement for Ned Yost and Dale Sveum. Macha beat out former Mets manager Willie Randolph and former D-backs skipper Bob Brenly for the job.
Before interviewing those candidates, Melvin flew to Phoenix to meet with Sveum, who managed the Brewers for the final 12 regular season games in 2008 after Yost was dismissed. The team won the National League Wild Card under Sveum, but Melvin decided he wanted a full-time manager with more Major League experience.
The Brewers decided on Macha as their choice as early as Sunday and were waiting for the World Series to end to make the formal announcement. The Phillies did the Brewers a favor by winning the championship on Wednesday night; had the Series shifted back to Tampa Bay, the Brewers were considering asking Major League Baseball to waive the moratorium on making news so they could name Macha on Thursday. Melvin leaves town for the Managers Meetings on Saturday and wanted the staff settled before then.
The Brewers also were expected to make some announcements Thursday about the coaching staff. Sveum could be back as third-base or bench coach, and Melvin also encouraged Macha to retain pitching coach Mike Maddux, bullpen coach Bill Castro and first-base coach Ed Sedar.
Macha was one of five candidates for the Brewers job after the 2002 season, when Melvin was brought in as GM to turn around a franchise coming off a 106-loss season. Macha, who had been Oakland's bench coach since 1999, was Melvin's first choice, but when A's manager Art Howe left for the Mets, Macha was offered the manager's position in Oakland. The Brewers instead gave the job to Yost.
The A's owned a 368-280 regular-season record in Macha's four years as manager and won two AL West division titles, but he was abruptly dismissed two days after the A's were swept by the Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Oakland general manager Billy Beane cited "a disconnect" on both sides.
Macha spent the past two seasons as a studio analyst for Red Sox television broadcasts.
The Pirates selected Pittsburgh native Macha in the sixth round of the 1972 First-Year Player Draft and he played parts of six Major League seasons, primarily as a third baseman. He then played four seasons in Japan before beginning his coaching career in Montreal in 1986.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
They also announced a new section in the outfield where the tickets will be a flat $10 and will only be available day-of-game.
Terrace Reserved seats - some of the most affordable in baseball, stay at $14.
The report says that increases amount to about 5% over last year.
From the report: "The Brewers plan no price increases for individual non-marquee games in the Loge Infield Box, Bernie's Terrace and Uecker seats. "
Read all about it here.
Oct. 30, 2008 8:21 a.m. | Philadelphia - Now that the World Series is over, I'm expecting the Brewers to name Ken Macha as their new manager, either today or tomorrow.
The Brewers were honoring the moratorium on announcing managerial hirings during the World Series, so now they can go ahead with their business. Had Tampa Bay won last night and forced the Series to go on to Game 6 and perhaps 7, I'm not sure what the Brewers would do because they want to get this done and move forward.
Macha, a former manager with Oakland, was one of three finalists for the job. General manager Doug Melvin also interviewed former Arizona manager Bob Brenly and former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph.
Melvin has not been returning telephone calls for the past few days because he obviously doesn't want to talk about the situation until it can be announced. Having made his choice, it just would have been awkward to fend off questions about it without being able to announce it.
But it's my information that Macha is the man. I've expected all along he would be the favorite because Melvin wanted to hire him before the 2003 season but Macha was promoted from bench coach to manager in Oakland instead. So, Melvin hired Ned Yost, who was fired with 12 games remaining this season.
If you like a guy once, you'll like him again. The thing that has to be addressed is all of the problems Macha had with players before he was fired after four winning seasons in Oakland. Melvin has looked into that situation and believes there were extenuating circumstances that weren't all Macha's doing.
As I've been writing in recent days, I'm expecting Macha to bring Dale Sveum back onto the coaching staff, as either third base coach or bench coach. And as I wrote yesterday, pitching coach Mike Maddux might be leaving for Texas.
So, there are matters to be addressed. And in the coming days, some big decisions with personnel, such as the club option on centerfielder Mike Cameron. And, now that the World Series is over, the Brewers will be preparing their offer to free agent pitcher CC Sabathia.
It's going to be a busy and very important winter for the club, especially if it would like to compete for the playoffs again next season.
Sources: Macha to be named Brewers manager
ESPN.com news services
The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to name Ken Macha as their choice to succeed interim manager Dale Sveum, two baseball sources have told ESPN. The official announcement could come later Thursday.
As the NL wild-card qualifier, the Brewers reached the postseason for the first time since 1982, but lost to eventual World Series champion Philadelphia in four games in the division series.
Earlier this month, at the same time Milwaukee announced general manager Doug Melvin would receive a 3-year contract extension, it said Sveum was no longer under consideration to become manager full-time.
The Brewers went on to win the wild card with a 90-72 record after Sveum replaced Ned Yost as manager with two weeks left in the regular season.
Macha was fired by the A's after Oakland was swept in the '06 AL Championship Series by Detroit. The A's went 368-280 but failed to reach the World Series in his four seasons as manager.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
As I said a few days ago, the Texas Rangers are extremely interested in Mike Maddux and thus far the Brewers haven't granted persmission for the Rangers to talk with him. According to this blog by the JS' Tom H., Maddux hasn't accepted any offer from the Brewers because he wants to know who the manager is first. And his contract expires on Friday, meaning as of then he and the Rangers don't need anyone's permission...
10/29/08 4:38 PM ET
Brewers' Gamel wins Spink Award
Topps, MiLB honor Milwaukee prospect for quiet consistency
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
There were many "was nots" and "did nots" attached to Mat Gamel this season. While that may seem confusing or even like a bad thing, in the end, everything worked out just fine for the Milwaukee prospect.
Gamel was not the highest profile prospect in the Brewers system for much of the season. He did not lead the organization in batting, home runs or RBIs. Oh, and he wasn't the centerpiece of the trade that brought C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee. That honor went to former teammate Matt LaPorta.
But when the 2008 season finally came to a close, the Brewers knew just how valuable Gamel was. As important as acquiring Sabathia was to Milwaukee, the club was able to make the deal without having to part with Gamel. And sure, he didn't lead the organization in batting, mostly due to a bout of elbow tendinitis -- which he kept hidden from the club -- that hampered him over the final five weeks of the season.
Folks around baseball, however, know just how accomplished a player Gamel is. To that end, it was not much of a surprise when it was announced on Wednesday that the former fourth-round selection was named as the 21st annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, emblematic of the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year.
Gamel hit .329 for Double-A Huntsville this season with 19 homers and 96 RBIs. He got bumped up to the Pacific Coast League for five games and even appeared in a pair of September games for the Brewers -- he hit a double in two at-bats -- before the tendinitis finally put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season.
"He was a hitting machine," Milwaukee's director of player development, Reid Nichols, said. "And when you lose a big bat [in the lineup] like LaPorta, he was able to keep going and stay locked in. It says a lot for him as a hitter."
The Neptune Beach, Fla., resident had hitting streaks of 16, 14 and 13 games during the season's first three months. Gamel hit .379 in April; .387 in May, when he was named the SL's Topps Player of the Month; and .381 in June. Gamel also reached base in a league-best 53 consecutive games.
Nichols said that Gamel's tendinitis issue is not serious and that normal rest will take care of the problem.
"It was overuse," Nichols said. "He did a lot of extra work on the infield throwing. He'll be fine. [Players] are all different. We're always teaching them that they have to let us know what's bothering them or we can't help them.
"Everyone is an individual, though. Some guys don't talk about it until they have to. Mat's a tough guy, though. He'll get through it. It's just something he had to deal with."
Whether Gamel gets a chance to crack Milwaukee's lineup on a more regular basis next season won't be determined until the spring. Nichols doesn't make those decisions but pointed out that if he were making the call, Gamel would get every opportunity to do so.
"The talent is there and the work ethic is there," Nichols said. "I'll be pushing for it, but it's not my call."
Other Spink Award winners include Cliff Floyd (1993), Derek Jeter (1994), Johnny Damon (1995), Andruw Jones (1996), Paul Konerko (1997), Eric Chavez (1999), Josh Beckett (2001), Delmon Young (2005), Alex Gordon (2006) and Steven Pearce (2007).
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Brewers claim McGehee off waivers
Former Cubs prospect may help Crew with third-base troubles
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
McGehee, who turned 26 on Oct. 12 and is a right-handed hitter, batted .296 with 12 home runs and 92 RBIs for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2008 but could not continue that success after a September callup. He hit .167 (4-for-24) in nine games with the Cubs, going 0-for-6 during the season-ending series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.
To clear a spot for McGehee on the 40-man roster, Milwaukee designated utility man Joe Dillon for assignment. Dillon played in 56 games over three stints with the Brewers in 2008 and batted .213, including .154 (6-for-39) as a pinch-hitter.
The Cubs drafted McGehee in the 10th round in 2003.
Bill Hall, Russell Branyan and Craig Counsell split most of the time at third base for the Brewers in 2008, but Hall struggled against right-handed pitching, Counsell could be a free agent if the Brewers do not exercise his option and Branyan is a free agent.The Brewers also announced that infielder Brent Brewer will replace injured prospect Taylor Green in the Arizona Fall League. Green suffered a broken nose in a game last week when he was struck in the face by a pitch from Cardinals prospect Tyler Norrick. Green will have minor surgery to repair the damage.
There's a lot to talk about in terms of the Badgers' less-than-mediocre start to the season, but the biggest one for me is the chance in rules that has led to each game being reduced to nothing more than dueling Power Plays.
The idea is that the rules, and thereby the refereeing, are more like the NHL. Now there are two "head refs" on the ice calling penalties - which means they're seeing more of the action away from the puck and they're calling things a lot closer than they were before.
I've been to one live game and watched a few Badger games on TV and the new style took a lot of the flow and therefore a lot of the enjoyment out of the games. I personally feel that the way those games were reffed messed with the integrity of the game. There were so many penalty minutes that it wasn't about which team was the best on the ice, but about which one killed penalties and worked on the power play the best.
I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't notice the refs in any contest. The second they start missing calls or becoming too much a part of the action is the second they're doing a bad job. You're not supposed to be aware of them. They shouldn't interrupt or supercede the game. They're there to keep order, but in this new case, it's felt like they're the ones controlling the game.
Ironically, in the above fight, you'll notice that there are 2 refs breaking up the UW and UM players that are wrestling on the ice. There's a ref skating around jotting notes in his notebook, presumably taking done numbers for penalties/suspensions. Where's the fourth ref? Is he breaking up a fight? Nope, he's just standing there.
So you have a ref who's literally standing around watching and another who's writing in a notebook. Don't get me wrong, I know that trackign for the penalties is part of the job, but at the point that Grotting's wailing on White and they go towards the ice, that fight would have been broken up in any ranks of the pros. Instead, the guy seems more concerned with his notebook. Possibly he could have stopped the fight and the ref in the box or even replay could have been used to then figure out if the scribbling ref had missed anyone.
So for 55 or so minutes of the game, the refs call tons of penalties for the merest of touching that the players had been getting away with for the past 20 or so years of their career, but when it comes to a situation in which direct physical harm is occurring, they do nothing.
Here's the kicker:
THEY WERE ALL SHORT-HANDED GOALS.
Here's the school's press release.
Here's the story that then got picked up by Deadspin.
And apparently the Hockey Hall of Fame thinks it's so rare, they asked for the kid's stick and it will be shown there.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"Haudicourt on 540 ESPN just said on the D-List that Macha is basically all done except for the press conference. Said that both Melvin and Macha have contacted Jason Kendell. Also stated which I think is more interesting that Mike Maddox, Bill Castro, Ed Sedar have all signed contract extentions, and Dale Sveum will likely be named the bench coach. "
These are quotes from Tom H's D-List yesterday:
"I mean, they'll move fast...I mean, as I wrote this morning, I'm pretty sure they have their man in Ken Macha. I've got all kinds of strong indications that he's the guy and I don't really see a change of heart coming over these next few days."
...(his last line)"I'm sure we're gonna have one [announcement] by the end of the week, one way or another".
New contracts for Billy Castro, Ed Sedar, and Mike Maddux?
"I think that's a done deal. The Brewers aren't announcing it, but I think that's done, I think those three guys are done. And I really believe Dale Sveum coming back as the bench coach or the 3rd base coach is fairly a done deal too." "I think Macha''s agreed to a kind of pre-arranged staff".
On Jason Kendall (and his criticism of Macha in the past)
"I gotta believe Doug Melvin looked into that and reconciled it in his mind"
Of course, there's also been reports on Chicago radio that they've already named Brenly's replacement in anticipation of his taking the Brewers' manager job. Of course, later reports added an IF to the Brenley/Sutcliffe situation.
Either way, the managerial situation is definitely interesting...
Over at SI.com, Jon Heyman's column not only talks about CC, but says there's scuttlebutt at the WS about the Brewers' managerial spot:
"Jimmy Rollins, a friend of superstar free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia dating back to their upbringing outside Oakland, Calif., and one of the best prognosticators in the game considering his lofty and correct predictions for his own Phillies, didn't hesitate when I asked him where he thought Sabathia would wind up.
"New York, American League,'' Rollins, an Alameda, Calif. product, said. "They've got enough money, and they need him.''
It's becoming the prevailing opinion around baseball that the Vallejo product Sabathia will become a Yankee, though it's too early to tell for sure whether that belief originates from wishful thinking on the part of Sabathia's handlers, the union or fellow players. Sabathia's agent, Scott Parker, didn't return a call, but the general consensus is that Sabathia's people would naturally prefer that their client maximize his take, which would very likely mean he'd go to the Yankees, who will presumably be the high bidder. And as one baseball person remarked, "I've never seen guys leave money on the table.''
Still, a couple others think that Sabathia won't let the difference of a few dollars -- even possibly $20 million or more -- keep him away from his native California, especially with the Angels and Dodgers seen as likely bidders. If there's one guy who could turn down the loot, some see that person as Sabathia. But folks with that stance appear to be dwindling now.
Some estimates suggest that Sabathia could receive $160 million as a Yankee but maybe $120 million or so if he insisted on going home (or close to home). The small-market Brewers are planning to make a run, as well, but they still have to be seen as a long shot since they can offer neither the most money nor the chance to go home -- though Sabathia did say he loved being a Brewer."
"Macha may be the man for Brewers
The World Series scuttlebutt is that Ken Macha is the favorite to land the Brewers managerial gig, followed by Willie Randolph. Everyone here at the Series seems to know that Bob Brenly had a bad interview in Milwaukee, which may knock him out of the running. If Macha is hired he may need to repair things with catcher Jason Kendall, a prominent member of the A's when Macha was fired there amidst rumors that he wasn't getting along with his boss or the players."
*JS' Michael Hunt says the overhaul of the Crew will show what Melvin's made of
*Junkball Blues, on the Sports Bubbler network, has a two part series trying to decide how much money CC is actually worth. Part 1. Part 2.
*Cecil Fielder: still talking crazy to get his name in the papes...
*This ESPN article says the off-season trade market's got a lot of big names in it - including Prince Fielder - and this article says the Brewers will at least listen to offers for him
*After saying that it would be too awkward to be a part of the Brewers coaching staff now, Dale Sveum has backpedaled a little and now could be a part of the Crew next season.
*Hardball Times looks at Sheets' elbow injury and says that once it's rested, he should be fine (and I say "as long as he's fine for some other team")
*In-Between Hops was on the Ken Macha storyline as soon as it was obvious we would be looking at managers other than Svuem. They found the website firemach.blogspot.com and highlighted these quotes to make a comparison that many Brewers fans would find troubling:
"Because he released Sveum, it's obvious that Doug Melvin has another candidate in mind. If I had to guess, I would say that would be Ken Macha. Macha is the guy that Doug Melvin wanted in 2003 before he took the A's job. His teams averaged 91 wins a season during his four years at the helm. His failure to win in the playoffs did him in. I ran across this blog: www.firemach.blogspot.com.
"As usual, you left in the starters just long enough to give up enough runs to lose."Deja vu?"
"...you won't sit Kendall because he might get upset."
"This team could do nothing else in the offseason and win at least five more games next year just because you're not asleep in the goddamn dugout."
*This NY Times writer thinks the CC trade lived up to its hype, and more
*The Brewers hope to retain the services of pitching coach Mike Maddux, but the Dallas Morning News has been talking about reforming the Rangers staff and have mentioned more than once that they're waiting for permission to talk to Maddux.
*Beyond the Box Score is making their lists of the best players at each position
This link takes you to 1B, but the others that have been done so far are linked right at the top.
Prince at #13
Rickie at #14/Ray Durham at #20
Mike Cameron at #12
*FanGraphs says there are a lot of CF free agents out there and topping the list is Mike Cameron. Others are Jim Edmonds, Mark Kotsay, Corey Patterson and Scott Podesednik.
*From Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy's mailbag:
I realize that CC Sabathia will be tough to sign, but is it really that out of the question? Small market or not, three million fans is still three million fans. Also, imagine the bump in season ticket sales if the Brewers did sign CC. I guess I don't understand the "no way" stance taken by some so-called experts on the CC contract. Three million fans beg to differ.
-- Ben, Oconto Falls, Wis.
I once heard a statistic that teams paying a certain percentage to one or two players never made the World Series. I'm assuming if the Brewers signed CC, the percent would be close to 20 percent of the team salary. I would think that stat would tell GM Doug Melvin to say forget him.
-- Jake A., Madison, Wis.
Ben is right in that Brewers fans showed in record-setting fashion they will pack Miller Park to support a winning team, but Jake is just as correct in pointing out that there is a danger in putting too many dollars in one basket. This is essentially the dilemma facing the Brewers and other mid-payroll teams as they look at the free agent market.
According to someone familiar with the Brewers' front-office strategy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, a team generally wants its top-salaried player to account for no more than 15 percent of the total payroll, and the top three players to account for no more than 25 percent. Obviously, this is only a guideline; special players could prompt a team to bend the rules. Teams with a disproportionate number of so-called zero-to-three-year players making the league minimum or close to it may also be tempted. The Blue Jays, for example, signed Roy Halladay to a long-term contract that actually decreased in annual value from 2007 to 2008 and now will jump up again, because it fit the rest of their payroll puzzle.
So let's look specifically at Sabathia, who was flat-out fabulous for Milwaukee over the second half of 2008. For argument's sake, let's say he gets a contract identical to the Mets' Johan Santana's: six years, $137.5 million, an average of just over $23 million per season, and about $17 million in the first season. If the Brewers' payroll remains in the neighborhood of $90 million in 2009, Sabathia's $17 million would account for just short of 19 percent of the total. The payroll would need to jump to $114 million for a $19 million player to fall under the 15 percent threshold. By the way, the Mets' Opening Day payroll this season was about $137 million.
The Brewers would probably have to decline center fielder Mike Cameron's $10 million option to afford Sabathia, and again for the sake of argument, let's say they do that. That would leave Jeff Suppan ($12.5 million) and Bill Hall ($6.8 million) as the second- and third-highest paid players on the team, unless first baseman Prince Fielder wins more than $6.8 million in arbitration (a very real possibility). If the top three are Sabathia, Suppan and Hall, the trio would account for about $36.3 million, or 40 percent of a $90 million payroll. For that threesome to fall under the 25 percent threshold, the Brewers' 2009 payroll would have to jump to $146 million.
The next question becomes, Would Sabathia take fewer dollars to stay in Milwaukee because he enjoyed the team and the city, and because the relatively young Brewers are poised to be competitive for the next few years? That type of sentiment always sounds good in September and October, but come November and December, players are under extreme pressure to get the richest deal possible, because it affects not only them and their families, but all of the free agents to follow.
If money were no object, the Brewers would have already handed Sabathia a blank check. But unless the team somehow negotiates a new television deal that pays like Miller Park is in Chicago, it becomes difficult to fit a player like Sabathia onto a realistic Brewers roster.* A Seattle paper is reporting that they think Macha's the frontrunner here, but that they'd be awfully interested in him as their manager if he somehow slips on down.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Midnight Madness was this week and there's video of the whole thing here. Check out the new introduction video, plus the Women's team doing thriller and the dunk competition winner.
Former Golden Eagle Trevor Mbakwe, who's abrupt departure from MU was never really explained, will play this season at a community college in the Miami area and has verbally committed to play for Tubby Smith at Minnesota next season. Strange story...
At Big East media days, Jerel McNeal was named first team pre-season all conference and Dominic James was named to the second team.
JS MU beat writer Todd Rosiak has an interview with new coach Buzz Williams in NYC at media days.
...and Jerel McNeal
Quotes from MU's own media day a few weeks ago
Here's the Bleacher Report's Big East preview in which Buzz Williams is named preseason Coach of the Year
FoxSports.com says we're more than set in the guard department, but our front could be a problem. They have us at 18 in the nation.
Also, I just bookmarked the MUTV sports blog. Check it out here. There are interviews with various teams and players, including one with Lazar Hayward and one with Maurice Aker. Seems like it will be worth checking in on to get some more "inside" MU info.
*The Bleacher Report has their MU preview up. It notes the loss of Crean and some recruits and how that might effect the program long term, but says things look pretty solid for now.
They also note that while everyone's talking about James and McNeal, Matthews looks to be ready for a breakout season. Notes that Joseph Fulce is a big pick up and that the issue this season is same as last - how to handle the Luke Harangody's of the world.
*Also, Dick Vitale's got a whole column up at ESPN.com about MU that starts like this:
One of the toughest jobs in America is coaching in Milwaukee, Wisc. No, my friends, I am not talking about the Bucks or the Brewers, but the University of Marquette.Think about it. Yes, there is a buzz on the campus, but new coach Buzz Williams has some mighty big shoes to fill. There will be pressure galore because of the popularity of Tom Crean.
Of course, he called it "The University of Marquette" so maybe his words should be taken with a grain of salt...
* There's a new D. Wade converse commercial and, as always, Converse and Wade rep for Marquette:
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a C.C. Sabathia rumor:
The figure I’m hearing that Milwaukee might offer C.C. $100 million for four years. They’re hoping that by going with fewer years and more per year, they can keep him. He’s indicated to friends a serious interest in staying there, he liked it so much. The Brewers might help their chances of signing him if they pick up the option on Mike Cameron, who’s a good friend of CC’s.
With Cameron, the Brewers figure to have over $70MM committed (not including Chris Capuano). It's hard to see the Brewers backloading an already huge $25MM salary to Sabathia, so they'd probably have to take payroll to the mid $90MM range to fit him in. Keeping Cameron and Sabathia would seem to limit roster construction - it could necessitate a Prince Fielder or J.J. Hardy trade, or leave little money for third base or the bullpen.
Rumors include that he has had 2 phone calls with Melvin since his interview.
Multiple sources are reporting that Macha may be the man.
Of course, over the weekend Willie Randolph reportedly turned down the Nationals' managerial position, presumably in anticipation of being offered the Brewers job. Whether that's wishful thinking on his part, we'll soon find out.
In other managerial news, Jack Z had his introductory news conference and mentioned two names as possible managerial candidates for Seattle: Jim Riggleman, who now works for the Nationals, and none other than Ned Yost.
Maybe it's a good thing Jack Z left when he did....
Willie Randolph interviewed for the Brewers job a few days ago, and said that Zduriencik was the one asking him all the questions. (Apparently Willie and Melvin are good friends, so Doug didn't need to ask much.) He was joking that he's the only person to interview for 2 jobs at the same time.
Friday, October 24, 2008
My day as Jerry Springer's security guard
Some of you have asked what we do away from the rink. I wanted to share something with you guys that I was lucky enough to do this week. On Tuesday I was a guest security guard on the Jerry Springer Show.
It was my job to be on stage and break up the fights. For those of you that watch the show and wonder if the fights are real, I can promise you that they are. I had to do some real work to break up some of those. However, it was nice to be on the other side for once and not have to worry about somebody trying to punch me in the face, or trying to punch somebody else in the face!
I did gain some respect for the refs in our games, and realized how hard it is to break up a fight. I will tell you though the hardest fights to break up were not the guys but the girls. Not only did I try and be careful where I put my hands while separating them, but what are you supposed to do when the girls start pulling each others hair? I have to admit I was a bit lost when that happened.
Two girls started slapping each other as hard as they could and when I got in the middle to break it up they each grabbed a hold of each other's hair. So I did what made sense, grabbed their hands and tried to pull their hands off the others hair. However, when I finally pulled one of the girl's hands away she didn't let go and pulled the others wig right off her head and then threw it into the crowd. I felt a little responsible for that one!
Overall the show was such a blast to be a part off. I was pleasantly surprised as to how many Blackhawks fans were in the audience. When I got on stage they started chanting things like, "We love hockey fights," and "Detroit Sucks!"
Jerry Springer was a tremendously nice man, and although he grew up a Rangers fan, he promised me he would cheer for the Blackhawks this year. It was a pretty wild experience and I can't wait to get a chance to do it again.
A special thanks to Officer Pete Kelly, the head security guard on the show, who invited me to come on. Talk to you soon!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Brewers lefthander carried team to the playoffs
October 22, 2008
DURHAM, N.C.—Lefthander C.C. Sabathia, who led the Milwaukee Brewers to the postseason for the first time since 1982 after a midseason trade, is Baseball America's 2008 Major League Player of the Year, as selected by the magazine's staff.
|2007||Alex Rodriguez, 3b, Yankees|
|2006||Johan Santana, lhp, Twins|
|2005||Albert Pujols, 1b, Cardinals|
|2004||Barry Bonds, lf, Giants|
|2003||Barry Bonds, lf, Giants|
|2002||Alex Rodriguez, ss, Rangers|
|2001||Barry Bonds, lf, Giants|
|2000||Alex Rodriguez, ss, Rangers|
|1999||Pedro Martinez, rhp, Red Sox|
|1998||Mark McGwire, 1b, Cardinals|
Sabathia won the American League Cy Young Award while with the Indians in 2007 but arguably had a better year in 2008, when he led the majors with 35 starts, 10 complete games, five shutouts and 253 innings pitched while ranking second in strikeouts (251) and fourth among qualified starting pitchers in ERA (2.70). Eleven of his 17 victories came after his July trade to the Brewers, and he dominated the National League, going 11-2, 1.65 with seven CGs in 17 starts.
More than any pitcher in recent memory, Sabathia carried his team on his back, making his last three starts on three days' rest. The Brewers split the first two games before Sabathia threw a complete-game four-hitter to beat the Cubs in Game 162. Coupled with a Mets loss, the victory gave the Brewers the National League's wild-card berth.
"It's probably the greatest two-and-a-half month performance you've ever seen from a professional athlete, in any sport," interim manager Dale Sveum said in the wake of Sabathia's performance.
Sabathia was the Indians' first-round pick (20th overall) in the 1998 draft out of Vallejo (Calif.) High. He made his big league debut in 2001 and has compiled a career record of 117-73, 3.66 in 254 starts.
Baseball America magazine, based in Durham, N.C., has presented a Major League Player of the Year award since 1998.
Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and President Chuck Armstrong announced today that Jack Zduriencik (zur-EN-sik) has been named the Mariners new Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations.
More from the press release…
“Today is a very exciting day for the Mariners,” Armstrong said. “We have spent the past several months looking at a very complete list of potential candidates to become our new General Manager. The individuals we interviewed for the position were excellent. We believe Jack is the best person to provide a new approach and to lead our baseball operations. He has a proven track record of recognizing talent, both on the field and in the front office.”
”Jack is extremely well-respected throughout baseball,” Lincoln said. “His track record in recognizing and developing young talent in Milwaukee was instrumental in the Brewers steady improvement over the past several seasons. I am very excited about the passion and leadership he will bring to our organization.
Zduriencik, 57 (born January 11, 1951), becomes the eighth full time General Manager in Mariners history. He spent the past nine seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was promoted to VicePresident - Special Assistant to the G.M. for Player Personnel on Jan. 15, 2008. He spent the previous two years (2006-2007) as Special Assistant to the G.M./Director of Amateur Scouting after being hired by the Brewers as Director of Scouting on Oct. 25, 1999.
Following the 2007 season, Zduriencik was named Executive of the Year by Baseball America, becoming the first non-GM to ever win the award.
”I am very excited by this opportunity,” Zduriencik said. “Seattle is an outstanding organization with great fans, a great ballpark and an ownership group committed to the goal of bringing a World Series to the Northwest. I believe that working together, we can make the Mariners a model franchise. I am looking forward to getting to work immediately, and developing a plan to reach our goal.”
A 25-year veteran in Major League Baseball, Zduriencik worked with four MLB organizations prior to joining the Mariners. In addition to the Brewers, Zduriencik was Director of International Scouting & Special Assistant to the GM for the LA Dodgers in 1999. Zduriencik spent two stints with the New York Mets, beginning his career in New York as an area scout (1983-89), scouting crosschecker (1990, 1994-95), Minor League Operations Director (1996-97) and Special Assistant to the GM (1998). He also worked as the Mets Advance Scout during its playoff runs in 1986 and 1988. Between stints in New York, Zduriencik was Director of Scouting for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1991-93.
Monday, October 20, 2008
1. Bob Brenly
2. Ken Macha
4. Willie Randolph
5. Jim Tracy
and also mentions Bobby Valentine and Jerry Narron
Here's the official site's take on Doug Melvin's search now that he got an extension
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sveum: "My heart was ripped out"
By Tom Haudricourt
Friday, Oct 17 2008, 08:45 PM
St. Petersburg, Fla. - I just spoke with Dale Sveum, and to say the least, he was devastated when given the news by general manager Doug Melvin that he won't be the Brewers' manager in 2009 and beyond.
Sveum, who served as the interim manager for the final 12 games as well as the NLDS against Philly after Ned Yost was fired, was told he no longer was under consideration for the job.
"My heart was ripped out of my chest," said Sveum. "I was shocked.
"I thanked him for the opportunity. Now, I'm in a tough situation. I'm out of a job. The most disappointing part of it all is that I'm no longer going to wear a Brewers uniform. That's the toughest part. I loved the Brewers and the organization."
Sveum said Melvin told him he decided to look for somebody with more experience. There's not much Sveum can do about that because he never managed in the big leagues until those final 12 games with the Brewers.
"I just wish there wasn't so much emphasis put on veteran managers," said Sveum. "I'll match my knowledge of baseball and my ability to slow the game down with anybody."
The Brewers left the door open for Sveum to remain on the coaching staff but he said that would be too awkward to happen.
"The odds are against it," he said. "Nothing is etched in stone but over the course of baseball history, that doesn't happen very often."
The Brewers made two announcements Friday, one spelling good news for the general manager and the other signaling the end of a brief but memorable managerial effort.
The ballclub revealed that it has given a three-year contract extension to Doug Melvin, who will remain with the organization as executive vice president and general manager through the 2012 season.
The Brewers also made it known that Dale Sveum, who became interim manager of the team on Sept. 15 and led the Brewers to the National League Wild Card berth, will not be in the mix for the manager's job.
Under Sveum, the Brewers went 7-5 over the final 12 games of the regular season before falling to Philadelphia, 3-1, in the NL Division Series. Sveum previously served on the Brewers coaching staff as third-base coach (2006, '08) and bench coach (2007).
Sveum said he was surprised when told Friday afternoon that he would not be among the contenders for the club's managerial position.
"When you're thrown in the job and you get to the playoffs -- you do what you were asked to do ... Obviously, they want to find a more experienced manager," Sveum said.
"I was behind the 8-ball. The 16 days [I managed] don't measure up with guys with more experience, but I'll stake my 16 days up against anyone thrown into that situation. I was very confident in my ability to do this. It's something I've dreamed of, something I've prepared myself for. It was fun. I enjoyed the opportunity. I thank the Brewers for the opportunity they gave me."
Hiring a new manager will be one of the first tasks facing Melvin, who praised Sveum's contributions to the organization.
"Dale is a solid baseball man," Melvin said in a statement. "He is a loyal and hard-working individual who will get a high recommendation from me to our new manager to remain on the coaching staff. This decision allows us to widen our search to experienced managerial candidates."
Melvin recently completed his sixth season with the Brewers as the club reached the postseason for the first time since 1982.
"This season, we reached a significant milestone by advancing to the postseason, and this could not have been accomplished without the efforts of Doug Melvin and his staff," Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. "Since I first began working with Doug four years ago, one constant has been his unfailing leadership as we have worked toward building a consistently competitive team. He is one of the most respected individuals in the game, and we are proud to have him as a key member of the Milwaukee Brewers."
Melvin was named executive vice president and general manager of the Brewers on Sept. 26, 2002. He became the eighth general manager in franchise history. Under his leadership, the Brewers have produced consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1991 and 1992.
"I appreciate that Mark Attanasio and the ownership group have shown confidence in me in extending my contract," Melvin said in a statement. "It was the goal for me and my staff to change the culture and performance of the Brewers organization. Now I am energized to sustain the success for the city and the great fans that supported us through the rebuilding years. To show how I feel about the community, my family and I are donating $25,000 a year to charitable causes in the city of Milwaukee."
The Brewers also announced that hitting coach Jim Skaalen will not be offered a contract for 2009.
"We appreciate all the hard work and dedication that Jim brought to the organization," Melvin said. "Jim asked to remain with the Brewers, and we will explore every opportunity to grant this request."
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I have said as recently as Ned's firing in September that Jack Z is someone we should consider for GM - Doug Melvin has just one year left in his contract.
All signs point to the fact that the GM situation in Milwaukee will need to be figured out before the team can think about squaring away the Manager position.
Seattle might be pushing our hand.
Jack Z is one of the final four candidates up for the Mariners GM job.
The search for Seattle's GM has made headlines, not just because it's about the only search publicly going on right now, but also because Kim Ng is up for the job. She's currently the Dodgers' Assistant GM and she's the first woman to be considered for a GM position (she interviewed for the Dodgers position in 2005.)
There are things for and against Jack Z in terms of the Seattle job. They've got a few big contracts and pretty much no farm system. If ever there were a guy I'd want rebuilding my minor league system, it would be Jack Z.
However, he's significantly older than the other candidates that have made it to the final round of interviewing (He's 57, making him 10 years older than LaCava, 17 years older than DiPoto and 18 years the senior of Ng). Seattle's looking for a long term solution and may see Jack Z's age as a deteriment.
He's said previously that he ultimately wants to be a GM. As a fan, it would be a shame for the Brewers to lose someone as talented as Jack Z. He was named Major League Baseball's Executive of the Year last year. He's the first non-general manager to ever receive the award since it was instituted in 1998. He's a wiz at drafting young talent.
During his time here, the Brewers have drafted Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, Tony Gwynn, Jr, Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra.
The story isn't as innocuous as "Oh, we might lose our scouting and drafting wiz."
Seattle's decision now becomes ours and means that we have to move sooner rather than later. This forces Mark A to decide whether he wants Doug Melvin or Jack Z running this franchise for the forseeable future.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is the RealGM Packers team page and if you bookmark that and go back 2x a week you'll find a column on Monday or Tuesday recapping some portion of the previous weekend's game and Thursday or so you'll find a preview of the upcoming weekend's game.
So far, so good - I'm pretty proud of the stuff I've written. Go check it out.
Here's the columns so far:
O-Line Dilemmas could define season
Falcons game preview
Giving Rodgers better tools
Packers Miss Opportunity To Improve With Gonzalez
Tampa game preview
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
My sister said she was emailed this from a friend in Los Angeles. I've googled it and wikipedia'd it and found nothing that far in advance. I'm going to copy and paste this though. It is pretty funny either way.
CHUCK VERSUS THE ALL AMERICANS EPISODE 211
LAUREN CONRAD ("THE HILLS"), JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS ("HOME IMPROVEMENT"), JJ HARDY ("MILWAUKEE BREWERS") GUEST STARS- As the wedding of Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) gets closer Awesome's family comes to town to celebrate and Chuck (Zachary Levi) is put onto high notice when he flashes on Awesome's brother Kenny Woodcomb's (guest star Jonathan Taylor Thomas) watch. Ellie becomes self-conscience and emotional when Awesome's sister Jordan's (guest star Lauren Conrad) new boyfriend, baseball hunk Rock Kassin (guest star JJ Hardy) arrives. Chuck, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), and Casey (Adam Baldwin) are forced to go into action at Rock's charity event to find out the connections between Kenny and Latin insurgents. All are shocked when it turns out to be much more then they originally thought.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Aaron Rodgers is gritty: "Aaron Rodgers turned his sprained shoulder into a lesson for any Packers who may still be missing his predecessor. The first-year starter is showing grit and leadership that would make Brett Favre proud."
Badger men's hockey opened the season Friday just barely being edged out by defending national champions and current #1 Boston College
The next night, they got beat up on by #5 University of New Hampshire
Badger women's hockey started out the season on better footing, sweeping Ohio State with a 7-4 win on Friday and a 4-0 shutout on Saturday
The Bucks lost two preseason games this weekend, the first a 105-79 loss to the Mavericks in LaCrosse, the second a 111-89 loss to the Pistons at the Bradley Center Saturday night.
The team heads to China today for a couple of preseason games there, starting Wednesday.
The Badgers proved they were extremely overrated this season, got embarrassed at home by Penn State 48-7
Text doesn't appear to be anywhere online, but I'll type it up when I'm at home tonight.
Just one more move by our owner that, as a fan, you have to like.
Edit: It's up on Brewers.com.
Here's the text:
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Dear Brewers Fans:
We did it! After an absence of 26 years, the Milwaukee Brewers joined the elite group of eight Major League Baseball teams that qualified for the postseason playoffs. This was the ultimate team effort, involving the 44 players who were on our roster during the 2008 season; the General Manager and his staff who assembled those players; the Managers and coaches who guided those players; the front-office executives and staff who made everything work from behind the scenes; and, of course, our sponsors, marketing partners, and the three million of you who came through the turnstiles in record numbers to support our Brewers through the final innings of Game 162 of the regular season and Games Three and Four of the National League Division Series (NLDS). We were the National League Wild Card, and we had a wild ride, indeed.
When I reflect on this past season, I think about the many electrifying moments that contributed to our success, and about how this year's team added to the long legacy of Milwaukee baseball. In just the last week of the season, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun hit walk-off home runs, and CC Sabathia started three games on only three days' rest over nine days. The night before our final regular season game versus the Cubs, a team executive sent me an email stating, "I think back to my childhood, playing Wiffle ball with my dad, and I always dreamed of my favorite team collecting a dramatic hit to propel it to the playoffs. We may be witness to history tomorrow.... The whole sports world will have its eyes on the Milwaukee Brewers, and I believe we will deliver." When we were behind the Cubs 1-0 in the sixth inning and the Mets had just tied their game 2-2 against the Marlins, I recalled that email and felt a sense of comfort. His prophecy soon came true as Ryan Braun hit a dramatic eighth-inning home run, and CC Sabathia pitched a complete game four-hitter to lead us to a 3-1 victory. Some 40,000 of you then watched the last six outs of the Mets-Marlins game on the Miller Park scoreboard. It's hard to recall a moment in any baseball game when players and fans shared the tension — pitch by pitch, out by out — of the final steps of a successful playoff quest. A wild celebration ensued, including champagne being sprayed on the fans standing behind our first base dugout.
The emotion of reaching the playoffs continued to be felt at the rally the next day, as upwards of 15,000 of you gathered around the Miller Lite stage at the Summerfest grounds to support our team and send us to Philadelphia. Although many of our players had not yet been born in 1982 — the last time the Brewers played in the postseason — they all could relate to your joy and excitement about reaching the playoffs. Salomon Torres summed up the feelings of a generation of Brewers fans best when he addressed the crowd, saying, "Twenty-six years. You've been waiting 26 years! Well, you will wait no more!"
We ran into a strong Philadelphia Phillies team in the NLDS, but I was left with vivid memories nonetheless. At 6:00 on the evening before our first home playoff game, I walked around a quiet Miller Park. Batting practice had finished, and I wanted a few minutes to enjoy the serenity of our beautiful ballpark. I felt great pride at seeing the MLB-NLDS logos in banners around the stadium; "Postseason 2008" billboards; and the red, white, and blue bunting strung around the stadium. The next day, the roar of the standing-room-only crowd and the white rally towels waving everywhere reflected your exhilaration at participating in our version of "OctoberFest" — October baseball in Milwaukee. As J.J. Hardy collected three hits, Dave Bush stifled his favorite team from his childhood for five and a third innings, and our bullpen held the Phillies scoreless the rest of the way. We added a playoff victory to the special memories of this special season. And while Sunday's Game Four proved to be a disappointment, it perhaps provided the most vivid memory of all: With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, down by four runs, some 44,000 of you were standing, banging your thundersticks together, supporting our team to the very end and beyond, chanting, "Let's go, Brewers!" even after the final out. I was not surprised to receive many compliments from other team owners, baseball officials, and members of the national press, who had not been familiar with our team, our fans, or our city, about how impressed they were by the intensity of your enthusiasm and loyalty.
While our players have justifiable pride in creating their own tradition and legacy of winning, they and everyone associated with the Brewers have genuine pride in being able to connect the past winners with the present. Last weekend, we had three prime examples of "standing on the shoulders of giants": Robin Yount served as our bench coach down the stretch and through the playoffs; Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker, threw the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday; and Commissioner Bud Selig, without whom there would not be Major League Baseball in Milwaukee, threw the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday.
As many of you know, I work in the investment field, and I can't help identifying some measuring facts in this end-of-season letter. A record 3,068,458 of you passed through the turnstiles this season. Of 81 home games, 44 were sold out (including 22 in a row), ranking us ninth in all of MLB in attendance. More fans came to see the Brewers than went to games in Boston, in San Francisco, or on the South Side of Chicago to see the White Sox. Your support has helped translate into the most home wins for any National League club over the past four years. Millions watched our telecasts, listened to us on the radio, or followed us on the Internet. Specifically, on FSN Wisconsin, the Brewers were the top-rated prime time show 44 times out of 80 nights this season. These ratings place us in the top-tier of all clubs, and the number of Internet pages viewed on brewers.com also place us eighth among MLB teams. Clearly, the Brewers transcended Wisconsin and garnered a significant amount of national interest. You again helped send a sizable contingent of Brewers to the All-Star Game — Ben Sheets, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart — all of whom were drafted and developed through our Minor League system. We are fortunate that this year, Ryan Braun — the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year — has committed to be a Brewer through 2015.
We also are fortunate to call Miller Park our home field, as fine a stadium as any venue in sports. We are committed to refreshing the ballpark continually as a way of demonstrating our thanks to you and Wisconsin for standing behind the team in building the ballpark at a time when — like now — there was significant economic uncertainty. The courageous decision to build Miller Park ensured that Major League Baseball will remain in Milwaukee. Today, it provides us with a facility that has supported the Club's rise in the standings and, according to surveys, gives Milwaukee fans one of the best values in all of professional sports.
This letter would not be complete without special thanks to Doug Melvin, our talented and tireless General Manager, who was the architect of this team that won 90 regular season games this season. Doug took over a team that had only 56 wins in 2002, and it has steadily improved under his direction and leadership, as well as from the hard work of his staff, which includes Assistant General Manager Gord Ash and Special Assistant to the GM for Player Personnel Jack Zduriencik. The improvement in our team's performance is also a reflection of the efforts of Ned Yost — who also worked diligently for the team since 2002 and led us to our first 83 wins this season — and Dale Sveum, who recorded the final eight wins.
Saturday's home NLDS win coincided with the fourth anniversary of my introduction as the new Principal Owner of the Brewers. In my first season-ending letter to you in 2005, I reserved my most heartfelt thanks for you — for welcoming my family and me to Milwaukee, encouraging my efforts to improve the team, and making home games such a thrilling experience. Three seasons later, my appreciation of you is even greater after sharing this extraordinary experience. You have my commitment to try to make achieving the postseason in 2008 a "first-in-a-lifetime" — not a "once-in-a-lifetime" — event as we seek ways to continue to deliver a winning team for the best fans anywhere.
Chairman and Principal Owner
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, not general manager Doug Melvin, is the one who made the call to can manager Ned Yost, multiple sources told SI.com
While the official word out of the Brewers camp was that the firing was a group effort with Melvin making the ultimate call, two people in the know contradicted those claims. They say Attanasio, a very astute and aggressive owner in his first years in Milwaukee, made the decision, then flew in to Chicago to meet first with Melvin, and then Melvin and Yost together.
After Attanasio told Melvin what he had decided, they both called Yost into the meeting and informed him of the decision. Attanasio did the right thing by telling Yost face-to-face.
While the timing of the firing was highly unusual, it was the right move. The Brewers had lost 11 of its last 14 games under Yost and appeared on its way to a second straight late-season collapse. Yost always seemed to be on edge or ready to explode, and perhaps his wasn't the right personality to lead such a young team.
The team needed a jolt and Yost didn't impress too many folks (beyond Melvin) that he was the man for the job. The Brewers lost their first game under new manager Dale Sveum (who's not exactly experienced himself -- three seasons managing at Class AA Altoona) and still has to play the Cubs, the best team in the National League, five more times.
But there's still a chance they could reach their first postseason since 1982, as the Mets are also threatening to choke for a second straight season and the Astros appear to have hit a wall after a nice run.
Melvin indicated that Yost was questioned in the meeting about what could be done to aid the floundering team. (Melvin said, in effect, that Yost didn't have the answers but that he isn't sure who would.) But Attanasio didn't fly to Chicago from out of town to conduct an interview. And Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was fired as soon as he entered the room, and that the questions came later.
The Brewers portrayed the firing as a group effort with GM Melvin getting the final call. That's no surprise at all, as teams love to portray the notion that the GM has all the power and that the owner is merely a benevolent caretaker or overseer. Teams must feel that if folks believe an owner is calling any shots, either it will be portrayed that the owner is over-involved or that the GM is milquetoast, or worse, toast.
One person close to Attanasio, while apparently trying to convince me that Attanasio had nothing to do with this decision, pointed out to me that Attanasio finished near the bottom in his fantasy league.
But hey, this isn't some fantasy, and it's OK. The owner is the one whose investment is on the line, and with a vast majority of teams the owner will occasionally step in when necessary. Attanasio obviously and understandably felt that this was one of those times.
Attanasio is believed to have left the replacement manager up to Melvin, and with his options few, he tabbed Sveum, the third base coach, whose promotion might shock baseball people in New York and Boston, where he served as a fine bullpen catcher and a shaky third base coach, respectively. Sveum was once named the best managerial prospect in the Eastern League. He is well-liked, but this isn't a personality contest; he's mostly in there because he isn't Yost.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, George Steinbrenner is the only other owner to have fired a manager still in playoff position late in a season; he canned Gene Michael after Michael led the Yankees to a first-half title in the two-part, strike-riddled 1981 season before the Yankees slumped in the second half. But this doesn't make Attanasio another Steinbrenner.
Yost actually should have been let go following last year's collapse, when the manager imploded along with his team, getting himself ejected three times in the final week of a season in which the Brewers blew an 8 1/2-game lead to the rival Cubs.
But Attanasio left that decision up to Melvin, and Melvin apparently liked his own choice of Yost. Melvin like Yost so much that he gave him a one-year extension. Oddly, that decision to extend Yost was kept secret for months after it was made, an indication that management didn't think it was anything to brag about.
While Attanasio made the call here, it shouldn't be assumed that Melvin's powers are diminished, or that his job is on the line. Melvin has taken advantage of Attanasio's small-market generosity (nearly $90 million is by far the most any small-market team is spending on players) and scouting director Jack Zduriencik's fine drafts to field a talented team. Melvin has made several good calls, including the one to retain Zduriencik after he replaced Dean Taylor as GM.
Melvin's made some excellent player moves, as well, including Salomon Torres, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall and Gabe Kapler. But Melvin's taste in players is sometimes better than his taste in underlings. (I am admittedly slightly biased on that score, as Melvin's main assistant is Gord Ash, who once, while trying to avoid being questioned by me when he was Blue Jays GM at the winter meetings, turned around to tell me, "I hate you. And I hate all New Yorkers.'' An aside: Ash might want to keep that opinion to himself now, as Attanasio is originally from the Bronx.)
As for Yost, he appeared way too up-tight for a tough job. When asked by a reporter in Philadelphia whether they were entering an "important'' series, Yost grew tense and raised his voice, according people who were there.
If Yost's fate had been left totally up to Melvin, Yost would still be managing the Brewers. And that would be a far riskier move. Milwaukee blew a four-game lead in the wild-card derby by losing four straight in Philadelphia and appeared to be in a straight nosedive.
Twelve games remained, and there was still a chance. Attanasio had to take his best shot.