I'm sure some of you are expecting me to gloat today about the firing of Brewers Manager Ned Yost. I'm not going to do that. Nobody should celebrate someone else losing a job. I think even the most ardent Ned-hater didn't really want him to fail--because that meant the team as a whole had to fail. I thought it was too late in the season for a change at the helm to actually work--because your only managerial options would come from the same coaching staff that didn't have the team ready play in any of these games in September. And that is what we are getting in interim Manager Dale Sveum.
I find it interesting that General Manager Doug Melvin admitted the Ned firing is an act of desperation--looking for something to shock the team back in to playing winning baseball. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by cutting Eric Gagne, or designating Rickie Weeks for re-assignment or announcing that Jeff Suppan will not start another game this year. I also get the feeling that the decision (or order) to let Ned go came right from owner Mark Attanasio--who has dumped a lot of money into a team that may be flushing it all down the toilet this month.
So what difference will Dale Sveum make on the final two weeks of the season? I guess we will find out tonight in Chicago. If Rickie Weeks swings at the first pitch he sees and pops out--then nothing is going to change. The same applies if Prince Fielder drops the first throw to first base that comes in below his knees--or if Mike Cameron strikes out three times or if Jason Kendall grounds into a pair of double plays with men in scoring position and one out.
The one good thing about this week's decision is that it finally sends a message to the young stars on this team that losing will not be tolerated in any way. Gone are the days of "we competed hard and things just didn't go our way tonight"--or celebraing a winning record like its just as good as a playoff berth.
I still don't think the Brewers recover to make the playoffs. The fatal flaws in personnel are still there--and can't be addressed until the off-season. They would include: finding a leadoff man who can get on base consistantly, a better grasp of the fundamentals like catching the ball, throwing the ball on target and not running into outs on the basepaths. A pitching coach that teaches pitchers to pound the strike zone instead of trying to nibble around the corners until you fall behind in the count and have to lay one down the middle that average hitters club 500-feet for game-changing home runs. A lights out closer and some reliable set-up men would also go along way toward fixing this year's problems.
There may not be hope for this year--but 2009 at Miller Park is already looking brighter.