Results tagged ‘ Ken Macha ’

Macha to return for 2010; two coaches let go

Brewers manager Ken Macha will return for 2010 but some of his coaches may not. 

Macha was formally asked to serve the second season of his two-year contract and the Brewers added a club option for 2011, general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday.

“I have confidence in him,” Melvin said.

Bench coach Willie Randolph and hitting coach Dale Sveum were also told they will be back for the second seasons of their two-year contracts and two other coaches — third base coach Brad Fischer and first base coach Ed Sedar — were extended contracts for 2010. 

Bullpen coach Stan Kyles and interim pitching coach Chris Bosio were not offered new contracts but they will be candidates for the open positions, according to Melvin. The Brewers entered Sunday with a 4.83 ERA, second-worst in the National League, and their 5.38 starters’ ERA was tied with Baltimore for worst in the Major Leagues.

“Our pitching has been our problem this year,” Melvin said. “I think we all can agree on that.”

The Brewers intend to hire a “world class pitching coach,” as principal owner Mark Attanasio put it last week, and former A’s and Mets guru Rick Peterson is one candidate but not the only one. 

Melvin is also considering adding an advance scout to the coaching staff for 2010. For the past several seasons, the team has relied on a video scouting system to prepare reports on opponents. Bosio and Kyles will also be candidates for that position.

The Brewers were 79-82 in Macha’s first season entering Sunday’s season finale against the Cardinals.

Still nothing official on Macha

Brewers manager Ken Macha had breakfast Saturday with general manager Doug Melvin, then mentioned 2010 in several different contexts during his daily reporters’ briefing without specifically confirming that he would be back. Melvin still wasn’t ready to make any sort of announcement about Macha’s future, he said through a club spokesperson. 

No Macha news today

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash re-joined the team on Friday on St. Louis, but Melvin said he didn’t plan to make any announcements about manager Ken Macha’s future until Saturday at the earliest.

“I’m not going to do anything today,” Melvin said.

Macha is under contract for 2010 and Melvin is expected to ask him back. What’s unclear is whether Melvin will be willing to tack anything onto the deal, be it a club option for 2011 or more guaranteed years. Macha expected to sit down with Melvin following Friday’s game.

“I’ll let him be the spokesman,” Macha said.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio arrived at Busch Stadium with Melvin and Ash about an hour before the start of the season’s final series to address the team.

Report: Brewers mulling Peterson as pitching coach

200px-Rick_Peterson.jpgThe Brewers could hire Rick Peterson to be their pitching coach for 2010, according to a report from FOXSports.com on Sunday.

Citing Major League sources, the report said Brewers officials have held internal discussions about Peterson but haven’t reached out to him. Brewers manager Ken Macha worked alongside Peterson in Oakland, and bench coach Willie Randolph managed the Mets for three seasons with Peterson as his pitching coach.

When Macha took over as Brewers manager last fall, he was encouraged to keep as many coaches as possible from the previous season and promoted longtime Brewers bullpen coach Bill Castro to the pitching coach post to replace Mike Maddux, who departed for Texas. Castro was dismissed on Aug. 12 and replaced on an interim basis by Triple-A pitching coach and former Brewer Chris Bosio.

Bosio is presumably a candidate for the full-time job next season but Macha may want to being in his own man, assuming he’s back as manager.

Including Dave Bush’s loss to the Phillies on Sunday, Brewers pitchers have a 4.75 ERA this season, next to last in the National League.

Macha 'comfortable' he'll return in '10

kinhf9Zy.jpgManager Ken Macha’s contractual status never came up during his two-hour meeting with general manager Doug Melvin earlier this week, but Macha said Saturday that he expects to be back to serve the second season of his two-year contract.

“Yeah,” Macha said. “[But] stranger things have happened. I just want what’s best for the club.”

Melvin met individually with Macha and each of the Brewers’ coaches, an annual part of his evaluation of the team. After winning the National League Wild Card under interim manager Dale Sveum last season, the Brewers were eliminated from postseason contention this year with 11 games to play.  

The club’s performance has sparked a discussion of Macha’s job security, though Melvin has made mostly supportive comments. Earlier this week, Melvin wouldn’t rule out making a decision about Macha’s future before the team’s Oct. 4 season finale.

During their evaluation, Melvin sought Macha’s input on building the team for 2010. The fact he’s entering the final year of a contract was not brought up.

“We had a sit-down the other day, and it wasn’t even discussed, Macha said. “We talked about a whole bunch of stuff that we would like to address next year, so, yeah, if that bodes well, that’s it. … With all the conversations I’ve had with Doug, I feel comfortable.”

Here’s another clue that could bode well: Macha spent part of this week looking at apartments for next 2010.

“If I’m the guy next year I’ll certainly be doing my best to win as many games as we can,” he said. “I think that was our focus as the year went on this year.”

Fielder's Little League lesson

News flash: Prince Fielder doesn’t like to sit on the bench. On Thursday, he explained why.

Fielder hasn’t missed a single game this season, making him the Major League leader with 153 games played, and leaving him as the only player in baseball with a chance to appear in all of his team’s regular-season contests. Fielder, in fact, has started all 153, batting cleanup and playing first base.

prince fielder.jpgIt’s no accident. Fielder recalled coming out of a Little League game when he was 12 years old, after fouling a pitch off his foot.

“I came out of the game, and I remember someone being [upset]. They were like, ‘I think you’re all right,'” Fielder said. “That made me feel bad. I didn’t like the way I felt. So from then on, I wanted to play every day.

“I just felt soft. I didn’t like it. If I’m hurt, it’s one thing, but if I can play I want to play.”

Fielder wouldn’t say who that “someone” was.

He has fought through aches and pains this season, but never came close to asking for a day off. Manager Ken Macha never considered giving him one.

“Not even close,” Macha said.

Three Brewers have started all 162 games in the franchise’s 41-season history: Richie Sexson (2003), Robin Yount (1988) and Gorman Thomas (1980). Only Sexson, a first baseman, didn’t make at least one of those starts as the designated hitter. Sexson’s season was especially impressive, considering that he hit 45 homers, drove in 124 runs and played every inning of every game. Fielder was on pace to match that feat until Aug. 12, when he was replaced by a pinch-runner in a loss to the Padres.

Carlos Lee also played in all 162 games for the Brewers in 2005, but he came off the bench one time. Yount started every Brewers game in 1976, but the Brewers lost one game to a rainout that wasn’t rescheduled, and he played only 161 games. 

Melvin's staff evaluations complete

136151_ken_macha__doug_melvin.jpgBrewers general manager Doug Melvin has already wrapped up his annual end-of-season evaluations of the team’s manager and coaches, and wouldn’t rule out making a decision about manager Ken Macha’s future before the Oct. 4 season finale.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Melvin said. “I really haven’t.”

Melvin and Macha met for about two hours at Miller Park this week to analyze the season. That’s standard operating procedure for Melvin, who meets with members of the coaching staff each year to evaluate players and the individual staff member’s own performance.

Macha is finishing the first year of a two-year contract that he signed last October without using an agent. The topic of an extension never came up during his long meeting with Melvin, but neither did the prospect of making a change.

Entering their four-game series against the Phillies, the Brewers were 75-77 and had been formally eliminated from postseason contention.

Melvin will visit the Brewers’ instructional league team early next week but will rejoin the Brewers for their season-ending series in St. Louis on Oct. 2-4.

It's official: Brewers are out

No one in a Brewers uniform had seriously discussed the postseason since the team’s trip to Pittsburgh from Aug. 17-19, when pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva said separately that the team still had a chance. The Brewers were nine games back in the National League Central entering that series, but all they needed was a history-making hot streak, like the Rockies put together in 2007 to charge into the postseason and ultimately to the World Series. 

Instead, the Pirates swept, and the fate that had loomed over the Brewers for weeks finally became reality late Tuesday night. Milwaukee won’t be repeating as a playoff team. 

The Brewers were officially eliminated about 90 minutes after their 7-2 loss to the Cubs at Miller Park, when the Rockies endured a four-run Padres ninth inning but closed out an 11-10 win in Denver. It left the Brewers 12 games back in the NL Wild Card race with only 11 games to play. 

“It’s a letdown, just because [last year] was so much fun,” said first baseman Prince Fielder, who is having one of the best seasons in Brewers history but would trade it for another postseason ticket. “It’s a good experience to feel what that feels like. It makes you, every year, want to go out and play hard.” 

Now they’ll be relegated to spoilers over the last days of the season. After finishing their series against the Cubs on Wednesday, the Brewers face a trio of contenders in the Phillies, Rockies and Cardinals to end the season. The Cardinals will likely have clinched the NL Central long before the Brewers get to St. Louis. 

“It’s unfortunate,” Fielder said. “All we can do is play the last games and see what happens. If we’re out of it, that’s fine, but we get paid to play hard. We’re going to do that, regardless.” 

The Brewers reported to Spring Training on the heels of their best season since losing Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. Bolstered down the stretch by sensational starter CC Sabathia, the Brewers won the NL Wild Card on the final day of the regular season before falling to the eventual World Champion Phillies in the Division Series. 

It was a significant step forward for the Brewers, especially since they returned all eight of their positional starters for 2009 and four of their five starting pitchers including Yovani Gallardo, who had missed almost all of 2008 with a knee injury.

Yet most of the focus was on two pitchers who left via free agency. The Brewers made an offer to Sabathia that would have more than doubled the richest contract in franchise history, but he instead took an even richer megadeal from the Yankees. Ben Sheets, the longest-tenured Brewer, was poised to sign with the Rangers when he failed a physical and needed surgery that would cost him the entire year.

Still, the Brewers thought they had enough, and as late as July 4 they led the NL Central. But midseason injuries to Dave Bush (triceps) and Jeff Suppan (rib cage) taxed the team’s pitching depth and sent them on a downward spiral. 

“We were depleted in the pitching for two months,” said first-year Brewers manager Ken Macha. “That kind of pushes you out of there.”
 
ap-cubs-brewers-baseballa(3).jpgBush, the pitcher of record in the Brewers’ only NLDS win last year, took the loss in Tuesday’s elimination game. He was tagged for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings in his shortest start this year.

“I can obviously speak for myself and for the team as a whole, it’s been disappointing,” Bush said. “We had hoped to be better this year. You don’t always know why it happens, but everybody in this room came into Spring Training confident that we had the team to be more successful than we’ve been.” 

It came down to the pitching. 

“Yeah,” Bush shrugged. “We definitely haven’t pitched as well as we wanted to. I remember saying back in the spring that instead of trying to make up for the guys that we lost, we all had to try to do a little bit better. No one in particular was going to have to be incredible. 

“It’s happened at times, but over the course of the season, speaking in particular for myself, it hasn’t been nearly as consistent as we need it to be. We started off well, and had some good stretches here and there, but we didn’t have nearly a good enough season.” 

The offense couldn’t overcome the team’s deficient pitching, and down years for shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Corey Hart didn’t help. The bright spot has been Fielder, who belted his 41st home run on Tuesday and was tied with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols for the NL RBI title. 

Fielder has already set franchise records for RBIs and walks, but he would rather be winning. 

“It’s all about winning,” Fielder said. “We’ll try as a team to figure out how we can get back to where we were. We have to finish the season strong and try to win as many games as we can. By the time the season’s over, we can at least go home with a good taste in our mouths.”

Gallardo anxious for "ace" role in 2010

After a fine finale to his 2009 season, Yovani Gallardo said he was looking forward to serving as the Brewers’ bona fide ace next season.

“I’ll be able to accept that role,” he said after pitching five innings of Milwaukee’s 6-0 win over the Astros on Sunday. “I go out there and give my team all I’ve got every start and I feel I
have that kind of stuff. Obviously, there’s little things I
need to work on, which will only make me better. To be in a role like
that at my age, it shows what the organization thinks of me.”

After a disappointing at Wrigley Field last week the Brewers granted him one more limited start, a move to protect the 23-year-old from a huge spike in workload this year. He delivered a quality finale, tossing five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, becoming the fourth pitcher in Brewers history to pass the 200-strikeout barrier.

Gallardo finished 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 30 starts and 185 2/3 innings.

“Going out there, I knew it was the last start and I was going to go at the most five innings,” Gallardo said. “It’s tough, but to end on a good note is always good. We got a win and I finished the year strong.”

Gallardo caught Astros pitcher Felipe Paulino looking at a fastball in the second inning for his third strikeout of the game and his 200th of the season. He struck out Michael Bourn for the second time to end the inning, and a sleepy crowd of 30,024 acknowledged Gallardo’s achievement when it appeared on the scoreboard. 

He finished the season with 204 strikeouts to join Ben Sheets (who set a franchise record with 264 strikeouts in 2004), Teddy Higuera (who notched a pair of 200-strikeout seasons) and Doug Davis as the only pitchers in club history to break 200. 

“It’s important to me,” Gallardo said. “I’m sure every guy in here has goals, whether that’s hitting .300 or getting 20 wins or 200 strikeouts. With not being able to pitch last year, being able to achieve [the strikeout milestone] is a big jump for me. Getting numbers like that, it helps you be more confident and prepared for next year.” 

Gallardo will remain with the team for the rest of the year to throw side sessions. Presumably, he’ll make his next “real” start for the Brewers when they open the 2010 season at home against Colorado. 

Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t think Gallardo was ready for the Opening Day honor earlier this year. Now, he thinks he’s ready for that step. 

“He’s done some very good things,” Macha said. “But there are some things that need to get worked out with him if he’s going to reach the potential that he does have. The stuff is there — he’s got No. 1 starter stuff — but the command is not always there, he struggles with his release point and he’s leading the league in walks.

“So there are things that can be ironed out. When your No. 1 starter walks out of that bullpen it’s kind of like guys take the rest of the day off. [Gallardo] is not there yet, but after missing almost all of last year, he’s thrown the ball very well.”

Macha on his contract: "Not worried about it"

337147_manager.jpgBrewers manager Ken Macha knew the questions about his job security were coming, and he answered them Tuesday with the same calm expression he’s worn on the bench throughout the team’s disappointing season.

Macha insisted that he’s not worried that he’s only under contract through next season, and called his first year working with Milwaukee’s tight-knit core of players, “a growing experience.” 

“I’m not worried about it at all,” Macha said of his contract situation. “My third year [as A's manager, in 2005] I went a whole season without another year on the other end. At one point, we were 15 games under .500 that year. … 

“I’ve got a contract for next season. That’s the way I look at it.”

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has said only that Macha, and the rest of the staff, will be evaluated after the season. 

Macha spoke before the second of four games at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, a matchup of underperforming clubs that continues Wednesday night. Both teams find themselves looking up at the St. Louis Cardinals, who bolstered their offense with the midseason addition of Matt Holliday and then ran away with the National League Central. 

For Macha, it’s meant his first non-contending September in 13 years as a manager or bench coach. Eight of those years were in Oakland, including four as skipper in which the A’s averaged 92 wins and twice went to the postseason. 

“I’ve got a little different animal here than I did in Oakland,” Macha said. “In Oakland, I had been there four years [before moving to the manager's seat] so all of the players kind of knew what to expect from me. This has been a little bit of a growing experience here as far as the relationship with the players.”

There have been trying moments on and off the field. On it, the Brewers lost leadoff man Rickie Weeks in early May just as it seemed he was finally tapping into his long-awaited potential. The Brewers’ starting rotation floundered after Dave Bush and then Jeff Suppan made extended trips to the disabled list, forcing the Brewers to dip to the bullpen and the Minor Leagues for help.

Off the field, Macha said he has tried to keep open lines of communication with players. That has presented its own challenges. 

“I think on any club you have one-third of [players] who really enjoy playing for you, another third just out there playing and then you’ve got another third that’s probably disappointed with playing time or how they’re being used or pitched or whatever,” Macha said. “That’s just how it is. This is professional baseball. They’re getting paid a lot of money to go out and perform, regardless of liking somebody or not liking somebody.”

Meanwhile, a manager who is new to an organization, “has a lot of learning to do as far as personalities. I’m still learning. These guys are a fairly tight-knit group. The players have come up together and everything and they’re used to their structure. Sometimes their structure is not exactly the structure that I’d use.”

Case in point: The running game. Players have grumbled openly to reporters about Macha putting the brakes on stolen base attempts this season, and Macha in turn has pointed out the instances in which runners have given away key outs. During the Brewers’ three-game series in Pittsburgh, for example, the Brewers made outs on the bases in the first inning of each game with Prince Fielder due to hit. The Brewers were swept by the Pirates.

When Macha installed a team-wide stop sign for the opener of a series in Washington, Fielder clubbed a first-inning home run. 

“It’s a growing thing,” Macha said. “I get to the stadium early. Today, I was here at 12:30 [for a 7 p.m. CT game]. The door is wide open. Anybody can come in. I’ve had one player in there about seven times this year.”
 
Macha did not name the player, but it’s clear that he has had a number of one-on-one talks with All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun. Braun was perturbed on Monday in Chicago and last week in Milwaukee when Macha left him out of the starting lineup. 

Fielder took advantage of the open door policy on July 18, when Braun was out of the lineup for a game against the Reds. Macha posted a lineup with Fielder in the three-hole, and Fielder told the skipper he would rather remain hitting cleanup. Macha agreed to make the change. 

“I want them to tell me what’s going on with them. I’m there to help them,” Macha said. “The last time I had a player in there, I explained to him that the coaching staff and the manager were all on your side. We want nothing but you guys to become excellent players and improve every day. We’re here to help you. …
 
“There’s always going to be some guys that don’t like the way you do it.” 

Macha told a story from the early years of his coaching career, in Montreal under onetime Brewers manager Buck Rodgers. The Expos had a disappointing season and Macha was surprised that Rodgers never closed the clubhouse doors for a good old fashioned rant. 

When he asked about it after the season, Rodgers explained that he would yell and scream over lack of effort, but not lack of results. The Expos were playing hard, Rodgers said, and that’s all he could ask for. 

“That’s a man right there, who can do that,” Macha said. “The losses ultimately come back to me.”

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