Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday that Brewers manager Ken Macha’s option for 2011 was declined. That’s just a kinder way of saying that Macha has been fired after what can only be described as two disappointing seasons following Milwaukee’s 2008 playoff appearance, its first in 26 years.
Analyzing managing from an outside perspective is impossibly difficult. The word “impossible” is not an exaggeration. Most bloggers and most typical fans have no clue whatsoever of what is going on in the clubhouse, and these interactions in the dugout and in the clubhouse are likely far more important than the meager impact of most strategy decisions the manager makes. Yes, some managers who have a terrible time managing a bullpen or call for a bunt every other pitch may be detrimental to the team even if they have the leadership qualities of George Washington, but in most cases, suboptimal strategies are relatively insignificant.
What really matters with Ken Macha is one thing: 157-167. That’s his record as Brewers manager. Five years ago, that would have been acceptable, but the Brewers have tasted success and at least have some of the pieces of a roster that should at least compete year in and year out.
According to this blog post from Anthony Witrado, Ken Macha had a disconnect with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and Macha has some relatively disparaging remarks inside for those two players. I have a hard time believing that would make the roughly 20 game difference that has kept the Brewers out of the playoffs, but it’s something to think about. Maybe. I don’t know.
That’s the key – we have no idea what’s going on in the clubhouse except for a few quotes that leak out into the media. Regardless, whether it was because of the record or the clear fan backlash against Macha (acting like the fans matter is fun!) or some other reason, the Brewers didn’t bring back Ken Macha.
So now, the Brewers begin looking for another figurehead that we can heap undeserved praise on in a winning season or make the goat in a losing one. Surely, people will already be calling for his head. My take? It’s frivolous enough for those of us on the outside to spend our time worrying about things that we at least have a chance at evaluating, like personnel moves or in-game strategy. To bother ourselves with managerial choices, something we know absolutely nothing about, is utter insanity.