Decision Time For Doug Melvin - and I'm Not Talking About Macha or Prince
After a difficult first two months of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers are still well within striking distance of the teams at the top of the National League, but they find themselves at a crossroads. Fans, media, and perhaps even the players are wondering what the "big move" will be to shake things up and set this team on track toward getting above .500 and playing meaningful baseball after the All-Star break.
The trendy topic of debate has been what to do with Manager Ken Macha. My answer to that question is to keep him right where he is. He still has respect in the clubhouse and has been consistently handcufed by inconsistent pitching.
The topic of debate should switch its focus to the players on the field. A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness have rendered the Brewers 25-man roster a shell of it's former self while names like Axford, Braddock and Estrada have stepped in and performed rather well.
At this juncture of the season...before Memorial Day and Flag Day (June 14th)...with the Brewers still in it, a couple "first step" decisions need to be made led by General Manager, Doug Melvin. It has nothing to do with the Manager, and nothing to do with trading Price Fielder. Rather, it has to do with cutting ties with what just isn't working anymore and moving in a different direction.
That means it's time to release Jeff Suppan and Claudio Vargas. Regardless of what they are owed, it's the responsibility of the General Manager to field the best team possible while never compromising the future integrity of the ball club. Sure, the Brewers may owe Suppan $12.5 million, but considering he's at the end of his contract, there is no reason to let him hang on the roster if he can't be relied on to work in close games. Neither Suppan or Vargas can be counted on, and their roster spots should be absorbed by guys who have a potential future with the team. There's no need to call out the stats of either player - they're not good and we all know it.
Melvin will perhaps be forced to make a team altering decision in the next several days. Chris Capuano and Kammeron Loe are both currently pitching at class AAA Nashville...and pitching quite well might I add. Both players have "out" clauses which come into play starting June 5th. At that time, if the players choose to exercise their out clause, the Brewers will have to either bring them up to the majors, or allow them to become free agents. It should be noted that the players can choose to opt out of the clause should they want to remain in the minor leagues, but let's get serious here - why would they?
Thus the decision: if Melvin decides to bring Capuano and Loe to the big leagues, what will be his counter move? The Brewers are incredibly thin with position players, and the work done by Estrada, Braddock and Axford has been nothing short of a positive spark that has fans feeling better about what lies ahead. Adding Capuano and Loe to the mix will preserve the bullpen depth while allowing Brewer fans to once again feel like consistently poor performances will not be tolerated.