Ladies And Gentleman, Introducing Your Last Place Milwaukee Brewers
Here's the guessing game for today: If the Brewers lose 4 of their next 7 road games, will Ned Yost still be managing the Milwaukee Brewers when they limp back to town a week from Tuesday? If the answer is "yes", the follow-up question is: Has Brewers principal owner and team chairman Mark Attanasio lost his mind?
After being swept by Boston, the Brewers are in last place in the National League Central Division. Last place!
On May 9, 2007, the Brewers were 24 and 10. They finished the season by going 59 and 69. They are 20 and 24 this season. This translates into a 79 - 93 record over the last 172 games.
Do the math. Despite hopes and dreams to the contrary, this team is not playing very well. They might not be Davey Lopes 106 losses 2002 bad - but the truth is that they are not very good.
It's unfair to place all the blame for the team's underperformance on Ned Yost. He's not the guy booting routine groundballs to third or striking out on balls in the dirt with runners on second and third and no outs. At the same time, he IS the guy who stubbornly insists on batting a .180 hitter in the leadoff position, batting the pitcher in the eighth spot, leaving pitchers in the game after they've clearly lost it, etc., etc. , etc.
It now appears that he's losing the team as well. After losing their ninth straight road game, emerging team leader Ryan Braun says that the team "didn't expect to win" in Boston. While this doesn't say much for the team - it says even less for the coaching staff.
To me, the biggest indicator that Yost should have been replaced a long time ago is the pathetic record this team has had on the road for years. In 2006, the Brewers were 75 and 87. At home, they were an outstanding 48 and 33. On the road, they were an appalling 27 and 54. In 2007, the Brewers were 83 and 79. Again, they were an outstanding 51 and 30 at home but a pathetic 32 and 49 on the road.
If they had simply been a bad road team last year as opposed to a horrible one, they would have made the playoffs. And I can't help but believe that the awful road record has something to do with the way the coaches prepare the team for games.
This year, the Brewers are 11 and 9 at home and 9 and 15 on the road (including a 9 game losing streak). The only thing that differentiates the 2008 Brewers from the last two editions is that this team doesn't seem to be able to win at home too much either.
Regardless, one of two things is going on this year. Either the team itself is nowhere near as good as everyone was led to believe - or the coaching staff is not able to get the best out of the players. Since you can't fire the team, it seems to me that Yost has to be toast.
Unfortunately, this should have happened after last year's collapse. That would have been the time to bring in a manager with playoff experience and the background to take this team to the next level. Firing Yost now probably means turning the team over to one of the coaches on an interim basis - which means another lost season one way or another.
I really hope I'm wrong about this one. I'm a huge fan and for a variety of reasons, I very much want to see the Brewers do well. As things stand now though, I just don't see it happening.
Mark Attanasio strikes me as a sharp guy who is committed to winning and willing to bump the payroll as necessary. He would do well however to remember the old adage that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and being surprised that the results aren't different".
In his day job, Attanasio manages a large investment firm. In that capacity, I'm sure that he occasionally has to jettison an underperforming stock from his portfolio no matter how much he may personally like the people who run the company.
Perhaps it's time to think of the 2008 Brewers as an underperforming asset and make some major changes asap - before the 2008 season becomes 2002 redux.