About 15 hours after the slumping Brewers were swept out of Philadelphia, manager Ned Yost was shown the door with only 12 games remaining in his sixth season in Brew City.
Milwaukee had entered September with a 51/2-game advantage in the National League wild-card race but stumbled to a 3-11 record since and shared that spot with the Phillies after the latter's doubleheader domination Sunday.
One has to question the timing of such a move, but general manager explained it this way in his short statement Monday afternoon.
"This was a very difficult move to make, and we appreciate all of the work that Ned has done to develop this team into a contender. In the end, this was a collaborative decision made to put our club in the best position for the final two weeks of the season."
Third-base coach Dale Sveum became the team's interim skipper. Meanwhile, bench coach Ted Simmons, one of Yost's teammates on the last Milwaukee team to reach the postseason in 1982 and his closest confidant in the dugout, was reassigned to an advisory role.
Melvin made the surprising announcement—after the season would have been my guess—but one can bet that owner Mark Attanasio's voice was loud and clear behind the scenes. After all, it's his money and support that paid for the CC Sabathia trade and the signing of guys like Jeff Suppan and Eric Gagne.
Any other coaching changes weren't known, but the team scheduled an evening press conference tonight in Chicago, where the team had the day off before starting a three-game series against the Cubs.
When a team doesn't live up to expectations or struggles for any length of time, the manager is always the easiest target and usually the first to go. The rest of the house cleaning that comes after such a move will come as soon as the Brewers' season is over, and unfortunately for them and their fans, that looks like it's going to start much sooner than they had hoped because they've played themselves out of the driver's seat for the postseason and into a desperation mode after the company line of "we're going for it" following the Sabathia trade in early July.
The big question for now is how the players respond: Will they continue to go in the tank or will lightning strike and they pull out of their malaise and claim the team's first playoff berth in 26 years?
Yost, a pupil of Bobby Cox's in Atlanta, inherited dismal circumstances when he took over after the Brewers after the 2002 campaign, the worst in franchise history at 56-106. The Brewers finished in the Central Division cellar his first two years but jumped up to third place in 2005 with the team's first non-losing season at 81-81.
A myriad injuries wracked the 2006 team and its progress as Milwaukee fell to 75-87. However, last year's bunch bolted to a 24-10 start only to falter in July and August and finished two games behind the Cubs after leading the division for most of the season.
This year's bunch started slowly but played the best baseball in the league and majors for much of June, July and August before a sudden collapse in September, which they've started 3-11 heading into the series at Wrigley Field.
Yost's record wound up 457-502, a .477 winning percentage.
But as I said, the most important and interesting aspect will be the next 12 contests that Yost won't get to manage.