Milwaukee interim skipper Dale Sveum and his mostly holdover coaching staff reportedly have been told that the Brewers must reach the playoffs or start looking for employment elsewhere.
Owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin stunned the baseball world when they canned Ned Yost with 12 games remaining in the middles of a pennant race. It definitely sent shock waves through the clubhouse and across the state.
They said it was the only move that could shake the team from its September doldrums after the Brewers started the month 3-11 under Yost after entering with an 80-56 record. They were probably right, and in many respects, the brave maneuver has worked.
Maybe not record-wise so far (4-4 through Wednesday), but three of those losses were by one run.
The daring duo should be applauded for the unprecedented move, but the part I don't agree with is giving Sveum only 12 days to secure the franchise's first postseason berth in 26 years.
I mean, come on. Melvin was hired in September 2002 and Yost a little more than a month later. Don't get me wrong. They deserve a ton of credit—along with Jack Zduriencik and the scouting and player development folks—for bringing respectability and a winning attitude back to Milwaukee after the Brewers had become one of baseball's doormats, dropping to an organization-worst 56-106 in 2002.
But that's my point. Melvin has been aboard for six years and Yost got nearly as much time to prove himself—and with Attanasio's blessing since 2005.
I can understand how some believe that members of the coaching staff could, or even should, receive their pink slips—the only one I would change is new third-base coach Garth Iorg, and even he deserves more of a chance.
But why on God's green earth would you give Sveum such an ultimatum? Attanasio and Melvin have run a classy organization, and firing Sveum after only 12 games wouldn't fit that description and doesn't make sense to this scribe.
Good friend and current bench coach Robin Yount can't help but be biased, but his comments about Sveum in the Journal-Sentinel shouldn't be taken lightly. The Hall of Famer said, "I've always believed if he got a shot, he'd do a great job. I think he has the whole package, as far as understanding the game, the integrity, the strategy side. I think he's going to be a great manager."
Veteran infielder Craig Counsell, a two-time World Series champion, also said the players believed that Sveum should be brought back.
"He's a big-league manager. He's qualified for it. There's no question about it. He's been working for this his whole life. You just know he's a manager. You can see that already."
Sveum definitely has shown that he'll play small ball and not rely strictly on home runs for the all-or-nothing Crew to win games, and although not every move has worked, the Brewers are averaging five runs per game.
One name that has surfaced as a possible replacement is Willie Randolph, who starred for the Yankees and played one season in Milwaukee (1991) before most recently serving as skipper of the Mets for three winning seasons before getting canned after this year's contingent from Shea started 34-35.
The obvious fascination comes from Attanasio's Big Apple roots and having followed Randolph and the Pin Stripers. But doesn't he remember that Randolph oversaw the Mets' epic collapse last year, losing a seven-game lead with 17 contests remaining? Randolph also was in the Yankee dugout as a coach when they lost a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox in the American League championship series in 2004. Now, who was Boston's third-base coach in that series? None other than Sveum.
Hopefully Don Zimmer, Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter aren't on Attanasio's short list. That's not to say that Randolph couldn't do the job or isn't one of the game's good guys, because that's exactly what he is. But that doesn't mean he should manage in Milwaukee.
Sveum deserves to get at least a full season to prove his worth with this group of young core players, regardless of whether they clinch a playoff spot