Why it’s Unfair to Blame Doug Melvin for the Brewers 2013 Meltdown
Whenever a baseball team struggles, it’s an automatic reaction by the fans to blame the manager and the GM. While they both might deserve some of the blame this year, I don’t think anybody could have saved the Brewers this season, at least not with their payroll. Rumors are swirling that Melvin’s job might be on the line, but I think that the Brewers should stick with him. Here are some of the reasons why I think that Melvin’s job should be safe.
At the beginning of the off-season, the Brewers announced that they were going to try to keep their payroll down in the $75-80 million range for 2013. The contracts of the current players took up most of this payroll, so there really wasn’t much that Doug could do to improve the team. There also weren’t really many pressing needs, especially after the Brewers announced that they were going to give their current pitching staff a shot at starting. The offense was fantastic in 2012, so there was really no need to change that up.
Kyle Lohse & Free Agent Pitchers
Everybody had doubts that the Brewers starting pitching would be able to be competitive this season, but the pitching free agent market was pretty weak last off-season so there really wasn’t much that Doug could have done anyways. Ryan Dempster and Kyle Lohse being the cream of the crop. The Brewers supposedly offered Dempster a two year deal, which he turned down. The Brewers then surprised everyone by signing Lohse about right before the season was about to start. This has been rumored to be mostly the doing of Mark Attanasio, with Doug being against it. So if you want to hold anyone responsible for the Lohse signing, look to the owner accountable, not the GM.
Somehow, some way, the 2013 bullpen has done a complete 180 from last season. K-Rod is a whole new pitcher this season and Axford has seemed to have reverted back to his 2011 form. Melvin also added Tom Gorzelanny, who has been outstanding this season, and Mike Gonzalez who, if used correctly, can be effective in certain situations. Brandon Kintzler, who has also been very good this year, was signed by Doug from independent league American Association St Paul Saints in 2009. The bullpen was the Brewers’ biggest weakness last year, and Doug addressed it and fixed it. This is what you want from a GM – to figure out what the team needs, and figure out how to fulfill those needs without overspending.
Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Tom Gorzelanny and Jim Henderson have all spent time on the disabled list this year. The Brewers also have been and will be without Corey Hart for the entire season. Kyle Lohse had an injury that caused him to miss a start, and Carlos Gomez was forced to sit out an entire series due to a shoulder injury. There really isn’t anything that could have been done to prevent these injuries, and at times, the Brewers have basically been a triple-A team. You can’t blame the general manager for an injury epidemic that is spreading throughout the entire club house.
Not making in-game decisions
There have been quite a few questionable in-game decisions made by the Brewers this year that have probably cost the Brewers two or three games. You can’t blame the general manager for this – this is on the coaching staff.
First base situation
First, the Brewers lose Corey Hart to knee surgery. Then, a few weeks into spring training, the Brewers lose Mat Gamel for the season. Then, after the World Baseball Classic, Taylor Green had to have season ending hip surgery. There is no way Doug could have done anything to prevent any of these injuries, and there really weren’t many free agent first basemen available to sign. The Brewers are doing the best they can with their current first base situation, and no matter who the general manager was, there really isn’t anything that could have been done much differently.