Adam McCalvy has a great new article up on brewers.com profiling Ken Macha as he gets ready to head into his second year as Brewers manager. The good news? Macha seems to know that he got off on the wrong foot with the team last year. The bad news? It doesn’t seem like he’s willing to change his ways.
We knew when Macha was hired that he was nearly a polar opposite to Ned Yost. Yost was the ultimate players manager, reluctant to make changes in the lineup and acting buddy-buddy with everyone on the roster. Macha came in with little knowledge of the team as a whole, and didn’t make it a point to get to know anyone real well. The fact that he came in on day one with a stack of graphs showing what they could do better probably didn’t leave the best impression. Pulling a quote from McCalvy’s piece:
“I understand that they made it to the playoffs [in 2008], but the idea is to get the best we can get out of the talent we’ve got,” Macha said. “That’s all I ever wanted last year, and it’s what I’m going to want this year, too. In the long run, there are some areas that I would like to see a sizeable amount of improvement.”
I can appreciate that. Really, I can. As a fan of a small market team, the best I can hope for is that performance exceeds expectations and we can catch teams by surprise. But when you have players speaking out against the manager when they leave town and they don’t have a reputation for clashing with authority — I’m talking about Seth McClung here — something’s probably wrong. I really hope Macha can at least try to be more personable this year, and loosen up a bit.
If there’s one thing I do like about Macha, though, it’s that he’s willing to think outside the box when it comes to statistical analysis. Yost made a brief foray into the statistical muck (I say that because if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it’s easy to get stuck and overwhelmed) after reading a couple books before ultimately retreating back to his old Bobby Cox-taught ways. Macha at least seems to know what he’s looking at, and has reasons for trying things that might be seen as unconventional.
That brings us to Macha’s first batting order of the year. As outlined by McCalvy, Rickie Weeks would again lead off, with Casey McGehee manning the second spot. The familiar Braun-Fielder-Hart trio man the 3-4-5 spots, and Gregg Zaun is expected to hit 6th. Things get tricky — and I like it — in the bottom third of the order: Gomez-Pitcher-Escobar. According to Macha, though, the effectiveness of that lineup depends on the #9 hitter posting a .360 OBP. Considering the options there seem to be Gomez and Escobar, it doesn’t seem likely.
How scary would that lineup be if Escobar somehow could get on base that much, though?