A purge in Milwaukee


Someday they'll remember this day in Milwaukee as "Black Wednesday" ... Tom Haudricourt:

    The Brewers have fired pitching coach Bill Castro and replaced him with Class AAA Nashville pitching coach Chris Bosio.
    In another drastic move, the Brewers have sent down shortstop J.J. Hardy and recalled Alcides Escobar from Nashville.


    Hardy, who does not have quite enough time in the majors to refuse an assignment in the minors, has struggled all year at the plate. He is batting .229 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 371 at-bats.

    Escobar, considered the team's top prospect, was batting .298 at Nashville with 24 doubles, six triples, four homers and 34 RBI in 109 games. He has 42 stolen bases and a .353 on-base percentage.

    These moves are obviously being made to shake up the team, which has lost 23 of 35 games since July 1 and has been sleep-walking through the easiest part of its schedule.

    Sending down Hardy will definitely shake up the clubhouse and create a buzz there. And firing Castro will send a message to the pitchers that their performances have not been satisfactory.

I don't consider firing a pitching coach all that drastic. Except for him. Particularly considering that Castro spent most of his playing career with the Brewers, and has served as a coach with the big club since 1992.
What's really drastic, though, is demoting an All-Star shortstop who hit 50 homers in the past two seasons. But this drastic move isn't just about production. After all, if it were merely a matter of replacing Hardy with Escobar, the Brewers could have waited until the 1st of September and done the same thing without ruffling Hardy's feathers quite so roughly.

This move -- all the moves, really, including the release of Bill Hall -- isn't just about winning, either. The Brewers are six-and-a-half games behind the Rockies in the wild-card standings, and well behind four other teams as well. It would take something just short of a miracle for them to pass all those teams.

So, no. This isn't about production or the standings or anything else we can count. It's about a franchise that won 90 games last year, is going to win roughly 80 this year, and is looking for scapegoats. Or looking to send a message to the guys who escaped the purge. Or (most likely) both.

Will it "work"? Tune in next summer.