Thursday, October 30, 2008
Macha gets two-year deal to manage Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Ken Macha gets to manage again. That's because Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is a big believer in second chances.
The 58-year-old Macha was hired Thursday as the manager of the Brewers, taking over the role from Dale Sveum following the team's first postseason appearance since 1982. He agreed to a two-year contract.
"One of the things I'm going to enjoy here I think is the relationship with Doug," said Macha, who spent the last two years as a television analyst. "He's been very honest with me, straightforward. He's more of a delegator. He's going to let me go out and do my job as a manager and I'm going to be very grateful for that."
That's a far cry from Oakland, where Macha took the A's to a pair of AL West titles but had an odd relationship with general manager Billy Beane and lost his job after the 2005 season for a week only to return in 2006.
"The four years in Oakland I learned a tremendous amount of baseball, don't get me wrong," Macha said. "I can be nothing but a better manager now that I come here to Milwaukee."
Melvin said Boston manager Terry Francona, once Macha's bench coach, strongly recommended his former boss. Melvin cited Francona, Joe Torre and Charlie Manuel as managers who got another shot and won titles.
"I got let go myself. I'm a big believer in second chances," said Melvin, who was GM in Texas from 1996-2001. "This isn't someone who has had three chances, four chances, five chances. This is someone with a winning background who is a baseball lifer."
Macha replaces Sveum, who became interim manager when Ned Yost was fired with 12 games left in the regular season. Sveum is expected to return to the coaching staff in some capacity.
Both Melvin and Macha reached out to Sveum, who was dropped from consideration Oct. 17, and Macha encouraged him to keep his dream of being a manager one day.
"I really feel that Dale will be a plus to this staff," Macha said. "I'm hoping that he stays."
Macha also tried to dispel the notion that he'd lost touch with his players in Oakland, including Jason Kendall, now the Brewers catcher.
"I've got a couple things to say about that. No. 1, the job of the manager is really not to be buddies with all the players. You have to make very difficult decisions over the course of the year," he said. "Sometimes players get a little personal and think it's personal. It really isn't."
Macha led Oakland to a 368-260 record. He was fired two days after the Athletics were swept by Detroit in the 2006 AL Championship Series, a result that frustrated players.
"I think if you go back and talk to those players now, they might have a little bit of a different take," Macha said.
Melvin said the common theme of all the candidates he interviewed was that each felt there had been a communication breakdown. Willie Randolph and Bob Brenly also were finalists for the job.
"It's pretty ironic that every one of them felt that was the reason that they were let go and these were managers that had winning records," Melvin said.
Six years ago, Macha was considered a leading candidate to become the Brewers manager when Doug Melvin became GM, but Macha was promoted from bench coach to manager in Oakland and Yost was hired.
Milwaukee went 90-72 last season and won the wild-card berth on the final day. The Brewers then lost in four games to Philadelphia, the eventual World Series champs, in the first round of the playoffs.
But even with a deep core of young players, the Brewers will look much different next season because of 12 potential free agents, including aces CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. Melvin said it will not be fair to judge Macha based on the team's recent success.
"I have no idea what this team is going to look like in January," Melvin said. "He can't be judged on what we've done in the past because the team's going to be different, he's got to be judged on the team that's been given to him."