Published November 20, 2014
Ken Macha will not return as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, who have not made decisions about his staff.
The 60-year-old Macha was 157-167 in two losing seasons following Milwaukee's first postseason appearance in 26 years. The club confirmed the decision not to exercise its option Monday.
"I just told him that we felt we didn't win here, we didn't meet our expectations and whether our expectations are realistic or not, that's probably what we have to look at," general manager Doug Melvin said. "I think he understood and then got in his car and headed home. I admire Ken because he's a solid baseball guy."
Melvin said there was nothing Macha could've done to save his job except win more, even though he acknowledged this team didn't have the same talent as the 2008 squad that won the NL wild card.
"Ken came in in a tough situation," the GM said. "He understood that, and he just did the best he could."
Milwaukee will begin next year with its fourth manager in just more than two seasons. The club fired Ned Yost with 12 games left in 2008 and didn't keep interim Dale Sveum, leading to Macha's hiring.
Melvin's options include Sveum, who returned as hitting coach; bench coach Willie Randolph; or someone from outside the organization. Melvin said he would talk to the coaching staff this week. He did not identify anyone as a potential candidate to take over and said there was no timetable to hire the 18th manager in the club's 42-year history.
The new skipper will take over a team that has an entire starting lineup that's currently 28 or younger. All those players are under team control or signed through next season.
"The bottom line is to win the games. If you don't win games, they're going to get somebody in there with a different voice and try to get the guys to listen to it," Macha said. "When you get these jobs, it's just a matter of time before there is a change."
The Brewers won the NL wild card in 2008 to snap a 26-year postseason drought, but CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets left as free agents and the pitching replacements each of the last two years haven't done the job.
Even that season, Yost was fired in favor of Sveum, who went 8-8 including the playoffs and was passed over in favor of Macha.
Macha again has had to fend off questions that he struggled to connect with his players after similar murmurs in Oakland despite two division titles from 2003-06.
Macha said he was available any time for his players, and that he appreciated that Melvin allowed him to manage the team the way he wanted. About a dozen players came in after the season finale in Cincinnati on Sunday to wish Macha well.
"They kind of knew that this was going to happen," he said.
Macha said he's interested in continuing his managerial career, and there are several big league openings. He has a .540 winning percentage in six seasons, but his teams in Milwaukee didn't come close to his run of success in Oakland.
The Brewers led the NL Central in 2009 by two games coming into July, then went 9-16 that month and dropped out of contention. This season got off to a slow start followed by a miserable May. They finished 77-85 after a loss in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Macha wasn't bitter as he prepared to leave for his home in Pittsburgh. Milwaukee, sometimes overshadowed by the Green Bay Packers, is firmly a baseball town.
"I really enjoyed the time there. Everybody should experience Milwaukee baseball," Macha said. "The fans are great, people come up to you all the time and thank you. I'm glad I got the opportunity to experience that. It's been a great experience for me."