Doug Melvin Era Reaction

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Today, it was announced that Doug Melvin is stepping aside as the GM of the Brewers and that they are in the process of finding a successor. While there has been much speculation on Melvin’s future with the Brewers, I was surprised that this announcement was made now instead of after the regular season.

Melvin had been the GM of the Brewers since September 2002. On the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article discussing his departure, there is a poll where readers can give a grade on the Doug Melvin Tenure from A-F.

As of the writing of this article, the B grade is the most voted on option and I would agree with this. When Melvin took over as GM, the Brewers were basically at rock bottom and finishing out the stretch on a 106-loss season. He inherited a team that was in such shambles that players such as Jose Hernandez, Luis Vizciano & Glendon Rusch finished in the top-5 on that team in WAR.

Even though Melvin’s tenure was far from perfect, I have a mostly positive opinion about his work as he oversaw a period of respectability (despite the struggles of this season) and even got the roster good enough to even make a couple of appearances in the playoffs. With that in mind, here are my Doug Melvin Era Reaction.

Positives:

As mentioned, the Brewers made two playoff appearances under Melvin and both of them may not have happened if not for his decision to go all-in at a couple of critical times. The first of these moves came in 2008 when the Brewers acquired CC Sabathia who was absolutely dominant down the stretch going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts. If not for this move, the Brewers would have most likely missed the playoffs.

The other time he went all in was the 2010-2011 Post-Season when the Brewers picked up Zack Greinke & Shaun Marcum. Prior to these moves, the Brewers were coming off an 77-85 season, searching for a new manager and it was unclear whether they were going to try to contend or get some players in return for Prince Fielder before his contract expired. With Melvin opting to upgrade the Brewers and look to contend, they set the stage for what has been the best & most exciting Brewers team to be assembled in my lifetime (being born in 1983, I missed the 1982 World Series team by mere months).

Another strength I saw during the Doug Melvin years was that he had an eye for seeing something in very lightly regarded players that turned out to be surprise contributors. Two players that turned from unnoticed acquisitions to solid contributors for a year or two picked up under his watch include Casey McGehee & John Axford.

Negatives:

While Melvin had a knack for the unheralded acquisition, his track record for bigger name signings did leave a lot to be desired. The biggest failure of these all was Jeff Suppan. When he was signed the expectation was that he would improve the rotation and be someone to rely on if they ever made the playoffs. Unfortunately, he did neither. Even though he got some results out of other acquisitions such as Randy Wolf & Kyle Lohse, these signings aren’t the best parts of his legacy as both of these pitchers struggled (in the case of Lohse is currently struggling) in the last year of his deal.

Another blemish on his record is the managers that get hired under his watch. While several solid players developed under Ned Yost, he was also unsuccessful in getting the Brewers to the playoffs despite being spotted a substantial lead in 2007 and was actually fired while in the midst of a pennant race the following season. Even the most successful of his managerial hires to date (Ron Roenicke) could have been better.

While Roenicke was at the helm of the 2011 team, he was also at the helm when the Brewers squandered a large division lead last year (that’s two massive collapses in seven years) and relied too much on bunting and aggressive base-running (which led too many unnecessary outs on the base paths ) during his stint.

Overall:

Despite some of the decisions that turned out to be bad and the struggles of this season, Melvin earned a decent but not great grade in my mind as the Brewers were overall in better shape for much of his tenure than the shape the Brewers were in when he inherited the GM role.

One thing to keep into consideration is that even though Melvin is out as GM, his legacy when all said and done is a story that is still being written. The two things that could still ultimately impact his final grade is how well the hiring of Craig Counsell works out (so far, I have no complaints) and how the careers of the players turn out both for the players that were traded in late-July but also the prospects that the Brewers received in return.

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