This is neither (a) technically a firing; or (b) a surprise, but it’s now official — via team press release — that the Brewers and Ken Macha are parting ways.
It’s not a firing because Macha’s contract was only a two-year thing and it’s now up. The mechanism of his departure is the team declining to pick up his option for 2011. It’s not a surprise because people have been reporting that this was going down since last night, and have been reasonably assuming this was going down for a solid couple of months.
What ultimately did him in was the pitching, obviously. No, Macha was not blessed with a deep and talented staff. At the same time, he didn’t do a great job in trying to get the best out of what he had either. Oh, and the fact that, as he walked out the door on the 2010 season he bashed the two best players on his team didn’t help matters. Sure, maybe Braun and Fielder didn’t respond to Macha and maybe it wasn’t his fault. But I don’t get why you basically throw it on them as you’re leaving. It all suggests some bad blood that has gone largely unreported.
There has been very little buzz about possible replacements for Macha in recent weeks. I would expect the usual suspects — Bob Melvin, Ted Simmons, maybe even Willie Randolph, despite his denials of interest in the job — to be mentioned. I still kind of like my Ryne Sandberg idea, but I suppose Cubs-spite is not the strongest basis on which to make such decisions.
Here’s one: Jose Oquendo. He’s gotta be tired of waiting for Tony La Russa to retire, he knows the NL Central and the dude played every damn position on the diamond back in the day. Make it happen Doug Melvin.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.