October 16, 2010

Managerial Search - Ken Macha

Multiple news outlets are now reporting that Eric Wedge will manage the Mariners next year. Less obvious is the fact that Ken Macha will manage the Pirates.

For whatever reason, the Pirates really look up to the Indians and Brewers organizations. With Wedge off the market, Macha becomes the leading candidate for the Pirates job.As an opening point, I'm sure no one is unfamiliar with his glorious Pirates career, but allow me to recap it. He came up in 1974 as a third catcher in September, and hit an unbelievable .600 in five at-bats down the stretch. In a pennant race! Unfortunately, the Pirates converted him into a corner infield/corner outfield utility player. He hit .274/.317/.316 in 1977, .212/.354/.269 in 1978, and was a Montreal Expo in time to watch the '79 World Series on TV.

Resurfacing in 2003, Macha managed the A's for four years and won between 88 and 96 games each year. With Tim Hudson in Atlanta and Rich Harden making only nine starts due to injury, the 2006 A's won 93 games, won their division and won their first round playoff series. Billy Beane fired Macha as soon as the ALCS was over. The reason was rumored to be a personality conflict, surprising in light of the fact that the primary aspect of Macha's personality is "lack of a personality."

And this brings us to my enduring image of Ken Macha: Ken Macha standing in the Brewers dugout with no facial expression while a pitcher gets absolutely rocked on the mound. A's fans had criticized Macha for not pulling pitchers when they clearly didn't have it in one game. With the Brewers, he used pitchers who clearly didn't have it for two seasons! Mercifully that's all the time it took until he was Parrad, Suppaned and Bushed out of a job.

And that brings us to the upcoming 2011 season. Macha is from Monroeville and played for the Pirates in their glory decade. That's enough for him to get any job in Pittsburgh. In retrospect it's shocking that he's not already Chief Financial Officer of H.J. Heinz.

When Tim Hudson was beating the Angels 4-1, nobody realized that he would still be in the game for 110 pitches if he was Randy Wolf out there throwing in a 7-7 game. Jim Leyland could smoke 60 cigarettes in the time it takes Ken Macha to get around to his first mound visit. As your 2011 World Championship manager, you'll wonder at the end of the season if Macha really managed at all.

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