"I'm not sure I have all the answers, and I'm not sure this is the right one, either," general manager Doug Melvin said. "But I'm going to turn the managerial position over to Dale Sveum at this time and hope that we can kick-start a ballclub that we feel has a lot of talent."
The Brewers have not shown that talent since the calendar flipped from August and over the past week played "totally dead," as one front-office official saw it. A 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings has vanished in September, and the Phillies pulled even at 83-67 by completing a four-game sweep on Sunday.
Bench coach Ted Simmons was also let go Monday and reassigned to a scouting role in the organization. Sveum named good friend Robin Yount to finish the year as the bench coach -- Yount filled that role for Yost in 2006 -- and Sveum named Garth Iorg as his replacement at third base. Iorg is a roving Minor League instructor for the Brewers and has been with the big league club since Sept. 1.
Yost will take part in a media conference call at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday, hours before the Brewers begin a three-game series against the Cubs.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said Monday's decision was made over the course of several days and insisted it was not in reaction to Sunday's doubleheader sweep. He spoke with Melvin via telephone on Sunday night and flew overnight from Los Angeles to the team hotel in Chicago for another meeting with Melvin at 9:30 a.m. CT on Monday.
At 10:30 a.m. CT, Yost was called to Melvin's hotel suite.
"Ned was kind of out of answers," Attanasio said. "So we thought we'd look to a different guy for some answers."
The question asked most often Monday was not necessarily, "Why?" It was, "Why now?"
"That's a difficult one to answer myself," Melvin said. "The club is just not performing close to the way they performed earlier. We have 12 days left and we don't know what could jump-start the club. This was, I guess, the only thing we thought had a chance of jump-starting the club.
"It's tough when you have someone who has done what Ned has done for the organization, built the organization back where it hasn't been in 15 years. I feel sometimes I quit on Ned a little bit by not allowing him to do it for the last two weeks. But in the end, the decision was made."
The Brewers went 20-7 in August -- no NL team was better -- but have been outscored this month, 75-38, while losing 11 of 14 games. In dropping both ends of a doubleheader on Sunday, they were limited to five runs and seven hits in 18 innings.
Yost, a former Brewers backup catcher, inherited a team coming off a 106-loss season when he took over in October 2002, and, with help from Melvin's moves and shrewd Drafts under Jack Zduriencik, restored the Brewers to prominence. The team snapped a streak of 12 losing seasons with an 81-81 finish in 2005, then went 83-79 last season for its first winning year since 1992.
But the season ended in disappointment. The Brewers finished two games behind the Cubs in the NL Central after leading the division by as many as 8 1/2 games.
The team is hoping for a bit of history to be repeated. In 1982, the Brewers fired manager Buck Rodgers when the team started 23-24 and players began to grumble about his style. The team went to the World Series after hitting coach Harvey Kuenn took over.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two teams in contention had changed managers during the season's final month. In the 1981 season interrupted by a strike, the Yankees reached the playoffs by virtue of their first-place standing in the AL East before play was halted. During the second half, manager Gene Michael was replaced by Bob Lemon with 25 games to go.
The other instance came in 1930, when the Cubs -- three games behind the Cardinals with four to play -- dismissed Joe McCarthy and turned the team over to star Rogers Hornsby. The reigning NL MVP guided the Cubs to four straight wins, but the Cardinals won three of four to clinch the pennant.
Yost was under contract through 2009. Attanasio was sensitive to the notion that Monday's decision represented a panic move.
"This, as well as everything we do, is part of a very disciplined process," the owner said.
"We have a process and a dialogue in which we make decisions. Whatever they appear to be on the outside, nothing we ever do is rash. It's well reasoned and thoughtful and I believe always in the best interests of the Milwaukee Brewers. We don't give any thought to what it looks like to third parties."
Sveum has Minor League managerial experience but has never managed in the Majors.
"It's not like we're going to play harder for Dale, because we're already playing as hard as we can," Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy said.
Successful managerial changes
|Only 12 teams have advanced to the postseason after changing managers during the season. Two of those teams (1978 Yankees, 2003 Marlins) won the World Series:|
|2004||Astros||Jimy Williams||44-44||Phil Garner||48-26||Lost NLCS|
|2003||Marlins||Jeff Torborg||16-22||Jack McKeon||75-49||Won World Series|
|1996||Dodgers||Tommy Lasorda||41-35||Bill Russell||49-37||Lost NLDS|
|1989||Blue Jays||Jimy Williams||12-24||Cito Gaston||77-49||Lost ALCS|
|1988||Red Sox||John McNamara||43-42||Joe Morgan||46-31||Lost ALCS|
|1983||Phillies||Pat Corrales||43-42||Paul Owens||47-30||Lost World Series|
|1982||Brewers||Buck Rodgers||23-24||Harvey Kuehn||72-43||Lost World Series|
|1981||Yankees||Gene Michael||48-34||Bob Lemon||11-14||Lost World Series|
|1981||Royals||Jim Frey||30-40||Dick Howser||20-13||Lost ALDS|
|1981||Expos||Dick Williams||44-37||Jim Fanning||16-11||Lost NLCS|
|1978||Yankees||Billy Martin||54-42||Bob Lemon||48-20||Won World Series|
|1938||Cubs||Charlie Grimm||45-36||Gabby Harnett||44-27||Lost World Series|
|1932||Cubs||Rogers Hornsby||53-46||Charlie Grimm||37-18||Lost World Series|