Well it was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?
After the bullpen gave up several leads in the final game to the Washington Nationals and cemented their place as one of the worst collection of relievers in the Major Leagues, it was decided by the Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin to let go of bullpen coach Stan Kyles, replacing him with the team’s Minor League Pitching Coordinator Lee Tunnell.
Tunnell officially begins his new job on Tuesday.
As for Stan Kyles, his tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer ends after 11 seasons as part of the coaching staff. In his last year as a bullpen coach, his staff earned a 4.80 ERA – ranked 28th in the Major Leagues.
The Brewers admitted today while talking to the press that blame cannot rest solely on the former coach’s shoulders, but called the move a ‘necessary’ place to start sorting out the problem.
Tunnell is well equipped to try and take over, with over ten years as a pitching coach with the Texas Rangers and the Cincinnati Reds. He has also previously worked as a scout before spending four years in Milwaukee’s organization. Tunnell’s prior experience as a scout, bullpen coach, and working with Minor Leaguers will no doubt come in handy immediately as he inherits a bullpen that has slid far from the high level of performance it showed last year.
It’s hard to say where he needs to begin exactly – no one seems to be sure what is exactly wrong. And with the deadline only a day away, and Milwaukee’s bullpen value being what it is, there is little that can be done in the way of changing personnel. The Brewers hope that Tunnell can root out the problem and begin finding a way to make positive changes to the bullpen in a season that has seen negatives pile up faster than blown leads.
Where Ron Roenicke’s job is tough trying to sort through a team racked with injury and streaky
performances, Tunnell’s now becomes the hardest – a bullpen stacked with obvious talent from a year ago, that for seem reason seems oblivious as to how to find it again. Tunnell’s promotion into the bullpen won’t immediately fix anything – nothing baseball happens that fast – but it does have immediate and far-reaching consequences. It puts everyone on notice – poor performances don’t go unnoticed and there are consequences for under-performing.
Truthfully, of course, you can’t fire the whole bullpen – at least I don’t think you can – but it definitely sends the message that there aren’t many safe places left on this team for people who can’t or won’t deliver.
Welcome to the team, Lee Tunnell, I don’t think anyone needs to tell you how important your job is.