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Was Dean Taylor that bad?


sweepscc
I didn't follow the Brewers as a high schooler so I'm a little in the dark on the moves Taylor made in Milwaukee. Obviously the depth of Taylor's resources was entirely different than what Melvin enjoys today. Extremely limited funds and a barren farm system met him on arrival but would he have succeeded with the resources given Melvin? I'm beginning to think he would have. We all know about the Hammond trade but try to look beyond that. He started the turn around of the farm system and hired Jack Zduriencik. In a round about way he could be attributed the Brewer's current success. Looking back at the rosters of his tenure he also knew how to put together a bullpen at least in my admittedly unstatistical analysis of the players. I wonder if the combo of Zburiencik's position player drafting along with Taylor's ability to put together relief pitching would have put us in a better position than what we find ourselves in today.
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My thoughts on Taylor when he was here was that he was great with the farm system (which is what his background was in), but weak when it came to major league personnel (that is, signing free agents, making trades, etc.)
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Making trades and signing free agents is a whole lot easier when you have more money to work with. Payroll actually went down during Melvin's first couple of seasons. From the mid 40's when he took over to 27.5 before Attanasio started raising it.
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Money had nothing to do with signing an incompetent like Davey Lopes. Maybe it was unavoidable, but the handling of Neugebauer alone is enough to question the competence of the organization.

 

Not to mention burying Belliard AND Loretta, both who subsequently appeared in an All Star game, behind a nothing like Eric Young. How did that Jeff Cirillo trade work out? Or the Vina trade? Or the Burnitz deal?

 

The problem was that Dean Taylor had no core philosophy. They tried to rebuild and contend simultaneously and fumbled both as they failed in their turnover of veterans, with the exception of Wickman, to get anything of long term impact, and completely misjudged the uselessness of Marquis Grissom. Oh yeah, and the organization completely ignored the importance of OBP while others were turning it to their advantage. Not to mention the constant obsession with speed at the leadoff spot while ignoring the gaping holes at other portions of the lineup.

 

Perhaps it extended to Ownership at the time that didn't want to acknowledge that a complete rebuild was necessary from the start, but when you lose over 100 games 3 years into a new regime, and looking at years more of futility before the farm system turns around, you've completely misjudged the state of the franchise and what needed to be done from the beginning. That alone tells me he was the wrong hire in the first place.

 

Robert

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Dean Taylor admitted he wasn't a talent evaluator when he took the job. Then he proved it. He turned Jeff Cirillo and Scott Karl into Jimmy Haynes, Jamey Wright, and Henry Blanco. He turned Jose Valentin and Cal Eldred into 175 innings of 6+ ERA, in the person of John Snyder and what was left of Jamie Navarro. He turned Fernando Vina into Juan Acevedo...that was the best of the three deals by far, as Acevedo later turned into DeJean, who then (sadly) turned into Crudale.

 

The three infielders we dealt were 29, 29, and 30, and though their replacements had their merits (home grown players Belliard and Loretta, and free agent Jose Hernandez), each turned in some very good years after leaving Milwaukee. You should deal from strength to address weaknesses, so dealing infielders was wise. The talent that came back was not good, though, and that's not just speaking with the benefit of hindsight...Haynes and Wright were perfect illustrations of the value of peripheral numbers in assessing pitchers. Despite the occasional raves about their stuff, neither guy could strike out anybody. Wright had one year with ERA+ of 111, and as noted Acevedo had some value, but aside from that we got several hundred innings of replacement level pitching for three infielders that were good hitters and defenders. Oh, we did get Henry Blanco as well. Given the financial constrainst, giving up solid talent for a lot of crap in those deals sank the team for years to come, IMO.

 

So yeah, he was that bad.

 

In his defense, he wasn't Sal Bando bad.

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Steve Woodard, Jason Bere, and Bob Wickman for Richie Sexson, Kane Davis, Paul Rigdon, and Marco Scutaro.

 

Let's give the man some credit for the good trade he managed to make. I think he was in the ultimate no-win situation: the major league product wasn't all that good, and the farm system was nearly as barren. He did make some pretty good decisions, starting with bringing in Jack Z. to run the scouting and draft process....which led to Sheets, Fielder, Hardy, etc. (just during his tenure). Jose Vizcaino for Jesus Pena was another fleecing, as was getting Ray King from the Cubs. He also managed to get .800 OPS seasons out of Tyler Houston, Matt Stairs, and Devon White.

 

Whenever a player performed, they were trade-bait to cover up the holes which couldn't be patched through free agency. He needed to get major-leauge calibur players in trades (particularly guys under 30), since talented players didn't want to come to Milwaukee (unless paid like Hammonds), and the team didn't have enough major-league roster filler to make out a 25-man roster. Good players had to go, because the team couldn't afford to sign Burnitz, Vina, Cirillo, etc. to a fair-market contract (or Hideo Nomo, who left in free agency before Taylor's first season). And, the players who were traded weren't good enough to get top prospects (remember Gord Ash not being willing to give up Carpenter, Escobar, or Halladay for Vina?). Hard to get much for Cal Eldred after a 7.79 ERA season.

 

I think that Taylor's plan was to try and field a competent major league team while rebuilding through the draft. His largest flaw is that the centerpieces of his trades (other than Sexson) failed to live up to the hype. Jamey Wright never lived up to the hype (remeber Ringolsby saying he'd win 20 games in Milwaukee); Grissom's production fell off a cliff as soon as he got to Milwaukee, and went back up a year or two after he left. Glendon Rusch would have been at least average but for freakishly bad run support. Quevedo was a huge disappointment (pun intended). He might have been better off if he had stuck with cheap AAAA-type players, but I think there was some pressure from ownership to go out and get a big name player or two. Heck, my biggest gripe at the time was not letting Belliard play, but he wasn't that much better than the guy they replaced him with.

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Didn't Belliard eat his way out of team. I remember the first year he was with the Brewers he did awesome and was touted as one of the best 2B prospects. When he came back from the off season he went from Rickie Weeks type of a player weight wise to Prince Fielder weight wise. That was the biggest disappointment from Belliard.

 

Dean Taylor wasn't as bad as some people say he was but he isn't better than Melvin. I'm not sure Taylor could have done any better with last years team or could have helped this team this year either. Players still don't want to come to Milwaukee and why would you when you can play in Boston or New York and be on ESPN nearly every night.

 

The philosophy that Taylor tried to do is what really killed the Brewers.

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Steve Woodard, Jason Bere, and Bob Wickman for Richie Sexson, Kane Davis, Paul Rigdon, and Marco Scutaro.

 

Let's give the man some credit for the good trade he managed to make. I think he was in the ultimate no-win situation: the major league product wasn't all that good, and the farm system was nearly as barren. He did make some pretty good decisions, starting with bringing in Jack Z. to run the scouting and draft process....which led to Sheets, Fielder, Hardy, etc. (just during his tenure). Jose Vizcaino for Jesus Pena was another fleecing, as was getting Ray King from the Cubs. He also managed to get .800 OPS seasons out of Tyler Houston, Matt Stairs, and Devon White.

 

Whenever a player performed, they were trade-bait to cover up the holes which couldn't be patched through free agency. He needed to get major-leauge calibur players in trades (particularly guys under 30), since talented players didn't want to come to Milwaukee (unless paid like Hammonds), and the team didn't have enough major-league roster filler to make out a 25-man roster. Good players had to go, because the team couldn't afford to sign Burnitz, Vina, Cirillo, etc. to a fair-market contract (or Hideo Nomo, who left in free agency before Taylor's first season). And, the players who were traded weren't good enough to get top prospects (remember Gord Ash not being willing to give up Carpenter, Escobar, or Halladay for Vina?). Hard to get much for Cal Eldred after a 7.79 ERA season.

 

I think that Taylor's plan was to try and field a competent major league team while rebuilding through the draft. His largest flaw is that the centerpieces of his trades (other than Sexson) failed to live up to the hype. Jamey Wright never lived up to the hype (remeber Ringolsby saying he'd win 20 games in Milwaukee); Grissom's production fell off a cliff as soon as he got to Milwaukee, and went back up a year or two after he left. Glendon Rusch would have been at least average but for freakishly bad run support. Quevedo was a huge disappointment (pun intended). He might have been better off if he had stuck with cheap AAAA-type players, but I think there was some pressure from ownership to go out and get a big name player or two. Heck, my biggest gripe at the time was not letting Belliard play, but he wasn't that much better than the guy they replaced him with.

1. Sheets was a Bando draftee.

 

2. Burnitz, Cirillo, and Vina were already under contract being locked up by Bando as part of his plan for Miller Park. The offensive base wasn't bad, although lacking at 1B, but the pitching staff was criminally bad.

 

3. Wright's peripherals were bad. There were plenty of warning signs before he was traded for that he wouldn't live up to the hype.

 

4. Grissom was bad for several years before Taylor came on board. Lots of people were clamoring for Grissom to be dumped at the first opportunity. Instead, Taylor and Lopes decided that he was one veteran that wouldn't be shopped because they needed speed at the top of the lineup. Grissom's production only went up, because he was used in a platoon instead of as an everyday player.

 

5. That Snider/Navarro trade may be as awful a return on a deal as I've ever witnessed. Navarro was done and Snider wasn't even good in the minors, not to mention injured all the time. Yeah, Valentin had his issues, but he'd still have ranked as a top 30 SS with any realistic evaluation.

 

Still, to me the biggest problem with Taylor was that the talent he had in the system wasn't realistically evaluated. He made some good moves around the margins, but failed in the big picture. Particularly with the pitching staff which was awful when he came on board and awful after his trades. And never understanding the importance of OBP. The career OBP of everyone he brought in the first year was awful, they decided to give Grissom more ABs, and they traded away their best source of OBP in Cirillo. Bottom line, his moves with the team he inherited extended rather than shortened the process of rebuilding.

 

Robert

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I remember being really angry when he traded Blanco for Paul Bako. Yes, that Paul Bako.
"When a piano falls on Yadier Molina get back to me, four letter." - Me, upon reading a ESPN update referencing the 'injury-plagued Cardinals'
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what was the burnitz trade?
January 21, 2002: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Milwaukee Brewers with Lou Collier, Jeff D'Amico, Mark Sweeney, and cash to the New York Mets. The New York Mets sent Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile, and cash to the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies sent Craig House and Ross Gload to the New York Mets. The Colorado Rockies sent Alex Ochoa to the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Baseball reference for the win. Also, ugh.

"When a piano falls on Yadier Molina get back to me, four letter." - Me, upon reading a ESPN update referencing the 'injury-plagued Cardinals'
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I disagree with the contention that he didn't have a plan, at least initially. The plan when he came in was to cash in the infield surplus to improve the pitching staff and bring in a defensive catcher (Henry Blanco) to 'stop the track meet on the basepaths.' Along with that they gave jobs to Loretta and Belliard and signed Jose Hernandez. In principle, dealing vets and giving jobs to talented youngsters isn't a bad idea, and they dealt from their strength to address the weakness on the pitching staff. As noted, however, they gutted the team OBP and brought in pitchers with terrible peripherals, and utterly failed to evaluate talent correctly. It was a plan, just horribly executed, and one that a bunch of stat nerds in their basements identified as flawed.

 

They went from 8th in runs scored and 14th in runs allowed to 13th in runs scored and 10th in runs allowed...worse than merely treading water. They gutted a league average offense, falling to dead last in OBP, in order to save 60 runs, bringing in pitchers who were not much better than replacement level, and worse in some cases.

 

Then after that plan failed, they had another plan, which involved bringing in someone to score more runs, because the offense was terrible. (Wonder why?) Cue J. Hammonds. [Ominous music plays.] The offense was better, mostly because they got Sexson in a major fleecing, assuredly the high point of the Taylor regime, and dumped Grissom for Devon White. White and Tyler Houston had last gasps of productivity but were clearly not long term solutions...those acquisitions represent clear failures to understand the success cycle. Either guy could have helped a contender, but who cares if you get a solid year from a 30-plus-year-old veteran on a 68-win team? They needed to bring in young talent, since there was none in the farm system, and recognize that they weren't a guy or two away from the playoffs. Thus a few years later the patches over the biggest holes had failed, and the guys with promise for a better future were almost gone. The Burnitz trade was more of the same, and Eric Young and John VanderWal surely weren't going to be the part of the future.

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I'm trying to forget the late 90's and early 2000 years. Nothing good ever came of those years for the Brewers. Well maybe the Sexson deal but that was about it. D'Amico was suppose to be our ace and the future of our team that didn't pan out to well but draft picks hardly ever do pan out very good.

 

Wasn't Jenkins also someone Taylor drafted? Or was that in the Bando time?

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As a G.M. I'd say Taylor ranked somewhere between Matt Millen and Bando. He was horrendous on his moves on the major league level, and not many of his draftees have ever made an impact in the majors. His two saving graces were the Sexson trade and hiring Jack Z.. While nice moves, they are not enough to offset the damage that he did to this team.
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Judging from your sarcasm, I guess some people will just never understand the importance of spring training stats. Remember his magic spring?

 

Every spring with Alex matters. Every spring with Alex is magik!

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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He was a terrible GM in regards to putting together a big league team and he hired Lopes, maybe though Selig pushed Taylor into that hire. On the plus side, Taylor hiring Zduriencik may have been the most important thing to happen to the Brewers franchise in the last 10 years besides getting Miller Park built and Attanasio buying the team.
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Every spring with Alex matters. Every spring with Alex is magik!

 

For some reason I was somewhat excited we got Ochoa in that deal (still thought it was a bad deal overall though). Ochoa was hyped up quite a bit as having the best outfield arm in all of baseball IIRC by SI and a few other publications.

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