09/15/08 10:00 PM ET
Players share blame for struggles
Braun among those who express surprise at timing of move
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Counsell declined the notion that Yost's dugout demeanor had anything with the team's poor play."I would disagree with that," Counsell said. "Look, you're not going to lay this all on Ned, that's for sure. We need to play better. We need to start hitting. We need to start pitching. They have chosen to make a change to try to stir something up and I don't think Dale is going to be the savior if we don't start hitting and pitching. As players, we need to quit making excuses." Hardy admitted that it took him a while to warm to Yost -- "a couple of years" -- but at the same time, Yost was accused by some outside observers of being too loyal to his players during slumps. "I liked Ned," Hardy said. "I think there were guys that didn't and some guys that did, and I think that's the way it is with every manager on every team. I think there are a ton of players around the big leagues that are playing for managers they don't like." Through a club spokesperson, Yost declined to comment but he is expected to answer some questions on Tuesday. Yost was in a no-win situation with some of his players, according to Hardy. "Whatever he did, some of the players were looking at him too much," Hardy said. "If he was quiet and in the corner, they thought, 'Maybe he's nervous and he doesn't want to say anything.' If he was snapping his fingers and talking, it was like, 'He's nervous because he's snapping his fingers.' "Whatever he did, I feel like a lot of players were thinking that way, that it was a nervous reaction. I honestly think he did a lot better this year than last year, but it got to the point with some players that they weren't even looking for the good." In 2007, the Brewers built a lead in the NL Central as wide as 8 1/2 games, the best cushion in franchise history. They lost that lead by the end of August and ended up finishing two games behind the division champion Cubs. "It's not his fault, man. It's not his fault," outfielder Ryan Braun told reporters in the lobby of the team hotel in Chicago. "It's unfortunate somebody has to take the blame, but ultimately it's not his fault by any means. I've always said I think the players are the ones who are at fault. Whether we're winning or losing, it comes down to the way we play for him. There's nothing on the field he can do to make us play better. "I was really surprised at the timing of it. I at least thought they'd let the season play out and see what happened, but they felt like they needed to make a decision. Obviously, I have a lot of belief in upper management and ownership, the direction they see us going." Hardy believed he saw improvements in Yost. "This year, I thought he was doing a lot better job of being relaxed," Hardy said. "I saw it. I don't know if everybody else saw it, but this is one of the first years I started to understand him. "He wanted the best for us. He had good intentions and he wanted us to do the best we possibly could. At times, he wanted us to be as good as we possibly could all of the time. I think he was starting to understand, and now we have to understand that something had to happen. Now we need to play the best 12 games of our careers."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.