PHOENIX (AP) -Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio has complete confidence in manager Ned Yost.
Forget that the Brewers had an 8 1/2 game lead in late June before sliding to 83-79 and missing the playoffs. Disregard the criticism that Yost routinely mismanaged games. Attanasio can see that Yost has the ability to learn from his mistakes and improve.
``He's a dynamic leader,'' Attanasio said.
Yost, who had his contract quietly extended for 2009 in the offseason, built a vision with general manager Doug Melvin long before results came on the field.
Now in his sixth season as Brewers manager, Yost came to the club when it was in the midst of four straight seasons with 94 losses or more. His past three seasons have resulted in records of 81-81, 75-87 and 83-79, a marked improvement for a franchise that hadn't had a winning record since 1992.
``You just stayed positive because you knew what was coming,'' Yost said. ``You could see down the line, you could see Prince Fielder, you could see Rickie Weeks, you could envision J.J. Hardy, you could envision Corey Hart, (Yovani) Gallardo, Manny Parra, Ryan Braun. You could see all this starting to develop.
``I'd seen it in Atlanta, dead last place, dead last place, but I'd been in the minor leagues with all these kids coming that nobody else saw.''
Yost spent 12 years on the Braves' coaching staff with Bobby Cox, and Atlanta won division titles every year Yost was there except the strike-shortened 1994 season. When the Brewers hired Yost after the 2002 season, he saw the same potential to reshape a downtrodden franchise.
Attanasio said he routinely gauges players' satisfaction with Yost.
``I'm not trying to get a referendum on Ned, but players offer up that they enjoy playing for him,'' Attanasio said. ``Ben Sheets told me earlier in spring training how different things are now, and he wasn't talking about me, he was talking about Ned. Ned's got everything organized.''
Hart, the starting right fielder who was drafted in 2000, said Yost understands his players, and Milwaukee is getting a reputation of being a place to play to win.
``Every year, you keep coming in, everything's different, a little better, especially since Ned's been here,'' Hart said. ``The respect level for the organization keeps getting better and players keep coming in. More guys are wanting to play here.''
Besides homegrown talent, the Brewers have signed Jeff Suppan, Mike Cameron, Eric Gagne and Jason Kendall in the past two seasons. Infielder Craig Counsell, who played in Milwaukee in 2004, re-signed with the Brewers last year to bolster the defense.
Yost said he stays honest with his players about their roles. He also let many of his young players, such as Hardy and Weeks, learn on the job without fear of being benched when their performance dipped in the short term.
``(It takes) a lot of patience, I mean patience to not listen to what anybody else says or thinks,'' Yost said.
Hart said it was hard to watch Yost take all the criticism for the team's performance down the stretch last season - the first time Yost's Brewers played meaningful games in September.
``The players really didn't know how to handle it,'' Hart said. ``It was Ned's first time, but he was getting all the criticism instead of us and we were all trying to do too much and our stats were suffering. We just weren't winning.''
In the offseason, Melvin hired former eight-time All-Star Ted Simmons to be the bench coach, seemingly setting him up as Yost's successor if Yost struggles. Simmons was the Brewers starting catcher on the 1982 AL championship team that included Yost as his backup. But he said he's not sure he's cut out for the rigors of being a manager.
``It's like mentor in reverse because I've never managed,'' said Simmons, who has worked in front office jobs since his playing days ended in 1988. ``Ever since I took this thing, people say, 'Are you thinking about managing?' and I tell them the same thing, 'Not right now.'
``It's true because I don't know if this is something I'd want to do. It might be. But, I'm first of all getting used to bench coach.''
Attanasio said it's time for the young talent that has blossomed under Yost's leadership to put the Brewers in the postseason for the first time since 1982.
``We still have to get the wins,'' Attanasio said. ``There's a quantitative side to this, but what I think a lot of the fans don't see is the qualitative side, and he gets very high marks on the qualitative side.''
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