Monday, May 4, 2015

They Fired the Wrong Guy

Some Brewers fan may be celebrating the firing of manager Ron Roenicke today.  The Crew's 7-18 start is the worst in baseball--and for awhile looked like it would be the worst in National League history.  A pathetic performance like that certainly warrants "corrective action"--but as far as I'm concerned, the Brewers fired the wrong guy yesterday.  Or maybe, not enough guys.

While Ron Roenicke will never be confused for Tony LaRussa or Bruce Bochy when it comes to in-game management, I thought he was doing about the best he could with a roster that features little big-time, big league talent.  And the blame for that has to be put squarely on team President and General Manager Doug Melvin.

Last year's second half collapse was put mainly on Roenicke--but when you look at the analytics of the Brewers roster, it was merely the entire team returning to their career averages.  They had just been playing over their heads for the first couple of months--and the numbers caught up to them in the long run--as they almost always do in baseball.  But don't toss numbers around with Doug Melvin.  He thinks that the Carlos Gomez that was ripping line drives all over the ballpark in the first half of last year and the Ryan Braun that hit clutch homer after clutch homer during his "performance enhanced days" are the "real" Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun.  And that the pitchers who throw a lot of innings but never seem to win any games are somehow going to break losing streaks.  And that relievers who have never thrown strikes are suddenly going to find the strike zone under the tutelage of Rick Kranitz.

Consider that a team that suffered the collapse the Brewers did last year made no significant off-season acquisitions to shore up any of their deficiencies and you can see that Ron Roenicke was set up for failure by Doug Melvin.  You could blame injuries to the often-banged-up Gomez and Braun and Scooter Gennett and the freak broken toe suffered by Jonathan Lucroy--but the fact that only Martin Maldonado at catcher has been the only credible replacement shows you the lack of talent in the minor league system as well--a direct result of poor drafting by Doug Melvin as well.

It's ironic that Roenicke's firing came after the Brewers won their first series of the year--taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs.  A Cubs franchise that everyone agrees is poised to be a power in the National League for years to come--with a young roster built by analytics guru Theo Epstein--who used the same system to build the Boston Red Sox into a perennial power in the American League--and who is the antithesis of Doug Melvin in Milwaukee.

Of course, Doug isn't going to fire himself--so Brewers fans will have to hope that eventually Brewers owner Mark Attanasio will remove whatever wool has been pulled over his eyes and realize that this franchise is going nowhere fast--regardless of who is calling the shots in the dugout.

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