Tag:Ron Roenicke
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 11:24 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Milwaukee Brewers

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 96-66, 1st place in NL Central. Defeated Arizona 3-2 in NLDS, lost NLCS 4-2 to St. Louis.
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Best hitter: Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 11 RBI, 33 SB, 38 2B, 6 3B
Best pitcher: Yovani Gallardo -- 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 207 K in 207 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Brewers' offseason in 2010 was playoffs or bust -- and they made it. Despite early injuries to Zack Greinke and Corey Hart, the Brewers were able to stick around the top of the standings for the first half of the season and then took the lead for good after winning on July 27. From July 26 to Aug. 28, Milwaukee went 27-5 to go from a half-game back in the division to 10 1/2 games up. Braun and Prince Fielder both put up MVP-type numbers, and while their new starters, Greinke and Shaun Marcum, didn't challenge for the Cy Young, they were good enough and very good at times (at least in the regular season).

2012 AUDIT

Well, there's one big question mark. A really, really big question mark in Prince Fielder. Even though it's not much of a question, most expect him to leave Milwaukee, including Fielder. But Fielder's not the only free agent the Brewers have to deal with in the offseason. The team has seven free agents, plus a club option on Yuniesky Betancourt. That said, none of the others on the list come close to leaving a void anywhere near the one Fielder will leave. However, the team will have to seriously look at improving its infield.

FREE AGENTS

1B Prince Fielder
RHP Francisco Rodriguez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt ($6 million option)
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr.
RHP Takashi Saito
UTIL Craig Counsell
OF/1B Mark Kotsay

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sign Albert Pujols. No, I'm kidding. The Brewers are unlikely to be able to afford to keep Fielder around, much less sign Pujols. Make a goodwill offer to Fielder and let him turn it down to get every last dollar, that way you can tell your fans you tried and it wasn't up to you. If that's not enough to let you sleep at night, go see Moneyball and look into signing Scott Hatteberg -- it worked when the A's lost Jason Giambi. Mat Gamel is the internal option if you stand pat at first.
  • Decline Betancourt's option -- it costs you $2 million, but that's a small price to pay not to have Yuniesky Betancourt be your shortstop. Last offseason it cost the Royals Greinke, so consider yourself lucky. The replacement at shortstop doesn't need to be Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, just someone who can field the position. If the Red Sox get rid of Marco Scutaro, he could be available for below sticker price -- see if he's interested in returning to the Brewers, who developed him.
  • How about signing Aramis Ramirez to play third base? He'll be costly, but nowhere in the Fielder-Pujols range. He also adds to the offense and helps give Ryan Braun some protection. Casey McGehee hasn't proven himself to be worthy of a spot in the everyday lineup. And if Ramirez regresses any more defensively, he can shift to first base. Ramirez has remarked about just how much he likes Chicago, and Milwaukee is close enough.
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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Marcum exits early in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Before Game 6 of the NLCS on Sunday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the decision to start a struggling Shaun Marcum was "the right decision."

And it was. For the Cardinals.

Marcum was booed as he walked off the mound in the first inning, giving up four runs before his team took a single swing of the bat.

Even before David Freese hit a three-run homer, Roenicke had LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen. It took two very good defensive plays (and a questionable call by home plate umpire Mike Winters) to get the first two outs of the inning, as Marcum gave up a single to Jon Jay, a walk to Albert Pujols, an RBI single to Lance Berkman and Freese's homer in a four-run first. Marcum needed 27 pitches to get out of the inning.

Yuniesky Betancourt made a good running play on a popup by leadoff man Rafael Furcal in short left to start the inning before giving up a single to Jay. Jay stole second, and then after Pujols walked, Berkman singled and took second when Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan overthrew his cutoff man in a futile attempt to get Pujols at third.

The Brewers seemed to get the break they needed when Holliday hit a weak grounder back to the mound and Marcum scooped the ball to catcher Jonathan Lucroy to get Pujols at the plate. While the throw beat Pujols (barely), Lucroy tagged his back leg after his front leg had crossed the plate.

There wasn't much time to dwell on that, as Freese hit the first pitch he saw from Marcum over the fence in left. To give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.

Left-hander Chris Narveson started the second with the Brewers trailing 4-1 (Milwaukee's run came on a Corey Hart leadoff homer).

In three postseason starts, Marcum is on the hook for his third loss and pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing 17 hits and 16 earned runs, good for a 14.90 ERA. 

"I really feel good about this decision," Roenicke said before the game. "Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ball club, it's the right decision. And I've had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.

"It doesn't mean that he's going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he's pitched the last couple of games. And I think he's going to have a good game today."

Roenicke was wrong, but his reasoning in sticking with Marcum was that he didn't want to go with Yovani Gallardo on short rest, and if he did, he had few other choices for a starter in Game 7.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Morgan's been 'Tony Hush' in NLCS

Nyjer MorganBy C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The beginning of the NLCS featured quite a bit of talk about Nyjer Morgan -- but once the games have startered, the most noise around him is the booing he got from Cardianls fans in St. Louis.

Morgan is hitting just .200/.333/.300 in the NLCS and .192/..300/.269 in the playoffs. The spark plug of the Brewers offense has misfired as much as he's sparked.

"He's been pressing a little bit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's trying to do too much. And I try to remind him that what he's done for us all year is what we need. We don't need him to be more than what he's been. We need him to be what he's done for us."

Morgan has been quiet in the press since the series moved to St. Louis, and hasn't Tweeted since Tuesday and hasn't had more than one tweet in a day since the Brewers finished off the Diamondbacks.

"I didn't tell him (to stay quiet)," Roenicke said. "We talked about it after we got into the series just a little bit. He needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about all the outside stuff that goes on once in a while with him."

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Roenicke: No chance of Gallardo in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke reiterated his confidence in Shaun Marcum, his starter in Game 6, during Saturday's workout day news conference -- but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a backup plan in case Marcum's start goes south quickly.

Roenicke, of course, wouldn't share his break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan, but it did say it would not including throwing right-hander Yovani Gallardo on short rest.

"Yo is not an option," Roenicke said Saturday. "You know, really you guys talk about Yo and coming back on three days' rest. We have to win (Sunday) and the next day. You know, I don't know why I would bring back Yo to win (Sunday) when it would hurt us then for the next day and not being able to win. I don't know if there's a difference there. I think it makes sense to keep Yo on his basic rest. 

"You know, he wasn't that sharp the other day either. So to bring him back, if we had a chance if we were even up (Sunday), I would say yeah, Yo has a chance to be in our bullpen. But unfortunately we're not in that position."

As for Marcum, he said he never doubted that he'd be the choice if the series went six games.

"No, not at all. I know they had a lot of confidence in me and just talking with Ron and (pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz), and even guys in the clubhouse, you know, I think they felt that they're comfortable with me going out there, and you know, it's nice to have that kind of support."

Now it's his turn to show he can deliver and give Gallardo another chance to pitch this year.

"You know, I think I'm on the bandwagon with everybody in here, probably everybody in the country that wants to see Yo versus (Chris Carpenter) in Game 7," Marcum said. "So I'm going to try to get the ball to Yo." 

Roenicke also said he would stick by struggling second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has four errors this postseason and three in this series. Weeks is also hitting just .211/.250/.421 in the NLCS.

"I think you stick with him. You know, Rickie's a guy that our lineup depends on," Roenicke said. "We depend on him swinging the bat well. He protects Prince (Fielder). He's got the ability to if you get a couple of guys on base to drive the ball out of a ballpark. And we felt like coming into the playoffs that we needed Rickie, we needed his presence in there behind Prince. And I know his swings have gotten better. But I know there's still some things that he's not locked in there, both offensively and defensively."

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 2:32 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 4

Francisco Rodriguez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers' bullpen has been a strength since the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez, but a bullpen is a strength you don't really want to rely upon, especially in a postseason series.

Coming into Game 4, no Brewers starter had gone more than six innings in the NLCS and only once -- in Game 1 of the NLDS -- had a Brewers starter done it in the postseason. In the first three games against the Cardinalds, the Brewers bullpen had pitched 11 innings to 15 by the starters.

Now, there's been plenty of rest in between and there are enough arms to get it done, but it's not exactly a good sign when relievers are pitching that much. In Game 4 Friday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was finally about to use his bullpen just like he wanted it -- Rodrigue in the eight and closer John Axford in the ninth, simple as that.

That was due to the performance of Randy Wolf, as the veteran left-hander threw seven innings, allowing just two runs and none after the third inning of MIlwaukee's 4-2 victory over St. Louis.

NLCS Coverage

Wolf, actually, was the first starting pitcher in this series to go into the seventh inning -- and he breezed through his last inning, finishing the day having allowed six hits, striking out six and walking one. He threw 107 pitches, 74 for strikes and retiring the final six batters he faced.

"There's no way I could put into words of just the intensity that's there every inning," Wolf said. "You know how important every out is. You know how either team, if they have an opportunity to score, how good they are at taking advantage of that opportunity."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on using his bullpen: "We had a chance to win today. This is October. This is not the season where when this series is over you have to play for another 20 days or something. It's real simple. This is the end of the season for these starters, too, so they are probably not as strong. Go as far as you can, as long as you can and we have plenty of bullpen help."

• Wolf on Matt Holliday's second-inning homer: "Off the bat, I first thought i was a foul ball, and then I saw the ball staying fair, i thought it was going to be a fly-out. But you know, he's one of those guys that has brute strength. He's just a big, strong guy, and you know, I think all three of us, me, George (Kottaras) and Matt, we were all kind of surprised that went out. But he's a strong enough guy. It's like trying to pitch to Brian Urlacher. He's a beast."

• Cardinals right fielder Allen Craig on Wolf: "We jumped on him early, and then he went away from his change up and started going to his curveball. That made it tough on us and we just didn't adjust."

• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke on the decision not to pinch-hit for Wolf in the sixth: "There was a lot going on there. You know, really, if we decided -- we decided that if we had a great opportunity with Wolf's spot, that we would probably hit for him. But how it came up, really, if we were going to do that, probably we were going to have to also hit for George. So you go through (Jonathan Lucroy) and then use a pinch-hitter. If we used Corey (Hart), they would have walked him, left-to-lefty and probably to face Nyjer (Morgan). There was a lot going on. They had some options. They had (Octavio) Dotel down warming up. They had a lot of options, and we did, too.

"I don't know why we decided to leave it as is. We already were up a run, which had a lot to do with it (and) felt good with George facing Arthur Rhodes and putting it in play and at least getting us one run. And he did a good job there."

• Craig Counsell on Jerry Hairston Jr.: "Every time he comes up, his at-bats are so solid. He's been a great addition. I don't think anybody anticipated him playing that great a role, but I know he's impressed everyone in here, that's for sure."

• Hairston on the team's loose attitude: "You know what, we are a loose bunch of guys. Even when we were getting beat pretty good in Game 2, we were still kind of loose. They just caught fire and really beat us pretty good, and I think one of the guys said we need to score two touchdowns to get back in the game. That's the type of team we have to be, we have to be loose, because, you know, I think it was in late August or early September, we tried to tone it down and we lost three or four games in a row, and we said, you know, we can't be that way. We have to go out there and have fun. No disrespect to any team, but we have to go out and have fun and enjoy ourselves, and we've been doing that and we've been successful."

• Hairston on the Brewers' breaking their eight-game playoff road losing streak: "Eight? Oh, like in '82? Come on man. I guess we can blame them for most of those losses, right? They were a great team, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor. Listen, that was a long time ago. We felt that we had been a pretty good road team the last six weeks of the season and we felt our team really started to get complete. We felt we could play anywhere."

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:07 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 2:10 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 3

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has repeatedly said he doesn't like to intentionally walk batters -- but he ordered three free passes in Wednesday's 4-3 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals, two to Albert Pujols. All three worked.

"I think when it really makes sense, we'll do it. I don't want to just put him on to put him on. You saw we put him on with a guy on third base. Next thing you know, it's second and third instead of first and third. They get a base hit there, they are scoring two runs instead of just one," Roenicke said. "We are going to pick our spots where we think we need to do it. If it comes up, you know, where it makes sense, then we'll try to put him on. But you know, he's scary when he's hitting everything, and we make good pitches and he's still hitting them. He's done a lot of damage to us."

Pujols had hits in both at-bats in which the Brewers threw to him.

Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman was asked if he would pitch to Pujols right now: "Maybe. It would just depend on match ups. I don't think anybody thinks as highly as I do in terms of where he ranks in the history of the game, I think he's probably the greatest hitter ever -- doing it in this ballpark and in this era. It's a worldwide game, you have players from all over everywhere," he said. "That being said, I'm having a hard time walking anybody to get to Matt Holliday. This guy's won a batting title, he's been an LCS MVP. So, you might get him a couple of times, but you better be careful, because if you keep doing it, he's going to make you pay."

Holliday was 0 for 3, so he didn't. He has three hits in the series, but all three have been singles. 

Other things overheard after Game 3:

• Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter on Albert Pujols: "I was very fortunate to watch this guy play of rate last nine years. And when you are that type of player at that level, the expectations from you, me, I'm sure his family, his kids' friends, I mean, anybody that's out there, the expectation levee for what he's supposed to do is unbelievable. That being said, he continues to amaze me every single year. Every year, you can't believe the things that he does, the games that he has, the pressures that he deal with, distractions that he deals with.

"Coming int this season, free agent, how much money he is going to get, best player in baseball, is he going be here? Is he not going to be here? And he comes in, just like the same old Albert, and works hard in spring training, starts off a little slow, everybody is questioning whether or not it's because of his contract situation. No, he continues to grind, he continues to play and continues to do the things that amazes every single one of us every single day. So what he's doing now, does that -- it's him. That's who he is. He's an exceptional player, exceptional hitter. He's got the mind of stone. Nothing bothers him no matter what the situation he's in -- and that's what makes him great."

• Brewers infielder Craig Counsell on the Cardinals bullpen: "They've struggled with their bullpen, but they've got guys in the roles they want them in now. They've turned the corner."

• Mark Kotsay on Chris Carpenter: "He didn't have a feel for his curveball. He left some pitches on the plate that we took advantage of. But he made his pitches when he had to, got out of a couple of jams ... it was interesting that Tony took him out there with the pitcher's spot coming up in the fifth, but Tony (La Russa) obviously knows Carp, he knows his bullpen and he did a great job."

• Cardinals third baseman, and Missouri native, David Freese on Stan Musial's pre game appearance: "It's unreal. Every time Stan Musial comes around the clubhouse, we take time to go say hi to him. And when he gets on the field, whether it's tonight or opening day, all of the guys that are in the Hall come out and join him. It's just special to be a part of."

• Carpenter on Octavio Dotel and Arhtur Rhodes: "I think Doti and Arthur have brought a lot of confidence to some of these younger guys to not care; to go out, not be concerned about what's going to happen. Let's go out and give it our best and see what happens. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't, and we'll go get 'em the next day."

• Tony La Russa on Yovani Gallardo: "He's got all of the pitches. We got him before he got sharp, but he's the real deal and he showed it. We had a couple of great chances to add, which normally come back to haunt you, but our pitching staff prevented that. But let me tell you, he's a handful, and he's every bit as good as a No. 1 starter is supposed to be."

• Gallardo on his start: "I think I was off the whole game, to be honest with you, even after the first. The four innings after that, I was struggling putting the ball where I wanted to."

He was then asked if it was any pitch in particular: "A little bit with every pitch. I'd hit my spot, and then the next one would be up in the zone, or not even close."

Corey Hart on the Freese double in the first inning: "It just kind of carried off, but I still had to go after it. I knew I was close to the track. It was like his home run [in Game 2] the other day, it just kept going. He's a strong kid."

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 7:20 pm
 

NLCS hopes to dodge the rain

Octavio Dotel

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers starter Randy Wolf isn't starting tonight and he say he wasn't worried about getting Game 3 of the NLCS in ahead of rain here, but he did worry enough to check out the forecast. 

"According to my AccuWeather I have on my iPhone, we are not supposed to get any rain, so I think we are going to be OK," Wolf said. "It's usually pretty right, too."

The Weather Channel app on my iPhone said there was supposed to be rain all afternoon and possible through the night, but I haven't felt a drop yet, so maybe I should change apps -- even though the skies have been gray all day and it's looked like it could rain at any minute.

"Cautiously optimistic is kind of the way I would explain it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said before the game. "They think -- the latest check was 3 p.m. They are going to check again at 5 p.m. They are optimistic that we can play. But they are also, by the way, they were very clear, the Commissioner does not want a lot of delays, interruptions and (the like.)"

Ron Roenicke said he'd talked to Joe Garagiola Jr. of the commissioner's office and they don't want anything to mess with the starters -- especially with the matchup of the team's two best pitchers.

"I think probably if we get to about the 6:30 mark is really an important time when -- if we are going to start this thing on time and what we are going to do. Because you get farther than that, and we run into a situation where we ran into this year, where both starters were warmed up and walking off the field and we had an hour-and-a-half delay," Roenicke said. "Something I'm sure the Yankee-Detroit game had something to do with that and what happened. So those are tough calls, because there's some times when -- right now it looks like it's drizzle, but something can happen later on where it builds up more."

With rain being the only thing to mar this postseason so far, it's obvious that baseball wouldn't want another game changed by the weather. Both the Detroit-New York ALDS and the ALCS have had delays and rainouts. The National League has been lucky so far -- helped by the fact both Milwaukee and Arizona have retractable domes. But of course, today's the first game the Brewers have had without a dome in the postseason, so there's rain in order.

Maybe it's just following Wolf.

"You know, my first years in Philadelphia, I was nicknamed the Rain Man, because it seemed like every time I pitched, it rained," Wolf said. "But I learned, you just get ready for the game and you don't worry about what the weather is, because that's another external thing you can't control. But I think (Yovani Gallardo), today, he's going to be ready to pitch; he always is. I don't think that will be much of a concern."

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