In my last post, I posed the question on whether Brewers manager Ron Roenicke should be fired. I said that if the club missed the postseason then some serious soul searching should be done, Well, I think not because today the club announced that he will return for his 5th year. I wonder how much this has to do with money because Roenicke has a year left on his contract and the Brewers are loathe to eat them.
So now we get another year of mismanaging pitchers especially since pitching coach Rick Kranitz was retained. At least he won’t be compelled to use Rickey Weeks in some twisted sense of loyalty
At the beginning of the year I cited four factors on why the club would not go to the postseason. Let’s review.
1. The Ryan Braun distraction.
It wasn’t as bad as predicted but Braun;s production dropped while playing with a chronic thumb injury. When the club needed him most, he, among many others, disappeared leading to the gastly September collapse. Braun seems bored out there, like he would rather be anywhere else than playing ball. The Brewers still owe him a bunch of cash so don’t expect any changes here.
2. Find a first baseman.
This worked out exactly as I predicted as Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay combined were dead last in OBP among all first basemen. While Overbay was an excellent clutch hitter, it was obvious he could not play everyday. Meanwhile Reynolds did not surprise anyone when he once again struck out at a staggering rate while driving in less than 50 runs and hitting below the Mendoza line.That’s two straight seasons now without an answer at an important position.
3. Fix the problem at second base.
Roenicke’s stubborn insistence on platooning Rickie Weeks was exasperating. Scooter Gennett proved he could hit at this level against right handers but he never had a chance to prove he could hit left handers. How is he supposed to play everyday next year if he wasn’t in there against left-handed pitching? Kris Davis played against both. Weeks couldn’t get out of town fast enough.
4. Improve the rotation.
I was skeptical about the Matt Garza signing because he is injury-prone. Garza did very well but missed most of September. Kyle Lohse was steady as she goes, the most consistent starter. Wily Peralta is on the cusp of being an ace. Michael Fiers came up and pitched so impressively that there’s no doubt he’ll remain in the rotation in 2015.That leaves supposed ace Yovanni Gallardo whose option will be picked up for next year. Gallardo has had a strikingly consistent career ERA hovering near 3.70. But after eight years as a starter he is still wildly unpredictable; you never know how he will pitch from start to start. Overall the rotation delivered over the course of the season so I will submit that I missed on this one.
Now what does the future hold for the team? Sadly they are not organized to become winners like the Cardinals who are the role-model of consistent excellency. Starting in 2008, Melvin made what was a brilliant move at the trading line that year by acquiring CC Sabathia whose remarkable record and winning attitude propelled the team into the postseason. But that was for one fleeting moment. The next two years the club fell back to mediocrity going 80-82 and 77-85 under the zombie like manager Ken Macha.
Melvin went all-in prior to the 2011 season picking up Zach Greinke, Francisco Rodriguez and to a lesser degree Shaun Marcum. That was enough to win 96 games and get into the post season,the best record in their history. But at what cost? The three years since then have produced 83-79, 77-83 and 80-82 records.
To get into the playoffs twice in six years, Melvin has bankrupted their minor league system to the extent that there are no top prospects to even use in a trade. Baseball America listed the Top 100 prospects prior to the season and not one Brewer was listed. To get Sabathia, he traded Matt LaPorta who washed out and Michael Brantley who had a breakthrough year in 2014. In 2011, he traded Jed Lawrie straight up for Marcum. To get Greinke, he traded Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jake Odorrizi. Cain and Escobar have been key to the Royals success this year and Odorizzi was a member of the Rays rotation with nothing but upside for him.
In addition, in 2010 he traded JJ Hardy already an All-Star for Carlos Gomez straight up. Gomez struggled for three years before finally reaching his potential in 2013 but then receding slightly this year. I only oppose letting Fielder walk because no good replacement has yet to be found. He allowed Corey Hart to walk. At first I thought this was crazy since Hart could’ve played first base this year. In retrospect though, Hart hit only .203 in 68 games. This year he traded Nori Aoki, another key contributor for the Royals for a pitcher who never played a full season before and who wore down when needed most.
I would rather have a team like the Cardinals, Rays, A’s, and soon to be Cubs, Royals,Mariners and Pirates.Why? They’ve built up organizations to be consistent contenders. The Brewers as currently organized will continue to be a team of highs and lows with just enough interest to keep the fans coming back,
So let’s say that none of this had happened. Here’s what the roster might look like today.
c- Jonathan Lucroy
1b – Hunter Morris
2b- Scooter Gennett
ss- JJ Hardy
3b – Jed Lawrie
lf- Ryan Braun
cf- Michael Brantley
rf – Nori Aoki
Reserves – Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Corey Hart
These are all Brewers draftees of which only 8 still remain and arguably the best of this lot is gone,
In the meantime Cubs fans are going to be treated by the team Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have put together. A team of solid proven players with a group of prospects second to none. Once they sign Jon Lester, James Shields or both, we will be looking at them from the bottom up for years to come. What would you prefer, 2 sniffs at the postseason and mediocrity or having a team that can challenge most years?
I know which one I prefer but unfortunately it will not happen before Melvin is finally fired.