Friday, May 24, 2013

In Support of Ron Roenicke

Maybe it's the 18-27 record, maybe it's his curious tactical maneuvers, or maybe it's a litany of other reasons, but fan support of Ron Roenicke is eroding. I am not among those losing faith in Roenicke because I believe he is the right man to turn this season around. This confidence is borne from my opinion of the primary purpose of a major league manager.

There are plenty of tactical errors that belong on Roenicke's permanent record. Starting Shawn Marcum over Chris Narveson while playing Mark Kotsay in center field in the third most important game in franchise history (Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS) are two standing at the top of the list. However, more important than making the right moves is keeping 25 players focused over a punishing 162 game schedule. Managing is about handling egos and protecting players, and since the beginning of 2011 Roenicke has proven capable of doing these things. The best example of this occurred last season.

A comical and persistent failure of the bullpen led to the Brewers a 54-66 on August 19th of 2012. This team was swept in three games at Philadelphia, each game by a score of 7-6 and each loss the result of a blown save. For most teams this would be a total shock, for the Brewers it was the status quo. Yet despite the cavalcade of discouraging losses the Brewers clawed their way to within 1.5 games of the wild card late in the season. There was more than one cause of this surge, and I believe the steady demeanor and leadership of Roenicke was a primary driver. There was no clubhouse mutiny or mass sulking, just a 29-13 finish to the season.

Roenicke will periodically mismanage the bullpen and bat players too high in the lineup, but he'll also keep the clubhouse together and herd cats like a boss. Until the starting pitching gets better that's all you can ask the skipper of this team to do.

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