Results tagged ‘ Ron Roenicke ’
A few funny things have happened on the way to June.
While the Brewers have been slogging through a seesaw month of May (two and six in their first eight, five and one in the next six, one and five in the six after that, five and two in the most recent seven games entering play on May 31st), they’ve tinkered and toyed with some things that we simply wouldn’t see — because we haven’t — in recent history.
First, the Brewers posted their May 24th lineup and it featured a major change. After a day off to rest his tweaked oblique, rightfielder Ryan Braun was back in the lineup but he was hitting second. It’s a move that sabermetricians would love as there is plenty of statistical evidence that the second spot in the lineup is the most efficient and productive spot for your “best” hitter. Braun and his offensive brethren would falter in that game from a run production standpoint as they would only score once despite 11 hits. (It was Braun that scored the run, for what it’s worth.) But this would not be a one day trial that manager Ron Roenicke would abandon due to lackluster results in the columns of R or W.
Roenicke explained his thoughts after the game, more or less, and confirmed that this was the plan for a while. Truth be told, it started in phases even though that might not have been by design. Season-long leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez needed a day off two days earlier on May 22. It was that day that Roenicke moved Jean Segura up to lead off for Milwaukee. Segura responded by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored in a loss to Atlanta. When Gomez returend on May 23, Roenicke left Segura at the top and inserted the powerful Gomez in the cleanup position. That was seen as a reaction to Braun being out and moving Jonathan Lucroy up to Braun’s customary third spot. It was seen as a blip and scarcely even mentioned let alone thought deeply about. Then Braun returned on May 24 and Segura, Lucroy and Gomez held their positions as Braun slid in at number two.
The offense has been on a tear since that 22nd of May, tying a franchise record with at least 10 hits in 10 straight games. All this has happened without Aramis Ramirez, and it’s almost June 1, which we collectively know as Aramis Ramirez Day. If he comes back (scheduled for Wednesday in Minnesota and likely DHing) and doesn’t take long to warm up, the offense could really make a splash early in the second third of the season.
But there is more going on than just a significant lineup change.
On that same May 24 in Miami, the Brewers outrighted Jeff Bianchi to Triple-A Nashville after he cleared waivers. Bianchi, who is out of options, has been outrighted off of a 40-man roster before in his career and therefore had the right to refuse this assignment thereby electing free agency. He eventually decided to stay, but the point here is that there was more going on than simply swapping one utility infielder for another (they called up Irving Falu, but you know that).
The Brewers of the recent past would not risk losing an asset, even one grossly underperforming as was Bianchi, by outrighting them. This is a front office displaying more of a sense of urgency than even they themselves did this off-season by signing Matt Garza and bolstering a rotation that many assumed they’d just fill in house with five readily identified arms.
That they were willing to shake up their lineup, one that had been struggling to score runs shortly beforehand, and outright Bianchi at all speaks to the team’s desire to sustain their position atop the National League Central. They are not going to stand idly by, subscribing to the Ned Yost School of Thought that once infamously and dismissively reminded worriers that his Brewers were “still in first place”.
No. These Brewers, while still in first place, were seeing a once large lead begin diminshing as perennial division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals began to find their stride a bit while the Brewers scuffled. Their lead was down to 1.5 games as recently as May 27. Milwaukee is certainly striding right at the moment as they’ve won their last three with St. Louis losing its last three and the division lead entering play on the last day of May was back up to 4.0 full games.
Complacency and status quo are not seemingly in the toolbox of the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers. Kudos to them for yet another day alone in first place (where they’ve been since April 9) but more so they deserve accolades and attention for not just thinking that was good enough.
What’s more? They aren’t necessarily done.
They could consider changes in their first base platoon, including dumping the defensively solid but weak-sticked Lyle Overbay. They could juggle their bullpen pieces a bit which they’ll have to do when Tom Gorzelanny is ready but there’s certainly room for more if they desire. They could certainly continue to tweak their bench and bring in a more powerful option their the currently versatile yet light-hitting duo of Falu and Elian Herrera. And if someone doesn’t perform in that rotation or if they need to use a piece to get a piece elsewhere, they could make the decision to go with Jimmy Nelson at some point.
The bottom line is that if they decide to stand pat this season it won’t be due to a lack of want to change nor will it be due to any apprehension thereof. This is a front office that not only sees the benefits in making moves, but certainly won’t be lured in by making a change for the sake of change.
It’s a different feeling than we’re used to as fans over recent history, but it’s certainly a welcome one.
Following his season debut (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K), spot starter Jimmy Nelson was optioned back down to the minor leagues. As I said on Twitter at the time, it was an exciting glimpse at a piece of the Brewers future.
Nelson had a number of high leverage moments in his start and got through them all with high marks.
In his place, the Brewers filled their opening on the 40-man roster and strengthened their bench by purchasing the contract of infielder Irving Falu from their Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. Falu fills the open spot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster that was vacated when utility man Jeff Bianchi was outrighted to Nashville following Saturday’s game in Miami.
Falu, 30, will join the Brewers as they arrive home following their season-long 10-game road trip. He brings with him a .280/.342/.333 slash line in 38 games for the Sounds. He has also appeared in 14 games defensively at shortstop, including 12 starts. That’s a key note because when the Brewers decided to outright Bianchi to Nashville, they did so knowing that they preferred a replacement who could help fill the void as a backup defenseman, especially at the crucial position of shortstop. Falu is skilled at second base and third base as well, once again providing quality versatility.
(For more on Falu’s background, check out his “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” entry from Spring Training.)
Like Elian Herrera who has also been tapped more than once this season in no small part because of his defensive versatility, Falu is a switch-hitter. Unlike Herrera, Falu’s career handedness splits aren’t as drastic at all. In 2014 for Nashville to this point though, he’s slashing .314/.386/.392 as a right-handed hitter but only .259/.315/.296 as a left-handed hitter.
Still, Falu should be capable of proving a nice boost off the bench where Bianchi had been faltering of late. It remains to be seen exactly how Ron Roenicke orders his defensive depth chart, but the Brewers field manager is on record as liking the game of Falu who was one of the final players cut in Spring Training.
Hopefully he performs better and more consistently than did his predecessor.
BREWERS ON DECK, PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER CABLE, TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Free Admission to All Fans in 2014; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force
Nearly thirty Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
Admission to this year’s Brewers On Deck is free of charge. Tickets are not required for the event. Food donations will be accepted through the Hunger Task Force (peanut butter is requested by the Hunger Task Force, in particular). Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street. Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
- Jeff Bianchi
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Hiram Burgos
- Khris Davis
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Scooter Gennett
- Caleb Gindl
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Brooks Hall
- Sean Halton
- Donovan Hand
- Johnny Hellweg
- Jim Henderson
- Elian Herrera
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Hunter Morris
- Jimmy Nelson
- Mark Reynolds
- Jason Rogers
- Logan Schafer
- Jean Segura
- Kevin Shackelford
- Will Smith
- Tyler Thornburg
- Rob Wooten
- Craig Counsell
- Rollie Fingers
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Geoff Jenkins
- Gorman Thomas
- Robin Yount
- Ron Roenicke
- Joe Crawford
- Mike Guerrero
- Marcus Hanel
- Garth Iorg
- Rick Kranitz
- Johnny Narron
- Ed Sedar
- John Shelby
- Lee Tunnell
- Jerry Augustine
- Dave Nelson
- Bob Uecker
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center District. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted next week. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
Fans also have the opportunity to enter to win autographs from their favorite players via a #BrewersOnDeck Vine & Instagram contest, which runs through Monday, January 20. The details can be found here: http://brewers.mlblogs.com/2014/01/07/win-an-autograph-from-your-favorite-brewers-player-at-brewers-on-deck/
Here is Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Monday from Baseball’s Winter Meetings…
…and here is field manager Ron Roenicke from Orlando as well.
This is something I meant to ask before the end of the regular season, but the beauty of the off-season is that we’ve got plenty of time.
Jonathan Lucroy spent a good portion of the 2013 season hitting third and did an admirable job. The third spot in the order is taken for 2014 though with the return of Ryan Braun. So it led me to the question, where should Jonathan Lucroy hit in the batting order next season?
Here’s a breakdown of Lucroy’s splits by his most-seen spots in the order in 2013:
3rd: 54 G, 232 PA, 205 AB, 27 R, 58 H, 11 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 6 SB, 22 BB, 31 K, .283/.353/.400/.753,
4th: 34 G, 141 PA, 125 AB, 12 R, 38 H, 9 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 3 SB, 14 BB, 12 K, .304/.376/.560/.936
5th: 42 G, 169 PA, 155 AB, 17 R, 41 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB, 9 BB, 22 K, .265/.308/.439/.746
So, I ask you, Brewer Nation…
The Milwaukee Brewers announced that all members of the 2013 Major League coaching staff will return for the 2014 season under fourth-year manager Ron Roenicke.
The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. “While this season has not been what we had hoped, I believe the continuity with Ron Roenicke’s coaching staff is important,” said Melvin.
“With the Club having 12 rookies and the arrival of a new group of Brewer farmhands, our coaches have worked hard to blend our young players’ development with our experienced players as we work toward getting back to the postseason.”
Ed Sedar, the longest-tenured coach on the staff, will return for his eighth season overall and fourth as third base coach. Returning for their fourth seasons on the staff are Garth Iorg (fi rst base coach), Rick Kranitz (pitching coach) and Jerry Narron (bench coach). Johnny Narron (hitting coach) returns for his third season and Lee Tunnell (bullpen coach) returns for his second. Outfield coach John Shelby returns to the staff but will no longer be in the dugout during games. Shelby will continue to assist hitting coach Johnny Narron.
Triple-A Nashville Sounds manager Mike Guerrero has been added to the Major League staff as a coach. He will assist Garth Iorg with infield instruction and be assigned other responsibilities by manager Ron Roenicke. “Mike Guerrero is being rewarded for the loyalty and hard work that he has provided the Brewers’ minor-league organization for many years,” said Melvin. “With the majority of his baseball career spent with the Brewers, Mike has touched and assisted in the development of a large number of past and present players.”
Guerrero joined the organization in 1996 as manager of the Rookie Dominican League Brewers (1996-2002). He has also served as manager at Rookie Arizona Brewers (2004-05), Class-A West Virginia (2006-07), Class-A Brevard County (2008-09), Double-A Huntsville (2010-11) and Triple-A Nashville (2012-13). He spent one season (2003) as the hitting coach at Class-A Beloit. As a player, the former minor-league infi elder spent nine seasons with the Milwaukee (1987-92, ‘94-95) and Kansas City (1993) organizations.
Here is post-game audio from the final home game of the season. This includes my exclusive with Donovan Hand after the Brewers’ 6-4 win over the rival Cardinals.
Enjoy it all!
Ron Roenicke’s Post-game Press Conference
Jim Henderson on the game, facing Matt Adams with the game on the line, the realization of his dreams, Mariano Rivera, etc.
Exclusive! Donovan Hand on coming in to a tough situation on Sunday, and how he views his role moving forward in his career
Scooter Gennett on confidence, coming through in the clutch, and goals for the off-season and 2014
Henderson, who is nine-for-nine in Save opportunities this season, was pitching in Friday night’s game when he strained his right hamstring on a pitch. The play resulted in the second out of the top of the ninth inning but with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead and seeing their first victory of the season when they scored three or fewer runs, Henderson could not physically continue.
Manager Ron Roenicke called on the recently added Francisco Rodriguez to face Neil Walker in an attempt to get the final out. Rodriguez induced a ground ball to the second baseman and the Brewers won the day. For Rodriguez it was his first Save of the year and the 295th of his MLB career.
After Friday’s game, Henderson spoke to the media and felt that he might be ready to go after a few days of rest but Roenicke countered by saying that Henderson would see the doc and they’d make their decision based on roster considerations as well as health. In other words, the Brewers couldn’t afford to carry another down pitcher if Henderson was going to miss even a handful of games.
The doctor made his diagnosis and recommendation on Saturday afternoon. With no time to get a replacement to town, and with a decision still to be made on who that would be anyway, the Brewers waited until Saturday night to DL their current closer.
So who comes up from the minor leagues for Sunday’s afternoon affair? Well, that all depends.
Do the Brewers just call up their choice for Tuesday’s starting pitcher? Do they summon a reliever for two days and exchange him for that same starter after Monday’s game? Or will Alfredo Figaro start on Tuesday so a relief pitcher can come up and just stay through until later in the week?
It’d be easier to know what they are going to do if we knew who was coming, but they’re probably deciding on what before they pick who.
If they go get a starter, I’d still expect it to be Tyler Thornburg despite his early season struggles with Triple-A Nashville. Thornburg would be the least affected by the situation, methinks. Furthermore, his next turn is scheduled for Monday so he’d be on close-to-regular rest.
If they choose to summon a bullpen arm, some names I’d watch for are Jesus Sanchez and Michael Olmsted. Sanchez has solid numbers so far for Nashville which works in his favor. Olmsted was the darling of Spring Training and one of the final cuts from camp.
That announcement will come prior to Sunday’s game though so keep it tuned to your favorite fan blogger (or me, if they’re unavailable) for all the details in the morning.
John Axford began the 2013 season as the Milwaukee Brewers closer and, more telling, as the longest tenured member of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. Gone were holdovers and friends, colleagues and mentors, teammates and Brew-Tang Clan members.
After struggling through much of 2012, the playoff push that the Brewers put together in August and September last season was fueled in no small part by the resurgence of Axford as closer. He was good again.
He entered 2013 coming off of an okay run with Team Canada and a handful of lukewarm outings in Cactus League play, but he was the closer. There was no doubt that he would start the season firing on all cylinders.
Except that then he didn’t.
I take some guff on Twitter for when I support Axford in Save opportunities. I tweet a simple hashtag when he’s entering the game in a Save opp. “#JohnAxfordSaves” is all it reads. It was a play off of his follicle situation in 2011 when he got on his incredible consecutive Saves streak. He had long hair, great facial hair, and was saving games. It worked. No one complained in 2011. People would wait for the tweet, expect the tweet, and retweet the hell out of it. We had fun. Then 2012 happened and Axford blew a whopping. astronomical, unbelievable, unfathomable, ridiculous, asinine… nine Saves. He saved 35. But those nine failures in a game of failure led a handful of people to whine about the use of the hashtag. I kept it going this year in the lone opportunity that he had. I’ll use it again in his next opportunity.
I make mention of the hashtag situation because the next opportunity Axford gets certainly seems like it’ll be coming sooner rather than later.
In comments to the media this past week, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that it might not take much to give Axford the closer’s job back in Milwaukee. I won’t break down bullpen roles and personnel utilization here, but let’s focus on why Roenicke felt it was okay to make that statement.
John Axford appears to be back.
In his first four appearances of 2013, Axford’s results were pretty bad. Ironically, his best outing of the group was the one in which he blew his only Save chance this year when Dexter Fowler (who has since shown a much more powerful approach this season) jumped a first-pitch fastball in a bad location for a solo home run. Ax struck out the side around that pitch, including walking no one. Then, over the next three games Axford allowed a combined eight earned runs on eight hits and two walks over just 2.1 innings pitched. His ERA sat at 24.30 and some fans who only remembered the number nine instead of 35 and 46 were calling for his role, job, spot on the roster, and anything else within (and a couple completely outside of) reason.
I said it during last season, but Axford was so good in 2011 that he was set up to disappoint casual fans in 2012. He simply couldn’t be expected to maintain that level of success. There’s something called “sustainability” when looking at trends and averages and the like in statistical analysis of this great game. Guys hit well over .400 for stretches during the season, as an example, but there’s a reason nobody has hit .400 over an entire season in such a long time. In short, Axford shouldn’t have been expected to go 46-for-48 again, but some people did expect it and wildly jeered him when he didn’t deliver.
When Axford is “right”, he’s got upper-90s velocity, he keeps his fastball down in the zone as the norm, and can throw both of his off-speed pitches for strikes. His fastball has always been a bit straight, but location helps and being able to keep hitters off of it with the curveball and slider is important as well. When Axford was struggling to start the season, his velo was down and despite having relatively good command, he was getting hit pretty hard.
Axford has put together a run of six scoreless outings since that early-season blowup. He’s thrown 5.1 innings and allowed exactly two hits and zero walks. Over that same span he’s also struck out six batters. The first couple of games in this mini-run were certainly encouraging, but Axford would still give up some hard hit balls and his fastball would sit 93 and touch 95. Then the appearance in San Diego really started to puts some doubters — though somehow not most — at ease.
Coming out of the visitor’s bullpen to work an ultimately clean inning, Axford had the velo back. He was hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun and kept the ball down in the zone. It was a truly vintage Axford performance.
Following Roenicke’s comments about the closer’s job though, Axford was talked to by the media to get his thoughts about the job. He told reporters that, “(Current closer) Jim (Henderson) has my vote of support. If that’s what’s working now, it’s definitely the best thing. You don’t want to fix anything that’s not broken, that’s for sure.”
Those are words that fans would definitely prefer to hear right now as Henderson has been perfect in Save opportunities so far in 2013, but given Axford’s disposition and attitude, you have to think he isn’t just blowing the proverbial smoke.
Reporters then asked Axford about the rediscovery of his lost velocity. Axford admitted that there was “a very subtle change” in his mechanics that both pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell helped identify and fix.
“It was a small adjustment of literally being more athletic, the way Lee told me to do it in the first place in 2009,” said Axford. “I was getting too upright on the mound, and now I’m making sure I’m more athletic and over my body. It was just a matter of being more comfortable with it.”
With the big fastball back and still commanding all of his pitches, Axford certainly has the look of someone who has returned to the form that netted him both Cy Young and MVP votes after the 2011 season.
Will there be hiccups along the way? Yes. Expect some, don’t freak out every time something goes wrong, and you’ll enjoy these games a lot more.
As for the hashtag, it’ll be there in all its superstitious glory just as soon as it’s accurate to do so.
Miller Park was buzzing on Saturday night as the Brewers’ 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Hiram Burgos, made his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs.
Burgos’ first pitch was a strike, but despite allowing his first batter faced to reach on a bloop single, Burgos faced the minimum through three. A true test though would be the second time through the order. The hitters made a bit more contact, though none of it solid, in the fourth inning, leading to a Cubs’ run and a tie game.
He was sharp throughout, keeping the visitors off balance with his repertoire of pitches. Back in February, Burgos told me that he throws four pitches: a fastball that sits between 88-92 MPH, a change up between 83-84, a cut fastball of 86-87 MPH, and a curveball down around 73 MPH. He utilized everything he had on this night, working through five full innings and not walking any hitters. He’d have gone farther as he finished the fifth at just 83 pitches, but Ron Roenicke pinch-hit for the young Puerto Rican as the offense had put runners at 2nd and 3rd with just one out.
The Brewers ended up scoring two runs in the inning, putting Burgos in line for his victory MLB victory. Then Brandon Kintzler entered and locked the Cubs down in their half of the sixth before the Brewers tacked on two more runs in the sixth courtesy of the Cubs defense.
All in all, an impressive night for Burgos who had this to say following the game:
“It’s been my dream to play in the big leagues. I’m happy to just help the team win. Six games in a row now.
Burgos said that he was anxious to go out and warm up prior to the game, but once he threw his first pitch, he was comfortable again. He said that the plan he and catcher Jonathan Lucroy were working off of helped him settle in.
The offense and bullpen gave Burgos the support he needed. Brandon Kintzler worked two perfect innings, striking out three. Michael Gonzalez struck out the side in his scoreless 8th inning, despite getting himself into a little trouble along the way. After allowing the lead off hitter to reach in the 9th, Gonzalez was lifted in favor of Burke Badenhop who retired the three Cubs hitters he faced in order to lock up a 5-1 victory. The W goes to Burgos who is now 1-0 in his career with a 1.80 ERA.
Burgos full linescore: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB, 1 K
Getting his first victory in his first career start when it takes some guys a long time (if ever) was something that didn’t escape Burgos.
“It’s a blessing. I thank God and my teammates. We were able to score some runs. It’s always good when you get some runs of support.”
Having met Hiram Burgos on more than one occasion, I’m impressed by him. He’s a humble, grateful person who really appreciates the opportunity that he’s earned through impressive play.
Those five runs came courtesy of some opportunistic offense who capitalized when Chicago defenders made errors. Officially there were three errors awarded in the game and they directly led to the Brewers scoring a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
The other run on the day was a no doubt solo home run off the bat of the white hot Jonathan Lucroy in the bottom of the second inning. Early runs can be crucial in helping a young pitcher settle in, so leave it to Burgos’ batterymate in the game to get it done.
As for what’s next, Burgos wasn’t sure other than that he’s coming to Miller Park tomorrow. Roenicke also said that it needed to be looked at to determine whether Burgos could move into the bullpen between now and the next time the team requires a fifth starter, which is April 30th. Another possibility, though less likely from the sound of it, would be to not skip the turn when it could come up next. The third option would be to send Burgos back to Nashville where he’d make his next start and perhaps call up a relief pitcher for the next 10 days.
Roenicke said that they talk about it on Sunday to “see where we are and what we want to do.” Roenicke admitted that the chance exists to not keep Burgos up for the next week and a half.
But those are decisions for the management to make. For the players, a crisp victory in under three hours sends everybody home happy.
Well, maybe not the Cubs.