Milwaukee Brewers: Grading Ron Roenicke's Job as Manager This Season
Ron Roenicke's job has been anything but easy in 2012.
The defending National League Central champions were hoping to repeat as champs, but injuries, a revolting bullpen, and a couple of season-long slumps, chased those dreams away.
The Milwaukee Brewers miraculously still have a shot at the playoffs. As of September 13, Milwaukee is only three games out of the second wild card spot. They have won 18 of their last 23 games while the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates have faltered.
Milwaukee's resilence says something about Roenicke and the way his players view him. If Roenicke didn't have his team's respect, the Brewers wouldn't be fighting for the playoffs.
Take a look at the Boston Red Sox. Their season has been miserable and Bobby Valentine's team has given up on him. If Valentine was well-respected or even somewhat liked in the Red Sox's clubhouse, the team would still be fighting.
Roenicke has implemented the "it's not over until it's over" mentality. No matter what the circumstance, the Brewers will keep going to battle for him.
The Brewers' manager has had to deal with more than any manager should in one season. He was forced to find solutions after enduring season-ending injuries to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, first baseman Mat Gamel, and starting pitcher Chris Narveson.
Cody Ransom was a nice fill-in defensively for Gonzalez before the Brewers acquired Jean Segura. Milwaukee found its first baseman of the future in Corey Hart, and Mike Fiers has been the diamond in the rough the Brewers have been searching for.
How would you grade Ron Roenicke's manager performance in 2012?
To go along with that mayhem, Roenicke had to figure out what to do with Rickie Weeks, a 2011 All-Star who batted .199 during the first half of the season. Roenicke removed him from the leadoff spot but not from the lineup. That move proved to be essential to Milwaukee's late success. After the All-Star break, the Brewers' second baseman has hit .270 which is right around career average.
The most difficult and stressful issue Roenicke has had to deal with is his bullpen. After a superb bullpen in 2011, Roenicke has seen a different one this season.
They have blown the most saves in the major leagues with 27. Roenicke has used three different closers to try to fix their late-inning problems. But John Axford seems to have finally figured it out. He has saved his last nine opportunities.
Ron Roenicke has definitely earned his contract extension this year. He has his players' back and they have his. The Brewers wouldn't be on this unbelievable winning streaking and contending for a playoff birth if it wasn't for him.
Ron Roenicke's Grade: A
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