Buster Olney wrote a column at the end of last season talking about how the Milwaukee Brewers needed to upgrade their pitching staff if they had any hope at making the postseason this year, or any time in the future.
Olney said that he got an email from Doug Melvin about the article, saying that the Brewers' lack of pitching was his fault, and it was going to be changed.
This year, that appears to be a common theme for Doug Melvin: if something is broken, go fix it so we can win.
People said the Brewers rotation wasn't good enough, so Melvin traded 5 of the Brewers top prospects for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke.
Then there were murmurs that the bullpen was looking a bit unsure and shaky, so Francisco Rodriguez was acquired for next to nothing.
There were concerns about the Brewers lack of a right handed hitter on the bench, along with concerns of having capable bats off the bench. Melvin traded for all-purpose utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. and former Brewer Felipe Lopez, along with acquiring sure handed infielder Josh Wilson earlier in the year.
With four starters performing at a high level at the moment, the Brewers look primed for a run deep into the postseason. Outside of a few possible defensive vulnerabilities, the Brewers are a pretty complete team.
The biggest problem for fans in Milwaukee right now is they don't know who will start game 1 of their playoff series, whether it will be Greinke or Yovani Gallardo.
If you compare the offensive numbers of this year's team with the 2010 edition of the Brewers, Ken Macha's group appears to be better, albeit not by much. Last year's Brewers team had a higher everything than this year's team currently does (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS). This year's Brewers team has two of the best hitters in the game, but last year's line-up had more depth.
But, as most baseball people know, pitching wins championships. And the 2010 Brewers didn't have much to brag about in that category.
Posting a team ERA of 4.52, last year's team only had one starter with an ERA under 4.00, and that was Yovani Gallardo at 3.84.
This year, with Marcum and Greinke, the rotation has 3 (Wolf, Gallardo, Marcum), with Greinke's ERA at 4.08, and falling quickly.
When Doug Melvin sees a problem, he fixes it, and he does a pretty darn good job of doing so.
Along with the rotation, this year's Brew Crew has one of the best bullpens in baseball. With five solid arms available every night, and the best 8th and 9th inning combination in baseball, Ron Roenicke is never at a need for an arm to come out of the pen in a big situation.
As Mark Kotsay said on Tuesday night after the Brewers 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, "We've found our identity, our pitching staff's leading us and we're scoring enough runs to win games."
Few believed that would be the case in October of 2010, but Doug Melvin has found a way.
Helping Melvin out are two guys from So-Cal, one with his checkbook and savvy business mind, and the other with his knowledge of the game and aggressive managerial style.
Melvin has also been able to build the core of the line-up through the draft, and it was fitting that one of his key players, Ryan Braun, was the first draft pick by the Brewers in the Mark Attanasio era.
Attanasio bought the Brewers before the 2005 season, and had a payroll of about 40 million at the time. Now, it is almost at 90 million. Attanasio is one of the more invested owners in baseball, and his investment is paying off, as the Brewers look set to be competitive for a few years to come, even after this year and what appears to be the inevitable exit of Prince Fielder after the season.
Attanasio and Melvin knew that Ken Macha wasn't the manager to take this group of confident, talented big leaguers to the promised land, so they went and found their guy in Ron Roenicke
A coach for Mike Scioscia and the Angels for ten years, Roenicke brings a very, very aggressive managerial style that combines small-ball with going for it on the base paths whenever you can. It has not worked out every time, but there have been plenty of moments this year when the Brewers have scored important, sometimes game-winning, runs that have made this team one of the more entertaining in baseball to watch.
Macha didn't like to steal bases or take many risks on the basepaths, which makes the game kind of stale and boring at times. Roenicke has brought energy and fire back into the team, allowing guys to try to take chances on the basepaths, whether it be taking an extra base or stealing one when needed.
One of the main problems for Macha was that he did not relate to his players very well. No offense to the former Brewers skipper, but he was a bit too "old school" for this team. Roenicke brings a modern style of managing to the table, and can relate to the players in a way his predecessor could not.
Melvin, Attanasio, and Roenicke all appear to have a lot of faith in each other, with each one putting the others in a position to do well and succeed however they can.
All three of them take accountability for their actions, and are not afraid to take risks, make big moves and make changes when necessary. All three are also confident this team and franchise can be successful, and have made sure they will be in the very near future.
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