This might come as a surprise to you, but I like baseball. I like watching baseball, I like playing baseball video games, I like talking about baseball and I like reading about baseball. One of my favorite baseball books of all time is Earl Weaver's Weaver on Strategy.
For those of you that haven't read it (read it) or don't know much about Earl Weaver let me tell you a little bit about him. He managed the Baltimore Orioles for seventeen seasons carrying a .583 winning percentage and only finishing with a losing record once. His Orioles team won six division championships, four American League pennants and one World Series. He was also ejected from over 90 games and is 5'6" tall. (That last thing doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I just like to point out when famous people are shorter than me.) He did all this in the pre-Wild Card era in the AL East. He was really great and I don't understand why every manager isn't forced to study his book like 1999 Vince studied Sable's issue of Playboy.
Watching Ron Roenicke manage it is clear that nobody ever forced him to study it and he's probably never even read it. (In Ron's defense it's not like his brother had the best years of his career playing under Weaver or anything. Oh wait...) This is strange because I've always had the feeling that the way Earl Weaver managed a team and the way Doug Melvin built are a team are nearly identical. Weaver's managerial philosophy was "pitching, defense and the three-run homer" and if that doesn't sound like a team Doug Melvin would like to build I don't know what does. (I say would like to build because the scars of Yuniesky Betancourt are still fresh.) Unfortunately for Doug somewhere along the way things got crossed up and he hired (another) manager who doesn't follow Weaver's 10 Laws. Instead he employs someone who breaks at least five of them on a daily basis. This is not good, but the good news is that the answers are RIGHT THERE ON AMAZON.COM and all Roenicke has to do to better himself as a manager is to read this book.
Or this blog post. Either way.
Weaver's Second Law: If you don't make any promises to your players you won't have to break them.
Earl Weaver said that relievers who need to know their role "don't get it" and when they would ask him what their role was he would tell them that their role is to "warmup when I tell you and come in the game and pitch when I tell you." Simple, right? Not to Ron Roenicke.
Ron Roenicke likes EVERYONE to have a role. John Axford is the closer, K-Rod is the set-up man, whoever hasn't sucked lately is the 7th inning man, Kameron Loe is the "throw 50 pitches everyday until your arm falls off" guy and Manny Parra is the give up a homerun guy. I can only think of one game this season where Roenicke being a slave to roles cost us (extra innings against San Francisco when Dillard was used with Axford available), but that doesn't mean it won't happen again. Sometimes games are lost in the fifth and sometimes they are lost in the ninth, but the ninth doesn't matter if you don't get there.
(OH AND IT ALSO HAPPENED IN THE DECIDING GAME OF THE SEASON LAST YEAR, BUT I SAID I WOULD STOP MENTIONING THAT.)
Weaver's Third Law: The easiest way around the bases is with one swing of the bat.
Do I think Ron Roenicke is anti-homerun? No.
Are the Brewers built to hit homeruns? Yes.
Do I think that Ron Roenicke realizes this? No.
Weaver's Fourth Law: Your most precious possessions on offense are your twenty-seven outs.
Weaver's Fifth Law: If you play for one run, that's all you'll get.
Weaver's Sixth Law: Don't play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame.
Bunching these all together because they really all say the same thing which is: STOP WASTING YOUR OUTS.
Here is something that happened in real life on Wednesday. Barry Zito is on the mound. In the first inning. Corey Hart gets a walk and then Norichika Aoki, one of the hottest hitters on the team right now, comes up to bat and... attempts a sacrifice. What?! (Note: I haven't seen this play myself, but that's how the box score reads. In theory he could be going for a bunt hit, but that still takes the bat out of the hand of one of your hottest hitters so the following point stands.)
This isn't the first time this has happened and it certainly won't be the last. Ron Roenicke loves giving away his outs for some reason. Despite having a lineup that will almost assuredly be one of the top homerun hitting teams in the league when it's all said and done, Ron Roenicke thinks that his team needs runners in scoring position at all times to score. Is that it?
Or is Ron Roenicke truly that afraid of double plays? What if when Ron Roenicke was in little league he got to bat in the last inning of the championship game and proceeded to ground into a game ending double play. Little Ronnie never forgave himself for that double play and promised himself that one day he would be a major league manager and make sure it never happened again. Also, he would never smile again.
There's been a lot of talk about Rickie Weeks and whether or not the Brewers should bench him. If he's hurt (which he could be, but nobody seems to want to talk about that) then he should rest, but if he's not he should play. Why? Because you don't get better at hitting major league pitching unless you face major league pitching. The same notion should apply to the lineup. Let them swing their bats out of their slumps.
Look, I'm not dumb. I know that the Brewers offense is still driven by power and that the offense only relies on these tactics occasionally, but giving away outs is wrong and shouldn't be done. Does Roenicke know that? He loves buntin' and stealin', does he realize that he could be doing more harm than help with this stuff? He has to realize that the Brewers are a power hitting team though, right? When the Brewers are down by four runs and Ron calls for a bunt (which happened) he means a bunt hit, right? Right?
These things don't always come up, but they come up enough that I think about it and that's too much. Fix this please. The Brewers are not the Angels you used to coach. Start acting like it.