Milwaukee Brewers News and Notes

I wanted to take time in my first post here at Reviewing the Brew to introduce myself and then share my thoughts on the recent hiring of Ron Roenicke and look at the impending free agency period.

First off, I’m Jesse Motiff and I’ll be the new Lead Writer for Reviewing the Brew. I’ve been writing online for about four years now and absolutely love it. It’s given me the opportunity to meet some great writers along the way as well as interview athletes in multiple sports. Baseball, in particular the Milwaukee Brewers, is my true passion in not only sports but writing as well. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the team with all of you and working with the other talented writers on the site over time to develop the premiere destination for Brewers news and commentary.

The Brewers hired for Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke this week to replace former manager Ken Macha. Roenicke was selected over current White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, former Rangers and Mets manager Bobby Valentine, and former Mariners and Diamondbacks manager, Bob Melvin. Early on Melvin was thought to be the front-runner for the job, then Valentine was reported by many to be the next manager, but in the end, Roenicke gets his first crack at managing a big-league club.

While some view the hiring as a step backwards for the Brewers, I disagree. Roenicke comes from a great system that has produced very good managers. Mike Scioscia has consistently led the Angels to the playoffs since taking over in 2000, including winning the franchises only World Series in 2002. Joe Maddon, Scioscia’s former bench coach, has led the Tampa Bay Rays to the AL East crown two of the last three years, including the team’s only World Series appearance in 2008. Bud Black, yet another disciple of Scioscia, has managed the Padres to two winning seasons over the last four despite not having many resources at his disposal from the management.

Roenicke will bring an aggressive style to a Brewers team that seemed content to play station-to-station ball under Macha. The 2011 Brewers will steal more bases, and utilize both the hit-and-run and sacrifice plays far more than the previous two seasons. This could also be an indication that Prince Fielder is on his way out of Milwaukee. I’ll get into that more over the coming weeks.

The Brewers also declined club options on Trevor Hoffman, Doug Davis, and Gregg Zaun this past week. Hoffman lost his job as closer thanks to his inability to finish games over the first two months of the season. He bounced back with a strong final two months of the year, but John Axford had established himself as the present and future closer for the team. Davis and Zaun had their seasons torn apart by injuries, which made the team’s decision quite easy to let them go.

Now that Roenicke is in place as manager and Dale Sveum will return as hitting coach, it’s time for Doug Melvin and the rest of the front office to focus on filling out the coaching staff and addressing the needs of the ballclub: specifically adding more (quality) starting pitchers.

That will also be the focus of much of what I will write about in the coming weeks. Despite falling short of many people’s expectations in 2010, the Brewers can very easily change their fortunes around for 2011, but time is short, there’s only 100 days to go until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. :-)

To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here or follow him on Twitter @jessemotiff.

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Tags: Doug Davis Gregg Zaun Ken Macha Mike Scioscia Milwaukee Brewers Prince Fielder Ron Roenicke Trevor Hoffman

  • mike howard

    good article–this is obviously a very big offseason for Doug Melvin. Will he go for a slight rebuild or patchwork again this winter?

  • David Hannes

    Hi…nice to see you’re writing still…congrats on the new home.

    Can’t wait to see who Melvin adds for pitching…I like their one waiver claim, Justin James, who is poised to join Axford, Braddock, Coffey, McClendon, and two others in the bullpen. Hope they re-sign Cappy and give him a shot to join the rotation again…would also like to see them give Loe a shot at the rotation or return to the pen.

  • rumbunter

    Nice post, what are your thoughts on Dale Sveum remaining the hitting coach?

  • Jesse Motiff

    I’m glad Sveum will be back, although I was hoping he’d get the manager’s job in Pittsburgh. I think he connects well with the players and he’ll be able to implement Roenicke’s philosophy of being more aggressive at the plate and on the bases.

  • warboss74

    I like the Roenicke signing, but I’m overly concerned with how much he says he wants to run. (Apparently more than Scioscia from interviews he’s given) The Angels have rarely been better than average offensively under Scioscia, and one would think it has a lot to do with the ton of outs they give up on the base paths.

    Angels Offense under Scioscia (w/Base running statistics)
    2000 864 R (7/14) 93/145 64.1% SB% (12/14) 71 OOB (12/14)
    2001 691 R (12/14) 116/168 69.0% SB% (T-8/14) 58 OOB (7/14)
    2002 851 R (4/14) 117/168 69.6% SB% (T-5/14) 62 OOB (T-12/14)
    2003 736 R (11/14) 129/190 67.9% SB% (11/14) 51 OOB (2/14)
    2004 836 R (7/14) 143/189 75.7% SB% (2/14) 96 OOB (14/14)
    2005 761 R (7/14) 161/218 73.9% SB% (5/14) 54 OOB (T-6/14)
    2006 766 R (11/14) 148/205 72.2% SB% (5/14) 72 OOB (13/14)
    2007 822 R (4/14) 139/194 71.6% SB% (11/14) 69 OOB (13/14)
    2008 765 R (10/14) 129/177 72.9% SB% (8/14) 68 OOB (T-12/14)
    2009 883 R (2/14) 148/211 70.1% SB% (11/14) 78 OOB (14/14)
    2010 681 R (9/14) 104/156 66.7% SB% (14/14) 60 OOB (11/14)

    Note 1: The accepted break even point for SB% is around 74-75%.

    Note 2: OOB is ranked from fewest to most. 1/14 is the fewest Outs on the Bases whereas 14/14 is the most Outs on the Bases. OOB is any out on the bases that isn’t a CS, pickoff, or force out.

    Angels Pitching/Defense under Scioscia
    2000 869 R (9/14)
    2001 730 R (4/14)
    2002 644 R (1/14)
    2003 743 R (5/14)
    2004 734 R (2/14)
    2005 643 R (2/14)
    2006 652 R (3/14)
    2007 731 R (5/14)
    2008 697 R (5/14)
    2009 761 R (8/14)
    2010 702 R (7/14)

    Looking at the 3 above average offenses under Scioscia (02, 07, and 09), we can find out why they were as successful as they were.

    2002 Lineup (from
    C-Bengie Molina .245/.274/.322/.596 58 OPS+
    1B-Scott Spiezio .285/.371/.436/.807 115 OPS+
    2B-Adam Kennedy .312/.345/.449/.795 110 OPS+
    SS-David Eckstein .293/.363/.388/.752 101 OPS+
    3B-Troy Glaus .250/.352/.453/.805 113 OPS+
    LF-Garret Anderson .306/.332/.539/.871 127 OPS+
    CF-Darin Erstad .283/.313/.389/.702 86 OPS+
    RF-Tim Salmon .286/.380/.503/.883 133 OPS+
    DH-Brad Fullmer .289/.357/.531/.888 133 OPS+

    Team .282 (1/14)/.341 (4/14)/.433 (6/14)/.773 (5/14)

    2007 Lineup
    C-Mike Napoli .247/.351/.443/.794 107 OPS+
    1B-Casey Kotchman .296/.372/.467/.840 119 OPS+
    2B-Howie Kendrick .322/.347/.450/.796 108 OPS+
    SS-.Orlando Cabrera .301/.345/.397/.742 95 OPS+
    3B-Chone Figgins .330/.393/.432/.825 117 OPS+
    LF-Garret Anderson .297/.336/.492/.827 114 OPS+
    CF-Gary Matthews .252/.323/.419/.742 93 OPS+
    RF-Vladimir Geurrero .324/.403/.547/.950 147 OPS+
    DH-Shea Hillenbrand .254/.275/.325/.599 57 OPS+ (204 PA)

    Team .284 (4/14)/.345 (3/14)/.417 (9/14)/.762 (6/14)

    2009 lineup
    C-Mike Napoli .272/.350/.492/.842 120 OPS+
    1B-Kendry Morales .306/.355/.569/.924 139 OPS+
    2B-Howie Kendrick .291/.334/.444/.778 104 OPS+
    SS-Erick Aybar .312/.353/.423/.776 104 OPS+
    3B-Chone Figgins .298/.395/.393/.789 110 OPS+
    LF-Juan Rivera .287/.332/.478/.810 111 OPS+
    CF-Torii Hunter .299/.366/.508/.873 128 OPS+
    RF-Bobby Abreu .293/.390/.435/.825 118 OPS+
    DH-Vladimir Guerrero .295/.334/.460/.794 107 OPS+

    Team .285 (1/14)/.350 (3)/.441 (4)/.792 (3/14)

    The “aggressive” and obviously bad base running did nothing to benefit the team. When they hit they scored runs, and when they didn’t they didn’t score runs. Chances are they lost runs because their bad base running cost them runs.

    You could definitely use Joe Maddon and the Rays as a counter example to the concerns about the “aggressive” base running, so let’s take a look at that argument.

    Rays Offense under Maddon
    2007 782 (8/14) 131/179 73.2% SB% (7/14) 44 OOB (2/14)
    2008 774 (9/14) 142/192 74.0% SB% (6/14) 68 OOB (T-12/14)
    2009 803 (5/14) 194/255 76.1% SB% (4/14) 55 OOB (T-7/14)
    2010 802 (3/14) 172/219 78.5% SB% (3/14) 56 OOB (8/14)

    Rays Pitching under Maddon
    2007 944 (14/14)
    2008 671 (2/14)
    2009 754 R (7/14)
    2010 649 R (2/14)

    Let’s look at the 2 above average offensive seasons under Maddon.

    2009 Lineup
    C-Dioner Navarro .218/.261/.322/.583 54 OPS+
    1B-Carlos Pena .227/.356/.537/.893 133 OPS+
    2B-Ben Zobrist .297/.405/.543/.948 149 OPS+
    SS-Jason Bartlett .320/.389/.490/.879 132 OPS+
    3B-Evan Longoria .281/.364/.526/.889 133 OPS+
    LF-Carl Crawford .305/.364/.452/.816 115 OPS+
    CF-B.J. Upton .241/.313/.373/.686 82 OPS+
    RF-Gabe Gross .227/.326/.355/681 81 OPS+
    DH-Pat Burrel .221/.315/.367/.682 81 OPS+

    Team .263 (8/14)/.343 (5/14)/.439 (6/14)/.782 (4/14)

    2010 Lineup
    C-John Jaso .263/.372/.378/.750 110 OPS+
    1B-Carlos Pena .196/.325/.407/.732 102 OPS+
    2B-Sean Rodriguez .251/.308/.397/.705 95 OPS+
    SS-Jason Bartlett .254/.324/.350/.675 88 OPS+
    3B-Evan Longoria .294/.372/.507/.879 142 OPS+
    LF-Carl Crawford .307/.356/.495/.851 134 OPS+
    CF-B.J. Upton .237/.322/.424/.745 105 OPS+
    RF-Ben Zobrist .238/.346/.353/.699 95 OPS+
    DH-Willy Aybar .230/.309/.344/.654 82 OPS+

    Team .247 (13/14)/.333 (6/14)/.403 (8/14)/.736 (8/14)

    The 2010 team offense is pretty interesting. They definitely scored more runs than you would expect a team that hit like that to score. Before we say that it was because of their base running, let’s look at how they hit in different situations. What pops out is how well they hit with runners on and runners in scoring position.

    RISP .266/.368/.422/.790
    Men On .269/.358/.425/.783
    Bases Empty .230/.313/.386/.699
    Overall .247/.333/.403/.736

    Those are pretty drastic splits. Is it because Maddon gets the Rays to hit better with men on base/RISP? Or is it just one of those goofy samplings that can happen in a season?

    RISP .269/.370/.425/.795
    Men On .256/.329/.442/.771
    Bases Empty .271/.361/.436/.796
    Overall .263/.343/.439/.782

    RISP .246/.346/.398/.744
    Men On .263/.335/.429/.765
    Bases Empty .257/.345/.414/.759
    Overall .260/.340/.422/.762

    RISP .265/.352/.405/.757
    Men On .265/.328/.443/.770
    Bases Empty .274/.346/.421/.768
    Overall .268/.336/.433/.769

    I would say it’s definitely one of those goofy samplings that can happen in a season. They need some players to rebound next season if they want to maintain an above average offense. If Roenicke can get the players to run like they do in Tampa Bay, then I’m all for “aggressive” base running. How much of that is Maddon, and how much of it is the personnel, though? Carl Crawford had proven he can steal 50+ bases at an elite clip before Maddon arrived. (218/260 83.8% SB% from 2003-2006) B.J. Upton showed he was capable of stealing 40+ bases at around 75% success rate in the minors. Do the Brewers have those type of guys in the current lineup? Do they even have guys that can do what Jason Bartlett did in 2009? (30/37)

    IF we don’t have the guys the Rays do on the bases, we’re better off not hurting our one strength by running recklessly in an attempt to be “aggressive”. We can’t upgrade the pitching enough to off set a significant hit to our offense, which is a likely scenario if they run like they did in LA.