Normally I refrain from making New Year’s resolutions. If I’m going to fail at making arbitrary changes to my life, I prefer it to be a private matter rather than announcing to the world that I’m going to start working out for January and February before coming up with a lame excuse to stop going to the gym.
But 2013 feels a little different, at least in terms of what really matters to me. Which is, of course, Brewer baseball.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something that feels markedly different about this team. Maybe it’s a special brand of excitement that only comes with naivety, or maybe it’s a full-blown optimism in the face what is obviously a rebuilding year – but I refuse to lower my expectations for this Milwaukee club.
With that being said, we are planning a series of Brew Year’s Resolutions to try to keep the team, the fan base, and this very site focused on what’s really important going into 2013.
John Axford benefited from a little tough love in 2012. Maybe the team can learn from that in 2013. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Baseball can be a heartbreaking game. Strange hops and bad breaks define this sport. After all, it was Ted Williams who famously said “baseball is the only endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
That fact is not lost on me, but the fact remains that when the bad breaks and strange hops start to pile up on a player, a change must be made. I’m not suggesting that everyone who goes through a slump should be released – but certainly they need to do that improvements need to be made. Moving a slumping player in the lineup or changing the role of a struggling pitcher can – and does – make a change to the way that player performs. When Rickie Weeks was struggling last year, he may have benefited from such a move.
Roenicke does have a knack for understanding his players, and generally getting the most bang for his buck out of them. But the process that it takes to get them back on track should not come at the expense of game-to-game strategy. If someone is struggling, give them the day off or give them a less demanding place in the lineup. Maybe go with a different bullpen option with runners on. Light a fire under that player (and this team) by letting them know that nothing on this team is guaranteed.
We saw moments of that in 2012 with the bullpen – and though it took some time, the bullpen turned around during the most crucial part of the season. It just turned out to be a day late and dollar short.
Don’t make that mistake again. Make this part of the culture of the team moving forward, and it may pay dividends in the division standings.
Play Harder, Longer
In 2012, the Milwaukee Brewers were 7-11 in extra-inning games, and 24-32 in one-run games. I’m assuming more than a few of those losses overlap, so at the very least that’s 32 losses could have been easily avoided.
That’s also known as a division championship.
That’s 32 games where someone pressed a swing instead of being patient. That’s 32 final innings because of a mistake pitch by a Brewers pitcher. That’s 32 extended innings because someone was out of position on defense. It simply is inexcusable.
I’m not saying this team has to be perfect all the time, but they certainly need to have a little extra gas in the tank when the game is down to the wire. I know someone has to win and someone has to lose, but does the someone ho has to lose always have to be us? In 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers need to make outlasting opponents in close games a priority. Because that is what is really going to make a difference when it comes to October.
What do you think the Brewers need to focus on in 2013? Leave your team resolutions in the comments below.
Happy Brew Year everybody!