On Progress, Or The Illusion Thereof

No internet access, no problem. Rubie Q on RRR with an afterword by myself:

A couple days back, Ron Roenicke offered some (relatively) amazing* insight when asked about the way he’s been using John Axford since Ax was removed from the closer’s role a couple weeks back. Quoth Ron:

“The way (pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz) and I have been talking  about it, we’ll have [Axford] in the eighth inning unless the seventh calls  for it. Sometimes, if somebody says this is your set-up (guy) and this  is your closer, and yet the game is on the line in the seventh and you  don’t bring in one of your best two guys, and you give up three or four  runs, you never get your best guys in. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

“A lot of games are won or lost in the sixth or seventh innings, and  yet your two best guys are sitting there waiting to go in the game in  the eighth or ninth. You’re putting in your third- or fourth-best  pitcher and not even getting to those guys. It goes against the way you  should be playing the game.”

Saints be praised and hallelujah.

Maybe Ron’s finally realizing the folly of managing your bullpen as if it’s populated by highly-specifically-programmed robots who can only pitch in designated innings and whose CPUs would burst into flames if asked to pitch in a one-run game in the 7th inning instead of, say, a 3-run game in the 9th inning. Good for you, Ron. That’s real progress.

Oh. Wait.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked Wednesday what it would take to re-install John Axford as his closer.

“Probably not much,” replied Roenicke.

Alright: since he’s planning to return Ax to a ninth inning role, maybe we’re not witnessing a sea change in Ron’s thinking. “But at least he knows what he should and shouldn’t be doing,” you say. “Isn’t that a good first step?”

Here’s the thing: when I eat Indian food, I get terrible gas. Like: pets trying to burrow out of the house, 14-month-olds being outfitted in hazmat suits, this must be what mustard gas smells like-type gas. I know that Indian food gives me terrible gas. I’ve known for a long time. This hasn’t stopped me from eating Indian food, of course, since I love Indian food. So the next time Mrs. Q gets hot-boxed by one of my overwhelming, curry-fueled farts, I’ll try saying to her: “But at least I know that Indian food gives me a righteous case of the toots. Isn’t that a good first step?”

* By “amazing,” of course, I mean: “completely non-revolutionary stuff that baseball folks held as dogma 30 years ago, but was distressingly lost in the rise of the ‘closer’ and the gradual shift towards managers doing everything in their power to avoid managing.”


An afterword by akschaaf:

Saturday the Brewers were up 2 going into the top of the 6th – Ron went with Kintzler, who pitched an easy 1-2-3. The Brewers got 2 runs in the bottom half to go up 4, so he brought Kintzler back for the 7th inning. Still with a 4 run lead Ron used Mike Gonzalez, then Bradenhop to close out the game, Brewers win by 4.

Tuesday the Brewers were up 3 in the top of the 7th when Gallardo ran into trouble and loaded the bases, RRR brought in Gorzelanny for a clutch 3 pitch strikeout and the threat was ended.
After Gorzelanny threw his three pitches he was relieved as John Axford threw 11 pitches to clear the side in the 8th and then fini…was taken out of the game, and Jim Henderson was brought in to end the game.
Both worked, and there are obviously workload issues involved, but RRR’s behavior in a 3 run game (save situation!) is still completely different when its a 4 run game.

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