Ron is Gone

I know that we ostensibly call for this moment every day we keep the site up. And occasionally, like when he started Mark Kotsay in center field in a playoff game, or when he forgot to tell Will Smith to start warming up, that drive would become stronger…

But it’s gauche to celebrate a man losing his job, and really, we pride ourselves on a certain intellectual consistency, and the reason Ron Roenicke was just fired has little or nothing to do with Ron Roenicke. Those moments happened long ago. Ron is playing this season with a bad hand. I won’t tell you he’s played it particularly well. He doesn’t HAVE to have K-Rod closing after all. But this team has been bad for 2 months (counting last September) primarily because of Doug Melvin and Ryan Braun.  Ron has many cards, but most of them say things like “Jason Rogers”.

I’m sure well write posts cataloging his greatest hits, I’m sure we’ll all have a good ol’ time reminiscing. But, I think Ron Roenicke became a better manager over time. I think he WAS quite bad, but I think he grew up with his personnel, and was by and large above average when it was all said and done. It would not be entirely inaccurate to label him a scapegoat, though I suspect the actual goat won’t be far behind as the team rebuilds.

Adios Ron. We’ll miss having you as a muse. Hopefully you land the Royals job in a few years.

ron-roenicke-philadelphia-phillies-1987-topps-baseball-card

Your Pessimistic Brewer Preview

So Your Team Is Ass: A Statistical Look At Terrible Baseball

Fry: “I heard one time you single-handedly defeated a horde of rampaging somethings in the something something system”

Brannigan: “Killbots? A trifle. It was simply a matter of outsmarting them.”

Fry: “Wow, I never would’ve thought of that.”

Brannigan: “You see, killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shut down. – Incompetent 25-Star General Zap Brannigan, Futurama

 

“In terms of finding a right-handed platoon partner for Lind, he’s gotta prove he can’t hit lefties first. He had a bad year last year against lefties, but he didn’t get a chance to face lefties. If he sees a lot of lefties and then shows he’s hapless, they need to find a right-handed stick, but I foresee Lind playing a good portion of the games over there and maybe Lucroy sprinkles in here and there at first.” – Joe Block on Effectively Wild

Oh, so you thought the Brewers were going to win a bunch of games this year, did you? Well it’s just not happening. You’ve probably heard of Occam’s Razor, the famous, pithy bit of wisdom that states that the simplest answer is often the correct one? Well, Occam’s Razor isn’t just folksy common sense, it’s actually quite mathematical.

The Cardinals are the favorites to win the division. For them to do so, basically, everything just needs to go as planned. For the Brewers to be better than the Cardinals though, you need a whole bunch of stuff to go better than expected. You need Braun’s thumb to heal. You need Kyle Lohse, who will turn 37 this year, to not decline. You need Jimmy Nelson to improve. You need Adam Lind to maintain his career best production of the past two years while playing a defensive position regularly. You need Aramis Ramirez to stave off age for one more year and buck a trend of steady decline. You need the bullpen to have a good season.The Cardinals need:

x(CardinalsGonnaCardinal) to be good.

The Brewers need:

t(thumb)+u(OldKyle)+v(Jimmy)+w(Lind)+y(Ram)+z(bullpen) > x(CardinalsGonnaCardinal).

It’s not a simple thing.

And if completely and totally rigorous math doesn’t convince you, keep in mind that this understates the challenges facing the Brewers. The Cub prospects all appear to be super awesome at baseball. The Pirates are still a force to be reckoned with.  “If everything goes right” is something that fans say when their team is garbage, or about to be, and they secretly know it. This looks to be an “if everything goes right” kind of year, where everything has already gone terribly wrong.

Loony Platoon

Now let’s deal with the quotes at the top of this piece. The Brewers have two left-handed regular starters in Adam Lind and Scooter Gennett, and at various times during spring training Ron Roenicke stated that both will face left-handed pitching and that he likes for guys to “hit their way into a platoon”. Now, Scooter Gennett is still young and there’s a good argument to be made that he can still learn to hit left-handed pitching, but even if he does, the position as a whole is still going to decline. Rickie Weeks hit .256/.361/.504 against LHP last year in 155 PAs.

Adam Lind is a different story altogether. I think you can make a good argument that Lind has thrived specifically because he’s been protected from same-side pitching. Lind’s career OPS against same side pitching is .588. It’s .860 against opposite side pitching. That’s a big split over 3726 total PAs. For his career Lind has faced lefties in 24% of his PAs, but in 2013 that number was just 19%, and in 2014, just 12%. There’s really no reason to let Adam Lind hit himself into a platoon. He is one of the platooniest players out there. Don’t be Zap Brannigan. That’s no way to beat the Killbots.

K-Rod, A-Ram, Lohse, and Old People In General

K-Rod had 44 saves, a WHIP under 1, and a 3.08 ERA last year. He was also terrifying and awful. It was possible, I suppose, that K-Rod would remain effective going forward, as it’s conceivable for almost any relief pitcher. They live in a world of small sample sizes, and perhaps the most random variable of any baseball season is bullpen performance. This fact of baseball life should lead teams to not invest heavily in their pens (with rare exceptions), but Doug Melvin has never been able to resist the stench of a proven closer.

Who would have thought an expensive player no longer on steroids could blow up in your face like this?

Who would have thought an expensive player no longer on steroids could blow up in your face like this?

Good pitchers will still succeed more often than they will fail, even when hit hard by small sample randomness, but for the filler in the middle of any given bullpen, AAA arms will fare as well, if not better than established veterans the vast majority of the time. Signing Neal Cotts is an annoyance, and in my humble opinion, the sign of an organization that doesn’t understand their weaknesses. Signing K-Rod is basically everything that could possibly be wrong with baseball.

Francisco Rodriguez is NOT a horrible pitcher, but he is a pitcher with substandard stuff, he is extremely homer prone, and his main draw seems to be “proven closer” status, which as we often say around here, is not a thing. He’s also a dirtball criminal, but we’ll stick to baseball. He’s a 33-year-old nibbler with a high FIP. Every day that Francisco Rodriguez pitches is likely to be worse than the previous day, and that will never change. Giving him a very expensive 2-year contract is inexcusable. You can get better production than this in a more likable package, and often for free.

And to make matters even worse, Rodriguez, despite a 4.50 FIP, despite allowing an almost comical 14 home runs, was actually pretty effective at saving games in 2014. He was one lucky SOB. In other words, even if his stuff were to stay about the same, odds are he would not be as effective at converting saves as he was last year. We’ve already seen some of this in 2015.

Aramis Ramirez is another piece likely to fall off a cliff. Ramirez took a pretty big step back last year, but it was masked somewhat by the putrid league-wide play at 3rd base. His arm can still play the hot corner, but his arm is the only thing on him that differentiates him from the best guy in beer league softball. He’s struggled mightily in the early going of this, his final year, and that lame duck status probably isn’t helping either. Ramirez was a good, and often great player, but he now exists basically because there are no 3rd basemen to speak of in the farm system.

Which brings us to Kyle Lohse. Lohse will turn 37 in October. He has been a very good pitcher throughout his career, excelling as a crafty sinkerballer who can mix in any one of four additional pitches. Lohse is a flyball pitcher, adept at keeping everything in the yard, and consistently defying his FIP. All of that said, guys like this often can’t afford to decline very much. If you’re off-speed stuff starts to close the gap on your fastball, or if your sinker doesn’t sink quite as reliably, or if those flyballs start leaving the yard just a little bit more, everything can go south in a hurry.

After struggling mightily to start the season Lohse did turn it around in his last start, but like K-Rod, he’s not going to get  any better than he is right now. And with the departed Yovani Gallardo, the starting pitching depth of the team is not nearly what it was. If Lohse and Mike Fiers were to both become unplayable, things would get very dicey for the team, very quickly. Jimmy Nelson has been nothing short of brilliant, but basically everyone else has struggled. And the pitching, as bad as it has been, is nothing compared to the offense.

Falling Stars

The Brewers are a team built around three all-star caliber talents. Carlos Gomez is coming off of a career year offensively and continues to excel on defense. Jonathan Lucroy was on the short list for best players in all of baseball last year given his framing skills and offense. And Ryan Braun is a former MVP who actually played pretty well last year until teams figured out that his thumb injury prevented him from pulling the ball.

The Brewers added Adam Lind to bolster first base, and feature the slugging  Khris Davis and grindy bat-to-ball skills of Scooter Gennett to round out the lineup. In theory, a hot start by Lind should have had the offense humming. In theory, an unexpected leap in production from Jean Segura, one of the worst offensive players in MLB last year, should have elevated them to holy terrors of the National League. Instead Jonathan Lucroy struggled mightily and broke his foot, Carlo Gomez ended up on the DL with a hamstring injury, and Ryan Braun has been nothing short of awful. Reports were positive surrounding the experimental thumb surgery Braun underwent in the offseason, and his spring training performance led to even more optimism, but thus far in the young season Braun has accumulated only one extra-base hit. He’s struck out 12 times in 61 PAs while walking just twice. He looks very much like a player still being impacted by a thumb injury.

Khris Davis’s slow start and Scooter Gennett’s showering issues have compounded all of the other problems to make the Brewers the worst team in baseball. In order to realistically compete the Brewers need Lucroy, Gomez, and especially Braun to carry the team. If Braun is finished as an MVP-level talent, the Brewers realistically cannot compete. Lucroy is the youngest of the three and he will turn 29 before the end of the season, and while the Brewers have been adept at getting major league contributors out of their much-derided farm system, there aren’t any stars on the horizon to replace any of these three. To the extent the Brewers have any high-ceiling  minor league talent it’s years away from being relevant. It’s in A-ball or lower. Any future home-grown Brewer star is unlikely to ever share a field with Lucroy or Gomez, and is only likely to play with Braun because his contract and level of play make him untradeable.

It saddens me to say that this is probably going to be rough for many years. It’s not just that the Brewers are bad. It’s not just that their farm system is bad. They also play in what is likely to be the best division in baseball for years. The Cardinals are always NL powers and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. The Cubs have done a remarkable job rebuilding. They have good, home-grown talent at basically every important position, often two or three players deep. They also have huge financial resources to fill in any gaps. They will be NL powers for at least a decade. The Pirates still have a good core, and the Reds are no slouches either. You won’t find many 4th best teams in a division this good.

It’s possible I’m just overreacting to small sample early season struggles, but I don’t think so. Not this time. It probably won’t be THIS bad all season long, but with the hole they’ve dug themselves, even if they play .500 ball the rest of the way they’ll still finish last, and I’ve seen no indication they can even pull that off. My advice is to buy some good beer and get ready for the long haul.

Your Optimistic Brewer Preview!

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another season of Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball. 2014 was a fun year of manager nitpicking*, meme development, and corporate branding, and we expect to have more of the same in 2015.

*Note: Not nitpicking. I mean, that whole sequence was insane and I can’t believe it happened to a professional baseball team.

The Brewers aren’t exactly favorites this year, and many don’t see them as serious competitors, but this is the optimistic preview, so we’ll be looking at everything that has to go right for the Brewers to build off of 2014. Let’s start with the big one:

Ryan Braun’s thumb must heal.

Braun was hot garbage last year, especially in the second half where he hit a Yunieskian .226/.295/.374. Braun started out hot enough, but the thumb would eventually reduce his bat speed to the point where he actually changed his approach to exclusively take outside pitches to the opposite field. This worked for a time, but pitchers eventually realized he couldn’t get around on inside pitches, the thumb problem started to worsened, and he became essentially worthless. He is as responsible for the late-season collapse as anyone.*

The reason they didn’t do thumb surgery in-season is partially because they were contending, but also partially because was HIGHLY experimental. There was no guaranty that the surgery will actually work. By most accounts it’s been a success, and if the Brewers are to have any chance at all of contending they need a healthy Braun. We here at RRSMB knew the surgery went well because, well, he managed to track down Ryan Braun while he was rehabbing at his palatial estate, paparazzi-style. We evaded guard dogs, scaled a large, barbed-wire fence, all while trucking a comically large camera lens just so we could get a picture.

We caught a glimpse of him relaxing on his veranda with a few friends. We’d come this far; there was no going back now.

We yelled:

“Ryan, how’s the thumb?!”

And in return he lowered his glasses, glanced off into the distance, and gave us this gesture.

Is that a bionic thumb Ryan? It sure is other Ryan, it sure is.

Is that a bionic thumb Ryan? It sure is other Ryan, it sure is.

And we knew everything would be alright.

*If you’re going to talk optimism, we need to talk about just how smart of a player Ryan Braun is. I think it’s supremely difficult for baseball players to change their approach at the plate. This is why extreme shifts against left-handed hitters often work. It’s hard to take a pitch the other way, especially if the pitcher knows you’re trying to. Last year when Braun realized he couldn’t get around on pitches, he altered his game to focus on hitting to the opposite field, and he was great at it. It’s one thing to make that change, and quite another to make that change and continue to excel.

While last season ended in disappointment, it’s possible that Braun added a new weapon to his arsenal. If his thumb really is fixed and he is once again able to pull the ball with power, he may also be able to integrate his newfound ability to pound outside pitches. It’s possible that he won’t just be as good as he used to be. It’s possible that he’ll be better. 

Jimmy Nelson must adequately replace Yovani Gallardo

Many scouts like Nelson better than Peralta long term. The weird thing about Nelson is that he tends to struggle for a season when he moves up, and then adjust and dominate. I have no idea if this will repeat itself at the MLB level, or if his 69.1 innings with the big league club last year “count” in this equation, but if Nelson can adjust and be at least a league average pitcher (or better!) then the Brewers should be just fine. And really, Gallardo was just a 1.7 WAR pitcher last year. Fiers was a 1.6 WAR pitcher in less than half of the number of innings. It’s not like he has to replace Clayton Kershaw. Jimmy Nelson is completely capable of being league average, with upside to boot.

Adam Lind

Dear Milwaukee,  You're going to love this guy.

Dear Milwaukee,
You’re going to love this guy.

Adam Lind is kind of a one trick pony, but oh, what a trick it is. He destroys righties. Last year he hit .345/.409/.533 against righties. In 2013 he his .309/.385/.539 against righties. He hasn’t been that good his entire career, but his career line is still an impressive .293/.349/.510. Lind is not without his flaws to be sure, but as a replacement for Lyle Overbay in the long half of the platoon, he is a gigantic upgrade. With the right platoon partner the Brewers may see above average play at first base for the first time since Corey Hart, and no matter what, they’ll have some good, bearded fun.

Stars!

To be competitive you need a few star-level players, and the Brewers have three! Which is pretty good! Ryan Braun and his new mega thumb can still be a huge star. In fact, his new-found ability to destroy pitches to the opposite field could make him even more dangerous this year if everything is right. Jonathan Lucroy is debatably one of the five most valuable players in baseball depending on how you feel about framing. Carlos Gomez is still an elite center fielder with a very good bat. All of these players will be around for at least two more years (unless they’re traded), and all should still be very good players for at least two more years.

Filler!

The Brewer farm system may be terrible (but improving!), but it’s cranked out some nice secondary players lately. Scooter Gennett is much better than I thought he’d be and provides needed balance from the left side of the plate. Khris Davis isn’t anything special but his power has at least kept him hovering around average.

Not every position will be manned by an all-star, but it’s important to avoid having to throw in the Yuni Betancourt’s of the world as much as possible, and the Brewer farm system will actually allow for that this season. It’s hard to remember the last time the Brewers didn’t have an obvious replacement-level player at some position, but this year looks pretty good in that regard. If Jean Segura were to regress on defense and not improve on offense he might fit the bill, but he’s still young and his defense should keep him solidly above replacement level even if he continues to be deplorable on offense. Aramis Ramirez may never be his old self again, but the third base position is weak across the league, and in his final season hopefully he can grit out one more good one.

The starting pitching has the potential to be better than last year.

Really! Look, I know it’s hard to replace 200 innings of league average starting pitching, but it’s worth noting that Marco Estrada threw 150.2 inning last year too, and they also get to replace that. Kyle Lohse is still a solid pitcher. Matt Garza is still a solid pitcher. Everyone is impressed by Wily Peralta as he has already met or exceeded expectations. Mike Fiers is an enigma, but I still believe that his bad season was primarily due to his mother’s failing health. I suspect that real Mike Fiers is what we saw last year, and still very good. Lohse+Garza+Peralta+newly adjusted Nelson + Good Fiers = winning.

Creativity!

Lucroy is a catcher, and a great one, but Martin Maldonado may be his defensive superior. Catching is also hard on a player and requires more rest than other positions, but resting Lucroy takes his bat out of the lineup. So what do you do? Well, the Brewers have already said he’ll get some time at first base, and as the short end of a platoon with Adam Lind, this is a great idea to keep Lucroy fresh, keep his bat in the lineup, and bolster the right-handed lineup. Speaking of which…

Balance!

Since Prince Fielder left the Brewers have been extremely right-handed, and while that deficiency is sometimes overstated, it left them vulnerable to late-inning hard-throwing righty relievers, and made it easier on opposing managers. While they’re not the most balanced team ever, simply having Lind, Gennett, and Parra is a huge improvement over any recent Brewer lineup. The picnic area on Miller Park was basically made for Fielder, and they finally have a few guys who can capitalize on it.

Conclusion

The team is secretly well-designed. It’s almost clever. They addressed major holes in the off-season. They addressed balance. They dealt from a position of strength to help the farm system. I even like how they drafted. Most criticism’s of the Brewer farm system recently have focused on the lack of high ceiling talent. The criticism of this current class is that they focused too much on high-ceiling talent. That’s silly. If you need to crank out some stars three or four years from now, that’s what you have to do.

The bullpen looks, on its face, basically the same, perhaps a little worse, but bullpens are basically crap shoot anyway. Ryan Braun was only a 1.2 WAR player last year and the 1st base tandem was only a positive if you believe Mark Reynolds had absurd defensive value. Contending again is as simple as Braun and Lind just being what they should be. If the underlying talent performs like it should, this should be a very good team.

Optimistic Prediction: 92-70.

Coming soon: The Pessimistic Preview! I mean, The Pessimistic Preview. : (

The Brewers and Strength of Schedule

In an attempt to determine the difficulty of the remaining schedule I took all remaining Brewer games and dumped them into a spreadsheet, looked up the run differential of the opponent (because we all know that run differential tells you more about the quality of the team than wins and losses, right?) and popped that number in the next column. Then I added those up, and took an average.* Not really sure what to call this “metric” or how useful it is, but I found it illuminating. So here goes:

*For example, the Brewers play the Dodgers 6 more times and the Dodgers have a +58 run differential, so they count for +348 of the total. Make sense? Good.

Brewers

Remaining opponents have scored 93 more runs than they have allowed, an average of +1.75 per game. Tough opponents include the Dodgers (six games, +58), Blue Jays (two games, +38) and Giants (six games, +19), but what really hurts them is the lack of awful teams. They have a bunch of games against the Cubs (-46) but so does everyone else. They have three against the Padres (-39) but the Cards have five. The only negatives on the Brewers schedule are the Cubs, Padres, and Marlins. Maybe in a vacuum +93 doesn’t sound like a lot to you. Well…

Cardinals

Remaining opponents have scored 816 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -14.57 per game.

The Cardinal schedule is just littered with awfulness. Three games with Boston (-50), five more with the Padres (-39), three with the Phillies (-59), three with the Rockies (-54), and three with the D-backs (-73…Gritty!). The toughest task ahead for them is a three-game series with the Orioles (+30) and after that the best team they have is the Brewers (+24 as I write this). If the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs they have no one to blame but themselves.

Pirates

Remaining opponents have scored 322 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -5.75 per game.

The ease of the Pirates schedule is bolstered by a stretch in September where they will play thirteen consecutive games against teams at -46 or lower (Cubs, Phillies, Cubs, Red Sox), but at least there are a few challenges out there. They still have a four-game series with the Tigers (+36), a three-game series with the Nationals (+71) and seven against the Braves (+22). They also face the Diamondbacks and the Padres, so it’s really all over the map.

Reds

Remaining opponents have scored 295 fewer runs than they’ve allowed, an average of -5.27 per game.

Similar to the Pirates but not as extreme. They get two against Boston (-50) and four against the Rockies (-54), but everyone else is middling. They face Cleveland (+3), Miami (-17), and have three at Baltimore (+30).


The Cardinals have a much easier schedule down the stretch, there’s no getting around it. The Brewers will probably have to win the head-to-head battle by a decent margin to hold them off. Hopefully they get started this weekend.

Ralph Sasson, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

One would think that if you had your case dismissed for not adhering to a judge’s instructions about keeping things under seal that you would MAYBE think twice about publicly posting a copy of your own deposition on Youtube. And also, cutting your own “best of” version of said deposition.

But the one thing we know about Ralph Sasson is that he seemingly doesn’t ever think once, let alone twice. In any case…

Here’s the long version.

A couple of things in case you ever end up deposed:

1. You may not want to wear a Miami hoodie. Typically you should dress up for a deposition.

2. “You heard of money ball? this is dummy ball.” Don’t make deposition jokes. It never goes well. (Around 1:17:00)

3. Don’t call the attorneys questioning you “retards”. (Also around 1:17:00)

4. Don’t claim you don’t know what your lawyer is thinking if you are your lawyer. (In the “best of” cut)

5. Don’t invent your own legal theory called “fraudulent impression.” (1:22:30)

6. “You are attempting to sue CAA (Braun’s agent), yes or no?”

“I don’t know” (near the end)
I don’t either Ralph. I don’t either.

The All-Star Game is Terrible. Let’s Break It.

Yesterday we got some of the inevitable “you fans are dumb” articles. It’s absolutely true of course. The list of terrible All-Stars voted in by fans is lengthy. Of course, the list of bad players selected by other players and managers is also pretty terrible. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Americans are terrible at voting, and since we know we’re already lousy at this, we may as well be lousy on purpose.

This has happened before. In 1957 Reds fans stuffed All-Star ballot boxes and managed to get Reds selected for every position but first base. After this the vote was taken away from fans until 1970. Brewers fans have been a constant source of chaos in fan voting in the past and this year is no exception so far with almost every Brewer player in striking distance. There is no better time to continue to vote in your favorite player. By which I mean all of the Brewers including Rickie Weeks and Jean Segura. So why should you proceed with this little act of performance art?

1. The All-Star Game is boring, but Brewer games are fun, so let’s turn this into a Brewer game.

ESPN shows get a ton of mileage over arguing whether the All-Star Game counts or if it’s just an exhibition where Larry Walker can wear his helmet backwards and Randy Johnson can throw behind him and aww isn’t it all just too damn cute.

Larry Walker

And once it ended in a tie. The addition of home field advantage in the World Series is no incentive at all as it barely ever affects the World Series anyway, and almost none of these players will be personally impacted in any way. Maybe if the Brewers are all playing together it will actually be fun.

2. We’ve all wondered what would happen if a real team played an All-Star Team.

Let’s find out!

3. It is not some huge moral crime to not vote in the “best” players.

It is, after all, an exhibition. As fans we’ve been empowered to make it whatever we want, and if some player has a bonus tied to making the team, well boohoo. We should use our power to do all sorts of wacky stuff with the All-Star game. All lefties! Vote for the lowest WAR regulars! The all defense team! Let’s see some of that. I personally voted for the worst AL team possible to face my all-Brewer NL All-Stars.

4. Major League Baseball’s attempt to make this a “real” game is awful and they deserve to be told “no”.

If you actually want to make this a real game may I suggest huge cash prizes? Incentives have to actually be incentives, you can’t just throw out the Flint Megabowl and hope to get people excited. We should treat it with all the respect it deserves.

5. Hall of Fame arguments

Surely one of the most annoying arguments for any given potential Hall of Famer is the argument that they made X number of All-Star teams. Players have made All-Star teams while seriously injured, while retired, while sub-par Yankees. It’s already a stupid argument, but we should all go ahead and make it that much dumber. “Remember when Rickie Weeks made the All-Star team as the short end of a platoon?” “Remember when Jean Segura made the All-Star team with a .271 OBP?”

6. All of the fun stories.

This is probably the best reason to do it. A lot of people will be apoplectic if enough Brewers make it, and it’s fun to read self-serious apoplectic diatribes over what amounts to an internet poll about an exhibition game. It will provide me with material, and that is probably reason enough. If you’re one of those people who wants ESPN to cover your team, well, this will do the trick.

7. MLB tells you to do it!

See here:

“With online polls open until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 3, there’s still time to make sure your favorite player gets the starting nod.”

Todd Frazier might be having the best season at 3rd base but he’s not my favorite player. In fact due to some past roto seasons I kind of hate him. I want Mark Reynolds in the game. He’s my favorite.

You’ve got until midnight tonight, we’re the Evil Team of Evil, let’s burn this sucker to the ground. Vote early and vote often.

Evil-Team-of-Evil

 

 

 

RRR’s Chewbacca Defense*

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron did something really really stupid the other day. Ned Yost thinks it was stupid. You see, Ron forgot to warm up a left-handed pitcher, and then attempted to bring one in. But it’s not quite as simple as that. His explanation as to exactly what happened makes no sense whatsoever. None.

Sometimes you’ll watch an old movie (by which I mean “from the 90s”) and the entire plot will revolve around a miscommunication that could have easily been solved in the age of ubiquitous cell phones. That’s pretty much what happened here, except it DID take place in the age of ubiquitous cell phones, constant video surveillance, and, in a pinch, loud yelling. Despite the existence of all of these technologies, one of the Brewers’ most valuable assets was put in harm’s way for no reason. That’s enough from me, let’s get to Tom Haudricourt’s account of Ron’s mind-destroying explanation. He’s in bold. I am not.

*The Chewbacca Defense was made famous by South Park during the OJ trial. IT conveys the idea that if you can convey something mind-bogglingly nonsensical to your audience that they will give up on believing the rules of logic. It’s basically the only explanation for what follows, because THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. 

“But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke took full responsibility

Oh good, I can hardly wait to see how Ron goes about taking full responsibility. I certainly hope he doesn’t take that full responsibility, cram it in a bag, and throw it under some kind of bus.

for the debacle that resulted in reliever Will Smith taking the mound without warming up.”

It is actually pretty strange that baseball has a rule that essentially forces a player to perform without proper warm-ups under certain circumstances, however it’s even weirder that a major league baseball manager doesn’t know how to use a phone.

“It’s my fault; miscommunication,” said Roenicke. “There’s a certain way we do things and when Kranitz isn’t here, I didn’t go back and tell Rick Tomlin who to get up and bring in. So, it’s my fault.

There is a certain way that Ron tells Rick Kranitz, the pitching coach, who he would like to have up in the bullpen. And that way is not to say “I would like Will Smith up in the bullpen.”

“You do things the same way every day and when it changes, it just changes what goes on. I had to make the change.

Remember, we’re literally talking about telling a person who he would like to have warming up in the bullpen. Ron is not operating complex machinery or doing a pairs figure skating routine. He is telling another person to tell a certain bullpen pitcher to start warming up. It’s already weird, but are you ready for the weird part? This is the weird part. Keep in mind we live in a world with telephones and video monitors showing you the bullpen at all times.

I sent Maldy (backup catcher Martin Maldonado) to run down to the bullpen because we needed two guys up.

How to interpret this sentence…I am literally sitting here attempting to write this, clenching fists and gritting my teeth because this sentence….

First of all, WHY? Does he mean that the phone would have worked for one pitcher but because he needed two guys up he personally sent his backup catcher (one of his active bench players) down to the bullpen to personally relay the message? Does he mean that the importance of the message warranted a personal visit? Does Martin Maldonado do this a lot?

Maldy went down there and said, ‘I think it’s (Zach) Duke,’ but he never got the call on who it was. So, we didn’t call.”

And the most baffling thing of all, that Maldonado went to the bullpen charged with telling them that two relievers needed to be warming up, a righty and a lefty. According to this account, he only told them the wrong lefty. Brandon Kintzler, the righty, DID warm up so someone somewhere managed to tell the pen that the righty should warm up WITHOUT disclosing the lefty. How did this possibly happen again?

Roenicke wanted right-hander Brandon Kintzler and lefty Smith warming up, but only Kintzler got ready.

Ron: Maldy, tell them to get up Will.

Maldy: Get up Duke I think purple monkey dishwasher.

“We knew what was going to happen with who they were going to probably pinch hit,” said Roenicke. “We needed both guys up. That’s why I sent down our backup catcher.

“I needed to make sure Jean Segura was shifting properly against this guy, that’s why I sent out our set-up man.”

Maldy told Duke to get loose because that’s who Maldy thought it was going to be, but really I wanted Smith.”

WHY did he think that? Why? I’ll tell you what I think. I think Ron told him to run down to the pen and get “the lefty” up and Maldonado just thought Duke before he thought Smith. This doesn’t answer the question of why he sent his backup catcher in the first place, why he didn’t notice on the monitor that only Kintzler was warming, and why Duke wasn’t warming up, but it answers one thing at least. I mean, if you assume everyone involved is basically a moron.

With the Brewers leading, 4-2, Roenicke removed starter Matt Garza with two on and one out and summoned Kintzler. Gerald Laird hit a bouncer that caromed off the glove of diving third baseman Mark Reynolds and into shallow left for what became an RBI double, leaving runners at second and third.

Roenicke then went to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to make a double-switch and pointed to the bullpen for a lefty. There was no lefty warming up so Duke volunteered to come out, but Roenicke told Culbreth he wanted Smith.

The rules state that a new pitcher can throw no more than eight pitches after taking the mound. Because Culbreth was informed Smith had not been up in the bullpen, he asked Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez if he would agree to more pitches and Gonzalez said no.

He then proceeded to laugh his ass off and text all of his friends about it.

Culbreth then put on the video replay head set and called an umpiring supervisor to see if there was any way to allow Smith more pitches, and was told no.

After further review, the rules of baseball are still the rules of baseball.

In the meantime, Smith had to stand on the mound during that lengthy conversation back to New York, which didn’t help matters.

“The good thing is I usually only throw eight pitches in the bullpen before I come in anyway,” he said. “They told me it was only eight (when he got to the mound). I felt ready. I felt good to go.

See, now that’s how you take responsibility. I’m sure Will Smith hated having his routine destroyed, but when push came to shove he just said he should have gotten the job done anyway.

“Ron told me, ‘Don’t do anything stupid here, Will.’

“Like all that stuff I just did? You should do the opposite.”

The home plate umpire told me the same thing. He said, ‘Listen kid, be careful. Take care of yourself.’ But the adrenaline took over.”

I wonder how frequently a baseball manager has put his player in a position where the umpire actively fears for his safety? There is a time and a place for that kind of thing and it’s called football.

The Brewers moved the infield in to try to cut off the tying run,

Let’s fix that. “The Brewers moved the infield in to try and make it easier for Ryan Doumit to get a hit because they’re managed by an idiot.”

but

“and”

pinch hitter Ryan Doumit punched a grounder past shortstop Jean Segura

“which would have been fielded easily by a player playing at normal depth, and was hit hard enough to still possibly allow for a play at home, especially for someone with an arm like Segura’s

to drive in the runs that decided the outcome.

“Because dumb.”

It was an awful way to lose a game in which Garza was in command most of the way, leaving the Brewers with three losses in the four games here and a 2-5 record on the trip.

“I feel bad about everything,” said Roenicke. “You can’t do that to a player.

Sources originally believed that the “player” in question was Zach Duke, but subsequent interviews showed the Ron actually meant Will Smith.

“I should be able to adjust to different things.

Like, you should be able to give clear instructions in your native language to someone besides Rick Kranitz.

We had Lee in there yesterday and that was a little bit different. Rick (Kranitz) is always involved when we talk, and I know he’s taking care of calling somebody.

So that’s Maldy and Lee and Kranitz under the bus so far.

“When you have somebody else in there that doesn’t know what we usually do, it’s not his fault. I didn’t turn around and tell (Tomlin) to make the call. I just assumed it, which I shouldn’t do.”

Instead of instructing someone else to make a call after I realized that no one had, I sent my backup catcher in person, but didn’t tell him any instructions.

As for shaking off the loss, Roenicke said, “It’s going to be hard on me. They’ll be fine; they’ll move on. But it’s going to be hard on me.”

I’m sure it was hard on Ron. Perhaps not as hard as it was on Will Smith’s elbow, but hard nonetheless.