Dead Man Walking

Ron Roenicke - no longer manager of the Milwaukee Brewers

Ron Roenicke – no longer manager of the Milwaukee Brewers

Ron Roenicke entered the 2015 Major League Baseball season at the helm of a Milwaukee Brewers team that looked strongly positioned to finish in last place of the NL Central division.

If things broke right and the Cincinnati Reds were even worse than expected and guys like Joey Votto didn’t rebound, or the team trotted out Brandon Phillips more than they should or Johnny Cueto suddenly stunk, than maybe the Brewers could finish 4th.

Heck, if the Chicago Cubs‘ Youth Train stalled or the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ young stars suddenly regressed, than maybe even 3rd place was something the Brewers could achieve.

That’s a lot of “if”s.

Make no mistake of it – this was a bad team. A poorly constructed team. And as I wrote about last week, a franchise that has done a very poor job of positioning itself for the future.

Instead of having a long-term plan, this is a franchise that seems content to build a roster that aims at somewhere between 72 and 80 wins. And, in professional sports, if you aren’t a championship calibre team, it’s usually better to completely suck than it is to be mediocre.

Mediocre seasons breed further mediocre seasons. Tanking, however, comes with high draft picks that can turn your franchise around in anywhere between one year (think NBA) or a few years (think MLB).

We witnessed this trend in Chicago during the Jim Hendry era, where massive contracts were given out to ho-hum, wrong-side-of-30 free agents who were great for ensuring the team would be close to .500, but it was never a plan that would yield a championship. Even if things swung the right way for a season, there were always going to be several teams out there that had a better roster.

Only when Theo Epstein took over did the team really commit to tanking – a move that saw many fans leave the team in disgust because of the shoddy product on the field, while others appreciated the move and just decided to keep baseball from their lives for 2 or 3 years while the front office worked his magic.

Sadly for Brewers’ fans, no such plan appears to be in place. The farm system is a wreck, the major league roster is unimpressive, and what little talent was there seems to be bitten by a different injury every week.

Ron Roenicke may not be a great manager. He may not be a good manager. He’s not known for being innovative, or great with strategy, or great with player development.

But the 2015 season wasn’t going to end well with him.

Ron Roenicke was set up to fail.

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals spent the weekend playing a cat and mouse game with the Pirates, cruelly letting them get a whiff of victory only to defeat them three straight times in extra innings.

On Friday, they trailed 1-0, tied it in the 7th, then won 2-1 in 10 innings on a Matt Adams single.

On Saturday, they again trailed 1-0, tied it in the 6th, then won 2-1 in 11 innings on a sacrifice fly.

And on Sunday, they trailed 2-1 in the 12th, tied it in the bottom of the inning, then won on a Kolten Wong homer in the 14th.

A 3-0 series sweep, all one-run wins, all in extra innings.

Cruel.

The Bucs fell 6.5 games back

* * *

In Milwaukee, before Roenicke received his walking papers, he actually won two in a row. That was the first time Milwaukee won back-to-back games this season and the first time they won a series. It was also the first time the Cubs lost a series this season.

* * *

The Reds lost 2 out of 3 visiting the Atlanta Braves over the weekend.

* * *

I’ll be out on a business trip this week, so I suspect my writing will be limited, unless I spend late nights in hotel rooms chugging away at this stuff. It’s possible, but I make no promises.

It’s been an entertaining first month in the NL Central, with all teams having their own interesting story lines. The top two teams in the division square off for a four-game series starting tonight. Could be interesting. The possibility exists for the Cards to open up a rather huge lead in the division by the end of May 8th. We’ll get to see what the Cubs are made of; they kind of laid a turd there over the weekend against Milwaukee.

A few big drops in the ranking below, as the Cubs’ run production dropped this week from 3rd best in the National League to 8th while the Pirates dropped from 7th to 12th.

* * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 7th 1st
Chicago 8th 5th
Pittsburgh 12th 2nd
Cincinnati 10th 10th
Milwaukee 13th 14th

* * *

Schedule

16-8 Los Angeles Kershaw (1-2, 3.73)
7-18 MILWAUKEE Lohse (1-4, 7.28)
6:20 PM CT
13-10 CHICAGO Wood, T (2-1, 3.04)
18-6 ST. LOUIS Martinez, C (3-0, 1.73)
7:10 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 18 6 W6
Chicago Cubs 13 10 4.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 12 13 6.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 12 13 6.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 7 18 11.5 W2
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