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Ron Roenicke Needs to Make Some Changes

Manager Ron Roenicke soaked in the accolades of leading his team to the playoffs last year but it may be time for him to shake things up or risk this season falling apart in a hurry.

The Brewers quite possibly reached their low point of the season last night as they were shut out by the Triple A team from Houston wrapping up a 1-3 quick trip to New York and Houston. This team and their manager better have done quite a bit of soul searching on the late night plane ride home or this could get really bad in a hurry.

  • Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki are hitting a combined .228
  • Rickie Weeks is batting .156
  • Aramis Ramirez is down to .225 and has only two home runs in the cleanup spot
  • Corey Hart is hitting .246 despite hitting .300 for the past week

Combine those stats with the season ending injuries to Chris Narveson, Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel and you begin to wonder if there is any hope for a change in fortune.

The pitching has actually been pretty solid lately despite the Randy Wolf blow-up yesterday and Marcum’s one bad inning. Yet the team continues to lose games and look nothing like the exciting team that made a run at the World Series last season.

Manager Ron Roenicke has proven in his 1+ season that he will give guys a really long leash as evidenced by sticking with Casey McGehee so long last season. I’m beginning to wonder if it is less of a long leash and just a lack of options.

The players called up to replace the injured have been largely unimpressive with the poster child being Brooks Conrad. He was hitting .400 in Nashville but is 0 – 19 in his at bats in the revolving door at first base while Taylor Green is hitting just .250.  Edwin Maysonet is hitting .300 but has just 10 at bats in the Roenicke rotation. Instead Roenicke seems set on running the .217 hitting Cesar Izturis.

It is definitely time to start questioning some of the manager’s moves as well. When Rickie Weeks got plunked on the hand recently and had to miss a few games, Jonathan Lucroy moved into the number two spot in the batting order and produced as he has all season on his march to joining the catching elite in the National League.

Lucroy leads the team in batting at .333 and has had some clutch hits recently. His defense other than last night’s game has been stellar and the Brewers could well have landed a gem.

Once Weeks returned however, he was right back in the #2 spot and Lucroy headed back to the bottom of the order after all of the serious underachievers. The reasoning is sure to be that despite the batting average Weeks has walked 23 times and actually has an amazing .292 on base percentage given the low average and Lucroy offers some power at the bottom of the order.

Sticking with the combined .228 from the centerfield platoon is another questionable move by Roenicke. Aoki is hitting .286 but only starts against lefties while the manger continues to bat the .191 hitting Nyjer Morgan. Nyjer was a nice story last season and he brought energy and life as the team made their run but how can you possibly play a guy hitting almost 100 points lower than one you spent millions on to pry away from Japan?

Carlos Gomez will be back soon from his injury. He was hitting .280 before he got hurt and is by far the best defensive outfielder. He takes away at least one hit every game and sometimes makes it look easy. Does he still swing for the fences too much and perhaps not live up to his full potential? Sure, but he isn’t hitting .191 and once he is on base he is the next coming of Rickey Henderson.

How long Ron, how long?

Then there is my favorite Brewer to pick on. The $36 million dollar man Aramis Ramirez. He is seventh on the team in home runs (2) and tenth on the team in slugging percentage (.377). I don’t care if he leads off every time he hits due to the poor performance of the guys in front of him. The number four hitter in your lineup can’t have these kind of numbers.

People will talk about how he is a slow starter. Well folks we are now almost a quarter of the way into the season. When is it no longer the “start”.

But then who do you put there? Corey Hart is at least hitting for power but the guy is so streaky and has struggled outside of the five hole in his career so he probably isn’t the answer.

Not good news fans!

That leaves the team with two guys, Ryan Braun and Lucroy to carry it all and Braun, despite some decent numbers for the season,  came up empty a few times this week with runners in scoring position. The pressure of having to do it all and the remnants of the off-season scandal will take their toll.

So now what?

Here are my recommendations to the skipper:

  • Aoki has to start everyday in center until Gomez is back and then go back to the platoon with Gomez starting against the lefties. Aoki was a batting champion in Japan and plays above average defense. He is a great situational hitter and puts the ball in play. Let’s see what he can do. Nyjer, get your stuff together and come through in your limited opportunities and maybe we move you back into the mix.
  • Make Lucroy your permanent number two hitter. I know Roenicke likes the pop at the bottom of the order but come on! Your second best hitter is a better option than the struggling Weeks.
  • Give Travis Ishikawa the starting job at first and spell him with the others. His power display in New York and his approach at the plate make him your best option right now. Unless they go outside the organization this is what you have. Green and Conrad have proven to be great Triple A players. (that is NOT a compliment)
  • Flop Hart and Ramirez in the order. Corey will be streaky everywhere and maybe it will take a little pressure off Ramirez and he can explode. Then flip them back. You have no problem tinkering with every other spot so why not. It can’t get worse.
  • Put Weeks in the spot currently held by Lucroy. He offers the pop you are looking for and it is obvious that Rickie is putting too much pressure on himself. Say what you will about his performance but him and Gomez try as hard as anyone in the game and that isn’t always healthy
  • Hope your pitching staff puts up a lot of zeroes. This might be your best option.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

van smack May 18, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Some of the blame of the Brewers lack of hitting has to be on new batting coach Johnny Narron. I heard some of the Brewers dont respect him. Its because Narron never played in the majors.
Kevin Michalowski May 18, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Josh Hamilton swears by the guy. You know who he is? The guy hitting. 404 with 18 home runs. Only leads the majors in all three triple crown categories. Maybe its time the players listened instead of offering a weak excuse
DICK STEINBERG May 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM
having played and managed the game i can tell you that the batting order is not the answer. it is still pitching and that will never change. the narveson loss was big because there is no reliable 5th startere. take away wolff and there is not a reliable 4th starter. that means that 3 pitchers carry the load and pitch every 4th day. but they have to go at least 7 innings and forget the pitch count which has never been proven accurate. estrada and parra are not the answer as starters so keep them in the pen. maybe a trade dumping both of them along with Kottaris would bring in a veteran starter. wolff will be gone next year and there are some good defensive catchers in the system to back up lucroy. as for 1st base corey hart was and is the answer.
Bert May 21, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Pitching is fine, not top notch, but not what's killing them. Greinke goes 8 shut-out innings while the team posts a goose-egg, can't blame the pitching. I think Reonicke is making too many changes - every day a different lineup, different players, players in different positions. He needs to pick a line up and stick with it long enough for players to get comfortable. I like the idea of Hart at 1B. He's only an average RF, he'll be an average 1B, but so what? Put Aoki in RF everyday, since he can hit lefties just fine. Stick with Izturis at SS regardless of his bat. Tell Wolf to suck it up and learn to pitch to Lucroy, who does not need to be out 20% of the time b/c a mediocre, idiosyncratic headcase of a #4 pitcher doesn't like him. For the batting order, as much as I hate putting power in the leadoff spot, Hart seems to really do well there. Put Aoki in #2 (everyday), Lucroy in #5. Then you'll have five spots at the top who play every day and can get in a rhythm. Put the platoon guys down lower in the order.

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