FanPost

WHY ROENICKE IS RIGHT FOR MILWAUKEE

The Yankees were one out away from winning the American League Championship for the second consecutive year with only Dave Roberts crouching in their way and then Roberts stole second.

The cat and mouse drama of a stolen base is slow, suspenseful, and not very popular. It lacks the get up and get outta here bravado of a homerun. And to fans more inclined to number crunching, the stolen base is a risk not worth taking.

The 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1975 Cincinnati Reds hold a unique distinction. Both teams stole bases with a success rate higher than 80%. So too did Dave Roberts over the course of a 10 year career. (243 SB out of 301 chances) Does this explain Seattle's 116 wins or The Big Red Machine's WS triumph? No, it does not, but team speed/aggressive base running can and does improve certain teams. There is a complexity to it greater than sipping beer and waiting for a three run homer. It requires a constant consideration of variables and from the outset, an organizational shift in thinking.

Ron Roenicke guaranteed the Brewers would run in 2011 which immediately begged the question, are the Brewers conducive to a running style? Well, why else would Melvin have hired the former Angels coach?  Roenicke will not transform the Brewers overnight. And ditto for new "eye in the sky" outfield coach John Shelby who stole a mere 98 bases over an 11 year career (71% success rate)

What we should expect is a transitional period beyond spring training and hope Roenicke chooses the right spots to run based on situational logic. This may include a tweaking of the batting order to maximize the possible peripheral effects of running; distracted pitchers-better counts-better pitches to hit. Which Brewer batters stand to benefit the most? Maybe the basepaths will even get a facelift; a more base runner friendly mother earth.

One thing seems certain. There will be scenes reminiscent of Paul Molitor thinking second base before leaving the batters box and ending up on third after an errant throw that began as a harmless single. But is running and stealing worth the risk for someone like say Rickie Weeks who is so prone to injury, yet so effective in terms of success rate?

 Career

SB

CS

SB%

 

Brewers

Manager

SB

CS

SB%

W

L

Weeks

91

20

82

 

2004

Yost

138

40

78

67

94

Molitor

504

131

79

 

2010

Macha

81

26

76

77

85

Braun

63

18

78

 

2007

Yost

96

32

75

83

79

Gomez

77

24

76

 

1988

Trebelhorn

159

55

74

87

75

Yount

271

105

72

 

2008

Yost/Sveum

108

38

74

90

72

Hart

71

34

68

 

2011

Roenicke

 

The stolen base is not evil. Yes, we know that any sucess rate below 70 per cent actually causes damage to a team's production. And some argue, a pitcher gets flustered more with a runner on first base than  second, not to mention the distraction it causes the first baseman and the hole betweeen first and second. But, the same can be argued with a runner on second.

Regardless of where you stand on the stolen base issue, there's no use in applying metrics to teams that have no business running in the first place. The numbers will obviously reveal how useless the stolen base is. Take the Rangers and Giants last year. Texas stole over 100 bases with a 71% success rate while the Giants stole a league low 55 bases and were caught 33 times. There is no absolute science about stolen bases. It is entirely dependent on the make up of individual teams. Why not isolate teams with crappy on base percentages, but efficient runners and compare their run production to a team with opposite qualities; a team of Willy Taveras clones versus Frank Thomas clones.

With regards to the Brewers, last year's run production needs a turbo boost. Melvin knew this and hired Ron Roenicke as part one of his vision. Part two was Marcum and Greinke who along with Gallardo will keep the Brewers close in every game. He was willing to trade Escobar and Cain for the obvious return in pitching , but also because the Brewers will run and as a result squander fewing scoring opportunities. It seems strange to promote a running team and then trade away two of your fastest runners and best defenders; Cain and Escobar, but pitching will make the difference.

Milwauke came to the plate more than any other National League team in 2010, yet ranked fourth in both on base percentage and runs scored. There is room for improvement. Even a minimal gain in scoring will make a huge difference on a team with the Brewer's starting staff.

Ron Roenicke holds a perfect 4-0 record as a major league manager. (He filled in for a suspeded Scioscia in August, 2006).  Melvin hired him on the basis of his winning ways, long before he rode Mike Scoscia's coattails. As a minor league skipper in the Dodgers and Giants organization, Roenike posted a 353-290 record including two league championships and a whole lot of running. Then, during his  decade long stay in Anaheim, the Angles stole bases at a 71.5 success rate and won plenty of games.

The 2011 Brewers are not a run or nothing kind of team and as a result, Roenicke can pick his spots to compliment an already decent offensive team. Players suffer slumps at different times throughout the season. This strange tapestry of hot and cold calls for managerial adjustments. It calls for a manager like Ron Roenicke to treat every inning, every at bat, every pitch as potentially the one to make an ever so slight difference. With the Brewers new pitching, that might be all they need.

 

(Manager)

SB

CS

SB%

W

L

1994 (Great Falls)

118

59

66.7

34

38

1995 (San Bernadino)

246

100

71.1

85

54

1997 (San Antonio)

161

85

65.4

84

55

1998 (San Antonio)

182

78

70

44

37

1998 (Albuquerque

195

85

69.6

33

37

1999 (Fresno)

145

61

70.4

73

69

Totals

1047

468

69.1

353

290

Coach (Angels)

 

 

 

 

 

2000-2010

1427

594

70.6

980

802

 

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