The BCB First Half Review, #2: Noah's Up Next

This is part two of a multi-part series today where we'll talk about the first half of the 2011 season and more with various BCB contributors. Batting second today we have BCB Weekend Editor Noahj.

KL: Last week you volunteered to defend Ron Roenicke in a debate against Rubie Q. Do you feel like he's getting a bum rap from the ~25% of readers (as of the last tracking poll) that disapprove of his work this season?

NJ: I'll give the cheap, cop-out answer: Yes and no. It's not that I feel fans of the team aren't justified in being frustrated with Ron Roenicke. Some of his decisions are odd and his infatuation with Mark Kotsay is disturbing, so I understand where people like Rubie Q are coming from when they proclaim their disapproval of Runnin' Ron.

However, I think Roenicke's good traits are being overshadowed by his bad traits by virtue of the bad being much more noticeable. Anyone watching the game or reading the play-by-play after can see a bad managerial move. We're fans of the team, of course we love being armchair managers and second-guessing in-game decisions. What is less obvious is what happens in the clubhouse. Personally, I believe that the most important part of a managers job is being a leader. Ron Roenicke seems to be just that. The players seem to absolutely love him and the team truly looks like they are having fun again. It's so easy to contrast that to the Ken Macha era where the players were walking zombies.

So I suppose while I understand why fans might disapprove of Ron Roenicke, yes I do believe he is getting a bum rap.

Follow the jump for the rest.

KL: Give me some thoughts on Casey McGehee. Is this the beginning of the end for him, or will he rebound in the second half?

NJ: I think that Casey McGehee's true talent level is slightly lower than that of his 2010 season when he hit .285/.337/.464 with 23 HR.  A good bet for his career going forward is for him to be a .275-.280 hitter with an average OBP, something around .330 and around a .450 SLG% with around 15-20 homers a year.  So, no, I don't think his career is starting to go downhill.  He has been incredibly lucky this year--prior to 2011, he never had a season BABIP below .300.  As I'm writing this, his BABIP this year is .258.  And you don't even need to look at the stat sheets to tell how unlucky he has been.  It seems like just about every time I turn on a Brewers game, McGehee hits a liner right at a fielder.  His hits should start falling in during the second half. 

The one thing that gives me pause, though, is the fact that he only has four home runs.  Halfway through the season, that puts him on pace for 8-10 homers on the season, well below his 2009-2010 seasons.  That's not unlucky.  It's not a matter of hits falling between fielders rather than being hit right at them.  He just isn't hitting home runs right now.  Maybe it's because he's taken a little off as he tries to start picking up hits first?  Maybe--and I hate using this as a potential excuse before we know anything--he's injured something and is trying to play through it?  Maybe pitchers have just better figured him out?  He is seeing 8% fewer fastballs this year as opposed to last.  All of McGehee's swing and contact rates on fangraphs are very similar to last season. 

I still think he's just unlucky and will bounce back, but I would be a lot more comfortable saying that if he has just a few more home runs thus far. 

KL: A few weeks ago you wrote a post discussing the difference between late 2010-early 2011 Yovani Gallardo and the version we had seen in May. What're your expectations for him for the rest of the season?

NJ: My expectations for Gallardo are for him to perform about as well as he did in the first half of 2010.  He's going to strike out a lot of hitters, he's going to walk his fair share, he won't give up many runs very often, and, unfortunately, he won't pitch deep into games very often.  At this point, I'm not sure if Yovani ever will learn to keep his pitch count down.  It would require an overhaul of his pitching philosophy:  Right now, he nibbles at the corners while trying to strike out a hitter.  He'll get his share of k's, but taking every batter to a 2-2 or 3-2 count isn't effective if you want to go eight or nine innings. 

I'll echo ecocd here and say that I think the Brewers and Gallardo tried to make him a pitcher that went deeper into games by having him pitch more to contact at the beginning of the season, which resulted in his early struggles.  At some point, either the team or Gallardo said "screw it" and went back to what worked for him previously.  Gallardo is an incredibly talented pitcher.  Unfortunately, it seems that those talents will only last for 5-6 innings most days.
 
So, with Gallardo going back to his own philosophy (and succeeding ever since), I think we'll see the same Gallardo that was superb in the first half of 2010.  He'll have an FIP of just over 3.00 going forward, and his ERA for the rest of the year will likely be around 3.25-3.50.  He should be a huge boon to the Brewers for the stretch run and might just be the difference between them making the playoffs or not.

And now, the lightning round:

If you had to grade Ron Roenicke's performance to date, what would you give him? B-
Give me one roster move the Brewers should make today. Kotsay DFA'd, Brandon Boggs called up
Do you think this Brewer team will make the playoffs? Yes
If so, do you think this Brewer team will make the World Series? No
Which Brewer are you most excited to watch in the second half? Whoever the new shortstop will be.
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