Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Questionable Moves from Roenicke; Brewers Drop Fifth Straight

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Ron Roenicke, again tonight, made me question whether he has any in-game managerial skills at all.

Here’s the situation.  After John Axford pitched a solid ninth, which kept the Brewers tied 2-2, Roenicke sent up Nyjer Morgan for Carlos Gomez in the bottom of the ninth.  This was a safe move that unfortunately didn’t pay off, but I was glad he tried something.  Next, Roenicke sent Taylor Green up to bat for Axford rather than the much more reliable pinch hitter, Mark Kotsay; Green made a rather predictable out.  Finally, Jonathan Lucroy, batting ninth as he’d pinch hit for Randy Wolf in the 7th (Wolf, by the way, pitched quite well tonight, but took a no-decision), made another extremely predictable out.

So we go to the top of the tenth.  LaTroy Hawkins comes in to pitch for the Brewers, and he didn’t do badly as a pitcher.  However, he made a very poor fielding play — something that I know isn’t Roenicke’s fault, mind you, and something I’m sure Hawkins wish he hadn’t have done — and it allowed the Phillies to score the go-ahead run.

Now it’s the bottom of the tenth.  Corey Hart, the lead-off hitter, walks.  Mark Kotsay was in the on deck circle for the second time in the game, and was once again pulled back in favor of Craig Counsell.  Everyone watching the game knew Counsell was sent up to bunt, and he did on the second pitch; it was a beautiful bunt that advanced Corey Hart to second.

So here’s our situation.  We have a runner on second (Hart) with one out.  Ryan Braun comes up to bat.  He strikes out.  (It happens, even to good hitters.)  Prince Fielder comes up to bat.  He is intentionally walked (this, I knew, was going to happen, too; Fielder leads the league in intentional walks with 29).  Which brings up Casey McGehee, who hasn’t had a good year, but did have an RBI and one run scored in this game.

I don’t know about any other baseball fans, but I know I was screaming for Roenicke to put Kotsay up there to bat for McGehee.  If Kotsay could’ve gotten a hit, that would’ve more than likely have scored the speedy Hart, and remember, Counsell had already PH in the inning so he could’ve played defense at 3B at the top of the 11th if the Brewers had managed to get that far.

But no . . . Roenicke does nothing but allow McGehee to take his at-bat.  Worse yet, Yuniesky Betancourt was in the on-deck circle rather than Mark Kotsay — Betancourt is another light-hitting infielder who’s had at best a so-so year, and lacks McGehee’s power — so if McGehee had been patient and taken a walk (he was ahead in the count, 3-0, at one point), the Brewers would’ve had another guy up there who had no business being there in a clutch situation — Betancourt.

Instead, McGehee did something rather predictable; he hit a weak ground ball to third, and Hart was forced out.  Game over.

Look.  If the Brewers are to advance to the post season, as I know every Brewers fan wants, Roenicke needs to start managing every single game like it’s the seventh game of the World Series.  He needs to make good choices for pinch hitters (he did make one good choice earlier in the game by pinch hitting Rickie Weeks; I was glad to see him play.  Weeks drew a walk, and was immediately lifted for a pinch runner, Josh Wilson.), he needs to make good choices and pull pitchers out of there when they’re struggling (he never should’ve left Gallardo out there to get shelled against the St. Louis Cardinals last week; he shouldn’t have left Wolf, a few starts ago, out to get shelled against the Cardinals when the Brewers were playing at home).

So here we are.  The Brewers “magic number” to get in the playoffs stands at 11.  The Cardinals won again tonight, and the Brewers lost their fifth straight game, which means the Brewers now have a six game lead over the Cardinals with fifteen games to play.  And the Brewers have lost their second consecutive series, and their third series out of the last four, because Roenicke doesn’t pull his starters fast enough on the one hand (he should’ve pulled Marcum out sooner last night, too; this is one of Roenicke’s patterns) and sends up either the wrong pinch hitters or refuses to pinch hit for light-hitting Brewers regulars like McGehee or Betancourt when he still has someone like Kotsay sitting on the bench.

From this Brewers fan out into the ether: Roenicke, please get your head out of your nether regions and realize the Brewers might not make the playoffs, especially if you keep making bad managerial decisions.  You need to start managing like it’s the last inning of the last game in the World Series, or the Brewers won’t even sniff the postseason.  (You shouldn’t need a long-time fan like me to point that out, either, if you’re half the baseball man you think you are.)

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