Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Brewers Sweep Reds — Then Lose to Astros. Huh?

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I have been puzzled by many things when it comes to the 2012 edition of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Why Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz continue to have jobs is definitely at the top of the list.

The Brewers had a three-game homestand on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday against the best team in the National League — the Cincinnati Reds.  And what do you know?  The Brewers swept them.

Now, as to why I didn’t say anything about it?  I was hoping to write something tonight about the Brewers now having a four-game winning streak, and I didn’t want to jinx it.

Anyway, the Brewers were doing well against the Houston Astros in the top of the eighth inning, as they were leading, 3-1, in Houston after a nifty start by Brewers rookie starting pitcher Mark Rodgers.  However, Houston scored a run against Brewers reliever Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez in the bottom of the eighth, which made the game 3-2.

The Brewers ninth came and went, so it was up to Brewers relief pitcher John Axford to close out the 3-2 win.  However, Axford was wild; worse, Axford couldn’t seem to throw strikes.  And because of this, Axford ended up first blowing the save, as the Astros tied it up, 3-3; then, Axford also lost the game, as the Astros scored the winning run, 4-3.

Rodgers’ winning effort goes for nothing, all because Roenicke didn’t have the sense he was born with to get someone else in there once it was clear Axford didn’t have it.  (Two batters in would’ve been soon enough; also, that was before the Astros scored a run, so maybe a different pitcher would’ve still been able to save the game.)

And what really stinks about this is that Brewers reliever Jim Henderson (a thirty-year-old rookie who has two saves in two save opportunities) and Axford were both ready to go in the bottom of the ninth.  However, Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz (who supposedly consults with Roenicke on every pitcher, all the time) called for Axford.  And then, Roenicke didn’t realize he needed to get Axford out of there — which is why I blame them both for this loss.

See, sometimes it’s easy to blame a player like Axford who just doesn’t have it.  But Axford is a very good pitcher who’s tried everything to get it together; as I’ve said before, I think there’s something mental, not physical, going on there (though if I were the Brewers, I’d also check out Axford’s pitching mechanics with a specialist, just to cover all the bases).

That’s why I blame Kranitz and Roenicke instead, as they are supposed to understand when one of their players is having trouble.  Yet, for whatever reason, they just didn’t — and when Axford, quite predictably, ran into problems, neither of them seemed to believe there were any other viable options than Axford. 

Even though Henderson was warm in the bullpen.  And certainly could’ve at least attempted to save that win for Mark Rodgers and the rest of the Brewers, especially considering that Axford had shown nothing while putting the first two guys on base.

Yet Roenicke and Kranitz didn’t make a change.  And the Brewers lost.  Again.

That’s how the Brewers, who looked great at home against the Reds, ended up losing to the worst team in baseball, the lowly Houston Astros. 

And as it’s the joint failure of the Brewers manager and Brewers pitching coach that led to this unlikely win for the Astros, not just the failure of any specific pitcher (even though it’s obvious Axford had nothing), my solution is simple: fire Kranitz and Roenicke.  Fire them both.  Now.

Otherwise, they will both continue to make bad decisions about which pitchers should come in, and which shouldn’t.  (As they’ve done all year long.)   And they’ll never blame themselves; oh, no.  Instead, they’ll blame the players — yet it’s obvious that the blame must be shared to anyone excepting these two men: Rick Kranitz, pitching coach.  And Ron Roenicke, manager.

That’s unacceptable to me as a Brewers fan.  Especially as I have eyes and a brain, and know how to use both.  Which is why I’m sick and tired of Roenicke and Kranitz continuing have jobs when, during the course of 2012, they’ve done nothing to deserve it. 

The definition of insanity has often been given as, “Doing the same thing over and over again after it’s already been proven not to work.”  If that’s the case, then Kranitz and Roenicke have both proven that they are not up to the task of doing even a mediocre job for the Brewers.  Which is why both of them should be fired, soonest.

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