COMMENTARY | It's easy to get content when winning becomes customary like it has in the past week for the Milwaukee Brewers. Ron Roenicke's crew is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, but it's not like he's made any adjustments that led to this sudden surge.
Nobody came back from injury, the lineup remains the same and Jim Henderson has been the closer for the past two weeks. Still, the Brewers shook off their 32-inning scoreless streak and put their 2-8 start behind them. Now, they are the hottest team in baseball.
That doesn't mean Milwaukee is without its flaws -- there are several. The common belief is to not mess with anything if it's working. We're not looking to make any wholesale changes here, but Roenicke would be wise to make some subtle but effective tweaks if he wants to continue the winning ways.
1. Stagger some days off
In the first two weeks of the season, the Brewers had the luxury of four off-days. Well, it really wasn't much of a luxury, because it didn't stop Milwaukee from losing eight of its first ten games. It also allowed Roenicke to forget about resting his players, particularly convenient considering the inexperience on his bench.
But just because players aren't worn down doesn't mean they couldn't use a day out of the lineup. Norichika Aoki (3 of his last 30), Rickie Weeks (4-of-48) and Alex Gonzalez (.128 average) are all slumping at the plate, so look for these guys to get a chance to clear their heads and reset on the upcoming road trip.
2. Get Alex Gonzalez out of the lineup
He's 36 years old, coming off a serious knee injury and has six -- yes, six -- hits on the entire season. Not only is his bat incapable of connecting with the ball, but Gonzalez, who is normally counted on for his sure-handedness is the field, already has three errors in 2013. It doesn't matter how inexperienced the bench is -- there has to be a better option than Sea Bass.
That option could either be Josh Prince, Blake Lalli or Martin Maldonado. The most logical option would be Maldonado, and having Lalli on the roster gives Milwaukee a third catcher, which makes playing Maldonado and Lucroy at the same time less risky.
3. Remove Rickie Weeks from cleanup
For the longest time last season, health seemed like a viable excuse for Rickie Weeks' poor performance. This season, he's healthy, at least as far as we know, and yet Weeks is hitting .182 through 17 games. Per usual, is on-base percentage is about .100 higher than his average, but it's no secret that he's having a rough go of it at the plate.
Currently, the only active position player hitting above .300 is Jean Segura, so it's not like the Brewers are lighting up the scoreboard. But someone like Jonathan Lucroy (.259, 3 HRs) or Carlos Gomez (.300, 2 HRs) would make sense because they have some pop in their bats and would better protect Ryan Braun in the lineup.
Ramirez, the usual occupant of the fourth spot in the order, has been on the disabled list for 15 days now, but his return date is still unknown. It's understandable that Roenicke doesn't want to tinker with success, but to get Weeks and Braun going, Weeks needs to be removed from the cleanup spot.
4. Be more careful with John Axford
To get Axford back on track, Roenicke wanted to give him some opportunities in non-pressure situations. That's great and all, but it sure seems like Axford is finding himself in plenty of high-pressure scenarios lately.
In three of his last four appearances, the game has been within two runs or less. Axford was able to pick up a hold in each instance and has lowered his ERA considerably, but apparently, it didn't take Roenicke long to throw the Ax Man back into the fire. Playing with fire could backfire on Roenicke, and that's probably enough "fire" references for one day.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Ron Roenicke
- Rickie Weeks