COMMENTARY | When things aren't going well like they are for the Milwaukee Brewers, there are usually various reasons that point to why such is the case. For the Brewers, injuries to Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart, a rag-tag rotation and failing to hit in the clutch certainly help to explain why they are dead-last in the NL Central.
And when things aren't going well, that's when a manager can tend to second-guess himself and begin to overanalyze.
Rarely does that pay dividends.
The manager, in this case, is Ron Roenicke, and while he's far from being the ring leader of Milwaukee's struggles, he can probably be accused of hurting the squad via over analysis. We'll try to be more specific and explain why some of the criticism of Roenicke is warranted.
1. Simultaneous off days
Understandably, players can use an off day every once in a while, and with Ramirez and Braun both dealing with nagging injuries this season, each player needed more days off than usual. But Roenicke has failed on occasion to coordinate these off days very well, putting the offense at an unnecessary disadvantage.
2. Bringing the infield in early
The Brewers have had trouble scoring runs at times this season, but Roenicke has taken run prevention strategy to a whole new level by bringing the infield in during the first few innings in an attempt to take away a run. This can backfire and lead to a big inning. When there are five, six or seven innings to get that run back, there's no need to risk allowing a game to get out of hand.
3. Sac bunting early in games
Generally, sacrifice bunting is a bad idea, but it's even worse when a team attempts to sac bunt in the early innings unless it's the pitcher. The Brewers are guilty of trying this early in games when it should be saved for select situations, such as late in a game when trailing by one or two runs.
4. Use of the bullpen
This tends to be the biggest critique of managers, and at times, it's been fair to criticize Roenicke for his use of the 'pen. It's been one of the best in baseball this season, but there has been trouble near the end of games, and Roenicke's use of Jim Henderson following his return from the disabled list and failure to consistently use John Axford in the setup role have been especially concerning lately.
5. The squeeze play
It's fun being aggressive -- at least the thought of it is, or when things go according to plan. The fact of the matter is, however, that the percentages say there are more efficient ways of scoring a runner from third with less than two outs. When executed correctly, the squeeze is almost impeccable, but it's difficult to execute and has been far from a full-proof plan in 2013.
6. The contact play
Speaking of putting on plays that involve risk, Roenicke's obsession with the contact play -- sending a runner home from third with less than two outs on any ground ball -- is becoming difficult to watch. Its success rate is low and has cost the Brewers numerous runs this season. Sure, they have been unlucky, but when something fails as much as the contact play, it probably means it's time to find a new strategy.
7. With or against the grain?
Roenicke has been inconsistent when it comes to going by the book or against the grain. For example, rather than load the bases with first base open in a tight spot, he has brought in a fifth infielder. On the flip side, and this goes back to Roenicke's use of the bullpen, he is insistent on using Michael Gonzalez against lefties even though Gonzo has a better split against righties. All in all, Roenicke tends to be matchup happy rather than trust the numbers.
8. Pulling starting pitchers too early
The Brewers have been impacted by injuries in the rotation and have one of the worst starting fives in baseball, and this may have something to do with the lack of trust Roenicke has shown in his starting pitchers. In one game, he yanked Wily Peralta after just 60 pitches and six innings. Milwaukee has only had one pitcher go the distance during Roenicke's tenure -- Yovani Gallardo back in 2011.
9. Pinch hitters used to bunt
We've already established that there is rarely a good time to give yourself up in an attempt to sacrifice bunt and advance runners, but what's even worse is when a bench player is burned to do so. Not only is there a chance the sacrifice fails, but it is almost the definition of wasting a player when their lone at-bat is for the sole purpose of sacrifice.
10. Putting the best nine on the field
Once again, we understand that players need rest, especially when dealing with injury, but that's not what this argument is about. Yuniesky Betancourt continues to see playing time at first base as well as at third ahead of Jeff Bianchi when Ramirez sits out. Scooter Gennett received far too many starts while Rickie Weeks was the team's hottest hitter. There are other examples, but the point is this -- Roenicke has failed several times to put his best nine out on the field.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Ron Roenicke
- Aramis Ramirez