Off with their heads:the easy but least successful solution to the Brewers woes
There's no better place to suck in the voice of the people than at a bar. It's sports-talk radio with a better selection of craft beers.
And that, conveniently, is where I found myself Saturday night. It was a wedding reception, and the topic turned to the Brewers who were in the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Houston as our debate raged on.
"Fire Rick Kranitz!", insisted one of the participants, claiming that the Milwaukee pitching coach is the reason the bullpen has been nothing but a multi-headed accellerant when flames start breaking out in the late innings.
The lust for blood continued Sunday on our very own airwaves as I caller I caught told Jeff Falconio that manager Ron Roenicke needed a pink slip because he's not getting in the player's faces and shows no passion.
So easy. So wrong.
Roenicke came within a few games of taking this team to the World Series last fall. When I say "this team", I'm talking about a configuration including Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell, Mark Kotsay, LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito, among others.
This team is no longer that team, and there's your problem.
Fielder went to Detroit, Counsell to the front office and the others are cast to the horsehide winds. What took their place is, well, part of the reason this club is where it is today--out of contention, playing for next year.
Mat Gamel's run at first was cut short by injury, as was Alex Gonzalez' at shortstop. Gamel was replaced by Corey Hart who should get consideration as a full-time replacement. A suitable fill-in for Gonzalez was an ongoing issue, although Jean Segura is promising.
Hawkins and Saito are missed, too, more so every time Manny Parra, Kameron Loe and Jose Veras flame out in the middle innings. And, no one could've foreseen the woes of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford who are no longer reliable set-up/closer options.
Which brings us back to the lopping off of heads.
Roenicke can only play the cards he's dealt. He didn't suddenly turn stupid during our milder-than-usual winter. Kranitz can rightly be blamed for not fixing what's wrong with our relievers, but if that's the case he also deserves praise for grooming some of the up-and-coming starters including Mike Fiers who continues to dazzle his second time through the league and who's getting rookie-of-the-year buzz.
GM Doug Melvin put this crew together, and this mess is on his doorstep. Melvin rightly gets credit for making the Brewers contenders, and he'll get the blame when 2012 goes on the ash heap of Brewers history. He's a big boy. He gets that.
Melvin, Kranitz and Roenicke helped craft the team's recent successes and should get another chance to build it's return. There's much to like about this team--it's certainly not time to rebuild with the exception of the bullpen which needs retooling. The Brewers weren't felled this year by unforseen injury. They were done in by unexpected failings in the relief corps, shortstop and at second base where Rickey Weeks has been, well, abysmal.
This isn't the time for the mass issuance of pink slips. Patience is what's needed, as well as an appetite for the stars of tomorrow. They'll be playing for jobs at Miller Park this fall, and it should whet our hunger for the promise of spring.
That's all the Crew can be serving up right now. It's certainly better and more productive than a wave of dismissals.