The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day thanks in part to Aramis Ramirez’s double that knocked in two runs and sound pitching from Yovani Gallardo and three different relievers. At least, that’s what it would appear to the average fan. The truth is Ron Roenicke won the game for Milwaukee. In fact, his smart managing will win the Brewers a lot of games in 2014.
Roenicke acted like a different manager during Milwaukee’s first game of the season. As subtle as it may have been, there was definitely a difference. He made the decision to start Scooter Gennett over Rickie Weeks, a move he never would have made a year ago if he were in the same position to do so. The instinct paid off as Gennett went 2-for-3 at the plate and was solid on defense.
The unorthodox approach to platoon first and second base is rarely seen in the big leagues. The good news for the Brewers is that the idea could certainly pan out if Milwaukee does indeed have the right players for the job. All signs point to Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, Gennett and Weeks combining to be very productive, but only time will tell.
The best move that proved Roenicke is maturing as a manager was his decision to insert Francisco Rodriguez into the closer role over Jim Henderson, who struggled in spring training. Everyone expected Henderson to get the call in the ninth inning with Milwaukee only up by two runs. Even Fox Sports Wisconsin commentators Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder were in a bit of shock to see K-Rod emerge from the bullpen. However, no one could argue with the result.
Roenicke knew that Henderson lost life on his fastball during the spring, which is why he elected to go with Rodriguez instead. This isn’t an indication that K-Rod is the permanent closer, although that could be a possibility if he continues to shut the door in the ninth inning. Roenicke’s choice was one that a manager had to make in order to win the ball game.
No one knows where the 2014 season is going to take the Brewers, but there’s no question they could go far with an intelligent manager at the helm.