Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ron Roenicke: Take My Wolf — Please!

Has any baseball manager in recent memory collaborated so willingly -- and publicly -- in a general manager's wholesale marketing of his team's veteran pitching staff at the trade deadline as has the Milwaukee Brewers' Ron Roenicke in recent days?  Based on his vocal sales pitch to the other clubs, you'd think he were in the business of reselling high-mileage used cars.

Typically, a manager tries to keep the 9 players on the field, and the 25 players on the roster, most likely to produce a winning record in the current season, thereby saving his own neck.  In baseball, as in other sports, there's often a GM vs. Manager/Head Coach conflict of interest which manifests as "build for the future" and "play the guys I drafted and traded for" (GM) vs. "win now" and "play the best players every day" (Manager).  Not so, apparently, with Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke.

The Brewers are trying to jettison high-priced set-up man and former Angels and Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, a.k.a. K-Rod, who until two weeks ago looked utterly lost on the mound in 2012.  Just in time, K-Rod seems to have turned his season around with eight hitless appearances.  Other clubs may be wary, but Roenicke thinks they should look at Rodriguez:

"All I know is if I'm another team and I'm a contender, and I want a guy who's a big-game pitcher, I would certainly come after Frankie," Roenicke said. "I told you guys all along -- I have tons of confidence in Frankie, even when he was going bad, I had lots of confidence in him. Now he's back throwing [well]. Somebody should grab him." [1]

(Zero percent financing to qualified buyers.)

Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf was recently released by the Brewers during a substandard season.  Roenicke's comments, hoping to induce another ballclub to hire Wolf:

"I think he's going to have a good year for somebody. ... I like him as a player, and I like him as a person. He prepares himself as well as anybody I've ever been around. He's a great teammate. He helps out the young guys. ... He worked as hard as you could possibly work to get things turned around." [2]

(Did I mention that he throws 50 mph curveballs? and gets 35 miles to the gallon?)

Now come reports that starter Shaun Marcum has been put on waivers and is on the trading block. This from the Skipper:

"Why wouldn't you [consider him]?  The guy can flat-out pitch." [3]

(Hurry down to your Volkswagen dealer!  Tax and title extra.)

It's noteworthy that Roenicke's comments are entirely truthful, valid, and as beneficient toward the named players and their playoff goals as they are helpful to the Brewers' future.  It just strikes me as extraordinary that a field manager would participate in what has traditionally been a front-office function.

Either Roenicke and Melvin have a closely coordinated marketing strategy to entice their trading partners to act, and are carrying it out as planned; or, beneath his stoic exterior, Roenicke is a bit of a loose cannon, talking to the press to push trades forward when he thinks Melvin isn't proceeding with enough urgency.  It wouldn't be the first time; Roenicke recently openly expressed a preference for keeping newly repositioned Corey Hart at first base for the long term, possibly putting Melvin in an awkward spot and costing the Brewers some money in Hart's upcoming contract negotiations.

No matter who makes the pitch to the other clubs, one thing's for sure: if you want to sell a used car, it can't hurt to toot the horn!

* * *

UPDATE:'s Brittany Ghiroli has reported on Twitter that Randy Wolf is close to signing with the Baltimore Orioles. [4]  Presume it's just a matter of completing dealer prep before the deal is announced.

UPDATE #2: Randy Wolf signed with the Orioles.  His first appearance in the orange and black was a scoreless inning against the Yankees.  Francisco Rodriguez and Shaun Marcum were not claimed on waivers before the September 1 post-season trading deadline and remain on the Brewers' roster.

* * *

[1] "Marcum activated off DL, to start Saturday", Adam McCalvy/, 08/24/12 7:10 PM ET.
[2] "Randy Wolf released by Brewers", Associated Press, 08/22/12, 5:27 PM ET.
[3] McCalvy/, Ibid.
[4] Brittany Ghiroli/, on Twitter (@Britt_Ghiroli), 08/28/12 2:14 PM ET.

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