Well, I would have to say this hiring came out of left field yesterday morning when the Crew decided to hire Ron Roenicke as the clubs new manager. The 54 year-old comes to Milwaukee by way of LA where he was Mike Scioscia's right hand man for 11 years as their bench coach. Similar to Roenicke, other Angels' assistants went on to coach at the Big League level; Joe Maddon and Bud Black both have experienced success in their first stints as manager. Maddon took the worst team in baseball (2007) and turned them in to the AL's best (2008 AL Pennant) in Tampa.
Bud Black is still a work in progress. He led the 2010 Padres to a 90-win season and a 2nd place finish in the NL West. A great feat, but not enough to take the wild card spot from Philly. Overall, both have shown success by following Sciocsia's phylosophy of playing aggressive ball and being active on the base paths. Veterans like Bobby Abreau, Chone Figgins, and Vlad had their careers revived in Anaheim under the leadership of Scioscia & Roenicke's guidance. Heck, even K-Rod behaved long enough to have 4 All-Star seasons while playing for the Angels.
Roenicke does have minimal NL experience however, limited to coaching a couple of Minor League teams in the 90's.
At first glance, I wondered why the hell Milwaukee would hire a no-namer. But then I also thought back to past hires. Michael Hunt (Jsonline) put it best; the Brewers need to take a shot on an up-and-coming star when they look ahead. A small market team like Milwaukee can't always rely on the re-treads they hired in recent memory. They did it in the past when they hired Bobby Coxs' assistant, Ned Yost. Did that pay off? Well, I would say it did. Yost made the Brewers relevant again by having a .500 season and positioning them within striking distance for the playoffs in 2008...until there was only 11 days left in the regular season. Not a star, but a contender who was welcomed back to manage the Royals in 2011. Not the best manager to use as an example, but relevant enough to mention.
Ron-boy's biggest challenge? Being able to effectively communicate with the team. Something Macha was useless at. This team is young...yes we've been saying this forever now...but they are a bunch of mid-to-late 20 something year-olds who need guidance. I really hope that the new skipper will work closely with Sveum in getting his players to buy in to the system. Sveum is his bridge to the team that he needs to utilize right away.
Secondly, Ron has to dive in feet first. None of this Macha-crap of holding off until spring to meet your team. Are you kidding me? This introduction needs to happen right after he passes his background check. He better already have a high-rise condo picked out in downtown Milwaukee. One things for certain, he will have a longer leash than Macha did due to his lack of experience as a manager. We all know Antanasio wanted Bobby V and Melvin wanted Roenicke; how do we know this? Because Melvin's last-ditch effort of keeping his job and having a shot of being a GM for a future team relies on him successfully cultivating this skipper in to a winning story. Melvin is going all-in on this hire. It could provide the ultimate reward.
Honestly, I was hoping the Crew would've aggressively pursued Cleveland's Eric Wedge. But Jack Z picked him off right away for Seattle.
* As expected, Milwaukee declined options on Zaun, Hoffman, and Davis. All three will play in different uniforms next year. My guess is that Hoffman will return to San Diego and retire before the start of the 2011 season.