The Brewers formally announced the hiring of Ron Roenicke as the 18th manager in franchise history today. He'll be on a two-year contract with an option for a third year -- basically the same structure as Ken Macha's old contract, although we don't know financial terms. His introductory press conference had some funny moments, focused heavily on his managerial ideology, and generally created a positive first impression, even if I do disagree with his plans for the offense. Here are some of the highlights from Roenicke and Doug Melvin, with my reaction:
On the Internet rumors and stories about his hiring: "Over the last week my wife has been on the Internet. I have two new nicknames -- Dark Horse and #4."
(Alright, this guy has a sense of humor. I can get behind that. Already better than Macha in that department.)
On his personality: "I do not like talking about myself. The focus is not on me, it's on the players. It's getting them to perform to their abilities."
(Couldn't help but think this played a role in his hiring. A Bobby Valentine hire would have been just as much about Bobby V as it would have been about the players, and that's something that could be seen as a distraction. Roenicke knows people aren't going to go to the ballpark to see him, and he wants to keep it that way.)
On his relationship with the players: "I've done a lot of things to get ready for this job. I'm gonna be honest with the players, and I'm gonna take care of these guys."
"I'm not worried about the disconnect. There will be a connection with the players, and I'm going to make an effort."
(Probably not a dig at Ken Macha personally, but it's clear he's differentiating himself. Even if you were a believer that Macha's tenure was marred more by poor player peformance than poor managing, you had to admit that he wasn't exactly the most in tune with his players. Yeah, his door was always open, but he never made a conscious effort. It appears Roenicke will.)
On his managing style: "I wanted to be more aggressive [than Scioscia]."
"That's the style I like to play. Lots of guys will get thrown out, but we'll also score a lot of runs."
(Alright, bud. This is where you and I will have problems. I though Mike Scioscia was insane for running as much as he did with an older team this year. The fact that he wanted to be even more aggressive than that is a little scary to me. At least he knows there's risk involved and he's not just doing it to "make things happen" as so many smallball advocates say, but the fact that he's so cool with giving away outs is still concerning. He's right that this offense is going to score a lot of runs no matter what he does, but does he really think doing things like bunting and stealing more will make the Brewers better offensively coming off a year in which they were 4th in the NL in runs scored?)
On the future of Rick Peterson and the rest of the coaching staff: "Doug and I are going to sit down tomorrow to talk about the coaches. Pitching coach job is really important to me."
"If you don't have good players, I don't care who the manager is and who the coaches are. You're not going to win."
(This was probably the most surprising thing about the press conference. I think a lot of us were operating under the assumption that Peterson would be back because he still has another year on his contract, and he's the type of pitching coach whose results won't necessarily be seen after just one season. Yet Roenicke doesn't seem all that comfortable with him. This could be because he hasn't really had a chance to sit down with him -- he said he was going to do that later today -- but right now Peterson's status seems to be on shakier ground than it was before the hire.)
On Roenicke's communication skills: "Most important thing to me in communication is listening, and Ron is a good listener."
On reaction to hiring Roenicke: "I've gotten a few texts from players saying "good job" on the hire."
(He mentioned that those who have friends on the Angels -- specifically mentioning LaTroy Hawkins, who's close with Torii Hunter -- seemed to be especially supportive. This is probably a minor thing, but already better than the Ken Macha hire. I made a comment on Twitter the other day that I don't remember nearly as many people -- especially well-respected people -- coming out to vouch for Ken Macha when he was hired. Roenicke had glowing reviews from Mike Scioscia, Joe Maddon, Bud Black, Brian Anderson, Torii Hunter, and even Scott Boras. All we heard about Ken Macha was that his former players in Oakland thought he was a cold jerk.)
On what still needs to be done to contend: "We have to upgrade our pitching. Some of the pitchers currently have to pitch better."
"There's a lot of teams that have a lot more holes than we do. Our focus is improving the pitching."