Well this was unexpected, wasn't it?
Ron Roenicke will be the next manager of the Milwaukee Brewers after spending the last ten years on Mike Scioscia's staff in Anaheim.
This offseason has been a roller coaster of rumors -- first it was Bob Brenly, then it was Bob Melvin, then it was Bobby Valentine, with a chance of it being Joey Cora. In the end, it was the guy we heard about the least that ended up getting the job. Funny how that works out.
Roenicke has served as Scioscia's bench coach since Joe Maddon left to manage the Rays in 2006, and has had success managing in the minor leagues and while filling in for Scioscia. He may not be as exciting for the fanbase as Bobby Valentine would've been, but if Doug Melvin always listened to the fans he would've been fired long ago.
Valentine would've gotten the average casual fan excited and interested because of his reputation as a character, but when you boil it down to strategy, he likely wouldn't have done much different than Ken Macha did (and got criticized for). The only major difference would've been the fact that he was making three times as much as his predecessor. I'm not saying Roenicke will think much differently than either of those guys -- hell, if he manages like Scioscia, he'll probably drive me nuts -- but at least as a first-time manager the odds of him making some serious coin are low.
It's not necessarily an indicator of future success, but it's hard to argue with how well other Scioscia disciples have fared as managers -- Maddon is generally regarded as one of the brightest managing minds in the game, while Bud Black's Padres were a few games away from making the playoffs this year. Hey, it's not exactly the Bill Walsh Coaching Tree, but I'm sure many people will be willing to give Roenicke a chance given the success of his peers.
Personally, I'm neither pumped nor bummed about this hiring, which is actually a good thing. I didn't want a retread, and I didn't want a guy asking for $10 million. I'm content with this. We don't know much -- if anything -- about Roenicke, which I think is great. At the very least, the 2011 season should be interesting while we try to figure out his strategical tendencies and make jokes about how Ken Macha would've gone to Kameron Loe.
None of this really matters, though, unless improvements are made on the field. Maddon would just look like a guy with goofy glasses if the Rays couldn't pitch. Bud Black wouldn't be getting Manager of the Year hype if the Padres couldn't pitch. Scioscia doesn't last as long as he has if the Angels couldn't pitch. There's a lot of work left to do this offseason, but at least one of the easiest decisions is done.