Ron Roenicke: an inspiring choice for the Brewers

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Great story by Adam McCalvy at MLB.com about Ron Roenicke, who will soon take over the Brewers.  Seems that in the aftermath of Nick Adenhart’s death last year, Roenicke was instrumental in helping to pull the team together. He particularly impressed Scott Boras, Adenhart’s agent, who was in the clubhouse along with Adenhart’s father and Angels players the day everyone learned of the awful news:

“Nobody knew what to say. There was an air in the locker room of shock, bewilderment. None of the players knew if they should approach Mr. Adenhart. And Scioscia said, ‘Ron would like to say a few words.’

“Let me tell you something — I’ve met presidents, I’ve heard a lot of people speak. And the 10-minute conversation he had with the Angels that day, the eloquence of it, the depth of it, and the impact of it, it was one of the most dynamic conversations that I’ve ever heard in my life. In the most difficult situation you can be in, this man was clearly at his best, and it was natural, it was instinctive. I realized that this was a born leader.”

Baseball isn’t football, and “win one for the Gipper” speeches only go so far.  But being able to connect with others in the clubhouse — to empathize and to help them overcome mental or emotional problems, big or small, and ultimately to inspire — does seem pretty valuable. Boras and McCalvy and others quoted in the article think that Roenicke has that talent in spades.

If so, the Brewers may have made a very wise choice in their next manager.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”