Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roenicke ready to assemble coaching staff

MILWAUKEE -- Ron Roenicke got right to work on Friday, his first full day as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. The first order of business is to set his coaching staff.
Hitting coach Dave Sveum will return under a two-year contract extension, a deal that was sealed last month with Roenicke's approval while he was still just a Brewers candidate. The only other coach with a contract for 2011 is pitching coach Rick Peterson, and his situation was still in flux as of Friday midday.
Roenicke and general manager Doug Melvin met in person with Peterson on Wednesday night in Milwaukee, and Roenicke sat down privately with Peterson again on Thursday.
"The pitching coach job is really important to me," Roenicke said. "We want to take time and make sure that this is the right person for me. Whether it's Rick, whether it's somebody else, I want to make sure we get it right."
The Brewers hired Peterson in October 2009 to reunite with manager Ken Macha. Milwaukee didn't exercise Macha's option after a 2010 season in which the club finished with a 4.58 ERA, which was third to last in the National League.
But Peterson had something to do with the emergence of young bullpen arms like John Axford and Zach Braddock, and with the second-half resurgence of veteran starter Randy Wolf. And the Brewers had Major League Baseball's third-best ERA (2.96) in September and October. Only the Giants and the Angels were better over the final month.
"When the season was over, I felt really, really excited about having some of these pieces to the puzzle together for coming into next year," Peterson said after arriving home in New Jersey on Friday. "There was some major growth of some of the younger guys, as well as really developing a relationship with a 10-year veteran [Wolf] where you're on the same page and having a great dialogue.
"I really feel I'd be a major asset for Ron. I feel good about what I've done here so far, and I feel good about the feedback we have from the Minor Leagues. To be successful at pitching in this league, you need a vertical system in place."
As for the Brewers' other coaches, expect some new faces. Bench coach Willie Randolph was not interviewed for the managerial vacancy, a sign he will not be back. Third-base coach Brad Fischer was brought in by Macha. First-base coach Ed Sedar already moved on to be an outfield and baserunnning instructor in the Astros' Minor League chain.
If any of the Brewers' other former coaches is to return it could be bullpen coach Stan Kyles, but like the others, his contract expired last month.
Roenicke declined to offer any names under consideration.
"We've got some ideas," he said. "We've talked a little bit, and we're definitely going to talk [on Friday] and try to figure out things in the next few days."
What is he looking for in his coaches? Roenicke was more interested in what he is not looking for.
"I'm a little strong-headed at times, [but] people can convince me of things," Roenicke said. "I don't want a bunch of coaches who are just saying yes to me."
Roenicke and Melvin will likely spend significant time talking about the bench coach position, a key spot that Roenicke filled for Angels manager Mike Scioscia for the past five seasons. Before that, he was Scioscia's third-base coach but earned a promotion after Joe Maddon was hired away by the Rays.
When Scioscia first presented Roenicke with the job offer, he was hesitant.
"When I was third-base [coach], we butted heads some," Roenicke said. "I wanted to run more. I wanted to be more a little more aggressive, and he wanted to be sure that we were safe when we ran. So I told him, 'Mike, if I'm the bench coach, we're going to butt heads more than we did when I was third-base coach.
"He says, 'Ron, I want it. I don't want a coach who's just going to say yes.'"
Roenicke wants the same type of environment.
"I want my coaches to help me out," he said. "If they're just saying, 'Yes, Ron,' they're not helping me out. I need to know when I'm being too aggressive. I need to know when it's time to back off a guy, when it's time to let the starting pitcher go back out there for the eighth inning. ... There are things that coaches see that sometimes managers don't because we have so much going on."

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