As the saying goes, every manager is hired to be fired. But the Milwaukee Brewers' firing of manager Ron Roenicke is little more than a bad ballclub doing little to advertise its concern over its self-inflicted sorry state. Firing Ron Roenicke doesn't fix a bad team, any more than it can undo years of regrettable decisions. But procedure seems to demand a firing for a slow start, giving general manager Doug Melvin time to sort out what he's to do at the major league level while a promising farm system's products ripen on the vine.
As a manager, Roenicke had and still has much to recommend him. He got off to a good start by skippering the Brewers to a division title in 2011 as a rookie and finished second in manager of the year voting. Not that Pythagorean performance tells you much about a manager, but the Brewers were four wins better than expected during his first four seasons in Milwaukee. Consistent with his heritage as a product of Mike Scioscia's talented collection of coaches, the close-mouthed Roenicke was a successful tactician, if perhaps the polar opposite of Joe Maddon -- the garrulous fellow former Angels coach turned successful skipper.
In Milwaukee, it always seemed to me as though Roenicke was perhaps a perfect mismatch for the talent he was handed. Whatever Angels-brand aggressiveness Roenicke might have wanted on the bases or with in-game tactics was muted by a lineup stocked with station-to-station veterans by his general manager. Handed a better hand, he might have done better, but you could say that for a lot of people. He demonstrated competence, but he's also coming up on his 59th birthday; it's hard to envision him getting another shot with a contender, even after three winning seasons in four full years.
Which is a pity, because Roenicke is the guy being hung out to dry for players and problems that were almost entirely beyond his control. After the Brewers went for broke in 2011 by bringing in Zack Greinke, they have yet to find an ace with which they might contend. They settled instead on experienced adequacy from Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza after relying on Randy Wolf and Shaun Marcum. Wily Peralta may ultimately develop into an ace, but not soon enough to spare Roenicke his pink slip.
It's in the lineup where Roenicke had to deal with a trifecta of tribulations; his ultimate replacement certainly can't be expected to deal with them any better. First, there is potential superstar center fielder Carlos Gomez and his limited familiarity with health, hampering both the Brewers' ability to win now as well as whatever potential can get for him in a deal. Then there's the steady decline of Aramis Ramirez during the course of his four-year contract as the big-budget bopper signed to replace Prince Fielder in the heart of the order. Signing Ramirez was Melvin's decision, and will be part of whatever gets held against the general manager once his day with the axe man cometh.
And finally, in a category all his own, there's the dimming fortunes of the dark star the Brewers' fortunes revolve around: Ryan Braun. The Brewers are living with the aftermath of what he was signed to be and what he hasn't been since his insouciant 2012 declaration of innocence and subsequent demonstrable problem with PEDs. Braun hasn't had a strong season since 2012, which was his sixth as a Brewer; at that point he was already inked through 2015. If they had stuck with that deal, Braun would be headed for free agency after this season, and his specter wouldn't define the disappointment the Brewers have been living with since losing the 2011 National League Championship Series. But with the additional $95 million (at least) owed Braun through 2020 thanks to an extension signed in April of 2011 -- before he was caught -- that shadow will linger over Beer Town baseball for years yet.
Barring the eventual arrivals of prospects like shortstop Orlando Arcia or outfielders Tyrone Taylor and Clint Coulter, the near-term challenge for the organization, and whoever winds up as Roenicke's replacement, will be to do something with this hand. Whether Roenicke's firing reflects some lingering faith they can milk a wild-card bid out of their aging crew remains to be seen. But if there's a big-league roster that deserves to be broken up for parts, it might be Milwaukee's. Wish Melvin luck; the bad spot that Roenicke has been freed from isn't likely to get better.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.