MILWAUKEE — If the Milwaukee Brewers’ late-season run would have never happened, if their string of wins in 24 of 30 games would have remained a pipe dream, and the Brewers would have slipped into obscurity to end the baseball season, manager Ron Roenicke isn’t sure what would have happened before next season.
All he’s really sure of is that there would’ve been a whole lot more question marks than the Brewers actually have going into the upcoming offseason.
“If we would’ve finished 12 games under .500, next year would’ve been a huge question mark,” Roenicke said. “I don’t think there’s a question mark anymore. I think these guys all know we can win. We can win with the personnel we had this year.”
Even with the Brewers missing the playoffs after running out of gas last week, it seems the organization has taken a very positive outlook on how the 2012 season ended. Roenicke made it clear that he’s not happy about the season’s results as a whole, but ending on a good note certainly was a decent consolation prize.
And with young breakout candidates like Jean Segura, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta, Martin Maldonado, Logan Schafer and others establishing themselves as likely major league contributors for next season, Roenicke said that he thinks this offseason might be a little less hectic than those of years past.
At the very least, it’s looking a lot less hectic than it did two months ago.
“I don’t know if it’s relaxed, but it’s with a positive feeling about going into spring training,” Roenicke said. “If we would’ve finished 12 games out, we would’ve had a hard time being positive of what we did this year. Going into next year, I think it would’ve been … it would’ve been a big turnaround. You’re talking about 12 games under .500 and turning around to where you want to be a contender, you probably have to do some different things.
“I’m glad we’re not at that point.”
Gallardo shut down due to innings: Roenicke made sure to clear up any questions about Yovani Gallardo’s health before his scheduled start on Wednesday, which he was scratched from in favor of rookie Josh Stinson.
Gallardo’s scratch was instead due to his extraordinarily high innings count, which reached 204 innings in his last start. Last season, he pitched 207.1 innings. And given the sheer amount of work over the last two years, Roenicke wanted to play it safe with the Brewers’ ace.
“Yo has had a big workload for two years now, and we’re concerned about him having another five, six good years with us, whatever the case may be,” Roenicke said. “So I think looking at his future … we thought it was better if he didn’t.”
That being said, shutting down pitchers due to innings counts is something Roenicke isn’t exactly comfortable with just yet. In the past month, the Brewers have shut down Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and now, Gallardo.
“I didn’t realize that we had to worry about shutting guys down because of innings,” Roenicke said. “I’ve never had to deal with that before — not even as a coach, I’ve never had to deal with that before. It’s quite different.”
Aoki on his first season: Brewers rookie outfielder Nori Aoki was undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of Milwaukee’s 2012 season, and on Wednesday, he admitted that the experience of playing American baseball was a little bit of a surprise to him as well.
“Looking back on it now, I started off coming off the bench, and it was kind of a tough situation, especially coming from starting every day in Japan,” Aoki said through a translator. “Looking back on it now, I’m kind of surprised in myself that I actually chose this route. But I’ve always wanted to play over here, and I’m glad I made that choice.”
It’s certainly a choice that paid off for the 30-year-old outfielder. After putting together one of the best September performances in all of baseball, Aoki has batted .289 this season with 10 home runs, 50 RBI, and a Brewers rookie record of 37 doubles.