MILWAUKEE — After an unprecedented year of success for the Brewers in 2011 — a year in which they won an NL Central division title and came within two victories of a World Series appearance — the organization announced Tuesday that it would reward those who had built last year’s team into a contender.
Principal owner Mark Attanasio said he has extended the contracts of general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke while also promoting Melvin to the position of president of baseball operations.
Melvin, who has been the general manager in Milwaukee since 2002, has been extended through the 2015 season. Roenicke, whose first full season as a major league manager came in last year’s successful campaign, has been extended through 2014 with a club option for the 2015 season.
Both were recognized by the baseball community for their success in the 2011 season. Melvin was named executive of the year by Baseball America and co-executive of the year by Sporting News, and Roenicke finished second in voting for NL manager of the year.
The extensions were expected, as the pair’s success had made a long-term commitment from Attanasio a probability. But on Tuesday, both commented on their appreciation for having their success recognized with a vote of confidence.
“I’m very excited about it,” Melvin said. “They’ve shown confidence in the position that I’m in.”
Added Roenicke: “It’s good to get it done. I wish we would’ve been playing a bit better when we did it, but it’s nice. My focus needs to be on what we’re doing here and what we’re trying to accomplish to get through this time that we’re not playing well.”
The timing of the extensions was merely a factor of getting the deals worked out, as Attanasio acknowledged that there was some conversation about working out the details in the offseason. But with the team 12-17 entering play Tuesday, Attanasio said he got some flak from fans for making the move now.
“One of them asked, ‘How could you extend those guys now?’ ” Attanasio said. “Well, it’s precisely now, precisely when you need calm, thoughtful leadership. Doug Melvin has had an enormous amount of success for us — go to two playoffs in four years. People forget: this team won 56 games before he got here — 56 wins. Ron Roenicke, his first year for us, won more games than any other team in Brewers history. You have to reward that and, more importantly, you want to secure that talent for the organization and for the community so we can continue to have success here.”
Part of that success, Attanasio mentioned, has to do with building a winning culture and maintaining it. That continuity, both Melvin and Attanasio agreed, is a huge part of why this team has made such an improvement over the past decade.
“It’s really hard to create a kind of winning culture that we have here and have the leadership that we have with Doug and Ron,” Attanasio said. “You look at so many teams: How many are rebuilding for years? It’s very hard on fans in those cities. It’s very hard on all the people who work for those teams. And we managed to surmount coming out of 12 years of losing to now having an expectation of winning. I don’t want to let that go because I don’t think it would be easy to recapture, should we let that go.”
Now, with a vote of confidence, Melvin is setting his sights on a newer, more ambitious goal for the Brewers.
“We still have a lot of things to accomplish,” Melvin said. “Last year was exciting, but we’ve got to keep the momentum going and still reach the goals that we want to reach, and that means bringing a championship here.”