Brewers extend contracts of Melvin, RoenickeMelvin's new deal runs through the 2015 season. Roenicke's contract will go through 2014 with a club option for 2015.
By: By Chris Jenkins, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
MILWAUKEE — After the Milwaukee Brewers announced contract extensions for general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke on Tuesday, principal owner Mark Attanasio admitted to glancing at a few fan comments questioning why the team would hand out votes of confidence in the team's leadership after such a shaky start to the season.
In a way, those lofty fan expectations could be seen as an indication of just how high the Brewers have set the bar under the leadership of Melvin and Roenicke. Before Melvin's arrival in 2002, a 12-17 start to the season wouldn't raise many eyebrows for a small-market franchise with humble goals.
Now the Brewers expect to contend for a division title and the playoffs every year. And after a slow start, Attanasio said, the levelheaded leadership of Melvin and Roenicke will lead them back to success.
"Of course, there's always going to be the fan that says, 'Well, how could you extend those guys now?'" Attanasio said. "Well, it's precisely now, precisely when you need calm, thoughtful leadership."
Melvin's new deal runs through the 2015 season. Roenicke's contract will go through 2014 with a club option for 2015.
Melvin was under contract through 2012 in Milwaukee after signing an extension in 2008. Roenicke previously was signed through the 2012 season with a club option for 2013.
Attanasio noted that Melvin has built a team that made the playoffs two of the past four years; when Melvin took over at the end of the 2002 season, the Brewers were on their way to 56 wins. And Attanasio pointed out that Roenicke led the Brewers to a franchise-record 96 wins in his first year as manager, taking control and setting the right tone.
"You have to reward that," Attanasio said. "But more importantly, you want to secure that talent for the organization, for the community, so that we can continue to have success here over the next several seasons."
Melvin said his goals when he arrived in Milwaukee were decidedly modest.
"When I first took this job, I said my goal was to have a team that was more popular than the sausage race," he said, a reference to the team's well-known on-field entertainment.
Melvin and Roenicke were thankful to Attanasio and the team, but both were more concerned about straightening out the Brewers' rough start.
"We've still got a lot of things to accomplish, too," 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's to bring a championship here."
Roenicke said his contract situation wasn't any kind of distraction, but was thankful to have it wrapped up.
"It's nice, because my focus needs to be on what we're doing here, what we're trying to accomplish, and get through this time when we're not playing well," Roenicke said.
Attanasio sat in on a monthly meeting that included Melvin, Roenicke and other members of the team's front office Tuesday, and noted that the tone wasn't any different than it was when he attended a similar meeting during spring training.
"Neither guy gets too high or too low, and that's important now," Attanasio said. "This is a time to be low."
Roenicke said the meeting was a chance for everybody in the organization to take a look at the team's position.
"We want to make sure that this team is competitive for a long time, not just last year," Roenicke said. "We need to figure out this year, and we need to figure out what's happening in the next few years, and make sure that what we're doing, we're heading in the right direction."
The Brewers lost Prince Fielder to free agency in the offseason, a move they fully expected. What the Brewers didn't expect was a pair of significant knee injuries to everyday players in the first month of the season; first baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alex Gonzalez, both of whom are likely to miss the remainder of the season with torn right ACLs.
While there isn't a likely big trade coming in the short term, Attanasio said he can't foresee the Brewers becoming a selling team at the trade deadline — even if he couldn't rule it out completely.
"The only circumstance where we'd even consider a thing like that is where there was no chance of winning," Attanasio said. "And this team's too good to be in that position."
Attanasio called Melvin a "terrific mentor" who has helped him learn the inner workings of the game after he became an owner.
"I was a baseball fan, and I played Rotisserie baseball back to 1983 or '84, I was in leagues," Attanasio said. "And then I got to the Major Leagues, as they say, and I found out how much I didn't know. And Doug has been a marvelous mentor from the start, I've really learned a lot."
Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun said having continuity at the top of the organization was encouraging, and could help the team attract players down the road.
"For both those guys, it's well-deserved," Braun said. "I'm excited to see everybody else has recognized that. They've obviously been instrumental in the success we've had to this point, being a smaller, mid-market team and going to the playoffs two of the last four years and finding a way to get three million people to come watch us play every year. Those guys deserve as much credit as anybody that's playing on the field."