PHOENIX Twice in a span of 25 months, Dale Sveum was interviewed and passed over as Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers searched for a new field manager.
Under Ken Macha, who took over in 2009, the Brewers stumbled. Granted, a lack of quality pitching was as much to blame as anything, but the disconnect between the players and manager was evident during Macha's two seasons, during which time Sveum served as as a confidant of sorts.
It makes sense, then, that the Brewers went outside the organization in the fall of 2010 when looking to replace Macha. Melvin wanted a fresh, outsiders perspective on his roster. He wanted to bring in somebody with a winning mindset. He wanted somebody who could take this team of young stars to the next level.
And to his credit, Sveum still stuck around.
"I was disappointed," Sveum said earlier this week when he brought his new team to Maryvale Baseball Park to face his former team. "I wanted to manage, but it wasn't to the point that I wanted to leave. One, I know how precious these jobs are at the big league level. When I was notified they wanted me back in some capacity, I wasn't going to jump ship because I didn't get the managing job.
"I wanted to stay," he said. "At that time, the Milwaukee Brewers were the place I wanted to be. It was a good organization, and the organization is obviously getting to the point where it got last year. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to come in and manage, but I didn't want to go coach somewhere else."
Handing the job to Sveum would have made sense and created a seamless transition. But how would Sveum have faired having moved from buddy to boss?
Nobody is questioning Sveum's qualifications. He's regarded as one of the best minds in the game, but at the end of the day the Brewers needed Roenicke. They needed his style. They needed his attitude. They needed his perspective. They needed his leadership. They needed his pedigree.
They needed him.
In 10 seasons working on Mike Sciocia's staff with the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem, Roenicke helped lead a team that posted just two losing seasons, went to the playoffs six times and won the 2002 World Series.
His calm, cool and collected demeanor was the perfect recipe for the Brewers fun-loving and hard swinging ways. He gives the players the freedom to be themselves see Nyjer Morgan, Beast Mode and the team-wide western-themed flight from Houston as leading examples but also has enough respect from the players to demand a commitment to excellence, perfection and a professional attitude.
Roenicke has a good sense of humor. Not many managers would appreciate a young reliever doing a (fairly accurate) impression of him, but Roenicke laughs it off. He wants his guys to have fun, he wants his guys to enjoy their jobs and play carefree and loose.
That's not to suggest that Sveum wouldn't have been able to elicit the same amount of professional courtesy. In six seasons as a coach, he no doubt had the respect of his players and had their support both times his name came up as a candidate for the full-time field manager's job. But as good as he was, he wasn't the right guy for the job.
Sveum is a no-nonsense guy. There's no frills too him. He talks baseball. He knows baseball. It's been his life. For a team that's wandered in the desert the last few seasons and needs a change in attitude and approach, he's the guy.
He will have his work cut out for him on the North Side, but with Theo Epstein running the show, it's not unfathomable to think that the rookie skipper will experience success. It may not be this season, but chances are it will happen sooner rather than later.
Ideally, Sveum would have stayed in Milwaukee and fulfilled his professional dream. It wasn't meant to happen, though. And the Brewers, who very well could make another run to the playoffs in 2012, couldn't have found a better candidate to lead the team.