2015 Milwaukee Brewers
2015 Milwaukee Brewers / Franchise: Milwaukee Brewers / BR Team Page
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2015 Milwaukee Brewers began the year on a strange note, as an epidemic of conjunctivitis, or "pink eye" in layman's parlance, struck in spring training. Manager Ron Roenicke, himself a victim, had to decree a ban on handshakes and high fives in order to dam the epidemic's spread. Twelve players were infected, and other conditions such as bronchitis, cold, flu and nasal complications, turning the camp into an infirmary. OF Logan Schafer was identified as patient zero, the cause of the whole outbreak. If there was a good side to the ordeal, however, it was that it kept focus away from going over the cause of the team's epic second-half collapse in 2014. In fact, expectations were high heading into Opening day, but those hopes would soon be dashed.
The Brewers started the regular season stone cold as they went 2-11 over their first 13 games to claim the worst record in the major leagues. Worst, on April 20th, they lost two staring position players to freak injuries, with 2B Scooter Gennett cutting his hand while showering and C Jonathan Lucroy breaking a toe when hit by a foul tip. Both players were hitting below the Mendoza Line, as only newcomer 1B Adam Lind, who was at .302 with 5 doubles, was providing any kind of offense at that point. On April 21st, the offense finally woke up, scoring 10 runs and hitting two homers, by Martin Maldonado and Elian Herrera, who were filling in for Lucroy and Gennett respectively, but the pitching collapsed completely, allowing 16 runs to the Cincinnati Reds. There were three grand slams hit in the game, only the fourth time this had happened in major league history, with Herrera's homer accounting for four runs for the Brewers, and Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier getting four-run homers for the Reds. A string of 10 losses in 11 games around that period pushed the Brewers to 3-15, worst in the major leagues. When they fell to 4-17 after another loss on April 28th, the Brewers had the worst start by a National League team since the 1997 Chicago Cubs had opened the season with a similar unenviable record. Manager Roenicke paid the price for the team's poor start on May 3rd, when he was fired with the team in last place with a 7-18 record. He was replaced by Craig Counsell, who had retired from the Brewers after the 2011 season but had not coached or managed at any level since.
The Brewers began to play better under Counsell, even putting together an eight-game winning streak in late June and early July. From June 1st to the All-Star break, they went 21-18. The leading lights were their two All-Stars, RF Ryan Braun, who hit .276 with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in the first half, and closer Francisco Rodriguez, who had 19 saves and a 1.41 ERA. The Brewers were sellers heading into the trading deadline, as they unloaded a number of high-profile players: 3B Aramis Ramirez was sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates, OF Gerardo Parra, who was hitting a scorching .328, headed to the Baltimore Orioles, then CF Carlos Gomez was almost traded to the New York Mets, who backed out because of concerns over the health of his shoulder, and then was sent to the Houston Astros alongside P Mike Fiers. In return, the Brewers received a bevy of young players. More changes followed on August 11th when General Manager Doug Melvin announced that he was stepping down and urged owner Mark Attanasio to hire a younger man, well-versed in statistical analysis, to succeed him. the Brewers did just that when on September 21st, they announced the hiring of 30-year-old David Stearns, heretofore the assistant GM of the Houston Astros, as Melvin's successor.
Awards and Honors
- Mike Bauman: "Brewers believe in contender status for 2015: Roenicke feels his club can once again challenge for NL Central title", mlb.com, March 28, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Pink eyes, full hearts: Brewers say they'll bounce back", USA Today Sports, March 15, 2015.