MILWAUKEE -- The injury-battered Brewers sat in the National League Central cellar on Tuesday afternoon, a seemingly imperfect moment to announce multiyear contract extensions for general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke. Or was it? "There's always going to be the fan who says, 'Well, how could you extend those guys now?!'" principal owner Mark 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. Two playoffs in four years. People forget this team won only 56 games the year before he got here.
"Ron Roenicke, his first year with us, won more games in his first year than any team in Brewers history. You have to reward that. More important, you want to secure that talent for the organization, for the community, so we can continue to have success here." Secure it, he did. Melvin's contract was extended through 2015 and Roenicke's through 2014, with a club option for 2015. Before Tuesday's announcement, both Melvin and Roenicke were in the final guaranteed year of their deals. Melvin, 59, also got a promotion. He's now president of baseball operations-general manager. He was previously executive vice president-general manager. "I think if you look at it, teams that have success will have continuity," Melvin said. The talks with both Melvin and Roenicke began back in Spring Training, when the team was riding a wave of optimism after a club-record 96-win regular season and a trip to the National League Championship Series. Discussions bore fruit Tuesday with the team in a funk, facing injury emergencies at first base and shortstop and tied with the Cubs for last place in the NL Central. Melvin has orchestrated comebacks before. When the Brewers' previous ownership hired him in September 2002, the team was on its way to a franchise-record 106 losses. Melvin slashed the payroll in subsequent seasons as part of a dramatic rebuilding project, which produced a .500 finish in '05, the Brewers' first winning season in 15 years in '07 and their first postseason appearance in 26 years in '08. Melvin's key trades over the years have netted big seasons from first baseman Richie Sexson, outfielder Carlos Lee and pitchers CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Francisco Rodriguez. In recent years he has signed many of the club's homegrown players to long-term contracts ahead of free agency, including outfielders Ryan Braun and Corey Hart, second baseman Rickie Weeks and right-hander Yovani Gallardo, all of whom have represented the Brewers as All-Stars. Melvin won two executive of the year awards over the offseason, including one decided by a vote of fellow GMs. "I'm happy about it because I really like who I work for," Roenicke said. "So many times, that may not be the case, but I liked [Melvin] from the first day I interviewed with him, and I like him more that I'm around him. "Now that I've gotten to know Mark, I really like the people I work for. That makes a huge difference for me, especially in planning for the future." Roenicke was named the 18th manager in franchise history on Nov. 4, 2010, inheriting a team with high expectations despite losing records in each of the previous two years. Roenicke proceeded to lead the Brewers to their first division title since 1982. "It's good to get it done," he said of his new contract. "I wish we would have been playing a little bit better when we did it, but that's the way it is. And it's nice, because my focus needs to be on what we're doing here, what we're trying to accomplish, and getting through this time when we're not playing well." The Brewers were in a similar position at this time last year before they got hot. The challenge is doing it again. "Ron came in here last year and just took control of this team like he'd been here for as long as Doug had been here," Attanasio said. "He really set a tone that I liked. "Doug and Ron are both professionals, really no different whether we win or we lose. You need that in this sport, both because you have so much failure and it's such a day-to-day grind. Neither guy gets too high or too low, and that's important now." He added: "If you believe in a reversion to the mean theory, we're about to have a lot of guys get really hot."