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Defense has been a high point for Brewers

Defense has been a high point for Brewers

Defense has been a high point for Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- With everything that's gone wrong for the Brewers this season, there's at least one facet of the game that manager Ron Roenicke doesn't have much to complain about: Defense.

"I think it's been pretty good," Roenicke said. "I think there's always cutoff men that you overthrow and a guy takes extra bases; we're not going to be perfect. But overall I think we've done a pretty good job."

Strong play in the field has not often been a trademark of Brewers teams. Just last season, Milwaukee committed 111 errors, marking the second year in a row the team went over 100. And although it's not the perfect indication of a good defense, the Brewers also haven't finished in the top 10 in fielding percentage since they ended the year in sixth (.983) in 2001. This year, though, they entered Monday ranked ninth in the Major Leagues (.984), and have committed 70 errors.

On the flip side, the Brewers have been a steady offensive team in recent years, and Roenicke said there might be a correlation.

"I think the tradeoff obviously is, do you want more offense or do you want more defense?" Roenicke said. "Because there's not too many perfect players that are really great in the box and great on defense. There's not many. And if they are, they're making $20 million a year."

Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez is one of the players who has been able to strike a balance between excelling at the plate and in the field. Along with batting .289, driving in 72 runs and leading the National League with 58 extra-base hits entering Monday, Ramirez has committed just six errors, matching him with annual Gold Glove candidate Adrian Beltre as one of the best defensive third baseman in the Majors this season.

Roenicke said factors such as history might work against Ramirez in his bid for the Gold Glove, but the second-year manager said his third baseman deserves consideration. He also said Ramirez provides an example of why the Brewers have been better defensively, as he and the rest of the team put in their defensive work during batting practice before almost every game.

"If you watch every day, Aramis is throwing probably 20 throws over to first base," Roenicke said. "With [second baseman Rickie Weeks], he's turning 10 double plays. And so even though you don't take an actual infield anymore, we do 10 times in batting practice every day than if you took an infield. And I think that's important, and I think that's one of the reasons why we're doing OK defensively."

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