In the aftermath of the Milwaukee Brewers' painful collapse last summer, general manager Doug Melvin made the media rounds and was always asked, in some fashion, about what changes he would make to the every day lineup.
And his response, invariably, would be some version of "Who do you want to get rid of?"
He would run around the diamond, from first to third, left to right, and behind the plate.
In his mind, the team was set – especially after the trade for Toronto first baseman Adam Lind on Nov. 2 and when third baseman Aramis Ramirez exercised his portion of a mutual option to return to the club on Nov. 3.
In the Brewers’ world, one where they have continually develop homegrown talent, the departure of one such player in Rickie Weeks meant that the transition to another in Scooter Gennett was going to be full time in 2015.
And the second baseman, who turns 25 on May 1, couldn’t be excited for the opportunity to be an everyday player at the major league level.
"It was a good experience for me to get that first full year under my belt," he said of the 2014 campaign that saw him hit .289 in 137 games.
"Learned a lot of things not only with that, but things that I need to work on, too. And just getting ready to apply those and get a good offseason in and come prepared as possible for spring training. I think I have a better idea of how to do that."
Gennett earned the right to platoon with Weeks after hitting .324 in 69 games at the end of 2013, largely when Weeks was injured.
Ron Roenicke determined that the left-hander would sit against left-handed starters in favor of the right-handed hitting Weeks, a decision aided, in part, because in 2013 he hit just .154 in 28 games (41 plate appearances) against southpaws.
It proved to be the right decision, at least on paper, as Gennett hit .103 in 37 games (42 plate appearances) in 2014.
So, that does raise the question – can Gennett hit major league lefty starters?
Gennett smiles at the question.
Gennett said he would work in some left-handed batting practice in the offseason, but said nothing will answer it like playing every day. He also welcomes to the doubters.
"That confidence comes from paying games and just seeing them in games," he said. "I’m really looking forward to that opportunity next year. I embrace it, to prove some people wrong that don’t believe in certain things that I can do.
"I actually see it as a blessing in disguise. It gives me something to continue to work hard on. It seems like very year there’s something that comes up, whether it’s something I need to work on, or something that I’m being successful on and i need to build success from that. I’m blessed to have that, not to have everything figured out and not be perfect. that mindset going forward I think is a good thing for me to have."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.