Brewers did their homework on Aramis Ramirez, and I guarantee it.
Back when he was a young executive with the Yankees between 1979 and 1985, Doug Melvin was reminded again and again about the value of preparation.
“If you worked for George Steinbrenner,” he said, “you had to be ready for anything he’d throw at you.”
“He might call you at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and tell you he was discussing a trade with the White Sox,” Melvin said. “He’d say he needed the White Sox’s top five prospects on his desk, and he needed them right that minute.”
Those early days with Steinbrenner taught him some important lessons about preparation and organization he has never forgotten.
Steinbrenner could be impossibly difficult to work for, but almost all the executives who did were better off for the experience.
In fact, it was Melvin’s Yankee experience that led to his second job in major league baseball and set him on the path to being one of baseball’s most respected general managers.
In 1986, Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams sought out Melvin, in part, because he’d heard great things about him and, in part, because he respected the way Steinbrenner’s Yankees did business.
Melvin spent nine seasons with the Orioles in various capacities before joining the Rangers, where he was general manager from 1996 until 2001.
His Rangers made the playoffs three times in a four-year stretch between 1996 and 1999. Before that, they’d never played a single postseason game in their 25-year history.
He worked similar magic in nine seasons with the Brewers, leading them to their first postseason appearance in 26 years in 2008 and their first division championship in 29 years in 2011.
Along the way, he was made hundreds of moves, from big ones like the deals for C.C. Sabathia and Zack Grienke to smaller ones like getting Casey McGehee and Scott Podsednik with waiver-wire claims.
During his three decades in major league baseball, it’s his relentless preparation that has not changed, and that’s why his introduction of Aramis Ramirez on Wednesday was so interesting.
He spoke to dozens of people who’d either played with or against Ramirez, managed him, coached him or had some connection to him.
Likewise, Ramirez did his homework on the Brewers, including a long chat with manager Ron Roenicke as well as Roenicke’s former boss, Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
He came to admire Ramirez’s professionalism, his attention to detail and his work ethic. Brewers’ third basemen were among baseball’s least productive last season, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the club, Melvin has succeeded in filling a huge hole.