Ron Roenicke has no delusions of grandeur. He knows exactly what you need to be a successful major-league manager.

Twenty-five good players.

"Whether I'm a good manager or not, I don't know," said Roenicke, who will begin his third year at the helm of the Milwaukee Brewers when they open the 2013 season Monday against Colorado at Miller Park. "If you don't have good players, you're not going to be a good manager.

"You're not going to win without good players. We've got really good players here. The last two years, (general manager) Doug (Melvin) put together really nice teams."

Indeed, Roenicke stepped into a sweet situation when he was named manager of the Brewers before the 2011 season. Principal owner Mark Attanasio and Melvin put together a very talented club with a much-improved pitching staff bolstered by the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

That Brewers squad rolled to a franchise-record 96 victories and its first National League Central Division crown, falling two wins shy of the World Series. And when the team took the field in 2012, there were high expectations again.

This time, however, it would not be smooth sailing at the helm. The Brewers faltered badly at midseason, in large part because the bullpen melted down en masse. No lead was safe. Greinke was traded and Brewer Nation hunkered down for what surely would be a long second half.

But baseball is nothing if not unpredictable. The Brewers suddenly got red-hot, winning 25 of 30 games at one point to roar back into the race for the second wild-card berth. They would fall short, getting eliminated with only a few games remaining, but the team disbanded in good spirits rather than in disarray.

"To see the way we responded after a tough start last year, you couldn't ask for anything more from a manager," said leftfielder Ryan Braun. "He continued to be the same person, continued to believe in us and support us.

"You saw the way the guys responded. We got back into it and weren't eliminated until three days to go. To just get back to that point speaks volumes for him as well as the rest of the coaching staff."

Roenicke's early success as a manager has gone beyond having talented players, however. You can have a team full of all-stars but if you don't have their respect, if they think you don't value their opinion, one day you'll wake up with a mutiny on your hands.

This is where one of Roenicke's primary strengths has come into play. Taking a page out of Ronald Reagan's book - actually, Roenicke lives in the shadows of Richard Nixon's former estate in San Clemente, Calif. - he is the Great Communicator, on and off the field.

Simply put, Roenicke talks to his players a lot. Better yet, he listens. He really listens. It's not one of those deals where the porch light is on but nobody is home.

"I thought it was real important when I was playing, and sometimes seeing the lack of communication," said Roenicke, 56. "I played for a lot of managers. Players have changed a lot, and players need to have answers more than they ever have.

"When I was playing, no matter who (the manager) was, when they told you to do something, there was no questioning. Just with how kids have changed, as a parent, those kids need answers, which is fine with me. I like when they want to know why. When you explain it and they understand that most of what I like to do is for their career and helping them, then I think they're more willing to do things.

"There are guys who do it differently. I'm not saying that I'm right and the guys who do it differently are wrong. I'm saying this is the way I think it should be done and the way I feel I can get the most out of a player."

Roenicke's first two years as Milwaukee's skipper were in sharp contrast to the two-year stint of his predecessor, Ken Macha. An old-school style manager whose idea of an open-door policy meant the player was expected to make the first move, Macha quickly lost the clubhouse and never recovered.

Roenicke, on the other hand, seemed to have the players' undivided attention from the moment he walked in the clubhouse.

"He has been awesome since Day 1 in communicating with us," said right-hander Yovani Gallardo. "He got to know the guys very well. The first thing he said was it was important to know how we felt and what we thought of certain things.

"He asks for opinions. You definitely feel like you're part of the team. It goes a long ways. That's huge in this day and in this game. He handles that very well. He makes sure he knows where you're at on certain things."

The worst thing a new manager can do is attempt to treat all 25 players the same. That just doesn't work. Players are not robots. You can't give them all the same marching orders and expect them to keep in step.

Roenicke watched managers he played for make that mistake, and he wasn't about to do likewise when he finally got the chance to lead a big-league club.