Has anyone noticed…

Posted by Steve

There has been a lot of interesting storylines with the Brewers lately that aren’t being talked about as much as they should. For instance, has anyone noticed…

…how TERRIBLE Ryan Braun has been?

Sure, we’re hearing about Ryan Braun’s slump. He hasn’t hit many home runs. He’s struggling to see the ball, blah blah blah. But we aren’t hearing enough about just how awful it’s been. It is undoubtedly the worst stretch of his career.

Since the Arizona series that ended May 9, Braun has a line of .228/.267/.374 for a cool .641 OPS. A .267 OBP… That’s Alexei Ramirez territory.

Braun is completely lost at the plate. His discipline is shot. In a bad slump, walks are almost always down. The player swings at more bad pitches or pitchers’ pitches and gets himself out more often. Sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happened to Braun. Through that Arizona series, he had drawn 18 walks in 146 plate appearances. Since, he’s drawn six walks in 131 plate appearances.

This means that, for the second time in three seasons, Braun is likely going to get an undeserved start in the All-Star Game. Most of the voting was a result of his torrid start (and his popularity), but as of today, among qualified NL outfielders, Braun ranks 14th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, 13th in OPS, and tenth in weighted on base average. It’s incredible how far he’s fallen after such an amazing start.

…how weird Corey Hart’s line is?

Corey Hart is on a serious home run binge, which has led to comments like, “Hart’s absolutely on fire!” Except… He’s really not. He’s just hitting a lot of home runs.

His home run stretch started 28 games ago against Philadelphia. Since then he has 14 homers, and amazingly, leads the NL in home runs. But in that same stretch, he has a pedestrian batting average/on-base percentage of .264/.331. Compare that to his start of the season, when he hit just three home runs in 103 plate appearances. During that stretch, his batting average/on-base percentage was a comparable .247/.340.

It’s very odd that Hart could pile up a bunch of home runs without really getting on base any more than he did at the start of the season. In fact, he has a fairly poor on-base percentage on the season.

So what does it mean? Maybe nothing, other than supply me with something to talk about. But to me, it means that Hart should be traded. As long as Hart’s name tops the NL home run leaders, his value is high. The Brewers practically tried to give Hart away in the off-season and didn’t have any takers. Doug Melvin needs to realize that the Brewers aren’t going anywhere this season and that Hart’s value is higher to a contending team than it is hitting meaningless home runs for the Brewers. The surprising Padres seem like a perfect fit. They have a good record despite awful production from their outfield. Hart would be a nice addition to that team. Meanwhile, it would give the Brewers an opportunity to add prospects, cut salary, and give them a chance to play Lorenzo Cain the rest of the season.

… that maybe, just maybe, I was right about Casey McGehee after all?

I’m a bit ashamed of myself. I’m a firm believer that you need at least 1500 MLB plate appearances before you have a good idea of a hitter’s talent. Yet, just a month or so ago I allowed myself to fall into the trap of McGehee’s hot start and declare myself wrong on him–after only about 600 plate appearances!

McGehee has been in a horrendous slump himself, and it may just be that he’s regressing to where he should be. McGehee has a .615 OPS in the last month, which drops his season numbers to a pretty average .800 OPS for the season.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m rooting against McGehee, but I’ll say that I still have higher hopes for Mat Gamel long term than I do for McGehee. Gamel’s off to a nice start in AAA since his recent return from injury, and assuming Ken Macha is fired/not retained after the season, he’ll have a chance to start fresh in the organization.

…how awesome George Kottaras is?

Alright, so his defense is pretty terrible at this point. But I am in love with his batting eye. He’s cooled off a bit recently, but his line on the season is .194/.361/.430. That’s a very solid line for a catcher, albeit a strange one. Kottaras has 18 hits on the season, but 26 walks! I liked when Macha dabbled with him in the second spot a few times, and certainly prefer that to Carlos Gomez or Alcides Escobar.

I’m excited about the Brewers catching outlook in the next few seasons. Even with Angel Salome’s bizarre decision to switch from catcher to outfielder, I think the Brewers are in good hands. Lucroy has impressed me with his defense, and Kottaras has a pretty good bat.

that Ken Macha is back to abusing Gallardo?

This is the main reason I’d be fine with letting Macha go (along with his poor handling of young players). He is managing like the Brewers are in a pennant race. There’s no reason to be handling Gallardo this way. Look at his rising pitch counts since May 1.

121
103
108
120
106
121
114
110
118

There’s no reason to be leaving Gallardo in for that many pitches on a consistent basis. The Brewers aren’t going anywhere, not to mention the fact they just committed millions to Gallardo’s arm.

I’m envisioning this scenario, which seems very realistic in my mind.

It’s September. Prince Fielder and Corey Hart have been traded. Casey McGehee is playing first base on a regular basis. Mat Gamel and Lorenzo Cain are up from the minors. The Brewers are well out of it, but I go to a game anyway to see the young players. Only I arrive to find that Craig Counsell is starting at third over Gamel, and Jim Edmonds is starting over Lorenzo Cain. Gallardo throws 122 pitches.

Does that really seem that farfetched? Even though I don’t think it really matters if Macha is fired, this scenario is my biggest reason in favor of that move.

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3 responses to “Has anyone noticed…

  1. I Refute Thee Thus: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=9003489

    ….And Thus: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=9006285

    And Agree with Thee Thus: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=9003057
    I have always loved me some Kottaras …although I must say he needs to get rid of that gross-lookin’ beard of his.

    I still think you’re right about McGehee, though, he’s been proving a bit green…. and while I don’t necessarily want Macha to be fired, I think he’s ready for bed… Gamel would be a great addition @ 3rd for the Crew but with Macha in the picture, Gamel’s odds aren’t looking so good….

    I fear your future scenario isn’t far-fetched at all, and we may be looking at Macha’s sad excuse for a final season… and while I agree that Macha should give the young’n’s (especially Gamel) the playtime, I think trading Counsell would be a bad move.

    And Edmonds… I could do without him. Mainly because…. well, he’s just old.

  2. Heh… Yeah, the timing of this post isn’t great after last night’s game. You could have linked to McGehee’s goofy homer as well.

    And while I generally am a staunch supporter of beards, I have to admit George’s isn’t the best I’ve ever seen.

    I really like Counsell, but he’s the type of player that has more value to a contending team. I’m not sure the Brewers could get much for him, but I wouldn’t rule it out. A contender, especially one who loses a middle infielder to injury down the road, might see value in a good bench player like Counsell.

  3. I didn’t want to include McGehee’s goofy homer because it wasn’t earned!! That ball was clearly still in the park — if Torii had missed completely, it would have bounced off that wall and probably only have been a double!
    It was Torii’s glove that popped that ball over the wall… an error resulting in a home run… Don’t be fooled!! I think you might be right about McGehee…

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