Posted by Steve
I knew that. They weren’t a 100+ win team. But lately the Brewers have played well below their ability. Every team goes through slumps, even the good ones, so we shouldn’t start panicking–yet. The Brewers still have the best team in the Central on paper, and there are still 110 games left.
Unfortunately, their nice cushion is all but gone. It does not appear–at least yet, anyway–that Milwaukee will run away with the division. It just means that we’re in store for an interesting season.
A few random thoughts/observations on their current slide:
- Tony Gwynn’s “hotness” has cooled down. It’s time to let him be what he is: A light-hitting pinch runner, a defensive replacement and a spot starter. I’d like to reiterate the SPOT part of spot starter. That means only against tough righties once, maybe twice a week. I actually think he’d do well in this role, but as is I have no choice but to loathe Tony Gwynn Jr.
- Going hand in hand, Corey Hart needs to play more. It was probably easy to forget how dynamic of a player he can be. His infield hits today were pretty much routine grounders to short. He smoked that ball to right as well. Unlike Tony Gwynn, Hart should not be a spot starter. He should be starting at least 3-4 days in left or right. Oh, and if you want a different leadoff hitter Ned, this is your guy.
- I know Kevin Mench isn’t this bad (.263/.267/.390), but we’ve been saying that for almost a year now. At some point you have to think that he’s just may not be as good as he was in Texas. That, and the Rangers’ Park helped his numbers quite a bit. It’s to the point where the Brewers can no longer afford to spend at-bats to get him out of his rut. He’s taking ABs away from Hart, Gross and even Gwynn. I think the Brewers could get something useful for a Mench-Vargas package; maybe another arm for the pen. Then you put either Villanueva or Gallardo in the rotation and probably call up Vinny Rottino to spell Jenkins and Gross against tough lefties. As I type I’m realizing this should have been its own post… But it’s already here, so deal with it.
- Nobody supported calling up Ryan Braun more than me–that fact is well documented throughout the brief history of this blog. But even I think the Brewers have asked too much of him. Yost said they weren’t going to depend on him to carry the offense. So why then, Ned, have you put him in the three-hole the last two games? Braun admitted he was trying to do too much on Monday; I would hope he’s batting sixth or seventh on Tuesday. What’s wrong with Weeks-Hardy-Fielder at the top?
- I still believe in Dave Bush. Still.
- Upon further review, the NL Central does in fact appear to be that bad. The Brewers have lost 13 of their last 17 games and astonishingly still hold a five game lead. You can look at that as a positive thing, or you can say that if they had just played .500 over that stretch they’d have about a 12-game lead. I’ll let you decide if the glass is half empty or half full.
So anywho, things don’t get any easier in the next couple days, with the Braves sending John Smoltz and Tim Hudson to face the Crew. It’s a long season, and they have plenty of time to right this ship. Look on the bright side: They’re still five up, they have a long homestand, Sheets-Smoltz could be a great game, and Dave Bush is going for 8 IP/2 runs/9 Ks on Wednesday. Book it.