Posted by Steve
There isn’t much left to say about the Brewers and their struggles. Right now, they only have one good starting pitcher and an impatient, incompetent offense. I’m normally the optimistic guy who shrugs off the people who overreact in May, but this is different. The Gallardo injury absolutely kills this team, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be able to overcome it.
Here’s a sobering stat: Since the Brewers’ 24-10 start to 2007, the Brewers have played 161 games. Their record over that span is 75-86. The further we go on, the more those first 34 games seem like a fluke stretch rather than some sort of glimpse of what to expect.
The big key, of course, is during that stretch the Brewers never had their top two pitchers pitching at the same time. Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo have rarely been active on the major league roster at the same time since Yo’s big league debut. This could serve as a bit of an excuse for that 75-86 mark, as the Brewers surely would have had a better record with both pitchers, but there’s one problem with that: Yo’s out for the season, so they still won’t have them pitching together.
So what can the Brewers even do? Well, honestly, not very much.
One possibility would be to trade for a starting pitcher, but that is much easier said than done. No team with an above-average starter is going to be looking to trade him this early in the season–nobody is out of a race yet. The second issue is that the Brewers’ farm system is already relatively weak, and any deal to land a 1, 2 or 3 type pitcher would probably cripple the farm.
Of course, trading for a starting pitcher won’t even matter if the offense doesn’t get turned around. We keep hearing people say, “Well the Brewers are struggling now, but it’s only a matter of time. They’re going to hit.” “Sure they’re struggling, but you know they’ll hit sooner or later.”
Here’s my question: Do we know they’ll hit? I think they’ll hit, and they obviously won’t be this bad all season, but I suddenly realize I don’t see enough of a track record to say they will be a good offense for certain.
Ryan Braun mashed in the minors and in 2007. But the scouting report on Braun is definitely out: Teams won’t consistently throw him strikes until he shows some plate discipline. Braun has only 7 walks in 139 plate appearances, and his high BABIP from 2007 has crashed back down to Earth. If he doesn’t show better plate discipline, he won’t sniff an .850 OPS, much less a .900 or 1.000 many were hoping for.
J.J. Hardy has me baffled. While he does have more than two good months in his career (I hear that a lot, and even said it myself before seeing otherwise), he hasn’t been a good offensive player since the end of May last year. He looks slow and weak this season, and is rarely hitting the ball hard. I want to say he’ll come out of it, but I don’t have much basis for that claim.
Rickie Weeks. Sigh. I’ve been driving the Rickie Weeks bus for years. I still like what I see–a high walk rate and flashes of serious power–but at some point you have to get hits. It’s ugly right now, but I do still have confidence that his bat will come around. I’m not as concerned about him as some others, but I definitely expect a lot more than what we’ve seen so far.
Prince Fielder. His high walk rate is nice, but the power numbers are MIA. He’ll still end up as the Brewers’ best hitter, but he’s definitely struggling right now, and a repeat of 2007 looks pretty unlikely at this point.
Corey Hart. He’s been one of the only starters who isn’t struggling mightily, but where are the power numbers? One home run at after 33 games is a big disappointment. I don’t expect him to finish with less than ten homers or anything, but I was expecting/hoping for 30 this year from Corey.
Finally we have Bill Hall. He’s been particularly brutal as of late, going 2 for his last 25. He’s played solid D at third, but you have to think you’d get better offensive production for a Dillon/Branyan platoon at this point.
Then there’s Ned Yost. Anyone who read this blog last season knew I felt Yost deserved to be fired after the season ended. I don’t think he’s been different/better this season, but when I look at all the problems this team has right now, he’s not even in my top three or four.
If Gallardo hadn’t been injured, I would not be very worried. While there’s a chance the Brewers may not end up as an above-average offensive team, Sheets-Gallardo would have given them a 1-2 punch as good as any NL team save for Arizona. Those two starters would have allowed to Brewers to tread water and buy time for the offense to get things turned around. Instead, they have four starters who don’t pitch deep into games, which will wear on the bullpen, which will cost them even more games. If Sheets gets injured for a lengthy period, they’re surely done for. That margin for error has all but disappeared now.
As I mentioned earlier, many are calling for a trade, but if the Brewers don’t stay close enough to .500, they’ll end up as sellers at the deadline rather than buyers.
I don’t feel like myself right now. I’m usually the one telling people to relax, that it’s only May, that things will get turned around. This is different though; I simply don’t see it that way. 75-86 speaks volumes to me, and I don’t see how this team is much better than a .500 club without Yo. I’d love for comments on this. If you don’t see things like I do, please talk me off the 2008 Brewers Ledge. I want to believe it’s not over yet. I really do.