Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brewers Date of Death Declared

Time of Death: Midnight EST, July 31, 2009

Date of Birth: April 7, 2009

Name: Milwaukee Brewers 2009 Season

Cause of Death: Pitching – or lack thereof

The body of the Milwaukee Brewers season was declared dead at the end of the night on July 31, 2009. The body appears to have continued to struggle along as a vegetable on a ventilator since then, and the plug will finally be pulled in St. Louis on October 4. Coroners are reporting the cause of death was pitching, and it appears it was starting pitching combining with relief pitching to provide the death blow.

The team’s chances went down the drain when they couldn’t land some pitching at the trading deadline. I’m not blaming GM Doug Melvin for not making a deal or for not overpaying – he didn’t have the chips to get anything done. With absolutely no pitching talent in the minor leagues (Mike Burns is excited to get back to his softball team soon….), teams were going to ask for their top prospects – Gamel & Escobar – to rent a pitcher. I think Melvin realized that even if they landed Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, they weren’t going to compete this year.

The question is – why were they willing to go into this season with such a poor rotation? Did we really expect more from a rotation of Gallardo (coming off season long injury, and too young), Parra (about as mentally stable as Mike Tyson, but not as dangerous and doesn’t own a tiger), Suppan (best batting practice pitcher in the league), Looper (can a guy be an “innings eater” if he only ever goes 6 innings?!?!?), and Bush (Forrest Gump… a box of chocolates……..). Losing Sabathia and Sheets and replacing them with nothing was bound to come back and haunt them, especially since they barely squeaked into the playoffs last year.

So are we supposed to believe that the loss to injury of Suppan and Bush would have made a difference!?!! I’ve coined the term pitching “Supp-Style” after watching him pitch this year. It means trying to “out-slow” the other team with an 85 mph fastball and an 81 mph change-up. You’re guaranteed to give up a couple hits and walks in every inning, yet somehow you get a couple double plays and pop ups and get through the first 4-5 innings only giving up 1-2 runs. Pitching Supp-Style lulls the manager into sending the pitcher out there for one too many innings (“well, he’s only given up 1 or 2 runs, maybe I can sneak another inning out of him.”) when the dam finally breaks and suddenly Supp can’t get anyone out, and he gives up 4-5 runs in a hurry. And Dave Bush………..when he’s on, he’s very capable. When he’s off, he’s awful. And there is no way to know which Bush is going to be on the mound each time in the rotation.
It’s a shame because the offense was good enough, with very good years from Prince and Braun, to compete. And the addition of Felipe Lopez was a great move to make up for the Weeks injury (I can’t believe I actually think his injury hurt the team after how much I loathed that guy since he got to the majors).

So for next year? Find some pitching. Stop the idiocy mentioning a trade of Prince. Why would you do that? Prince can make a case that he’s in the top 4-5 1B in the entire league, and you’re not going to get one of the top 4-5 pitchers in the league in return for him. So you’d be losing value. Instead, guys like Hardy and Hart have to be used as bait to try and get some arms. For some reason, they still seem to have value even though they’ve been below average at their positions. I’ve heard that the Red Sox like Hardy enough to put him in a package for Clay Bucholz. I think that’s a great deal for the Brewers but find it hard to believe the Sox would be willing to do that.

I fully expect them to continue trying to contend and not rebuild. They have a full stadium of fans, an owner with deep enough pockets, and a baseline of talent that can compete for a division and the pennant. A few good moves by the team in the off-season, and hopefully they’re on their way back to the playoffs in 2010.

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