Call me crazy or call me in a bad mood, but the Milwaukee Brewers are not contenders this year. I’m not talking about being a contender for the World Series or even the National League pennant. No, I am talking about being in the race to even come close to winning the National League Central.
You might be asking why so let me tell you.
The Brewers have the worst starting pitching in the National League Central and I really do not even think it is close. First off, we do not have an ace on our staff (Wainwright, Lilly, Oswalt, Cueto, Duke) and at best have a number two pitcher (Gallardo), a number three pitcher (Looper), a number four pitcher (Suppan), a number five pitcher (Parra) and a pitcher that has no place in a major leauge rotation (Burns). If you look at it that way, each one of those pitchers is being asked to bump up a spot and act as something more than they are. Maybe that’s the reason all but Gallardo are having awful years.
Here’s another reason why we have no shot. Outside of Felipe Lopez, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder, our offense is as worthless as a toothbrush to a guy with no teeth. J.J. Hardy has one good week for every five weeks of pathetic late swings and misses. Mike Cameron started red-hot then went absolutely ice cold, picked it up recently and is now back to earth. Corey Hart really hasn’t been as good as people are saying and Casey McGehee is more than likely a flash in the pan.
Craig Counsell has been asked to play every day since Rickie Weeks went down and his production has gone way down. It’s been great that he has filled in during such an important time for the Brewers but it’s really starting to fade on me. Jason Kendall has actually been OK but I have more power than he does.
In the bullpen, someone needs to let Seth McClung know that any time he would like to get his head out of his rear end would be fine with me. The 10.13 ERA and 0-2 record in July has been great, pal. And getting a pitch off before Ken Macha could take you out of a game that you completely blew was real classy. Then not looking at him when he took you out of the game? Nice.
Look, we have a shot to win this division because the Cubs use whiffle bats on offense and the Cardinals are using kids off the street to bat behind Albert Pujols. But when I take off the homer goggles that every sports fan in America has for their respective team, the Brewers have A TON of holes that does not add up to a division championship.
Hopefully the arrival of Felipe Lopez (four hits and a walk tonight) and a potential trade of Roy Halladay will change things, but wow do the Brewers look bad as of late. Done with the rant, have a good one Milwaukee.
Yesterday, Rickie Weeks left the game against the Cardinals with a wrist injury. The extent of the injury is unknown but Weeks is on his way to Phoenix to meet with Dr. Don Sheridan, a wrist specialist that has already performed surgery on Weeks twice.
The injury is in Weeks’ left wrist where he felt “a little pressure, a little tug” during his at-bat in the first inning. Weeks struck out and did not come out for the bottom half of the inning.
Luckily, the injury that Weeks suffered to his wrist in 2006 was to his right wrist, so it does not look like this is a recurring injury.
Still, it’s hard not to fear the worst when thinking about the injury. Afterall, the Brewers have raced out to a great start, Weeks has been one of the best hitters on the team, and for the most part the Brewers have stayed healthy.
While everyone hopes the injury is not serious and that Weeks will be out minimally, it is important to think about what happens when thinking about replacing the second baseman Weeks.
Let’s say Weeks has to go on the DL, which would put him out for the next 15 days. The Brewers are pretty stacked in their bullpen and there are not many viable options for them to bring in.
R.J. Swindle was in the bullpen when Trevor Hoffman was out, but with Weeks being a position player I doubt anyone is added to the bullpen.
The best position player in the Brewers farm system is shortstop Alcides Escobar. Known for his unbelievable defense, it would be interesting to see what happens to him if he were inserted into the lineup.
He is capable of playing every day but moving J.J. Hardy to second base does not make much sense and his glove is not as valuable away from shortstop. Still, if the Brewers’ organization thinks he is ready to come up, he will.
The player that this injury affects the most (other than Weeks) is Craig Counsell. The 38-year-old has started 12 games on the year and has appeared at second base twice this year, including yesterday. He is batting .348 as a starter this year and will more likely than not see the majority of the time at second base.
If Weeks is supposed to miss a short amount of time, it is safe to think Counsell can get the job done for the next couple of weeks. But if Weeks misses a large chunk of time (the year), Counsell can not be an every day starter. What that would mean is Esocbar would see starts at second base when Counsell needed a day off.
The other position this injury may affect is third base, where Counsell started seven games up to this point.
Current third baseman Bill Hall is an every day starter but the 29-year-old gets a day off every now and then. While AAA stud Mat Gamel was called up specifically for Designated Hitting duties when the Brewers travel to Minnesota next week, he may be expected to stay up and get a couple of spot starts at the hot corner. If Counsell were to start at third of a Hall-off day, Escobar would be inserted at second.
Newcomer Casey McGehee is another option but he is not much more than a utility man and a last resort. More of a third basemen, he can also play second base if needed and could see a spot start here and there.
The last question is what happens in the batting order. Weeks was an outstanding leadoff man for the Brewers with nine home runs and a .340 on-base percentage.
In the only game Weeks did not start this year, April 8th against the Reds, Counsell started and Corey Hart batted second. In 2007, Hart batted in the leadoff spot 55 times, batting .284 and 14 stolen bases in those appearances.
Last year, Hart hit leadoff in seven games but batted just .188. It is worth noting that Ned Yost was the manager those last two years and that Ken Macha may have other ideas for the Crew.
Earlier in the year, however, when Ryan Braun two games with an abdominal strain, Hart hit leadoff with Weeks batting third. My best guess is that Counsell will hit leadoff for the time being, but if Escobar gets called up he would more than likely bat seventh, with Hart moving up to the leadoff spot.
Everyone would like for this article to mean nothing and have Weeks come back within the week, but he did not sound too upbeat about the injury so we will have to wait and see what happens.
It might very well be time for the next wave of “Baby Brewers” to grow up on the run.