GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg
I was going to come at you all today with a review of Brewer Organization participation and performance in the AAA All-Star Game from last night. I was out when it was airing, so I recorded the game on my DVR. Cheating a bit, I checked the box score when I got home and saw that after Gwynn Jr went 0-4, (w/ 1 K) and Cruz Jr went 0-3 and Hendrickson took the loss after giving up three (albeit unearned) runs….well, I just wasn’t in the mood to watch the game.
If I get around to it some time soon, then I’ll throw up a late review. Maybe the hitters were robbed and Hendrickson’s runs were purely due to errors. I don’t know yet, so I can’t comment on it all.
Having said that, it is now time for me to bust out…….
The First "Half" Analysis (complete w/second "half" projections, dreams and prayers) of our Milwaukee Brewers!
Let’s start with the good, shall we?
Chris Capuano has been better than any benchmark that anybody could have honestly established for him at the beginning of the season. He currently sits tied for 3rd most Wins with 10. His ERA of 3.21 (46 ERs, 129.0 IP) is good enough for 13th place. Speaking of innings pitched, he has the 5th highest total there. He is 7th in strikeouts with 112. His K/BB ratio is also good for 7th place at 4.48, so he’s had good control all year. He even has had the first two complete game shutouts of his big league career this season.
And then, in what might be the biggest sign of his effectiveness, he has had a "quality start" in all but two starts on the year. 19 starts, 17 "quality starts". Amazing. Nobody else has that many.
Oh, and did I mention that all of the rankings two paragraphs ago where not just his position in the National League, but in all of Major League Baseball!
Our offense has looked good at times, and it has struggled at times. Same with the majority of our pitchers. Sometimes right on the money, other times getting lit up a bit. The problem comes when you pair the negatives are involved.
For example, the 3-0 game we lost to the Reds in Cincinnati, on June 14th, when Carlos Villanueva made his first start and held the explosive Reds scoreless. FANTASTIC pitching performance, coupled with no hitting.
Example #2, May 20th. Against the Minnesota Twins, the Crew put up 10 runs (one of our precious few double digit outbursts this season) on 13 hits, but we allowed 16 on 15!! FANTASTIC run production and hitting production but coupled with absolutely pathetic pitching performance. Not one of the seven (!) different pitchers used that night went without giving up at least one earned run.
Example #3 and #4 are from the same weekend series as each other. First, in an example of the good that can come from getting both fantastic offense and defense in the same game, the Brewers tied a Major League record for home runs in one inning en route for a 11-0 shelacking of the Reds. In the next night’s game, we got it turned right around on us and lost 11-0 only getting 5 hits and also committing 3(!!!) errors.
What we need is more consistently above average play. With the talent level of this club, we don’t need complete game shutouts from Cappy every other day, and we also don’t need to tie home run records during games. The pitching staff is good enough to hold opponents down when they’re on, and our offense is good enough to exploit poor pitching performances and even to cause a few pitchers to have poor pitching performances on their own.
Instead of having one or the other, like most of the season (which is partly why we have so many come from behind victories and walk-off situations), or God forbid not having either (like during our 8 game losing streak), what we need is to have a little bit of both all the time.
Yes, your offense is going to slump sometimes and your pitching staff is going to struggle once in a while. Each side helps pick the other up when they’re down. That’s what a team sport is all about. But what this team needs to make a push into Wild Card (and possibly Divisional) contention is probably a 41-31 or so 2nd "half" to the season. Our record would wind up at 85 and 77. Houston won the NL Wild Card last year at 89-73. They’ll have to go on an even better run than they did last year to get to that kind of a record again this season. They edged out Philadelphia who finished at 88-74 (which they won’t be coming close to at this rate).
85-77, consequently, would’ve have finished us ahead of every single team in the National League last year except for the division winners (even though it’s a better record than San Diego wound up with), and the aforementioned Astros and Phillies.
And here’s the thing…it’s doable.
If what MilwaukeeBrewers.com is reporting is true, then it looks like we are going to keep Carlos Lee and make a push. Let’s make that push, boys! Keep hope alive and get out there and perform like we all know that you can (because we’ve seen indications so many times). Sweeping the Reds and winning the first game from the Cubs just before the break was good…almost as good as it was pathetic to then drop the next three to the Cubs.
.500 should NOT be your goal. Don’t get there, and feel so relieved or satisfied to be there that you immediately get too loose, lose focus and slip right back down below it again.
I was 2 years old when the Brewers went to their lone World Series. I don’t remember a whole lot from that year, but I do remember growing up as a Brewers’ fan, period. My favorite all time player, which has "Blog about me" written all over him, is Robin Yount. I have learned the history and lore of this franchise, and am so stricken with this "on the cusp" situation we seem to be in.
I’ll admit, I projected the Brewers to make the playoffs in 2008, actually being within a few games of the Wild Card by the end of 2007. A lot of naysayers have said that I’ve got my head in the clouds and that I’ll see how wrong I am once 2008 comes and goes with another playoff miss.
I’d love to be proven wrong…in the other direction.