Week two- and you know what that means… my editor is back in the country and I don’t have to (poorly) proofread my articles anymore! 🙂
I’ve gotten some feedback that people prefer my shorter articles, so in the interest of keeping the fans happy, I’ll stick with the quick takes format for the next couple of weeks as this team starts to settle in.
The losses are hard to watch
Losing sucks no matter how it happens, and while the Brewers salvaged impressive wins in both series this week, they were outscored 31-4 in their four losses. The Brewers were behind by more than 5 runs by the end of the 3rd inning in three of the four losses: that’s brutal baseball. I love the Brewers, but not enough to give up two hours of my weeknight to watch them try to come back from 9-0.
Going into this season, the starting rotation was one of many unknowns for this young Brewers team – but no one expected Wily Peralta to struggle so much. Every game he’s pitched he’s put the game out of reach early. Broadcasters are talking about Peralta’s body language and how he seems to have lost his confidence. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m definitely wondering how much longer Counsell will keep him in the rotation. On the other hand, Zach Davies’ rough performance today was an indicator: there isn’t a ton of major league-ready pitching talent waiting in Triple A. I’m not a fan, but if Matt Garza can simply be a mediocre pitcher, it would be an improvement for this wildly inconsistent starting rotation.
The next week of baseball will be a real litmus test for this team
To their credit, the Brewers have had a very difficult schedule to start the season. The combined 2015 record of their first four opponents was 368 – 280, and three of four teams appeared in the playoffs. Given the opponents and the already low expectations of this team, a 5-7 start doesn’t seem so bad. That changes this week as the Brewers prepare for a four game split series against the Twins, who are off to an MLB worst 3-8 start, before a weekend series against the worst team from 2015, the Philadelphia Phillies.
While it’s still far too early to say anything definitive about this team, a couple of series wins would go a long way for their confidence. When you’re in rebuilding mode, and you’ve got a lot of young athletes who are still trying to figure out where they fit in with the best baseball players in the world, it’s got to be nice to beat up on some teams. Times may be hard for the Brewers over the next couple years, but if they can avoid completely bottoming out, it’s going to keep things competitive in the locker room. Even if the Playoffs aren’t an achievable milestone, battling for a .500 record is desirable. It will be fun to see how the Brewers match up against their opponents this week – get out to the ball park and make fun of some Minnesotans!
The Brewers are still “relevant”- don’t let that distract you from the goal of this year
Two weeks into the season last year, the Brewers were 2-10 and headed in the wrong direction. While I’ve taken a very realist approach with my expectations about this team, I’m going to be paying close attention on a daily basis if they are within a couple games of a Wild Card spot – it’s just who I am as a fan.
Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy currently have identical batting averages at .268. Braun went yard twice against the Pirates on Friday night, and the Brewers needed both home runs to hang on and win the series opener. So while wins are nice, what’s more important right now (in my humblest of opinions) are the individual performances of Lucroy and Braun. The Brewers WILL trade Lucroy. As his numbers creep up, so does the bargaining power for the Brewers, who continue to wait for catchers to get hurt or teams to look for upgrades. Braun is a different story, but if he were to hit 15-20 home runs before the All Star Break, the Brewers would find themselves in a position where they could offload his contract and get some nice young talent in return.
I want the Brewers to win this year, but given the realities of the situation, I think it’s more important to watch the hitting numbers of Braun and Lucroy than it is to watch the wins and losses of the team. Don’t get me wrong, you can watch both, but if you’re just scoreboard watching or reading the Sunday Cycle once per week, make sure you keep an eye on the Brewer’s most valuable veterans… they may not be here for long.