Well, folks, yet another week of uninspiring Brewers baseball has come and gone without a great amount of fanfare. In an effort to continue to find creative ways to cover baseball’s most boring team, and in honor of this week’s US Open, we’re going to combine golf and baseball to cover the Tiger Woods of Major League Baseball: your Milwaukee Brewers.
Par: Francisco Rodriguez
It’s tough to say much about the performance of K-Rod because he’s only had a few chances to throw this year. He is 13 for 13 in save opportunities and sports a nice 1.08 ERA. He’s been disappointing in a couple of late inning hold situations, allowing runs in tie ball games leading to his 0-2 record. Still, K-Rod is actually benefiting the Brewers in a way that I hadn’t really considered prior to this week: he is garnering trade interest. Rumors swirled this week that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in K-Rod, and for good reason. The Blue Jays lead the majors in blown saves with TWELVE, and still hold a 37-33 record. The Jays rank eight in minorleagueball.com’s farm system rankings and could send some high upside players Milwaukee’s way should they make a deal. With K-Rod’s age and the Brewer’s complete lack of anything resembling hope, any deal here would be a huge win for Milwaukee.
Triple Bogey: Starting Pitching
The Brewers’ starting pitching has been horrible. They rank second to last in ERA at 4.99, dead last in opponent batting average at a stunning .284, and are led by two veterans in Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse who are both in the midst of the worst individual seasons in their careers. Wily Peralta, who many predicted would be a breakout candidate this year, has been sidelined since May 23rd with a strained oblique and is reportedly behind schedule for his return. Mike Fiers is 3-7 and has shown a complete lack of consistency and ability to escape the big inning. Even Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers rising star last year, has lost some velocity on his fastball and has been unable to get it going. It’s been rough for the starting five, who many believed would attract interest from playoff teams at the deadline. At this point, however, it doesn’t look like the Brewers will get much of anything for Loshe or Garza, and Nelson has been tagged as unmovable by the organization. It’s going to be a long hot summer of chunks, duffs, and shots in the water before this starting rotation calls it quit in October.
Mulligan: Nachos on a Stick
In my preseason preview for the Brewers, I promised a review of the Brewers new headline concessions attraction, only to allow my Opening Day disappointment prevent me from doing so. Please allow me to take a “re-do” of sorts.
My initial thoughts on the Nachos on a stick were that it was good, but not great. For $9, hungry fans are treated to two deep fried balls of seasoned taco meat. The meat is rolled in tortilla chips, fried, and served with small amounts of sour cream, nacho cheese, and salsa. It’s a great idea, and worth trying if you like ball park food, but it falls a bit short on the execution. I’m not sure if it’s the seasoning of the meat or the tortilla chips, but it’s far too salty. The salsa is the best part, but the dipping cup is too small to dip your deep fried goodness in. At the end of the day, it’s a fun idea that belongs in the “Taco Bell” category, falling well short of “Qdoba” status.
Slice: Front Office Transparency
Look, I get it, there are very few professional sport front offices that are going to come out to the media and admit there needs to be a massive shift in the direction of the organization. Still, I think the silence and the lack of action of the Brewers has made them look foolish this season. Take owner Mark Attanasio for example. On April 22nd he stated, “I’m not looking at the manager or general manager” upon arriving in Milwaukee to address the team’s disastrous start. Eleven days later, Roenicke was gone, and Melvin stated the decision had been made in advance of the teams moderate turnaround the week before. Then there’s Doug Melvin, who seems awkwardly aware that he is in the hot seat, and almost bitter at times.
The most frustrating part of the front office silence is their lack of a commitment to the rebuild they so desperately need. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein spent the past three years openly acknowledging a rebuild to the fans, the players in the organization, and to major publications. “We’re not naive, but we do feel we’re on the right track,” Hoyer said in a spring training artcile for ESPN the Magazine, “We knew it would take time.” Many Brewers fans, myself included, are okay with waiting if it means the team will be built for long term success. The front office, however, seems set on pretending the current Brewers are capable of much more than they really are.
Hole In One: Mark Attanasio’s pocketbook and the Brewers Marketing team
The Brewers are the second worst team in baseball, and yet rank 8th in overall attendance. Whether it’s tee shirt Fridays, bobblehead doll Sundays, BRO-A-R post game concerts, or Star Wars Day, one thing is for certain: the Brewers do not deserve the number of fans they have in their seats. It’s almost unsustainable. Want to know just how successful the Brewers have been at selling tickets? They rank second in the majors in attendance per win, only behind the Dodgers. As far as the on field product is concerned, the Brewers are getting more people in the seats with fewer wins than almost every one of their opponents. That’s paying customers, buying $8 beers, mediocre nachos on a stick, and enough Hank apparel to save a family of stray dogs. Maybe Mark Attanasio is staying quiet because his team is still making a financial killing. One thing is for certain: if fans truly want to send a message, they’ll do so with their wallets and stop going to Miller Park. But that will likely not happen. Brewers games are often more about the party in the parking lot than the wanna-be baseball team on the field. As long as there’s Miller Light and charcoal grills on a sunny summer day, there will be people in the stands at Miller Park.
Maybe Attanasio knows what he’s doing after all.