The Sunday Cycle: A collection of four of my thoughts from the prior week of Brewers baseball
Current Record- 27-17, First Place- NL Central
Single- The Brewers went 3-3 this week, relying heavily on solid pitching and some timely late inning heroics to secure a series win against the Pirates before losing two of three to the Cubs. For the third straight week, the bats were nonexistent at times. Milwaukee is missing the consistency of Aramis Ramirez in the cleanup spot, and was also left without their leadoff hitter in Carlos Gomez due to back tightness, which was nicely timed as he dropped his appeal and served his three-game suspension while injured. Injuries have ravaged the Brewers so far, highlighting the importance of the early wins as well as the top notch pitching. While they haven’t played consistent baseball in three weeks, the Crew still sits four games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Double- As if the pitching hasn’t been good enough for the Brewers, there are a couple players lighting it up in AAA Nashville that could soon be contributing for the Crew at the major league level. Mike Fiers, who has had his share of ups and downs for the Brewers over the past couple seasons, is currently 6-1 in eight starts with a 2.01 ERA and SEVENTY TWO strikeouts. To put that strikeout number in prospective, it leads all Pacific Coast league pitchers, and would put him forth in the major leagues. Equally as impressive has been the performance of Jimmy Nelson, who ranks first in AAA in ERA (1.76) and opponent OBP (.251), and second in WHIP (0.93, Fiers is first with 0.91). I would not be surprised to see Wei-Chung Wang hit the DL with “soreness” and see one if not both of these guys hit the 25-man roster soon. The Brewers are going to need a long inning guy for when their starters get beat up in the 4th – 5th.
Triple- The hottest bat on the Brewers belongs to Rickie Weeks, whose .351 average and recent ability to get on base have been the only bright spot in the Brewer’s lineup. He also happens to be someone that this aspiring beat writer believes should be traded. I feel the need to clarify my stance on Rickie Weeks: I want him to succeed. His success at the plate is not met with spite on my end by any means. I just want the Brewers to win games, and if he ends up batting .310 this year as a Brewer, I will happily admit I was wrong. That being said, I just don’t think his recent success is sustainable. Whether it’s injuries or dry spells that seem to last for months, Rickie always seems to fail to put together a complete season. If the Brewers can free up some cap space by getting rid of any of his 12 million dollar salary this year, I think they need to do it, especially with an up and coming, defensively sound second baseman in Scooter Gennett. Like many Brewers fans, there are few members of that team that I want to see succeed as much as Weeks, I just don’t know if the Brewers can afford to get burned again, especially with this squad being potential playoff contenders. I hope I’m wrong.
HR- To build on the missing bats and injury issues, I think it may be time for the Brewers to make a move before their early divisional lead disappears. In my opinion, that move needs to be made at first base. After starting hot, Mark Reynolds’ average is now down to .210 with a team-high 48 strikeouts. I think the Crew needs to keep Reynolds for his power, and replace Lyle Overbay, whose average is a bit higher but who lacks the power that makes Reynolds valuable in pinch hit situations. Three quick targets that I think could be of interest to the Brewers: Boston utility man Mike Carp (hit his stride last year with Boston with a .298 BA, would be relatively cheap as far as prospects are concerned), unsigned Seattle 1B Kendrys Morales (hit 80 RBIs in Seattle last year, but is not playing this season as he holds out for money; guess who his agent is- Scott Boras), and Padres 1B Seth Smith (absolutely on fire this year, this would be a CC Sabathia-esque deal and would cost some quality prospects). Would love some discussion on this point on who you like / where the greatest need is right now. Antanasio is all in on this year, that much he’s made clear.