A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, July 11, 2005

Brewers at the Break

And so Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is nigh, once again. I'll admit, I'd don't care much about this game, much like I don't care much about any of the all-star games. But it is a good time to take a look at your team and try to evaluate how they're doing.

So, how are the Milwaukee Brewers doing? Well, to paraphrase Gym Jim, they're not good. But, then again, they're not really bad, either. They are mediocre. Which is pretty good for the Brewers. This is a team, after all, that hasn't had a winning record since 1992, and has had less than 70 wins nine times in that twelve year span.

With that kind of a pedigree, 77-85 doesn't look so bad, and that's the pace the Brewers are currently setting. But I think they could actually finish better than that. They're rotation is one of the most solid in baseball-- all five starters have sub 4.15 ERAs-- and their bullpen has been very good (though a bit shaky just lately). Offensively, they've frequently been offensive, but the addition of Rickie Weeks, and recent surges by Geoff Jenkins and Bill Hall, have added enough to the bats of Carlos Lee, Brady Clark, and Lyle Overbay to make the offense decent if not good. Defensively, they stink, and if they don't approach .500 this year, it will be because they piss away a number of wins by commiting errors. We'll see.

Longer term... well, if new owner Mark Attanasio is willing to pay a bit more than the current payroll, it could be bright. Ace pitcher Ben Sheets is signed for four more years, and rookies Weeks and J.J. Hardy are the Brewers until at least 2008 (I think). Carlos Lee and Doug Davis are under contract through next year, as is Chris Capuano. For good or ill, Jenkins is under contract through '07. Most of the rest of the Brewers roster are free agents next year.

Presumably Lyle Overbay will be moved to make room for Prince Fielder at first base, so hopefully the Brewers will get some value for Overbay. Next year? Again, it depends on who they resign and who they get via free agency, but if they keep Sheets, Davis, Capuano together and improve on, or keep, Santos and Ohka, the starting pitching will be very good. There's depth in the bullpen, so they should be okay there. Offensively, if Weeks and Fielder are the real deal-- and so far they seem to be-- and you add in Lee, Jenkins and maybe Clark... offensively we could be average, which would be a big upgrade from this year.

Defensively... well, a lot of that has to be coaching, doesn't it? Both at the majors and down in A through AAA ball. We'll see. If the Brewers have an achilles' heel that will prevent them from making a playoff run next year, it will probably be their defense (or stinginess from Attanasio-- or both).

I like Doug Melvin as GM, and I am iffy on Ned Yost as manager. I like his aggressive approach, and I think he's a good motivator, but I still find myself shaking my head an awful lot when it comes to his game management. He leaves his pitchers in too long, and platoons players too often. But we'll see-- he learned under Bobby Cox, and that's a pretty good pedigree.

All of which probably means nothing, since I really don't know much about baseball. Football, sure, but baseball is a relatively recent interest, and I am still learning. Still... well, my predicition is the Brewers play better than .500 ball in the second half of the season, and there really will be a shot at the playoffs next year.
Wow... I didn't know anyone still watched baseball!

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