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

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Brewers' Ace

No, it's not Ben Sheets, it's Chris Capuano. The young lefty is 4-3 with a sparkling (why good ERA's sparkle is beyond me, but they always do-- very strange) 2.80 ERA through nine starts. he has yet to give up more than 3 runs in a game, and he has yet to last less than six full innings. His strike out to walk ratio is 4 to 1 (56 to 14). He may have the best pick off move in baseball, and he hits and bunts very well for a pitcher.

Last year, Capuano won 18 games. Sheets was 10-9 last year before being shelved with a shoulder injury (which is still plaguing him this year). Sheets has never won more than 12 games in a season, though the year he did win 12 (2004) he had a sparkling ERA of 2.70-- but that year he also had a losing record, 12-14. No run support, sure, but a team's ace finds a way to win, regardless of the run support. Don't get me wrong-- Sheets can be as dominant a pitcher as there is in baseball when he's got his fastball in the 90s and his curve ball dropping in from the moon. When he's on, he's lights out. But when he's not on, there's a pretty good chance that his team is going to lose-- and no pitcher is on all the time, every game.

If a guy that's never won more than 12 games in a season is your ace, you're a crappy team. And the Brewers were a crappy team for many, many years. No longer. We are at least slightly better than average, and we might be downright good if the injury bug leaves us alone. And we have an ace that has won more than 12 games in a season. Six more than 12, actually, and it wouldn't surprise me if he made a run at 20 wins this year.

So, can all the various publications and sports' "pundits" please, please, please stop refering to Ben Sheets as the Brewers' ace? He isn't now and only was in the past because the Brewers' pitching was god-awful. The fact that nearly everyone still calls him the staff ace is not only inaccurate, it's a slight to Capuano who, by every statistic you can find, is in fact a pretty darn good staff ace.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't give Brewers' GM Doug Melvin some kudos. While Wisconsin sports fans universally revere Ron Wolf for his historic trade with the Atlanta Falcons to get Brett Favre, Melvin's trade two and a half years ago is approaching that level of signficance. At the end of 2003, Melvin traded first baseman Richie Sexson, the Brewers' only true star, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for six other guys-- SS Craig Counsell, 2B Junior Spivey, 1B Lyle Overbay, C Chad Moeller, SP Chris Capuano, and RP Jorge de la Rosa.

Counsell lasted only a year in Brewtown, but Moeller and de la Rosa are still on the team. And Spivey played well enough in 2004 and part of 2005 that Melvin was able to deal him to the Nationals for Toma Okha, our #4 starting pitcher. Overbay played well enough in '04 and '05, that Melvin was able to deal him for Dave Bush, our #5 starting pitcher, OF Gabe Gross and minor league pitching prospect Zach Johnson. Oh, and as noted above that Capuano guy didn't work out to badly for us, either.

In total, then, Melvin got our staff ace, our #4 pitcher (possibly our #3 pitcher, though he's currently injured) and our #5 pitcher, a decent relief pitcher, a decent catcher, a decent back-up outfielder and a good looking pitching prospect for Richie Sexson. 3/5ths of a pretty darned good rotation, plus a long reliever, some utility guys and a prospect to boot.

Not too shabby.


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