The Milwaukee Brewers are currently in first place in the National League Central Division. Say it again. The Milwaukee Brewers are currently in first place in the National League Central Division.
If anyone thought this would happen with Memorial Day right around the corner, I would like to take them to the Black Jack table at Potawatomi Casino.
Since he has been hired, I have been a fan of David Stearns, Brewers general manager. Like most fans I understand what ‘rebuilding’ means. It’s those fans who don’t know what it means who bother me.
Stearns has done a nice job of finding some talented stopgaps at the corners in Eric Thames at first base and Travis Shaw at third. They have already surpassed what I thought they would bring to the table.
I would pay to watch Orlando Arcia field a baseball. If he hits .260 this year I would be thrilled – maybe surprised is a better word – because this kid gets paid to FIELD a baseball.
I said that Jonathan Villar had a career year last season and I stick to my guns. He reminds me of Carlos Gomez without the flair for the dramatic. His base running skills are dangerous to the opponents as well as the Brewers, unfortunately. Villar is definitely a stopgap until some of the many talented minor league middle infielders who Stearns has accumulated are ready.
Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana is a respectable outfield. We all know everyone wants to trade Braun. But with all the talented outfielders at Triple A, I wouldn’t hesitate to move Santana as well. I am a Broxton fan. There aren’t a lot of outfielders who can run down a baseball like Keon. And he has worked hard on improving his batting style.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the outstanding catching combo of Manny Pina and Jett Bandy. Offensively AND defensively, they have surpassed my expectations.
I love Craig Counsell’s ability to move players around. Hernan Perez, Eric Sogard and Nick Franklin give the team flexibility and they know what to do with a bat in their hand. Jesus Aguilar was also an example of a good pick up by Stearns and his staff. Although limited to one position, he is an offensive threat off the bench and a solid fill in for Thames, who also adds versatility by having the ability to play the corner outfield positions. I think one of these guys (Franklin?) might be cut when they add a starter on Friday.
NOW LET’S GET REAL
This team is not going anywhere with the current starting staff. If anything holds this rebuilding back, it will be the lack of front line starters on the current team.
The fact that Matt Garza is the best starter on this staff (2-0, 2.43 ERA) since returning from the disabled list says a lot. I like to watch Zach Davies pitch, but if he is not nicking the corners (and more importantly getting the call), you’re looking at home run derby. Junior Guerra had a fine season last year, but he is no better than a fourth starter – if he can put together another good year at 32 years of age.
I’m not a fan of Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson. When they walk out to the mound you have no idea what to expect.
Little by little – this season – the Brewers need to work the young guns into the rotation. In any order – Josh Hader, Luis Ortiz, Brandon Woodruff, Jorge Lopez, Aaron Wilkerson, Corbin Burnes or Cody Ponce, just to name a few. Hopefully at least two of these guys see some starting action this year.
Corey Knebel has been off to an amazing start in the bullpen and Stearns has done a nice job of bringing in Carlos Torres (last year), Jared Hughes, Oliver Drake, Neftali Feliz and Rob Scahill. Locals Jacob Barnes and Wily Peralta round out the bullpen.
The poor starting pitching – if someone goes into the seventh inning is shocking – and will eventually will wear out the bullpen.
DON’T DO THIS
If the Brewers are still in a possible playoff mode at the end of July, please don’t trade a minor league ‘stud’ to add a pitcher and stray from their plan of rebuilding.
The Brewers ‘rebuilding’ is ahead of schedule which is nice. But they are still rebuilding, so don’t mess up a good thing.