Monday, July 14, 2008

Brewers Midseason Report Card

The All-Star break; a time to look back at the first half of the season and evaluate what went right and what went wrong. Every fan makes these evaluations according to his own rubric, but this is my mid season evaluation of what went wrong and what went right.

What went wrong:

Yo's injury - We were expecting a lot from the second ace on our staff in his first full season with the crew but an early season injury to Yovani Gillardo left us with just one ace for the first half.

Veteran relief pitchers - Forced to fill the hole left when Cordero and Linebrink left, Melvin signed four veteran relief pitchers in the off season. Two of them were terrible, one mediocre and injured, and one pretty awesome. I realize they were all gambles and we signed four of them in hopes that two or three might work out. Only one has.

Ricky Weeks - He's okay, but ay this point in the season, he's not a very good lead off hitter and appears to be the weakest link in the batting order.

Prince Fielder's diet - Prince is having a solid season overall, but not a great season like he had last year. There are a number of possible reasons, but I'm guessing removing the part of your diet most vital to building and maintaining muscle is part of it. It's an annoying distraction at best.

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs - We have the three best records in the National League in our division, which makes it that much harder to make the playoffs. The Cubs are very very good and the Cardinals are playing above their heads, and have a history of playing above their heads for entire seasons.

What went right:

Ryan Braun - We expected Braun to continue to be very good and so far he has been. He signed a reasonable contract without any drama and made his first All-Star team.

Seth McClung - I think the starting pitching has been solid, especially with the lost of Gillardo. Sheets is meeting expectations, Parra is right on track, Suppan is--well--Suppan, and Dave Bush is really starting to come around. But McClung is the big surprise from the rotation. Few people thought this giant redhead would last, but he's done a great job of eating innings and keeping us in games, and shown some real flashes of brilliance.

The Muscle - Russell Branyan has been crushing the ball and makes for a great half of a third base platoon. He also brought a little excitement in a slow part of the season.

Ned Yost - Ned has been better than expected, which is to say that he hasn't been terrible. My two exception to this are allowing Gillardo to pitch after his injury (see above) and letting Gagne close. He's made some out-of-the-box decisions that have turned out alright and is at least pondering innovative ideas like batting the pitcher 8th and platooning two of his starting pitchers based on the data he has. He's managed his bullpen reasonably and he's embraced his obvious third base platoon, albeit only "softly."

Jason Kendall - The pitchers seem to love him and he's been pretty money when it comes to throwing runners out at second.

The Crowds - Huge attendance this season. We should break the attendance record and going to games in that atmosphere is pretty sweet.

Melvin and Mark A. - Signing CC was huge. Not only did it add another ace to the roster, but it showed the fans that the Crew is going for it.

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