Monday, September 15, 2008

Playoff Hopes Dwindling for Brew Crew

At least last year when the Brewers fell apart, it was in August, so we had more time to accept that we weren't going to make the playoffs. This year, the Brewers are playing just about the worst baseball I've ever seen, and that's really saying something given all the sub-.500 teams we've had in the past two decades. After a dominant August, which included two sweeps of the Pirates in the final week and a near no-hitter by CC Sabathia on the final day, the Brewers have limped through September at a 3-11 mark and have lost their 5.5 game lead in the Wild Card. I really have nothing good to say, and there are no bright spots. The Brewers starters had an 0-3 record and an ERA over 10 over the 4-game sweep by the Phillies. The Crew is hitting .160 with RISP this month, the 3-4-5 hitters have driven in about 6 runs this month, and most of the bullpen is suspect. Carlos Villanueva, Jason Kendall, and CC are clearly the only guys who seem to even want to play any more.
Ryan Braun labeled the recent Phillies series as a "complete disaster" and said that the team "put itself in this position" and is even "struggling in batting practice." I admire Ryan for what he's done in the big leagues in such a short period of time, and for putting this team's burden on his shoulders, but he is clearly still hurt and anyone who watches the games can see this. His swing has an even larger uppercut now to compensate for his sore ribs and he's popping a lot of balls up that he would normally drive. He is going to be no help to us the rest of the season and Ned either needs to take him out of the lineup, or move him down in the order. Speaking of Ned, Yost remains frighteningly optimistic about the team turning it around. Like it's beyond optimism now, it's just blind stubbornness to refuse to change his approach at all to help remedy the situation. There's a difference between panic and concern that Yost doesn't seem to recognize. Like when a few guys struggle, you should be concerned; when the whole team struggles at the same time, you should panic. The rotation has been the most disappointing part to me. Our hitters have come into and gone out of slumps all year, as all hitters do, but our rotation was arguably the best in baseball up until this month and it has carried us all season only to fall short now. Suppan has not been his usualy September-self, and Manny Parra is clearly worn down, as he has already tossed nearly 30 innings more than he ever has in a season, at any level. Even CC and Sheets have not been too sharp. Now, it's true, this team is young, but we invested a lot of money in the offseason on veterans to keep this team afloat down the stretch. It's also true that most of the division leaders have been struggling a bit in September, but nothing to match the sheer collapse of the Brewers.
The fact remains that the Brewers are still tied for the Wild Card, and pretty much control their own destiny. Let's hope this team can right the ship over the remainder of the road trip so that they have something to play for on the final homestand and so they won't get booed, because apparently Corey Hart is a little sensitive.

Note: Carlos Zambrano tossed the first no-hitter in ML regular-season history at a neutral site at Miller Park on Sunday, and I will never be able to forgive myself for watching the Brewers lose again instead of going to the game.
And this just in: Ned Yost has been fired, who was nearing the end of his 6th season as the Brewers' manager. Dale Sveum has taken over as interim manager, and Yost's bench coach/drinking buddy Ted Simmons was demoted to "advisor." It's pretty clear that Melvin believes that it's still playoffs or bust this year; maybe he read my blog.

Brewers 83-67, -7.5 division, -- wild card (3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Reds)
Reds 68-81, -22.0 (3 v. Cardinals, 3 v. Brewers)
Twins 82-67, -1.5 (3 @ Indians, 4 @ Rays)

Erik - 25
Peter - 49

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