Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lucroy is Latest in Long List of Brewer Injuries

It's Memorial Day, which marks the unofficial start to summer nationwide.  In baseball circles, this day also signifies the time of year you usually stop hearing the phrase "it's still early" being uttered from coaches and players of struggling teams.  It's historically the barometric point for how a team is going to fare for the rest of the season in the standings, because it is a decent enough sample size to factor in hot and cold streaks, and prolonged injuries.  Thus far, at 20-28, things are looking grim for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Manager Ron Roenicke is certainly not one to make excuses.  There have been many games which the Brewers played poorly, whether it be because of bullpen issues overuse, terrible starting pitching in April, underachieving defense, or inconsistent offense.  Despite the loss of Prince Fielder to Detroit, this team - at least on paper - to start the season was certainly good enough to contend again in the NL Central.  Brewer fans were encouraged to finally see Mat Gamel play an entire season, a healthy Zack Grienke to start the season, and one of the best bullpen 8-9 combos in the bigs on the roster for an entire year.  But a devastating wave of injuries has made May a month to forget for the Brewers and has exposed just how little depth this team has at the AAA level.

Here is a list of all the injuries the Brewers have sustained this month:
SP Chris Narveson, labrum**
1B Mat Gamel, knee**
SS Alex Gonzalez, knee**
3B Aramis Ramirez, elbow
SS Cesar Izturis, hamstring*
2B Rickie Weeks, hand
1B/RF Travis Ishikawa, oblique*
LF Ryan Braun, achilles/groin
CF Carlos Gomez, hamstring
C Jonathan Lucroy, hand*
C George Kottaras, hamstring
SP Marco Estrada, quadricep*
RP Kameron Loe, shoulder
SP Shaun Marcum, ribcage

*currently on 15-day DL
**currently on 60-day DL, out for the season

Let me stress again: all of these injuries have occurred this month, and all of these players have missed at least 2 games due to injury, except for Marcum who has been grinding through his ribcage issue.  For whatever reason, West Coast trips have been even more dismal than usual for the Brewers, as half of these injuries have occurred out west.  The reason I think Roenicke is not making excuses for the team's poor play is because most of these injuries are mangeable or have been suffered by roleplayers.  But the biggest blow finally came down on Sunday, as Jonathan Lucroy broke his hand as a result of his wife dropping a suitcase on it.  Luc was white-hot at the plate and really had a chance to break out and make his first All-Star team this summer, but that hope is pretty much gone now.  All of the luck and circumstances the Brewers seemed to have on their side last year has been going to total opposite direction this year, and all of the games the Brewers found a way to win last year, they are finding a way to lose this year.  The law of averages would say that things can only get better if they keep playing hard, but at 7 games out of first after 48 games, there is huge hole to climb out of for the Crew.  If any division is up for the taking in the majors it's the NL Central, and maybe the Brewers can go on a big run this summer, but a lot of replacement players are going to have to step up.  At this point in the season, key players that have been struggling (mainly Rickie Weeks) typically are not going to see much improvement over the final 4 months.  It can no longer classified as a "slow start" - the Brewers are who they are.  The trade deadline should be very interesting this year.

Brewers 20-28, -7.0 (4 @ Dodgers, 3 v. Pirates)
Reds 27-21, +0.5 (3 @ Pirates, 3 @ Astros)
Twins 16-32, -11.0 (3 v. Athletics, 3 @ Indians)

Erik - 2
Peter - 10

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