The Milwaukee Brewers have turned into the laughing stock of the National League Central and it could not come at a worse price, the fans. The show the Brewers have put on this year is an absolute disgrace and a slap in the face of a loyal fan base that has done nothing but stood by their team through thick and thin.
I understand it is difficult for general manager Doug Melvin to put together a contender after three key players suffered season-ending injuries in the first month of the season. And yes, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez, and Chris Narveon were all necessary if the Brewers wanted to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Gonzalez is probably the biggest loss of the three as he was off to a smoking hot start, not to mention, Milwaukee has not been able to figure out the shortstop position since his injury.
I feel the fans pain as no player, with the exception of Ryan Braun and more recently Aramis Ramirez, has stepped up to make a difference on the team. Everyone appears to be perfectly content going through the motions and not doing anything to help improve their record.
Manager Ron Roenicke is at a loss for words in almost every press conference as it is simply unexplainable how Milwaukee loses games night in and night out. He is doing what he can to manage a winner but it is asking a lot for his starting pitchers to go nine innings every night, as there is clearly no reliever who can hold on to a lead if their life depended on it.
The Brewers bullpen has a staggering 4.57 ERA with John Axford earning a whopping 4.91 run average. That is the same Axford who was “closing” games up until a week ago. Just when Milwaukee finally decides to make a change at the anchor position, and the fan base feels temporarily relived, Francisco Rodriguez (4.47 ERA) appears to be in an even worse condition to “close” games then Axford.
The worst part of the entire season, and this is something I have been preaching since day one, is the inconsistency. Nobody can back each other up on the team and it is very hard to watch. The offense can score six runs, the starting pitching will give up only two, but the bullpen will give up five runs (four in the ninth) to lose. The starting pitching will give up one run but the offense does not score any and the Brewers go on to lose. It is the same thing every game with the only question being which part of the team is going to fail.
The other culprit for Milwaukee’s embarrassment of a season is pure dumb luck. I have already mentioned the three key injuries, but Jonathan Lucroy was the hottest player on the team and the clear favorite to start the All-Star game until a suit case fell on his wrist in his hotel room. I cannot guarantee without those four injuries the Brewers would be in first place, but I can say with confidence that they would still be contending.
At this point, the only thing left for the team to do is play the season out and watch the 21 player contracts expire. Melvin will then have to decide which players are worth bringing back and which ones can move on through free agency. The good news is the Brewers are going to have plenty of money to play with in 2013, which means they could bring in some talented free agents.