It will certainly not be easy to stomach watching former Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford pitch in the World Series with the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals. One has to wonder how something like this could even happen. To see Axford have so much success recently, it is easy for fans to wonder if the organization made the right decision to part ways with the relief pitcher.
I understand that the Brewers planned to non-tender the arbitration-eligible John Axford at the end of the season if he was still with the ball club. I also get that the trade of Axford was a good move because it saved the Brewers money. Not to mention, he easily could have stunk it up with the Cardinals, which would have made them look foolish. However, we all should have known better. St. Louis has the best general manager in baseball who leads a management team does not make mistakes.
If the Brewers knew Axford was going to find his groove again, would they even consider non-tendering him? It is not as if he never showed the ability to pitch at a high level. Axford is a closer who set a franchise record in saves in 2011, by far the best season of his career. He helped propel Milwaukee to their first division title since ’82. He is not necessarily a bad pitcher, just someone who lost his mojo.
Was it the Brewers organization? Did the coaching staff not work with him enough? Was it the hitter-friendly Miller Park, or the atmosphere of a frustrated fan base?
One has to wonder what the heck the deal was with Axford the past two seasons, especially since he was lights out in 13 appearances for the Cardinals down the stretch this year. Not to mention, he is proving his worth in the postseason. Maybe playing for a contender is all it took to rejuvenate a once talented pitcher.
The Brewers should have tried to make it work with Axford. I get that predicting he was capable of pitching well again is like predicting the Kansas City Chiefs were going to be the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL this season. Many are going to laugh at the possibility, but the people that stuck behind their prediction are looking pretty smart right about now.
It is hard to say if Axford would have panned out next season if he were still with the Brewers. With that being said, Milwaukee will miss out on not having his arm in the bullpen. Remember, this is a pitcher who posted a 0.86 ERA in a stretch from May 3-July24. Even without his six blown saves this season, Milwaukee’s relievers still blew 17 save opportunities.
Is he worth the money? Apparently, that is a decision that should have waited to be made.
Axford posted a 1-0 record with a 1.74 ERA and 11 strikeouts with the Cardinals. He also has surrendered just one earned run and struck out four batters in four games in the postseason thus far.