Hi everyone...thanks to all that followed us over from MVN.com (shout out to Evan for all the great times and work that he did for us over there).
For those of you not familiar with The Brewers Bar, the blog was started around 2003 (yes, I was the first writer, but honestly can't remember when I started...I blame old age and too much Augsburger and Mickey's in my younger days). I only have two reasons for writing in the blog--one is to try to look at players, stats, player moves, management decisions and anything else related to the Milwaukee Brewers in a unique way...ironic, I know, because I do rely on information from Tom Haudricourt at JSOnline.com and Adam McCalvy at MLB.com. The other is simple--I like it. Back in 10th grade I had this dream of becoming a journalist (by 11th grade I wanted to be a riverboat captain or something else), so this is my way of recovering my lost dreams of youth.
Since I've last posted, the Brewers' '09-'10 off-season has been...well, different from the last off-season, at least for me.
Two years ago, during the '07-'08 off-season, I, and many other Brewers' fans, I suspect, were filled with great optimism about the 2008 season. Former All-Star catcher Jason Kendall, center-fielder Mike Cameron, and were ready from a full season from a hot young prospect named Yovani Gallardo. But after just four starts, Gallardo injured his knee and was lost for the season. Less than two months later, Brewers' GM made the unexpected move of adding former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia and the Crew went on to win the NL Wild Card and made the postseason...only to be eliminated in the first round by the eventual World Champion Phillies.
So last year's off-season saw many (most? all?) Brewers' fans hoping to build upon that success...and the Brewers' management team added Braden Looper (here is where I get to point out that I like to interject my opinions that traditional media cannot or will not). Melvin sold the fans on the notion that Looper was a good acquisition, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Manny Parra were due for great seasons, and all was well with the Brewers.
As you probably know, the True Blue Brew Crew fell to 80-82 last year.
Starting pitching was the main problem--as everyone in Wisconsin knows, the Brewers' starters ERA was the worst in the Majors last year. The season-ending injury to Rickie Weeks was negated by trading for Felipe Lopez...but it was "too little, too late" as the Brewers' could not compete with the Cardinals in 2009.
Which leads us up to this off-season.
Brewers' GM Doug Melvin--eager to keep the 3 million fans coming through the turnstiles that came through in both 2008 and 2009--boldly announced changes would be coming...to date, a summary of his moves include:
- Re-signing closer Trevor Hoffman
- Adding new pitching coach Rick Peterson
- Trading SS J.J. Hardy to the Twins for center-fielder Carlos Gomez...which meant
- Not offering arbitration to centerfielder Mike Cameron
- And also not offering arbitration to catcher Jason Kendall
- Then signing free agent catcher Gregg Zaun
- Not exercising the club option on Braden Looper...freeing up a roster spot to
- Sign free agent pitcher Randy Wolf
- And then sign free agent pitcher Doug Davis
So Melvin did tweak the roster, leaving the 1-2 punch of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in tact. But let's be honest--Melvin will never say it, but this is the start of re-building the Brewers. Melvin will never say it, but, as Tom Haudricourt noted awhile back, Melvin still has payroll tied up in Jeff Suppan and Bill Hall--and a roster spot tied up with Suppan for the rest of this year.
Which leads me to my main point--frankly, I'm not as optimistic this year as I was last year.
Now...I know I should be...after all, Zaun appears to be a slight upgrade over Kendall, at least for offensive purposes. Gomez adds a new speed dimension, and Rickie Weeks could, finally, have a complete/breakout season.
Still...while Wolf should be an upgrade over Looper, the Parra/Suppan/Bush/Davis tandem for the final three spots is not promising--Davis' ERA of 4.12 was the best of the these, while Parra and Bush each had ERA's over 6.00 last season.
As Melvin has pointed out--the Brewers' chances of making the playoffs in 2010 rely heavily upon either Parra, Suppan, or Bush to have an improved year over 2009. The wildcard in this happening--pitching Rick Peterson. If Peterson is as good as people think he is, this will be a great year for the Brewers; if not, it might be another long season.