ben-sheets-failThis is the second installment in Bleacher Nation’s weekly series, exploring precisely why the other teams in the National League Central are going to suck in 2009. Previously: Cincinnati Reds.

Once again, Bleacher Nation takes on the challenge of pointing out everything bad about a National League Central team, in a quest to provide you with something unique and interesting. Oh, and it’s fun to do.

Up on the block this week, the team roundly thought to be the Chicago Cubs’ greatest competitor for the Central crown: the Milwaukee Brewers.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending, but allow me to note that simply because they are the next best team in the NL Central behind the Cubs – and they are – doesn’t mean they don’t still suck. Because they do.

Baseline for Suckitude

Last year the Brewers finished 90-72, took the Wild Card, and were only 7.5 games out of first in the Central. Doesn’t sound very sucky, does it?

That masks the fact that they struggled painfully down the stretch, went 10-16 in September, including a 4-15 stretch, and landed ass-backwards in the playoffs. That, friends, is suck.

Sucky Offseason Moves

Arrivals: RHP Jorge Julio (free agent), LHP R.J. Swindle (free agent), RHP Eduardo Morlan (Rule 5 selection from Rays), RHP Trevor Hoffman (free agent), RHP Braden Looper (free agent), IF Casey McGehee (Rule 5 selection from Cubs).

Departures: INF Joe Dillon (claimed off waivers by A’s), RHP Salomon Torres (retired), 3B Russell Branyan (free agent, signed with Mariners), LHP CC Sabathia (free agent, signed with Yankees), RHP Derrick Turnbow (free agent, signed minor league deal with Rangers), OF Gabe Kapler (free agent, signed with Rays), RHP Guillermo Mota (free agent, signed with Dodgers), RHP Ben Sheets (free agent, expected to sign elsewhere and then break), 2B Ray Durham (free agent, not expected back), LHP Brian Shouse (free agent, signed with Rays).

Oooooouch. Has any team in Major League Baseball had a more brutal offseason than the Brewers? Obviously the major damage is losing their top two starter pitchers, Sabathia and Sheets. The real kick in the crotch? They ended up with like a third round pick for losing Sabathia. I’d cry if I wasn’t laughing so hard. Oh wait. I am crying.

trevor hoffman shortsTrevor Hoffman, 63, is the big addition for the Brewers. I want to make fun, but he absolutely pwns the Cubs. So instead, I’ll just post this picture.

Looper does not replace Sheets, and does not replace Sabathia. He doesn’t even replace Sabathia’s man sheath. Oh, and he’s hurt. Might not even start the season. Yeah. He sucks.

Their Very Own Blogoverse Thinks They Suck

When the Brewers tanked it hard late in the year, everyone realized they sucked. Yes, they made it into the playoffs in the same way that a heart attack victim headed to the kitchen might collapse over the counter, and happen to land in the kitchen. Brew Crew Ball offered a concise take from last September:

The Brewers suck right now, and I’d rather not say anything about that.

You say, but that’s from last September. Sure. And I say, what have the Brewers done since then but get markedly worse?

The Milwaukee Brewers Blog agrees with the assessment:

Offense:  First and foremost…NEXT TO NOTHING HAS CHANGED!  Every starter 1-8 in the lineup (although the order will probably be shifted) was a Brewer starter in 2008.  Although this is great for team chemistry that is many times lacking in today’s free agent era, the offense…well…it plainly and simply was mediocre at best last season….

Pitching:  This is where things could get messy.

I agree. Except for the conditional phrasing. Pitching is not where things could get messy. It’s where things will get messy.

The Suckiest Part of Their Suck

It’s a close race between the pitching in the bullpen, the pitching in the rotation, and the pitching in the Brewers’ uniforms. There are a couple decent arms in the pen, but Trevor Hoffman’s 68 mph fastball is going to start getting hit eventually. This year’s as good a time as any.

The rotation is in shambles after the departures of Sabathia and Sheets. Yovani Gallardo looked great and promising as a number three, but when he’s bumped all the way up to number one, he looks untested and unnerving. The rest of the rotation, currently sans Looper, is a mish-mash of guys absurdly overpaid guys like Jeff Suppan, guys the Cubs love crushing like Dave Bush, and thoroughly meh dudes like Manny Parra and Seth McClung.

And in the End

They suck.

The pitching looks utterly brutal on paper. In practice, I suppose Gallardo could become a true ace and lead a staff of 4.00ish ERAs, which wouldn’t be terrible. And bullpens are always flukish.

The lineup… looks… good. Sigh. Ryan Braun is a really ugly, goony-looking hitting machine. Rickie Weeks is likely to continue the improving process, and Corey Hart is adequate. Oh yeah, and then there’s that Prince Fielder guy. The only thing that sucks about him is his mouth if you put a jelly donut and a straw in front of him. Fortunately for Cubs fans, Fielder is going to have to be fat enough for two this year, now that Sabathia is gone. Here’s hoping he’s not up to the challenge. Ah, who are we kidding, we know he is.

There are some sucky spots out there, though. Jason Kendall sucks both at and behind the plate. Bill Hall vanished last year, and now he’s hurt or something, leaving someone like Mike Lamb to start at third. Mike Cameron apparently sucks when he doesn’t juice, and Tony Gwynn, Jr. is hurt. Oh, but he sucks anyway. So center field could be an issue.

And if you thought the Cubs were a live by the homer, die by the homer, super-hacking team (well, until the “philosophy shift” last year), the Brewers are worse. They were third in the NL last year in homers, but also fifth in strikeouts.

The good news for the Brewers is that they’ve already seen tremendous ticket sales at Miller Park.

For the games against the Cubs.

Hope that “take over Wrigley” thing goes well for you. Cheers.

  • wv23

    you forgot casey mcgahee, who they picked up from the cubs via rule 5.

    also, gagne has a minor league deal with the brewers but is hurt. they have an opt-out date of 3/26.

    • Ace

      You have revealed the flaw in drafting these things a long time ago, and then hastily trying to update. Thanks for the tips, will update further.

  • Joe

    While I won’t argue that the Brewers will finish behind the Cubs, a couple things struck me as funny. First, the two mentions of the Brewers sucking in the ’08 playoffs. Will your “Cubs Suck” post inlcude that the Cubs were the worst playoff team last year? The Brewers were happy to be there and weren’t expected to do anything; however, every Cubs fan on earth wouldn’t shutup about how it was “your year.” Just like every year, right? Second….”The good news for the Brewers is that they’ve already seen tremendous ticket sales at Miller Park. For the games against the Cubs.” Typical arrogant Cubs fan statement. Yeah, Brewers/Cubs games at Miller account for 2 million tickets already sold. Close, but not quite. Thrid, Kendall sucks behind the plate? Yeah, the half year he was a Cub. Kendall calls one of the best games in baseball. Sabathia gave Kendall a ridiculous amount of the credit for helping him mow through the NL players. Not to mention Kendall led all catchers in throwing out runners, which was the main worry prior to last season. While he does suck at the plate, to say the same about his game calling and defensive skills is just uneducated and dumb.

    I’ll repeat that the Cubs will win the division, but don’t forget that no matter how much you want to deny it, the Cubs offseason was full of stupid moves, and your team is ultimitely worse (on paper) than last years team. Zambrano won’t be a Cy Young candidate, like you guys claim he will before each season. Harden will be hurt half the season. Lily would be okay as a member of the Astros roation, and Dempster, though he’ll be solid, won’t repeat his ridiculous numbers of 2008.

    • Ace

      Thanks for the long and mostly well-thought-out response, Joe. A couple of bullets:

      – I never said the Brewers sucked in the playoffs (and who’s comparing them to the Cubs anyway? This is a common fallacy… but I digress). I said they sucked in September and landed ass-backwards in the playoffs. And they did.

      – If Miller Park could hold 2 million people for two Cubs’ series… they would sell 2 million tickets for those 6 games. Just sayin’.

      – Maybe I was tainted by how bad Kendall was behind the plate for the Cubs. Maybe he just sucks – hard – at the plate. But uneducated AND dumb? Damn. That’s a double-whammy from which I will not soon recover.

      – Shrug. I don’t agree that this year’s Cubs, on paper, are worse than last year’s, but I’m not here to debate that. I’m here to say that, on paper, this year’s Milwaukee team is unequivocally worse than last year’s.

  • JG

    At least that suckiest team managed to win a playoff game…something the Chicago Chokes haven’t managed to do since when…the Nixon administration. Why don’t you worry about how sucky your team is come playoff time and let the rest of us worry about our own teams.
    Typical Chicago Sports Fan…NO CLASS WHATSOEVER!!!

    • Ace

      You represent your team well.

  • Tony

    You Cubs fans are all a joke. Yes, the Brewers sucked down the stretch last year and fell right on their ass in the playoffs. The only team that managed to fall on their ass harder were your precious Cubbies. Can’t wait to see your next 100 years of mediocrity!

  • Ace

    I guess expecting folks to actually read the things they comment on before they comment is a bit ambitious. It’s like they’re responding to the article they’re imagining, not the one that’s written.

    Thanks for reading!

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  • Rick

    Yeah the Brewers suck but the Cubs are the ultimate dynasty of suckage. My great great grandfather knew they sucked and they will continue to suck. Nobody sucks like the Cubs. They’re suckage is an expected form of American life.

    • Rob

      You know your team is the suckiest of all suckies when Jeff Suppan is your opening say starter.

      • Ace

        Would Jeff Suppan even make the Cubs rotation? I doubt it.

        • eric

          Jeff Suppan. $40 million dollar mistake.

          • Bill

            Eric, couldn’t agree more. Hard to believe Suppan is the highest paid Brewer, no wonder Prince was pissed last year.

            • Ace

              That signing was the year that starting pitchers with a pulse all made out like bandits. Wasn’t that the year Marquis got his nice three year deal from the Cubs after being left off the Cardinals’ playoff roster?

  • Kurt

    the brewers will always suck. its funny how much brewer fans wish they could root for a team like the cubs, but they can’t, because they have to root for the suckiest team in the NL. i love going to miller park and seeing 75% cub fans. brewer fans started this whole thing about being the cubs biggest rival ever, but truth be told, the only reason why they think that is because they wish they were that good. You can tell how much brewer fans hate rooting for a craptastic teram like the brewers when they actually do beat the cubs in a meaningless April game, and they celebrate like they won the world series. bottom line is, brewer fan suck harder than the brewer fans themselves.

    p.s. have fun watching baseball all summer in that tin can you call a stadium. you should spend money on your sucky team, and not your ball park……..idiots.

  • Eric

    The NL Central doesn’t suck, except for the Pirates. Every team has some rising stars, and nobody can honestly say that one team sucks because none of these teams have really proven themselves. Remember when the Cards won the World Series and the Astros got swept in it (by the White Sox). A lot more than the rest of the teams, so when a team starts winning championships, their fans can start throwing some insults around.

    • Ace

      I still fail to see how the Cubs’ lack of a championship has anything to do with the Brewers or the Cardinals or any other team sucking this year. Also, the series was limited to focusing on the suck in each team (the Cubs had a whole lot of suck going into the season, too, just a whole lot less than any other Central team).

      • Eric

        You have to admit while most of the teams in this division won’t compete for the playoffs, the division is getting more competitive. There are enough rising stars. (Bruce, McLouth, Votto, Theriot, Hart, Pence). It’s not the best division in baseball but it’s improving some.

        • Ace

          I agree. And in fact, it ties into something I think we can all agree on: how much bullshit is it that the NL Central continues to have 6 teams while the AL West continues to have 4? Sure, there are seasons that it makes sense, maybe even several seasons in a row, but in perpetuity? It’s crap.

          • Lou P.

            Who would you boot? I think it would likely have to be the reds if you wanted to maintain the competition of the division

            • Ace

              But who are going to be the “good” teams in 20 years? Sure, the Reds have sucked for close to 20 years. But before that, they were great. And before that, they were legendary.

              I think you’ve got to just do it by geography as best you can. Which means it’s the Astros. Ship them to the AL West.

              • Eric

                Thank you. That makes the most sense of moving any team. The AL West is sort of a joke right now, or at least it was last year. Not like the Astros will drastically change that but yes our division has too many teams

                • Eric

                  Actually, possibly the Pirates going to the NL East, but that’s pretty unrealistic

  • Diane

    Hate to break it to you but the Brewers are not only doing well they are doing much better than the Cubs. Sorry your little dream won’t come true because you seem to hate the Brewers with such a passion lol. The Brewers have a better team than the Cubs this year, no doubt about it!

    • Ace

      I don’t know. It kind of sounds like you enjoyed “breaking” that news to me. Now I don’t think I can trust you.

  • Anonymous

    My son sent an autograph request to Prince Fielder thru the address provided on the Milwaukee Brewers website. No where on the website does it state request for autographs by mail are not allowed.
    Not only did my 13 year old son spend the time to do this, buy the envelopes and stamps with his OWN money, but the Brewers USED HIS self-addressed stamped envelope to send him back a denial letter for the requests stating they cannot be responsible.
    Ludicrious and so low class!!!!! To discourage a 13 year old who took the time out to request an autograph from one of his favorite players just goes to show WHY the Brewers SUCK. They have zero concept of fan loyalty and because we live out of state, we have no way to go to games unless they come here.
    I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and I can promise you that if it is the last thing I do on this earth…….the person who sent the “rejection letter” to him using HIS paid for envelope, she will lose her job.

    • Cardfan

      Wow, that’s as low as picking a fight with your own teammate or going after a former teammate after the game in the opposing player’s locker room, both in the heat of a pennant race. Completely class-less.

      Perhaps you should step over to the dark side. I could hook you up with the Cardfan starter kit. It would be a long haul for you, considering where you are starting from. We have, however, had tremendous success with the youngsters. We’ll have him sporting a number 5 jersey and speaking with a Dominican accent in no time…

      • Ace

        We can all get on board with hating the Brewers, right?

        • Cardfan

          I am fully on board.

          It is rather easy when they give you such a steady flow of ammunition. The shirts untucked, the bowling pin walk-off homer celebration against the Giants (to avoid a sweep, for Pete’s sake!), the list keeps growing…

          The whole franchise is a joke.