This 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, 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
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.