Reading Lou’s article really got me to thinking about the future of the Brew Crew. Does it start with pitching? How about with the offense? All I know that is you need to learn to crawl before you can walk. Brewer Nation does not want to see the Dark Ages again, and frankly, it starts with keeping what they already have. Jose Veras could perhaps be a stepping stone in the right direction, but nobody really knows at this point. He was traded to the Brewers in December for Casey McGehee, but he needs to prove himself before he can start demanding money. That said, the Brewers really aren’t in a position to start nitpicking at who they have and who they don’t. Takashi Saito is gone, K-Rod only has a year left and nobody really can say for sure how the younger guys like Amaury Rivas, Wily Peralta and Michael Fiers will even perform.
Looking at this situation realistically, the Brewers winning the arbitration case over Veras proves a point, they’re not messing around. Coming so close to the World Series last year, they want to continue this feeling of victory. To me, it really looks like the Brewers are saying “Hey, we don’t know how you’ll (Veras) perform, so you need to work to earn your pay”. That’s an approach most teams should take, especially when it comes to relief pitchers. Nobody wants a starter to pitch his heart out, go seven solid innings, giving up one run only to end the day with a loss or no decision. That solely falls on the shoulders of relief pitching and here’s to hoping Veras can give us that.
Okay so, moving forward with Veras is a small step. His overall career numbers are a bit shaky, especially for that of a relief pitcher. He has a 4.11 ERA with a 14-13 record and only 4 saves. Sure, these are far from the greatest numbers ever put up, but it’ll have to make do for now. Bullpen wise, Milwaukee doesn’t exactly have the strongest, but they’re also far from the worst. It really surprised me though how teams with extraordinary bullpens like the Braves and Indians missed the playoffs yet Milwaukee made it to the NLCS. I’m not complaining by any means, but that baseball logic just doesn’t make sense. Oh well, enough of that. Veras has pitched with a multitude of teams so he’s used to the later inning pressure, but each ball club is different.
The arbitration hearing was also rather interesting. The Brewers agreed to pay Veras $2 million, as originally he wanted $2,375,000. I’m not going to say it’s exactly rare for a player to win an arbitration case, but it’s unusual. The last Brewer to win a case was Corey Hart back in 2010. Before Hart’s case, the Brewers had only dealt with one arbitration hearing and that was back in 1998 with Jose Mercedes’ victory. So for Veras to lose was really no surprise, but it shows the Brewers are playing around a little bit. If Veras doesn’t perform, then they cut him, if he does perform, there’s always the idea of a possible contract extension. I like the fact that the Brewers had not set anything in stone.
So looking to this season, there’s going to be a lot of questions. Veras will be just one of the many questions, but there’s also bringing up the guys from the minors. It’s a gamble to go with a lot of younger guys with no experience in the majors, but it needs to be a gamble worth taking. It’s more or less the pitching that has a lot of fingers pointing at it. Lou’s article really hit a lot of good points, and a lot of realistic points at that. Some guys won’t be around forever so it’s up to the Brewers to decide what to do. If it starts with relief pitching, then so be it. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz is going to have a lot on his mind, alongside bullpen coach Stan Kyles. The decisions really don’t get any easier from here, especially knowing last year’s result. The Brewers can produce enough offense and solid pitching to get into the playoffs, but it comes one step at a time. Let’s just hope Veras can pull his weight.