I know what you’re thinking. It’s something along the lines of “how in the world has this happened” and quite frankly, nobody really knows. How we’ve managed a 10-12 record surprises me, considering how lack luster the bullpen and offense have been. However, what usually fixes any problem, some duct tape and WD-40, won’t have any effect here. What will have an effect is starting to figure out who fits and who doesn’t, it’s as simple as this. In our season series against St. Louis, we now sit at 2-4, not exactly the ideal start against a division rival, especially when it may come down to playoff time. So, I’ve thought of three viable solutions Ron Roenicke can hopefully go with because at this point in the season, we’re still in our experimental stage. After the next month, it’ll be getting a tad more serious and we’ll want those solid players to go forward, not the inconsistent ones. So without any further delay, I present my three quick solutions that could help in the long run:
Solution One: Norichika Aoki must be an everyday player
Colin and I touched on this subject in Brew Crew Online episode two about how Nyjer Morgan’s struggles have been apparent. Is Carlos Gomez the best next option? Not when Aoki is available. Aoki already proved his worth in Japan and him coming to our organization shows us that he has clear talent. Colin mentioned about how Rickie Weeks should not be the lead off hitter as well. I agree. Aoki can be that man, or Mat Gamel. As we already know, most Japanese hitters hit for contact and really contact only. If our first guy can get on base, then guys behind him like Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez can drive him in. Aoki defensively has done well in the times he’s been put in and can make the same spectacular catches any center fielder makes. With the money we are paying him, I believe Roenicke should seriously consider making Aoki an everyday guy, especially with Morgan slumping and Gomez just being a platoon guy. Also, Aoki has more home runs than Albert Pujols. Write that down!
Solution Two: The bullpen needs improvement and Marco Estrada should not start
Yes, I know it’s early. That’s still no excuse to be 28th in overall ERA. It’s frustrating knowing we can have a three, four or five run lead and have our bullpen bring the other team to within one run. My biggest example still is Jose Veras’ outing against Houston on the 23rd. Zack Greinke had pitched a decent ball game and Roenicke decided after six innings and Zack’s high pitch count, to go to the bullpen. Mind you at this point, the game is 6-2 Milwaukee. Veras came in and gave up four hits which translated into three earned runs. I don’t know if it’s a confidence issue or what, but we cannot have that going forward. Every bullpen guy has struggled thus far, but it cannot go on forever. Mike McClendon was sent down to Triple-A and now we have Vinnie Chulk in his place. He’s expected to be middle relief and we all know we need that. Estrada’s role as a starter left a lot to be desired with that void present. Hopefully Chulk can eat an inning or two, so Tim Dillard doesn’t have to carry that weight himself as he has done before. Manny Parra is just…well. He’s done a fair job thusfar, but it’s always so unpredictable with him. I’m knocking on wood for saying that. Maybe when the time comes, we will see Wily Peralta back again. I think in order to fix the problem, we need Estrada back in the bullpen. Once he is healthy again, I believe Brandon Kintzler should be our fifth man. Bullpen guys are too valuable to waste and Estrada’s arm is more valuable to us in the pen than starting. The pitching as a whole is just struggling, but we need our bullpen to sometimes fall back on. If we don’t have that, then we’re headed for some serious trouble.
Solution Three: Being better prepared for road games
Tonight marks the start of a road trip for the Brew Crew. For the next three days, we’ll square off against the Padres in San Diego and play the Giants this weekend in San Francisco. Our road games so far haven’t been pretty: being swept by Atlanta, losing the series to the Cardinals, but hey, at least we beat the Cubs three out of four games. Obviously San Diego has not been as tough as they have wanted to be, but that does not mean we take them lightly. We’ve noted our key struggles and the road just adds on to it. Going into San Francisco will not be easy as we face Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain. That’s some great pitching and we know with our struggling bats, it’s a tall order. Road games intimate some teams and learning from last year, we seemed to be one of those teams, going 39-42 on the road. At home it was quite a different story. Every year is a new story though and maybe we can learn from our mistakes from 2011. After awhile though, we can’t just take for granted winning at home. The road only gets tougher from here.
Until next time guys and gals.