With the way this season has shaken down, it is very difficult to be optimistic. The truth is friends, aside from the bullpen pooping in the sleeping bag, this has been a pretty good season.
Many of you will scoff at my last statement. But consider for a minute that Ryan Braun is on pace to best his MVP season of 2011, Aramis Ramirez may set the team record for doubles in a season, and Mike Fiers has emerged as one of the bright young stars in this organization. And that is just the tip of the iceberg Brewskies…
First let me start with recent news and work back to my point.
When I first began writing this piece, it mostly revolved around how to handle the pitching rotation. In fact, it was darn near half the article. One of those problems was corrected before we even made it to the off-season. Randy Wolf was released on Wednesday. While I may not have been the loudest member of the Wolf Pack, I certainly did not dislike the guy. In my eyes, he was what Jeff Suppan was supposed to be. So I was not surprised when his 2012 started to spiral into Suppan territory. The truth is, we overpaid on a mediocre pitcher…again…for like the 20th time in the past 10 years. His spot in the rotation was vital to this team’s success in 2013, so I am glad that they made the move sooner rather than later. That opening will give us a few more options at achieving excellence next season, and give us a chance to watch some more young arms get a shot. In my original piece I had assumed the Brewers would not keep him around for next season, so we are right back on track.
The Brewers rotation will be terrific – I firmly believe that the Brewers will be able to re-sign Shaun Marcum. He has been on the shelf for the past two and a half months, which will put a huge dent in his open market value, come November. Recently he stated that he wants to stay in Milwaukee and would love to come back, even though the team has not even broached any contract negotiations with Marcum. So, in my mind the rotation could like one of two ways: Option 1 – Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Michael Fiers, Marco Estrada, and Chris Narveson, or Option 2 – Gallardo, Marcum, Fiers, Narveson, and Mark Rogers. Either way, I am going to feel pretty good about that going into next season. Not to mention that we still have guys like Tyler Thornburg and Wily Peralta ready to get their chance at pitching in the big leagues. This is not even including the potential acquisitions through trades and free agency. Who know what Melvin may have up his sleeve.
An Unchanged Lineup – Consistency is the key!! As I look at the roster, the way it sits today, I do not envision a ton of changes. I think that Rickie Weeks may be playing his last season in Brewer blue. It is also hard for me to imagine 2011 NLDS hero Nyjer Morgan being on the roster when spring training breaks next April. Aside from that, I believe what we are seeing right now will mostly make up the 2013 roster. If Rickie Weeks does go away, I would hope that it would be via trade, for some more middle infield talent. Scooter Gennett is not far away from making his MLB debut (hitting .294 in a full season at AA), so Rickie’s time is limited anyway. The only question that remains for me is Mat Gamel. What do we do with him? Where does he go? In my mind Corey Hart should not ever go back to RF. Mr. Hart is the Brewers first baseman of the future, end of discussion. So, in my mind, the lineup would look something like this: Nori Aoki, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, Jonathan Lucroy, (yet to be named 2nd baseman), Jean Segura, and pitcher. Like I said, unchanged lineup. This team has not had problems producing offense (as long as runners are not in scoring position), and I do not expect it to be a problem in the first year after the Mayan calendar ends. If anything, I expect a huge upswing in team moral and group hugs.
History – In each of the past two seasons, the World Series winners have had a unique combination of youth and veteran leadership. The Brewers are on course to fit that mold. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants shocked the world with their amazing run to the World Series. That Giants team had no offense to speak of, but due to their unique chemistry and stellar pitching…they became world champions. Last season (as much as it pains me to even reference this) the St. Louis Cardinals defied the odds…again. For the second time in a decade, they snuck into the playoffs only to win the whole thing. The 2011 Cardinals had a unique mixture of proven commodities: Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Chris Carpenter, and young budding stars: David Freese, Jon Jay, and Jason Motte. This is the type of team the Brewers could be fielding in 2013, if they can get the bullpen sorted out. Many of you will remember that the Cardinals bullpen threw more innings in the NLCS than starting pitchers did. Having a strong bullpen is what separates the mediocre form the good, and the good from the great. And the Brewers are on the verge of having that perfect concoction of baby faces and grizzly veterans.
As Billy Joel once said, “You may be right, I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for”.
In a season where most Brewers fans have been turning off games after the 8th inning, it feels good to be optimistic for a change. I genuinely and truly believe that the 2013 Brewers will be a much better, stronger team than the team we are watching tonight. Maybe they won’t make the playoffs, but at least we will have something to really get excited about again. The only time this entire season that I have actually jumped of my couch to cheer, was Corey Hart’s Grand Slam last Thursday against the Phillies. And it was the first time I was jacked out of my mind, since Game 5 of the NLDS. I guarantee all of you that 2013 will be much more exciting. How could it not be?!?!
On a side note: Doug, Gord, and Mark…please resign Corey Hart. As soon as possible. Do not drag your feet on this one. It seems like he has finally found some consistency, don’t let him take it somewhere else. Thank you in advance. -Lou