What a long, strange trip it has been for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013. And it’s only July.
So far, the Milwaukee Brewers campaign has been mired by scandals, injuries, and disappointing play that has largely kept the Brewers on the outside looking in on a more competitive NL Central this season. Though not everything has been negative in the Cream City, there’s no question that the light at the end of the Crew’s tunnel seems farther away than it has in recent years.
So now that we are only days away from the All-Star Break — the unofficially official halfway point of Major League Baseball’s season — to see where the Milwaukee Brewers have been this season, and examine any possible directions the team could go.
Truthfully, there’s no way to avoid talking about this. Believe me, I’ve tried. We at Reviewing the Brew have been covering this for a while, and you can feel free to check out either Curt’s or my work on the subject if you’d like. For the sake of space I will not go in-depth on it here, but suffice it to say that there is no question that Ryan Braun‘s off-field questions have taken away significantly from anything going on between the foul lines. Despite what ESPN and a plethora of sportswriters say, we don’t know what the future holds for Brauny or any of the other players involved in Biogenesis, or PED-gate, or whatever you’d like to call it.
While the Brewers left-fielder may be offering up juicy headlines left and right, he wasn’t the only member of the Brew Crew with a run-in of bad press. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo was charged with a DUI early in the season in 2013. According to reports, he was swerving excessively on his drive home from Milwaukee-area bars, where he was stopped and later booked on drunk driving charges. He offered up an apology, and suffered no punishment from the team or league (though some may callously argue that his pitching so far in 2013 is punishment enough.) If only some other players could be so lucky.
Bumps and Bruises
The Milwaukee Brewers have not had a lot of luck in general during the 2013 season, but there have been significant amounts of bad breaks (no pun intended) with regards to injuries.
Corey Hart, the Milwaukee Brewers veteran outfielder-turned-first baseman, had high hopes of an early comeback from the off-season knee surgery that came as a result of a workout injury. His prediction was nearly a month ahead of schedule — lat April as opposed to the May/June deadline the Brewers front office told the press and fans. If Corey meant April of 2014, he looks to be spot on. Hart’s knee will likely cost him the entire 2013 season now, and with it might walk the extension that would make him a career Brewer as well.
Mat Gamel, the first baseman-in-waiting for going on four years now, also suffered a torn ACL that cost him his chance at regular time for the second straight season. This, in turn, cause the Brewers to scramble to fill first base — a journey that netted us the plucky comic relief of Yuniesky Betancourt for another season and a short stint with the veteran Alex Gonzalez once more.
At the moment, the Milwaukee Brewers have nine players on the Disabled List, and have had over a dozen all told since Opening Day. Key figures still among the wounded include pitchers Marco Estrada and Alfredo Figaro, along with a few bench players like Taylor Green.
It seems a much easier task at this point to recite the names of players NOT injured, rather than expound on the extensive list of Brewers spending time off the field.
Not everything is so doom-and-gloom for the Brewers, however. With
everything that has gone wrong from time to time in the Crew’s disappointing season, there have been plenty of bright spots. Chief among them is the young Jean Segura, the shortstop brought in from the now infamous Zack Greinke trade who is having an elite season by any circumstances you care to measure. While he obviously doesn’t qualify for rookie status, and is not quite as marketable in Milwaukee as Puig is in L.A., Segura is unquestionably a standard-bearer for the Major Leagues in terms of young talent.
And we cannot forget the work that Carlos Gomez has been doing to keep the Brewers competitive. Both in the field and at the plate, Go-Go has been rightfully earning national attention, as well as that cushy extension he received in the off season. Along with Segura, Gomez will be representing the Milwaukee Brewers in the All-Star Game this season — and the pair just might help Milwaukee break its long standing Gold Glove drought.
More than anything else, the saving grace of the Milwaukee Brewers has been the ability for certain aspects of the team to pick up the pieces where others fall. Where Martin Maldonado has disappointed offensively, Jonathan Lucroy provides extra pop at the plate in 2013. Where the starting pitchers have been objectively awful, the bullpen has been performing pretty well under a workload that would make most trainers wince.
The team may not be able to put it all together over the course of a season, but so far there have been enough positive flashes that Brewers fans can keep a mild interest looking into the future.
After the Break
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, it’s hard to say exactly what kind of team we’re going to be seeing. If the persistent rumors are true, there are as many as 12 Brewers that may need to be fitted for different uniforms by the end of July. The future of the Brewers highly depends on those transactions.
We’ve covered a lot of the candidates involved in trade discussion thus far, but the candidates leaving won’t say as much as the talent coming in. If Milwaukee is trading for future pieces (which seems most likely at this point) look for the Brewers to largely unrecognizable through September. So far in 2013, the Brewers have had eight rookies already — and if a fire sale does take place, that could skyrocket well into double digits.
The talent is enough on this team to put together a late push, but I doubt considerably it will be enough to even put them in the third place we predicted they’d land in Spring Training. It’s not a matter of talent at this point as it is about consistency. If the Brewers can put a rhythm together for a month or so, we may have a very different outlook on this club.
That too, depends on a lot of good luck and cooperative circumstances. Those, as we have seen, have been severely lacking for Milwaukee in the first half of the season.
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