Let the Brew-pruning begin
A year ago, Nyjer Morgan was a f-bombin' his way into the hearts of Brewers fans, surrounded by teammates after his role in securing a nail-biting win over Arizona at Miller Park that put the club into the NLCS.
A year later, he's a man without a team. This thing called baseball is one cold, unforgiving, results-driven business, ain't it?
T-Plush takes his act elsewhere after a lackluster 2012 season during which he and many others--most of them in the bullpen--did little to establish themselves as must-have options in '13.
Kameron Loe. Jose Veras. Francisco Rodriguez (last seen in a mug shot). Travis Ishikawa. GM Doug Melvin is cutting away those parts of the Brewers roster he now deems expendable, players a lot of fans gave up on a while ago. They were arbitration eligible, as are John Axford, Marco Estrada, Carlos Gomez, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra. Here's hoping Melvin keeps the first four and ends the failed experiment that was Parra once and for all.
"It's not like we're disassembling the top bullpen in the league, " assistant Gord Ash tells the Journal/Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt. "We were due to make some changes."
The walking gasoline can that was the Milwaukee relief corps finished dead last, not in just the National League but in all of baseball, compiling a 4.66 ERA with 29 blown saves that paved the way to 33 losses. Many will say injuries to Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez and others are what did the club in but they're wrong: the team actually got stronger in the field with Corey Hart moving to first and Nori Aoki taking Hart's spot in right. It took a while to find Gonzalez' replacement at short (Cody Ransom, anyone? Cesar Izturis perhaps?) before Jean Segura arrived. Even the loss of Jonathan Lucroy--the team's best hitter before his unfortunate brush with some wily Samsonite--was ably replaced by Martin Maldanado. Even the white-flag trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels had the opposite effect: at a point when it seemed the team was surrendering any chance it had of being competitive, it started playing its best ball of the year. It was the shocking failure of the bullpen and the spate of soul-crushing late-inning losses it festered that kept Milwaukee out of the postseason.
Let the pruning continue and the re-shaping begin. Arms are what's needed, along with a veteran bench presence who can fill the Craig Counsell/Mark Kotsay role. Put the current starting Milwaukee starting eight up against the Giants club that just won the World Series and do you see any glaring mismatches? San Francisco had the pitching to take the starch out of a Tigers lineup that included the game's first Triple Crown winner in almost a half century as well as one of the game's best hitters in Prince Fielder who went, what 1-for-14 as Detroit got swept?
Retool the bullpen. Tweak the rotation. Let Gomez have center. Hope Weeks is the guy we saw after the All Star break, not the off-kilter shadow of himself we suffered through coming out of spring training.
Pitchers and catchers report when?