After two weeks completed, the Brewers are 8-4 and 1 game behind the Cardinals, second place in the Central.
Below are some concerns I have thus far in to the season.
1. The bullpen: Is it just me or am I puzzled over the fact that we seem to be putting all of our eggs in one basket with the likes of Eric Gagne? As we advance during this season of post-Cordero era, it seems that having only 1 closer (in Gagne) is starting to get to me. Although we do have Derrick Turnbow to fill in when needed, I feel that in order to survive the entire season we would need another stable closer. Any ideas out there? I have always been fond of Chad Cordero.
2. The Line-up: Why is Prince Fielder batting in the 3 spot while Braun is doing clean-up? Furthermore, why isn't JJ Hardy batting lead off and Ricky Weeks batting in the 2 hole?
3. Dave Bush: Lets all face it here, our #3 pitcher in the starting rotation is not going to last in that role. As soon as Yovanni Gallardo finishes his rehab starts in the minors...he will need to instantly step in to that role and replace Bush. Bush can then be used in the pen as an emergency back-up and a mid reliever. Similar to what he did last year in August-September (2007). So, will Bush be sent down to the minors? Probably not, as he would have to clear wavers.
4. Prince Fielder: Yes Yes, I know he's doing the vegan thing and this is already being played out. But this is starting to raise some eyebrows. He is in a season starting slump. A 2 week slump that has thus far resulted in the Brewers lack of runs. We have been faced with a number of solo shots in the first two weeks of the season. Could this be because our #3 batter is hurting at the plate? I am not an expert in baseball, but I do think it has something to do with it. If this continues for another 2 weeks, he would have to rethink his dieting method.
Update (4/13): Yost must have read this, because he flipped Braun and Fielder in the line-up for todays game.
5. Too much depth: We have to come to the realization that Tony Gwynn Jr. should be traded. He is a solid player and a good kid. There are a number of teams out there that could use a CF or possibly a RF. With Gabe Kapler and Gabe Gross platooning in center (until Mike Cameron comes back) we have two solid back-up fielders who can fill in with short notice. Gwynn on the other hand is a young, exciting center fielder who can have an impact with another club. So why not use him as bait in obtaining another closer? Perhaps even using Dave Bush with him could be kind of attractive to a team in June who is facing the injury bug with their rotation.
Things that are surprising me in a positive way:
1. Ben Sheets: Although I will be the first to tell you his injury proneness pisses me off to high heaven, he is in a contract year. It is do or die for him in that this season will tell other teams if he is that number 1 ace in the rotation. Today's outing against the Mets showed me that he has the control, attention, and motivation to be a 16-17 game winner this season. Possibly, putting in that 30-31 starts that he is paid the big bucks for. Today, versus the Mets, Mr Sheets retired 18 consecutive batters before giving up a long ball to David Wright in the 8th.
2. Gabe Kapler: A welcome surprise-addition to the team. I mean who really thought that a player who retired to coach one season, only to come back to play for the Crew, would have such a hot start coming off the bench? His plate discipline and speed in the outfield really grabs my attention. This guy can play! Not to mention the fact that he takes very good care of his body
while being the teams second Jewish teammate (alongside Ryan Braun). This guy is a stud who has already belted 4 dingers so far this season.
3. Jeff Suppan: His first two starts this season have been fun to watch. Allowing only a couple of runs in each game and earning a win (first start was a no-decision) , he provides a nice one-two punch with he and Sheets.
4. On-Base Strategy: The past 3-4 seasons have been a snore fest to watch when it comes the Brewers and their lack of stealing. Not since the days of Scott Podsednik has there been one solid base runner. That has all changed with Corey Hart and Ricky Weeks reeking havoc on opposing pitchers and catchers. Both have 3 thefts thus far in the season and should both be able to put up solid numbers in that department.
5. Jason Kendall: After two weeks completed, Kendall is leading the MLB in batting average. He has been calling some great games as well. His knowledge and experience behind the plate shows just how important a seasoned catcher is. Opposite of this is the talent-less ass face known as Johnny Estrada. Yea Yea, Kendall is worse than Estrada in throwing out runners. He makes up for this by calling for timely pitches and working the counts on opposing batters. Hell, even Eric Gagne admitted that he should have listened to Kendall in his blown save against the Reds on Wednesday.
What impressed me the most in the first two weeks is Bill Hall. This guy has been shifted to a number of positions, most recently being Center Field for the 2007 campaign. Now he's at third base and kicking ass. He has 5 home runs already and is playing well defensively. Let's hope he can keep it up!
Hopefully Weeks will continue his stong defense going in to the third week.
Hernan Iribarren had his first major league at bat, his first hit (single), and was then picked off. This Venezuelan can give the team some solid at-bats.
Yovanni Gallardo should return to the mound April 29th. Although he claims he is ready, Ned decided to have him do more rehab starts.
So, there you have it. With two weeks passed in this very long season, I grade the Brewers a straight "B".