Despite the half way point being a couple of weeks ago, I still figure the All Star break to be the divider. What follows here is a break down on different categories. Trailing that will be by second half predications. Feel free to light it up.
Yes, the bats came alive since May 20th, but prior to that the teams average was pretty low. I don't have the exact numbers, but one can imagine. Through the pains of the first two months, one batter prevailed...that being Corey Hart who maintained a batting average of over .280 since April 26th!
Although Ned Yost claims victory on this category, I would agree with him partially. Rickie Weeks has really turned it around this season compared to the last two, in fielding. Billy Hall on the other hand, who has 17 errors as of Sunday, has taken steps back. One can't help but blame the constant shifting of positions he has had to endure the past 3 seasons. That being said, their defense has improved but there is much more they can do.
Ben Sheets and Manny Para have unbelievable thus far in to the season for a combine 18-6 record. Meanwhile, Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush have been pretty bad. The latter has finally turned it around in his past 3 starts, which is a welcomed sign. Supan is on the 15 day DL and should hopefully rebound when he starts against St. Louis next Monday. Look for him to have a solid performance against his old team. Seth McClung has been a welcomed addition the rotation, although he has flattened as of late. With the loss of Yovanni Gallardo for the season, the starting pitching has been pretty good!
Bull Pen: C-
With the flopping of Eric Gagne ($10MM) and Derrick Turnbow, Milwaukee was faced with trying Salomon Torres as their closer. He has responded very, very well. Throw out the last two games where he was brought in with bases jam and giving up runs, he has been lights out. That is the only bright spot. Carlos Villenueva could be a somewhat success story if he can just be happy in the pen as a mid-reliever. It's nice to have an ex-starting pitcher waiting in the pen when Bush or McClung stink it up.
Thanks impart to Gabe Kapler and Craig Counsell, the bench has been absolutely great! Mike Rivera couldn't be better coming off the bench the few times he has this season. Joe Dillon can even do a decent job. I feel Gabe Kapler should be tied for the best off-season addition to the team (along with Jason Kendall). JSonline said Kendall was the best by far, but I would disagree. Kapler has provided leadership and clutch hitting...plus he's batting .315 at the mid-point!
Yes, I have asked for Ned's head on a platter. But he has since turned it around since May 20th. One can't look past his first quarter of the season though, as it was awful. His lack of leadership going in to the Boston series (swept) was the first-half low point. Since then, he has taken some big chances in Torres as the closer and being patient for Hardy to finally turn it around (but has recently flattened to 2 for his last 19 at-bats). Yost should be held accountable for his third, fourth, and fifth chances given to Mota and Gagne . This is what keeps him from getting a B-!
Not a bad average. The Crew are in third in the best division in baseball.
My prediction: Milwaukee will earn the wild card. Their second half schedule is far easier than the first half...just the opposite for Chicago. We'll see how Chicago's home record is at the end of the season.
-Ryan Braun tied for 3rd place in the home run derby last night. Looked flat early-on, but delivered at the end!