Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Starting Over From Scratch?

In case your favorite team has not had the pleasure of getting to play the Milwaukee Brewers in the early part of this season, you may not have noticed how absolutely dire the team is already this year.  After two weeks of the season, the Brewers were simply terrible offensively and defensively -- the hitters were last in runs scored, last in OBP, last in SLG, first in swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, last in home runs, and last in runs created.  In the field, the team had made 12 errors in 13 games and was 24th in double plays turned.  On the mound, the team was tied for second in runs allowed, had the second worst opponent's batting average, the worst batting average on balls in play, and had the third-worst ERA.

This team looks terrible.

Oh, and did I mention that the team's top two run producers from last season -- Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy -- are each on the disabled list? Gomez is out with a pulled right hamstring, and Lucroy had his toe broken on a foul ball against Pittsburgh:

Then, after the game, starting second baseman Scooter Gennett cut his hand on a wire rack in the shower reaching for his soap.  He cut himself badly enough to need stitches and he, too, finds himself on the DL.  Add in the fact that Aramis Ramirez looks to be about one year past his "Best Before date" (it's only 47 at bats, but it's also 47 plate walks, two doubles, 7 hits, 10 strikeouts, and a slash line of .149/.149/.191).

The team is off to their worst start ever -- one game worse than their 3-11 start in 2002 after 14 games.  That 2002 team was the worst team ever to disgrace the field in Milwaukee, finishing 56-106 under Davey Lopes (who was fired after 15 games and a 3-12 start) and Jerry Royster.

The question I saw posed on Twitter today by one Brewers fan was this: Is it time to break up the current iteration of the Brewers and start over?  And, if so, who should be kept?

It's a tough question.  On one hand, owner Mark Attanasio has had opportunities to blow it all up and start over, but has never shown an inclination to do so.  Pretty much every year since he's been an owner, the Brewers seemingly settle for decent mediocrity without sliding into awfulness and with a few pops into the playoffs.

This Brewers team, though, might be the one that breaks that streak.  Looking at the team in place, perhaps it's time to break everything up.

Here are some salaries and ages of guys who are likely to be gone if such a break up occurs:

Matt Garza: 31 years old, has this year plus two more years left on a four-year contract he signed last year, and there is a vesting option for 2018

Aramis Ramirez: 37 years old and has said this is his last year.

Kyle Lohse: 36 years old, in the last year of his contract

Adam Lind: 31 years old, in the last year of his contract , has a team option for 2016

Carlos Gomez: 29 years old, has this year and next year left on his very team friendly contract (making just $17M over next two years)...but his agent is Scott Boras

Jonathan Broxton: 31 years old, in the last year of his contract

Francisco Rodriguez: 33 years old, inexplicably given a two-year contract this spring

Jonathan Lucroy: 29 years old, has this year and next year left on his contract with a team option for 2017.

Neal Cotts: 35 years old, on a one-year deal

Brandon Kintzler: 30 years old, on a one-year deal

Those are the guys who qualify for free agency at this point or at the end of their current contract.  The rest of the team are pre-arbitration or are eligible for arbitration after this season.  

Notice that I left out Ryan Braun.  His contract extension for five years and $105 million does not even kick in until after this season.  Like it or not, unless the Brewers make a Kimbrel/Melvin Upton type trade, Braun isn't going anywhere for several years.

Of the remainder of the players, guys most likely to find themselves nontendered would be Mike Fiers (age 30, no one trusts his stuff despite decent results here and there), Jim Henderson (age 32, not healthy this year or last), Logan Schafer (age 28, on the team by the grace of God and lack of organizational depth), and any or all of the fungible bullpen arms that grace the Brewers pen currently. 

Basically, the Brewers may be at the point that they need to start over.  

The first step should be to get rid of Ron Roenicke.  I mean, after the 6-22 collapse at the end of the season last year and this year's 2-12 start, we are talking about a 0.174 winning percentage over his last 46 games as Brewers manager.  I'm trying not to overreact, but it's time for a change.

Cards will return tomorrow!


  1. On the bright side, the Brewers have an okay farm system. They went with a bunch of high upside guys in 2014 and their development will be key for the team's short and long term future.

    1. Yeah, definitely went high upside last year in the draft. There is hope for the future, but most of those guys are still at least two years away (unless they dominate at the lower levels in the first half and get promoted aggressively).

  2. Yeah, I've been watching the Brewers... 2 grand slams last not for the Cardinals.

    I'm actually quite surprised how the Yankees are playing, and I'm excited to see if they'll make the playoffs!

    14? Something games left of the season though, we have a lloonnggg season.

    1. Yeah, it's a long season, definitely. But there are times when you watch a team and think, "these guys need something to change right now!" I think that's where the Brewers are.

  3. Do you have a 2nd fave team? ;) It's hard to watch your guys faltering so early in the season. But that's also the bright side of it. The year is young, and season long. Lots of time to turn it on! I'm churning out the optimism tonight, all free. 8^p

    1. Thing is -- I'm usually very optimistic. But with the team's two best players out injured, how am I going to be an optimist about this? :-)

  4. Hey - if Mike Pelfrey can win a game, anything is possible! It's still early.

  5. Matt Garza jinxed his team when he tried hooking up with my friend during Spring Training. She was there for her bachelorette party and he told her not to worry, because she wasn't married yet. Thankfully for his wife and four children... she resisted temptation. Well... at least that's what she and our other friend told us. But who knows. What's the saying? What happens in Scottsdale... stays in Scottsdale.

    1. I'm sure he was a complete gentleman about trying to hook up with a nearly married woman while he himself is married! LOL.

      Yeah, that sounds about right at this point.

    2. Definitely a complete gentleman! If by chance Garza actually reads this blog... he should know that she went out and bought his jersey (with the fiance's approval) and is planning on wearing it to the game when the Brewers come to town.

  6. It is a tough situation right now. The fine line between keeping a team together one more year or breaking it up is what costs a lot of managers and GMs jobs. I guess the main criticism is if you are going for it one more year, you need to do more than add Adam Lind. It would be drastic but could you imagine if the Brewers traded Lucroy or Gomez. You could stock the system with top 100 prospects.

    1. Either of those guys would carry stiff price tags, definitely. The Brewers basically haven't been going for it lately -- they have built enough so that they can compete and hope to get lucky and win 88 games to sneak into the playoffs. It's worked a couple of times, and the last few World Series champs have not won 90 in the regular season, but it's a dangerous recipe. If you get unlucky, suddenly you're losing 88 games.