Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brewers bullpen

Did everyone get a good laugh from that title? I think it says it all, really. If you want to get another laugh, read my Twitter timeline on the right side of the page. You know, I would actually like to take a moment to thank a few people, including the group of fine young men that make up the bull (shit) pen, but I'll start with someone who really deserves a tip of the cap.

Zack Greinke. His performance last night against the Phillies (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 K) was nothing short of immaculate. Considering the circumstances surrounding his start, like the uncertainty that he was 100 percent because of his 11 days off and the swirling trade rumors that had scouts watching Greinke's every move, there was a lot of pressure on Greinke to perform. And he did just that. His trade value certainly went up and he put to rest any rumors that he wasn't on top of his game or that he was worn down. For that Zack Greinke, I salute you for going out with a bang. Yes, that was his last start as a Brewer, folks...don't kid yourselves. I'll have more on Greinks later.

Now for the thank you I owe the bullpen. I know what you're thinking. This is going to be one of those quote, unquote thank yous. Well, you're partially right. But in all seriousness, for those of you who were clinging on to false hope that the Brewers still had a chance to make the postseason like me, we owe the Brewers bullpen a sincere thank you. I mean, did you watch the end of these last two games? First of all, I'm sorry if you did, because not even I could sit through the epic collapses that Manny Parra, Kameron Loe and Francisco Rodriguez have combined to perform over the last few nights (on a side note, Brewer games are much more fun to watch if you turn them off after the starting pitcher exits the game. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't work if you're in attendance unless you plan on leaving early, which is a cardinal sin, by the way). Secondly, these collapses have erased all false hope from my body regarding the Brewers season. And for that, Brewers bullpen, we thank you.

So. Back to Greinke. One part of his stat line I forgot to mention other than his zero walks was his pitch count. I hate to get started on pitch counts because you may know by now I have a strong hatred for this, but did you know Greinke had only thrown 87 pitches through seven innings? Yes. With the roll Greinke was on, there was a distinct chance that Greinke could go the distance and save the bullpen from complete embarrassment. But nope. Greinke was yanked and I can only think of one legitimate reason this occurred: someone told Ron Roenicke to yank him. It's the only logical explanation. No manager in his right mind is going to pull Greinke in the situation unless a higher power took the reigns. If Roenicke's reasoning is that he didn't want to wear him out, here's a newsflash for you...he just had 11 days of rest! Am I missing something here? I really hope not. I'm guessing he was pulled because teams interested in acquiring Greinke are worried about his durability moving forward, and that's where I'm going to draw the line. I mean, c'mon...we're talking about Runnin' Ron Roenicke here!

The Brewers now sit at 44-52, 6 million games out of 1st place, so it HAS to be time to wave the white flag...right? Other than Greinke, there doesn't appear to be any valuable trade commodities in the Brewers' possession unless you include the DL laden Shaun Marcum, but there hasn't been much buzz surrounding his name these days. Any rumors about L-Rod going anywhere have to be dead in the water after his complete choke-job Monday night, and if teams do still want him, the Brewers ain't getting much in return. That leaves a few other names I could see the Brewers dealing: Randy Wolf, who is in the final year of his deal as well, and George Kottaras, the Brewers backup catcher.

Wolf being left-handed makes him an intriguing piece for a contender, and he hasn't performed terribly as of late. For what it's worth, the bullpen has blown eight leads in games which Wolf has pitched, so despite is not-so-great ERA (5.46), this dude's win-loss record could be standing at 11-6, which is a lot more appealing than 3-6. Plus, Wolf is a veteran and he's been down the postseason road before, so that experience could also be compelling. Meanwhile, the lack of work Kottaras has received this season has hurt his numbers and production, but with Jonathan Lucroy set to return any day now, the Brewers will be stuck with three MLB-caliber catchers on their roster. One thing Kottaras has going for him is his on-base percentage (.409), which is .200 higher than his average. Remember guys, OBP is waaaaay more important than AVG, but I shouldn't have to tell you that. Anywho, if the Brewers could find a way to part ways with these two, I wouldn't be upset about it.

That leaves us with one other issue to tackle: the bullpen. Honestly, what do you do here? Just ship off the entire group and start from scratch? Even though my last blog post may suggest otherwise, I'd only keep two men in that bullpen right now, and those men are Tyler Thornburg and John Axford. Assuming Thornburg moves into a starting role once Greinke is dealt, that leaves us with one bullpen pitcher in Axford. By the way, Axford has only allowed one hit in his last 3.1 innings pitched, so clearly something has clicked there. When I went on my rant a little while ago, I suggested some pretty crazy alternatives for who should be pitching at the end of games for the Brewers. They don't seem so crazy anymore now, do they? Let's get Wily Peralta up here. Let's get Mark Rogers up here. Both guys have looked pretty good lately (their numbers don't look so hot, but don't let that fool you), so with the atrocious bullpen the Crew currently has, there's no better time to bring these dudes up. I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will disagree with me on this one, so I'll leave it at that.

I mean, really...what do you do with this bullpen? I don't know. But pulling your starter after 87 pitches isn't going to solve any problems unless it results in the Brewers getting an entire bullpen in return for Greinke. Or at least some kick-ass prospects. Brewer fans need something to look forward to at this point, and once Greinke is gone, we can pick apart the trade and the players the Crew received in return, and get excited about SOMETHING. That's the one silver lining we can take away from this awful stretch for the Brewers...Greinke was dominant on Tuesday, perhaps as dominant as he's ever been in a Brewer uniform. For that, the Brewers should get some yummy treats in the coming days.

So again, thank you, Zack Greinke, for not only your time as a Milwaukee Brewer, but for your dazzling performance last night. You won't have to put up with Roenicke's bull shit anymore, so at least there's that. Good luck wherever you may land and for giving me something to talk about before WE GET TO FOOTBALL SEASON!!!! (oh, and of course, thank you to the bullpen) (the Packers training camp opened today, by the way)

One last note before I go...I recently landed a "job" as a writer for the Bleacher Report, a fairly popular sports blog site. How much that duty takes me away from this blog is unknown to me, but I managed to crank this post out in under an hour, so I think I'll still be able to manage at least a post a week. Anyway, I think this gig and the popularity of the Bleacher Report will help get my name out there and increase my visibility a touch (the number of views I got on my first published article was over half of what I've received writing this blog over the past two years - that's not a knock on you guys!). So I'm excited to begin that chapter of my life and continue my journalism career. I hope you can all come along for the ride as well.

15 days until the Packers preseason opener. Get pumped.


  1. Congrats, man. Look forward to more of your stuff over on the long as you promise to keep this up.

  2. Thanks! I'll certainly do my best.