With pitchers and catchers set to report to Spring Training in 39 days, who’s going to be in Phoenix, I wonder? The Brewers have yet to make any earth-shattering deals regarding the pitching staff, and with at least one hole in the starting rotation and a wide-open closer’s spot, hopefully Doug Melvin and co. will find some guys that fit soon.
Yovani Gallardo is on everyone’s radar for the 2009 season. Getting a mid-season call-up in 2007 and missing nearly all of ’08, the kid doesn’t have a whole lot of big league experience. But what he does have has proved to be great. Coming into this season healthy will hopefully mean Gallardo is on top of his game and will stay there for the duration of ’09. Having him back is a tremendous help for the Crew.
Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan are both slotted for the rotation, and while it’s great to have veteran pitchers, both were just so-so last season. Bush pitches well at Miller Park, but was put in a platoon with Seth McClung in ’08 so he wouldn’t have to pitch on the road–not really a good thing. Bush did, however, prove himself with his post-season appearance, but all in all went only 9-10. Suppan has not impressed me in his past 2 seasons with the Brewers. He went 10-10 in 2008, 12-12 in ’07. I suppose .500 is good, but paired with the rest of the starting rotation, it’s not good enough. Towards the end of last season, Suppan seemed to have just fallen apart. I know guys have bad days, but coming out after 2 innings in an 11-2 loss to the Reds with less than 2 weeks left to play? Talk about your bad days.
Manny Parra is the 4th guy with his spot seemingly locked in the starting rotation. A 10-8 record isn’t bad, but Parra also spent some time in the bullpen in 2008. I do love me some Manny. I’m not upset about the choice to start him in ’09. I just think that, right now, the rotation seems a little bit weak.
That brings me to Seth McClung. With the Brewers eyeing a closer, McClung seems to be their choice for the 5th starting spot. I really just disagree with him being a starter. If you look at his performances in relief situations from last season, he was absolutely outstanding. He had a couple noteworthy starts, but nothing compared to his stint as a reliever. Case in point: September 26, 2008. McClung replaced Jeff Suppan early in the 6th with a 1-1 tie. He held the Cubs at 1 for the remainder of the game. And came up with some stellar offense, as well. Now, I know management isn’t looking at just 1 or 2 games and basing a decision on that, but it’s got to count for something. In my opinion, McClung just seems to fit better as a reliever.
That being said, the bullpen seems pretty well stocked with youngsters like Tim Dillard, Mitch Stetter and Carlos Villanueva, not to mention the vets like David Riske, Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice. And the Brewers recently added 2 lefty relievers in Jorge Julio and RJ Swindle.
With Spring Training inching closer and closer, I really just think that Milwaukee should focus on acquiring a quality starter and work on making McClung their 9th inning guy. Once Spring Training gets underway, if he’s not working out, Julio came from a closer’s role in Baltimore. If another starter is inked, McClung definitely works in long relief, so I’m sure a secure spot in the bullpen would be just fine for him.
And completely unrelated, I caught this article on mlb.com about a freshman girl in Indiana being allowed to try out for the boys baseball team. While I do agree that girls should be given just as much opportunity to play sports as boys, I somewhat disagree with the basis on which she’s allowed to try out. According to the Indiana H.S. Athletic Association, because the school has a girls softball team, girls are prohibited from trying out for baseball, claiming the sports are comparable. Of course they’re not comparable. A softball field is smaller, the ball is bigger, etc, etc. Personally, I would find it much harder to hit a fast-pitch softball than a baseball, but whatever. That’s not why I disagree. If you think about where baseball goes, from Little League all the way up to the Bigs, what could this potentially do to the sport? If she proves herself and makes the team, what would happen when she goes to college? Now, I’m not saying she would want to continue on in college ball, but if that’s the case, just because a high school athletic association allowed her to play doesn’t mean the NCAA will. I don’t know, whatever. It just struck a chord with me. Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to opening day of the WMLB