Obviously, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I was waiting for something really super-awesomely spectacular to happen before I wrote anything else, but since the Brewers have failed to do anything super, awesome or spectacular for quite some time, I suppose I have to comment on today’s actions within the ballclub.
First, dismissing pitching coach Bill Castro isn’t going to change the fact that the rotation is struggling and the bullpen can’t seem to salvage the myriad of situations they’ve been put into. Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush are out– let’s not forget that’s still a factor. Carlos Villanueva is par, at best, as a starter, Braden Looper can’t seem to work 2 quality starts in a row and Yovani Gallardo pitches well, but the offense rarely supports him. Since coming back from his latest stint in the minors, Manny Parra has been the only pitcher to garner both quality starts and wins. The marred rotation, coupled with the wishy-washy bullpen (including the recent acquisitions of Jesus Colome and 2 former Brewers, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas) are never going to be enough to consistently win games.
Castro’s replacement, Chris Boscio, has big league experience both as a pitcher (with Milwaukee and Seattle) and as a coach (with the Tampa Bay Rays). The Triple-A Nashville Sounds, whom Boscio is leaving behind for this interim position, have a team ERA of 4.05, which is good enough for 2nd in the league. Hopefully whatever he’s doing with the Sounds will translate to the Brewers and he can help whip the pitching staff into shape.
The second move Doug Melvin and Co. made today was to send shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A for the first time in over 2 seasons. Alcides Escobar has yo-yo’d between Nashville and Milwaukee over the past season and a half as has gotten the call as Hardy’s replacement. Escobar is batting .298 in the minors while Hardy has been struggling to make it out of the .220 range all season. The plan for JJ is similar to the one Manny Parra had– regroup, start producing and get his head on straight. Hopefully, it’ll work to his advantage the way it worked for Manny.
Lastly, Bill Hall, the oft-slumping infielder turned outfielder turned infielder turned outfielder, was designated for assignment. Hall was sent to Nashville just a few weeks ago but was quickly recalled after Corey Hart had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. Nevermind that he hit a 2-run homer last night, Hall has been platooned for the past 2 seasons and has been unable to match or exceed career-high numbers in the past 3 seasons. Hall’s replacement is a virtually unknown Jason Bourgeois, who missed most of the year so far due to a thumb injury. The Brewers now have 10 days to decide Bill Hall’s future with the team.
So what do I think about all this? I think the shake-ups are good. I think the majority of the players on this team will look at what was decided today and will realize their fates may not be secure if the team can’t turn it around. However, I don’t think this is going to be enough to pull out of the middle of the NL Central.
The Brewers are in desperate need of consistent, quality starts, something the rotation has been lacking in all season. The addition of 3 pitchers to the bullpen is like putting a bandage on a bullet wound. Milwaukee’s starting rotation is suffering and will continue to suffer if a new arm isn’t added soon. And the bullpen is exhausted because they’re constantly expected to clean up the mess. A number of pitchers have recently cleared waivers that are worth taking a long, hard look at, despite what it may cost to finish out the season with them. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang of the Reds are options. So is John Smoltz, despite a poor showing in 8 starts with the Red Sox. All I’m saying, is anyone is better than what the Brewers have going on right now. The rotation has been in constant flux since April and I think consistency will be key, if the organization decides to add an arm and once everyone is healthy and back with the club.
One can only hope these moves are just minor stepping stones to something bigger. But until then, the Brewers need to figure out how to turn themselves around and start winning again. I will not be looking forward to St. Louis in October if those last 3 games mean nothing.
Tonight, the Crew looks for some sweet redemption from last night’s embarassing showing against the Padres. Carlos Villanueva (2-9, 6.05 ERA) is on the mound against Kevin Correia (7-9, 4.51 ERA).