Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

2012 Brewers Pluses, Minuses, and Oddities thus far

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Folks, so far 2012 is shaping up to be a very strange year for the Milwaukee Brewers.

For example, if I had to grade the starters right now, I’d say they’re a net minus for the team.  (This when they were expected to be a major strength.) 

Consider, please, that the ace of the staff right now is #4 starter Shaun Marcum.  Marcum’s current ERA is 3.46, his record is 1-1, he’s pitched 13 innings thus far and he has 12 strikeouts.  The aces we’re supposed to be able to depend on, Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke, have each had one good game and one bad game thus far — they, too, are 1-1, and Greinke has 12 Ks right along with Marcum to lead the team thus far.   But it gets murky after that — Gallardo’s ERA is 5.91 while Greinke’s is even worse at 6.75.  Both have pitched exactly 10 2/3 innings, while Gallardo has somehow walked 7 men thus far (Greinke has only walked 1, but that’s not much of a comfort when almost every other statistic he has is abysmal).

And as for #3 starter Randy Wolf, he’s has had two bad outings thus far, which is why his ERA is a whopping 10.61 in only 9 1/3 innings.  Wolf said he “stunk” a few days ago, and that he will do better; he’s a proud man, and I’m well aware that no professional baseball player ever goes out on to the field and wants to do so poorly — especially to start the season.  But this just isn’t good.

And #5 starter Chris Narveson, who pitched so well in his first start, pitched poorly today; he now stands with an ERA of 7.00 with 9 innings pitched, 5 Ks and 4 walks.  While he’s not expected to be a shining light (as he is the #5 starter), he is expected to be competent; Narveson most likely will improve right along with Wolf and the others, but this is a most inauspicious start to the 2012 for the entire starting rotation.

As for the relief pitching, here we’re looking at oddities instead; while there are some minuses (John Axford’s had two bad outings, though he does have two saves, while Francisco Rodriguez has had one bad outing), there are two big pluses thus far — the pitching of Manny Parra, coming back after being out all last season with back and arm issues, and the pitching of Kameron Loe.  Both of them have sub-3 ERAs; Loe has consistently gotten the ground-ball outs he needs to get to be a successful pitcher, while Parra has 8 Ks thus far (better than some of the starters).

And the rest of the relievers have been pretty good, too; Jose Veras has pitched well thus far, as has Marco Estrada; even Tim Dillard has done surprisingly well (don’t let his ERA of 7.11 fool you, as that’s due to one, bad outing).  So the guys expected to do well — Axford and K-Rod — mostly haven’t, but the rest of ’em have.  I’d rank that an oddity.

Now, we get to the fielding, which is just plain awful and is a huge net minus for the team.  Ryan Braun, who’s hitting pretty well, has already made an unusual throwing error (he was off-balance the other day against Atlanta, threw to third base, was off the mark, and a run scored), while Carlos Gomez, probably the best fielding outfielder on the team, has already made two errors.

But the infielders have been by far worse; Alex Gonzales, who’s supposed to be such a good defender, has three errors already (though one wasn’t his fault as Mat Gamel wasn’t where he was supposed to be; really, Gonzales shouldn’t have had to be charged with that as that’s where the “team error” stat should come into play — which is why MLB needs to adopt that rule, stat).  Rickie Weeks at second base has one, while Mat Gamel has two . . . and Aramis Ramirez has one.

So the team defense so far has lacked quite a bit.

As for the hitting, only one regular player is doing very well and being productive, and that’s Corey Hart.  He’s hitting .321 thus far with 4 homers, 8 RBI, and 3 doubles.  Ryan Braun has done the best otherwise, as he’s hitting .343 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 stolen bases and 4 doubles. 

The biggest net plus when it comes to this team thus far is the catching tandem of Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras.  Lucroy is hitting .364 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, while Kottaras is also hitting .364 (a statistical anomaly, that) with 3 HR and 6 RBI.

But there’s still some real problems with the hitting; the team as a whole is only batting .228, while Weeks and Ramirez are batting below .200.  (Ramirez in particular has been terrible, as he’s batting only .114.)

This is why I call the hitting an oddity thus far; there are some people hitting, a few you’d expect to do well (Hart and Braun), a few you wouldn’t who are doing well (the catchers), and a few you expect to do well who aren’t (Weeks and Ramirez.

All of this adds up to a 4-6 record and a highly unpredictable and frustrating season thus far.

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