Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

May 2012 Milwaukee Brewers: Not Hitting on All Cylinders

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As I write this, the Milwaukee Brewers are losing, 5-4, in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Minnesota Twins; so far, they’ve lost three in a row and are at the bottom of the National League Central Division standings.  But even if they win this game, the Brewers obviously aren’t firing on all thrusters just yet (or hitting on all cylinders, either; take your pick of clichés).  They aren’t hitting well, fielding well, pitching all that well, and their baserunning is suspect.

Now, as former Brewers first base coach Davey Nelson said last night on Brewers Extra Innings on WTMJ-AM 620 radio last evening (he was host Dan O’Donnell’s guest), it’s difficult to win games when you can’t hit, pitch, or field.  (Nelson put it a bit more diplomatically, but this is the substance of what he said.)  A caller added that the Brewers couldn’t run the bases overly well, either, as even big stars like Ryan Braun and Corey Hart have made odd baserunning errors in recent days; Nelson then added poor baserunning to his assessment.

All I could do when I heard this was laugh.   

As for today’s game, it’s now over.  With two outs in the bottom of the 11th, the Brewers had the light-hitting Cesar Izturis up, and all he could do was send a line-out to the shortstop.  Brewers lose, 5-4, due to a home run hit by the light-hitting Twins SS Trevor Plouffe (he had been hitting .143 before he hit the game-winning HR in the top of the 11th).

At any rate, today’s game featured some clutch hitting by Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, and some good table setting by Nyjer Morgan and Corey Hart.  But it also featured two errors (one odd one by RF Hart where he may have lost the ball in the sun; he should’ve caught the ball in foul territory, but it instead bounced off his glove), some questionable baserunning, and a dearth of clutch hitting as six Brewers were left on base.

The Brewers have now lost four in a row, twice to the lowly Twins, twice to the lowly Astros.  Their current record is 16-24; they are one game ahead of the Chicago Cubs due to the fact that the Cubs haven’t yet played their game against the White Sox so the Cubs’ record is currently 15-24.  Most likely, the Brewers will be in last place again tomorrow.  (The Twins’ record has improved to 14-26 due to their two wins over the Brewers.)

I don’t know what the Brewers can do at this point to improve as a team, except work on fundamentals such as bunting, baserunning, and fielding.  Rickie Weeks is hitting well below .200, while Aramis Ramirez is stuck in the low .200s; these two hitters were expected to do far better than they’ve done thus far.  (Even with Ramirez’s well-known penchant for slow season starts, he was still expected to have more than 21 RBI at this point.)  Even the guys who are hitting, like Braun, catcher Jonathan Lucroy (a surprising .333), Nori Aoki, and Corey Hart (hitting only .252, but with 8 HR and 18 RBI, which is fourth-best on the team), can’t make up for the guys who aren’t doing much of anything.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says that the Brewers need to show more personality on the field,  basically blaming the whole clubhouse for being quiet and reserved.  I’m not certain how showing more personality would win games, considering the 1962 Mets had loads of personality, yet won only 40 games.  But that’s Roenicke’s story and he’s sticking to it.

The usual way to fire up a team is to fire the manager, but the Brewers gave Roenicke a two-year contract extension earlier this season so that’s highly unlikely to happen.  The second way would be to fire a coach — perhaps pitching coach Rick Kranitz, as the Brewers’ team ERA is 5.20 — horrible — and the Brewers are dead last in the majors in this particular statistic (which probably is the main reason they’re not winning too many games).  Individual pitchers, such as Zack Greinke or Shaun Marcum among the starters, or Kameron Loe and to an extent Manny Parra among the relievers, have been OK; it’s the fact that others who were expected to do well like Yovani Gallardo have done very poorly that has caused the team ERA to balloon up.

The Brewers need to get something going in some area.  Whether it’s clutch hitting, fielding, pitching (definitely pitching) or baserunning, the Brewers need to improve.  Until or unless it does, the Brewers will remain mired in the bottom of the NL Central.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

2 Responses

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  1. The coach has to go. 07/24/2012


    July 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm

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