I am the biggest optimist who writes about the Brewers on a regular basis. Every post I write either says "relax" or "calm down" or "save some of that glue for me to sniff". I don't think the Brewers are this bad. I don't think Doug Melvin did a bad job of putting this team together. I didn't think they would play this poorly and against LA they kind of proved me right. I'm an optimist and I believe in this team. At least I believe in most of it.
Last night's loss sucked, but even the loss itself wasn't enough to send me over the edge. What sent me over the edge was this story from Adam McCalvy that featured these gems of information:
Hawkins said his command has eluded him in all but his first two outings this season, and now his velocity is gone, too.
Here's what I don't understand about this. If you don't think you have good control and you don't have good velocity (and honestly, you should be able to tell when you're in the bullpen warming up) shouldn't you tell somebody? Shouldn't you say, "hey maybe someone else should take the ball today. We have a chance to win and I don't have my best stuff." I always warn my girlfriend when I don't have my best stuff (and she's just an inanimate blow-up doll of Precious from the movie Precious (Based on the novel Push by Sapphire).)
You have a GUARANTEED contract for the next two years, it's not like you have to prove yourself to make the money. (Just ask David Riske.)
Trouble is, Hawkins' best pitch has not been very good of late. He was pumping 96 mph fastballs with ease during his four scoreless outings to begin his Brewers career, but on Thursday he didn't top 91 mph.
Once again, things that could have been brought to someone's attention YESTERDAY!
"You can make mistakes if you throw hard enough. You can't make mistakes at 88-90 [mph]," Hawkins said. "If I knew what it was, I'd tell you and I'd fix it. ... It definitely doesn't put your mind at ease, that's for sure."
And this right here is what completely sets me off. "You can't make mistakes at 88-90 mph". Do you know who makes mistakes at (not 90) (not 88) eighty six mph? Our closer, our ace reliever, TREVOR HOFFMAN!
Now, I have to be honest and say that I did not watch the end of last night's game. I followed it until Hart struck out after Zaun's EPIC 12 pitch at-bat and gave up, thinking that was their last good chance to win the game. As it turned out I was wrong, but I was also all too right.
The problem with the bullpen is that it is completely backwards. The people that are doing their jobs are the people that we didn't really expect to do well and the people that aren't doing them are the ones that the team is counting on to be successful. Check out this nifty graph I just made.
(Grand total? $32.731 MILLION DOLLARS. You know how many raptor hoodies that could buy?)
Carlos Villanueva, you're cool with me.
Todd Coffey, I could never be mad at you.
Manny Parra, why aren't you starting?
The rest of you? F OFF.
In fairness, Jeff Suppan's stats are that of a decent long reliever, but...... he's Jeff Suppan. He gets paid too much, he's supposed to be a starter. Screw him. Oh, but I give lots of my money to local charities and give back to the community. Bla bla bla. I don't care, f off.
Claudio Vargas is one of the guys that I was talking about earlier. We didn't really expect him to be our relief ace so we shouldn't get mad when he's not. He could be better, but so could we all. I didn't have to eat that entire can of Cheese Whiz, but I did. We all have stuff we could improve on.
Narveson, same deal. Whatever.
Which leaves us with the final three. David Riske, LaTroy Hawkins and Trevor Hoffman. Three players who thus far in 2010 have proven to be a gigantic waste of $15.5 million dollars.
Riske is injured so we can give him a pass (for now). The last two? F them. F them in their stupid asses.
(Actually, you know what? Riske doesn't get a pass. We signed him to a three year deal for $13 million (we didn't exist at the time, but I'm pretty sure I would have made a joke that the deal was "Riske Business") and he sucked in 2008, threw 1 inning in 2009 (seriously, one inning) and hasn't pitched in 10 months. How dare you get injured after signing to our team when we are paying you real money! You frickin' jerk, f off!)
The problem we sometimes run into as fans is that we think people suck and the numbers don't back it up. I think LaTroy Hawkins sucks, I always have. I remember him as the Cubs closer and I remember him blowing games throughout the years. His career stats paint a different picture as a decent to good middle reliever/set up man, but I've always known he sucked. I've always known we can't really rely on him.
With Trevor Hoffman it's similar situation. He's a fly ball pitcher playing in a park that is kind to fly balls, turning many of them into homeruns. He's 42 years old and well past his prime. He doesn't have the greatest stuff in the world and relies on a lot of trickery to have success. If he's not fooling anyone, he can't succeed. The changeup only works when you don't see it coming. When someone hits a homerun off of Trevor Hoffman you aren't surprised because his fastball is 86 mph."I could have hit that one out" you'll say.
(Here's a fun Hoffman stat: In 2008 he had 4 blown saves. In 2009 he also had 4 blown saves. Thus far in 2010? 4 blown saves.)
The problem with these two (besides the fact that we are paying them a combined $11 million dollars) is that the bullpen is completely built around them. The plan is for the Brewers to get the lead and for these two to be the 1-2 8th/9th punch to close out the game. The proverbial alcohol and roofies of the Brewers bullpen. They both are so old with so little stamina that they physically can't pitch beyond their one inning role they are assigned to. When they are clicking, the Brewers are in a very good position to succeed. When they're not (like now), the Brewers are handcuffed. There is no one else that they can give their roles to because A.) they're paying them too much B.) these two wouldn't be successful in any other role and C.) some bullshit about veterans. You can blame Doug Melvin for signing them if you want, but he can't be blamed for them performing this far below their career numbers. Only they can be blamed for that. And Suppan, we can blame him too.
In an ideal world the Brewers would give Villanueva or Coffey a shot at the closers role and move the other one into a set-up role and let these two work out their problems in middle relief, but that's not going to happen because of their veteran-ness. The Brewers will live and die on Hoffman and Hawkins until one of them gets hurts, retires or dies. That's it.
The good news is a giant loss of velocity is probably due to injury and Hoffman's performance could very easily be due to injury as well. They could both be hurt and they could both get better and start to play like their old selves. (I could also stop drinking mouthwash, but I don't see anyone betting on that either.) David Riske could come back and pitch close to his career numbers and seize the set-up role. Hoffman or Hawkins could go on the DL and the Brewers could call up Zach Braddock (0 runs, 23 strikeouts in 13.1 innings at Nashville) and we could maybe, finally have a true home grown reliever that doesn't suck.
There is a lot of different things that could happen, but the truth is if things stay like they are now and these two keep pitching like they have been this team is never going to go anywhere or do anything except lose close games.