The Brewers are at .500! 71 wins and 71 losses! They are even in the wins and losses column! And everyone is very excited about this!
It's kind of hilarious when you think that one year ago today the Brewers were in first place, fourteen games over .500 and everyone was miserable because they had just lost 3 out of 4 to the Phillies and 5 out of 6 overall. Everyone was sure that the Brewers sucked and that they weren't going to win the World Series. Talk about your white people problems. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Let's say instead of the Brewers losing 5 in a row to the Cardinals and Phillies that they won them all. That'd have been awesome right? They'd be number one on ESPN and everyone would be calling them World Series favorites. Only now they play the Rockies and the Reds and instead of playing them like I think we're going to play them, they lose five. Does that make the Brewers a playoff team who can't close the deal? Does that make them a team that can't "get up" for the lesser games? Because right now the Brewers are a playoff team who, apparently, "choke against elite starters" or "can't beat good teams" and I just don't see the difference. Losses are loses. This weekend sucked, but consider this:
- Rickie Weeks is back.
- The Brewers magic number is ten. A combination of Brewers wins and Cardinals losses equaling ten and this is done. Sure, it could go til the end of the season, but it could be over by next weekend or it could be over by Sunday. Relax.
Last year we had a team on the verge of clinching a division that was all but guaranteed a playoff spot and we were miserable. Now we have a team that is at .500 and we are through the roof. Baseball.
But who cares about all that? You can't live in the past, you can only live in the now and that's a good thing because right now the Brewers are pretty awesome. Baseball is pretty fun. So how did this happen? Well, for starters there are these 500 things.
Just kidding. I only have ten.
10. Carlos Gomez
Carlos Gomez is one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. He is really, really good at defense. This has always been true, but this season he is combining that defense with the best offense of his career and the results have been Nyjer-less. (Seriously, is he still on the team?) His .246/.294/.450 line is nothing to brag about, but he has hit his career high in home runs and will soon have his career high in stolen bases. A Carlos Gomez that hits like this is one of the best players at his position and his bat flips are awesome.
9. Starting Pitching
If someone told me before the season that the Brewers would lose Chris Narveson for the season, trade away Zack Greinke, release Randy Wolf and have Shaun Marcum miss a ton of time with injury and then struggle coming back, I probably would have just quit the blog and started watching Doctor Who or something. Instead, all of those things have happened and the pitching has remained a bright spot.
- Mike Fiers was lights out for awhile and he's since come back to Earth, but he has still been solid. Solid if unspectacular, by the way, is the title of the Brewers 2012 season DVD.
- Marco Estrada, despite an unfortunate win-loss record, has been pretty awesome. He leads all starters in K/9, BB/9 and WHIP (including Greinke.) That's pretty sweet and I'm pumped to have him back in the rotation next year.
- Mark Rogers: Not Bad.
- Yo is Yo.
- Wily Peralta has only started two games, but a 2.50 ERA is a 2.50 ERA.
No matter what happens in 2012 this crew is enough to get you excited about next year.
8. Corey Hart
Seems about right.
7. The bullpen? The bullpen
I'm not going to say they are fixed, but here is the last 28 days.
K-Rod: 2.92 ERA
Kameron Loe: 4.63 ERA
Jose Veras: 0.79 ERA
Manny Parra: 4.32 ERA
Jim Henderson: 2.92 ERA
Livan Hernandez: 5.25 ERA
That looks a little bit more like the bullpen that Doug ordered. Especially from K-Rod and Veras.
(Wait, did I forget somebody?)
For a team whose last three starting catchers were Jason Kendall, Johnny Estrada and Damien Miller, having one of the best catching tandems in all of baseball seems like a cruel joke, but here we are. Our backup plays good defense and has a .754 OPS. Our starter is hitting .322. What up?
I should probably mention how clutch Lucroy is. For the season he's hitting .413 with Runners in Scoring Position. Love me some Lucroy. A solid jersey buy. Especially if you are a white bread honky.
5. Ryan Braun
It seems weird to put the should be MVP here, but it just feels right. Ryan Braun is gonna Ryan Braun. Win or lose. Rain or shine. Day or night. He'll always Ryan Braun because Ryan Braun is what Ryan Braun Ryan Brauns.
4. John Axford saves
2.38 ERA in last 28 days.
No blown saves since August 10th.
0 runs allowed in 15 of last 18 appearances.
1 hit allowed in last 8.1 innings pitched.
I think he might be back, guys.
3. Aramis Ramirez
What can I possibly say about Aramis Ramirez? He has been better than Prince Fielder. Yes this season, but also last. Seriously, Prince had 5.5 Wins Above Replacement last season and Aramis has 5.5 WAR so far this season. He's having one of the best seasons of his career and he's actually playing good defense. Aramis is the man right now which poses a few questions:
Was he hurt in Chicago the last couple of seasons? Maybe.
Did playing for the Cubs temporarily destroy his desire to be awesome at baseball? Quite possibly.
Does Aramis' rejuvenation make Milwaukee seem like a desirable place to play for free agents? lol no.
Did the Brewers make the best free agent signing of any team in the offseason?
2. Norichika Aoki
Yes they did.
It doesn't seem possible to me, but I've never written an Aoki post. How is that possible? Aoki was created by baseball gods to be loved by Miller Park Drunk. He's good and clutch and cool and Japanese. Despite not being the best defensive outfielder he makes great plays constantly. He has eight homeruns on the season (including some very big ones at important moments), but each one seems like a mistake. Really? Aoki? And it wasn't inside the park? Are you sure? He's been a ton of fun to watch and exactly the spark this team needed at times. I'm almost glad Gamel got hurt.
He's not going to go into the Hall of Fame or even the Brewers Walk Of Fame, but he's one of those guys that you will always remember. He won't be great, but in 2012 he kind of was and you will remember it fondly. Kind of like Nyjer Morgan last year without the bad defense and wacky alter egos.
1. Rickie Weeks
Remember that post I quoted above where I said one year ago that the Brewers were going to be fine because Rickie Weeks was coming back? Well, that didn't work out that well because he wasn't really healthy, but the Brewers are good now and the reason is that Rickie Weeks is back.
The Brewers go as Rickie Weeks go. Always have, always will. Why? I have absolutely no idea, but that's how it works.
The Brewers are 31-26 in the second half. Rickie Weeks has a .836 OPS in the second half.The Brewers are 17-5 over their last 22 games. Over that time period Rickie Weeks is hitting .275/.340/.495. For whatever reason he seems to carry this team to victory. I can't explain it.
This has been the worst season of Rickie Weeks career, but in a way it is kind of the best. He never gave up. Never got down when people were calling for his job. Never stopped working. He was under .200 for more than half the season, but he kept fighting. He was like John Cena without the jorts. Now? He's the same old Rickie. It doesn't seem fair that those first two months have to be apart of his season total because it's clear to me now that wasn't our guy. He wasn't himself. There was something wrong. He probably shouldn't have been playing. That wasn't our Rickie. This is our Rickie and our Rickie rules.
Can he keep it up? Can the Brewers steal a playoff spot? Throughout his career Rickie Weeks' best month has always been September. The Brewers go as Rickie goes and if that's the case then I guess anything is possible.