Have you heard about the 2009 All Star game? The Brewers are basically in the top two of every single position. This is pretty exciting for Brewers fans and I was really curious to see how it was going to turn out. To find out I contacted a local mathematician* and had him crunch some numbers for me to figure out how this thing is going to end up. This is what he came up with.
C: Crash Davis
1B: Richie Sexson 2B: Jarrod Washburn 3B: Who cares? SS: Spencer's creepy flesh colored beard
OF: Dave Navarro OF: Terence Mann
C: Jason Kendall 1B: Albert Poo-holes lol 2B: Rickie Weeks 3B: Who cares? SS: JJ Hardy OF: Ryan Braun OF: Mike Cameron OF: Anyone but Gary Sheffield
*By local mathematician I mean a guy I met at a bar who wrote this on a napkin for me.
Rickie Weeks is now out for the season. The recovery time on his injury is 4-6 months meaning that even in a best case scenario he won't be back for the playoffs. If there are a playoffs. One of my best friends claims that this is the best thing to ever happen to the Brewers. My friend is an idiot. Outside of the golden trio of Braun/Fielder/Gallardo, Weeks is the last person this team wanted to get hurt. Hart, Hardy and Hall are all replaceable. There isn't a single player on this team that can take his place at leadoff. Counsell is better at defense and matches his eye, but the power/speed combo isn't there. You can lead off Corey Hart, but you lose some OBP (perhaps a lot of it). You can lead off Kendall, but you lose every single thing Weeks does well and gain nothing except whiteness and metal knowledge. You can lead off... that's about it actually. Does a team need a true leadoff hitter to win it all? Not at all, but it certainly helps and it certainly hurts to have one and lose him.
Unfortunately, this isn't Baseball Mogul(which is probably a good thing because Baseball Mogul HATES the Brewers for some reason) and you can't just move Hardy to second and call up Escobar to play SS. You have to work with what you have and deal with players feelings. Hardy doesn't want to move and if he doesn't want to, you probably can't make him. Then even if you could do that, who knows if it would even work? It's not like Escobar is hitting in AAA. Weeks is gone and as of right now the best replacement for him is a Counsell/McGehee platoon. Call it whatever you want, but this is not a good thing. It's bad. Bad for the team. Bad for Rickie. Bad for me.
I am emotionally invested in Rickie Weeks. I saw him play in Double A. I watched his debut. I tracked his career. I've had him on fantasy teams. Most of all, I believed in him when no one else did. I knew the talent he had and I knew that if he ever figured it out, he'd be a pretty damn good second baseman. Guess what? He figured it out. This was the season that he became a pretty damn good second baseman and now it's over. Will he be good next year? He should be and I can't wait to bust out my Weeks jersey on Opening Day 2010, but it's still 2009. The race is too close to call and losing Rickie Weeks for the season hurts this team more than any of the other NL Central contenders have been hurt thus far.
The Brewers are a great team, but without Rickie? We'll see.
Now if you'll excuse me I am going to induce a seizure and swallow my own tongue.
I wrote a post yesterday about how last night's game was going to be the greatest game ever. Now, maybe it wasn't the greatest game ever but for me it was the absolute perfect game to go to. Manny Parra started the day and he was off, walking people and giving up hits. At the end of two innings we were down 3-0. This meant that the team had to come from behind and Manny Parra need to straighten up. Both things happened.
Manny Parra threw the next four scoreless and ended up with 8 strikeouts. Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks combined to hit three home runs to put the team in the lead and then Mike Cameron gave us one more for insurance. My two favorite players and my favorite Fielder all went yard and the team was rocking. It was, to me, the perfect game. Until that is the ninth inning came and it became Trevor Time. Then the game ascended to another level.
Trevor Time is something like I have never experienced before. For those of you who have never been there live for it, I hope that you one day get to do so. Last year, the team was awesome. No doubt about it, but in a close game in the ninth you were worried. You didn't expect to win. Especially with Gagne, less so with Torres but the thought always lingered. How will we blow this one? The thoughts have been there for years from Gagne to Cordero to Turnbow and on and on. This is not the case with Trevor Hoffman. People know that he is going to close the game out and the Brewers will win. It's just expected and that's something that you can't really quantify. It's a pretty awesome time to be a Brewers fan right now.
I've known Mike Cameron since before he was ever a Brewer, before Miller Park existed. Well, not known him known him, but I have been a fan of his work for quite some time. He was the key to the trade that sent Ken Griffey to Cincinatti and I lived in Seattle at that time so we became well acquainted. His defense in Center Field was the best I've ever seen. He struck out a lot, but when he made contact it went a long way and when he got on base he could steal. Basically, if Ichiro never existed he would be my favorite player and right now he is my favorite Brewer. Now? He's the same player with a slight dropoff in defense.
Now I've let my love for Rickie Weeks be known around these parts, but that's mostly because I hate people saying he sucks when he so clearly doesn't. With Mike Cameron I truly like the guy and want him to succeed. I will argue his value to my death. To me he is THE most important guy to this team's success and it might not even have anything to do with how he plays. Take yesterday's game for example. Prince hit a homerun and Mike Cameron gave him a choreographed high-five. Then Mike Cameron hit a homerun and he gave Rickie Weeks a different choreographed high-five. The more I watch the Brewers (and you notice this after wins) I see Mike Cameron do a different high-five for every player on the team. I even saw him give Ken Macha (!) the up-down high-five. Mike Cameron is without a doubt the glue that binds this team together. When CC Sabathia was around he called Mike Cameron a friend. Do you know why? Because Mike Cameron is EVERYONE'S friend. He is probably the coolest guy in all of Major League Baseball and everyone should be glad he is on our team. You know the stories about how the Brewers truly like eachother? That's got Mike Cameron's fingerprints all over it. He's a good guy and he's a winner.
The reason I am bringing this up is not to sing his praises from the mountain tops. It's to prepare you for what might happen. You see Mike Cameron has never hit higher than .273 in a season and he's only hit above .260 in 4 out of his 11 seasons. Right now he's hitting .321 and as much as we'd all like it to be true, 36 is not the season you suddenly learn to hit .300. It's just not. So there is going to be a dropoff and there will probably be a slump at some point. At some point this season you may say to yourself that Mike Cameron sucks and I just want you to know that I will have none of it. Mike Cameron does not suck. He is who he is. He's a plus defender, with above average power and speed. He is good, but he is not this good. He will decline this season and that will be okay because he will still be Mike Cameron and Mike Cameron is still the most valuable guy in the locker room that this team has.
So remember those rules of booing? This is #1 on mine: Never, ever boo Mike Cameron.
A good friend of mine hates Mike Cameron. I mean, HATES. He's one of these people that thinks strikeouts somehow count for more outs than any other out. I am not one of these people. I love people who are above average defensively, hit home runs and steal bases. I don't care if they strikeout as long as when they make contact it counts. Maybe this is from years of playing fantasy baseball, maybe it's because I like a little pain with my pleasure. Either way, I love Mike Cameron. After Rickie Weeks he's my favorite player on the team (I have issues.) Obviously I LOVED yesterday's game where he went 3-3 with 3 RBIs, two HRs, 3 Runs and a walk. (Of course, I don't really understand why he couldn't do this at the four games I went to (you'd think he'd want to impress his biggest fan), but I digress.) Mike Cameron playing like this at the beginning of the season where he has struggled throughout his career is something to get excited about. I can't believe the team ever seriously considered trading him for Melky Cabrera. Sure, it was a pure salary dump but do you realize that Cabrera is just a backup now (and before Nady got hurt the 2nd backup)? Mike Cameron is one of the top 5 Center fielders in the National League. That'd be like trading Alex P. Keaton for Skippy. Skippy isn't taking you to the playoffs. Or the homecoming dance. I don't know about you, but I want the Wolf.
Think about this in tailgating terms. You've got the whole set up. You start with the most important thing which is the beer (Ryan Braun), then you have the bags (Prince Fielder), the food (JJ Hardy and Corey Hart), your friends (Yovani, Weeks, Hall) and the close proximity to the port-o-potty (the bullpen, whoever I forgot). You are all set up for a good day at the park. You can have a good time with just these things, right? Of course, but isn't your day a lot better if someone brought chairs (Mike Cameron)? That's what Mike Cameron brings to the table. You don't necessarily need him, but you are a lot better off with him and at the end of the day a lot happier too.