Now that one of the most chaotic and memorable NCAA March Madness tournaments is officially in the books we can turn the page in my favorite sport, Baseball.
Congrats on UCONN winning the title. I said during March, don’t trust anyone who was in the Top 25 because it does not matter this season. All that matters is who was playing hot at the right time and how they played in the tournament. The key to doing well in the bracket was picking the right upsets.
Still UCONN winning defies even that logic. By the way, there is still a small part of me that is still recovering from one of the toughest Badgers losses in the history of the program. The thought is if everyone returns next year, they could be a immediate pick to return to the Final Four with possibly the deepest Wisconsin lineup ever.
Onto baseball. If you are a casual fan, I have to explain to you about how the baseball season works. In April, you should not look at the W-L record cause it is not as important until about late/May early June. Last year’s Brewers team proves that as they buried themselves in 6 weeks after a great April.
What is more important is watching trends and how the team is competing.
My thought was that this year’s Brewers team is going to surprise some people. They don’t have a household name minus Ryan Braun. And we know he will be scrutinized to the nth degree especially now that he is still dealing with nerve issues with his throwing hand thumb.
However, many people fail to see that this is a solid Brewers team. They have 3 solid position players in the essential spots in Jonathon Lucroy (C), Jean Segura (SS), and Carlos Gomez (CF). It is no fluke that this trio had a great season last year and IMO they are the new “faces” of the franchise.
Here are 5 important trends that you need to focus on about the Brewers for the month of April:
This schedule in April is brutal. Show me another team that has to play the Braves, Red Sox, Pirates, Cardinals all before April 17th!!! I challenge Brewers fans not to look at the Win-Loss total in April. If the Brewers can float around the .500 mark, I call this a great month. If they are slightly below, not terrible. If they are way below, cause for concern. However if they end up above .500, then this could be the beginning of a special season.
(As of April 8, the team is 4-2). I know it’s early but that sweep of the World Champion Red Sox on their home field during their opening weekend and their ring ceremony is a BIG DEAL. The Red Sox were NEVER swept last season. Sure Saturday’s game was ugly and the team is still having trouble getting in RISP (Runners in Scoring Position), however I don’t care. They swept the World Champs and that Sunday game where they shut them out 4-0 helped the entire state of Wisconsin cope with that Badgers loss. Statement Game.
By the way did you see this last Friday? At least they played the opposite of Peralta falling everywhere. Pretty hilarious
Pitching is the most important thing in baseball. If you don’t have quality pitching, you are not going to go far.
How about this rotation in the first week?
All 5 starters had quality starts. Garza had a no hitter into the 7th in his Brewer debut, and Gallardo has a 0.00 ERA in his two starts.
Couple of things here:
- I love Wily Peralta 5th in the rotation. He has “ace” stuff and can now develop at his pace. Our 5th starter is better than your 5th starter!
- We will soon look at Matt Garza as one of the best signings of the season, and possibly one of the best bargains a team has signed in recent history. He looked like a man with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. He will excel pitching 3rd in the rotation.
- Gallardo will pitch as good if not better than 2011. Gallardo is an ace but not the type of ace that you are accustomed to. He does not do well with pressure. Now that he has Lohse and Garza to take some of the pressure off of him to overcompensate, he will just focus on pitching his game. If you shut out the Braves and Red Sox in your first two starts, it is cause for notice as this article shows.
- Marco Estrada. If he averages giving up 2 runs per game and is the 4th starter, I will take that EVERY time
- Will Smith. He will be the unsung hero of the bullpen. A southpaw that throws hard and can pitch multiple innings.
- Tyler Thornburg. He should be in the rotation, but it may be a blessing in disguise he is in the bullpen due to the Garza signing. Can pitch multiple innings and has lights out stuff. It also shows how much depth we have this year.
- K-Rod. Nobody wanted him so Doug Melvin re-signed him for his 3rd go around. If the issues with Jim Henderson’s velocity continue, this was a brilliant re-signing to have a backup closer. After the Lohse, Garza and K-Rod signing, people need to lay off Doug Melvin. He knows what he is doing.
3) Ryan Braun.
So Ryan Braun continues to have an odd nerve issue with his throwing thumb. Is it cause for concern? Yes. It is a possible distraction from the PED talk? Perhaps. Yes the Brewers probably need Braun to be healthy in order for them to have a real shot at the playoffs, however his suspension was a blessing in disguise last season since he was hurt anyway.
It showed to the other players in a down year that they can compete without their star player. Khris Davis who will be solid may have never gotten an opportunity this fast to show what he has if Braun was playing. Logan Shafer may not be the defensive and quality bench player he is today without last season happening.
Here is my personal opinion
And to the national media who are angry about the Brewers fans giving Braun a standing ovation. Do you for once perhaps maybe think that Brewers fans did that on purpose just to piss you off? Guess what, it worked based on this article.
How is this different from Yankees fans cheering A-Rod last year, or Giants fans cheering Bonds in the past? Big difference. Milwaukee is a small market.
Growing up in Wisconsin, we can’t stand the national media because you never really give or write articles to support Wisconsin teams when they have a chance to succeed. The Badgers were the #2 seed but most national media did not think they would win or ever get to the final four. The same is said about the 2011 Brewers.
That was less about Ryan Braun and more about the fans giving the national media the finger. Most people in Wisconsin could care less what major media like ESPN think. Good for the fans to take advantage of this moment, and shame on the media to not figure that out that it was about them. They completely fell for it if you read the twitter comments.
Brewers fans know exactly what they have to deal with. However Braun is the longest signed player through 2020. People hate him so much, I almost myself want to purposely cheer for him to make people mad. All that happened, I just have more important things to do and won’t hold someone to a higher accountability cause he is a well known person. The quicker people move on, the better off you can focus on the how great other things in baseball is.
4) Segura and Gomez.
The 2013 All-Stars need to have a similar season as they did last year if the Brewers will compete. While Segura might still be struggling due to his lingering shoulder issue, I do like the way Carlos Gomez is playing. I think he is continuing to develop as a player everyone thought he would be. There is a saying that as you get older, you tend to mature and put childish things away. I think last season Gomez has begun to mature. He still gets intense which is part of his personality, however he visibly shows signs that he does not let it fester.
P.S. Thank you Angels. First you give us your top prospect in Segura and he just becomes an All-Star in his first full season, and because you were impatient with Garza, he said screw you and the Brewers swooped in to sign them. I wonder if the media is mad because they never saw the Brewers-Garza interest?
There has been some talk that the lineup is really top heavy and weak 6-8. The daily lineup is Gomez, Segura, Braun, Ramirez, Lucroy, Davis, Reynolds/Overbay, and Gennett/Weeks (last four guys interchangeable batting 7/8 based on matchups).
It’s too early to say one way or another if it will work. Let’s just wait awhile before making adjustments. With having to use the DH this past weekend, I don’t think it is enough of a sample size, however it is something to keep an eye on if they continue to struggle to score runs.
It’s great to have baseball back!