Back in the spring, I made a bet with my son. I bet that, when the season was over, the Milwaukee Brewers would have a better record than the Minnesota Twins. At this writing the Twins have won 95 games, while my beloved Brew Crew has won 75. It’s not one of my finer moments and Ben has been quite gleefully reminding me on a daily basis how wrong I was. But it’s not all bad in Milwaukee, I think, and there’s reason to believe that the Brewers will finally take a leap forward next season. For the time being, their task is to help the St. Louis Cardinals complete the greatest collapse in baseball since the 1964 Phillies wilted down the stretch. But let’s take a look at what’s happened to the Crew this year.
Injuries have been absolutely brutal this year – Ned Yost was rarely able to put his best team on the field after Rickie Weeks and J. J. Hardy both went down early. Players like Tony Graffanino are stopgaps at best.
The pitching has been really strange this season. Closer Derrick Turnbow went from being an NL All-Star to a kerosene merchant over the course of the season. Francisco Cordero, who came over from the Rangers in the Carlos Lee trade, has done an admirable job, but he was available because of his inconsistency. Meanwhile, the Brew Crew has had to make due without two of their best pitchers (Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka) for most of the year. Both are finally healthy now and it’s not coincidental that the Brewers have been playing better lately.
Bill Hall is my favorite Brewer player since Yount and Molitor. While his glove is a little shaky, he’s done a great job all over the field for the team. It’s not easy to find middle infielders who can put 30+ homers on the board.
There’s a lot of talent in Milwaukee, and more is on the way. Prince Fielder has been as good as advertised, and young Tony Gwynn, Jr. looks like he could be a pretty good player as well. If Corey Hart can become more consistent in his approach at the plate, the Crew will have something to build on.
It has been nearly 25 years since the mighty Brewers of Yount, Molitor, Thomas and Oglivie stormed to the World Series. I still think we won’t have to wait 25 more years to see the Brewers return. But I won’t bet my son about it….