Sunday, April 11, 2010

Series Wrapup: Cardinals


Cardinals win series 2-1

What else can you really say about this series? In all honesty, the Brewers should have won the series. Anytime you are able to get the ball to Trevor Hoffman with a lead, you take your chances. It just so happened in this series, Hoffman didn't show up. He blew two saves and cost the Brewers a win on Friday night. Although everyone in Milwaukee will tell you different, Trevor Hoffman's career isn't over.

One of the best things about opening week to me is the added value put on it. If somebody hits .400 in the first couple of games, they are an MVP candidate. If somebody doesn't get a hit (i.e. Gregg Zaun), they are bad. It's pretty comical, but that's the way it is.

Milwaukee's newest example is Trevor Hoffman. Against what many will tell you, Trevor Hoffman doesn't suck. He is simply a pitcher struggling with control right now. If there's one thing Hoffman can't lose, it's control. I guess that's the story for anyone who's fastball tops out in the mid-80's. One thing people need to understand is that Hoffman has always been a soft-tossing righty with a deadly changeup. I understand Hoffman is lighting up radar guns this year, but he never did. I didn't hear anyone complain last year when he was throwing at the exact same velocity.

I know I'm in the minority in this thinking, but Hoffman will be fine. Trust me, by June we will all be laughing about this.

However, there are some more alarming things going on with this club.

Jim Edmonds

When the Milwaukee Brewers signed Jim Edmonds, I wasn't really blown away. I understood what we were getting: a player at the tail end of his career who could be a nice option off the bench. I guess Ken Macha wasn't in the same mindset. Edmonds has started four games in the first week of the season. Making matters worse, Edmonds has already batted against a lefty on three separate occasions (he's 0-3). There is no excuse for Edmonds starting over Corey Hart on a regular basis. Furthermore, there is no reason Edmonds should ever bat against a lefty.

On Sunday night, Ken Macha did what I was fearing and started Edmonds in CF. At this point in his career, Edmonds really doesn't belong playing defense anywhere in the outfield. Putting Edmonds in a corner outfield spot is troubling, but starting him in CF is inexcusable. He doesn't have anywhere near the range needed to play out there. Sure he was a great defender in his day, but his days have past. He is no more than a bench player now.

Carlos Gomez

I told myself I was going to refrain from jumping on Gomez to quickly, but that was before his most recent slump. After going 4-5 with a homer on opening day, Gomez has just one hit in his last 16 at bats. He is yet to draw a walk on the season and is showing no plate discipline. On Saturday, I watched him foul numerous balls off his foot as he chased slider after slider in the dirt. I know the Brewers were trying to teach him to reach base, but batting him second isn't a place to learn.

The Brewers have a solid CF sitting on the bench in Jody Gerut. I understand by making the Gomez trade, they were going to play him, but why everyday? If he's not producing, he should play. Learning and maturing should happen in the minor leagues, not at the top of a major league lineup. He hasn't shown any ability to get on base in his career. Why is that suddenly going to change in Milwaukee? If you are going to play him, at least run a platoon with Gerut playing against righties.

Bullpen Management

My biggest beef with Ken Macha in his time as manager of the Brewers is the way he handles the bullpen. Throwing relievers for multiple innings and just about everyday is the perfect way to run a bullpen into the ground (i.e. 2009). He has learned nothing from last year. LaTroy Hawking was unnecessarily used again on Sunday when Carlos Villanueva was pulled with two out in the eigth. Villanueva was clearly pitching well enough to finish the inning, but was pulled so Hawkins could make his fourth appearance in the last five games.

Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart

It's nice to see Weeks and Hart getting off to a nice start. Through the first week of the season, Weeks is batting .368 with two home runs and six walks. Combine that with his two HBP's and you're looking at a .556 OBP. I know it's early, but Weeks looks primed for a huge season. He's hitting the ball as hard as I've ever seen him and playing a very solid second base.

Hart is also back to hitting the ball with authority. The main thing now will be consistency. I think that starts with his playing time. It's hard to get in a groove if you're sitting the bench three days a week. Hart had four hits in seven at bats in the Cardinals series and a home run. The ball is jumping off his bat. It will be interesting to see if he can continue his momentum in Chicago.

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