Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 1, 2009
BASEBALL: Something Brewing
A couple of thoughts on the Brewers as they move in for the sweep of the Mets and surge into first place.
1. This team is pretty good, but man do they have deplorable starting pitching aside from Gallardo - they seriously miss Ben Sheets. Looper, Suppan, Bush and Parra have been healthy enough that the Brewers have given just 3 starts to pitchers outside their front five, but the results are ghastly: a 5.60 ERA, with mediocre K/BB numbers (3.65 BB/9, 6.00 K/9), and more importantly 1.6 HR/9. It's hard to see a whole lot of room for improvement there, although if Parra (7.62 ERA) can get straightened out and throw strikes, they'd be in less of a hole. They're still going to need a #2 starter eventually.
2. Trevor Hoffman having the second-best ERA of his career is definitely a surprise. Before the season I'd thought he needed to be restricted to a ROOGY role, but he's held lefties to a manageably soft .300/.364/.300 while slaughtering righthanded hitters at a .116/.130/.163 clip (he's faced about a 50/50 mix). The main reason for the low ERA is that he hasn't been taken deep yet this season; his other numbers are good but not exceptional.
3. Mike Cameron is a textbook example of a guy who transformed from a talented underachiever to a respected veteran simply by doing the same thing every year for enough years. He's always been a guy who would give you some power and speed, great defense and a little plate patience, strike out a ton and hit for a low average. As a young player, people focused on the whiffs and what he could accomplish if he made more contact. At 36 and still striking out at a clip of 140-160 times a year, he is what he is.
4. I have JJ Hardy on one of my fantasy teams, and for the fantasy owner, Hardy is maddening because he's so incredibly streaky that you hate to bail on him even though he's batting .233/.308/.368. Last season, for example, Hardy was batting .242/.319/.343 on June 10; by July 7, he was batting .296/.364/.493. In 2007 it was a hot start; he batted .323/.371/.628 through May 16, but finished at .277/.323/.463.
Needless to say, he's just as frustrating for his real owners/fans, although in Milwaukee's case there's no serious thought to be given to replacing him; they just have to grit their teeth and wait for him to catch fire.