Posted by: Opey | July 11, 2007

Crew Week In Review: Midseason Edition

Who would have thought 4 months ago that Brewers fans would be waking up this morning to see the Brewers in first place in the NL Central, let alone having 4 All Stars, including a starter.  Most people believed that the Brewers would continue to improve this year, but very few went out on a limb to predict this type of showing.  The infield was talented, but young.  The outfield had depth, but is may be too much depth.  The rotation had shown signs of major improvement, but continuing that progress would be another story.  The back end of the bullpen was solid, but the front was clouded and questionable.  These were the sentiments that many, including myself, brought into this season.  So far, all signs have been positive.  The infielders has shown experience beyond their years, the outfield has settled into a productive unit, the rotation has continued its improvement from a year ago, and the bullpen has been pretty solid throughout.  With the Brewers on pace to surpass 90 wins and the rest of the central rather dormant, minus the surging Cubs, it sounds like there is a legitimate chance that there will, at least, be meaningful baseball played in Milwaukee in September.  In the spirit of all sports websites, here are my mid-season grades and awards.

Offense: A-    This is where this year’s team departs the most from the others of previous years.  It used to be a struggle to provide run support to our starters, but now with the leadership of Prince, and the solid play of the top four spots of the line up, this team has shown the ability to put up big run totals.  The only thing holding them back from an A has been the periods of inconsistent run production during the months of May and early July.

Defense: B+   This area of play had been, in my opinion, the real Achilles heal of the Brewers ball club over the years.  We have been known to put up some large numbers in the error column in the past.  This year, through the play of Hardy and the surprising performances of Prince and Braun, we have managed to put those times largely behind us.  Some early problems in CF by Hall and other costly errors, though few and far between, still do hold them back a bit.

Starting Pitching: B   I may be in the minority, but I believe that this is the area where the team needs the most improvement, how small that improvement may be.  The rotation started off the year looking nearly indestructible.  They were mowing down batters and helping the team reach heights they hadn’t reached in years.  But then the problems began to spring up.  First, Bush pitched inconsistently start to start.  Second, Vargas, while pitching well, showed the ability to only pitch 5 innings.  Then, Good Cappy gets hurt and has yet to come back to form.  And then finally, our $42 million dollar man, Mr. Soup, has stopped just short of falling apart.  Ben Sheets continues to pitch well, but he needs to be joined by the other 4 members  of the rotation (one of which will hopefully be Yo by the start of the second have) to insure a playoff run in the second half.

Bullpen:  B+   This would have to be the surprise of the season, so far.  I would have thought, and did predict, that the bullpen would be our weakness this year.  Little did I know that Cordero and Turnbow would have great seasons, except for a few hiccups.  Then you thrown in the performance of Villy and you’ve got a great core out there.  All we need is either one veteran addition or for one of our middle guys to step up and perform consistently and we’ll be set.

Overall: B+/A-  Too close to call.  The weak play of the last week plus has put a sour taste in my mouth.  We managed to go 17-9 in April, 14-15 in May, 17-9 in June, and 2-6 so far in July.  The Crew has managed to maintain their hold on first place, but that is looking more and more shaky each game.  We’ve played very well, but that needs to continue on into the dog days of summer and into fall.

Individual Awards:

  • Team MVOP (Most Valuable Offensive Player): Prince Fielder
  • Team MVP (Most Valuable Pitcher): Tie (Ben Sheets and Francsico Cordero)
  • Biggest Surprise: Carlos Villanueva
  • Biggest Letdown: Jeff Suppan
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