I wouldn’t be doing my duty as Channel 3000 Sports Blogger if I didn’t take some space to thank the Brewers for what was the most memorable season of baseball I’ve witnessed since I first came to Wisconsin many years ago. It wasn’t always pretty, but it’s been memorable.
It’s very satisfying as a sports fan when you can sense that the front office of a team knows what it’s doing, has a plan, and the plan pays off. Doug Melvin’s history of scouting and player development has been extraordinarily crucial to the Brewers over the past few seasons, as he and his staff have stocked the Brewers with young talent like Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and J.J. Hardy. What’s just as satisfying is that Brewer supporters realize this and have come out to the ballpark in record numbers, giving the Brewers one of the best home field advantages in baseball — well, except when the Cubs come to town.
Kudos also go to Brewers management for breaking out of the development mold when the right player becomes available — obviously I’m talking about C.C. Sabathia here — or for making difficult personnel moves when deemed necessary — obviously I’m talking about Ned Yost here. While no one can argue the positive impact that Sabathia had on this year’s team, surely some still question the unprecedented eleventh hour decision to can Yost. While we’ll never know if the Brewers would have won six of their last seven to make the postseason with Yost as manager, the fact remains that you can’t dispute the decision to hand Dale Sveum the reins because he did the job he was clearly given to do — stop the bleeding and get the Brewers to the postseason.
Now that the Brewers are in the playoffs, is Sveum’s job done? Should the Brewers and their fans be grateful just for reaching the postseason? Well, yes and no. No, because players on a good team with playoff expectations coming into the season (and the Brewers certainly had such expectations) should never and will never admit to being satisfied by not winning it all.
But fans should be satisifed. Because getting to the postseason in baseball is tough. 26 year drought tough. And it simply doesn’t look like the Brewers will get any further. The hitting, particularly as it pertains to Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and (providing the most dramatic, timely offense) Ryan Braun, has been there as of late. But the pitching, hit hardest by Ben Sheets’s unavailability — is in tatters. Outside of C.C. Sabathia’s heroics — and he has been their MVP, there is no doubt — it’s hard to have much confidence in the Brewers’ makeshift rotation. Maybe Yovani Gallardo or Dave Bush can surprise, and maybe Jeff Suppan — the Brewers’ most experienced postseason pitcher — can regain his form. But that’s a lot of maybes. And lest we forget that last time Sabathia reached the postseason, he had a total ERA of 8.80 over three games. Oh, and the Brewers’ bullpen isn’t that intimidating these days either.
Then let’s look at the NLDS matchup. The Brewers and Phillies played six times this season. The Phillies won five of those games. Ominously, four of those losses came in a September sweep that cost Ned Yost his job and caused Ryan Braun to utter the words “complete and total disaster” in describing the Brewers’ play. As much as it kills me to say, this has the makings of a Phillies sweep, but I’ll give the Brewers Sabathia’s start, making my official prediction Phillies in four.
But I’ve been wrong before. Look at my preseason baseball predictions, which can be reviewed here: https://c3ksportsblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/30/badgers-over-and-out-baseballbadgers-over-and-out-baseball/. I took the Red Sox, Indians, and Angels as my AL division winners, with the Yankees as the wild card. I defend myself by saying that no one predicted the Rays’ success and that I said that the Twins, who as of this writing are still in the playoff hunt, will be better than anticipated. In the NL, I took the Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers, with the Rockies as the wild card. In my defense, I got two of the playoff teams right, even though I was wildly off on the others. I took the Red Sox to repeat as World Champs, and if I had to pick again today before the playoffs start, I’d stick with that.
Enjoy the baseball playoffs. Here’s hoping that the Brewers stick around longer than I say they will and that Aaron Rodgers will NOT be watching the games while out recuperating his shoulder.