The Brewers quite possibly reached their low point of the season last night as they were shut out by the Triple A team from Houston wrapping up a 1-3 quick trip to New York and Houston. This team and their manager better have done quite a bit of soul searching on the late night plane ride home or this could get really bad in a hurry.
- Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki are hitting a combined .228
- Rickie Weeks is batting .156
- Aramis Ramirez is down to .225 and has only two home runs in the cleanup spot
- Corey Hart is hitting .246 despite hitting .300 for the past week
Combine those stats with the season ending injuries to Chris Narveson, Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel and you begin to wonder if there is any hope for a change in fortune.
The pitching has actually been pretty solid lately despite the Randy Wolf blow-up yesterday and Marcum’s one bad inning. Yet the team continues to lose games and look nothing like the exciting team that made a run at the World Series last season.
Manager Ron Roenicke has proven in his 1+ season that he will give guys a really long leash as evidenced by sticking with Casey McGehee so long last season. I’m beginning to wonder if it is less of a long leash and just a lack of options.
The players called up to replace the injured have been largely unimpressive with the poster child being Brooks Conrad. He was hitting .400 in Nashville but is 0 – 19 in his at bats in the revolving door at first base while Taylor Green is hitting just .250. Edwin Maysonet is hitting .300 but has just 10 at bats in the Roenicke rotation. Instead Roenicke seems set on running the .217 hitting Cesar Izturis.
It is definitely time to start questioning some of the manager’s moves as well. When Rickie Weeks got plunked on the hand recently and had to miss a few games, Jonathan Lucroy moved into the number two spot in the batting order and produced as he has all season on his march to joining the catching elite in the National League.
Lucroy leads the team in batting at .333 and has had some clutch hits recently. His defense other than last night’s game has been stellar and the Brewers could well have landed a gem.
Once Weeks returned however, he was right back in the #2 spot and Lucroy headed back to the bottom of the order after all of the serious underachievers. The reasoning is sure to be that despite the batting average Weeks has walked 23 times and actually has an amazing .292 on base percentage given the low average and Lucroy offers some power at the bottom of the order.
Sticking with the combined .228 from the centerfield platoon is another questionable move by Roenicke. Aoki is hitting .286 but only starts against lefties while the manger continues to bat the .191 hitting Nyjer Morgan. Nyjer was a nice story last season and he brought energy and life as the team made their run but how can you possibly play a guy hitting almost 100 points lower than one you spent millions on to pry away from Japan?
Carlos Gomez will be back soon from his injury. He was hitting .280 before he got hurt and is by far the best defensive outfielder. He takes away at least one hit every game and sometimes makes it look easy. Does he still swing for the fences too much and perhaps not live up to his full potential? Sure, but he isn’t hitting .191 and once he is on base he is the next coming of Rickey Henderson.
How long Ron, how long?
Then there is my favorite Brewer to pick on. The $36 million dollar man Aramis Ramirez. He is seventh on the team in home runs (2) and tenth on the team in slugging percentage (.377). I don’t care if he leads off every time he hits due to the poor performance of the guys in front of him. The number four hitter in your lineup can’t have these kind of numbers.
People will talk about how he is a slow starter. Well folks we are now almost a quarter of the way into the season. When is it no longer the “start”.
But then who do you put there? Corey Hart is at least hitting for power but the guy is so streaky and has struggled outside of the five hole in his career so he probably isn’t the answer.
Not good news fans!
That leaves the team with two guys, Ryan Braun and Lucroy to carry it all and Braun, despite some decent numbers for the season, came up empty a few times this week with runners in scoring position. The pressure of having to do it all and the remnants of the off-season scandal will take their toll.
So now what?
Here are my recommendations to the skipper:
- Aoki has to start everyday in center until Gomez is back and then go back to the platoon with Gomez starting against the lefties. Aoki was a batting champion in Japan and plays above average defense. He is a great situational hitter and puts the ball in play. Let’s see what he can do. Nyjer, get your stuff together and come through in your limited opportunities and maybe we move you back into the mix.
- Make Lucroy your permanent number two hitter. I know Roenicke likes the pop at the bottom of the order but come on! Your second best hitter is a better option than the struggling Weeks.
- Give Travis Ishikawa the starting job at first and spell him with the others. His power display in New York and his approach at the plate make him your best option right now. Unless they go outside the organization this is what you have. Green and Conrad have proven to be great Triple A players. (that is NOT a compliment)
- Flop Hart and Ramirez in the order. Corey will be streaky everywhere and maybe it will take a little pressure off Ramirez and he can explode. Then flip them back. You have no problem tinkering with every other spot so why not. It can’t get worse.
- Put Weeks in the spot currently held by Lucroy. He offers the pop you are looking for and it is obvious that Rickie is putting too much pressure on himself. Say what you will about his performance but him and Gomez try as hard as anyone in the game and that isn’t always healthy
- Hope your pitching staff puts up a lot of zeroes. This might be your best option.