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THE BREWERS ARE TREADING WATER

Going into tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks, our local heroes find themselves 10 ½ behind the surprising Cincinnati Reds. On August 10, this seems to be insurmountable. Like last year, the team is treading water with little hope of surviving.  No major moves were made at the trading deadline and yesterday they shipped Jim Edmonds to the same Reds for outfielder Chris Dickerson in a head scratcher.

This sorry performance begins and ends with the pitching staff. There is something in recent years about a pitcher putting on a Brewers jersey. It’s like they transform themselves into an imposter, struggling to find their control, looking so much like nephew Nick in an American Legion game. The list is long and painful. Let’s begin with 2006, the first year of my season tickets and Doug Melvin’s fourth year as General Manager. Millions have been wasted on Tomo Ohka, Derrick Turnbow, Jeff Suppan, Claudio Vargas (twice), Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota, Doug Davis (twice), Braden Looper and this year LaTroy Hawkins. I was going to put Randy Wolf on this list but the jury is still out on him. Early indications, however, seem to be leading toward inclusion. In this 5 -year period, the Brewers have employed 60 different pitchers. This number is somewhat skewed since in 2006 they used an incredible 27 different pitchers! Talk about throwing it against the wall and see if it will stick.

Between the lines, they are under so much pressure to win that they would rather use “proven” veterans than untested rookies. The fans have been loyal to a fault but for the first time in three years the club will draw less than 3 million. Their percentage attendance drop is the second highest in the league. The club says it will lose money this year. The more the attendance drops, the less revenue will be available to sign players such as Rickie Weeks.

There is always a constant air of  false optimism among the organization because they know if they come clean about the underlying factors that prevent them from being a consistent winner, the fans will leave in droves.

The promise of being a contender every year once Corey Hart, JJ Hardy, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks began playing regularly is being squandered by this lack of pitching prowess. Already Hardy has been traded and Fielder will probably be at year’s end. This window of opportunity has now closed thanks to the club’s inability to groom its own pitchers and it’s sorry history of free agents signings.

Because of this, the Brewers will no longer sign pitchers to long term contracts having been burned so often, and unless their pitching prospects begin to show more than potential, this club will be need floatation devices for years to come.




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