3 MLB Fanbases Already in Full-On Panic Mode
Over a 162-game MLB schedule, two weeks' worth of games are largely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
However, that does little to stop fans from reacting and many times overreacting to how their favorite team kicks off the season.
For three teams in particular, the panic meter has swung all the way into the red, and their fanbases are in full-on panic mode here in the second week of the season.
Despite boasting the highest-scoring offense in the National League last season, the Milwaukee Brewers fell short of the postseason thanks in large part to the worst bullpen (4.66 ERA) in the majors.
With all the key pieces of their offense returning, the team set out to shore up its bullpen this spring with the additions of Mike Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop and Tom Gorzelanny.
The moves looked good on paper, but so far the bullpen has been an issue once again, and the offense has been unable to pick up the slack, as the team has opened the year 2-6.
Tom Haudricourt, Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, put the current panic level of Brewers fans at DEFCON 1 following a recent fan chat:
Haudricourt) April 10, 2013
On the season, Brewers relievers have put up a 6.11 ERA, and closer John Axford has been the biggest culprit, as he's allowed nine earned runs and four home runs over 3.1 innings of work.
Badenhop (8.10 ERA) and Gonzalez (13.50 ERA) have been terrible as well, and the closer's role has already been turned over to Jim Henderson.
On the offensive side of things, Corey Hart opened the season on the disabled list, and Aramis Ramirez recently joined him with a sprained knee. Ryan Braun has also missed time with neck spasms.
In their absence, Rickie Weeks (.242 BA), Jonathan Lucroy (.185 BA) and Carlos Gomez (.176 BA) have done little to pick up the slack, and as a result, the team has scored just 32 runs over its first eight games.
Getting their potent offense at 100 percent will go a long way toward improving things, but the Brewers will need to sort out their bullpen if they want to avoid the same struggles they endured last season.
Los Angeles Angels
Last offseason, the Los Angeles Angels spent big to add free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, only to fall short of the postseason with an 89-73 record.
They took the same approach to turning things around this offseason, spending big again by adding slugger Josh Hamilton on a five-year, $125 million deal.
Perhaps more importantly, however, they overhauled their starting rotation when they replaced Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Zack Greinke with Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson.
With arguably baseball's best lineup and a reworked pitching staff, combined with the Texas Rangers losing a number of key players, the Angels entered the season as the odds-on favorites in the AL West.
Last season, the team opened the season 8-15, and this year the Angels have once again stumbled out of the gates to a 2-6 record.
Hamilton has led the way as far as disappointment goes, opening the season in a 1-for-20 slump with 10 strikeouts. In much the same way Pujols stumbled out of the gates last season, Hamilton's struggles have been front and center.
Matt Meyers, ESPN MLB editor, helped put the slump into perspective in a recent tweet, though it likely does little to soothe the concerns from Angels fans at this point:
Josh Hamilton went 2-for-31 over a 7-game stretch last July. Pretty sure Rangers didn't panic and Angels shouldn't either.— Matt Meyers (@mtmeyers) April 10, 2013
The struggles go beyond the performance of Hamilton, though, as the team has scored just 34 runs through the first eight games of the year, while the pitching staff has posted a 5.23 ERA.
Ace Jered Weaver has landed on the DL with a fractured non-throwing elbow, and the rest of the starting rotation aside from Vargas has struggled.
At the plate, Pujols hit just .227 before a 4-for-4 night on Wednesday, and Mike Trout has just one steal and zero home runs, as the highly touted lineup has yet to live up to expectations.
On the one hand, there is a ton of room for improvement, but on the other hand, little has gone well to this point. Regardless of the upside, fans have pressed the panic button.
Toronto Blue Jays
No team entered the season with more hype than the Toronto Blue Jays, as they had an incredibly busy offseason that pushed a team on the upswing to the ranks of legitimate contender in the American League.
The Jays acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio from the cost-cutting Marlins and landed Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in a trade with the Mets.
Those two blockbuster deals cost the team a handful of its best prospects, and it's clear the organization has gone all-in on winning in the very near future.
With those lofty expectations weighing on them, the Blue Jays opened the season 2-5 in the first week, and the odds are stacked against them as a result, according to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (h/t John Dujay of Canada.com):
According to STATS LLC, 80 teams started exactly 2-5 since the playoffs expanded in 1995. Eight reached the postseason. To say it another way: During that span, only 10 percent of teams with the Jays’ current outlook have gone on to qualify for October.
Offensively, Brett Lawrie has yet to make his debut, and a sprained ankle has limited Jose Bautista, but there have been problems beyond those injuries.
Edwin Encarnacion in particular has struggled mightily, going just 4-for-31 at the plate, and the team as a whole has hit well below expectations with a .236/.304/.436 line and 33 runs scored during the 3-5 start.
The pitching hasn't been much better, and newcomers Dickey (0-2, 8.44 ERA) and Buehrle (0-0, 10.24 ERA) have struggled mightily in their two starts. The staff as a whole has a 5.05 ERA, as they've struggled up and down the staff.
The Blue Jays are still a supremely talented team on paper, but the early returns have certainly given fans reason to panic, as Toronto has struggled in every facet of the game so far.
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