Loving and Hating the Milwaukee Brewers
Let me start this off by saying I am no fair-weather fan. I’m not one of the people who jumped on the Brewer band wagon last year when they started winning, or when they signed CC Sabathia for a major flop of a contract before he left town to play for the pinstripes.
No, I’ve been a Brewer’s fan since before I could walk. My grandmother would take me to games at County Stadium—that’s right, I remember County Stadium—and the love affair started there.
It hasn’t stopped since. It didn’t end when we lost 100 games in 2002. It didn’t end last year when we almost didn’t make the playoffs, and lost 3-1 to the Phillies when we did. No, I bleed for this team—always have, always will.
However, I’ve got some griping to do lately. For starters, why do our managers insist on hanging on to Jeff Suppan? All the fans, even the fair-weather ones, hate him. I know I’m not the only one who will second-guess going to a game if he’s starting.
Granted, that’s always a fleeting thought, because maybe Prince and Braun will hit two homers a piece and the three that Soup gives up won’t mean anything. But really, his better days are behind him.
In case Doug Melvin hasn’t noticed yet, Bud Selig no longer owns this team—there’s a new sheriff in town, and I know Attanasio isn’t the type to ignore the fans like the Commish did.
Two more players I can’t understand why we’ve kept around are Bill Hall and Mike Cameron. I need to preface this quickly though. I was at the first Mother’s Day game where Bill Hall belted one with a pink bat to win the game—in fact, I was about a section away from where it went out.
As for Cameron, he’s definitely come through in some clutch situations this season, such as when he pulled that home run back from over the fence last week. Having said that, we need to get rid of both of these guys. Hopefully for them, a change of scenery will be all it takes. I really do hope they can continue somewhere else.
Getting rid of Tony Gwynn Jr. was one of the most bone-headed moves ever. We have an aging center fielder that has at most two to three years left; he’s been playing for 14 years! Gwynn is every bit as good as Cameron on the base paths. He’s got speed and is quickly showing in San Diego that his bat could be as good as his dad’s once was.
The only area Gwynn trails Cameron is power, and if you haven’t noticed, the Brewers already have two All-Stars hitting 3-4 in the lineup. With the addition of Casey McGehee and the resurrection of his career, we have decent protection for them.
Add in a consistent Mat Gamel—whom I’ll get to in a second—and you’ve got a great heart to a lineup. That’s ignoring Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy, who’ve both proven to be able to hit homers and steal bases when needed.
All I’m saying is if the Brewers intend to keep both Prince and Braun around for years to come, they need to lighten the salary load, and both Suppan and Cameron would be great places to start.
Quickly, let me touch on the Bill Hall issue. Personally, I love the guy. He’s always been a solid fielder—at least he doesn’t miss two easy catches for every great play he makes like Cameron does—and throughout his career, has been willing to do whatever it took to keep the Brewers on the right track. In the span of two years, he went from third base to the outfield, back to third.
However, Mat Gamel’s time is NOW. Any issues with his bat could be remedied by consistent playing time—as shown during the interleague stretch last month.
His glove will come along—after all, he’s playing next to one of the great fielding shortstops in the game in J.J. Hardy. The Brewers biggest problem is that they refuse to believe in their young talent—a notion that unfortunately has stuck around since the Selig era. These guys are the future of this club (or in Gwynn’s case, were).
When Prince and Braun do decide to ride off into the sunset for greener pastures, we need to have a foundation in place so we fans don’t have to sit through another 10 losing seasons 'til the next few good years. If we keep dealing our best prospects, Braun and Fielder are going to jump ship to the American League that much quicker.
As for free-agency/trade talks, I’m not coming up with anything new. We need a new arm. Maybe two. I say we deal any/all of the aforementioned Hall, Cameron and Suppan to get someone. I know that no team is willing to admit yet that they’re dealing.
But the trade deadline is coming up. Maybe it’s time to put the screws to someone – especially during the All-Star Break. If there’s one thing Melvin has been good at, it’s doing that. However, this time it needs to be someone we have a hope of enticing to stay around for awhile.
Lastly, I just have a quick word for Ken Macha—chill the **** out. I’m all for winning now, but if you don’t let guys take at-bats in the bottom of the ninth, they’re never going to be ready come September and October. We saw that last year.
I know you did a great job in Oakland for a few years. But this ain’t Oak-town, bud. Let the young guys make mistakes, and let the guys who’ve been here before lead the way. This train will eventually get the station on time.
Evidence of that: We just dropped three of four to the Cubs, yet have a chance before the break to open a three-game lead on the Cardinals. The time is now, but you gotta have faith. To me, that sums up all of the Brewers problems right now—you gotta have faith, from the top of the organization down to the bat boys.
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