Happy Holidays everyone!
Since we are on the cusp of a new decade, I decided to put out the Milwaukee Brewers All-Decade team! This was quite an up and down decade for the Crew. We saw the end of our beloved Milwaukee County Stadium, but enjoyed the beauty that is Miller Park.
We saw the worst of the worst (3 straight years of finishing last in the NL Central including a 100 loss season) and something we hadn’t seen in over 20 years: Playoffs. We saw managers change (Lopes, Royster, Yost, Sveum, and Macha). We saw fan favorites come and go. We saw the rise of baseball in HD and a rise in Brewers payroll.
Yes, it was quite a roller coaster being a Brewer fan in the 00’s. To look back on the decade that was, here’s my 25-man All-Decade Roster.
C - The list of Brewers’ catchers from this decade reads like a sick joke: Bennett, Estrada, Bako, Moeller. It was hard to pick, but Damian Miller is my catcher of the decade. In ‘05 and ‘06, he was a solid catcher both offensively and defensively and had a lackluster ‘07 because of the amazingly underwhelming Johnny Estrada.
1B - Prince Fielder - It’s only been since ‘06 that the Brewers have had Fielder as their starting first baseman, but he’s only gotten better over time. He’s even had 2 seasons with over 40 HR’s. He’s been the leader of this Crew and has shown maturity beyond his years. He even improved his defense!
2B - Ron Belliard - We started off the decade with Belliard at second. He hit alright, but was great at the double play. He was part of turning 129 double plays in 2000.
3B -Ryan Braun - I don’t care how bad his defense was. I don’t care that he’s an outfielder more than a third baseman. He was the best third baseman the Brewers have and I’m putting him here, dammit. What else can you say about Ryan Braun? He’s a stud. He does it all. He hits for power and average. He’s the Hebrew Hammer. He likes really ugly MMA shirts. He’s cocky, but says the right things almost all the time. The best thing you can say about him: He’ll be a Brewer far into this next decade!
SS - JJ Hardy - This JJ brought all the ladies to the yard, but behind his female appeal was a great defensive shortstop with a lot of pop in his bat. He made the All-Star team in 2007. His fire continued in 2008 with over 20 home runs again (which is great for a shortstop).
OF - Carlos Lee - We put up with his lazy outfield because you could count on 100 RBI’s. Before Prince was ready for Prime Time, there was Carlos Lee. Even though the Crew only had him for 1 3/4 years, he delivered over 60 home runs and almost 200 RBI’s.
OF - Geoff Jenkins - Roaming the outfield until 2007, Geoff hit 182 home runs and 71 Outfield Assists for the Brewers this decade. Jenks was also voted into the All-Star game in 2004 by the Brewers fans! He ended up having a stellar year that year hitting .296 with 28 HR’s.
OF - Scott Podsednik - Milwaukee’s ROY runner up was the beginning of the resurgence of interest in the Brewers. While he really only had one good year with the Brewers (and only two overall), he set a Brewers record for most SB’s in a year.
1B - Richie Sexson - While I have never been the biggest fan of Sexson because he would choke under pressure, his numbers as a Brewer don’t lie. He hit 133 home runs in a Brewer, including two seasons with 45 (2001 and 2003). He was a two time All-Star and was involved in an amazing trade for the Brewers.
1B - Lyle Overbay - OK, so I have three first basemen. The Big O was a doubles machine after coming over in the Sexson trade and bridged the gap perfectly between Sexson and Fielder.
OF - Brady Clark - Most people laugh about Brady, but he was a solid member of the Brewers outfield for 4 years this decade. He hit an average of .283 and was a big part of 2005’s .500 year (which people forget was a big deal at the time)
INF - Mark Loretta - Mark had a really strong run in Milwaukee to start his career. And while most of his career was played in the previous decade, he still played for 2 3/4 of this one. Always one you could count on to get on base, Mark never had more than 60 strikeouts in a season.
OF - Corey Hart - Hart made his debut in 2004, but didn’t recieve the role of everyday starter until 2007. His speed and his bat make him a dynamic player even though his head has gotten in the way.
C - I guess you need two catchers on a 25 man roster so I pick Jason Kendall . I know there are a lot of fans who hate Kendall (such a strong feeling), but many of those fans don’t remember most of the catchers from this past decade. We didn’t have a Surhoff or a Nilsson. And I wouldn’t mind having a Jason Kendall who busts his ass every day on my team….problem is if this was real, he wouldn’t let me put him on the bench.
SP - Ben Sheets - Ben’s entire MLB career started in 2001 even though it seems like he’s been around for longer. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Cy Young and threw over 1200 K’s this decade. I won’t ever forget the day Jared and I saw Sheeter the night after he threw 18 K’s at a Bucks game (Jenkins had front row and Sheeter was sitting 8 rows back by us). He’s Milwaukee’s first legit ace since Higuera and I’d like to see him back in Brewer Blue.
SP - Doug Davis -Doug Davis isn’t flashy. He isn’t dominant. He isn’t fan friendly. He’s just there. And for 3+ years, he was the team’s dependable workhorse. Doug is the reason most Brewer fans check quality starts because 70% of his 2004 starts were quality, although he just won half.
SP - Chris Capuano - Yet another part of the Richie Sexson trade, Cappie was an All-Star in 2005. What people remember most about Capuano was his insane pick-off move which prompted umpires re-check their rule books about balks. He’s the final part of the MM3 (See Kolb)
SP - Yovani Gallardo - This young star in the making was better than expected in ‘09. He also was helpful down the playoff stretch in ‘08 (even though a freak accident derailed almost all of that season). I’m excited to see how Yo matures in this next decade.
SP - C.C. Sabathia - Sure he grabbed the cash and left, but before he did, he gave Milwaukee the kind of hero they had not seen in a long time. C.C. delivered the team to the playoffs and for that he will never be forgotten. We were able to see what C.C. would have been like in the playoffs had he not been used up, but most people would agree that the Brewers would have never gotten to the playoffs had he been used more sparingly.
RP - Dan Kolb - There are a group of pitchers I like to call the Mike Maddux Three. These pitchers had their highest levels of success under his tutelage and most came out of nowhere to become All-Stars, then fizzle away. The first of those three is Dan Kolb. Dan was all sorts of mediocre until in 2003 when he had an ERA of 1.99 and saved 21 games. The next year he saved 39 and became an All-Star. The following year, he was traded for Jose Capellan which was a move that benefited NO ONE.
RP -Derrick Turnbow - Turnbow is another member of the MM3. A fireballer picked off of waivers, Turnbow was known as the “Wild Thing”. He had wild hair and a wild streak, but his fastball could touch three digits. This streak caught up with him, but not before he was named to the All-Star game. Sadly, his bobblehead ended his career.
RP - Francisco Cordero - Another in the streak of Brewers All-Star Relievers, Cordero was a name on the Carlos Lee trade that quickly became so valuable, people forgot how bad Kevin Mench was. CoCo came in to Click, Click, Boom and saved 44 games with a 2.98 ERA. He was lost to Cincinatti because they offered him a couple extra million the following year.
RP - Brian Shouse - Lefty specialists are in high demand nowadays and the Brewers had a great one in Brian Shouse. When he was picked up, most people said “Who?”, but this lefty had 2+ strong years in Milwaukee and had a cult following.
RP - Trevor Hoffman - OK, so he only had one year in Milwaukee, but you would agree it was a great one, right? He exceeded expectations and was a highlight in a disappointing ‘09 effort. Plus he was the capper on a decade that saw 6 Brewers pitchers become All-Stars.
RP - I have one more reliever spot and it’s hard to give it to just one person because there were so many players that were similar. They weren’t great, but they were who the Brewers had so my last reliever is Matts DeSkanick . That’s right. A hybrid of Matt Wise, Mike DeJean, Curtis Leskanic, and Brooks Kieschnick. They were all middle of the road relievers, but were necessary or had a small following of fans at the time. (If Jared or Tyler could make a photoshop of this, that would be awesome)
Manager - Ned Yost - Love him or hate him, he’s the man that took the Brewers from awful to competitive.
There you have it! Feel free to post your own! I know we’re all looking forward to another up and down decade of Brewer baseball. I hoped to do a Brewer of the Decade Vote in lieu of a fan favorite vote, but we’ll see if the site is around long enough for that.