As soon as Rick Peterson agreed to come to Milwaukee, Brewers fans heaped expectations on the pitching coach to vastly improve a staff that was among the worst in all of baseball last year. Despite the additions of Randy Wolf, Doug Davis and LaTroy Hawkins, transforming the Brewers pitching staff into an above average group still seems to be a very tall task given how poorly they performed last season.
Peterson doesn’t appear to be interested in tempering the expectations of Brewers fans, however.
“When you take a ball club that won 80 games last year and had one of the worst starting pitching statistical numbers in all of baseball, you realize that it is time to make some changes at that particular time, and ultimately that’s going to make a huge difference,” Peterson said in an interview with 1250 WSSP.
He added that fans should be confident in this team going into the 2010 season.
“I think this is a really exciting time for Milwaukee because with the kind of fanbase that they have with the team that was on the field last year and the run production in the middle of that lineup with Prince and Braun, you’re talking about the potential of a really special team,” Peterson said. “If the pitching can come together and match what the players on the field did last year, this could be some exciting times for Milwaukee Brewers fans.”
There’s a part of me that’s wary of buying into the Peterson factor. We’re officially past the “Hot Stove” season and into the period of boundless optimism that preludes each baseball season. Nearly every story we read, every interview we hear and every bit of news that comes across the computer screen over the next two plus months will be positive. Some veteran will be in the best shape of his life. Another guy will have made an adjustment at the plate and be on the verge of his best season ever. One of the pitchers will add a pitch that will suddenly make him dominant. We’ll overanalyze every Spring Training pitch and at bat. And we’ll fall in love with the Brad Nelsons and Gary Glovers of the world. As a Brewers fan, I’ve bought into a lot of false hope over the years and it usually wears off well before the calendar turns from April to May.
That said, I can’t help but get excited whenever I listen to this guy talk pitching. He is fully immersed in the art of pitching — the advanced statistical analysis, breaking down deliveries, forming detailed individual strategies tailored to each pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses, developing confidence and mental toughness in the pitchers… He says exactly what I want my team’s pitching coach to say and his past results back him up. He seems to be the mentor young pitchers like Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra need and the foundation veterans like Wolf, Davis and Hawkins can thrive with.
The additions Doug Melvin brought in this offseason will no doubt help the Brewers improve their pitching staff in 2010, but if Peterson delivers on the expectations the fans and organization are placing on his shoulders, he could be the most important offseason addition.