During a year that most Brewers fans would call a disappointment, let's look a little deeper and see some of the not so obvious things that the Brewers did right this season.
Chris Narveson made 25+ starts: A former second round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, Chris finally got a legit shot at proving he is worthy a spot in a Major League rotation. His numbers do not jump out at you but the ones you need to look at are his ERA as a starter, as of Sept. 13 (5.05): 109 Ks to only 42 BBs in 133 innings pitched -- while allowing 135 hits. Those numbers, aside from the high ERA are workable numbers for a pitcher in his first full year starting. Chris has earned himself an opportunity to be next year's number five, and barring a slow start I expect him to have a better season statistically in 2011.
The Brewers locked up Yovani Gallardo and Corey Hart: Locking up players to long-term deals are almost always more beneficial to the organization than the players but can be mutually good for both. For the team, it's locking up talent allows that said talents' salary to become an absolute. They're then able to very accurately add more talent via free agency. If a team signs a player to a good deal (lower salary, high value) the player then becomes even more attractive to prospective trade partners. Signing Yovani and Corey puts the Brewers in great position for the years to come. The Brewers now have three all stars under the age of 30 inked to long-term deals. With a deal with Rickie Weeks most likely in the works the Brewers are continually putting them self in great position for the long term.
The Brewers gave John Axford a chance in the 9th: The Brewers have once again hit pay dirt with finding a successful closer out of nowhere. Axford has shown that he is quite competent in the high pressure 9th inning by going 21-23 in save opportunities. He no doubt has benefited from the presence of the all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. Having Trevor around to mold a young closer is the biggest plus you could ask for in your bullpen wish list. In a season that was lost long ago, keeping Hoffman (who is, by far, the classiest guy in all professional sports) will have a huge impact on the performance of the guys in the bullpen for seasons to come.
Chris Capuano made it back in the rotation: Cappy is another pitcher whose numbers don't jump up and off the page but the season provided the opportunity for him to get his arm back in shape via the rotation. Capuano had his second Tommy John surgery. This surgery is a largely successful one the first time around but the success rate drops dramatically when you have it performed a second time. With the season progressing as it was, placing him in the rotation for a struggling Manny Parra was the right thing to do. Cappy, a former All Star, needed the innings to rebuild his arm strength and get himself back into form. Also by removing Manny from the rotation the Brewers keep his salary down during his first few arbitration years. The more starts you have, the more money you get. If he were to continue to get a higher pay grade he may find himself too rich for the Brewers and he may run out of chances with this organization. The talented lefty is not a lost cause by any means, his skill set is very high.
The Brewers have done a lot correctly for a very long time: The Milwaukee Brewers support staff, trainers, traveling secretary, grounds crew Clubhouse attendants and security crew are some of the best in the game. Having these types of people in place helps make Milwaukee a great organization to play for. Having people who care about Milwaukee in positions that players deal with every day helps make playing for Milwaukee feel a bit more like home. This is something that is always understated and undervalued but without them it wouldn't be the same.
Finally, the Selig statue: The Brewers honoring Bud Selig by erecting a statue of him at Miller Park was a brilliant move. Anytime you can honor the Boss without looking like you're brown nosing is always good.
I hope that brings a little light to what most consider dark days. It's always best as a fan to step back and look at the big picture as well as the ups and downs of the wins and losses in the 162 game season.
As a Milwaukee native I'll always have a soft spot for the Brew Crew. Great to hear the perspective of a player on these kinds of things. Hope you keep blogging and that you come back as a Brewer, Seth!
I've missed Seth! Great to see him blogging about the Brewers - still wish he was with the team.
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