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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks will need to play better for team to survive injuries. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi)

In Sports Commentary

New Brewers third baseman will have to heat up soon. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi)

Brewers can make a run despite injury problems

You're driving down the highway, speeding a little, but other cars are passing you by when you notice that there is a cop, light flashing, right behind you and he's signalling for you to pull over.

Think of the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. Part sickness. Part hopelessness. Part "Oh, Crap!"

That's kind of the feeling that you are probably getting as you watch the Milwaukee Brewers of 2012 blow up in a hail of torn tendons and other assorted maladies for which there is no planning, no preparation. There also may be no bouncing back.

Last year the Brewers got off to a slow start, but the spirits of the team and the city never suffered, because we all knew that was a good club and it was just a matter of time.

This year they are also off to a slow start, but that same confidence in missing, drowned in the pool of the disabled list.

Chris Narvelson, Mat Gamel and now Alex Gonzalez are lost. That's two-thirds of the starting infield. Then Carlos Gomez is out for a while.

And anyone who saw Ryan Braun limp around the bases after his home run in San Francisco Saturday can't help but think that Achilles injury is more serious than people originally thought.

With this situation facing the Brewers, there will soon be more questions than answers about this team and the pressure will start to build to "do something."

The big problem is that the "something" might not be much better than the problem you are trying to solve.

First of all let's look at the trade route, because the blather on sports talk radio is sure to be filled with possible "deals." But the team faces a formidable task when it comes to making a meaningful trade.

First of all they don't have a lot of high value stuff to trade. Once you get past Braun, Gallardo and Greinke, the drop off in trade-able players becomes pretty severe.

They aren't going to trade Braun or Gallardo. Greinke, with his salary issues, could be traded, but what you get for him is likely to be the equal of what you give up. It's not a net win for the Brewers, unless they got a boatload of high hope prospects. And in that case it doesn't help much this year.

Another path is to bring up more players from the minors, put them in the lineup, and hope that lightning strikes. If you accept that the Brewers have a very good pitching staff – not an unreasonable assumption – then you have to find people who can both hit and play defense. Nobody would say that the cupboard is barren, but the Brewers have traded some pretty good prospects away in recent years. They could use some of those guys now.

The final school of thought is that the players they have just have to play better. That one may well be the best and most likely solution to the problems of the team.

They have a whole raft of players who are hitting significantly below their career averages; including Aramis Ramirez, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan and Travis Ishikawa. In addition, Norichika Aoki should be better than a .240 hitter.

The easy temptation to give in to is the one that writes this team off so early in the season. Say well, too bad but with so many guys hurt, we'll just have to wait until next year.

But if there's one thing I've learned about professional sports is that just when you think you've got things figured out, the surprises start coming and the world turns around.

If they can get the players they have back to the level we have a right to expect, then it's way too early to cash in our chips on this season.


einstein | May 9, 2012 at 8:39 p.m. (report)

Begel you are at your best when you cover baseball.

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mp51 | May 8, 2012 at 9:25 p.m. (report)

sorry david, but i fear the brewers are toast. my cardinals have a really good team, even without what's his name...

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