By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Aug 26, 2007 at 5:29 AM
You're angry, and that's OK.

You're frustrated, and nobody will fault you for that.

You've been a Brewers fan for a long, long time and you were positive that this was the year it was all supposed to come together. The young farm studs were finally here, Miller Park was generating the revenue to sign a big-time pitcher and the team was finally going to end that quarter-century post-season drought.

Now that those dreams have fallen apart, you're looking for somebody to blame.

Early in the year, the Brewers' woes have been the fault of the glut of outfielders; Geoff Jenkins, Kevin Mench and the out-of-place Bill Hall were the main culprits that were holding the Brewers back.

Derrick Turnbow -- who considering his meltdown of a year ago is doing nothing short of incredible work this season -- later became the lightning rod for fan frustrations with a handful of shaky outing midway through the season.

When those options failed, nobody was a better human target that manager Ned Yost, who is still considered the biggest buffoon in Wisconsin since Joe McCarthy. Yost has been reviled for his choices of starting lineups, his loyalty to players, his penchant for letting players try to work their way out of slumps and for his game-management abilities in general.

But even Yost, the horrible, dream-crushing monster that many fans have painted him to be, isn't responsible for the Brewers losing their once-healthy 7 1/2-game lead in the National League Central Division. He may have made some mistakes, but in the end, the buck stops with the players.

If fans are looking for somebody to blame, here are a couple names: Chris Capuano, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas.

Four of the five members of the Brewers' starting rotation on Opening Day (We'll get to Ben Sheets in a few moments, hold your venom for now) are the real villains behind this act of self-destruction.

Let's start with Capuano. The left-hander looked to be a stud-in-waiting and was even considered the staff ace by some after his 18-victory effort in 2005. He began the 2006 campaign 10-4, earning an all-star berth, but has racked up just six victories against 19 losses since. He was pulled from the rotation after failing to pick up a victory in 16 consecutive starts and has been saddled with a loss in his last 11 outings, including a relief appearance Friday night after being sent to the bullpen.

Varags -- known around the press box as a "deadline-killer" -- wasn't supposed to be a dominant pitcher. As the fifth starter, his job was to eat up innings while not costing his team a chance to win. He fulfilled 50 percent of his task for much of the season; the Brewers were 16-6 in games he had started, but he wreaked havoc on the bullpen, struggling regularly to pitch past the fifth or sixth innings. Vargas was staked to a 3-0 lead Friday night, but completely blew it by allowing six runs in the bottom of the first and was yanked before the end of the inning.

Bush led the Brewers in victories last year with 12, but has been plagued by his inability to avoid the big inning this year. He consistently pitched a gem of a ballgame, only to waste the offensive efforts of his teammates by giving up the lead and the game in one fell swoop.

Then there's Suppan, the Brewers' $42-million-man. Signed in the off-season as a free agent, the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 National League Championship series has been a tremendous disappointment.

Even Yovani Gallardo, who was prematurely anointed as the Brewers' next ace-in-waiting can't escape the black cloud hovering over the pitcher's mound. He was seemingly flawless for his first month with the team, but has quickly fallen apart after being shelled for 18 combined runs in eight innings of work at Colorado and against St. Louis. He did, to be fair, right his ship in a 9-0 victory at Arizona last week, but allowed five runs in four innings of work Saturday night in San Francisco.

Now, as promised, let's talk about Ben Sheets. Before he was injured (yes, again), Sheets was 10-6 and a lock for the All-Star Game. He was tied for the National League lead in victories, and looked like he was finally living up to the hype that had surrounded him since he was drafted. It's easy to call him an injury-prone, overrated pitcher, but it's just not the case.

Yes, having Sheets available in the rotation would have made things very different this year, but there are still four other starters that haven't pulled their weight. As for his injuries, look at it this way: would you rather have him battling freak, almost unheard of ailments (ear infection, tearing an obscure back muscle, breaking a fingertip), or would you prefer him to tear his rotator cuff or blow out his elbow?

Things in that regard could be substantially worse.

The rotation was supposed to be the glue that held this young team together in 2007. Losing Ben Sheets to another freak injury didn't help matters very much. General manager Doug Melvin thought that he had put together a solid crop of starters capable of supporting the Brewers' first potent offense in recent memory. If this slide is ever going to stop, the starters will need to get their act together fast. It's tough to win a pennant when you're top three starters go two months without winning a game. 

A lot has gone wrong for the Brewers this season and it's perfectly acceptable to be upset and it's just as acceptable to blame somebody. But despite popular opinion, this dream-turned-disaster isn't the fault of an overpaid outfielder, an embattled ex-closer, or a manager in his first pennant race as the top guy.

Go ahead and point your fingers, but make sure you're aiming at the right place.