Ah... spring has sprung in theory, and now a season of hope is upon us.
The Brewers, a team that is a national laughing stock, is soon to begin the 2005 regular season.
They are still a huge long shot to play a single meaningful game in September, let alone in October.
Their goal is not the World Series, but to finish at .500; 81-81, out of the playoff race early.
They have one legitimate star who will only play every fifth game. They have a starting shortstop
who has never played a big league game. They have a starting rotation filled with three cast-offs,
and a fourth yet to be determined cast-off. Their bullpen has been ravaged by trades. They traded
their All-Star closer and his setup man. They signed only one mid-level free agent. Their starting
center fielder, first baseman, second baseman, and third basemen will be fellow cast-offs. Who
in their right mind could be a fan of this team? Why would anyone want to listen to any game
played by them other than to hear the Uke call the play-by-play? Even though I believe 70 wins
is a more believable goal, I remain a fan. I think the Brewers have more to be proud of in the
last four years than any other team in baseball. Why? I'll give you some reasons.
First of all, I give you the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Mets.
The Clippers and Mets have no excuses because they play in the two biggest markets in sports.
These are teams who have people in their front offices that I would not trust to run the local
McDonald's restaurant. Anyone who can take the monetary resources they have and lose so consistently
deserves to be taught wrist strengthening exercises so that they can properly flip a burger,
not run a multi-million dollar enterprise. This year, everyone loves the Mets. The last time the
Mets were predicted to be a contender was when they acquired Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, and a host
of other high priced free agents. They still sucked. This year, they may be better off, but probably
will still suck. Any GM who will trade a prospect like Kasmir for a pitcher like Victor Zambrano is
bound to fail, and fail miserably.
The Brewers have a GM who has not only made no real boneheaded moves, but has also found new levels
of GM quality by drafting well and unearthing a diamond in the rough or two. He has made more from
the waiver wire than the Mets have made out of the millions they threw at Mo Vaughn by a long shot.
Dan Kolb, a frequently injured pitcher jettisoned from one of the worst pitching staffs in recent
baseball history, became an All Star closer and a top flight pitching prospect in a trade. Scott
Podsednik turned into a solid center fielder, and then a legitimate .280/30/100 guy in a trade.
Thanks to Toby's Top 50 Prospects, most of the frequent visitors to this site know all about the
avalanche of talent that JJ Hardy will start. Laymen fans will soon learn quickly and the stands
will fill. All by placing the right people in the right positions.
Speaking of which, Mike Maddux also fits the bill. All the pitchers seem to like him, and he seems
able to get more out of pitchers than others could (see Victor Santos). Ben Sheets likes him and
may stay at least partially because of him.
One sign that the sun may be shining on the Brewers franchise is that of all the prospects that the
Brewers currently have, the biggest weakness is third base. Last year seemed like a lock for the Brewers
to finish .500 until a late season collapse of epic proportions sent them into the fifth pick in the
draft. The fall from grace was terrible to watch, and may have seemed like a kiss of death for the
franchise. The silver lining of the situation is that we now have a high draft pick in a strong draft
featuring the deepest pool of third basemen in recent history.
Another thing to be proud of is that the Brewers payroll was a mere fraction of many other teams, and
yet they were competitive for most of the year. Small market teams that make the playoffs like the
Twins and the Athletics got to their status as contenders the same way the Brewers are doing it, by
stockpiling young talent, making shrewd moves, and keeping what is worth keeping.
Finally, I bring you the experts. The experts always seem to dismiss us as losers. They have far more
important articles to write about steroids, and about 40 year old players. The Brewers don't sell national
magazines, and thus do not get written about. As much as Dickie Vitale loves Duke, the baseball writers
write about steroids, the Yankees, and the Red Sox. In the NCAA previews, the most trusted writers picked
Wake Forest in the final four. The most trusted writers chose us last in the division as well. Lets hope
that they are as wrong about us as they were about Wake Forest.