Monday, September 8, 2014

They Are Who We Thought They Were

When former Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Dennis Green uttered those famous words, he was referring to the 2006 Chicago Bears--but that infamous line could just as easily describe the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers--whose late season slide has taken them out of first place and, as of this morning, out of the wild card lead as well.

While panic has set in at Miller Park , I would think that if you had surveyed fans where they thought the Crew would be with three weeks left to go, they would have been more than happy with five games over .500 and a half-game out in the National League Wild Card chase.  Because coming into the season, expectations for this squad were mediocre at best.  It's just the way the team over-achieved early in the season that now has the state they are in this fall looking like a total catastrophe.

This month-long slump is nothing more than the law of averages catching up to a team that was playing way over its collective heads.  The beauty of baseball is that the length of the season and sheer number of games played limits the possibility of fluke teams catching fire for a short period of time and riding that into the post-season, excellence over the long haul is almost always rewarded in the end.

The Brewers have glaring weaknesses and this past month they have all been on display for the world to see.  They are incredibly poor situational hitters--meaning they fail to drive in runners from third with fewer than two outs--and they fail to advance runners into scoring position while making outs.  They are below-average defensively and they are easily the worst baserunning team in baseball--often costing themselves outs and runs on the basepaths.  Their pitchers don't throw enough strikes and they lack power arms to get themselves out of jams with strikeouts.

While the calls are growing to fire Manager Ron Roenicke, the real person who should shoulder the blame for this mediocre mess is General Manager Doug Melvin.  Melvin is an "Old School Baseball Guy" who eschews the new strategy of Analytics in putting together a team.  I'm sure he sees basing roster development on career statistics and trends of both hitters and pitchers to be a "passing fad"--and that sitting around waiting for your poor-contact power hitters to club a bunch of three-run homers is going to return teams to glory any day now.  In the meantime, franchises directed by those who grew up on SABRmetrics will continue to dominate: St Louis, San Francisco, Oakland, the New York Yankees and Boston--pretty much every team that has won a World Series in the past decade.

In the meantime, Brewers fans shouldn't get so worked about about their teams late season swoon.  They just are who we thought they were.

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