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The downward slide

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Before I launch into a flurry of bullet points, I want to point everyone over to From Robin to Rickie, where the authors have been posting daily WPA spreadsheets and graphs, and check the minor league news for highlights. I wish I had the time to do all that every day...as an alternative, I'm glad someone else is doing it.

Now, we're all depressed after last night's painful loss to the Astros. Let's look at the good news and the bad:

  • It's amazing how fast Geoff Jenkins can get hot. Last week we were complaining about all of his strikeouts, mixed in with the occasional useless ground single. Now every ball he swings at seems to land at least 380 feet away.

  • Carlos Lee shows no signs of cooling down, either; the league seems to be convinced he's one scary cleanup hitter, so it appears he'll continue to rack up the walks until he proves otherwise. On the telecast last night, the trivia question asked who were the last two Brewers to hit 30 HRs without striking out 100 times. Long time Milwaukee fans know full well how rare that is on a team with the likes of Richie Sexson, Jeromy Burnitz, and Geoff Jenkins, along with the immortals, Rob Deer and Gorman Thomas. Carlos did it last year--the first Brewer since Cecil Cooper in 1983. He's comfortable on pace to do it again.

  • For some reason, it's always painful to me to watch a good non-closer relief pitcher like Matt Wise get shelled. Maybe it's the one time in my life I'm empathetic...I don't know. Last night, of course, was monumentally painful. Obviously, Matt wasn't pitching all that well last night--5 runs in an inning attest to that. On the flip side, I think we can remain confident that this is just a blip for a very consistent pitcher. What impressed me the most was, after Jason Lane's bomb, Wise quickly retired the next two batters. I don't know if anybody else in our bullpen would've done that.

  • Speaking of the bullpen, it appears that Dan Kolb is okay, though he won't rejoin the team until after the series in Houston. New stories are referring to a "suddenly depleted" bullpen--fine, no Rick Helling and no Dan Kolb--but there are still six guys out there, four or five of whom should be very competent. I was surprised to see Capellan pitching for a second straight day, especially with Justin Lehr available (I assume, anyway).

  • It is very, very strange to be a Brewer fan worrying about bench players getting playing time. Only six months ago we were in the Chris Magruder era. Now Gabe Gross seems to have cemented his spot as the 4th OF and go-to lefty pinch hitter, which makes Corey Hart...what? On the managerial track? Doug Melvin has repeatedly said that Corey has nothing left to prove in AAA--darn right he doesn't. But it's the third week of the season, and he's gotten exactly three ABs. I'm not saying he needs to start four times a week, but can he spot Jenkins one day a week (back before Geoff got hot, anyway)? What about Prince? No need to send him out there every time Zach Duke or Andy Pettitte is on the hill. Hart, obviously, is no Magruder, no Alex Sanchez, no James Mouton. He deserves better than this.
I've gotta run, but we've got a lot to think about in this young season. I'd be happier to have problems of the get-bench-guys-ABs sort if we were 9-4 instead of 7-6, but as is, there's a lot of room for improvement. The bullpen's still got some shaking out to do, and someday I'm going to spontaneously combust with Chad Moeller batting for himself in an important late-game situation.

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