clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Chorus Grows Louder

John Brattain, a regular at The Hardball Times, checks in today with his take on what went wrong for the Crew.  (Guess what: it wasn't that Prince Fielder didn't hit enough home runs!)

There isn't a lot in here that won't be old hat to regular readers of this site, but it's nice to get confirmation.  Some highlights:

Come the end of the first month, Turnbow alone had appeared 13 times. The "three-headed relief monster" [Wise/Bow/Coco] had pitched in games won 9-4, 7-3 and 5-2 in addition to the games where their presence was legitimately needed. Of course, when you start 24-10, it must be working, right?

I'm not a fan of the selective endpoints, though:

Villanueva, who had done an amazing job in a swing role, started to crumble (0-2, 11.25 ERA over five appearances in July), and Wise's reliable change became less reliable. After a decent home stretch immediately after the All-Star break, the Brewers went on the road and the bullpen collapsed.

The carnage continued and Yost tried to get his un-stretched-out starters to go deeper into games. He finally managed to push Vargas to eight innings in a 12-2 win over St. Louis on July 27. That effort proved calamitous-- Vargas went 1-2, 9.00 ERA over his subsequent five starts, ended up on the DL and finished the season in relief. Multiple leads in Cincinnati and St. Louis were frittered away, including the infamous effort on July 28 when Milwaukee let a 6-0 lead dissolve into an 7-6 defeat in the first game of a day/night doubleheader.

Drained physically (and I suspect mentally), the group was unable to rise to the occasion. Wise hit a Reds batter in the face and it affected him so much he became a train wreck posting a 10.45 ERA over his final 16 outings. With the team desperate for assistance, Grant Balfour was brought up from Nashville. Balfour was the proverbial gas on a fire, losing two games outright and generally being awful.

I know I get repetitive sometimes, but I just don't accept the fact that bullpens (or teams, really) "collapse."  Except in cases where somebody is obviously overworked (Turnbow) or has a legit mental issue tied to throwing the baseball (Wise), here's what happens: additional evidence shows that the earlier evidence was misleading.  

This applies to the whole team: in April we got lucky.  Later, we didn't.  It evened out.  Had Ned managed better (or Sheets had stayed healthy, or blah, or blah, or blah), we would've been an 85-86 win team, and that's exactly what we expected going in to the season.  People like stories, but stories are awful misleading when they say that a baseball was awesome one month and sucky the next.

Anyway, I'll stop nitpicking.  I don't agree with all the reasons that John blames the 83-win season on Yost, but it's worth the read.