The Brewers are supposed to be better this year, right? New team, new payroll, new attitude? All the off-field signs look good, but what happens? Jenkins hits home runs and the rest of the team doesn't produce. We had that five years ago.
I'm trying not to read too much into an anemic offense seven games into the season. But it's getting tougher to do that. Prince is getting his knocks, almost always with the bases empty. Bill Hall is looking eerily like the super-sub guy that Ned tried to make him before the injuries struck last year. Our best hitters right now are Jenkins and Counsell, a couple of guys who (rightfully, I still think) are hardly cornerstones of this offense.
So, what's the problem? Is this just a giant slump? I don't really think Bill Hall isn't going to hit below the Mendoza Line, nor do I think that Geoff Jenkins is going to hit a home run every time he starts. That's part of the frustrating of rooting for a team that gets off to a bad start. But I do have a theory. I think that all this talk about situational hitting, going the other way, moving the runner over--it's giving the batters too much to think about when they really ought to be simply hitting.
Here's the thing: the Brewers didn't give Prince or Rickie or JJ or anybody millions of dollars out of high school or college because they were smart, or savvy, or anything. They got they money because they are seriously talented in ways that most of us can never dream of. They can hit a baseball. Can they hit a baseball to the right side on command? Probably not. Arizona does a nice job of increasing everybody's confidence, but by focusing on what our young hitters can't do--especially a swing-for-the-fences guy like Hall--the Brewers coaching staff is preventing them from doing what they can.
Maybe I'm way off base. I've never been in a big league dugout, and I don't know how much coaching like that really affects a batter when they get to the plate. But I do know that, so far, the magical two-strike approach, go-the-other-way crap isn't working, and it's not working in the exact same way it didn't work for Butch Wynegar, either. And with guys like Jeff Suppan taking the mound two or three days out of every five (I definitely count Vargas in that category, maybe Bush as well), we need more than 3 runs a game.
I hope that, after tomorrow's game, we'll be able to forget all about the 0-for-whatever with runners in scoring position, and Bill Hall's early-season slump. After all, the team did score nine runs just yesterday. But somehow, that seems like part of the problem, not a mitigating consideration: having Jenkins hot doesn't mean this is a good team; we're just lucky right now.
Let's stop the Florida win-streak-versus-Milwaukee at nine games, and give Rick Vanden Hurk (and his parents, all the way from Europe!) a crooked-number welcome to the big leagues. We need one of those. Hell, after tonight's game, I need one of those.