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Sunday Sundries - week 8 (Memorial Day edition)

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The Brewers came within one odd overturned call of an undefeated week...kinda.

The Brewers appear to have a quality manager in Craig Counsell.
The Brewers appear to have a quality manager in Craig Counsell.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Let's face it, the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds are two very bad baseball teams. Probably the worst in the majors, although the Twins are pretending to be that bad, too.

The Braves have some good young pitching but can't hit a lick. The Reds have some good hitters that aren't hitting, and can't pitch a lick. The Braves are drawing about as well as the Appleton T-Rats in terms of paid attendance, and if you judge it by percentage of seats filled are way behind. The Reds seem rather disinterested, and if they lose Brandon Phillips (the Most Positive Guy In Baseball) for any length of time, they might need serious psychological help. (I can't believe the Reds left Phillips in the game after he banged into the wall yesterday. He could hardly walk. Sometimes you have to tell your kids 'no'.) The Brewers have averaged almost 28,000 per game this season. That's awesome. Brewer fans are the best.

The Brewers are not disinterested. They are engaged. Everyone on the roster plays, and everyone is expected to contribute. While the Brewers 5-1 week can be explained away by their competition, last week they played two of the best teams in the NL and the combined 7-5 record is encouraging. Heck, if they play like that the rest of the year they will win 89 games. That won't happen, but they certainly aren't a 100 loss team, and at this point it wouldn't surprise me to see them win 81 games. They might only win 75, but they will remain competitive.

This will result in a middle of the pack pick in the Amateur Player draft, and that can be viewed as a negative. If, however, they have discovered some players that will help over the next five years it might just be worth it.

BEST HITTING STORY

Leading Lighting Rod Jonathon Villar was very, very good at the plate last week. And he kept his base running adventures a tad on the plus side. Villar stole 4 bases without getting thrown out, was only thrown out at third three times (an off week, for sure), and went from first to third on a foul pop-up (when the aforementioned Phillips was injured).

Villar slashed .455/.567/.682, hit his second homer of the year, drove in some important runs, played some good defense, and generally looked like one of the best shortstops in the majors (as Craig Counsell has claimed). It is hard to believe that he has turned the page, seen the light, and become a smart, aggressive player in a week, but it gives us hope that he can move to third or second when Orlando Arcia is deemed ready by Brewers' management. ('Ready' has many different connotations, which I will not delve into here.)

Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill not only had a good week, he has arguably been the Brewers best hitter in May. Against the two bottom feeders he slashed .476/.577/.810 - numbers that may even outshine Villar. TVR...we hope.

BEST PITCHING STORY

Think I'll go off the board here and give this to the whole staff. In 58 innings, the Brewers went 5-1 with a team ERA of 2.79 and a team WHIP of 1.10. Those are awesome numbers, and anything close to repeating them will lead to winning weeks almost every time.

Honorable Mention: I was going to just say 'see above', but a shout out to Tyler Thornburg is warranted. In four appearances he pitched 3.2 innings and didn't allow a base runner. Acceptable.

IMHO

I like the job that Craig Counsell has done. (I like the job that David Stearns has done, too, but some other time for that.) As I mentioned earlier, he uses his whole roster. Some of that is necessity, but a lot of it is giving everyone a chance to play and contribute. All of these guys are major leaguers (are you listening, Colin Walsh?), and should be expected to produce when the play. I'm sure that they expect it of themselves.

Jeremy Jeffress has been very good as the closer, but has shown a few cracks lately. So of the four saves this week, JJ only posted one. Carlos Torres had 2 and Blaine Boyer (a shaky) 1. Not quite the closer by committee yet, but with Will Smith and Corey Knebel coming back it might become more of a reality than it seemed possible earlier in the season.

Counsell is not rigid in his game managing, his player usage, or his approach to players' mistakes. We don't know what is said behind closed doors, but his leash for Villar has been long, and his public support of him has been loud and oft. I think players like to play for him.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

I floated my pining for the fjords...er, Khris Davis in an article this week. While I understand why he's gone, and approve of it more than I don't, I love me some dingers and miss the threat in the line-up.

But many put me in my place with irrefutable logic, and I chose stempke's comment as a good representative of them:

The dingers would be great, but the inability to get on base other than the dingers would still be infuriating and the centerfield defense would be way worse if Santana spent significant time there.

Davis was one of my favorite players (hard not to root for a guy who no one expected much of), but I think we traded him at his peak value. Despite all those HRs, he’s only been worth 0.2 WAR so far



But man......


The Brewers get three with the Cardinals at Miller Park this week, and four in Philadelphia...coincidentally with the Phillies. Don't look now, but if the Brewers sweep the Cards they will pass them in the standings.