Brewers Bob here. I am excited to be a member of the BCB team with an audience nearly 100x larger than my previous writing gig, and approximately 400x my current Twitter following.
I like to describe my writing style and overall approach to baseball as “informed enough to know what WAR is and why it matters, but too lazy to care”.
Brew Crew Ball and I reached an agreement this year to write content from the perspective of the average fan. I’m emotional, I’m (at times) non-sensical, but damnit — I care. I watch every single game my wife says I can.
It only makes sense that I’d make my Brew Crew Ball debut by dropping a coupla’ tree four Bob Bombs - four piping hot Brewers takes that are definitely going to happen because I said so (and want them to).
The Brewers will lead the National League in Home Runs
The Brewers ranked 4th in the majors last year in home runs with 218. Ahead of them were Oakland (227), the Dodgers (235), and the Yankees with a whopping 267 long balls. Almost all of the Brewer’s power is returning this year, but they should get more four bag production from the addition of Yasmani Grandal and the full season’s worth of at bats from Mike Moustakas.
Jacob Barnes will silence Brewers Twitter en route to becoming the 2019 version of 2018 Postseason Corbin Burnes
You heard it here first, folks. 2019 is the year of Jacob Barnes. How do I know? I can see it in that man’s eyes.
You wouldn’t know it from the constant Twitter hate thrown his way, but Jacob Barnes has actually had a respectable career when you look at the advanced #sabermetrics like ERA and WHIP. He owns a career 3.54 ERA and a 1.317 WHIP- nothing to write home about, but not terrible either. The problem for Barnes (and I’ll be blunt) has been his complete inability to be even remotely effective in high leverage situations: he’s thrown a lot of poorly timed walks, and given up a lot of big hits. It’s not easy being the last guy available in a good bullpen. As a pitcher, being that option intrinsically elevates the pressure of tight game situations you’re thrust into; everyone knows you’re only in there because nobody else is available.
But Barnes will persist and will rise from the ashes victorious. He showed signs of life last September pitching well in some game I’m too tired to look up, but trust me — it was good stuff and it mattered. I believe there was a fist pump (unconfirmed, though). Despite not making the postseason roster, Barnes has carried that tremendous momentum from that game I remember into Spring Training 2019. He’s issued just one walk in 8 appearances to compliment 10 strikeouts… his K/9 and BB/9 would both represent career highs, if they were, you know, real games. His ERA of 2.62 and 1.263 WHIP are both below his career averages, which #sources confirm is better than being above.
If the injuries to Jeffress and Knebel are serious enough to extend longer than a month, someone is going to need to step up to fill the roles that Woodruff and Burnes filled down the stretch for the Brewers. After snagging one of the last 25-man roster spots out of spring training, my bet is on Jacob Barnes to be one of the best surprises of the 2019 campaign.
The Cubs will take dead last in the NL Central
The Athletic just hid a story behind their paywall detailing the Cubs come to Jesus offseason during which they crafted their own version of the twelve step program to winning. Highlighting the “How to Win 101” genius secret plan is their big plans to cut fast food and alcohol on getaway days, and making sure Joe Madden says hi once in a while. LOL- good luck with that plan.
Every armchair fan knows that the first rule of clubhouse chemistry is you can’t fake it. You certainly can’t write out 100 rules to loving your teammates. Clubhouse chemistry is built organically from the organization level, not overnight because you got mad your complacency led to you losing the NL Central. The Cubs locker room issues go way deeper than tossing back a couple Miller Lites on a charter flight to St. Louis. Is it that hard to imagine that the Cubs now distant memory of a magical World Series run created a bunch of overnight celebrities that forgot what it’s like to play on a team?
You start to see what a clubhouse is really made of when the going gets tough- a certainty for ALL teams over the course of a 162-game season. I, for one, can’t wait to see this plan go up in flames as the Cubs slowly watch themselves fade away to the basement of the NL Central before Theo packs up and leaves town for the first big money east coast team with an open GM job.
The Brewers will be under .500 after April, and leading the NL Central at the All Star Break.
The Brewers play 10 of their first 26 games against the St. Louis Cardinals and their shiny new toy, Paul Goldschmidt. They also have seven games against the Dodgers in April, and three against the Cubs. At least 20 of those first 26 games will be competitive. If I’ve learned anything over the past half-decade of writing about the Brewers, it’s that April is all but meaningless, so long as you stay healthy and survive the month within a reasonable margin of the division leader (let’s call it four games).
The difference between this year’s Brewers team and last year’s Brewers team is this year’s squad isn’t out to prove it belongs on the field in October. The goal is to win a World Series. They’re good on paper and on the field, and barring any significant injuries, they’re going to finish close to the top of the division. Once the Brewer bats start getting into a rhythm and the summer temps start rising, I expect this team to hit their way to a LOT of wins.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference