Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking Delight in the Brewers' Collapse

Coming into the season, I thought Milwaukee would win between 73 and 78 games.  They were atrocious last year, due to key injuries, but they had some declining players anyway.  Their big offseason move was to sign injury-prone, under-achieving Matt Garza to a 4 year/$50M deal.  How would Ryan Braun fare now that he (hopefully) wasn't juicing anymore?  I didn't see a playoff contender.

Imagine my surprise when at the end of April the Brewers were 20-8 and far, far ahead of the pack in the National League.  I was telling everyone who asked that the Brewers' return trip to Earth would be coming soon, but they didn't really flinch until July.  At the start of July, they lost 10 out of 11.  Their record on July 12 was still 52-43 and they were still tied for 1st place, albeit after they were comfortably leading by 6.5 games at the start of the month.  The rest of the NL landscape was forgiving, as well, with most of the teams just treading water.  Maybe this was the start of the end?

Fast forward to August 25th.  The Brewers had rebounded to playing strong playoff-contender baseball again.  I was still baffled.  Their record was a robust 73-58 and they were 1.5 games up on the Cardinals in the division.  Barring a soul-crushing collapse, the Brew seemed destined for a playoff spot of some sort.

Enter the soul-crushing collapse.  From that day forward, the Brewers have lost (and are still in the midst of it) 13 of 14 games.  Their record is now 74-71 and they are not only 6 games behind the Cards for the division, they are 1.5 games out of the playoffs altogether -- behind the Pirates, which makes it even sweeter.

Is this just the law of averages adjusting with unblinking fury all at the same time?  Have injuries revealed their absolute lack of depth, both in the majors and minors?

Ryan Braun, still one year away from his extended extension of 5 year/$105M kicking in, is having a poor season and now his thumb pain is leading to his whole hand maybe needing surgery.  Shades of Jason Kendall's thumb injury, which was the real reason for Kendall's collapse as a hitter, are echoing.

Carlos Gomez is a terrible human being, so he's also easy to cheer against, even though he's having a good campaign.  I would love to have Jonathan Lucroy, especially with that ultra-friendly contract extension, but he's really the only Brewer I would rescue.  The rest of them all deserve each other.

Hopefully the Brewers continue to collapse, much like the 2012 Pirates did.  The only difference is that the Brewers don't have a wave of talent on the horizon (or a solid, young talent base in the majors) to give them hope for the future.

It couldn't happen to a better franchise.

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