All-Star Break Updates

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.

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