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Brewers Sweep Cards; End Season 80-82

As trying as the past couple months have been for Brewers fans to endure, it’s still a sad sight to see the season end.  The good news?  The team continued to play hard until Game 162 was in the books, capping off a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  In many ways, the season finale was the 2009 season in a nutshell: short outing from the starter (Suppan pulled after a couple innings) with a big lead surrendered late in the game.

While the series had no significance to the Brewers other than where they’ll end up drafting next June, they did manage to rain on St. Louis’ parade by dealing the Cards crucial defeats that prevented them from clinching homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.  You’re welcome, Los Angeles.

While many in the state of Wisconsin will now turn their full attention to football — I hear there’s a big game tomorrow night — forgive me if I spend a little while reflecting on the 2009 season and looking ahead to what the team can do to improve in 2010.  As bad as the team has been at times this year, the fact that they managed to crack the 80-win barrier for the 4th time in the past 5 years is still a positive sign.

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll start handing out season grades to the players from this year’s squad.  We’ll start tomorrow with the bottom of the class — those receiving D’s and F’s for the year — but to whet your appetite, here are players who earned “incompletes” for the 2009 season.  For multiple reasons, we didn’t get to see enough of them for me to formulate a solid grade:

John Axford – Seems to have some good stuff, it’s just a matter of gaining control.  Kind of reminds me of Derrick Turnbow in a way.
Josh Butler – Didn’t get much of a chance with the big league club this year, but here’s to hoping he can compete for a rotation spot next year.  Performed well enough in the minors to make the Gabe Gross trade seem pretty fair.
David Riske – Lost to surgery.  It’s a shame this free agent signing hasn’t worked out, because it actually seemed like a solid deal at the time.  Now the Brewers would be lucky to get much of anything out of him.
Alcides Escobar – Has shown flashes of that electric speed and defense already.  I think we’re ready to see it on a full-time basis next season.
Mat Gamel – Struggled to hit consistently with the big league club, but it doesn’t help that he spent a lot of time riding the bench.  I still think of him as the best hitting prospect the team has, and has extra value considering he hits left-handed on a predominantly right-handed team.
Jason Bourgeois – Hope he’s enjoyed the cup of coffee, because there’s no real reason for him to see the big leagues next year. 
Corey Patterson – A little part of me died every time I saw him in the leadoff spot.  I can appreciate the numbers he put up in Triple A, but it’s pretty clear to everyone now that he’ll never be much more than a Triple A All-Star.
Rickie Weeks – One of the saddest stories of the 2009 season.  Weeks finally seemed to be coming into his own when another wrist gave out.  Here’s to hoping he can bounce back next year and it doesn’t take as long for him to get his confidence back this time.

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Will Macha tinker with the rotation for the Cardinals series?

August 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Next Tuesday, the Brewers get their first of three remaining chances to hand St. Louis some losses.  To that end, skipper Ken Macha probably wants his best three starters to go.  Right now, his rotation is aligned as follows:

T  8/25  Jeff Suppan, 5-8, 5.27 vs. Cincy
W 8/26  Braden Looper, 11-6, 4.95 vs. Cincy
R  8/27  Dave Bush, 3-4, 5.67 vs. Cincy
F  8/28  Manny Parra, 8-10, 6.54 vs. Pittsburgh
S  8/29  Yovani Gallardo, 12-10, 3.51 vs. Pittsburgh
S  8/30  Suppan vs. Pittsburgh
M  8/31  off day
T  9/01  Looper or Bush at St. Louis
W 9/02  Bush or Parra at St. Louis
R  9/03  Parra or Gallardo at St. Louis

…with the first name shown being if Macha sticks with the rotation as it is and gives every starter a day off, and the second option being if he skips Looper and sticks with an every 5th day rotation.

The second option is the only one where Gallardo gets a start against the Cardinals, so it would seem wise to keep that in tact…and would enable Macha to choose two of three from Looper, Bush and Parra.

Both Looper and Parra have faced the Cards this year and been successful against them–Parra is 1-1, 2.29 in 3 starts with 16K’s to 10 BB’s, while Looper is 1-0, 1.50 in one start but 0 K’s to 2 BB’s.  The Redbirds have not seen Dave Bush this year, which may actually give him an edge.

I suspect the choice will come down to how effective Parra is on Friday versus the Pirates, or, perhaps, how effective Bush is Thursday night against the Reds.  Either way, Ken Macha has a tough decision to make.  If the Cards sweep the Brewers, there is a good chance that Macha will be let go…so his decisions as to who to start will be the most important ones he makes this season.

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