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Brewers Season Grades: Bottom of the Class

October 5, 2009 3 comments

There were a lot of disappointments during the 2009 season, but the following players were especially mediocre and/or disappointing.  Despite the large amount of unfulfilled expectations, only two players earned F’s for the year, and it’s probably not too hard to figure out who they are.  As always, feel free to chime in with your comments below.

D’s
Mike Burns (D-): Had a couple good starts filling in when he had to, but he was also far from spectacular.  If I had to bet, the journeyman will have to journey to another organization next season.  Nothing against him, but guys like him are a dime a dozen, and the Brewers already have candidates for spot starts next year in their system.
Dave Bush (D): Injuries made Bush’s 2009 season maddingly inconsistent.  At times, he looked like the guy who shut down the Phillies in the playoffs last year.  At other times, everything he was throwing was getting hit hard.  I don’t think he’ll get non-tendered in the offseason, but it’s no longer out of the question that he could be replaced in the offseason — not because he’s the one that needs to be replaced, but because he’d be much easier to get rid of than Jeff Suppan or Braden Looper.
Braden Looper (D+): Loop set a new club record for home runs allowed, and for whatever reason, never showed the velocity he had in St. Louis the past couple years.  If he did, perhaps he could’ve at least been a serviceable bottom-of-the-rotation guy, but good outings were few and far between, despite the high number of wins.  Here’s to hoping he opts out and some other GM will be suckered in by the W-L record, instead of looking at all the other stats.
Manny Parra (D+): Disappointing year overall for Manny.  When most were expecting him to take another step forward, he instead took one or two steps backward, struggling with mechanics and injuries for most of the season.  There was a stretch of a few weeks where he was showing a lot of the promise we all know he has, but those starts were far too infrequent.
Carlos Villanueva (D): After a surprisingly strong season as a reliever last year, Villanueva struggled to get much of anything going this year, at times seeming incapable of putting up a scoreless inning.  Gets bonus points for putting together an outing good enough to keep the Cardinals from getting homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Mike Rivera (D+): We’d all probably be more upset about Jason Kendall getting so many starts at catcher if Rivera had done much at the plate this year. In twice as many games played as last year, he’s hit nearly 80 points lower and barely edged out Kendall in OPS.
J.J. Hardy (D-): How bad was Hardy this year?  The only thing separating him from Jason Kendall is the fact that Hardy was still above average defensively.  At the plate he looked completely lost all year, and didn’t seem too interested in finding a way out of his slump.  Here’s to hoping that the Brewers can find a taker for him in the offseason now that Alcides Escobar has shown he can hold his own.
F’s
Jeff Suppan – Rejoice, Brewers fans…there’s only one more year left on that horrible contract, and with any luck, another team might be willing to take him off the Brewers’ hands if Milwaukee picks up the tab on most of the salary.  I don’t know if anyone saw Suppan’s time in Milwaukee playing out any differently, though.  It was a bad deal from the start, and it’s tied the hands of the club financially.
Jason Kendall – Last year, Kendall was at least good enough defensively to put up with his pathetic .651 OPS.  This year, he wasn’t nearly as lucky when it came to throwing out runners and hit even worse, OPSing .636.  If it wasn’t for Willy Taveras, Kendall would be the worst offensive player in the game.  There’s really no other grade to give him, and he’s the last player many fans would want to see back next season.

Is Parra’s Resurgance for Real?

Manny Parra has had 5 starts since returning from his minor league demotion, and his latest may have been his most impressive.  Parra worked into the 9th inning with remarkable efficiency against the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most potent offenses in the majors this year.

Parra ended up surrendering four earned runs in 8+ innings, but the last two were surrendered by Trevor Hoffman, who came in to relieve Parra with no outs in the 9th. 

It was the most promising start Parra’s had this season, and he’s now 3-0 since returning, posting a 3.94 ERA.  Much better than the 3-8 record with a 7.52 ERA he had before he was sent to Nashville, isn’t it?  Much of Parra’s recent success has come with Mike Rivera catching, not Jason Kendall.

Kendall’s generally regarded as the better defensive catcher, but Parra seems more comfortable on the mound with Rivera behind the plate.  That’s probably no surprise considering the time the two spent together the first time Parra passed through Triple A, with Rivera even catching Parra’s perfect game in Nashville.  Parra and Rivera also seem to be more on the same page when it comes to what makes the lefty comfortable — upon his demotion, Parra acknowledged that he was throwing too many off-speed pitches instead of sticking to what gave him so much success, namely throwing a lot of mid-90s fastballs.

Since coming back up and working with Rivera, Parra’s depended on his curveball less, worked faster, and has shut down some pretty good offenses.  So is this just a mirage, or the start of something a bit more permanent?  Could Parra possibly step up and play to that #2/#3 starter potential that so many saw in him as he rose through the minors and battled through injury setbacks?  If he can, perhaps the Brewers aren’t in as much trouble with their rotation as many originally thought.

Recap: Brewers 5, Reds 1


Win Expectancy
He had to wait through a lengthy rain delay and only a few hundred were left in the park to see it, but Manny Parra got his first win since returning from AAA Nashville on Saturday night.  Parra put together his second consecutive refreshingly good start, pitching 6 innings and only allowing 1 earned run while striking out 6 and walking 3.  Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice closed out the game for the Brewers, who regained the game in the standings they lost to St. Louis the night before.

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Question Marks Heading into Second Half

July 16, 2009 1 comment

Let me take a minute to introduce myself — I’m Jaymes Langrehr, and I’ve been writing for MVN for about two years now.  I’ve been writing MLB pieces for MVN Outsider since the start of the season, and I’ve been a Brewers fan me entire life.  I’ve been to games at County Stadium, I’ve been to games at Miller Park (including seeing the immortal Jamey Wright pitch in person).  I’ve suffered through Davey Lopes, Jerry Royster, and Ned Yost.  In short, I’m just like every other Brewers fan. 

I’m starting at Brewers Bar during a time that’s both convenient (it’s the All-Star Break, a nice built-in start date) and frustrating (the team’s been maddeningly inconsistent for a solid month and a half).  You’ll eventually come to realize that I tend to be more optimistic than most, but even I can see that some pretty big question marks are looming for the Brewers as they get ready to start the second half in Cincinnati.

For one, the starting pitching is (still) a mess. 

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