Monday, September 29, 2008

Playoffs Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

Eight notes and observations on each of the eight playoff teams ... and now the CeeCees.


Sorry, Queens, but C.C. Sabathia had other plans yesterday. With the Mets losing to the Marlins, Sabathia pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout to raise his Brewers record to 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA. Meanwhile, the Mets lost, as so often happens.

2. So, is he the Cy Young winner?

Sabathia? Probably not. He won last year, so there are always people who don't like voting the same guy twice in a row. Also, Randy Johnson dominated with the Astros when he was traded from the Mariners in mid-1998 and only got a few token votes for best pitcher in the league. I suppose the voters won't consider Sabathia's time in Cleveland (as they probably did with Johnson's 1998 in Seattle), which is too bad, given that he's fourth in ERA, second in innings pitched, and first in strikeouts when you consider his entire 2008.

3. They're week(s) at second

It may be worth it to keep an eye on second baseman Rickie Weeks during the series. Apparently, he's one of five players who should be moved defensively, to such an extent that it "makes no sense to continue the Weeks experiment in the [infield]." Weeks also isn't much offensively, which is true about the team as a whole: 7th in the league in runs scord, 10th in on-base average.

4. A slugging team

It's not a surprise that a team with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder is third in the league in homers. But pretty much everyone in their lineup aside from Jason Kendall, who couldn't hit a homer with an aluminum bat, was a threat to go deep this year. As a result, the Brewers were fifth in the NL in slugging average despite having the fifth-worst batting average.

5. But, really, a pitching team

Ben Sheets is a power pitcher (standard fastball, curveball type) who makes it to the 7th about half the time. Sounds like A.J. Burnett except that Sheets doesn't strike out as many (anymore) and Burnett faces better competition. Nonetheless, Sheets is a big reason the Brewers were third in ERA. (Another is that they had the second-best defence, in spite of Weeks at second and J.J. Hardy at short.) Sheets and Sabathia combined for six shutouts in 48 starts with the Brewers--more than any other complete team in the majors. No, really.

6. Okay, maybe a Sheets-and-Sabathia team

The next two starters on the depth chart, former Blue Jay David Bush and former everything Jeff Suppan, were too homer-prone this year to include them with the first two. I have nothing interesting to say about Suppan.

Bush is at the point, after four and a half years in the majors, where his luck isn't balancing and those borderline fly balls are going out rather than being caught at the track. This is unfortunate, because in so many other ways, Bush is a fine pitcher. (And a unique pitcher.) Maybe he just needs to play in Dodger Stadium some more.

7. Fine, a Sabathia team

Hope you enjoyed reading about Sheets, because he won't pitch anymore this year.

8. Whatever kind of team it is, it's the first time since 1982

Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Braun, and Hart weren't alive the last time the Brewers made the playoffs. Just thought that was interesting. Replacement manager Dale Sveum is trying to match the feat of 1982-replacement Harvey Kuenn and bring the Brewers to the World Series. And if you can pronounce both those names right on the first try, you deserve a trophy yourself.

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