I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door: Since Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi and Lorenzo Cain, traded for Zack Greinke, are no longer Brewers, and neither is Erik Komatsu, traded for Jerry Hairston, we have to drop down to Tyler Thornburg, who is short, 23 and not experienced beyond Class A (this is the equivalent of a student being 15 years old and already having completed the seventh grade). Thornburg is intriguing — he’s fanned 190 in 168 innings — but let’s see what he does when he’s playing with kids his own age. John Sickels ranks the Brewers’ minor-league system the third-worst in baseball, and apparently, it’s fortunate to be that high.
What is this man doing here? Cesar Izturis is in camp with the Brewers, and he’s not the worst infielder in town (bet that doesn’t happen to him often). Edwin Maysonet is. Maysonet wasn’t good enough last year to help the Astros, when they lost 106 games; it’s hard to believe he could help the Brewers. Maysonet is 30, can play three infield positions, if not well, and doesn’t do anything on offense well — he hasn’t slugged .400 in the minors since 2006, is 18-for-28 stealing in the last five seasons and hasn’t on-based more than .350 since 2004. Izturis might be happy to see Maysonet in camp — Cesar doesn’t look so bad by comparison — but Brewers fans shouldn’t be.
What he said: Ryan Braun after the appeal of his drug test was upheld: “There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.” What he meant: “If you’re a conspiracy theorist, let your imagination run like Nyjer Morgan. My reputation isn’t the only that’s going to be tainted from this mess.”
Outlook: Prince Fielder is gone, which means there’s more room in the clubhouse and more food at the buffet line, even if fewer runs on the scoreboard.
The investment the Brewers made on 2011 didn’t equal the return — we’re guessing elimination in the NLCS by the Cardinals wasn’t what the Brewers had in mind when they traded Brett Lawrie. Like the Cards without Pujols, the Brewers without Fielder will be more competitive than the pessimists project.
But the Brewers used most of their resources last year — there’s not much left if something goes wrong this year. They acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki cheaply from Japan, and he could help, although last year’s Japanese import, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, stunk for the Twins worse than last week’s sauerkraut.
The Brewers’ big addition was Aramis Ramirez for at least three years at $12 million per, which seems reasonable. But Ramirez will be 34 by the All-Star break, his defense has been depreciating and if the Brewers wanted to spend big, why didn’t they spend it years earlier on Fielder as they did with Braun, before the price became $20 million a year for most of the next decade? Would the Brewers rather be spending $12 million on Ramirez, or $16-18 million on Fielder?
It could have been worse had Braun lost his appeal and sat 50 games. Still, the Brewers seem headed for a 2012 that will be like a TV episode you’ve seen before: the highlights are still good, the funny lines are still funny, but the ending will have lost its impact.
Team song: Outlaw Pete (Suggested title: Outlaw Braun)