COMMENTARY | There are so many things wrong with the Milwaukee Brewers right now that we probably don't have time to run down the entire list. Standing at 5-22 in the month of May following a four-game sweep at the hands of the equally dismal Minnesota Twins, the Brewers have officially compiled the worst month in team history since they moved to Milwaukee.
Even if they win on May 31 at Philadelphia, the Brewers will only tie the worst month in franchise history, as the Seattle Pilots went 6-22 in August during the summer of '69, which also happens to be a pretty catchy tune.
As far as the list of awful things about this team, we'll probably touch on several of them while we run down some changes Milwaukee needs to make following this atrocious stretch of baseball. I mean, c'mon -- what has it got to lose?
Call up Jimmy Nelson and Ariel Pena because why not
Seven different pitchers have started for the Brewers this season, which is already one more than in all of 2011 when Milwaukee reached the postseason, and none of them have really done anything remotely good. Kyle Lohse is being paid $33 million -- he has one win and an ERA of 4.37, the best ERA among Brewer starters. Yovani Gallardo? He's still owed a potential $32 million. Gallardo is 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA and averaging roughly 5 2/3 innings per start.
But no worries. There are a couple of young studs in Double-A Huntsville pitching pretty well these days. 23-year-old Jimmy Nelson is a 6'6" hard-throwing righty who is 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and a 5.42 K/BB ratio. Ariel Pena, 24, is no slouch himself when it comes to velocity. He's 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA and .202 opponent's batting average.
Now the jump from Double-A to the Majors is no joke, and we've seen guys like Hiram Burgos and Mike Fiers have success at the Triple-A level and then falter with Milwaukee in 2013. But both Burgos and Fiers don't throw hard -- Nelson and Pena do. We're not saying that's all that matters, but at least those two don't have to solely rely on pinpoint accuracy to get by.
Control clearly isn't an issue with Nelson, and Pena has shown an ability to miss bats -- he's allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last ten starts. So what do you say, Brewers? Send down Wily Peralta so he can work on his command, put Fiers in the bullpen or Triple-A, and give these two hotshots, well, a shot.
Can Rick Kranitz
Can Rick Kranitz, and? Oh, you mean fire him. Well, it's hard to let Kranitz shoulder the burden of the Brewers' awful starting rotation, but when you look at his history as a Major League pitching coach, it's not pretty. For four years in a row with the then-Florida Marlins and Baltimore Orioles, his pitching staffs finished in the bottom four of the MLB in ERA.
In Kranitz's first year-plus with Milwaukee, he had the luxury of coaching Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf. While the Brewers finished with a Top 10 ERA in 2011, things have taken a turn for the worse since. His replacement might not be readily apparent, but sometimes, it takes is a coaching change to light a fire under a team. After all, it seemed to work last season with the firing of bullpen coach Stan Kyles.
Base running. Knowing where to go with the baseball. Understanding situations and the intricacies of each ballpark. These are all things Major League Baseball players should have down pat, and yet the Brewers seem to have at least one mental gaffe each night. It's inexcusable, and in Milwaukee's case, it especially can't afford to make these mistakes considering how things have been going lately.
Give Scooter Gennett a shot
Believe it or not, Rickie Weeks is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak. He has also failed to record a hit with two outs and runners in scoring position this season. Even after stringing together seven straight games with a hit, Weeks' splits are .183/.285/.280, and he has one whole RBI in May. If he wasn't making $10 million and under contract through 2015, Weeks simply wouldn't be seeing this kind of playing time -- he's leading the team in games played.
It just so happens that one of the Brewers' top minor league position players is a second baseman. Scooter Gennett doesn't provide the same power as Weeks, but down at Nashville he's hitting .313 and is the type of player who provides a spark with his hustle and speed. Milwaukee is currently only holding four bench players, and giving Gennett a few weeks to showcase his skills wouldn't signal the end of the world.
Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care
It's been 59 innings since the Brewers held a lead. They are 19-33, their worst mark since 2006. They are in dead-last in the NL Central. It's time to stop pressing with runners on base. It's time to let natural ability take over. This team has too much talent to be 14 games below .500.
Giving some young guys a chance and making a coaching change wound up turning Milwaukee's season around in 2012, and that was with only two months to play. If the Brewers can play loose, play smart and put their best players out on the field, greener pastures await.
Shoot -- even if they don't, it's hard to envision things getting any worse.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Rick Kranitz