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Analyzing the Milwaukee Brewers' Top 5 Early Frustrations of the 2013 Season

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COMMENTARY | For a team that's only through the first four weeks of the baseball season, the Milwaukee Brewers feel like a team that's in survival mode.

They have played roughly only 15 percent of their games, and while things could be a lot worse for the Brewers, things could also be a lot better. That's what makes having a 12-11 record satisfying and yet vexing at the same time.

After analyzing the biggest frustrations for Milwaukee, you'll understand why.

5. Yovani Gallardo's un-ace-like performance

Through five starts this season, Yovani Gallardo hasn't acted like the Brewers' ace -- on or off the field. His DUI arrest in mid-April was discouraging, and even though he followed that embarrassing incident up with a winning performance on the mound, his numbers are still below average. Pitch count continues to be an issue with Gallardo, and having a 4.97 ERA and a declining fastball velocity doesn't help matters, either.

4. Ryan Braun's one-track mind

Often regarded as a five-tool player, Ryan Braun has been missing one of those tools this season -- hitting for average. Through 74 at-bats, Braun stands at .257, and while his production isn't taking a hit (7 HRs, 21 RBIs), his strikeout rate sure is (27.6 percent).

The fact of the matter is that Braun isn't seeing the same pitches to hit without protection in the lineup, but Aramis Ramirez is due to return soon. Until then, it should be the red-hot Betancourt in the four-hole. Yes, you read that correctly.

3. John Axford's decline

Maybe it's not quite time to insert John Axford back into the closer's role, or even the setup role. Axford has the worst ERA on the team by a landslide (9.31), and after sixth straight scoreless appearances, the Ax Man gave up a gopher ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That's the fifth one he's allowed in April, and he's also suffering from declining velocity syndrome.

2. Injuries holding back the offense

The reason Ramirez isn't protecting Braun in the lineup is because of a knee injury he suffered back in the first week of the season. He joins Corey Hart, Taylor Green and Jeff Bianchi on the disabled list, and others like Braun, Jean Segura and Alex Gonzalez have missed time with injury. This has really hindered the offense, which is clearly not the same without Ramirez and Hart's production.

1. Rickie Weeks healthy, but unproductive

It's 2012 all over again for Rickie Weeks, only it's worse this time around. He's played every day with the Brewers lacking another true second baseman on the (current) roster, and this is what he has to show for it -- a .172 average, 1 HR and 4 RBIs with 31 strikeouts. Most of this has been in the cleanup spot, from which he has mercifully been removed. It's makes you wonder if his poor start to last season wasn't a result of lingering ankle issues, but because he's simply declining as a player.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.

You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.

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