COMMENTARY | Don't let the highs get too high, and don't let the lows get too low. This is probably the best cliché available to describe the Milwaukee Brewers and their first month of the 2013 season.
It's a saying that applies perfectly to baseball's regular season, which lasts for six months and consists of 162 games. Even though we are only through one of those months and 24 of those games, the Brewers have dug themselves a hole (2-8 start), climbed out of it (nine-game winning streak) and are now sitting slightly above ground-level.
Really, a lot of credit has to go to the Brewers for maintaining their composure, especially considering the following statistic courtesy of the team's senior director of media relations, Mike Vassallo. Milwaukee became the fifth team since 1969 to finish the month of April above .500 after starting 2-8 or worse.
That's pretty incredible.
We'll delve into more numbers that ought to seize your attention as we determine the five most important things to take away from the Brewers' opening month.
Thanks to those pesky knee injuries, Corey Hart isn't expected to return until the end of May and Aramis Ramirez hasn't played since April 5. And yet somehow, some way, the Brewers have a winning record and have gone 12-8 with both players out of the lineup.
Newsflash -- Milwaukee will not be able to sustain that level of success without both Ramirez and Hart for much longer. Sure, some players have stepped up in their absence, including Yuniesky Betancourt of all people, who is second on the squad in home runs and RBIs. But the offense hovers around mediocre when it comes to runs scored, average and on-base percentage. The Brewers are missing their production, but the good news is that Ramirez should return during the current homestand.
The bullpen can be trusted -- for now
It didn't take long for John Axford to be removed from the closer's role -- less than a week, as a matter of fact. That's discouraging, but on the bright side, new closer Jim Henderson is a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities, and the bullpen had an ERA of 3.80 through 24 games.
That's a noticeably lower mark than last season's bullpen, which isn't saying much, but considering how the unit began the season, it's been a pretty drastic turnaround in a short period of time, especially for guys like Michael Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop and yes, even John Axford.
Jean Segura can flat-out ball
If you don't enjoy watching Jean Segura play baseball, then you might want to check your pulse. The 23-year-old shortstop assumed an everyday role for Milwaukee this season after being acquired last season, and all he's done is lead the Brewers in average, stolen bases and awesome plays in the field.
Segura has shown excellent range and a cannon for a right arm, good enough to put him in the top three among shortstops in defensive wins above replacement. He's like an infield version of Carlos Gomez (we'll get to him in a minute), only he's adjusted to big league play at an incredible rate. It's only been one month, but it's hard not to get excited about Segura and what he will be able to accomplish over the course of the season.
Carlos Gomez likes making money
Before the season began, Gomez signed a three-year, $24 million extension after having the best season of his career in 2012. Rather than fold under the pressure of a more lucrative contract, Gomez has flourished. He trails only Segura in batting average and is showing a much more consistent and patient approach at the plate, something he committed to during spring training.
After a slow start, that somewhat refined approach has paid off, although Gomez still takes violent hacks. All that's resulted in is a .349 average and 4 HRs, and the way Gomez's speed impacts the game cannot be overstated. That contract extension leaves general manager Doug Melvin looking like a genius.
Patience is wearing thin with Rickie Weeks
Surprises are all over the place with this team, from Betancourt, to Segura, to Gomez, to the retooled bullpen's relative success. But there is one throbbing eyesore that's hard to ignore on the Brewers right now -- Rickie Weeks.
For the second consecutive season, Weeks is off to a dreadfully slow start. His strike out rate is sky-high while his average is well below .200 and production is nearly non-existent. What's worse is that Milwaukee is paying Weeks $10 million this season. A second baseman appears to be waiting in the wings at Triple-A Nashville by the name of Scooter Gennett, who is hitting .411 with the Sounds.
The calls for Gennett will continue to grow in volume if Weeks can't get it going, but the 30-year-old likely won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
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_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Aramis Ramirez
- Jean Segura