As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Dear Milwaukee Brewers,
I know that this will come as a great surprise to you. It really shouldn't, but it will, because you are dense and it takes you months to even realize there is a problem, before you even think about addressing it. (I can't wait to get to that big fault of yours later in this letter, but first I have to finish this intro that I am legally bound by Big League Stew to write).
To cut to the chase, I'm sick and tired of you, and I want out. You have continually let me down over the past year, going so far as to embarrass me in front of my family and friends, making me feel embarrassed to even know you, nonetheless carry on a relationship with you. I mean, do you think it's easy to be with someone like you? Do you think that I like coming home every night and turning on the TV to see that you found a new way to make a fool of yourself? Do you think I enjoy getting so drunk after watching you that I pee in the refrigerator? (Actually, don't answer that.) I hate to see you waste the finest years of not only my life, but the lives of our children: Prince, Rickie, Ryan, Corey and Yovani deserve better than this. Heck, I deserve better than this.
You might think that I'm being premature, writing this letter now, when there are still games left to be played and a fourth-place battle against the Chicago Cubs to be fought, but just don't fight this okay? Just stop. I honestly can't take your lies anymore. Go ahead and win every game for the rest of the season for all I care, because it still won't get us to the playoffs and it certainly won't get us above .500. You have rendered yourself useless.
The Good Times: I know that you're going to say that we had some good times — that things weren't always this bad, and I suppose that you would be right. After all, you did have the third best offense in the National League based on OPS, and we did see great breakout seasons from Rickie Weeks(notes) (FINALLY!) and Corey Hart(notes) (SHOCKINGLY!). We also saw Yovani Gallardo(notes) establish himself as one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball and John Axford(notes) take the on the role of closer and make it his own. These are all good things, but the problem is that the majority of the really good memories came during a lot of bad memories.
When I look back on the 2010 season, the thing I remember most won't be something that Rickie Weeks or Corey Hart did; it will be the day Jeff Suppan(notes) finally got released and keyboard cat played him off.
Moving along, when I think about a great moment (for Padres fans) like Trevor Hoffman's(notes) 600th save, I won't think of the day he finally got it, I'll think of the seven losses and five blown saves that he had on his way there that, theoretically, cost us the season, ruined Hell's Bells for me, and made the entire animal kingdom turn against him.
Chris Capuano(notes) made a great comeback story, but his ascension back into the rotation came as a result of yet another disappointing season for Manny Parra(notes). That dude is a bigger letdown than the final season of LOST.
On and on it goes. For every fond memory I have of 2010, there is a bad one lurking right behind it, and I can't think of a single thing about you that makes me happy anymore. I hate that it ended up this way, but that's just the way it is. There is absolutely nothing about you that makes me smile.
It's Not All You: Okay, you've got me smiling now, and I'm thinking that maybe things weren't all that bad. Maybe this wasn't all your fault. I mean, we had some fun times. There was "Singles Night" at Miller Park and you know that was craaaaazy. I should probably just give you the benefit of the doubt. If you can forgive me for that one time I threw up at your park (okay, five times) I can probably forgive you for this.
It's probably just the classic small market dilemma then, right? Milwaukee is one of the smallest cities with a major league baseball team and, you can't possibly be expected to keep up with the payrolls of our rivals. What? We sold more tickets than (possibly) playoff bound teams in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Texas, San Diego, or Tampa Bay? Really? The New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Houston Astros, too? For real? Are you sure? Okay.
Well, let's blame Jeff Suppan then. He was horrible. Every game he pitched in was basically a guaranteed loss with his 7.84 ERA. It's not your fault he pitched that bad, right? Oh that's right everyone knew he was going to be terrible, but you insisted on giving him a job anyways. That was totally your fault.
Oh, but what about Trevor Hoffman? I mean, a 42-year old pitcher with a mid-80s fastball that can only go one inning imploding like that. Who could have seen that coming? Oh yeah, lots of people.
I guess this really is all your fault.
The Bad Times: The problem with you, the problem we always seem to have with you, is in the pitching. After a disastrous 2009 that saw you post the second worst ERA (4.83) in the National League, you told us that you were going to change. You said you realized you had a problem, and you were going to fix it. We believed you. You lied. We're stupid.
In 2010, despite spending big money on free-agent pitchers Randy Wolf(notes), Doug Davis(notes) and LaTroy Hawkins(notes) as well as bringing in superstar pitching coach Rick Peterson, it's been more of the same. The Brewers have had the third-worst ERA (4.72) in the National League and despite an average-ish season for Wolf every other pitcher who opened the season with the Brewers (non-Yovani) was a complete bust.
Our bullpen needed a complete makeover midway through the season, and while the results were good — Kameron Loe(notes), Zach Braddock(notes) and John Axford have been a revelation — they were too little and far too late. Kind of like everything you do.
To name a few instances:
• Jeff Suppan needed to not be on this team, probably since the moment you signed him, but you waited until June to get rid of him.
• Trevor Hoffman gave up runs in eight of his first 14 appearances and blew five of his first ten saves of the season, but he still got his ERA over 13 before you bothered pulling the plug.
• Latroy Hawkins got his ERA up to 8.44 and struggled with a big, obvious drop in velocity, before it crossed your mind that he might be hurt, and we haven't seen him since.
The one thing that you didn't manage to screw up was the offense, as it was still one of the league's best, but that doesn't mean that it was without mistakes. The trade to acquire Carlos Gomez(notes) was supposed to bring great defense and solidify the centerfield position resulted in a .239/.290/.354 slash line that is really, really bad and kind of embarrassing, really. This led to increased playing time for Jim Edmonds(notes). Edmonds hit very well for a 63-year-old, but looked like he was on mile 23 of the Boston Marathon when he was forced to chase down a deep flyball.
Arguably, your worst offense was your complete inability to do the trade deadline right. Sitting at a paltry 48-56, you decided to stand pat despite my pleas for you to do something, anything to show that you still cared. If you didn't get any good offers for Prince Fielder(notes) or Corey Hart, then that's okay, because we both know there is no sense in making a deal just to make a deal. It's just when I hear rumors that Daniel Hudson(notes) could have been ours, the same Daniel Hudson who is 6-1 with a 1.65 ERA and an 8.2 K/9 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and you didn't think he was good enough ... well, hopefully you can understand why I second guess you. Or swear at you. Or throw things at my television because of you.
Shape Up Or Ship Out: I need you to understand that this is just a break, not a break up. (How does six months sound?) We have too much history for it to just end like this, and we both know next season could be amazing. You're finally getting that cursed Jeff Suppan, David Riske(notes), and Bill Hall(notes) money off the books, so you should have over $30 million dollars to spend. Plus, you have one of the biggest (literally and figuratively) trading chips in the league to work with by the name of Prince Fielder, you still have the under-30 nucleus that most teams dream of, and the majority of next year's bullpen is in place. This makes you unlike a lot of the other teams that are going to get letters like this one. The Nationals and the Pirates of the world can expect another one next season, but you? You should get better.
You'll still have Ryan and Corey and Yovani and Rickie and Axford. You'll have money to spend. You have everything you need to get better. Don't screw it up.
I'm sorry, PLEASE don't screw it up.
See you in April,
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Follow Miller Park Drunk on Twitter: @millerparkdrunk
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.