2004 Record: 67-94 (.416)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 68-93 (.422)
Manager: Ned Yost
General Manager: Doug Melvin
Ballpark (2004 park factors): Miller Park (95/96)
Who’s replacing whom?
Carlos Lee replaces Scott Podsednik
J.J. Hardy replaces Craig Counsell
Damian Miller replaces Gary Bennett and cuts into Chad Moeller’s playing time
Jeff Cirillo replaces Keith Ginter
Chris Magruder and Dave Krynzel inherit Ben Grieve’s playing time
Derrick Turnbow replaces Danny Kolb
Ricky Bottalico replaces Luis Vizcaino
Tommy Phelps replaces Dave Burba
Julio Santana replaces Matt Kinney
Jorge de la Rosa inherits Brook Kieschnick’s innings
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Junior Spivey
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Jeff Cirillo
C Damian Miller
RF Geoff Jenkins
CF Brady Clark
LF Carlos Lee
R Bill Hall (IF)
R Wes Helms (3B)
S Chris Magruder (OF)
R Chad Moeller (C)
L Dave Krynzel (OF)
R Ben Sheets
L Chris Capuano
R Victor Santos
R Wes Obermueller
L Doug Davis
R Derrick Turnbow
R Ricky Bottalico
L Tommy Phelps
R Matt Wise
L – Jorge de la Rosa
R – Julio Santana
R – Gary Glover
DL: L – Russell Branyan (3B)
R Brady Clark (CF)
R – Jeff Cirillo (3B)
L Geoff Jenkins (RF)
R Carlos Lee (LF)
L Lyle Overbay (1B)
R Junior Spivey (2B)
R Damian Miller (C)
R J.J. Hardy (SS)
If the Brewers were to maintain their current .464 winning percentage, they would finish 2005 with their best record since switching over to the National League following the 1997 season, but that’s not the good news for Brewer fans. No, that would be their current Pythagorean winning percentage of .549.
Yup, according to good ol’ Pythagorus, the Brewers’ 26-30 record should be reversed to 31-25, enough to not only put them second in the NL Central Division, but put them in the lead for the Wild Card spot. The last time that the Brewers had a winning record, their offense featured a rookie named Pat Listach and a pair of veterans named Yount and Molitor. That was 1992, which just happened to be the last year the Yankees were a sub-.500 club.
That 1992 Yankee team featured an everyday outfield of Mel Hall, Roberto Kelly and Danny Tartabull (with some 250 at-bats from this second-year kid named Bernie Williams). Just for yucks, here’s a comparison between the ’92 Yankee outfield and this year’s:
Matsui .271/.327/.408 (.274) 91 (in CF only)
Kelly .272/.322/.384 (.279) 102
Womack .254/.296/.284 (.232) 100
Hall .280/.310/.429 (.280) 107
Certainly there were other things wrong with that 1992 club (Andy Stankiewicz’s .338 OBP was the best among the nine starters not named Tartabull, as was Hall’s .429 slugging; the fourth spot in the rotation was split between Tim Leary and Greg Cadaret and the fifth spot was shared by Sam Militello, Jeff Johnson, Bob Wickman, Shawn Hillegas, Curt Young, and a rookie Sterling Hitchcock–of those seven pitchers, only Militello and Young, who combined for 14 starts, had ERAs above the league average, leaving 52 starts to the rest), but the comparison is certainly revealing when contemplating where the current club could most use improvement.
Back to the Brewers, yes, Jeff Cirillo does indeed live, combining incredible defense (117 Rate) with decent OBP (.368, his best since Colorado and an exact match for his career mark) to allow the Brewers to coast by with Three True Outcomes superstar Russ Branyan on the mend (though Cirillo’s been starting over Branyan even when the latter is healthy, which is an infinitely larger mistake by manager Yost than swapping Overbay and Jenkins in the order).
Elsewhere, Lyle Overbay and Carlos Lee make a great 1-2 punch in the middle of the order, even if they are inexplicably doing it from the four and five spots rather than three and four. Meanwhile, while neither J.J. Hardy (who’s looking up at Tony Womack in terms of run production) nor Junior Spivey are hitting, Bill Hall is whistling a .296/.342/.507 tune while jumping back and forth between second and short on a daily basis. In fact, with Hall in one of the middle-infield spots, the Brewers have only one non-pitcher in the line-up with an OBP below Carlos Lee’s .340.
On the mound, the Brewers have the same rotation as a year ago, with 29-year-old Doug Davis (tonight’s starter) the senior member of the group. The Brewer starters have combined for a 3.73 ERA thus far this season, which would be even better had Ben Sheets not spent a large portion of the last two months struggling with an inner ear infection that limited him to one start in May. In his stead, Santos, Capuano and Davis have been excellent.
The pen is almost exactly the opposite in terms of make-up, but with even better results. Gone are Danny Kolb (all praise due Doug Melvin), Luis Vizcaino, Matt Kinney, Dave Burba, Brooks Kieschnick (alas), and Ben Ford. Jeff Bennett and Mike Adams are back in the minors. In their place is a motley crew headed by forgotten doping pioneer Derrick Turnbow, who is living up to the promise he never delivered on with the Angels by posting a 3.04 ERA and striking out more than a man per inning while saving eight games. The other major contributors include Marlins’ castoff Tommy Phelps (as the LOOGY), veteran journeyman Ricky Bottalico, and Matt Wise, another fallen Angel. With Turbow forming the head, the Brewer pen has bested the team’s starters with a 3.53 ERA.
Sooner or later, something has to give with this Brewer team. Either they’ll start winning according to their Pythagorean projections, or their pitching will implode. Either way, I plan to break out my old Harvey’s Wallbangers cap and my Roberto Kelly baseball cards and do my best to enjoy this three-day journey in the AL East wayback machine.
[Incidentally, today is Brooks Kieschnick‘s 33rd birthday, as the Yankees begin six days of NL-rules baseball, it only seems fitting that it start with an acknowledgement of his two pioneering two-way seasons. Happy Birthday, Brooks!]