by Max - 06/30/2005
The Brewers have been a bottom feeder in baseball for well over a decade. They have tried numerous plots to get out of this never-ending tailspin but few of them have worked. In 1997, they switched leagues hoping to regenerate a lackluster fan base by bringing in new teams to County Stadium. That worked for a short time before fans saw how bad this team actually was. Then they went out and signed big free agent names from Colorado that had inflated numbers from their tenure at Coors Field. As you could image this was a disaster and kept the Brewers at the bottom of the division for the next five years.
During the end of the century this team experienced numerous problems stemming from the front office. They changed managers nearly every year and fans started to grow restless with the Seligs as owners. The taxpayers of Milwaukee had built him a beautiful new stadium that nearly tripled the value of the franchise, yet the team choose to pocket most of the money instead of acquiring high-priced free agents that would give the club immediate dividends. This was a double-edged sword, because although the team was not signing many marquee names, they were quietly planting a garden full of young talent. The best decision that this team made was trading away Richie Sexson, who had one year left on his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers traded him away to the Arizona Diamondbacks that included five big league players in Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Junior Spivey, Chad Moeller and Chris Capuano. Capuano may have been the gem in the entire deal because of the lack of quality left-handed pitchers in the league. This year he is 7-6 with a 3.22 E.R.A.
After a complete collapse last season that started in July, the Brewers and their fans did not have many expectations for this season. They are playing in a tough NL Central that features numerous all-stars from the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Because of this, fans wanted to see the much-acclaimed young talent take their swings in the big leagues. The Brewers obliged and slated J.J. Hardy as their starting shortstop. This has not produced the results that Milwaukee would have hoped for and now Hardy has been delegated to part-time duties. He has held his own in the field but cannot find any consistency with the bat. He is currently hitting .175 with one home run and only 12 RBIs. Bill Hall has replaced him as an everyday player and the team appears confident that Hall can hold his own. Hall is only 25 years old and has already shown great flashes of power.
The other two call-ups have been met with great success. Rickie Weeks was called up during the month of June after the Crew traded away Junior Spivey to the Nationals. He has solidified himself in the No. 2 hole because of his ability to work the count, go the other way, and lay down the occasional sacrifice. This was an upgrade for the Brewers because Spivey was among the league leaders in strikeouts.
The other big name prospect Prince Fiedler got the call to the big leagues during interleague play. Fiedler was at first thought to be in the majors for only a week where the Brewers had the luxury of the designated hitter. Fiedler is the son of former big leaguer Cecil Fiedler and pretty much can only play one position, that being first base. Fiedler impressed the Brewers so much that they have decided to keep him around for a while. The highlight for him this season was a pinch-hit three run homer to put the Brewers ahead for good against their border rival Minnesota. However, barring a trade of Lyle Overbay, I feel that Fiedler will be sent down so he will be able to play everyday. Next season, the position should be all his.
For the first time in quite awhile the future looks outstanding for the Milwaukee Brewers. They just signed ace pitcher Ben Sheets to a four-year extension and most of their young talent is locked up for a while. The only bad contact left is that of Geoff Jenkins who still has a couple of years remaining on his multi-year contact. The Cubs are Cardinals are getting up there in age and I expect the Brewers to challenge for division title in the near future with this young nucleus. For diehard Brewers fans, hopefully this vision comes soon.