Hold Your Head Up (58-59)
Dear Ken Macha,
In light of the tumultuous week you just went through I hope this letter finds you in decent spirits. I can only imagine that you’re slightly on edge waiting for the next shoe to drop after Doug Melvin released Bill Hall, called up Jason Bourgeois (much to the dismay of the proletariat) and sent J.J. Hardy down to Nashville in exchange for “shortstop of the future” Alcides Escobar.
Fortunately for you, the Crew responded to the changes with a winning streak, taking the final game of a dismal series against the Padres and winning the first two games against the Houston Astros thanks to a bevy of home runs from Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Mike Rivera. Unfortunately for you, on Sunday Braden Looper and Dave Weathers gave up a 3-run home run each to sink your chances of winning four games in a row for the first time in almost 4 internet years (May 19, 2009).
Yet everything’s not lollipops and roses just because you won 3 out of 4 after Doug Melvin’s annual roster identity crisis. Sure, J.J. Hardy’s 200 disc cd changer full of classic Bon Jovi and bootlegs of O.A.R. concerts is out of the clubhouse and boxed in a Uhaul traveling on I-65 toward Nashville, but the absence of Hardy and Hall only means that you have two fewer excuses for your team’s poor performance. Should Jason Kendall be traded for $240 worth of pudding and Jeff Suppan left to linger in Appleton, the only remaining scapegoat will be you, Ken. And you don’t want to know what happens to our managers when we run out of scapegoats.
Escobar’s excellent play and Mike Rivera’s astounding production in two well-deserved starts should show you how helpful it can be to mix things up once in a while. In both instances, you had nowhere to go but up — Hardy’s stone feet and Kendall’s weak bat have been a cancer at the bottom of the batting order single-handedly killing successful innings all season.
Good things can come from the depths of desperation and that definitely appears to be the case here, Ken. Not only are you benefiting from better players actually playing, but by giving Hardy a chance to redeem himself in AAA you’ll be able to raise his trade value in the off-season and hopefully snag the quality starting pitcher you so desperately need. In much the same vein, benching Kendall in favor of Rivera could give you a great opportunity to see if Rivera can handle everyday duty after Kendall becomes a free agent at the end of the season. At worst, Rivera hits as poorly as Kendall. But as we’ve already witnessed this week, Rivera is not only a much better hitter than Kendall, but his entrance music is slightly more pleasing to the ears than Kendall’s choice selection of nu-metal.
Ken, you only have two weeks left of the fat of your schedule and so far you’re only .500 against the supposed cream puffs of the National League. The offense appears to finally be firing on all cylinders, while the pitching is sputtering along, albeit with slightly better results than we’ve come to expect lately. Hopefully, that can be a winning combination for you this week. If not, it might be time to start playing with 2010 in mind — hell, that might be a better strategy for the rest of 2009 regardless.
The Crew has a knack for playing down (and sometimes up) to the level of their opponent, so don’t sleep on the Pirates or Nationals this week. And by all means, keep your head up.
P.S. – Pass this on to Frank Catalanotto.