Brewers at a tipping point
The Brewers frustrating start has the team at a tipping point, the Bradley Center has a new name, and news from Milwaukee Mustangs, Green Bay Packers and UWM.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
After winning 96 games and reaching the NLCS in 2011, there were big expectations for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. With a 17-26 record through Monday night, the Milwaukee Brewers have certainly underperformed through the first quarter of the season. While the pitching staff has struggled, particularly in the bullpen, there have been signs of life in recent weeks. The offense, however, remains frustratingly inconsistent. After breaking through with 16 runs against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday with a lineup of mostly bench players, the regulars only scored three runs in 14 innings Monday night against the San Francisco Giants.
Two games are not a large sample size, but they are a microcosm of how the season has gone so far. The team averages 4.26 runs scored per game, but have failed to score more than 3 runs on 23 occasion, and they have already been shut out 4 times (a rate of nearly once in every 10 games).
Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun is still the Crew’s major offensive force, but of his 12 home runs, 9 have been with the bases empty. Rickie Weeks and Nyjer Morgan have struggled badly at the top of the order, batting a combined .228/.310/.352 (AVG/OBP/SLG). Manager Ron Roenicke recently shook up the lineup by putting Corey Hart back in the leadoff role and finding more at bats for former Japanese batting champ Norichika Aoki. Hart (playing first base) and Aoki (right field) were 1 and 2 in the lineup on Monday.
Roenicke called the offense “frustrating” after Monday’s game. It has been. But there is too much talent up and down the roster to be this bad for the entire season. Rickie Weeks will be better. Nyjer Morgan will be better. Aramis Ramirez will be better. Braun is one of the most consistent hitters in the game, and Jonathan Lucroy is in the midst of a breakthrough season. They have time to make a run, but if the team is still struggling in mid-July, the front office will have difficult decisions to make regarding pending free agents Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
Chin up, Brewers fans. This season hasn’t been what you’ve expected, but it’s far from over. Last season’s World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals were 8.5 games out of the last playoff spot on Aug. 29. The Brewers are at a tipping point in the season, it’s just a matter of which way they tip.
In other sports headlines…
- The Bradley Center is now known as the “BMO Harris Bradley Center.” The Canadian banking conglomerate, which acquired Milwaukee-based M&I Bank last summer, headlines a list of new or renewed corporate partnerships that are believed to be worth $18 million over the next six years. This announcement comes on the heels of Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl publicly stating that the franchise needs a new arena. Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel has more, including reactions from the family of Jane Bradley-Pettit.
- One of the Bradley Center’s other tenants, the Milwaukee Mustangs of the Arena Football League, squandered two 21-point leads in a 58-55 loss to the Georgia Force on Friday. Quarterback Gino Guidugli completed 22 of 27 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns. The Mustangs (3-6) are halfway through their schedule and have lost five of their last six games. They’re on the road this weekend, facing the Tampa Bay Storm (5-5).
- The Green Bay Packers are on the practice field this week for organized team activities. Wednesday’s 11:30 a.m. practice is open to the public. Last week, several current and former players toured Wisconsin, making a couple Milwaukee-area stops in Kenosha, Grafton and an unannounced stop in West Allis. Fox 6 has video of the event.
- The UWM Panthers baseball team opens the Horizon League tournament against Youngstown State Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. The team won 9 of their last 10 regular season games. They are the 3rd seed in the 6-team conference, posting a regular season record of 18-11 (26-25 overall). First pitch is set for 4 p.m..
- New UWM athletic director Andy Geiger will reportedly earn $215,000 per year. Recent discussions regarding the future of UWM’s athletics program have ranged from bold to meek. Before any major changes to the department, though, Geiger’s first order of business is to stabilize a program that has now seen three different ADs in less than four years.