Brewers eliminated from playoff race, but optimism for 2013 | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

In the end, early- and mid-season struggles were just too much to overcome for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers were eliminated from playoff contention with their 7-0 loss to the Houston Astros, but those postseason dreams would have died anyway with St. Louis’ win over Washington.

It’s a disheartening end to a wild run through August and September that helped make the final weeks of the season interesting — something that seemed unlikely back in July. Milwaukee went through the first four months of the season without a winning mark in a single mark and found themselves a season-low 12 games under .500 on August 19. What followed was one of the greatest hot streaks in franchise history, as the Brewers reeled off 24 wins in 30 games from August 20-September 21 before stumbling during this past week.

Even though Milwaukee won’t be returning to the postseason, there is plenty to take away from this year, and certainly enough to keep spirits high for 2013.

With no Zack Greinke, the rotation will again lack a top-end starter, but what the Brewers are lacking in high-ceiling arms they could make up with depth. Marco Estrada proved he’s a solid big league starter. Mike Fiers showed his success in the minors wasn’t just smoke and mirrors. Wily Peralta had a knack for working out of jams and showed flashes of why he came into the year as the Brewers’ top pitching prospect. Before being shut down, Mark Rogers was striking out 9.5 batters per 9 innings. Tyler Thornburg has the repetoire to be a solid starter, too, if he can figure out a way to minimize the home runs.

Even if Thornburg doesn’t translate into a starter, he could be a part of a younger, cheaper, and likely more effective bullpen next season. Brandon Kintzler’s 2012 season (and his stuff, good as ever) should make him a candidate to break camp next year as a part of the bullpen. Jim Henderson won’t be young next year as a 30-year-old, but he became Ron Roenicke’s go-to “8th Inning Guy” this year with Francisco Rodriguez struggling. To date, Henderson has 40 strikeouts in just 27.2 innings — the kind of strikeout stuff you want to see from late-inning relievers. Josh Stinson doesn’t have strikeout stuff, but the Brewers seem to like him nonetheless, and his groundball tendencies could make him an option to replace Kameron Loe if Loe is non-tendered this winter. In the minors, the Brewers have stashed a couple hard-throwing waiver claims in Fautino De Los Santos and Miguel De Los Santos (no relation), and Santo Manzanillo is worth watching to see if he can bounce back from a rough year following an offseason car accident. Two pieces from the Greinke trade — Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg — could see time in the majors at some point next season, too.

Speaking of Greinke trade pieces, Jean Segura should provide some optimism for 2013 as well. The Brewers’ decision to call him up in early August so soon after the trade wasn’t a universally popular one, and initially he struggled at the plate: as late as September 5, he was hitting less than .200 with very little plate discipline and no power. He’s turned it around in recent weeks, hitting the ball with more authority, picking up more extra-base hits, and even learning to take a walk as the #8 hitter. Calling up Segura so soon only made sense if the Brewers were planning on contending right away next year. With Segura playing this way (and with some more improvement in discipline and power), the Brewers shouldn’t have to worry as much about losing a year of team control as he tries to develop at the big league level.

There are other things about the 2012 season that inspire confidence for next year, too — things like Ryan Braun having another MVP-caliber year despite all of the distractions, Corey Hart taking to first base well, Norichika Aoki doing well in a leadoff role, Rickie Weeks turning things around in the second half, etc. Barring any blockbuster offseason acquisitions, the NL Central looks winnable again next season, and as we saw this year, the addition of the second wildcard will keep many teams “in it” until September.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Gman says: October 1, 2012

    Agreed, lots to be optimistic about as a Brewers fan.

    The optimism that I imagine was gained in the last two months among the clubhouse, coaching staff, and front office can’t be understated either. The players know they can compete, rather than question their ability as a collective team to get the job done day in day out. The coaches can work on capitalizing strengths (especially with all the youngsters) rather than hiding expected performance weaknesses. Doug E. Fresh Melvin can work the scrap heaps for hidden gems to bolster an already talented squad. Marky Mark Attanasio can feel good about the 2013 business outlook and can approve the necessary veteran SP signing.

    No fun thinking about the spirit of Brewer Nation had the boys not put together a late summer to remember.

  2. Beep says: October 1, 2012

    So great that we still had a chance up until the end of September and saved talking about next season until now. Although I would have rather played 100 win baseball all season, playing poorly enough to lose Greinke certainly help set us up for a few more productive seasons. It would also be sweet if Greinke comes back in FA.

  3. Dan V says: October 1, 2012

    If anything I was able to stop doing so much prospect watching during this final stretch and enjoy watching the team play good baseball for a month. That was fun. Certainly stuff to be excited about next year. I predict an All star appearance for Jonathon Lucroy. I feel the Brewers must add a top of the rotation starter to truly be competitive for an entire season. I bet they make a pretty good go at Greinke.

  4. Ron says: October 1, 2012

    If Melvin can’t convince Zach to come back, at least find a younger starting pitcher this time on the cheap not like the last 2 we have since disposed of, please?

  5. Philboyd says: October 1, 2012

    Nothwithstanding the solid pitching of Estrada and Fiers and Peralta, I still think getting a top of the line starter to go with Gallardo should be DM’s top priority. Seems unlikely they could re-sign Greinke, given their failed attempt to do so before trading him, but he sure would look good back in this rotation.

  6. david says: October 1, 2012

    The Greinke ship has sailed. He is not coming back. Not unless $140 million falls from the skies.

  7. Stephen says: October 1, 2012

    I agree. No chance with Greinke. In fact, grumblings that KC ownership always liked him and might make a push to get him back… I’d see that happen before the Brewers. Although, I won’t argue if he did find his way back to Brew City.

    Anyway, I realize the article focused on the young up and commers, but what is going to happen to Marcum? As a four or five guy I could see it, but I guess he is eligible for arbitration at $7.7MM. I don’t think the Brewers can spend that kind of money on the back of the rotation.

    • Ross B says: October 1, 2012

      The issue with Marcum is that he is most likely a 3 starter going forward and the team can probably find 90% or more of his value for 10% of the price using some of the young starters in the system already. If they go outside, which I think they should, I think it should be at least number 2 talent.

    • Kris says: October 1, 2012

      IDK why we would want Marcum back honestly. He’s an injury risk and his endurance is pretty poor as we saw in the playoffs a year ago. You can do better than that.

  8. Matt T says: October 1, 2012

    And lest we forget Lucroy coming back from injury and barely missing a beat. Also in that time, we happened to discover more great depth in the catcher position than I think anyone honestly knew we had.

    Another reason for optimisim: more money and an extra draft pick next year is always fun.

  9. Gil says: October 2, 2012

    No mention if Go-Go?

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