Rolling Out the Barrel: Pain and Sadness in Milwaukee

Panic and heartache has settled over the Brewers fan base, spreading and expanding among the crowd like the smoke from a fissure in the earth from which the demons of the abyss are sure to shortly emerge. After a blistering 4-0 start in the Cactus League that ignited the hopes of a suffering people, Milwaukee has lost four straight, and the writing is on the wall: The rebuild isn’t working. Tear it down, trade everyone, fire the staff and start from scratch. “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here” shall be etched into the brick above every entrance, warning fans brave or ignorant enough to show up at the Miller Park gates of the horrors which are about to be unleashed upon their psyches. All is lost.

With the heaviest of hearts, let’s roll it out:

Beyond the Box Score || The Saddest Teams of 2015 (Mar. 9, 2016)

Henry Druschel, whose work can also be found at BP Wrigleyville, devised his own metric, the Depression Scale, to explore which team’s fan base experienced the most pain in 2015. Because you lived through it, and because the article is featured in this space, you already know the Brewers are featured prominently in the “top” five.

Not only did the Brewers fail on the surface in terms of wins and losses, they also wildly underperformed compared to preseason expectations, even those of the computers whose projections were less optimistic than the rose-colored glasses-wearing fan. They also endured a number of spirit-crushing losing streaks, which cemented Brewer Nation’s place among the most pained fan bases of 2015.  

Baseball America || Top 20 Rookies For 2016 (Mar. 11, 2016)

Running down the top Rookie of the Year candidates entering the league this season, John Manuel takes a break from the standard practice of ranking prospects according to their overall potential and instead explores the ones with the greatest present value. Ranked sixth, behind five prospects who are expected to either start the season with their respective teams or receive the call up in the season’s first few weeks, is Orlando Arcia. And, ultimately, his timeline is anyone’s guess at this point. The slick-fielding shortstop has spent exactly one full season at every level up until this point of his career, but he showed a polish last season in Double-A that belied his age and may make it difficult for the Brewers to put off his promotion to the big leagues if he gets off to a blistering start in Colorado Springs.

The list is composed largely of the same few teams, as the Brewers join the Dodgers, Twins, Rangers and Nationals as clubs to have multiple entries – those five teams compose 60 percent of the list. Milwaukee’s second entrant is right-hander Jorge Lopez, who checks in at no. 16. The 23-year-old hurler enjoyed a cup of coffee last September and will most likely start the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs, along with Arcia. While the major-league rotation seems set for now, Lopez will be one of the first candidates to slide in should any of the team’s starters get injured or traded or experience a prolonged period of ineffectiveness.

Brew Crew Ball || How to Explain Ryan Braun to Your Kids (Mar. 10, 2016)

Responding to the hilariously out-of-touch comments made by Goose Gossage regarding Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun and the “nerds ruining baseball,” Derek Harvey offers a bit of tongue-in-cheek parenting advice. In his “Old Man Yells At Cloud” diatribe, Gossage ripped the state of the game today, calling it a disgrace in an interview that was laced with so many expletives, it would make Howard Stern blush. I would suggest Gossage take a good long look in the mirror before he starts throwing words like “disgrace” at others, but hey, no one wants to have to look at that mug for too long, so I get it.

The Hardball Times || How Much Is Your Team’s All Star Worth In Prospects? (Mar. 7, 2016)

Taking a look at the rebuilding Cleveland Indians of 2008 and 2009, John Marsh explores the worth of an All Star when constructing a trade. The Brewers, of course, were involved in the first big sell of those Cleveland teams when they swapped a quadruplet of prospects for Indians’ ace CC Sabathia. The trade, in retrospect, seems to have worked out for both teams — though in a very surprising way for Cleveland. Sabathia was an unstoppable monster for the Brewers over the second half of 2008, starting on three day’s rest over and over, putting up impossible numbers to metaphorically drag the Brewers to the playoffs. And while the Indians certainly received long-term production in exchange, it wasn’t from the expected source. The headliner of the deal, Matt LaPorta, fell far short of expectations. Michael Brantley, the Player To Be Named Later in the deal, proved to be a late bloomer and has provided enormous value for Cleveland over the past couple of years.

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