By: Melissa S. Wollering
The raging submarine has surfaced. The Man with the Mustache has parted the Milwaukee Brewers’ plagued sea from which coast guard officials were picking up distress signals. Adios to pitching coach Bill Castro. Enter Chris Bosio straight from country music land. Speaking of, if your tween wants to party with JJ Hardy, she’ll have to hitch a plane to Nashville. To top things off, Alcides Escobar will now take your questions from the infield. But we’re not done–Bill Hall was also designated for assignment and OF Jason Bourgeois is coming up the ranks.
A pitching staff that ranks near the bottom of almost every category in the NL brings little job security. So after 17 years as bullpen coach, it is sufficed to say Bill Castro was NOT cutting it during his first year as pitching coach.
I personally mourned the loss of Mike Maddux prior to this season, who was successfully courted by the Texas Rangers. He was Milwaukee’s pitching coach from 2003-2008 and is largely credited with the Ben Sheets era of Brewers baseball. The organization knew it would be nearly impossible to fill his shoes and the appointment of Bill Castro, while welcomed, was not digested without some skepticism.
Tuesday’s 13-6 loss to San Diego was the nail in the coffin. If the Padres have one of the worst offenses in the league and the Crew can’t stop them from scoring, Doug Melvin and Ken Macha will go postal. 22 losses in 35 games often means a team is facing a meltdown on multiple levels. No, this time it truly is JUST the pitching. When even Bill Hall is smacking homers and you still lose by 7 because of pitching that wreaks of limburger, adjustments are inevitable.
As for Castro’s interim replacement, Chris Bosio made his MLB debut in 1986 by pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a second-round draft pick for them back in 1982. Bosio came home to roost this year by taking the pitching coach position for Milwaukee’s AAA Nashville team. As of Wednesday, that team was tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in team ERA with a 4.05 and has allowed the fourth-fewest homers (83).
Onto James Jerry Hardy—kids call him JJ (trademark David Kay)—the struggling shortshop is two years removed from All Star status and has been playing as such. His .229 batting, mere 11 homers and 45 RBI’s were dismal, essentially putting a black hole the Brewers’ lineup.
Hardy was sent down to AAA with little choice. A player must have five full years in the majors before he is able to turn down such an assignment. Meantime, Aaron Harang just cleared waivers. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Hardy and Hart or Hardy, prospect and Hall for Harang? We could hear more chatter on this in coming days.
Alcides Escobar, who was brought up to the bigs last season and sent back down to work on his defensive consistency, will takeover for Hardy. He is considered the team’s top prospect, (see “Chart Magnificence” Above), batting .298 in Nashville with two dozen doubles, 6 triples, 4 homers and 34 RBI’s. His OBP is .353 and he could fill the void of stolen bases for the Crew, having tallied 42 himself this season. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but Milwaukee’s stolen base record wasn’t half-bad until Rickie Weeks’ season-ending injury.
Hall might as well erase the last two years of his life. 24 RBI in 214 at-bats screams gigantic waste of cash. The Brewers are paying him $6.8M in 2009 and $8.4M in 2010 to produce jack squat. I apologize ahead of time to anyone named Jack.
Right now, the organization has ten days to trade Billy, cut him loose or stick him in the minors. Billy has already agreed to head to the minors but injuries forced the Crew to stick him back in the lineup. Don’t hold your breath. No one will want to pick up his salary, so Milwaukee appears to be stuck between a Hall and a hard place.
Onto the Brewers decision to go Bourghetto. By the way, Bourghetto is a termed defined as bourgeois AND ghetto, commonly used by one Paul M. Banks. Bless Paul’s fine vocabulary, which comes in quite handy here.
In 105 games with Nashville, Bourgeois was batting .316 with 18 doubles, six triples, two homers and 41 RBI, with a .354 OBP. Desperate times call for surprising measures. Another OF will be welcome. This could also indicate the Brewers have some level of comfort in considering dealing Hart.
Wednesday’s decisions won’t fix the starting rotation or the bullpen fatigue, but it’s obvious the front office wants to send a signal to its coaches and players. The Hunt for Ken’s Machtober isn’t over until the submarine has sunk. Or until Sean Connery says it is.