Optimism from a skeptic.

In honor of Jeff Sackmann’s first 2007 post, and McCalvy’s latest, I though I’d talk about something that I’m optimistic about for the 2007 season. And given that there’s not much of a track record to support it, it may even cross over into the area of “faith”. And it takes a lot to admit that on my part. I’m a skeptic. Hell, I could often be called a cynic. My outlook on my favorite baseball team is usually no different. I see one little article about the worst baserunners of 2006 and think that maybe Bill Hall can’t play CF. Some people would say that I’ve been too critical of the Suppan signing (I think I’m being realistic). But every once in a while, I just believe in something, and defend it voraciously. So I recently got into a friendly argument with some casual baseball fans (who needs ‘em!) about the Suppan signing. One of them referred to Soupier as the new ace of the staff. Even though I should have expected some(misinformed)one to have this idea, it was the first time I actually heard it uttered, and it confused me so much that I saw white and my ears rang. To me there is not any confusion as to who the best starting pitcher in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform: my captain, my ace, my scruffy looking nerfherder, Benny Sheets, one of the five best pitchers in the NL. If you look at the last eight starts Benny made last year, it’s easy to see why I think he’s one of the best:

8/23 7 6 1 0 7 0
8/28 7 6 3 1 6 0
9/2 7 4 3 1 8 2
9/8 6.2 7 2 1 6 0
9/13 8 2 1 0 10 1
9/19 6 10 4 1 8 1
9/24 8 5 2 0 8 0
9/30 6 7 0 1 7 0
totals 53.2 47 16 5 58 4

Okay, that’s an 11.6 K/BB ratio, 9.8 K/9, 0.85 BB/9 (!!!), 0.68 HR/9 (!!!!!), and a RA of 2.68 (lower if you count ER only, obviously). That’s Santana-like. Granted it’s only eight starts, and Sheets only made 17 starts for 106 IP last year. And given that he only made 22 starts in 2005, the health issues are a legitimate concern. Still is peripherals for the year were very, very good: a HR/9 of 0.76, BB/9 of 0.93, and a K/9 of 9.9. This shows me that the shoulder hasn’t hindered him. He had just two bad starts, one that was cut short due to a precaution, and three others that were not quality starts. That’s 11 QS in 17 GS. If he’s over his dizziness for good, I think the rest of the stuff is behind him, and that bodes well for the Brewers. Since my friends’ reasoning behind the Suppan-is-ace argument was that he was durable (note: this is dumb — by that measure, Livan Hernandez is the best pitcher of the last 6 years) I offered my friends an over/under bet on the number of games Sheets would start in 2007. (They countered, of course, with an over/under for number of wins, at which point I threw up in my mouth a little. I tried to counter-counter with Quality Starts, but that was a lost cause from the get go.) The number was 27. Would you take the over or under?