As trying as the past couple months have been for Brewers fans to endure, it’s still a sad sight to see the season end. The good news? The team continued to play hard until Game 162 was in the books, capping off a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. In many ways, the season finale was the 2009 season in a nutshell: short outing from the starter (Suppan pulled after a couple innings) with a big lead surrendered late in the game.
While the series had no significance to the Brewers other than where they’ll end up drafting next June, they did manage to rain on St. Louis’ parade by dealing the Cards crucial defeats that prevented them from clinching homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs. You’re welcome, Los Angeles.
While many in the state of Wisconsin will now turn their full attention to football — I hear there’s a big game tomorrow night — forgive me if I spend a little while reflecting on the 2009 season and looking ahead to what the team can do to improve in 2010. As bad as the team has been at times this year, the fact that they managed to crack the 80-win barrier for the 4th time in the past 5 years is still a positive sign.
Beginning tomorrow, I’ll start handing out season grades to the players from this year’s squad. We’ll start tomorrow with the bottom of the class — those receiving D’s and F’s for the year — but to whet your appetite, here are players who earned “incompletes” for the 2009 season. For multiple reasons, we didn’t get to see enough of them for me to formulate a solid grade:
John Axford – Seems to have some good stuff, it’s just a matter of gaining control. Kind of reminds me of Derrick Turnbow in a way.
Josh Butler – Didn’t get much of a chance with the big league club this year, but here’s to hoping he can compete for a rotation spot next year. Performed well enough in the minors to make the Gabe Gross trade seem pretty fair.
David Riske – Lost to surgery. It’s a shame this free agent signing hasn’t worked out, because it actually seemed like a solid deal at the time. Now the Brewers would be lucky to get much of anything out of him.
Alcides Escobar – Has shown flashes of that electric speed and defense already. I think we’re ready to see it on a full-time basis next season.
Mat Gamel – Struggled to hit consistently with the big league club, but it doesn’t help that he spent a lot of time riding the bench. I still think of him as the best hitting prospect the team has, and has extra value considering he hits left-handed on a predominantly right-handed team.
Jason Bourgeois – Hope he’s enjoyed the cup of coffee, because there’s no real reason for him to see the big leagues next year.
Corey Patterson – A little part of me died every time I saw him in the leadoff spot. I can appreciate the numbers he put up in Triple A, but it’s pretty clear to everyone now that he’ll never be much more than a Triple A All-Star.
Rickie Weeks – One of the saddest stories of the 2009 season. Weeks finally seemed to be coming into his own when another wrist gave out. Here’s to hoping he can bounce back next year and it doesn’t take as long for him to get his confidence back this time.