Back on New Year’s Day, I wrote about 10 Things I wanted to see in the 2010 season. I figured the All-Star Break would be a good time to revisit those goals, which I thought were realistic at the time and would lead the Brewers to around 85 wins and second place in the NL Central. Surprisingly, I didn’t do nearly as poorly as I thought when I sat down to write this.
1. Alcides Escobar: OBP over .330 — FAIL
We knew Esco had problems with patience, but I had hopes of his plate discipline improving with his strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. Even then, an OBP of .330 would rely heavily on his batting average. Halfway through the season, neither has been very good — he’s hitting .244/.301/.329 — and that’s not even mentioning the unexpected problems he’s had on defense.
2. Carlos Gomez: 35 SB — FAIL
Unlike Escobar, I had no delusions of Gomez getting on base at a .330 clip, but I did think he would make the most of his opportunities when he did get on. Like most of the roster, though, Gomez isn’t running nearly as much as we anticipated. He only has 10 steals at the break, and ZiPS projects him to only steal 10 more in the second half.
3. Randy Wolf: 4.00 ERA — FAIL
I thought Wolf’s ability to strike out more hitters would lead him to fare better than Jeff Suppan ever did in Milwaukee, because the comparisons were flying from the get-go. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone — not even the biggest Wolf critics — could have predicted the rise in walks and just how much the home rate has jumped. Despite all that, Wolf has managed to shave his ERA down to 4.56 at the break, so while a 4.00 ERA is unlikely, it’s not impossible.
4. Yovani Gallardo: Less Walks — WIN
Yo has still had off-and-on problems with pitch counts keeping him from going deep into games, but he isn’t giving away nearly as many free passes. His BB/9 is down from 4.56 last year to 3.87, more in line with his career average. He’s walked 48 so far this year, and ZiPS has him finishing the year with 81 — still a bit high for an “ace,” but not nearly as bad as his 94 last year.
5. Ryan Braun: 40 HR — FAIL
I wanted Braun to hit the 40 HR mark for the first time in his career because I was convinced the Brewers needed to make up the power being lost by J.J. Hardy and Mike Cameron. Of course, I didn’t expect Corey Hart to be among the league leaders, so Braun’s lack of power hasn’t hurt nearly as much as it could have. With that said, it’s been a disappointing year by his standards. If the Pirates series was any indication, he may be working himself out of his two month-long slump, but right now he’s only projected for 28 home runs. It would be the first time in his career he didn’t finish with at least 30.
6. Rickie Weeks: 500 ABs — WIN
This was based on my desire to see Rickie finally play a full season, and so far we’ve been lucky enough to see it. Not only is he on pace to hit this mark — he has 361 at the break — but he’s likely going to shatter the club record for plate appearances.
7. Jeff Suppan: ERA under 5.00 — FAIL
Automatic failure for no longer being with the club, but I’m not complaining. I did semi-predict the Brewers releasing him, but that’s like saying I predicted the sun would come up this morning.
8. Corey Hart: .800 OPS — EPIC WIN
I just wanted Corey to be a respectable offensive player again. It wasn’t something we had seen since the first half of 2008. I never thought he was capable of turning it around to the point where not only is he a valuable trade chip, but he might just be the Brewers’ first-half MVP. Hart credits Dale Sveum for making an adjustment in his swing, bringing his hands lower to generate more power. While it’s awesome if that’s true, it also raises the question, “What the hell took so long for Sveum to see that??” Corey, if you don’t make it out of the All-Star break as a Brewer, I want to at least thank you for giving us something to remember from this season.
9. Manny Parra: Serviceable Starter — WIN
It took awhile for it to finally happen, but I would say Parra’s numbers as a starter — specifically the 9.7 K/9 — would qualify as “serviceable.” Yovani Gallardo‘s injury may buy Parra more time in the rotation, but let’s just hope Ken Macha doesn’t make the mistake of putting Parra back in the bullpen once Yo is ready to return.
10. Mat Gamel: Playing Time — WIN
I wasn’t planning on Gamel getting hurt during spring training, but now that he’s back, I’m glad he’s playing every day in Nashville. He’s cooled off a bit since a white-hot start, but all reports seem to indicate Gamel is more focused than he’s ever been and has the goal of making the big leagues for good. Unfortunately, I still don’t see a place for him in Milwaukee unless Prince Fielder is traded or he tries to learn right field in the middle of the season.
Considering some of the low points this season, 5 out of 10 probably isn’t that bad…right?