(Mike Fiers should likely get a crack at starting.)
The Milwaukee Brewers have done an OK job bringing on reinforcements for their faulty bullpen. Things were looking pretty bleak before GM Melvin (and by extension, ownership) signed lefty relievers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez. Personally, I’m feeling better about the pen now, for sure. It’s kinda like those Snickers commercials with Joe Pesci; things just aren’t the same when you’re hungry for relief pitching. That said, the team needs a truckload of candy bars when it comes to starting pitching. One hears the common refrain that Yovani Gallardo is incapable of serving as a true ace because he’s sloppy and throws too many pitches. Even if Yo is a bona fide #1, who comes after him and in what order for 2013? Remember when we had Zack Greinke and a healthy Shaun Marcum as our #2 and #3? Now it’s like a black hole behind Yo. Well things are not exactly that desperate, but the starting rotation’s status makes a lot of fans nervous. In the major leagues, a team is not likely to get away with hope and duct tape for an entire 162-game regular season, let alone any playoff games.
The picture of pitching on the 2013 Brewers is so muddled and confused overall this offseason that it appears many people think Mike Fiers should be a reliever. I don’t know about that…Fiers seems to be one of the team’s best starters right now, as well as one of its most-experienced (yikes). I didn’t want to see Marco Estrada in the rotation at all last year, even when he was fairly solid, because I like him in the bullpen a lot. Now Estrada is one of the most valuable potential starters on the roster. How things have changed. Until Chris Narveson is deemed officially healthy and locked into a spot in the rotation, he cannot be counted on to give the team innings next year. Then you have a mixed bag of guys like Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, etc.
In the new order of things that Mark Attanasio and Melvin have put down this winter, it makes sense to scale back expectations drastically. I agree with Nick Prill that the Brewers aren’t going to land Kyle Lohse due to cost and duration of contract. But I would argue that the Brewers do need Kyle Lohse or someone, at least, to anchor a rotation that is precariously thin on both proven innings and reliable performance. The list of available starters in free agency is growing ever more spotty and shady; the Brewers need to spend a little money and try to woo someone for a couple years on a reasonable salary. It sounds as if guys on the current top tier want too much money or too many years for the Brewers to match (Lohse, Joe Saunders, even Brett Myers). But what about trying to snag someone really cheap…what about old nemesis Jeff Karstens or Jair Jurrjens? What about Aaron Cook or even Carlos Zambrano on a minor-league deal? I know the slippery slope of sanity beckons when one is starving for starting pitching. Until that fix is acquired, however, I’m going to feel increasingly shouty and petulant, much like Joe Pesci without a filling snack.