1. How do you think Ron Roenecke has done in his first year as manager? What has he done differently that Ken Macha was not able to do?
Colin: I think Ron is doing a great job in his first year. He has certainly gotten all the help he needs in terms of front office moves, but I think he’s making some big moves on his own. Macha was in many ways an empty uniform on the bench. He rarely lit a fire under his players, and I think I saw him get up to argue a call once. Roenicke, on the other hand, is constantly working on something. I think he constantly re-evaluates the game and isn’t afraid to mix things up. When your season’s been as streaky as Milwaukee’s, I think that’s a pretty good quality to have.
2. Does this pitching staff have enough arms to compete with the Phillies and the Giants to potentially make the World Series? Why or Why not?
C: I want to say yes, but in truth I’m not sure. Our bullpen is a nightmare right now (we can get into that later) and the bottom two of our rotation are a bit unreliable. It’s hard to say that anyone in the NL can compete with the rotation that the Phillies have, but we did give them a pretty good beating in their park. Greinke, Gallardo and Marcum make the Brew Crew a pretty solid lock through the playoffs in my opinion. When you strike people out the way that Greinke does or paint corners like Yovani, there isn’t a lineup in the Majors that can work well against them. But until Wolf and Narveson get consistent, and Milwaukee can shore up their relief efforts I can’t say the World Series is a lock by any means.
3. John Axford has had a great year as closer, but you guys do not have a setup man. Who is the ideal player to acquire at the trade deadline that would improve the Brewers’ bullpen?
C: Axford had a shaky start, but he’s really come a long way, in spite of a completely imploded bullpen. Right now I think it’s a matter of finding the right situations for the right pitcher, but time is running out quick. The Sergio Mitre experiment (one that Yankee fans should know) has failed in Milwaukee, but word is they are starting to shop him around. I think Milwaukee would probably opt to bring up some farm team guys before they spend any more on free agency – but if we could pick up someone like Heath Bell from San Diego or basically anyone from Atlanta would be a bonus – but it’s a matter of what we’ll be willing to give up for that. We also need to see if Takashi Saito can bring back anything from his rehab assignment.
4. We all know about Weeks, Hart, Braun, and Fielder, but who are the X-Factors to watch for in this Brewers’ lineup?
C: Number one would be Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy is only in his second year, but he’s quickly proving himself to be an elite-level catcher. He’s also producing really well out of the 8-spot, with 33 RBI’s and a .326 OBP, which means he’s protecting the bottom of the lineup very well – an essential aspect in National League ball. To me, he’s one of the big reasons for the Brewers success thus far. The other X-Factor would be Nyjer Morgan. Nyjer – or Tony Plush if you prefer – has had a spotty past, but he’s really turned out to be a great teammate and part of the community here in Milwaukee. He provides a spark at the plate, he works counts well, has great wheels and is an energy source on the bench. When he’s on his game, he elevates the whole lineup.
5. What do the Brewers have to do to win this series? What is your prediction?
C: It’s hard to say, the Crew hasn’t been to the Bronx since their last year of AL play, so I’m sure that will factor in somewhat. I’d like to think that the Brewers can take two from the Yankees, but honestly it can go either way. It’s going to come down to the Brewers relievers holding any lead we can give them I think. Yankee Stadium does favor the hitter, so I think either way we’re going to play witness to a slug fest. It should be exciting if nothing else.
6. Will Milwaukee ultimately win the NL Central? Why or Why not?
C: I think this is the Brewers’ year to take the division, I really do. We’ve gotten quite a few lucky breaks in terms of injuries to the Cardinals (although that’s a matter of perception, really), and no one else has performed as consistently well as Milwaukee has in the division – or the Majors for that matter. The Brew Crew has the best home record in baseball and except for the disastrous trip to Fenway (I know you can relate, Yankee fans) we’ve been able to steamroll over some of the other hot streak teams in baseball this year. We have three dominant starters, one of the best closers in the game, and some of the best bats you’re liable find in either league. It’s a long season, but things keep going the way they are, I’m not sure there’s a team in the Central that can outlast the Brewers.
Also, on the podcast, I discuss the following topics:
- Pitching Matchups
- The Brewers’ Road Woes
- What Yankees will hit this series
- Milwauke’s X-Factors
- A former SI Yankee turned Brewers’ closer
- Answers to your Twitter Keys
- My take on Jeter and Colon updates