Hoffman annihilates all hope (vortex of pain & anger edition)
Having lost seven straight and tumbled down to a pitiful fifth place in the NLCentral, it’s gotten to the level where stat-head Fangraphs contributors have taken notice of the Brewers’ sub-sub-optimal-ness. Dave Cameron today calls to “Break Up the Brewers” and decisively dangle Princey on the market. The comments there at Fangraphs get a little touchy on the lack of data analysis & original research in the post, and for what it’s worth there’s little Brewers-specific consensus in the thread. Commenter Kenny nicely runs down all the teams that could use a boost at the widely-understood-to-be-quite-deep 1B position and comes up somewhat empty-handed… similarly, hometown fan Steve from Bernie’s Crew went on-record last week even, proclaiming there’s “No Shame in Rebuilding“.
While clearly I am about as frustrated as can be with this team’s all-around pitching and its offensive Achilles heel, viz. a lack of clutch hitting, I’m just not in the “rebuild” camp yet. Although this latest blown save (Hoffman’s 5th in 10 chances, you won’t believe how bad the stats are, click through for the carnage) is simply as painful as it gets.
Again, perhaps there are stacks of data suggesting I’m wrong. But the data re: our sporadic offensive prowess is not uncompelling. Head over to Fangraphs’ Standard Statistics view of NL Teams > Offense (year to date) and click around on the sortable columns — this is a broad brush, but the Brewers lead the league in Hits, are second in Runs behind the defending champion Phillies, are second in RBIs, and over in the Advanced view, can be seen to be second in .OPS, and over in the Batted Balls view, sit proudly at fourth in BABIP. As I acknowledge, there are probably ways to put these achievements on offense in fuller context alongside our gaping deficits on team defense & pitching in ways that spell out a compelling case for rebuilding, but I’d like to see us make a run in the Central (likely for runner-up behind the Cardinals, assuming they get it together) while we have Princey yet in uniform this year.
Follow-up on my previous post, in which I gnashed and yet advocated for Parra not to be pushed into a 9th-inning role — due to our 3rd starter Doug Davis’ late-breaking & quite-scary chest ailment, Parra was quickly slotted-in as our 5th starter. In today’s game @CIN Manny acquitted himself awfully well, allowing four hits and one run in four all-right innings. But Ohh Goodness Gracious, also as covered last week, T-Hoff just this minute blew a 4-2 lead to cost us the game in the bottom of the 9th. Disciples of Uecker has it right: Time for Trevor to Retire. I can’t write any more about this right now, feels a bit raw, but that was beyond taste & reason & emotional bounds. Much more coverage to come of this latest debacle.
Watching it happen live was surreal, just batting practice. Beat writer Haudricourt tweets the carnage: “Trevor Hoffman in 14 games: 1-3, 13.15 ERA and five blown saves in 10 opportunities.” That’s unsightly. Jim at Bernie’s Crew has lost patience, Kyle at BCB says he’s done, the major blogs have all turned on him. My Goodness. BCB commenter Capt Science quips: “let’s stay positive. maybe hoffman is working his way up the blown save leaderboard. does someone have a baseball-reference subscription? where does he sit on that?” Then answers his own quip. Good stuff on a lousy front. Gallows humor, you know.
If you’re in the mood for yet more mascochism with Trevor, Aaron Gleeman writes it up for Circling the Bases: “Much like watching Ken Griffey Jr. flail away in Seattle, it’s sad to see one of the greatest relievers of all time get knocked around like he’s throwing batting practice.” At least the broad consensus is that this is it. There’s comfort — unlike the situation of, say, Qualls in ARI or Wood in CLE — in knowing it’s over. I hope and expect so at least. Haudicourt officially puts the onus on Hoffman and has the requisite salavation-less post-game quotes. There is no hope to be found in those. There is a worthy bit of hope in the talent evinced by Marco Estrada (file photo sporting a Nats cap but called up from AAA), who retired eight or nine straight in relief.
Whatever you do, don’t go back to MLBRumors and read the details of his contract re-upping from last Fall :: “Hoffman, 42 in a week, experienced a resurgence in 2009 despite spending most of April on the DL with an oblique injury. His strikeout and walk rates actually worsened a bit, but he was able to drastically limit hits and home runs. The Brewers are betting big bucks that those hit and home run rate reductions are somewhat sustainable.” Yaargh (pulls at collar awkwardly). That’s the weight to contracts — $8m this year and next, and all we can do is ask for some of it back out of some sense of distorted charity. This is one case where a small-market team handcuffed itself, unfortunately, by opening our wallet too wide for relief pitching. Mega-ouch all around. We end this cruel afternoon 15-24, or .385, having lost our eighth in a row and downgraded by Baseball Prospectus forecasts from a super-slim 13% to a hilariously meager 7% chance of making the playoffs.