Scott Paulus / Milwaukee Brewers
Former bright light Ryan Braun: Breakable.
Before I sat down last weekend to write about the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers, I was hoping the Crew would have notched more than two wins in 13 games through Monday. That’s the worst in all of baseball, by the way, and a franchise record for futility.
Before the season began, I was convinced that the team would finish in third place or higher in the National League Central, Major League Baseball’s toughest division. I wanted to believe that last year, when the Brewers began the season 19-8 and didn’t surrender first place for 150 consecutive days, wasn’t a fluke — and that the colossal 9-17 season-ending collapse was an anomaly.
Instead, a team that altered its makeup very little during the offseason seems to have picked up exactly where it left off last September. The biggest offseason roster change, inconceivably, involved dealing veteran pitcher Yovani Gallardo to Texas for three young players. His absence was magnified on April 6 at Miller Park, when another veteran, Kyle Lohse, stepped into Gallardo’s traditional Opening Day role and gave up 10 hits and eight runs in 3.1 innings against the Colorado Rockies en route to a humiliating 10-0 shellacking.
Adding literal injury to insult, Ryan Braun left the season opener in the fifth inning with a sore right side and sat out the rest of the Rockies series.
Braun also missed eight games last May with a right oblique strain, and an inflamed nerve in his right thumb hampered him for all of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. This guy is proving to be nearly as fragile as Ben Sheets, a high-profile Olympic gold-medal-winning pitcher who spent much of his time with the Brewers between 2001 and 2008 on the disabled list.
To make things worse, center fielder Carlos Gomez was placed on the 15-day DL last week with a right hamstring strain, and All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy fractured his left toe in Monday night’s loss to Cincinnati.
Shortstop Jean Segura already has five errors — second worst in all of baseball — and second basemen Scooter Gennett sliced open his left hand...in the shower. The Brewers are ranked last in run production (31) and first in runs allowed (71).
With an early-season schedule top-heavy with NL Central rivals and 2014 playoff contenders, the Brewers need to stop the bleeding now. This is a complete embarrassment for a small-market franchise capable of so much more.