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Blogging With the Enemy: Five Questions for Brew Crew Ball

Tigers and Brewers. This series has a feel of the old to it, but also has that interleague shine, as well. And for much of the season, the Brewers' resurgence has been a hot topic in baseball. Their recent struggles, however, have provided some affirmation to those who believed that the parade might not last. (Tigers fans can surely relate to that from last season.)

Helping us reacquaint ourselves with an old regular American League opponent is John from Brew Crew Ball.

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(1) As fun as the Brewers' success this season has been, have fans been unable to fully enjoy the resurgence because they're worried about "reality setting in"? (Tigers fans had many of the same concerns last season.) Has the team's recent slide confirmed those fears?

Oh, sure. I think fans constantly question the quality of their team. What made things worse was the start the Brewers had this season. People were jumping on the bandwagon and expecting a World Series appearance before the end of April. Teams will go through swoons like this, but he better teams will find a way to overcome them. Since The Brewers are so young, especially in positions expected to provide a high level of offense, you knew it wouldn't last. However, these young players have won in the minors, so the expectation now is learning to win consistently at the major league level. The word "consistent" is going to be a common theme here.

Over the first six weeks of the season, everyone was having great success. J.J. Hardy was exceeding expectations by leading the majors in homeruns and RBI's. Prince Fielder was right there with him. The starting pitching was consistent and the bullpen was as good as it gets. The high level of play was with virtually no production from the third base position. That changed with the recent call up of top prospect Ryan Braun.

Since then, the high expectations of Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall this season haven't been fulfilled. J.J. Hardy has cooled off and the starting pitching has shown some flaws. However, I think if you asked any knowledgeable Brewers fan, before the season, if on June 11th, the team would be 5 ½ games ahead in first place, they would have been ecstatic.

Luckily, the Brewers play in the worst overall division in baseball. Their start has to be attributed to beating up on their own division. That's not a bad thing, but the other teams in the NL Central are not very good and the Brewers' results changed when they started playing the other divisions. As the Cardinals learned last season, it's not how you get to the playoffs, just get there. We have seen what the Brewers are capable of, but the consistency isn't there... yet.

(2) Several Brewers have put up standout numbers so far, but since he was a former Tiger, I'll ask about Francisco Cordero. Does the team have to re-sign him after the year he's had? Or is there some thought that he'll ask for too much, forcing the Brewers to let him walk and give the closer's job back to Derrick Turnbow?

Cordero has been the savior for the Brewers (and for Ned Yost) this season. He saved his first 22 games, before blowing the last two, and is making $5.4 million this season; a reasonable amount for the Brewers. Like so many other players (Scott Podsednik, Doug Davis, Matt Wise, etc.), Doug Melvin has given them an opportunity to resurrect their careers. The team may offer Cordero a deal, but like Carlos Lee last year, have it rejected it in hopes of Francisco making more in the free agent market. There may be no way the Brewers can afford to pay their closer $10 million a year on a $70 million payroll.

I think Doug Melvin was secretly hoping that Turnbow would reclaim his former role this season. However, while Derrick can still be dominant, he is inconsistent enough to cause the team to look for another option.

(3) Why do you think Bill Hall has struggled so much this season, coming off a breakout year? Did the Brewers make a mistake in moving him to centerfield? Will he stay there for the foreseeable future?

As strong as the organization was at the centerfield position, that strength disappeared over the last few years. The Brewers love J.J. Hardy and want him to play short. You could have moved Hall to third, but Ryan Braun was on his way. Brady Clark had digressed and while Tony Gwynn Jr. provides strengths such as speed and defense, was probably not going to be the full-time solution in center. It made sense to move Bill there.

At this point, you have to focus on Bill's mental focus. His loss of power and OBP is troubling, which has caused Ned Yost to finally drop him in the lineup. Hall is an athlete, plain and simple. There is no reason he should not be expected to play any position on the diamond. Counting spring training, he is going on four months of playing centerfield. At times, he is still taking the wrong angle on balls and throwing to the wrong base. Milwaukee is paying him $24 million over the next 4 years, so Hall will remain in center and the hope is he will eventually work things out.

(4) When will Yovani Gallardo get the call up from Nashville? And which starting pitcher would you expect to be pushed to the bullpen once Gallardo arrives?

While Gallardo makes his case with every start, barring injuries, I do not really see Gallardo being called up quite yet. Depending on the Brewers' playoff chances, they may eventually choose to put Gallardo in the bullpen to "get his feet wet" and monitor his workload, with the option to be in line for a starting position next season. The Brewers have never successfully developed starting pitchers, so they want to be careful with Gallardo.

The current starting pitchers most in jeopardy would have to be Dave Bush or Claudio Vargas, but the pitcher in line to replace any starter may already be on the roster. Carlos Villanueva has proven himself consistently good and has done everything the Brewers have asked. I would say he gets the first chance, but the Brewers may feel he is too valuable in his current role.

(5) What sort of move would you like to see the Brewers make before the trade deadline? What area do you think most needs to be upgraded for them to continue to lead and eventually win the NL Central?

If the Brewers are to stay on track to the playoffs, they need to shore up their bullpen. Another arm or two would solidify probably the most glaring weakness on the team. Aquino, Shouse, and Turnbow have all blown games. Spurling and Dessens are expendable. Jose Capellan's first game back was a disaster. Again, what this team needs is consistency.

They could also use a power-hitting corner outfielder. While you might say, they already have Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench, the problem is they already have Jenkins and Mench. They could use another consistent, power bat in the lineup other than Prince. In years past, Doug Melvin was in the mode of getting quantity for quality. Now it might be opposite and he has the prospects to do whatever he wants to better the team.

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Thanks to John for "Blogging With the Enemy" on pretty short notice. (This would've been posted earlier if not for all the no-hitter hullabaloo yesterday.) But I'm glad he got back to me so quickly because the Brewers have been a fun story this season, and with the young talent stocking their roster, they could be a team to follow for years to come. Plus, I picked Milwaukee to win the NL Central before the season, and they're making me look smart right now. I know - no one cares.