This week I reached out to Jeff Sackmann, editor/writer for Brew Crew Ball, our Milwaukee Brewers SBnation.com sister site, and asked him to answer five questions during the lead-up to our NLDS matchup. My questions (and his answers) follow:
1. Twenty-six years. How does it feel?
Pretty blankety-blank awesome, thank you. For most of my friends and
I, it's not 26 years so much as forever--I'm not much older than the
drought. The best part of all is that we can stop talking about 1982
so much. I mean, it's great that the Brewers have their own little
legacy, and I certainly don't want to take anything away from guys
like Yount and Molitor (and gritty backup catcher Ned Yost!) but it's
time for some new heroes. Regardless of what happens in the NLDS,
we'll have our share of those.
2. Every World Series since 2002 -- six in a row -- has featured one Wild Card team. Why will the Brewers make it seven?
For a National League team, the offense is surprisingly balanced,
though I guess you can say that to some extent about the Phillies and
Cubs as well. It's a team that can put up a 6-spot even without
everyone firing on all cylinders, which is a good thing, since Corey
Hart appears to be hibernating right now. Everybody knows what a huge
weapon CC Sabathia is, but I think some combination of Yovani
Gallardo, Seth McClung, and Carlos Villanueva is really going to
success in the playoffs? Difficulty: No Sabathia, Fielder, or Braun.
I'll go with Dave Bush. He's probably the Game 3 starter, and if the
Brewers advance any further, he could end up starting twice in the
NLCS as well. He aggravates a lot of the fanbase, because he tends to
give up runs in bunches, and those bunches come in the first inning
more often than anyone would like. Bush had an awful first two
months--ERA over 6.00 at the end of May--but since then, he's had an
ERA of 3.43, holding opponents to a 660 OPS. If good Bush shows up,
it gives the Crew a strong 1-2-3 in the rotation. If bad Bush shows
up, Milwaukee will have to spend way too much time undoing the damage.
4. Precisely how did the stretch-run replacement of "Special Ned" Yost with Dale Sveum affect the Brewers over the last couple of weeks?
That's a tough question. Sveum doesn't appear to be a tactical
genius, though he certainly mixed things up after he took over. If
anything, the move loosened up the team a bit. Ned always seemed like
a bit (a bit? heh) of a tightass, and that got worse as the season
progressed and the Wild Card race got...uh, tighter. I can't imagine
that's a good thing for a team with a lot of key young players.
5. Which Phillies player most vexes you as a Brewers fan?
You know, this is completely irrational, but the guy who bugs me is
Carlos Ruiz. I was at the game at CBP last year when he hit a
game-winning shot off of Derrick Turnbow, and you just don't forget those things. More rationally, it's Utley. Purely anecdotally, it seems like much of the Brewers staff struggles with high-OBP guys, and the fact he's a lefty means there will be a lot of opportunities for Sveum to make moves...not all of which will be good.