Remember the old days when the Phillies and Brewers were competing for division titles and making the playoffs, injecting energy and life into moribund franchises that hadn’t seen any kind of excitement since the first half of the Reagan administration?
Yeah, that was 2011.
This week, two playoff participants from last year, the Milwaukee Brewers and your Philadelphia Phillies, meet at Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series to determine who can trade their ace faster, the Phils or Brewers?
Helping us break down this week’s series is Jaymes Langrehr who, aside from having a name that I had to copy and paste into this article because it was too hard for me to remember how to spell it, is also a writer for The Brewers Bar, and can be found on the Twittersphere by the handle @TheBrewersBar.
Q: 44-50 is no 42-54. Which one of us is the stupidest for still being wide-eyed, slack-jawed playoff hopefuls?
A: Hard to say. The Brewers aren’t in last place, but at the same time, they don’t have as much talent as the Phillies do. It seems (to me, at least) Zack Greinke is more likely to be traded than Cole Hamels, so that factors into things, too. I think the Phillies at least finish ahead of the Brewers at the end of the year, but neither team makes the playoffs. I realize I’m going out on a giant limb with the latter prediction.
Q: This picture both alarms and intrigues me. How close is Miller Park to a police state? And should anyone care?
A: Ever since the Randall Simon incident, protective measures have had to be taken. There’s also stiff penalties for cheating in the sausage race, as you can imagine. That fenced-in area you see is where we keep suspected Cardinal fans.
Q: What is the best possible outcome for trading Greinke? What area of their team would the Brewers be looking to improve? Is he a guy who could benefit, again, from a change of scenery?
A: Given how the Brewers depleted their farm system to deal for Greinke, it would be nice to get a Top 100 guy or two, but that’s probably not a realistic possibility under the new CBA. Why would anyone send that much away for two months of Greinke when they won’t be able to get draft pick compensation if/when he leaves in the winter? Not to mention the perception is that Greinke isn’t as much of a “sure thing” as Hamels this year or guys like CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay in years past. There are enough red flags with his performance in July to possibly make another team think twice about making a serious run at him. At this point, it feels like Greinke would rather play out this year with the Brewers and figure out where to go after the season. He’s very much a creature of comfort.
Q: How much does it matter that Aramis Ramirez is on the trading block? And how interesting did you find the offseason rumors of Jimmy Rollins playing in a Brewers uniform? Every time he does something sweet, are you all like “Darn.”
A: Since I wasn’t crazy about the contract Ramirez got, I’m not bothered by trade rumors (seriously, check out how back-loaded it is). If the Brewers could get decent value while getting out of that contract, they should probably do it, even though Ramirez has been playing well so far this year. As for Rollins, I never really bought the rumors. It would’ve been nice to have a real shortstop, but Alex Gonzalez was fine before he blew out his ACL. It always felt like Rollins’ camp was using the Brewers to gain leverage against the Phillies. I don’t think he was ever in danger of going anywhere else.
Q: I thought John Axford was the quirky, shaggy-haired closer-man that everyone loved. Now he seems to be the sad-eyed, miserable scapegoat that everyone hates and blames for everything. How graceful has his fall been? And how close are you to seeing him get the “Ax.” **pause for laughter… 2… 3… 4…**
A: I, for one, am shocked that the guy who carried a 6.0 BB/9 rate in the minors is having trouble with his control this year. It’s always funny/scary to read the @ mentions on Twitter when a reliever blows a save. It’s probably not a good idea for any athlete to have a Twitter account in-season, but it’s probably the worst idea ever if you’re a relief pitcher. Nobody gets as much crap during the year.
Q: How do people feel about coming into Philly these days? Last year I imagine it was like, “Crap, bro.” This year it’s got to be like “Yeah let’s pound the shit out of these dudes and then hit up South Street for some just-legal local tail.” I also imagine all of the other teams are 20-year-old frat guys with loose morals who say “crap” and “tail” like their lives are an R-rated movie being shown on TV with all the real swearing censored out.
A: Still pretty much crap, bro (I’ve always imagined Ryan Braun talks like that when he isn’t in front of media). Mostly because the Brewers are coming off a series in Cincinnati they needed to win to stay alive, only to be swept and end up 10.5 games out a week before the deadline. They scored 4 total runs in a series in which Bronson Arroyo pitched. Things aren’t going to get better.