Friday, August 17, 2007

2007 Brewers A Poor Version Of 2006 Tigers

In the end, they're still the Milwaukee Brewers.

I was waiting for this all season, and now here it is -- the collapse of the usually-awful Brew Crew, which bolted out of the gate 24-10 and had folks calling them the "Tigers for 2007." But now the Brewers sit, wobbling, on top of the NL Central division by a half-game, with a very unimpressive 62-59 record. They've lost 13 of 18 and are 38-49 after their 34-game start.

Yeah, they have some nice young talent: Prince Fielder, Ben Sheets, Jeff Jenkins. But they were 75-87 last season and haven't been good in eons. And they don't have several ingredients that enabled the Tigers to make such a drastic climb in 2006 -- namely manager Jim Leyland; a bevy of young, power arms; veteran stars; and GM Dave Dombrowski.

After sweeping the Brewers in Milwaukee this week, the Cardinals -- yes, the stumbling, bumbling St. Louis Cardinals -- are just 2-1/2 games behind, and only one back in the loss column. Lou Piniella and Alan Trammell's Cubs are in second place -- and they're my favorite to win the division.

The collars are shrinking around the Brewers' players necks. This is a real pennant race now, not the let's-pretend-they're-important games of April and May. The Cubs charged, cooled, but are getting warm again. LaRussa and his Cardinals are somehow in the thick of things despite an under-.500 record. This race is reminding me of the 1973 NL East, won by the Mets, who finished just a couple games above .500 -- and who were in last place (five teams in front of them) as late as late August. Thanks to the expected descent of the Brewers, this is now a three-mediocre-team race.

The Brewers of 2007 are NOT the 2006 Tigers. Yes, the Tigers limped across the finish line last season, but they still won 95 games, thanks to an incredible 76-36 start. That's the first 112 games, Brewers fans -- not 34. I knew your team wasn't all that good. It just took a little longer than I thought to be proven right.



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