The fine folks here at Heading For The Exits were gracious enough to host my team-by-team baseball previews. Look for a new one every day from March 1st through March 30th. We’re coming down the home stretch now, stopping in the NL Central. We’ll briefly check in with a team who just made the single greatest offseason acquisition in the history of baseball.
The big issue for the Brewers last year was bad luck. Mat Gamel was, frankly, a failure at first before tearing his ACL. Corey Hart finally found a home as his replacement on a squad that was tiring of his (lack of) range in the outfield but not before the season was well out of hand. The bullpen was an unmitigated disaster with formerly reliable closer John Axford blowing 9 saves and holding an ERA well over 5 through the end of August. Francisco Rodriguez, following several seasons of sub-3 ERA ball, similarly collapsed, turning in a significantly lowered K rate and an ERA over 4. By the time everything got sorted out, and they won an astounding 24 of their last 30, it was too late.
But now? Yuniesky Betancourt has arrived. The man, the myth, the legend, the savior of Brewers baseball has come back to thrill fans and win over new hearts after spending a year on vacation with the Royals and, briefly, the Phillies minor league system. Let’s ask the good folks on the internet what they think about Yuni.
“In 2008, he again walked only 3.0% of the time, the worst percentage in Major League Baseball.”
“Yuniesky Betancourt is to baseball what Taylor Lautner is to acting.”
“That’s the Yuniesky Betancourt who might be the worst regular in baseball.”
“…those inclined to use only statistical ratings and analyses to judge players consider Yuniesky Betancourt the worst defensive shortstop in the free world.”
Wow… these are worse than the reviews for Liz & Dick.
How’d The Offseason Go?
Aside from signing that juggernaut? Not so bad. Kyle Lohse finally found a home after months of Sprewelling various MLB owners. He should shore up a rotation that hasn’t risen much above average in recent years. They made sure to lock Alex Gonzalez up after he declared free agency because… I dunno, at least he’s not Yuni. Mike Gonzalez will attempt to make a name for himself in the bullpen this year. Last we saw him, he was trying, and failing, to make a name for himself after leaving Atlanta for the Orioles… so hopefully things will go better for him this time.
Notable departures are Shaun Marcum and Francisco Rodriguez. The former, when not looking like a parody of Fred Armisen’s parody of David Paterson, has been recovering from a sore elbow… or a calf… or… what is it, his neck this time? Anyways, he’s the Mets’ problem now. Francisco Rodriguez also was not asked to come back, and he’s looking for a paycheck somewhere. Probably the Royals. I don’t know. Oh, and Yorvit Torrealba has taken his comedic stylings in free agency to the Rockies.
The Brewers Will Make The Playoffs If
Are you kidding? They just locked up the World Series with this move.
The Brewers Will Miss the Playoffs If
How The Season Will Go
Yuniesky Betancourt sets out to set the world on fire. Before he can do this, though, he needs his starting job back. He takes Jean Segura out for a nice steak dinner at the Sizzler. First, he tries lacing the parmesan cheese on Segura’s steak with arsenic. Unfortunately, after bumbling around in the kitchen for 10 minutes, trampling 2 busboys and breaking three microwaves, he somehow managed to mix the powder up with a packet of Sweet’N Low, killing a diabetic at table 12 while thoroughly ruining Segura’s ribeye.
Fortunately, Yuni ALWAYS comes prepared.
Yuni next takes Segura to the carnival. They go up to an air gun booth. While Segura focuses on that one fucking winking green duck in the middle of the back row, Yuni turns and fires point blank, missing all three shots while knocking a clown off of his stilts and putting two child leukemia survivors back in the hospital with corneal tears.
Unperturbed, Yuni hatches Operation 3 (luckily he has Operations 1 through 5 ready and, for some reason, Operation Balboa on standby). He takes Segura on the Ferris wheel but is distracted by an animal balloon shaped like what he thinks is a giant meatball. Turns out it’s just an old-fashioned, regular-shaped balloon, and by the time he figures this out, he’s already been seated with two thirteen year old girls, both named Madison, who are severely displeased with his odor of Elmer’s glue and teriyaki jerky. The misadventure continues for another hour, ending only once he finally loses Segura in the crowd when he pauses to admire his ladybug face paint in a funhouse mirror.
The next day, the first game of the season, Yuni lurks above the Brewers’ dugout, sitting in the first row wearing a trenchcoat and a fake nose and moustache. He waits until the announcer calls Segura’s name and springs into action, flying over the dugout ceiling with a nimbleness that he had heretofore not demonstrated at the shortstop position. He beats Segura mercilessly, pounding his face into the ground and essentially destroying his skull before he realizes it’s Donnie Murphy.
The trial is an absolute circus, led by none other than everyone’s favorite ambulance-chaser Nancy Grace. The defense creates an M Night Shyamalan worthy turn in the case when they argue to significant effect that Yuni is far too incompetent to accomplish anything, let alone murder. Nancy Grace returns to her hotel room and hate-fucks her bedside table until the finish is gone. In the end, justice wins out, and Yuni is transferred to Texas as to be executed. The season ends with Yuni nailing Nancy Grace on his death row cot while the Brewers bow out in the wildcard round, losing quite definitively to the Reds.
How’s The Farm?
IT DOESN’T MATTER! THEY GOT YUNIESKY BETANCOURT! HE IS ALL OF THE DEPTH.
Your Brief Fantasy Preview
Ryan Braun is a potential #1 overall player, and it’d be foolish not to draft him right? Right. His outfield mates are fairly underrated coming into this season. A lot of analysts are high on Carlos Gomez’s combination of growing power and speed, and Norichika Aoki was a godsend of a free-agent pickup last year, providing 30 steals along with a useful average and decent pop. It’s hard to recommend anyone on the diamond outside of Jonathan Lucroy. He, by the way, should be a steal if you plan on waiting on a catcher until the late rounds. All signs point to an Aramis Ramirez collapse this year even with his great stats just a year ago. Draft him at your own risk. As for Rickie Weeks, he offers 4 categories of counting stats, which is always enticing at a thin position, but the man is a huge batting average drain, and his peripherals are trending ever downward. Expect him to be drafted, and finish, just outside the top 10 at 2B.
For pitching? Yovanni Gallardo is pretty inconsistent, but aside from an abysmal April and a mediocre June, his stats were impressive last year. Kyle Lohse will likely need some time to adjust after missing spring training, but he’s pitching in the same division which lessens the curve. If news of his signing hasn’t hit yet, he could be a steal. Marco Estrada, Willy Peralta, and Mike Fiers are three rookies who filled in admirably last year, offering an impressive strikeout rate and a useful ERA/WHIP. Assuming they lock down spots in the rotation, they could be great late round value. John Axford really should have a bounce-back year closing for this squad, and the Brewers didn’t bring in anyone to challenge him, so the leash is still pretty lengthy. His value is also severely diminished from his awful showing last season, so if you’re feeling lucky, give him a late-round shot.
Projected Finish in the NL Central?
1st. Why does it feel like this is going out on a limb?
Oddly Apropos Futurama Quote
“Uh… Heroes don’t do drugs! Except for Drugman, I guess.”
h/t @MRodgersNghBrhd for the scoop on today’s Yuni signing.
Body By Bacardi has been making bad sports jokes on Twitter since 2010 and on Deadspin since 2011. If you’re not tired of reading things he’s written, you can follow him on Twitter at @wineaccguy.