Q & A With Brew Crew Ball's Kyle Lobner

Thanks to Kyle and Brew Crew Ball for their answers.  Pick up the info after the jump.  Enjoy!

1.  Congrats on the big win last night to stop the losing skid.  What put the Brewers into this "death spiral"?


Lately, the Brewers have really been struggling to overcome adversity and finish games. The starting pitching has been pretty decent but hasn't pitched far into games, and a fried bullpen has really melted down at times over the last two weeks. Even with last night's win, the Brewers are only 4-22 in games where their opponent scores first, and 0-19 when training after seven innings. 
 
2.  Ken Macha's been on the hot seat.  Has this been coming for a while, or is the general consensus that it's the aforementioned "death spiral" that's been the catalyst?

You can count me and several others among the crowd that thought Macha should have been fired at the end of last season. Personality wise, Macha isn't really a match with this club. When they're good, the Brewers are a young, fun team. "Young" and "fun" aren't words anyone uses to describe Macha, and at times he seems to be a wet blanket. At times he appears to have lost the team: At least one former Brewer used to refer to him as "Grandpaw" and Prince Fielder publicly avoided an opportunity to speak out on his manager's behalf last week. The current losing streak hasn't helped, but Macha just doesn't seem like the right fit to manage a team with a young core. 
 
3.  I know you haven't had him for long, but what are your first impressions of Carlos Gomez?  What's impressed you, and what's disappointed you so far?

Gomez's short tenure in Milwaukee has certainly produced some "wow" moments in both a positive and negative direction. His defense has been every bit as good as advertised - his range is excellent. As an offensive player, the Brewers have to hope his occasional brilliance will outweigh his occasional lapses. He looked great at the plate on Opening Day, but hit a home run and spent the next week uppercutting at everything that moved. He clearly has great speed and can bunt, but convincing him of the merits of doing so has been a challenge. And while his .321 OBP is an improvement over 2009, it's still not exceptionally good.

All told, if Gomez can remain exactly the player he's been for the first 41 games, he'll have some value as a Brewer. But there's still a lot of room for growth. 
 
4.  Trevor Hoffman has been terrible so far.  I'm sorry, I know that wasn't a question, but feel free to share your favorite expletives to describe his performance so far.

"Terrible" doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. Hoffman is done, and the situation he's left the Brewers in has created one of the only times in recent memory where I've actually felt bad for Brewer management. Hoffman's been so good for so long that it's hard to imagine things going south this fast. With that said, he doesn't seem interested in stepping back from the closer role, so Brewer management is left in a position where they'll either have to cut a future Hall of Famer or leave him out there to look like Willie Mays falling down in center field. Hoffman got a couple of days off this week to work on his mechanics, and I'm not sure what his status will be for this weekend. With that said, I've lost any optimism I had for his ability to return to being an elite closer.  
 
5.  Pitching in general has been a bit of a sore spot for the Brewers, with the exception of Yanavi Gallardo.  He's hit double-digit strikeout totals in three starts this year already, and the Twins get to see him this weekend.  What can you tell us about him?
 
Gallardo has electric stuff and could feasibly be the ace of the Brewer rotation for the next 4-5 years. With that said, his approach could use some work and as a result his pitch counts have skyrocketed and forced him out of many games early. Gallardo has thrown 100 or more pitches in eight of his nine starts but has only pitched past the sixth inning twice. His two-strike philosophy is the culprit: Once he gets two strikes on a batter, he tends to nibble and fish for swinging strikes until the count gets to 3-2. 

If the Twins have scouted him well, they'll be patient and make him work for strikeouts. He might strike out ten in five innings, but he also might have thrown 110 pitches by then.

6.  What's your take on the Prince Fielder situation?  There's been so much banter about how the contracts of other players might affect the next guy, and how maybe the Brewers should consider dealing him with how they've played so far this year--from an outsider's perspective, I wouldn't want to deal him.
 
I don't think any Brewer fans are really looking forward to the day when Fielder puts on another team's uniform, but I think most of us have come to see it as inevitable. With Scott Boras as his agent and Ryan Howard's new albatross contract as a guideline, there's almost zero chance that the Brewers could make the kind of offer it would take to convince Fielder to skip free agency. 

If the Brewers are getting phone calls inquiring about Fielder now, they'd be fools not to listen. With that said, there likely aren't many teams in the market for a first baseman at this point: Most contending teams already have a good one. The Brewers will likely hold onto Fielder until the offseason, where he could be one of the biggest contributors available at the winter meetings.
 
7.  Alcides Escobar is getting his first opportunity to really grab shortstop by the horns this season.  His offensive numbers don't look great and UZR/150 doesn't necessarily like him either, but numbers can be deceiving (especially with young players).  How's he coming along?
 
I think it's still a little early to issue a full verdict, but I think Escobar's performance to date is a little on the low side of our expectations. His defense, which was frequently described as "major league ready" before the season, has been shaky at times. He makes great, outstanding plays, but also bobbles routine balls at a pace that seems like once a night. At the plate, he's carrying a sub-.300 OBP, but he's also having a hard time getting pitches to hit while primarily batting eighth. 

All told, I don't think his performance is anything to really worry much about - he's learning on the job in the big leagues, and as long as he continues to show signs of improvement I think he'll be fine. He enters play tonight on a pretty nice run, hitting .324/.343/.529 in his last nine games.

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