Today is March 25th - "Waffle Day" in Sweden. So, while we all enjoy waffles and socialism*, let's take a moment to discuss Milwaukee Brewer Pitcher Facts.
Fact One: The first pitcher I ever drank, made by a Milwaukee Brewer, would be a $5 pitcher of Blatz at Foundation, located just north of Center St. on Bremen in glorious 2000-era Riverwest.
Fact Two: The Brewers have four pitchers competing for two spots in the starting rotation. Their names are Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, Dave Bush, and Chris Narveson. The coaches must make a decision very soon - the season is almost upon us! And the decision won't be easy. But maybe I can offer some assistance (hey, that's why you're reading this!).
Fact Three: The cost of pitchers of Blatz at Foundation went up a dollar over the first two or three years I lived in Riverwest. My friends and I protested, but eventually came to terms with the new reality.
Fact Four: Manny Parra and Chris Narveson can't start the season in Triple AAA Nashville, because another team could claim them off waivers. Dave Bush has enough years of Major League service that he, too, could decline a minor league assignment. And Jeff Suppan? The aging veteran, who has now been entirely paid off, is a "sunk cost" of a whopping $12.5 million. For those who don't know the Brewers team well, you might be surprised to know that Suppan has been the highest-paid Brewer over the past three years.
Fact Five: Foundation ELIMINATED pitchers of Blatz sometime around 2004 or 2005, switching to $2 bottles of PBR for its "cheap" beer. But, all along, the Uptowner (two blocks from Foundation, at the corner of Center and Humboldt Blvd) had been offering $5 pitchers of Blatz! Smacking our foreheads, we hiked thataway for our Milwaukee Brewer pitchers.
Fact Six: Manny Parra has great talent, but seems unable to put it all together. Chris Narveson is the opposite - a journeyman who seemingly does everything right. Dave Bush is a precision pitcher who pitched 8+ innings of a no-hitter last spring, and clearly has what it takes to be a quality starting pitcher in the major leagues (as long as he avoids those hard line drives to the elbow, such as the one that derailed him last year). Jeff Suppan is running on fumes - his ERA the last two years were 4.96 and 5.29, and his WHIP was 1.542 and 1.695. This spring, in 12 innings of work, his ERA is 9.00, and his WHIP is 1.833.
Fact Seven: Rumor has it that the delicious pitchers of Blatz are not Blatz at all - that the dastardly G. Heileman Brewery secretly brews kegs of Milwaukee's Best Light, labels them Blatz for the old-timers and weirdos, and distributes them throughout the townie and hipster bars of Milwaukee!
Fact Eight: One of these four pitchers is clearly deserving of a spot in the starting rotation, two line up just about the same in terms of risk-vs.-reward, and one is clearly not capable of quality starting pitching in the majors.
Dave Bush should start for the Brewers. He is a proven quantity - a dependable middle-rotation starter. He has pitched well this spring, and is seemingly recovered from his elbow injury last year.
Jeff Suppan should not start for the Brewers. He has been our worst starter for the past two years, and is clearly the same guy this spring. He is a sunk cost. He is paid off. It's time to say goodbye. Either Manny Parra or Chris Narveson would be a better choice.
Manny Parra and Chris Narveson present the toughest call. While Manny has been solid this spring, his long-term potential is just so tough to get a handle on, I don't know what to do! We all want to believe - and the Brewers organization does believe - that Parra has the stuff to be a good/great pitcher. Chris Narveson, on the other hand, has been really impressive late last year and this spring. He seems to have discovered an underground reservoir of talent that was previously untapped. But how deep does it truly go?
So, I propose this: Offer Jeff Suppan a spot on the Nashville Sounds. If he declines, let him go. Better pitchers than he are still looking for work. Dave Bush and Manny Parra should occupy the fourth and fifth spots of the Brewers starting five, and Chris Narveson somewhat unfortunately ought to begin 2010 in the bullpen - Manny Parra needs one more chance to be a starting pitcher for the Brewers, and this strategy also allows Narveson to work some innings of long relief, where hopefully the Brewers coaches will be able to further judge exactly what he's capable of. If either Bush or Parra tanks (can't keep the ERA below 5.00, can't keep runners off the bases/high WHIP, etc.), cut the offender and promote Narveson to the rotation. One last thing: Chris Narveson represents a potentially valuable trade commodity, should the Brewers need to shore up their roster somewhere. Hey, shit happens.
I know that Doug Melvin, Ken Macha, and Rick Peterson are regular readers of this blog (Ken really enjoyed my Tom Waits entry). So, guys, please: listen to me! I watch the games and I crunch the numbers. I speak for a million-plus hopeful Brewers fans, looking to get the most out of their team. I hope you will do what's right for the pitching staff, and for the team.
Confidential to Doug Melvin: SUNK COST SUNK COST SUNK COST LET HIM GO BYE BYE.
Fact Nine: I'll have a pitcher of Blatz and one pint glass, please.
That is all.
*Socialism? Yeah, right.