You know the best way to improve this team? Play better.
That is obviously over-simplifying things, but it really is that simple. Other than Prince Fielder, a few role players, and a couple guys in the bullpen (and Narveson), this is the same team that won 96 games and won the division going away.
The question remains, why are they struggling? You can point to a number of individual performances that are really hurting this team:
On offense: Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, Corey Hart’s 13 RBI and plummeting average, Aramis Ramirez’ stumble out of the gate, even the pitchers aren’t hitting like we’ve been accustomed to.
On defense: Rickie Weeks has struggled thus far and even though Aramis Ramirez only has 2 errors, he hasn’t played great either. Overall, the Brewers are ranked very low in defensive efficiency, even after vastly improving at SS. Maybe Prince wasn’t the big defensive liability that the national media made him out to be.
Pitching: Francisco Rodriguez has struggled at times, Randy Wolf got off to a rough start, in fact, every starter has had a game or two where they really struggled and early in the season that is magnified. The Brewers rank near the bottom of almost every major pitching category, but those numbers are deceiving in early May.
Face it, Weeks, Hart, and Ramirez are all going to hit. And even Nyjer Morgan isn’t going to hit .170 all season long. Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum are all very good pitchers who should continue to perform and improve the rough early season numbers (although Greinke and Marcum’s numbers don’t look bad) and Randy Wolf should be able to right the ship, probably not to the degree he pitched last season, but enough so he is a quality #4. Marco Estrada has shown flashes; I’m not worried about him too much. The bullpen is what it is. It would be nice to have what they had last season, but they don’t.
Obviously, picking up a replacement SS and 1B would be great, but it isn’t like quality major league players are falling from every tree. Derrick Lee isn’t going to be better than what they have; he has been in a sharp decline for years. Same goes for Jorge Cantu. My idea starts with two words: George Kottaras. Dump Ishikawa and bring up Martin Maldonado to be the back-up catcher. There may be shortstops available closer to July, but right now they are stuck with Cesar Izturis and Edwin Maysonett. I believe I may have said this before, but I would like to see Maysonett get some time to see what he can offer at the major league level. Everyone knows what Izturis has to offer, and it isn’t much. I would rather go with an unknown and hope to catch lighting in a bottle than go with a guy you know is below-average.
The season isn’t lost. In fact, it isn’t even close to being lost. It isn’t going to take 96 wins to make the playoffs; it may not even take 86 wins to make the playoffs! Obviously, it would be nice to be 17-12 instead of the other way around, but it is early. One doesn’t even have to look farther than last season with the Cardinals and the Rays. Both teams looked like they were on the outside looking in, not in May, but in mid-to-late-September. Both made the playoffs and, as painful as it is, the Cardinals won the whole damn thing. I’m not saying the Brewers are going to win the World Series, or even that they will make the playoffs, but to write them off in early May is idiocy.