As the calendar flips from April to May, the Milwaukee Brewers probably couldn't be happier. It was a very rough opening month to the season.
While you don't win pennants in April and May, the old saying is that you can lose them, and the Brewers took a huge step in the wrong direction by going 10-14 during April.
Add Sunday's 8-0 loss to San Diego to the ledger, and the Crew sits at 10-15 as they head to Arizona and Los Angeles to complete this western swing.
Hoffman has been terrible, but his four blown saves aren't the only issue. To the contrary, they're simply one piece to a puzzle that seems to be growing every time the team takes the field.
The problems are mounting, and they're not just from one source.
Their best hitter might be Yovani Gallardo.
This an issue, being that Gallardo is a pitcher. While I'm half-joking (Ryan Braun is obviously the best hitter on the team), the Brewers got nice offensive contributions from Gallardo in two of his three wins. That's more than can be said about most of the team.
Prince Fielder is, um, well, not good.
We keep waiting for the big man to break out.
Fielder is hitting a respectable .234. Well, it's respectable if he's suddenly turned into J.J. Hardy.
His OBP is .368, so he's being selective at the plate, yet the fact he has just two home runs and a meager .340 SLG suggest he is not seeing the ball well at all.
No easy way out of this slump, as many figured he would break out after getting his first home run of the season two weeks ago in Pittsburgh. Instead, his batting average has fallen even more since, and he looks awful frustrated at the dish.
Perhaps we need a gutsy pitcher to buzz the tower. Picking a fight with him might work, since nothing else has.
The pitching sucks.
Gallardo sits at a 3.00 ERA. Despite a disastrous start Sunday, Randy Wolf sits at 3.86. Dave Bush isn't very good, but he's still sitting at 4.60.
That's about all that's good.
Free-agent signee Doug Davis has an 8.87 ERA, and he has allowed 48 baserunners in just a shade over 22 innings. Chris Narveson -- recently named the fifth starter -- is terrible.
Making matters worse, Jeff Suppan is still on the team, and Latroy Hawkins (0-2, 6.97 ERA) joins Hoffman in the "struggling relievers" club. The team ERA is 5.09, which is better than last year, but still far less than good, mediocre, or even respectable.
Jim Edmonds is their best outfielder not named "Ryan Braun."
Corey Hart isn't hitting terribly well. Neither is Carlos Gomez.
We keep hanging our hats on the "they're young" excuse, but when you're getting outperformed by a guy (Edmonds) who didn't even bother to play baseball last year, you have problems.
Hart is at .258/.342/.439 so far. These numbers aren't good, but at least there's improvement over a year ago, when Hart couldn't find his ass with both hands.
Gomez, a disappointment in Minnesota, has shown flashes of ability in all phases, especially baserunning and defense. At .269/.310/.463, he's no Braun, but he's also been relatively decent at the plate.
Edmonds has impressed, small sample size aside. At .298/.394/.474, he is on pace to be a more-than-decent fourth outfielder, assuming Hart and Gomez can be a little better over the long haul.
Ken Macha appears to be struggling.
He has been overly reliant on a bullpen rotation, leaving guys in to get shelled because it's "their inning," a stupid argument that has little merit in the real world.
The issues in settling on a lineup aren't his fault, as he needs people to hit and get on base. When that doesn't happen, he has to try something different. Part of the gig.
But he's totally responsible for Hoffman and Hawkins getting blasted in various outings. If it's obvious that a guy doesn't have it in a game, regardless of the score, it's Macha's job to handle things more aggressively and make sure the right changes are made to facilitate success.
Oh, and the team simply can't go 0-3 on a weekend while getting outscored 25-4, then follow it up the next weekend by going 1-3 and getting outscored 21-2. They're not showing up at the ballpark with the right mindset, and if that doesn't change soon, Willie Randolph is going to find himself managing this team.