Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Misunderestimation: Ghost World in Milwaukee
There is a low-level debate taking place right now around the topic of the Brewers' lot in 2006. Some feel like they are a year away from being a playoff team; others say they are a real threat to watch out for in 2006. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick picked them as his 2006 NL Surprise team. The reality is that they probably won't threaten the Cards for best in the Central; however, they're a good team with lots of potential, enough potential that they have to taken seriously. The key here is youth. Two main elements on the team, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder, are highly touted youngsters looking to complete their first full season in the league this year. The sage wisdom says that they're too young and inexperienced to mount much of a threat to the Cards, Cubs or Astros this year, and therein lies the central aspect of misunderestimation for the Brewers. If the kids on the team, with those two leading the youth movement, forget the rule that their age and inexperience precludes them from winning, watch out. Suddenly the onus of production wouldn't fall exclusively to veterans Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins. That's a team that can win a few more games solely on the basis of their offensive production, even with Koskie at the hot corner full time. The pitching staff was effective if criminally unheralded last year. There's an analogy here with the starring cast from the 2001 film Ghost World. Each individual performance was excellent and made for a wonderful film (okay, the writing was pretty damn good too). However, other than Steve Buscemi, nobody else in the film was a marquee name in Hollywood. With Ben Sheets as the young, talented starter who has yet to appear consistently on the A-list, the rest of the cast/rotation delivered incredibly strong performances last season. If that continues this season, Ben Sheets and Capuano and Doug Davis will catapult their names into the minds of critics and fans around the league. One or more of those guys could become pitchers that compete for top billing, just like Ghost World's Scarlett Johansson, without the grrrrrr factor. In mid-September the Brewers were contending with the Astros for the NL Wild Card. Like Oscar hopes for Ghost World, they faded, but the team went home on everyone's radar. This might not be their year to take home Oscar gold in the form of the NL Central title, but they could easily win six or seven more games to get the third place Best Adapted Screenplay statue, otherwise known as the Wild Card.