Inbox: Scrutinizing Brewers' offense
Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions
Two weeks ago, we were worried about the starting pitching, and now, I'm worried about this Brewers' offense, too. How do they go from pounding the Pirates to all of a sudden not being able to score against the Cubs and Padres? Do you think this is something to be concerned about?
-- Alex F., Milwaukee
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If Brewers manager Ken Macha is willing to make some changes, David has a suggestion:How long until we see Alcides Escobar moved up in the order? I see him as a much better fit than Carlos Gomez in the two-hole.
-- David S., Delavan, Wis. When Escobar was hot at the start of the season, I might have agreed. Now that he's cooled a bit since his on-base percentage peaked at .354 on April 21 (he's 7-for-37 with no walks since then), I think you would have a more difficult time convincing Macha. Escobar has made 18 out of 20 starts in eight-hole, and at the start of the season, he showed he could handle that difficult position. With Gomez, the jury is still out. He's batting .273 with a .322 on-base percentage and 12 strikeouts in 55 at-bats in the second spot. He is also 4-for-4 in stolen bases from that position. I'm guessing that Macha will leave the batting order as is for a while, though I agree with David that if and when changes do come, there's a good bet that the two-hole will be involved somehow. I'd be curious to hear from readers how they would shake things up. Why is it that batting coaches are former players who couldn't hit a lick themselves?
-- Tom K., Racine, Wis. Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum would take issue with that question, because he was a fine offensive shortstop in a playing career ruined by injury. But I get Tom's point that the batting champion-turned-hitting coach is extremely difficult to find. The Brewers had one a decade ago in Rod Carew, but they had another in Jim Skaalen, who never played in the big leagues. In my own conversations with players about hitting coaches, the best ones are the guys who know how hard it is to hit, who had to struggle themselves through their careers. The guys who could roll out of bed and bat .300 often have trouble explaining how they did it to the backup infielder batting .200. It's also important to remember that hitting is as much about confidence as swing mechanics, and the best know when is the right time to talk hand position and when to simply help a guy feel good. Here's a link to a story from Astros beat reporter, Brian McTaggart, about the relationship between a hitting coach and his players.
Is it possible Mat Gamel will be traded? Does the Brew Crew have any possible replacements for Trevor Hoffman if he should retire next year?
-- Joseph B., Prairie du Sac, Wis.
-- Alex B., Stevens Point, Wis. Right now, Braddock's just a relief pitcher. Melvin told me at the end of Spring Training that he wanted the guys at Triple-A Nashville to develop a multiple-inning mentality, not get pigeonholed into one-inning roles. Braddock certainly has the "stuff" to close someday, but right now, it's just about getting innings. So far, so good. Braddock has not allowed a run in his first seven appearances this season and has 22 strikeouts vs. four walks in 11 1/3 innings.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.