Here is my Q&A with Brewers blogger Kyle Lobner of BrewCrewBall.com, to try and get a sense of how Milwaukee fans feel about their team heading into tonight’s game against the Mets:
Vinny Cartiglia: Like the Mets, the Brewers lost a fan favorite in Prince Fielder to free agency this past offseason. I know there was a large contingent of Mets fans who were very upset when Jose Reyes signed with Miami. Is it safe to assume there was a similar reaction in Milwaukee when Prince Fielder left for Detroit?
Kyle Lobner: I think Fielder’s case was a unique one, because a large portion of the fan base had known for quite a while (two years or more) that Fielder was likely on his way out. The team even gave him a curtain call and the fans gave him a standing ovation at the end of the 2010 season, because everyone was operating under the assumption that he was likely to be traded that winter before his final arbitration season. Getting Fielder back for 2011 was something of a bonus, as the team traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in an effort to win right away instead of taking a step back and rebuilding.
Once the season was over, though, most of us expected Fielder to find money elsewhere. We knew there was a chance he’d return, but not a good one. Losing Fielder was certainly disappointing and it’s sad to see him playing somewhere else, but I don’t think most Brewer fans expected the organization to come anywhere close to the $200+ million he got from Detroit. We miss him as a fan base for sure, but this is a loss we’ve had a long time to prepare for and accept.
Vinny Cartiglia: New York turned to a young, home grown player in Ruben Tejada to replace Reyes. The Brewers took a similar approach with Mat Gamel. And so I wonder, how did Milwaukee fans take to Gamel?
Kyle Lobner: Entering the season a lot of people were wondering what would happen with Gamel. He had crushed minor league pitching for years but floundered a bit in the big leagues and it wasn’t a certainty that he’d be capable of carrying the load as an everyday first baseman. Gamel deserves a lot of credit for squashing those fears with a solid spring and a good start to the 2012 season, earning himself a place in the #6 spot in the full-time lineup.
Unfortunately, Gamel’s first full season in the big leagues came screeching to a halt when he tore his ACL chasing a foul popup in San Diego two weeks ago. The injury has left the Brewers with a fair amount of uncertainty at first base: Major league veteran Travis Ishikawa and top prospect third baseman Taylor Green have split time at the position to this point, and it’s possible outfielder Corey Hart, utilityman Brooks Conrad, third baseman Aramis Ramirez or even catcher George Kottaras could be called upon to help fill the gap over there.
Furthermore, if the Brewers manage to stay in contention it’s possible they’ll be looking to buy a big bat to slot into that spot before the trade deadline.
To get an on-field take of what’s happening with the Brewers, watch this Q&A with Lobner: