[My other headline was "Ritchie Poor Starring Milwaukee Kaka". (Like "Richie Rich Starring McCauley Caulkin." Yeah, I though it was a stretch, too.) Take your pick.]
The Brewers in an attempt to recreate the "magic" of the 1999 Pirates-hey, they were almost .500-have signed two players from that team today.
The first was Keith Osik, the light-hitting backup catcher. Quoth MLB.com:
"Keith Osik brings experience and a strong defensive presence behind the plate," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He will add depth and veteran leadership for our young catchers."
The Brewers catchers are young? In the sense that they are inexperienced or in the sense that they were not talented enough to make it to the majors until somebody got real desperate? Javier Valentin is 27, and Cody McKay and Robert Machado are both 29. Machado has been kicking around the majors since 1996, so he should be able provide all the necessary veteran leadership all by himself. The same goes for 4-year vet Valentin. McKay though 29, just broke into the majors for three ABs in 2002. I guess by the additive theory, three backup catchers and a stiff add up to one starting catcher at least in Milwaukee. "Now, if we were in Italy I'd have to make your bunk. But we're in Germany so you've got to make mine." (Sorry, just a little sojourn to John Candy Land.)
The other Pirate from the "Year of Prince" is Todd Ritchie, whom the Brew-Bucs inked to a one-year deal today. The Brewers rotation now looks like this, in no particular order, Ritchie, Dave Mlicki, Ben Sheets, Glendon Rusch, and either Nick Neugebauer, Ben Diggins, or Wayne Franklin. No, I'm serious-it really is.
Ritchie has actually been not that bad aside from last year. Take a look:
His strikeouts are dropping and he has never pitched that many innings (200+ only once), but he wasn't terrible before 2002. Can he bounce back? Sure. He could be slightly worse than average. Then again, he could be terrible again. He is unlikely to ever recreate the 15-win season of four years ago, however.
It's the lot of the Brewers to gamble when the big payoff is mediocrity.