I mentioned in my earlier piece that I’d exchanged some questions about John Axford with Nick from The Brewers Bar. If you are interested to see what I wrote over there (a few points that are different from my post here), go over and check it out. Even if you aren’t interested, give it a click and support a fellow blogger.
Since Nick sent me a few, I figured turnabout was more than fair play. So here is our quick Q&A about what Axford leaving means to those in Milwaukee.
C70: What’s the fan reaction to Axford being traded? Relief, sorrow?
BB: From what I’m seeing, the fan reaction is subdued on the Brewers side. Some are sad to see him go, mostly due to the great memories of 2011 but also because Axford is a personable guy who has a lot of character. Others have been waiting for the Brewers to ditch him for a while now. I think most who follow the Brewers closely assumed he would be non-tendered after the season anyway, because the Brewers have no business paying relievers upwards of $6MM on a team that is chasing its own tail. If anything, losing Axford may sting a little extra in this case, because now he’ll be helping (or hurting) the Cardinals, who always seem to profit from the Brewers’ misfortunes.
C70: What’s the most frustrating thing about watching him or seeing him come into a game?
BB: The most frustrating thing is his lack of command. Even in 2011, he was effectively wild. Since then he either has it or he doesn’t. There’s not a lot of middle ground with him. When he has the command he’s brilliant, but otherwise you see a lot of bad pitches and walks. There’s an unstable, volatile quality in his appearances. A lot depends on whether he can throw the curve for a strike. If he can do that, he gets ahead of hitters who are sitting on the fastball.
C70: Have there been theories about why he’s struggled? Has he tried to make some mechanical adjustments or done anything else different?
BB: There have been theories about his mechanics and psychological make-up, but he’s shown that he’s had the killer instinct of a closer in the past, obviously. To me, it has always been about his control because the guy can really sling it. If he can put the ball where he wants to he can be dominant, but whether it’s something in his delivery or just his state of mind, he’s had trouble with consistency since his remarkable 2011 campaign. Maybe the Cards will be able to harness his powers; for the Brewers, he was just getting too expensive. Otherwise I think he stays in Brew City.
C70: He seems like a great guy on Twitter. Does he have that outgoing personality all the time?
BB: Pretty much. He’s an outstanding guy with a noteworthy sense of humor, and the Brewers will certainly lose something intangible with his departure. He’s a witty guy, but can get defensive at times. After 2011, though, his struggles left him open for (sometimes unwarranted) criticism from fans that wanted a repeat of that magical run. As you know, baseball usually doesn’t work that way.
My thanks to Nick for reaching out and for answering these questions as well. Let’s see how this works out!