Pitching shines in spring opener

February 24, 2013

> No, I’m not dead. Just your typical month-long absence. Things have been hectic for me recently, and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on BWI nowadays. But I figured I owed at least one article after not even checking on the site in over a month.

A lot has happened since I’ve been away, with the most significant thing pertaining to Ryan Braun and his second straight eventful offseason. But first, let’s talk positives: it’s hard not to be positive when baseball is getting back into full swing.

> The Brewers’ had their first Spring Training game yesterday, and squeezed past the Athletics in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The A’s recorded just five hits off the Brewers’ pitching staff, while the Brewers themselves managed just three. But patience at the plate was what gave the Brewers the edge: they drew seven walks against an otherwise-solid Athletics pitching staff.

Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a home run in his first (and only, as it turns out) ST at-bat. The second Brewers run came on Jean Segura’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning. In the seventh, prospect Michael Choice drove in the only Athletics run.

> So offense wasn’t exactly the Brewers’ strong point yesterday: the only players to pick up hits were Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Caleb Gindl. However, Carlos Gomez and Taylor Green drew back-to-back walks twice in the game. Hopefully this foreshadows that Gomez will be a bit more patient at the plate this year.

But the pitching was nothing but stellar. Aside from Santo Manzanillo allowing a run in 2/3 innings of work, the staff shut down the A’s. Mike Fiers worked around a shaky 26-pitch first inning to toss two scoreless innings. From there, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, Michael Olmsted, and Jesus Sanchez- who recorded the save- all had scoreless outings as well.

> Speaking of Olmsted, he’s received a lot of clamor and praise from players early on in Spring Training. He pitched the eighth yesterday and recorded two strikeouts. Hopefully that’s a role we’ll see him playing during the regular season.

> With that out of the way, let’s move onto the news that’s made this past month somewhat miserable for the Brewers.

> So there’s this pharmacy in Miami that’s been referred to as the “Biogenisis clinic.” Roughly a month ago, news broke out that it had allegedly sold PEDs to six players: Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of these players- A-Rod, Melky, Colon, and Grandal- had all been linked to PEDs (and, in some cases, suspended for use of them) in the past.

Since this incident was first reported by Yahoo!, however, more players have come out to be linked to Biogenesis.

Braun was one of them. But you knew it had to happen since he had said just a few days before that he was enjoying his non-eventful offseason.

To be honest, though, I’m not nearly as worried about this case as I was about the whole fiasco last offseason. Braun has not been directly linked to PEDs in this case- at least not yet. His name is on some extremely sketchy piece of paper next to a sum of money, but it does not say that he bought PEDs. According to Braun, he reached out to Anthony Bosch- the Biogenesis founder- for help during his trial last offseason. Why would he link himself to someone like that? Beats me. But all I know is that he hasn’t been linked to PEDs directly yet, and, until he is, he’s completely innocent.

Braun2

> There was a 1/10 chance that Mat Gamel was going to re-tear his surgically repaired ACL. But, since he’s Mat Gamel, that automatically becomes a 10/10 chance, which it did. Now he’s going to miss the whole 2013 season after getting knocked out of the 2012 season in May.

That leaves the Brewers with two injured first baseman to start the 2013 season, as Corey Hart will likely miss at least a month as well. The Brewers hope to tread water internally at first base until Hart returns, and are primarily looking at Alex Gonzalez (re-signed to a Major League deal to play a utility role), Hunter Morris (has never played above Double-A), and Bobby Crosby (former Rookie of the Year, signed to a minor league pact).

Personally, I’d like to see Morris get a chance, but I can see where the Brewers wouldn’t want to waste an option on him and start his free agency clock early just so he can fill in for a month.

> And that’s about it for now. The Brewers take on the Indians later today at 2:05 PM CT. Mark Rogers will take the hill as one of the many Brewers competing for a spot in the rotation. Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland.


Rauch, Frasor, Farnsworth, Gonzalez on relief radar

December 18, 2012

> Doug Melvin has already missed out on multiple opportunities to sign relievers this offseason, the most notable guys being Jason Grilli and Sean Burnett. But, for the first time this offseason, Melvin himself named off a few relievers that the Brewers are currently interested in. Those names included Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Gonzalez, all of whom were in my relief pitcher article from a few weeks back.

In my opinion, Frasor is by far the most attractive pitcher of those four. He fits the bill of a power arm the Brewers are looking for, and can pitch the eighth inning (I’m not so sure I completely trust Jim Henderson in the eighth yet). Frasor doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but you have to take into consideration that he’s spent the majority of his career with the Blue Jays in the AL East, so a move to the NL might do him good.

Frasor

The other three options Melvin listed are decent, I suppose. Farnsworth had a breakout season in 2011 as the Rays’ closer, but had an injury-plagued 2012. Gonzalez is that coveted lefty the Brewers are looking for (though I’d much prefer J.P. Howell, who I’m surprised Melvin didn’t mention), but the competition for him his; same goes for Howell. And I’d stay away from Rauch- he reminds me too much of Kameron Loe.

But if Melvin does decide to go after one of these guys, hopefully he gives him a substantial offer. Not that I want Melvin to overpay for a reliever, but I felt like he didn’t go hard enough for guys like Grilli or Burnett. However, the four guys Melvin mentioned today should come much cheaper than Grilli or Burnett.

> The Brewers signed utility infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Murphy, who’s pretty versatile in the field, isn’t the greatest at the plate, as he hit just .216 in 129 plate appearances for the Marlins last year, and is a career .205 hitter. But, he does provide some depth at shortstop,a position the Brewers struggled with last year until the acquisition of Jean Segura. After Alex Gonzalez went down, we saw the tandem of Cody Ransom and Cesar Izturis flail miserably.

Anyway, Murphy should compete with guys like Mat Gamel and Taylor Green for one of the back-up infielder spots.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Stephen Drew to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal.
Astros: Signed Carlos Pena to a one-year deal; designated Mickey Storey for assignment.
Cubs: Designated Jeff Beliveau for assignment.
Giants: Signed Santiago Casilla to a three-year extension.
Angels: Signed Luis Rodriguez to a minor league deal.
Royals: Released Ysrael Abreu, Jose Brazoban, Adelso Polanco, and Yerinson Tatis.


Analyzing the veteran starters on the market

October 30, 2012

> Doug Melvin and the Brewers have made it known that they’re probably going to go after a free agent starter this offseason, preferable an experienced guy to anchor what looks to be a young rotation. Personally, I’m still debating whether or not that’s the right decision; the bullpen probably needs more tending to than the rotation. But, if the Brewers do choose to go after a free agent veteran starter, there’s actually a surprisingly decent market for that category this offseason. Here’s a list of the key possibilities for the Brewers:

Ryan Dempster
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Kyle Lohse
Brandon McCarthy
Anibal Sanchez*
Dan Haren*
Jake Peavy*

*Sanchez, Haren, and Peavy all have options (or other contract impediments) with their current teams, so it remains to be seen if they actually reach the free agent market.

Basically, the guys I listed are possibilities that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing, and most of them are relatively realistic for the Brewers as well. Greinke, obviously, isn’t very likely, but you still can’t count him out.

Dempster was stellar with the Cubs in 2012, but sort of fell off a cliff with the Rangers (despite a winning record in Texas). He’s clearly better in the National League, but I’d say one of the only benefits of the Brewers signing Dempster is that they wouldn’t have to face him (he has 15 career wins against the Brewers).

Guthrie might be the worst option on the list. He was awful with the Rockies, probably because of Coors Field, but resurrected himself with the Royals during the second half, posting a 3.16 ERA. Guthrie is still one of the riskier options on the list, however, and the Brewers will probably try and go with someone else.

Jackson quietly had a decent year as the fifth starter in the Nationals’ rotation, but he’s had an inconsistent career, and the number of teams he’s played for will tell you that. I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing him, but there’s a bit of a risk with him as well.

For me, Kuroda is the best option on the list. After years of getting no run support in Los Angeles, he blossomed on the big stage in the Bronx. He proved he can pitch in the hitter-friendly environment of Yankee Stadium, meaning he probably wouldn’t do too bad at Miller Park.

There’s no denying Lohse had an unbelievable season in 2012, but I just don’t see him fitting in with the Brewers. Plus, he’s going to draw a ton of money (at least $12 million a year), and I don’t see the Brewers spending that on a starter.

In my opinion, McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game; he knows how to shut down a good offense. But, it’s not often that he isn’t injured, whether it be shoulder/elbow problems, or taking line drives off the head.

Those are my top options. There are also guys like Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there’s no doubt that those guys would turn into Jeff Suppan-like signings, so I hope the Brewers stay away from them.

THE NEWS

> Now that the offseason has officially started, the Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, and Alex Gonzalez all elected free agency. Marcum and K-Rod are both as good as gone, but Gonzalez has a chance of returning as the back-up shortstop (or starter, depending on Jean Segura’s status). The Brewers also reinstated Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson from the 60-day disabled list. Lastly, they re-signed shortstop Hector Gomez to a minor league deal.

The Brewers’ other free agents, Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba, are already on the market, as they elected free agency during the NLCS.

> The Gold Glove Finalists were announced today. Here’s a list of them at each position:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Peavy, C.J. Wilson
Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters
First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixera
Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan
Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy
Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout
Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz
First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto
Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop:
Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins
Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright
Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado
Center field: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs
Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Eithier, Jason Heyward

That awkward moment when Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox anymore, yet could win the AL Gold Glove at first base.

Anyway, Ramirez should win the third base GG, seeing as he had the fewest errors in the league at the position. But Braun won’t win the GG in left field, because steroids. (You can bet that’s what all of the voters are thinking.)

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised 2013 options for David Aardsma, Cano, and Curtis Granderson.
Phillies: Declined 2013 options for Ty Wigginton, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco.
Twins: Declined 2013 option for Scott Baker; signed P.J. Walters to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Exercised 2013 option for Luis Ayala.
Athletics: Optioned 2013 option for ex-Brewer Grant Balfour; declined Stephen Drew’s option; signed Mike Ekstrom to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera, and Matt Treanor.
Pirates:
Outrighted Jeff Clement, Eric Fryer, and Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Takuya Tsuchida.


Two possible adds for the Brewers this offseason

October 24, 2012

> Today was one of those extremely boring days that we’re going to be seeing a lot of during the offseason once the World Series is over. There was basically no news- at least on the Brewers front. But, scrolling through MLB Trade Rumors earlier and seeing some of the smaller names that are going to be out there this offseason, I figured I’d project how some of them could fit in with the Brewers. I’ll be doing a lot of this over the next few months, but I’m going to start with two random players- a reliever and a shortstop- and discuss how they would fit in with the Brewers, what the odds of the Brewers signing them are, and so on.

The first name that caught my eye scrolling down MLBTR is reliever Shawn Camp, who spent 2012 with the Cubs. Camp doesn’t come to mind when you think of dominant relievers, but he’s quietly been relatively consistent over the past few years with the Blue Jays (2008-2011) and the Cubs (2012). In 2012, he went 3-6 with a 3.59 ERA, and was one of the bright spots of a Cubs bullpen that wasn’t the greatest (though not as much of a train wreck as the Brewers’ ‘pen). He throws in the high-80’s to low-90’s, but has a pretty deceptive 3/4 delivery. I think he’d be a solid fit in what will hopefully be a revamped Brewers bullpen. The Cubs have shown interest in bringing him back next year, but, if the Brewers show interest as well, I get the feeling he’d rather come to Milwaukee instead of Chicago.

The next guy is shortstop Marco Scutaro- yes, the NLCS MVP for the Giants. I’ve been thinking about him as a possible option for the Brewers since September, but the chances of the Brewers getting him are looking slimmer and slimmer with Scutaro’s unbelievable postseason feats. Anyway, I thought he’d fit in as the starting shortstop if Jean Segura shows that he isn’t quite ready for the starting role. But, even if Segura did earn the starting role, I thought Scutaro would be a better option to sign as a back-up than bringing back Alex Gonzalez in that role. Again, though, Scutaro’s recent success tells me he’ll be looking for something more on the free agent market this offseason. So, unless the Brewers are willing to give him the starting nod at shortstop regardless of the Segura and Gonzalez situations, I’m doubtful of the Brewers’ chances of bringing in Scutaro.

THE NEWS

> Jonathan Lucroy will not be eligible for Super Two Status.

> The Marlins fired Ozzie Guillen after his disastrous first season in Miami. Guillen and Bobby Valentine (Red Sox) held similar circumstances going into this season with their respective teams: each had been given a great team- at least on paper- by their front office, and were expected to contend for a title. I can tell you that I fell for it; I had both the Red Sox and Marlins making the playoffs via the Wild Card prior to the start of the season. But chemistry issues in the clubhouse plagued both teams, hence the early exits of both managers.

> Japanese super-prospect Shohei Otani- pretty much this offseason’s Yu Darvish- has decided to pursue an MLB career rather than stay in Japan. Just like last year with Darvish, the Rangers and Red Sox have done the most work with him so far.

It’s a long shot, but I think he’d be an interesting option for the Brewers. At first, I thought he wouldn’t make sense for them financially. But, looking at Otani’s situation, it’s unlikely an 18-year old is going to get the money Darvish did last year. Plus, since Otani is just coming out of college and never signed with a Japanese team, the MLB team that signs him won’t have to pay the idiotic posting fee.

> Randy Wolf is going to miss all of 2013 due to Tommy John Surgery, a procedure he also had to go through in 2005. That makes me wonder if this had something to do with his sub-par performance with the Brewers in 2012.

Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Phillies; designated Tyson Brummett for assignment.
Phillies:
Outrighted Michael Martinez to Triple-A.
Angels: Outrighted Jeremy Moore to Triple-A.


Thoughts from the early offseason presser

October 15, 2012

> This article is well overdue, but I figured it was necessary at some point. A day or so after the offseason, Ron Roenicke, Doug Melvin, and a few others met with the media to discuss their early offseason goals and what we can look for from the Brewers going into 2013. Melvin in particular had some interesting comments, and basically explained what the status of some players are going into 2013.

John Axford is the closer, Corey Hart is the regular first baseman, Alex Gonzalez could be the starting shortstop, and, if he returns, Mat Gamel will serve as a bench player.

These are all some very debatable points. I agree with two of them, I’m relatively neutral with one of them, and then there’s one I think should receive some re-consideration.

The one I favor most is Hart remaining at first base. Following Gamel’s season-ending injury back in May, the Brewers found that Travis Ishikawa wasn’t getting the job done, so they moved Hart in from right field, and it paid off. To go along with his solid offense (which a player needs to be a first baseman), Hart provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position as well. If he plays as well as he did this year at first base in 2013, he’s a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. This move also allowed the Brewers to play Norichika Aoki every day in right field, and that also paid off, as Aoki posted a sensational rookie season.

I also agree with placing Gamel on the bench as a utility player. He’s had plenty of chances to start- the best one coming in 2012- but spoiled all of them with injuries or lazy play. Thanks to his ability to play multiple positions (first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions), however, he still has the opportunity to be a valuable utility player, and a power left-handed bat off the bench.

The one I’m relatively neutral (at least for the time being) on is the possibility of Gonzalez starting at shortstop. I liked what I saw from Gonzalez early in 2012 before his season-ending injury and would have gladly taken him back, but that was before the Brewers acquired Jean Segura. If the Brewers really want Segura to start at short for the long-term, they might as well start doing it now. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gonzalez return as another utility bench player, a role I feel he could play well. But I think what will determine this decision is the kind of spring Segura has.

Lastly, I do NOT want the closer’s role simply handed to Axford to start 2013. I’ll admit he finished sort of strong in 2012, but that doesn’t change the fact that he led the Majors with nine blown saves. His home runs allowed and walks significantly rising from his 2011 season definitely contributed to that. I know the excuse is that the Brewers don’t have anyone else who can take over, but that is a false statement. It’s true that the Brewers are slim in the relief corps at all levels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anybody. For instance, Jim Henderson threw the ball very well down the stretch. The Brewers could also sign an established reliever this offseason. The closer’s job is still Axford’s job to lose, but, especially if he has a bad spring, it shouldn’t be handed to him by default.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Tigers took a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees today. Last night’s game was dramatic as ever, with Jose Valverde blowing a 4-0 lead- which was a non-save situation- including two-run home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. But Delmon Young gave the Tigers the lead in 12th inning, which would win the game. The biggest storyline, however, was Derek Jeter’s ankle fracture, which ended his postseason.

The Yankees’ offense continued to stay ice cold in today’s game, as they were shut out, 3-0. It’s hard to say whether or not Anibal Sanchez threw a gem, or if the Yankees’ offense is just awful. That offense killed a stellar start from Hiroki Kuroda, who took a perfect game into the sixth and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings.

> The Cardinals took the first game of the NLCS with the Giants. Both starters- Lance Lynn and Madison Bumgarner- got knocked around, but the Cards’ bullpen prevailed in tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings. The offensive heroes were who you’d expect: David Freese, who hit a two-run blast in the second inning, and Pete Kozma, who contributed an RBI double in the fourth. Carlos Beltran also had a two-run homer in the fourth.

THE NEWS

> Tom Haudricourt suggested Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, and even Brandon McCarthy as possible veteran starting pitching adds for the Brewers this offseason. I wouldn’t mind any of those, but I would also toss Kuroda into that mix, despite the fact the Yankees will want him back badly. Haudricourt also said that the Brewers will more than likely sign an SP through the free agent market rather than trade for one due to all the prospects the Brewers have had to part with in recent years.

> Haudricourt doesn’t think the Brewers will trade Hart or Rickie Weeks to create payroll flexibility. Hart has expressed his desire to stay in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, while Weeks’ salary isn’t as big of a deal due the Brewers’ current payroll situation.

> Lastly, Haudricourt said that Nyjer Morgan will probably be non-tendered and easily replaced by Logan Schafer, as we all expected.

> Edwin Maysonet and Juan Perez each declared free agency.

> Today’s minor moves:

Rangers: Outrighted Luis Hernandez, who declared free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Matt Palmer, who declared free agency.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.


Brewers serve up Gio’s 20th

September 23, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers have seemed invincible recently, but I suppose a good offense and a Cy Young contender can put that to a halt quickly. The Brewers lost to the Nationals today, 10-4, in a game they let get away too early.

Wily Peralta had a very short start- he went just 2 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out four. But you could just tell it was going to be a short outing from the get-go; despite not giving up a run in the first two innings, he needed 42 pitches to get through them. He left the game with 73 pitches after having recorded just two outs in the third.

Peralta gave up consecutive RBI hits to Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Ian Desmond in the third before being taken out in exchange for Livan Hernandez.
But Hernandez got completely murdered by his former team in the fourth, allowing three-run homers to both Ryan Zimmerman and Desmond.

All the while the Brewers’ offense was being silenced by Gio Gonzalez, who became the first 20-game winner of 2012.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun is reportedly dealing with some groin issues after a “rough slide” into home last night. He’s going to play through them for the stretch run, however. Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI today.

> MLB Trade Rumors has continued to mention Alex Gonzalez’s vesting option for 2013 that would have come into play had he achieved 525 plate appearances this season. But, since he went down in May, there’s almost no chance he returns to the Brewers next year.

> The Cardinals defeated the Cubs in extra innings, so the Brewers fall to 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race for the time being. However, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Pirates all lost, so the teams close behind the Brewers will stay pat as well.

THE NUMBERS

> Yorvit Torrealba made his Brewers debut today, replacing Martin Maldonado in the fifth inning. But he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

> Taylor Green hit his third career homer in the ninth inning.

> Peralta had allowed just one extra-base hit in his first three big league starts coming into today. But, he gave up three XBH’s in a row in that rough third inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 6.92 ERA)

Gallardo’s last loss was against the Nationals back in late July, and his record fell to 8-8 after that. Since then, though, Gallardo has been untouchable, going 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts following that outing.

THE EXTRAS

> I don’t think I’ve ever seen MLB refer to a home run as a “downtowner” in a highlight label.


Peralta rewarded with W in first start

September 6, 2012

POSTGAME

> If Wily Peralta had any nerves tonight, they certainly didn’t show, as he was a key to the Brewers’ 8-5 win over the Marlins. He tossed six solid innings, giving up three runs on five hits while walking four and striking out three. Peralta was given more than enough offensive support, with Rickie Weeks slugging two home runs- both two-run shots- while he was in the game.

The bullpen tried to blow it in the seventh, allowing the Marlins to put up a four-spot with RBIs from Greg Dobbs, Bryan Petersen, Donovan Solano, and Jose Reyes. That slimmed the lead to 6-5, but Corey Hart- who also had a two-run blast in this game- buried the Marlins with a two-run double in the ninth.

MY TAKE

> Peralta looked decent tonight, and showed flashes of the ace-type stuff he has. His running fastball was consistently 95-96 MPH, and he touched 98 twice. He hung his slider a few times, but they didn’t hurt him; and when the slider was down in the zone, it was filthy. He didn’t use his change-up much, but did throw one great one to strike out Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth inning. Peralta also reportedly has a curve, but I didn’t see it at all tonight.

THE NEWS

> Aramis Ramirez was in the on-deck circle for his at-bat in the ninth inning, but quickly retreated to the dugout prior to his at-bat. He then disappeared into the clubhouse. It’s still unknown what happened, but it was speculated that he could have been sick. Jonathan Lucroy pinch-hit for him.

> The Brewers called up their second batch of September prospects yesterday: Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Stinson, and Logan Schafer.

Peralta will take Mark Rogers’ spot in the rotation for likely the rest of the season. Thornburg could see some spot starts here and there, but he’ll be used out of the bullpen for the time being. Stinson, who has seen Major League time with the Mets, went 11-9 with a 3.16 ERA at Double-A; he’ll also likely be used out of the ‘pen. Lastly, Schafer is a highly-touted outfield prospect who we saw a bit of last September.

> Hunter Morris won the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year award, and Hiram Burgos won the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The Brewers have already hinted that Morris won’t be called up, but didn’t rule out the possibility of Burgos seeing big league time this month.

> Alex Gonzalez is ahead of schedule of his rehab from his torn ACL. I guess this has some significance in case Jean Segura and Jeff Bianchi don’t pass the Brewers’ expectations in Spring Training of next year.

THE NUMBERS

> This was Weeks’ first multi-homer game since June of 2010.

> Segura went 0-for-4, lowering his average to .198. He’s been good defensively, but I can’t imagine the Brewers are satisfied with his offense.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (2-5, 3.85 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (7-11, 3.86 ERA)

Yes, Estrada has a lower ERA than JJ, somehow.

In personal news, school started for me yesterday. That shouldn’t affect BWI yet, but the work will pile on as the weeks go by. As for the reason there wasn’t an article last night, I was having computer problems I simply didn’t have time to fix. But that’s all cleared up now.


Dillard struggles as Brewers finish disappointing road trip

May 7, 2012

> Today was yet another disappointing game for the Brewers, which has been a common theme during this nine-game road trip. They fell to the Giants today, 4-3, in somewhat of a nail-biter. The Brewers got on the board right away in the first on an Aramis Ramirez RBI single, but Shaun Marcum gave up the lead quickly in the bottom of the inning. Conor Gillaspie hit an RBI double, and Angel Pagan followed that with an RBI fielder’s choice. Ryan Theriot tacked on another run for the Giants in the fourth, making it 3-1. Ramirez picked up another RBI in the sixth on a sacrifice fly.

The Brewers then put up a fight in the ninth inning against Giants closer Santiago Casilla (the beard is on the DL for those who don’t know). Two outs after Corey Hart reached on a fielding error, ex-Giant Travis Ishikawa stunned his former team with a game-tying RBI double.

But the Brewers couldn’t keep the momentum going, and the game went to extra innings. In the 11th, Tim Dillard came in to pitch, and you could just tell things were going to go downhill from there. He’s probably had one, but I honestly can’t recall Dillard having a scoreless outing yet this year. And that trend continued today. Dillard loaded the bases, including two walks, before giving up a walk-off single to Hector Sanchez.

> With that loss aside, here’s some other news involving the Crew…

> Marcum took his third consecutive no-decision today, and his record remains 1-1. In other words, the Brewers wasted yet another quality start from him (six innings, three runs, five hits, three strikeouts).

> Alex Gonzalez is headed to the DL with a knee injury. It shouldn’t be anything season ending, but he follows Chris Narveson, Mat Gamel, and Carlos Gomez to the DL.

> Taylor Green was called up yesterday, and made his first start today, batting seventh. He went 1-for-5 with a double that would have been a home run almost anywhere else. But it’ll be interesting to see if he starts again tomorrow.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will go home to face the Reds tomorrow, with the pitching match-up being Yovani Gallardo (1-3, 5.79 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 3.03 ERA). Gallardo threw a 13-strikeout, six-inning gem in his last start against the Reds (September of last year), but, other than that, his numbers against them aren’t so good.

As you can see, I tried a bit of a different article format today. This was meant to make it a more brief post, simply because I’m having trouble finding time to dedicate to full-out articles. It didn’t really work out this time, but from here on out I’ll hopefully just re-cap the game, briefly talk about a few pieces of news, and preview the pitching match-up for the next day. I hopefully only have to do this for a month until school lets out, but my schedule is pretty busy until then.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


After slow start, Brewers storm back to crush Rox

April 22, 2012

> The Brewers’ offense has lookedextremely shabby early on this season, as three of their regulars came into today hitting below .200. For the first four innings of the game today, it looked like that trend was going to continue. But, from the fifth inning on, the Brewers put on one of their best offensive runs of the season, and showed they weren’t screwing around.

> The Brewers took down the Rockies today, 9-4. By that blowout score, you wouldn’t have thought that the offense struggled at all. But it did- especially during the first four innings, like I said before. But, after managing to put up a few runs in the middle innings, the bats broke out in the seventh inning, unlike they ever had prior to this game.

Marco Estrada got the start today in place of the injured Chris Narveson (more on that later). The news had just come to him yesterday, so no one knew how he would react. But, like he always does when he’s thrown into the fire that is the starting rotation, Estrada had a stellar start. He went five innings while giving up a run on two hits. He struck out nine and walked none. The reason he only went five innings is because Ron Roenicke put a pitch limit of around 80 pitches on Estrada, but he definitely could have gone longer with the way he was throwing the ball.

Onto the offense. For the first four innings, Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz was perfect, and it looked like he was going to throw the second perfecto of the day (also more on that later). He was finally given a run to work with in the fourth on Troy Tulowitzki’s solo home run. But, in the fifth, I don’t know what happened, but Pomeranz just lost it. He started the inning by walking Aramis Ramirez- who is hitting .151 now- on four pitches. Corey Hart followed that up with a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third with no outs. After that, Pomeranz gifted the Brewers a tie game on a wild pitch. Alex Gonzalez then hit an RBI double to make the score 2-1. Despite the fact Pomeranz would go on to walk two more batters and his defense would make a few errors behind him, he didn’t give up another run that inning.

In the sixth inning, Roenicke made yet another idiotic bullpen move: he put in Manny Parra in a 2-1 game. He naturally struggled and gave up a run, then Mike McClendon, who came in after Parra got two outs, gave up the lead, making it 3-2. But, in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Braun tied the game with a solo homer, which broke him out of a huge slump- he didn’t have a hit the entire homestand prior to that at-bat.

But the seventh inning is when the Brewers broke loose. Rickie Weeks hit an RBI triple to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead, followed by a Carlos Gomez RBI single. Braun then hit the second RBI triple of the inning to make the score 5-3. Then, after an intentional walk to Hart, Gonzalez murdered a line drive blast into the Brewers’ bullpen to pretty much put the icing on the cake for the Brewers.

The Brewers definitely needed a game like this, though. Despite the fact they have the highest team ERA in the NL, their pitching has been pretty good lately; the bats just haven’t quite heated up yet. After today, it looks the offense will start to pick it up.

> The reason Estrada was starting today was because of an injury to Narveson. Apparently, the morning after he got shell-shocked by the Braves, Narveson said his shoulder was sore. He got an MRI, which revealed at least one significant tear on his rotator cuff, a vital part of the shoulder. If this holds true, Narveson will more than likely have season-ending surgery, which is too bad, since he just had surgery at the end of last season.

But I wonder if the MRI got it wrong for once. I’m pretty sure if you tore your rotator cuff, your shoulder would be a little more than just “sore.” So maybe it’s just a pulled muscle or something. But I guess I wouldn’t know; I’ve never torn my rotator cuff, and hopefully never will.

Anyway, McClendon was recalled from Triple-A because of this (which is why I question Roenicke’s decision to throw him into a pressure situation like that right away). The Brewers also called up prospect Wily Peralta because Kameron Loe is taking a bereavement leave, and will be gone at least three days. So that’s probably just a temporary move, but I’d like to see Peralta get some action in the Majors for once.

> This doesn’t have to do with the Brewers, but Philip Humber of the White Sox threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history today. It came against the Mariners, who can’t score runs to save their lives anyway, but it’s a historic feat nonetheless.

The 27th out of the game was ex-Cardinal Brendan Ryan, who struck out swinging (sort of) on an awful 3-2 pitch. Had he not swung, Ryan would have walked, and broken up the perfect game. He check-swung, though, and we may never know if he swung or not, but it was called that he broke the plane. It was an awful pitch, though, so I don’t even see how he could have even moved that bat at a pitch like that.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the rubber game of this series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT. Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 4.58 ERA) will go for the Brewers, coming off a decent start against the Dodgers. But he’s been awful in his career against the Rockies, going 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA against them. Most of those bad numbers have come at Coors Field, though, where Gallardo’s career ERA is miles over 10.00.

The Rox will counter with Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 7.79 ERA), whom they acquired from the Orioles during the offseason. Guthrie has never faced the Brewers in his career.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


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