Hamilton, Dempster wiped off the market

December 15, 2012

> For the second straight offseason, the Angels have picked up the best hitter on the market with a sneaky deal that no one saw coming. Following a year in which they gave Albert Pujols a 10-year, $254 million deal, they handed out another huge contract to Josh Hamilton, this one for five years and $175 million. 

If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar. Their outfield seemed set with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos, a young core that could last them a long time. But, much to the chagrin of their division rival Rangers, they went out and stole the best free agent on the market, and will insert Hamilton into one of those outfield slots (likely Bourjos’).

It was speculated all offseason that the Brewers had interest in Hamilton, and there were articles as recent as December 6th saying that Milwaukee would make a run at him. But, realistically, the Brewers were never going to get him, especially at his price tag.

Anyway, the Angels’ lineup now looks something like this: Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Kendrys Morales, Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, and Chris Iannetta.

Looks like Los Angeles is the new New York.

Hamilton

> The Brewers’ top starting starting pitching target, Ryan Dempster, was also taken away, as the Red Sox wooed him with a two-year, $26.5 million deal. Apparently, the Brewers were willing to give Dempster two years plus an option for a third, but they didn’t come close to what Boston was offering cash-wise. Anyway, I don’t see Dempster doing well in the American League after what he did for the Rangers last year, but that was his choice.

With Dempster off the market, the likelihood of the Brewers bringing in a free agent starter this offseason decreased by a lot. The rest of the crop is either too Jeff Suppan-like or won’t fit the Brewers financial situation. The next best option after Dempster would be Edwin Jackson, but that would only happen if he would be willing to take a one-year or two-year deal. If the reports of Jackson wanting a four or five-year deal are true, then the odds of him coming to Milwaukee aren’t very good.

But, as I’ve been saying, it isn’t the end of the world if the Brewers don’t bring in a new starter for 2013. I’m completely fine with them staying in-house and using the prospects who are big league-ready. If that is the case, the ideal rotation for the Brewers would be Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, and Mike Fiers. While that seems like a relatively inexperienced rotation to someone who doesn’t watch the Brewers everyday, I think the Brewers will get by, especially with the best offensive lineup in the National League backing them up.

> One more major signing: the Tigers finalized a deal with Anibal Sanchez, who nearly went to the Cubs, this morning. The Cubs reportedly had a five-year, $75 million deal in place with Sanchez as recent as last night, but the Tigers were given the opportunity to counter the offer, and wound up getting him back.

Sanchez was one of the starters who the Brewers probably wouldn’t have been able to afford, but at least it’s good that the division rival Cubs won’t get him.

> Doug Melvin basically said that he doesn’t want Shaun Marcum back.

> The Brewers have been linked to Mike Adams, one of the better relievers on the market, recently. But Tom Haudricourt considers them out of the hunt for him. Adams started his career with the Brewers, pitching for them from 2004 to 2006.

> Long-time Brewers farmhand Amaury Rivas has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. He was always one of my favorite minor league pitchers for the Brewers, but I figured he’d be gone at some point.

> Minor moves: 

Rangers: Signed Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal; outrighted Konrad Schmidt to Triple-A.
Padres: Signed Juan Oramas, Sean O’Sullivan, Gregorio Petit, and Rene Rivera to minor league deals; acquired Chris Rearick from the Rays.
Twins: Signed ex-Brewer Brandon Boggs, Ray Olmedo, Bryan Augenstein, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Scott Earlton, Virgil Vasquez, Mike O’Connor, and Jason Lane to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Andres Torres to a one-year deal; signed Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal.
Braves: Signed Ramiro Pena to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Signed Tommy Manzella to a minor league deal.
Mets: Re-signed Manny Acosta to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Signed Bobby Wilson and Gil Velasquez to minor league deals; designated Josh Spence for assignment.
Cardinals: Signed Alex Reyes to a minor league deal; signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Neivy Pilier and Brian Bocock to minor league deals.
Rays: Acquired Vince Belnome from the Padres.
Phillies: Signed Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Cesar Jimenez, Steven Lerud, Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Jermaine Mitchell, Pete Orr, and Humberto Quintero to minor league deals; claimed Mauricio Robles off waivers from the Mariners.
Royals: Signed Xavier Nady to a minor league deal.


Mutual interest between Brewers, Dempster

December 5, 2012

> It was reported today that Ryan Dempster is interested in being a Brewer in 2013. And, as the Brewers have implied over the past few weeks, the Brewers are interested in him.

Only one issue: the amount of time Dempster would be spending in Milwaukee.

Doug Melvin has shown his reluctance to give out three-year deals this offseason- particularly to pitchers. And you can’t blame him after seeing how the multi-year deals given to Jeff Suppan, David Riske, and Randy Wolf all ended. While I have a tough time imagining Dempster would turn out as badly as any of those names, there always a chance, especially since Dempster is already 35- older than any of the guys I just listed when they signed.

And that’s the thing: Dempster has made it known that he’s looking for a three-year deal. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the only other known team to be seriously considering Dempster- the Red Sox- is probably willing to give him those three years (the Sox have already given three-year deals to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino this offseason).

My solution to this issue for the Brewers would be to give Dempster two guaranteed years, then maybe a club or vesting option for the third year. I wish things worked that easily, but I can see where Dempster wouldn’t take that as full commitment from the Brewers.

> Melvin also hinted that the Brewers have offers on the table to Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. The Brewer Nation later confirmed that those offers do exist: Grilli’s offer is worth $1.1 million for one year, while Burnett’s is $2.3 million for two.

> For some reason, the Brewers tried talking to the Mets about R.A. Dickey. But, as you’d expect, those talks didn’t get anywhere. The Mets asking price for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is insanely high, and the Brewers simply don’t have the prospects to give in return.

> Brett Myers’ name has also popped up in Brewers rumors. If he were willing to be a reliever, I’d take him. But as a starter? He can go rot with Twins, for all I care.

> The Brewers have kicked around lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan as potential relief options. Gorzelanny has previous starting experience, but has pitched in relief over the past few years for the Nationals. Lannan, on the other hand, has been a starter basically his entire career, and I have to imagine he’d like to continue starting.

> Just a few other random notes from an interview with Ron Roenicke today: Mat Gamel is progressing well in recovering from his knee injury, Jim Henderson could be the setup man, and RRR is debating whether to bat Norichika Aoki or Rickie Weeks leadoff.

> Minor moves: 

Rockies: Acquired Wilton Lopez from the Astros.
Rays: Re-signed Sean Rodriguez to a one-year deal; acquired Yunel Escobar from the Marlins.
Nationals: Signed Dan Haren to a one-year deal.
Red Sox: Signed Victorino to a three-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Kyle Newby, Luke Montz, Justin Thomas, Garrett Olson, Scott Moore, Darwin Perez, and Mike Ekstrom to minor league deals.
Marlins: Acquired Derek Dietrich from the Rays.
Giants: Re-signed Marco Scutaro to a three-year deal.


Brewers inactive on Day 1 of Meetings

December 4, 2012

> The Brewers didn’t make any significant moves on the first day of this year’s Winter Meetings. Doug Melvin was questioned about a few topics, such as a possible pursuit of Ryan Dempster, but, as always, he said very little.

When asked about Dempster, Melvin gave a relatively indirect response, and made no indication as to whether the Brewers were after him:

“While he’s here, we might as well [meet]. We like the starters that we have, though. You’ve got [Yovani] Gallardo, you’ve got [Marco] Estrada and [Mike] Fiers, [Wily] Peralta, Mark Rogers, [Chris] Narveson. Is it time to give our young guys a chance and find out about them?” 

Whether or not the Brewers end up signing a veteran such as Dempster, the young guys are still going to get a look. In my opinion, the only locks for the rotation at this point are Gallardo and Estrada. The rest of the guys- Fiers, Peralta, Rogers, Narveson- are all viable options as well, however, and I don’t think the rotation is as big of a problem as some are making it out to be.

Personally, I’m in favor of signing Dempster. I don’t think he’ll turn out to be a Jeff Suppan or Randy Wolf-like signing (despite the fact that Dempster is older than both), but you never know. As I’ve been saying, Dempster isn’t a necessity: I’m perfectly fine with a rotation consisting of Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Narveson, and Fiers (I’m beginning to see Rogers as a potential reliever). I can see where someone not too familiar with the Brewers would have concerns about that rotation, but go back and look at the numbers. That’s by no means among the best rotations in baseball, but it’s capable of winning games, especially with the offense the Brewers already have. (By the way, Melvin also mentioned prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos as options, but they’re probably still both a year- maybe less- away.)

Melvin did speak about the bullpen situation, however, and said he’d made contact with the agents of two of the best possible fits for the Brewers: Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. Burnett, in my opinion, is the best lefty on the market, so if the Brewers were to nab him, I’d be happy. But that’s what we all thought about David Riske in 2007, and look what happened after the Brewers signed him to a three-year pact.

Grilli is already 36, but the Brewers had success with LaTroy Hawkins (38 at the time) and Takashi Saito (41) in 2011, so I’m not too worried about the age factor. Anyway, he’s one of the better right-handed relievers on the market, and can still get it up their in the mid-to-upper 90’s, something the Brewers are looking for.

Anyway, those were the main points for the interview with Melvin today. Adam McCalvy reported a few other “tidbits” from the chat as well:

> Melvin clarified that the Brewers see Estrada and Narveson as starting pitchers “at this time.” Estrada, who basically played the role of swing-man in 2011 and early 2012, has proven that he is much more successful pitching in the rotation, and now he’s getting his shot at the full-time job. Narveson, on the other hand, missed all of 2012 after just two starts because of a rotator cuff injury. If the Brewers sign a veteran starter, Narveson would be my first choice to move to the bullpen, but I’m fine with him in either role.

> After the Burke Badenhop deal the other day, Melvin said the Brewers aren’t involved in any trade talks at the moment.

> Melvin hasn’t talked to Corey Hart about a possible extension yet. But now there’s speculation that his price has driven up following the mega-deals that went to B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan.

> As I’ve speculated over the past few weeks, teams have asked the Brewers about Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, possibly the best young catching tandem in the Majors. But Melvin said he’d need to be blown away by a deal for either of them.

> And that’s about all the Brewers news for today. Check back tomorrow for coverage of Day 2.

> Minor moves: 

Red Sox: Signed Mike Napoli to a three-year deal; signed Mitch Maier, Terry Doyle, Drew Sutton, Oscar Villarreal, and Jose De La Torre to minor league deals.
Giants: Re-signed Pagan to a four-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Joakim Soria to a two-year deal; re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal.
Rays: Signed James Loney to a one-year deal.
Padres: Re-signed Jason Marquis to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Nationals: Re-signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal; signed Bill Bray to a minor league deal.
Braves: Re-signed Paul Janish to a one-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Rommie Lewis, Eddie Bonine, Kila Ka’aihue, Humberto Cota, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder to minor league deals.


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.


Sveum to be Cubs’ new manager…

November 18, 2011

> Starting tomorrow, the Brewers will need to search for a new hitting coach. Unfortunately, the circumstances behind this are worse than I thought they would be.

> The Cubs have hired Dale Sveum as their new manager. Sveum had been on the Brewers’ coaching staff since 2006, and most recently served as the hitting coach. He has little managerial experience at the Major League level, managing the last 12 games of the 2008 season to get the Brewers into the playoffs after Ned Yost was fired.

There are two reasons I’m not particularly happy with this. First off, it’s the Cubs, which speaks for itself. But, the second (and much worse) reason is that Sveum knows the Brewers’ hitters very well, having worked with them as the hitting coach over the past few years. This could make the divisional match-ups with the Cubs tough for the Brewers, if Sveum has the Cubs pitchers pitch the Brewers the right way (which, if you haven’t noticed by now, is keep throwing sliders down and away).

But, pitching is the Cubs’ weakness, as they had problems in both their rotation and bullpen last year. And I doubt Sveum knows the first thing about pitching, which is probably a good thing.

> Anyway, onto some other Brewers news. Since I couldn’t post last night because of my bad Internet connection, you may see some of yesterday’s news as well.

> The Brewers are apparently in the mix for free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who has played for the Phillies for the past few years. I definitely didn’t see this coming, but I guess nearly anything is an upgrade from Yuniesky Betancourt.

I’ve heard that Rollins, who is 32, is looking for a five-year deal.

Wait, a five-year deal?

Jimmy, let’s return to reality for a second: there isn’t a chance that you’re getting a five-year deal. Not only is Rollins 32 years old, but he’s also on a decline in his career. His numbers weren’t awful in 2011- 16 homers, 63 RBIs, and a .268 batting average- but at the same time, it’s much worse than the MVP candidate he used to be. Plus, his defense is getting a little sluggish, which isn’t something the Brewers need.

So I guess I’ll just say that I don’t want the Brewers to sign Rollins. If it happens, I probably wouldn’t care too much because his name isn’t Yuniesky Betancourt. But he isn’t getting a five-year deal with any team, no matter what- that’s a fact.

> Doug Melvin announced today that he’s interested in extending starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, both of whom were acquired in trades prior to the 2011 season. Both Greinke and Marcum’s contracts end after next year, so now would probably be the best time to extend them both.

Greinke went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 2011. That 3.83 ERA actually wasn’t bad, considering his ERA at the All-Star break was 5.66, and he had a great second half. But, the one thing I wasn’t too impressed with was that he never finished the eighth inning in any of his starts. Part of that is because Ron Roenicke appears to hate complete games (and other long starts in general), but still. Greinke was a horse with the Royals, and he needs to be with the Brewers as well.

But, the first step for him next year will be not playing any pickup basketball during Spring Training.

Marcum, on the other hand, left a bad taste in Brewers fans’ mouths with has awful postseason performance, but he actually had a great year. He went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA, and that ERA had been lower until a bad September in which his ERA was 5.17. But, if he can clear his mind this offseason, he should be able to rebound and get back to form next year. And to all the haters- he is not the next Jeff Suppan. There isn’t one pitcher on the Brewers right now that I would compare to Suppan (and that includes Kameron Loe, which is going pretty far for me).

> And that’s about all the Brewers news. But, before I go, here’s some surprising news that MLB released today…

> There could be two Wild Cards for each league as early as 2012. This change wasn’t expected until 2013 at the earliest, but there’s Bud Selig for you. Anyway, this means that there would be a one-game playoff between the two Wild Card teams to see who gets to play a division winner.

> The Astros have agreed to move to the AL West, probably in 2013. This would even out the leagues at 15 teams each, but there would also have to be an Interleague game every day.

And this is more classic Selig. So he moves the Brewers from the AL to the NL in 1998, only to move the Astros from the NL to the AL in 2012. Doesn’t make much sense, but I guess I’m happy the Brewers are in the NL instead of AL.

> Oh, and Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young Award. That was pretty much a given since he won the Triple Crown. But, so far I’ve gotten all of my major award predictions right. Hopefully that continues….

> And that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave thoughts, if you have any.


In the end, was Roenicke too friendly?

October 21, 2011

The 107th World Series is now all evened up at 1-1. The Rangers managed to snatch a win from the Cardinals today in the ninth inning, as the clown car- or bullpen, if you prefer to call it that- finally imploded for the Cards.

I’m still somewhat depressed that the Brewers aren’t playing in this series. But, as I explained in yesterday’s post, that awful defense pretty much made it impossible. Anyway, I’m not going to ramble on about the World Series for the rest of this post. That would be kind of pointless for me, considering this is a Brewers blog. Rather, I’m going to continue that post from yesterday, because I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to about how the Brewers pretty much prevented themselves from winning that series.

I started to talk about Ron Roenicke towards the end of that post, and here’s what I was going to say- he got to0 friendly with the team.

Now, I don’t mean Roenicke should start being harsh on the Brewers and scold them for every little thing (although that would still be better than what Ken Macha did). But, the manager of a team isn’t really supposed to be a friend- he’s the manager.

What I’m getting at is Roenicke’s choice for starting Shaun Marcum in Game 6- the deciding game of the Brewers’ season. Roenicke knew that Marcum was struggling- it’s hard not to notice that a guy has a 12.46 postseason ERA (going into that start). Yet, he chose to start him. And that was probably an attempt to save Marcum’s ego- which is what I mean by Roenicke being too friendly towards him.

Roenicke didn’t want Marcum to go down in Brewers’ history as the guy who flamed out during the most important part of the season. So, he tried to give him one last chance to prove himself, and it obviously didn’t go too well- one inning, four earned runs. The Brewers clearly made some threats after that, but an early four-run deficit is just usually too much to recover from.

Anyway, instead of saving Marcum’s reputation like he was trying to, Roenicke simply made the legacy worse. In my opinion, he would have been better off just leaving Marcum alone and not starting him for the rest of the postseason, because he clearly wasn’t on his game. But, now the Brewers’ season is over- and that mistake is going to loom over Roenicke for quite some time.

And he was out-managed in the NLCS by the most hated man in Wisconsin, Tony La Russa. La Russa wasn’t trying to be friendly to his starters- or any players- all season. During the regular season, he would give starting pitchers as much as 11 days rest (notably Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia). I guess that isn’t a very good point, but it’s definitely what Roenicke should have done in this situation. Anyway, La Russa also used his clown car at the perfect time in every game, and wasn’t afraid to be Captain Hook towards his starters. He simply managed better than Roenicke during the NLCS. Anyway, as I much as I hate La Russa, I hope Roenicke, a first-year manager, learned something from this experience.

But back to Marcum. He’s getting sort of a lot of hate right now that he doesn’t really deserve. I don’t blame Marcum for this situation at all, because, if he’s simply in a slump, he probably shouldn’t be starting in the postseason. I blame Roenicke for starting him even though he knew he was struggling.

By the way- I still refuse to compare Marcum to Jeff Suppan. That’s just an idiotic comparison, and you all know it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave your comments/thoughts below. And thanks for all the views lately- this site is getting more than it ever has.


Looking onwards to Game 3…

October 12, 2011

If you saw the Brewer game last night, you probably know why I titled this post the way I did.

A day after taking the all-important game 1 of the NLCS, the Brewers were destroyed by the Cardinals in game 2, 12-3. But, in my opinion, the Brewers didn’t lose to the Cardinals- they lost to Albert Pujols. The Machine went 4-f0r-5 with three doubles, a two-run homer, and five RBI. The only Brewers pitcher to retire Pujols was Chris Narveson, who made him ground out in the eighth inning. After that out, the Milwaukee crowd stood up and gave a standing ovation, probably with a sense of sarcasm. Anyway, two Pujols’ four hits came off struggling Brewers starter Shaun Marcum, who is in the middle of a horrible stretch.

Now, there are a couple theories as to why Marcum is having such a tough time on the mound right now. My first guess is that he’s just running out of gas, because he’s never pitched this many innings in his career. Marcum threw 200 2/3 innings this year, which was a career-high for him. If you include his two awful postseason starts, he’s thrown 209 1/3 innings. The other theory is that he’s just nervous because this is his first time in the postseason- his former team, the Blue Jays, were rarely ever contenders while he was there.

Anyway, despite this blowout game by the Cardinals, Tony La Russa still found a way to use practically every pitcher in his bullpen. He removed starter Edwin Jackson after just 4 1/3 innings because his pitch count was getting high early, and he didn’t trust Jackson to get out of a fifth inning jam. So, from there, La Russa went on to use Arthur Rhodes, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte. This has to be the first time I’ve seen the team on the winning side of a blowout game manage to use six relievers (seven total pitchers). Even the Brewers only had to use five pitchers, despite Marcum going just four innings. And Kameron Loe pitching one third of inning while giving up four runs (that 108.00 ERA fits him well).

Tomorrow will be a battle of aces- Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (11-9. 3.45 ERA). This should be an interesting matchup, considering neither has had much success against the opposing team. Gallardo is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in his career against the Cards, while Carpenter is 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Jeff Suppan is apparently going to be throwing out the first pitch before game 3. I don’t know if this is the Cardinals’ way of making fun of the Brewers, but I don’t see why they’d have any other reason to let this former bust throw out the first pitch. Anyway, if you don’t know the story of Suppan and the Brewers, well- actually, just consider yourself lucky.

Oh, and here’s another funny thing before I go- Theo Epstein is more than likely becoming the general manager of the Cubs. I let you laugh at that yourself instead of giving a long explanation. Because even I can’t explain why the Red Sox GM would want to become the Cubs GM.


Brewers take Game 1 behind Gallardo’s gem

October 2, 2011

In 2008, Yovani Gallardo was named the Game 1 starter for the Brewers-Phillies NLDS. This year, he was named the Game 1 starter against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but the circumstances were much different.

In 2008, Gallardo was injured nearly the entire season, and had only one start under his belt that season. So getting a playoff start- especially the first game- must have been a surprise. But, the Brewers had used CC Sabathia to clinch the Wild Card on the last day of the season, so he couldn’t be used until Game 2 at the earliest. And you can’t blame them for not wanting to use Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan in Game 1, so Gallardo was actually the only legitimate choice. Gallardo would end up losing that game, thanks to three unearned runs served up by the Brewers’ defense.

But this year was different for him. Gallardo was ready for a Game 1 start in 2011, after leading the Brewers in wins (17) and strikeouts (207). He also ended up leading the rotation in ERA (3.52). So, considering he was the ace of the staff this year (and that Zack Greinke had been used on the last day of the season), he was again the choice for Game 1.

And he certainly didn’t disappoint. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in the all-important Game 1 of the NLDS, 4-1, and pretty much rode on the back of Gallardo’s great start the entire time (until he finally got some run support towards the end). Gallardo went eight stellar innings, while giving up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out nine for his first career postseason win.

To be honest with you, Gallardo didn’t look good in the first inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Willie Bloomquist on the first pitch of the game, then allowed Bloomquist to steal second. Then, Justin Upton hit a single to left field, which you’d think would score the speedy Bloomquist, right? Think again. Left fielder Ryan Braun threw a laser to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and they nailed Bloomquist at home to prevent the first run from scoring. Just another reason Braun should be MVP, though… Anyway, that play changed the game for both teams, because after that, the D-backs couldn’t seem to do anything to get a run in.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Ian Kennedy and his 21 wins until the fourth inning, when they had bases loaded with no outs against him. But, they only scored one run, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Jerry Hairston Jr. I’m beginning to wonder what our batting average with runners on would look like if Yuniesky Betancourt weren’t on this team… Anyway, the Brewers tacked on another run in the sixth inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single.

Then, Kirk Gibson made a rather interesting decision in the seventh inning. Kennedy had just given up a two-out double to Braun, and Prince Fielder was coming up. Gibson then came out to talk to Kennedy, and probably ask him if he wanted to intentionally walk Fielder. Kennedy must have said no, which turned into a boneheaded decision on his part. He threw a first pitch fastball to Fielder, and then Fielder backed out of the batter’s box and simply smirked. He was probably thinking, “You’re actually going to pitch to me?” And that was exactly what Kennedy was doing. But, the next pitch definitely made him regret it.

Kennedy handed Fielder a hanging curveball on a silver platter for Fielder to crush over the right field wall for a two-run shot. But I’m still trying to figure out why Kennedy, with a base open at first, even pitched to Fielder.

Anyway, the Diamondbacks’ only run came on a Ryan Roberts home run leading off the eighth inning. Gallardo’s reaction to that? Striking out the side to finish the eighth. John Axford would then come in to finish the game in the ninth for his first career postseason save.

The Brewers will try and take a 2-0 advantage in this series later today against the D-backs, and will send Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA), who will be making his first career postseason start. He’s 11-0 at home this season, but is 0-2 against the D-backs in his career, so one of those streaks will come to an end today. Also note that this will be the second straight start that he’ll be starting on three days’ rest, so I guess we’ll see how he reacts to that.

The D-backs will counter with Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA), who will also be making his first postseason start. He finished the regular season 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA, so he doesn’t have much momentum coming into this start. The Brewers faced him once earlier this year, and tagged him for five runs, but all five of those runs were driven in by pitcher Shaun Marcum, who doesn’t start until tomorrow. So I don’t know how the rest of the offense will do against this guy.


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