Haudricourt shoots down Hamilton rumors

October 27, 2012

> Leave it to Tom Haudricourt to crush the dreams of Brewers fans.

Kidding, but he might be right on this one. Yesterday, Jon Heyman clarified some rumors of the Brewers going after free agent Josh Hamilton this offseason. Naturally, Brewers fans- myself included- became hyped around this news.

However, Haudricourt himself interviewed Mark Attanasio last night, and apparently Attanasio “gave no indication that adding a hitter was a priority.”

Attanasio also added: “We’ve got the No. 1 offense in the league. We know what’s working. We have to fix the bullpen. We were last in the Majors. That has to be fixed. We’ve done a lot of work to see what the options are there.”

Fair enough. While I’d love for the Brewers to add Hamilton, it’s almost useless if the bullpen doesn’t improve too. So if that’s where all the money needs to go, so be it; the Brewers could still easily be contenders if that’s the only improvement they make this offseason.

At the same time, though, I wouldn’t completely shut the door on the Brewers signing Hamilton. If the opportunity presents itself and Hamilton doesn’t get any substantial offers from other teams- which he might not, because the “big spenders” don’t need outfield help- why not go for it? Since the departure of Prince Fielder, the Brewers have had a very right-handed dominant lineup, and Hamilton would nicely slot in between Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez at the core of the lineup.

But, as good as the Hamilton rumors have sounded, the bullpen should come first.

(You can read Haudricourt’s full article here.)

THE NEWS

> Not really any major news today, so let’s move right into the minor moves.

Diamondbacks: Claimed Gustavo Nunez off waivers from the Pirates.
Royals: Claimed Chris Volstad off waivers from the Cubs.
Cubs: Outrighted Manny Corpas, who elected free agency; outrighted Joe Mather, Blake Parker, and Justin Germano to Triple-A.
Angels: Signed Angel Sanchez to a minor league deal. (I don’t think I need to tell you why that’s funny.)
Astros: Claimed Che-Hsuan Lin off waivers from the Red Sox; designated Enerio Del Rosario for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Rich Thompson, who elected free agency.
Orioles: Released Dontrelle Willis.
Padres: Outrighted Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer, both of whom elected free agency.

> That’s not a weird MLB highlight video title regarding Sergio Romo. No, not at all.


The blowpen strikes back

August 30, 2012

POSTGAME

> The bullpen was in mid-season form today, managing to blow what was once a 9-3 lead and turned it into an 12-11 loss to the Cubs. And it’s too bad, because there were a lot of great storylines for the offense.

Shaun Marcum wasn’t himself today, and it showed early, as the Cubs got RBI hits from Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and David DeJesus in the first two innings. But the Brewers stormed back against Cubs starter Brooks Raley, posting a five-run third inning that included a grand slam from Jonathan Lucroy. Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer the next inning.

The Brewers tacked on two more on a Lucroy single in the sixth, but the bullpen had another episode, allowing six runs. There were extra-base hits, bases-loaded walks, and basically everything you don’t want to see.

Cody Ransom promptly gave the Brewers the lead on a solo shot in the seventh, however. Lucroy tacked on another RBI in the eighth for a seven-RBI day.

With John Axford for some reason unavailable after pitching the last two games, Francisco Rodriguez was put in for the save. After striking out Joe Mather to start the inning, K-Rod gave up a double to DeJesus, walked Luis Valbuena, gave up an RBI single to Castro, an RBI double to Rizzo, then a walk-off single to Alfonso Soriano. Yep, went from good to bad pretty quickly.

MY TAKE

> Why K-Rod was used in the closer’s role today is beyond me. He had been pitching great in the eighth inning recently, having not given up a hit in his last eight appearances. So, instead of keeping K-Rod where he had been producing, Ron Roenicke used Jim Henderson in the eighth, where he threw a scoreless inning.

But I don’t get why Henderson isn’t the back-up closer (or just the regular closer). K-Rod has proven he’s not going to get better this year, and he’s definitely not coming back next year. So why bother using him there?

> I’ve been a Manny Parra-backer for pretty much his entire career, but what a pile of junk he’s turned into. After being removed from the starting rotation in late 2010 following a 3-10 record and an ERA over 5.30, he was put into the bullpen, where he threw well until the end of the season. He didn’t pitch at all in 2011 due to a series of back and elbow injuries, but was going to be relied on heavily as the one lefty in the ‘pen this year.

And he’s been terrible. He has a 4.62 ERA, and hasn’t been able to touch the strike zone half the time. That showed again today, as he walked two in a third of an inning while allowing some of Livan Hernandez’s runs to score.

But what gets me is that Parra came out earlier this year and, following a bullpen explosion similar to this one, that he “was having a good year, no matter what anyone else said,” and that the breakdown was a fluke.

Nope, it happens every other outing. Parra better be sent packing along with K-Rod at season’s end.

THE NEWS

> Roenicke said he wasn’t bothered by the lack of complete games. I love how he just keeps brushing off this stat nonchalantly, continuing to say that our bullpen should be able to pick up one or two innings.

Well guess what, Ron? The Brewers have no complete games, and the worst bullpen in baseball. Those two things do NOT add up. This is what people who continue saying this season isn’t RRR’s fault are failing to understand.

> The Brewers will unveil the new Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park tomorrow.

THE NUMBERS

> Lucroy hit his second grand slam of the year. It was also his second seven-RBI game of the year.

> Rickie Weeks went a perfect 5-for-5.

> Ransom went 3-for-4. I was hoping I’d be able to write here that he didn’t strike out for once, but the one time he was retired- in the ninth inning- was via the strikeout.

> Hernandez and Parra gave up a combined six earned runs in that disaster sixth inning.

> The match-ups for the upcoming Pirates series:

Jeff Karstens (5-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Mark Rogers (2-1, 4.28 ERA)

Marco Estrada (2-5, 4.02 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.67 ERA)

James McDonald (12-6, 3.57 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.52 ERA)


Aoki’s big day lifts Crew to series win

June 8, 2012

> Normally, Japanese imports don’t bring extra power to a Major League lineup. And usually, Norichika Aoki doesn’t do that for the Brewers. But, he did today in their 4-3 win over the Cubs in 10 innings. Aoki has had a couple of nice games for the Brewers since coming overseas to the Majors, but today was by far the best one yet. He went 3-for-5 and raised his average to .303 (although it feels like it should be a lot higher than that).

First off, though, we witnessed a very rare sighting today: Randy Wolf actually had a good outing. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up an unearned run on four hits. He walked two and struck out six. Wolf has had a very rough year up to this point, coming into today with a 6.05 ERA, but lowered it to 5.45. Arguably his two bests starts this year have come against the Cubs; he also threw six shutout innings against them back in May. Ironically, though, he hasn’t picked up a win in either of the starts.

The Brewers got in the board in the fourth on Aoki’s first hit of the day, a solo shot to make the score 1-0. Technically, Aoki did have one home run prior to this, which was an inside-the-parker against the Rockies. But this was his first legitimate, into the seats home run. Anyway, the Brewers got another run in the sixth on George Kottaras’ RBI single.

But things got bad in the late innings. Wolf started the seventh inning by walking Jeff Baker, then Joe Mather reached on an error by Cody Ransom, who was manning third base today. It looked like things wouldn’t get too out of hand after Wolf induced an Ian Stewart double play, but he then gave up an RBI double to Koyie Hill. Wolf was removed in favor of Jose Veras, who would get out of the inning and save the Brewers’ lead for the time being.

Then came the eighth inning. Francisco Rodriguez started the inning fine, retiring the first two he faced. But then he gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano, followed by a go-ahead, two-run shot by Bryan LaHair (who is slowly but surely becoming a Brewer-killer). This made the score 3-2.

But the Brewers wouldn’t go down without a fight. Aoki led off the Brewers’ eighth with a single, and, two batters later, Corey Hart tied the game with an RBI ground-rule double. But Rickie Weeks struck out with two men on to kill the rally, leaving it 3-3.

John Axford came on and threw perfect innings in the ninth and tenth. This set the stage for Aoki’s biggest moment as a Brewer, a walk-off shot on the third pitch of the tenth inning. Coming into today, Aoki hadn’t hit a ball out of a Major League park yet this year, but did it twice today.

> But K-Rod got his butt saved thanks to Aoki. Just when Rodriguez finally seemed to be settling down into the consistent setup man he was last year after being acquired by the Mets, he goes out and does this. I just don’t know about him any more. He’s like the first half Kameron Loe of last year.

> Aramis Ramirez missed his fourth consecutive start today, including the entire series against his former team. He did pinch-hit in the eighth inning, but was intentionally walked, and was pinch-run for by Zack Greinke. But hopefully him pinch-hitting a sign that he won’t be out for too much longer.

> Anyway, that’s about it. The Brewers will start a three-game set with the Padres tomorrow at 7:10 PM CT. The Brewers already lost a series to the Padres earlier this year in San Diego, which is pretty embarrassing, considering the Padres have by far the worst offense in the National League. But here’s what the pitching match-ups are looking like:

Edinson Volquez (2-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (4-3, 3.39 ERA)

Eric Stults (1-2, 4.06 ERA) vs. Michael Fiers (1-1, 3.75 ERA)

Anthony Bass (2-5, 4.21 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 4.50 ERA)

And that’s about it. I’ll be starting up box scores again over the summer; I should have that up later. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Norichika Aoki, RF 5 3 3 2 0 0 2 .303
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 .228
b-Carlos Gomez, PH-CF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .261
Ryan Braun, LF 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 .306
Corey Hart, 1B 4 1 2 1 0 1 1 .255
George Kottaras, C 3 0 1 1 0 1 1 .245
c-Aramis Ramirez, PH 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .249
Rickie Weeks, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 1 3 .160
Cody Ransom, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .236
Edwin Maysonet, SS 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
Randy Wolf, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .100
a-Martin Maldonado, PH-C 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .192
Totals 33 4 7 4 2 9 10

a-Struck out for Veras in the 7th.

b-Hit a sacrifice bunt for Morgan in the 8th.

c-Intentionally walked for Rodriguez in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Hart 2 (16).

HR: Aoki 2 (3).

TB: Braun, Kottaras, Aoki 9, Hart 4.

RBI: Aoki 2 (9), Kottaras (10), Hart (26).

Team RISP: 2-for-6.

Team LOB: 6.

FIELDING

E: Ransom (3, fielding).

DP: (Wolf-Maysonet-Hart).

PITCHING

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf 6.2 4 1 0 2 6 0 5.45
Jose Veras (H, 6) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.28
Francisco Rodriguez (BS, 2) 1.0 3 2 2 0 1 1 4.68
John Axford (W, 1-2) 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3.22
Totals 10.0 7 3 2 2 8 1

WP: Rodriguez.

Pitches-strikes: Wolf 117-76, Veras 2-2, Rodriguez 27-17, Axford 23-15.

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 7-4, Veras 0-1, Rodriguez 1-1, Axford 2-2.

Batters faced: Wolf 27, Veras 1, Rodriguez 6, Axford 6.

Inherited runners-scored: Veras 2-0.


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