Lohse gives Crew nice start to second half

July 21, 2013

RECAP

> The Brewers got their second half off to an encouraging start last night, blanking the Marlins, 2-0. I hate to say it, but the Brewers also started off their first half with an exciting win, and we all know what happened from there. We can pray that a similar feat doesn’t ensue from here on out.

Kyle Lohse gave the Brewers six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked none, and struck out five. He needed 105 pitches to get through just six against the weak-hitting Marlins, but I’ll take the scoreless outing regardless.

On the offensive side, the Brewers were a discouraging 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, a trend that cannot continue if they want to close in on the .500 mark during the second half. They got long balls from Juan Francisco and Carlos Gomez for their two runs, however, and that was the only offense needed on this night.

MY TAKE

> Lohse probably would have been able to go back out for the seventh, but Gomez made an error in center field that probably cost him about eight pitches. Gomez tried to make what would have been a semi-routine catch into a highlight reel play by jumping when he didn’t need to, and it resulted in the glove popping out of his glove. Sadly, that one play will probably take away a possible Gold Glove for Gomez.

> On a somewhat related note, the scorer rewarded Logan Morrison- the one who hit that fly ball to Gomez- with a double, despite the fact it was literally in Gomez’s glove and fell out. Scorekeepers nowadays need to grow a pair and start calling more errors, because there is no way Morrison should have been credited with a hit on that play.

> Ryan Braun had a dismal return to the lineup, going o-for-3 with a strikeout. I wasn’t expecting much, seeing as he hasn’t played for the better part of the last two months, but hopefully he contributes at least a little before MLB yanks him away from us for 50 games.

> The bullpen was stellar again, as John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Francisco Rodriguez combined for three scoreless innings with just one hit allowed. In my opinion, all of them are valuable trade bait, but at least K-Rod needs to go before the trade deadline. It pains me to say that when he’s having such a great year, but we definitely won’t retain him after this comeback. The Red Sox and Tigers are reportedly the most interested in K-Rod.


Back for the summer- hopefully

June 2, 2013

> I probably have a lot of explaining to do, seeing as I abruptly stopped posting in regularly in January and haven’t actually written an article since February. But I’ll get to that later on; first let’s recap what became a pretty wild game for the Brewers.

> Since I wrote about the Brewers’ spring opener, more than a lot has gone wrong for the team. Since a nine-game winning streak in late April, the team has fallen apart at the seams, as shown by their May record (which I’ll also get to later). But, today, they held on to defeat the Phillies, 4-3.

Logan Schafer, who has torn it up when given the opportunity to start, continued to do that today. He got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with a two-RBI single. In the fifth, Jean Segura- who happens to be leading the National League in hitting- notched an RBI triple. The last Brewers run turned out to be an important insurance run, which was a Jonathan Lucroy solo blast in the eighth.

But there’s no doubt a lot of Phillies fans- and anyone else who strongly wants to expand instant replay- will put an asterisk next to this Brewers win because of what took place in the ninth inning. Francisco Rodriguez was on for the save and promptly gave up a solo homer to Freddy Galvis, then Jimmy Rollins reached on a single. A few plays later, K-Rod attempted to pick off Kyle Kendrick, pinch-running for Rollins, at second base. The throw beat Kendrick, but the shortstop Segura dropped the ball before applying the tag. However, second base umpire Mike Estabrook had the wrong angle and didn’t see the ball, so Segura sold it and still got the out. You can watch the play for yourself here, but the Brewers got a break any way you look at it.

> And it was a break the Brewers needed. They’re coming off what ended up tying for their worst month in season history: a 6-22 record in May. But it’s not the offense’s fault, or even the bullpen’s: it’s been the starting pitching. Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta have struggled to make it beyond five innings before being yanked because of pitch count in recent days, and even Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse haven’t been too sharp over their last few starts or so.

Peralta broke out of his slump today, however, firing seven strong innings against the Phillies. He struck out six while allowing just two runs for his best start of the year. It was also the first time he finished seven innings on the year; his previous high was 6 2/3, which he accomplished in two starts against the Cubs.

> On a day when Ron Roenicke decides to field the correct lineup, these are the averages of the Brewers’ 1-5 hitters:

  • Norichika Aoki: .298
  • Jean Segura: .352
  • Ryan Braun: .300
  • Aramis Ramirez: .300
  • Carlos Gomez: .321

That might be the most consistent 1-5 in baseball. For a while, Yuniesky Betancourt could have been thrown into that conversation as well, but he’s cooled back to his old self over the past few weeks. Lucroy could be paving his way back, though: after coming into yesterday’s game with an average below .230, he’s brought it all the way to .259 after going 5-for-5 and 2-for-4 yesterday and today, respectively.

> The bullpen has been lights out as of late as well. Burke Badenhop’s ERA is 2.66, Tom Gorzelanny’s is 2.37, and Michael Gonzalez’s is 2.61. Jim Henderson had been stellar in the closer’s role (John Axford lost the job- again), but he hit the disabled list last week with an oblique strain. K-Rod, who was doing well at the time, earned the job while Henderson is gone.

> The Brewers will look for the sweep of the Phillies tomorrow, but I’ll say now that the odds don’t look very good. Mike Fiers (1-3, 5.66 ERA) will face Cliff Lee (6-2, 2.34 ERA). Interpret that how you want.

> So the reason I haven’t posted in four months is basically because I thought I was over my head with more important things. I decided to leave Reviewing the Brew a short time before so I could decrease my writing workload a bit, but I wound having to completely shut it down. My grades were slipping a bit in school, and I decided to play high school baseball this year, which turned out to be a huge time commitment (but also one of the best experiences of my life).

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to write consistently over the summer. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll have a bit more time on my hands.

Once summer is over, though, I’m not completely sure what I’ll do with this site. I’ll be going into my junior year, so my time to write will probably decrease even more. But we’ll see what happens once that time comes.


Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


Loe, Morgan, Veras, and Ishikawa likely gone

November 2, 2012

> Schoolwork- endless schoolwork. That’s basically my excuse for getting articles up the past few days. The past three days have been the worst of the year for me. I’m hoping the next few weeks will be at least a bit lighter, otherwise my time to write on BWI will get mercilessly crunched. Anyhow, I’m not going to write a big article today, but all the news I’ve missed should cover that up.

THE NEWS

> So far, the offseason is going as planned- the Brewers are getting rid of the useless players, so to speak, in order to create roster space. The first batch of players to go is Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, and Travis Ishikawa.

Morgan’s outright to Triple-A (and eventual election of free agency) probably gathered the most national news, especially because of the role he played on the postseason team in 2011. He was responsible for getting the Brewers to the NLCS on that unforgettable walk-off hit against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and he ingrained himself into the minds of Brewers fans (and into the minds of other fans, but in a negative way) with all of his aliases. But it just wasn’t Nyjer’s season in 2012. He hit a measly .239, and lost practically all of his playing time so that Carlos Gomez could prepare for a possible starting role in 2013. The emergence of Norichika Aoki didn’t help his cause either. And, with the left-handed Logan Schafer proving that he could possibly play the role of the fourth outfielder in 2013, there just wasn’t a spot for Morgan. So I thank Morgan for all of his contributions in 2011, but his antics and things weren’t fitting this year.

Loe and Veras also elected free agency following outright assignments. Loe was one of the Brewers’ best relievers in 2010, posting a 2.78 ERA. He had a second-half surge after getting off two a rough start in 2011, but it was the opposite this year. He had an ERA below 4.00 for most of the season, but it faded all the way to 4.61 in September. Statistically, Veras was one of the Brewers’ best relievers this year (though it’s not good when a guy with a 3.90 ERA is your best reliever). But he quietly had innings just about as frustrating as some of Francisco Rodriguez’s innings, so I’m relatively glad that he’s gone.

Lastly, Ishikawa was outrighted to Triple-A today, and is expected to elect free agency after he clears waivers. Ishikawa had his moments with the Brewers, but overall was the poster-boy of an extremely weak Brewers bench.

After their 2012 performances, I don’t think any of these players will be missed. However, Morgan will always be remembered: he’s written his legacy into Milwaukee history.

> The Brewers claimed reliever Arcenio Leon off waivers from the Astros.

> K-Rod was charged with domestic abuse for that incident in Wales that popped up two months ago.

Just stay away from Wisconsin, K-Rod.

> Speaking of K-Rod, the Brewers did not give “qualifying offers” to him or Shaun Marcum.

This “qualifying offer” thing is something brought about by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and basically replaced the Type A/Type B free agent system, which usually determined whether or not a team would receive draft picks as compensation for losing key free agents. Qualifying offers now play that role, and they are determined by the average salary of the top 125 player salaries from the previous season. That salary this season was $13.3 million.

As if K-Rod or Marcum are going to get $13.3 million on the market anyway. This was a no-doubter for the Brewers.

Only nine players received qualifying offers from their respective teams: Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Adam LaRoche, David Ortiz, B.J. Upton, and Kyle Lohse.

> Minor moves (and a lot of ‘em):

Tigers: Exercised 2013 options for Octavio Dotel and Jhonny Peralta; outrighted Don Kelly to Triple-A.
Rays: Exercised 2013 options for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Jose Molina; declined 2013 option for Luke Scott.
Braves: Exercised 2013 options for Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Paul Maholm; claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros; outrighted Erik Cordier, J.C. Boscan, and Robert Fish off their 40-man roster.
Astros: Designated Matt Downs for assignment; declined 2013 option for Chris Snyder; outrighted Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, and Kyle Weiland to Triple-A.
Athletics: Outrighted Dallas Braden and Joey Devine, both of whom elected free agency.
White Sox: Signed Jake Peavy to a two-year extension; exercised 2013 option for Gavin Floyd; declined 2013 options for Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis.
Mets: Exercised 2013 options for R.A. Dickey and David Wright.
Rangers:
Declined 2013 options for Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama; claimed Konrad Schmidt off waivers from the D-backs.
Cubs: Outrighted Justin Germano to Triple-A, who elected free agency.
Dodgers: Re-signed Brandon League to a three-year deal.
Orioles: Declined 2013 option for Mark Reynolds.
Indians: Exercised 2013 option for Ubaldo Jimenez; declined 2013 options for Travis Hafner and Roberto Hernandez (I still call him Fausto Carmona); outrighted Kevin Slowey and Vinny Rottino to Triple-A; claimed Blake Wood off waivers from the Royals.
Royals: Declined 2013 option for Joakim Soria; acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels; claimed Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Rockies; claimed Brett Hayes off waivers from the Marlins; designated ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress and Jason Bourgeois for assignment.
Yankees: Outrighted ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to Triple-A, who elected free agency; returned Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers to the Nationals.
Reds: Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Madson each declined his side of his mutual option for 2013.
Pirates: Exercised 2013 option for Pedro Alvarez; declined 2013 option for Rod Barajas; released Hisanori Takahashi.
Blue Jays: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Cubs; designated Scott Cousins and David Herndon for assignment; exercised 2013 option for Darren Oliver; re-signed Rajai Davis.
Diamondbacks: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Matt Lindstrom.
Rockies: Ex-Brewer Jorge De La Rosa exercised his player option.
Nationals: LaRoche and Sean Burnett each declined their player options.
Giants: Declined 2013 option for Aubrey Huff.
Twins: Claimed Josh Roenicke and Thomas Field off waivers from the Rockies.
Orioles: Claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Twins.
Padres: Designated Josh Spence and Blake Tekotte for assignment.


The Championship Series begin

October 14, 2012

> All of the Division Series have come to a close. And, considering it was the first time in history that all of the necessary DS games were played- each series went to five games for 20 games total- I don’t think any of them was a bad series.

> The Giants came all the way back from an 0-2 deficit in their series against the Reds and won three straight to reach the NLCS. Their offense was non-existent during the first two games. But, after a Scott Rolen error in the 10th inning of Game 3 gave them a gift win, the offense exploded in Games 4 and 5. The highlights were Pablo Sandoval’s two-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 4 and Buster Posey’s grand slam in Game 5 that pretty much sealed the series.

> The Tigers nearly allowed the other Bay Area team- the Athletics- to come back from an 0-2 deficit against them, but Justin Verlander was having none of that. He threw a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts to abruptly end the A’s miracle season and send the Tigers to the ALCS.

> The Yankees’ offense only showed up for one inning during the entire series with the Orioles, but CC Sabathia didn’t need much yesterday. He threw a complete game to also end a dream season for the O’s. The big story was that Alex Rodriguez- the highest-paid player in baseball- was benched in Game 5 of the series, but Raul Ibanez’s .444 ALDS average picked up the slack.

> Despite the fact they were down 6-0 early, the Cardinals did exactly what they did in the 2011 World Series. Down 7-5 going into the ninth inning, they ambushed Nationals closer Drew Storen with four two-out runs. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a hard ground ball up the middle that deflected off of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove- I leave it up to you as to whether or not Desmond should have had the ball- and boom, tie game. Then Pete Kozma, some rookie shortstop that no non-Cards fan had heard of until late September, hit the go-ahead two-run single to sink the Nats.

Hate to say it, but this season might once again by written in the stars for the Cardinals. (Yes, that pun was definitely intended.)

MY TAKE

> PLEASE quit calling the Cardinals a “cinderella story.” Yes, they won in dramatic fashion last night, but that doesn’t put them in that category. A cinderella story is a team that, at the beginning of the year, is expected to finish near last in their division, then go on to have a miracle season. This year, that was the Orioles and Athletics (you could argue the Nationals, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be terrible this year).

Sure, the Cards lost Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa, and Dave Duncan. But there was still way too much talent on that team coming into 2012 for them not to contend.

So I guess if you expected the Cardinals to finish in dead last and lose 100 games coming into this season, then sure, they’re a cinderella team to you. But there’s clearly a problem if you expected that.

> There aren’t series MVPs handed out in the Division Series, only for the Championship and World Series. But, if they did exist in the DS, these would be my MVPs for each series:

Giants: Sandoval

Cardinals: Kozma

Yankees: Ibanez

Tigers: Verlander

I actually had a tough time picking for the Giants, but Sandoval was the only Giants hitter to hit over .300 for the series. And I couldn’t give it to a pitcher, since the starters especially underperformed in this series. The rest of MVPs were rather easy, however.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum doesn’t expect to pitch for the Brewers next year.

> Following outright assignments, relievers Vinnie Chulk and Tim Dillard each elected free agency.

> The Brewers also outrighted Cody Scarpetta and Eric Farris to Triple-A Nashville, but neither has the right to elect free agency.

> News has surfaced regarding Francisco Rodriguez and his arrest for domestic violence sometime in September. The incident took place in Wales, a suburban city about 45 minutes to an hour away from Milwaukee.

But apparently K-Rod has a history of things like this that I wasn’t aware of. In late 2010, he had to take anger management classes after “an altercation” with one of his relatives at Citi Field during his days with the Mets.

It seems he’s doing everything he can to make sure he can’t find a deal anywhere else for 2013. His horrible 2012 campaign made it bad enough, but you can bet teams that see this on his resume won’t be impressed.

> Other than that, there hasn’t been much to report about the Brewers lately, so let’s get on to the minor moves around baseball the past week:

White Sox: Outrighted Ray Olmedo, who elected free agency.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Jesse Litsch, Aaron Laffey, Bobby Korecky, Robert Coello, and Scott Richmond, all of whom elected free agency.
Pirates: Outrighted Doug Slaten, who elected free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Ross Ohlendorf, who elected free agency.
Rays: Outrighted Brooks Conrad, who elected free agency.
Indians: Outrighted Shelley Duncan and Luke Carlin, both of whom elected free agency.
Red Sox: Outrighted Jason Repko and Guillermo Quiroz, both of whom elected free agency.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Brent Clevlen.
Giants: Outrighted Shane Loux and Justin Christian to Triple-A.


Odd baserunning miscue looms large

August 19, 2012

POSTGAME

> Tonight was a strange game, and pretty much all the breaks went against the Brewers. They were narrowly defeated by the Phillies, 4-3, in a game that could have been won 5-4.

The Phils got on the board in the second inning on back-to-back home runs from John Mayberry Jr. and Erik Kratz. The Brewers answered one of those runs in the bottom of the inning on Aramis Ramirez’s solo shot, but the Phillies took it right back on Ryan Howard’s RBI double in the third.

Down 4-1 in the eighth inning, Ryan Braun hit a two-run blast to cut the lead and knock Cole Hamels out of the game, but Jonathan Papelbon came on and got the four-out save and seal the win for the Phillies.

ODDITIES ON THE BASEPATHS

> Before I get too far into this, I’m going to say that I watched the first few innings of the game on a TV with no sound, so I couldn’t hear any analysis or anything.

And hearing some analysis on a play like this would have been useful. In the third inning, with two outs, Jonathan Lucroy, who was hitting second today, hit a single. Braun came up and hit a line drive that bounced off the yellow line on top of the wall in left field, and that usually signifies a home run.

Apparently not, though. Lucroy was running from first base, and Braun, who thought he had extra bases if not a home run, was close behind him. But Braun had to stop about halfway between first and second base, because, for some reason, Lucroy was still sitting at second base. Braun appeared to be screaming at Lucroy and pointing to third base, but by that time Dominic Brown had already thrown the ball back into the infield, and Braun was eventually thrown out.

Turns out Lucroy had missed second base as he was running, and had to go back and step on it again. But, again, the ball was already back to the infield, so one of them would have been thrown out eventually.

I’m confused about a few things here. If there were two outs and Braun hits a fly ball, Lucroy should be running as hard as he can no matter what. Unless he really overran second base that far and had to go back a ways to touch it again, I don’t see why he couldn’t at least make it to third (even if it were a close play), and then there’s runners on second and third with two outs. Again, though, I was watching the game without sound, and the classic FSWisconsin camera work didn’t help me out too much either.

But, Lucroy’s baserunning aside, it appeared Braun should have had a home run. It looked like it hit the top of the wall, which would make hit a home run, regardless of whether or not it bounces back onto the field. FSWisconsin was showing replays of the ball hitting the yellow as well. I listened to some audio later and heard Bill Schroeder say that Braun “missed a home run by inches,” but FSWisconsin didn’t show an angle close enough to the wall for us to see, so I guess we’ll never know.

I guess this is just another frustrating way to lose in a frustrating season.

THE NEWS

> Rickie Weeks got the day off today. Cody Ransom took his place, and I’ll tell you what he did in the numbers section. (But you can probably already guess.)

> Yesterday, Doug Melvin expressed his confidence in John Axford rebounding from his struggles.

“It’s too early to say. We believe in John. I believe in John Axford, I believe in his stuff, I believe in his character, his poise. I think there’s 16 teams that they don’t have the same closer they had at the start of the year. That position, there’s so much pressure on that closer role. You look at other teams. People are yelling for a change after four of five [blown saves].”

> The Astros fired Brad Mills today. The last thing the Brewers will remember him for was him coming out to argue with umpires every five seconds in that last series.

THE NUMBERS

> What you’ve all been waiting for: Ransom struck out four times in four at-bats. He’s clearly going for a 90% strikeout rate by the end of the season.

> Mike Fiers got roughed up for the second straight outing, giving up four runs in five innings. His ERA has gone from 1.80 to 2.90 in his last two starts.

> The bullpen was uncharacteristically good tonight. Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jim Henderson combined for four shutout innings.

> Braun hit his 33rd home run, which already ties his total from 2011.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Kyle Kendrick (5-9, 4.53 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-9, 5.65 ERA)

 


Henderson joins the club

August 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> Coming into this road trip, I thought the Brewers were going to win six straight games against the National League’s two worst teams.

Unfortunately, I once again underestimated the ways of the Brewers’ bullpen.

The Brewers lost to the Rockies today, 7-6, and were swept by the NL’s second worst team. That comes off the heels of a series loss to the worst NL team, the Astros. The Brewers finished 1-5 on this road trip, and you can say this is the new low point of the season. That is, if you’ve already gotten over the thousand other previous low points.

The Rox jumped on Mark Rogers right away in the first inning, getting three runs on RBI hits from Ramon Hernandez and Chris Nelson. They added another in the second inning on a solo shot from the hot-hitting Eric Young Jr.

Guillermo Moscoso, spot-starting in place of Drew Pomeranz, danced around danger through the first few innings, stranding seven runners through the first four. But the Brewers finally solved him in the fifth. Moscoso walked Carlos Gomez to lead off the inning, then gave up three straight hits to Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart. Moscoso’s 75-pitch limit then came into play, so Jim Tracy brought in Carlos Torres, who only continued the trouble. Torres started his outing by hitting Jonathan Lucroy to load the bases, then gave up a game-tying single to Nyjer Morgan to make the score 4-4. Jean Segura hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly, and that was all the Brewers would get.

Rogers gave up a game-tying single in the bottom of the inning to Nelson, but the Brewers answered back with another g0-ahead hit in the sixth, this one from Morgan.

Up until the ninth inning, the bullpen was doing fine. Jim Henderson came on for the ninth, and struck out the first batter he faced. But, he proceeded to give up back-to-back singles to Wilin Rosario and Young. Then, as if on cue, Tyler Colvin hit a walk-off two-run double.

Make that three closers in the ‘pen who can’t get the job done.

Oh well, nothing here we haven’t seen before. Useless to try and explain it. Again.

MELKY’S OUT

> In very surprising news today, Melky Cabrera was hit with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone. That means he’s out for the rest of the season, and potentially the National League Division Series, should the Giants somehow make it there without his presence.

Cabrera was hitting .346 while leading the Majors in hits with 159. He was on pace to have a career year and was igniting an otherwise weak Giants offense. He was also the MVP of the All-Star Game.

Now, I’m not going to come down on Cabrera here, because I know I’m going to get nothing but hate as a Brewers fan. People on Twitter were actually directly addressing Brewers fans not to get cocky during this situation, for some reason. Don’t know why you’d call out fans of a team whose MVP was exonerated before even getting on Cabrera- who admitted to taking an alleged substance-  for what he did.

Oh well. Hopefully this humbles any Giants fans who were mocking Ryan Braun earlier this season (I’m pretty sure he was booed in San Francisco).

THE NEWS

> Melky was banned for 50 games, but hopefully you already know that.

> In the midst of the slump I wrote about last night, Braun received an off-day.

> The Brewers are planning for Shaun Marcum to return sometime next week. He’ll make his second- and hopefully last- rehab start tomorrow for the Timber Rattlers.

> Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in history today against the Rays. I watched the last three innings, and I don’t know what he looked like early in the game, but he was utterly nasty those last three innings. Rays hitters weren’t even remotely close to making solid contact, or any contact at all, for that matter: King Felix struck out 12.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers haven’t won a series at Coors Field since 2005. It all makes sense now.

> This was Henderson’s first career blown save, so maybe it’s not worth throwing him in the trash yet. I still trust him more than John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Phillies (at home, thankfully):

Cliff Lee (2-7, 3.85 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.36 ERA)

??? vs. ???

??? vs. ???

 


Fiers succumbs to the thin air

August 14, 2012

> I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t see this coming. The Brewers fell to the Rockies tonight, 9-6. It was by the far the worst start of Mike Fiers’ young career. He went just 2+ innings while giving up eight runs on nine hits, including an extremely rough third inning, in which the Rockies racked up six straight hits without Fiers even recording an out.

Normally, I don’t use excuses when pitchers have bad outings, but I suppose there’s a legitimate one here. Coors Field has reverted back to its old ways this year, and the ball has been flying out of there like it was in the 90′s. When the stadium first opened, it was a very hitter-friendly ballpark, and it was because of the thin air in Colorado, due to the fact it’s in the mountains and much more elevated. That made the ball fly farther. So now, baseballs used at Coors are stored in a humidor before they’re used. That worked for the past decade or so, but something seems faulty this year, and Fiers isn’t the first victim. A pitcher doesn’t throw nine consecutive quality outings and then have an implosion like this.

The Brewers did score six runs against a very weak Rockies pitching staff, the highlights being a two-run homer from Carlos Gomez in the sixth, and a Rickie Weeks three-run shot in the ninth (although Weeks’ home run came off Will Harris, who was making his big league debut). But that wouldn’t have even been enough to overcome the hole Fiers put them in from the third inning on.

The bullpen was solid for the most part, which is a good sign, I guess. Mike McClendon threw two scoreless innings (but he allowed two of Fiers’ inherited runners to score). Livan Hernandez had to eat up three innings, and gave up the only run after Fiers’ departure. Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless eighth.

ROENICKE RESPONDS TO THE MEDIA

> This isn’t something we’ve seen from Ron Roenicke very often since the beginning of his tenure as Brewers manager. He’s always been known as that soft-spoken, calm manager who doesn’t always try to have his way with umpires, or with reporters barraging him with questions. But, on Friday, he was a bit uncharacteristic with the media.

Roenicke has been hit hard by the media, fans, and so on due to some of his decisions with the bullpen lately. On Friday, he was questioned about his handling of his bullpen lately, but he let out some of his own frustration to reporters. RRR said:

“Give me some options. You harp on me about this, but you don’t have any options for me.”

That was the first time we heard Roenicke actually call out the bullpen publicly, saying he felt he didn’t have any reliable options anymore. He also could have been indirectly firing at GM Doug Melvin for not attempting to assist him through these harsh times.

I’ve been saying the past few days that Jim Henderson should become the permanent ninth inning guy, but he shot me down after losing all control in the 10th inning of Saturday’s game. Roenicke said he doesn’t like using Henderson in the ninth, however. So who?

Kameron Loe converted the save yesterday, but a soft-tossing sinkerballer with a history of giving up more than enough hits isn’t going to be the long-term solution. K-Rod and John Axford, both with ERAs hovering over 5.00 at the moment, haven’t shown that either of them are ready to take back over the closer’s role for good. The rest of the ‘pen is pretty much slop right now, with no closer material among them.

My only solution- at least for now- is letting the starters go deeper. Roenicke has already announced that he isn’t a fan of that, but going back to a bullpen that is going to blow the game 99% of the time isn’t working.

So my suggestion to RRR is to sit down with a few of the starters and tell them that they’re going to start pitching into the eighth, or finish of games, more often. Maybe he’s already done that, as Yovani Gallardo threw a season-high 7 2/3 innings yesterday. That may have been the plan for Fiers today as well, but there isn’t much you can do when he can’t stop giving up hits in third inning.

While Roenicke does have some rights to say he “needs more options,” he’s really the one who’s in control of that. He can tell the starters to go deeper. He can request that Melvin go out and try to acquire a cheap, yet reliable reliever. He can go down on the farm and call up a guy like Rob Wooten and give him a chance. I’m not going to cut Roenicke much slack on this.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers was placed on the paternity list today as he waits for a newborn to join his family. He should be back to make his scheduled start on Wednesday for the series finale.

In a corresponding move, Jeff Bianchi was recalled from Triple-A. He grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance today.

> Jean Segura was given a day of rest today after being spiked in a play at the plate yesterday. This is likely precautionary, as Segura did play the rest of yesterday’s game after the play.

THE NUMBERS

> Gomez went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in today’s game. He needed that after taking the collar in the last two games against the Astros.

> Hernandez had to bat today, and he actually snapped a streak of 57 plate appearances without a strikeout. That was the longest in the Majors. Hernandez got to bat much more often as a starter with the Nationals the past few years, and he could always handle the bat.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> Casey Rottman, one of the survivors of the theater shooting in Aurora, CO, last month, threw out the first pitch at today’s game. Turns out Rottman is a Mequon native.

> Segura got a Twitter handle today. Follow him at @jeansegura9.


Bats explode to back solid Gallardo

August 1, 2012

> Even if they aren’t contending, the Brewers needed a game like this. They blew out the Astros today, 10-1, and won their second game in a row. Yovani Gallardo got back on track after two sub-par starts against the Reds and Nationals, going seven innings while giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five. He improved to 12-2 in his career against the Astros, which is by far the best mark he has against any National League Central opponent.

The offense was alive today as well. The Brewers got on the board early in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single, the first hit of a big day for him. Then, in the bottom of the second, Gallardo attempted to put down a suicide squeeze to score Rickie Weeks from third base, which was successful. But Gallardo wound up beating out the play and was credited with an RBI single.

The only Astros run came in the third inning on a Chris Snyder solo home run. But the Brewers countered immediately in the bottom of the inning on Ramirez’s three-run blast. In the fifth inning, the Brewers tacked on three more on Corey Hart’s three-run homer. That closed the book on Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who struggled mightily in his first career start against the Brewers. He went just four innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits. He walked a whopping six batters and struck out one.

The Brewers added two more in the eighth on Nyjer Morgan’s two-RBI single.

I should also mention that, one day after blowing yet another save and practically blowing the game, the bullpen looked good. Obviously that doesn’t mean mention in a nine-run blowout, but Jim Henderson threw another scoreless inning, and Francisco Rodriguez had his first 1-2-3 inning in…

Let’s just say “a while.”

> I wasn’t even paying attention to this, but, after Ramirez’s 3-for-4 performance today, his average sits at .293. Since his sub-.200 April, Ramirez has hit .322.

And to think the Brewers were tossing around the idea of trading Ramirez and/or Hart. And, even more surprisingly to me, there were some Brewers fans who were in favor of it. Beats me as to why, but this team doesn’t need to go into a total rebuilding mode at the moment. A few offseason signings (which the Brewers will be able to pull off after dumping the rest of  Zack Greinke’s contract), and the Brewers could be contenders again next year.

> Speaking of trades, the Trade Deadline was today at 3:00 PM CT. The Brewers already made their splash with the Greinke trade, but here’s some news from around baseball:

> The Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. After Dempster pretty much vetoed a deal to the Braves and couldn’t get a deal worked out with the Dodgers, he heads to Texas and will help them try and reach the postseason.

> The Phillies couldn’t decide which side of the rivalry to join, trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, and Hunter Pence to the Giants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of trades like that.

> The Cardinals received reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins. That was about the only move they made, and probably the only move they needed to make.

There were definitely more deals than that, but those are a few of the highlights.

> And that’s about it. Mike Fiers (4-4, 1.77 ERA) tomorrow in the series finale as the Brewers go for a sweep of the struggling ‘Stros. They will counter with Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.54 ERA).

Anyway, thanks for reading.

 

 

 


Everything goes right for Crew in much-needed win

July 18, 2012

> The Brewers definitely needed this after last night’s disaster. They defeated the Cardinals today, 3-2, to even the three-game series at one apiece. For once, everything went right. Randy Wolf got his first win since April 30th, the bullpen didn’t blow his lead, and the offense was just enough to get by.

Wolf definitely should have more than three wins, but the bullpen has gone all out the past few months to make sure that it didn’t happen until now. But this may have been Wolf’s best outing, at least recently- 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out six.

It appeared the Brewers were going to have a rough day after the start Wolf got off to. After retiring Rafael Furcal to start the game, he gave up a single to Allen Craig, then nailed Matt Holliday in the knee with a fastball. Holliday was rolling on the ground in pain, but stayed in the game (he was removed later in the second inning). But, Wolf got Carlos Beltran to ground into a double play, and that was when you knew the Brewers had a chance.

Corey Hart gave the Brewers the lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. The Cardinals answered back with two in the third inning on a Jon Jay RBI double and Beltran’s sacrifice fly, but Aramis Ramirez knotted the game up in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single.

The Brewers dealt the big blow in the fourth inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run to make the score 3-2. It appeared to be Weeks’ way of venting out all of the frustration of his sub-.200 season, as the homer traveled 460 feet to left center field.

And, believe it or not, it was the game-winning RBI. After Wolf was done, the bullpen did something it hadn’t done for quite some time: hold the lead. Jose Veras got the last out in the seventh inning, Manny Parra had a 1-2-3 eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez got the save.

> Not exactly the order we usually see the relievers used, right? Well, it appears John Axford has finally put Ron Roenicke over the limit. After Ax’s blown save last night- his sixth of the year already- Roenicke decided to move K-Rod into the closer’s role.

It’s about time. Axford hasn’t been the same after his 49-save streak was snapped. He’s completely lost control of his breaking ball, which makes his high fastball extremely ineffective.

K-Rod hasn’t been great this year, but he’s been a lot better as of late, lowering his ERA down to 3.59. He’s a much better option than Axford at this point.

> Here’s a cause for concern. Ryan Braun left the game early with what is now considered a right groin strain. Braun said it’s been a chronic thing all year, but he’ll see how it is in the morning, and that will determine if he’s good to go or not.

> And that’s about it. There are obviously a ton of things going on behind the scenes with the Brewers that we don’t know about right now, primarily the whole Zack Greinke situation (I actually heard some pretty interesting news about that from a friend who works at Miller Park). But I’ll save that for now, just because I’m not completely sure if it’s true, and I don’t want to go publishing false information.

But it’s a trade rumor about Greinke; I’ll say that much.

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


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