Brewers have arby decisions to make

November 26, 2012

> It came upon us rather quickly, but the arbitration deadline is already this Friday. Coming into the offseason, the Brewers had nine players to whom they would have to decide whether or not to tender them contracts, but that list has since been cut to five. Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, Travis Ishikawa, and Kameron Loe were all arbitration-eligible, but were cut loose earlier this month, so they’re no longer the Brewers’ problems to deal with. All of those names would have probably been non-tendered anyway.

But, there are still five arbitration-eligible players on the Brewers’ roster: John Axford, Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, and Carlos Gomez. Back in October, MLB Trade Rumors projected the possible salaries each will earn in 2013: they had Axford at $5.1 million, Narveson $800,000, Estrada $1.6 million, Parra $1.6 million, and Gomez $3.4 million. Most of them- save for Axford- should come relatively cheap.

The only immediate non-tender candidate that comes to mind is Parra, who I have to guess the Brewers are sick of at this point. He has great stuff, he’s a lefty, he once threw a perfect game in the minors- so why hasn’t he been able to find it during his first few years in the Majors? I thought shifting him to the bullpen permanently would benefit Parra mentally, and help the Brewers as a team, seeing as they went most of 2011 without a left-hander in the ‘pen. But, in 2012, Parra was unable to maintain consistency, and Ron Roenicke was hesitant to use him in tight situations (for good reason). $1.6 million isn’t much (though I get the feeling Parra will attempt to demand more), but he should follow Veras and Loe out the door.

I’m sorry, but Axford isn’t going to get $5.1 million. The case for him is that he saved 35 games in 2012, but then you have to remember he blew a Major League-leading nine saves. Axford is going to get the closer’s role back in 2013, but not at that price.

Gomez is going to be the Brewers’ starting center fielder in 2013 (unless they somehow pick up Josh Hamilton) following his breakout season at the plate, at least power-wise (he slugged a career-high 19 home runs). I’d take that and his dangerous abilities for $3.4 million, no doubt.

Lastly, there’s Narveson, who will certainly be back in 2013 (although it’s uncertain whether he’ll be in the bullpen or rotation). MLBTR is predicting that his season-ending rotator cuff surgery will keep him below a salary of $1 million once again, so the Brewers should be able to bring him back easily.

All of these guys will probably avoid arbitration. The Brewers’ last arby hearing came last spring with Veras, but the Brewers won it easily.

> According to Jim Bowden, Zack Greinke’s “camp” expects him to become the richest right-handed pitcher in history, while even possibly passing Cole Hamels’ six-year, $153 million deal with the Phillies.

OK, I love Greinke, but let’s step back and look at this from another perspective. Greinke’s career ERA is 3.77. That’s a good ERA, no doubt. But is it honestly worth giving him the richest contract in history for a pitcher? Matt Cain, who currently has the biggest contract out of any righty in history, has a career 3.27 ERA. Hamels’ career ERA is 3.34.

Another thing to keep in mind about Greinke: that career ERA is with his AL Cy Young year in 2009, during which he put up a 2.16 ERA. Take that away, and he his career ERA is borderline of 4.00. Not to mention Greinke’s lowest single-season ERA other than the CYA year is 3.47.

Again, not trying to hate on Greinke or anything; I’d love for the Brewers to bring him back (though now I know it’s not going to happen). But does he deserve to be the richest right-handed pitcher in the history of the game? No way.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Outrighted Brent Lillibridge, who elected free agency.


The Gold Glove continues to be a screwy award

November 4, 2012

> If there’s going to be an award called a “Gold Glove” handed out to a player at each position every year, it should go to the best defensive player at that position for that given year, no?

Apparently not. Before I get into my point, here are the 2012 GG winners for each position:

American League:

C: Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B: Mark Teixera, Yankees
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
SS: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF: Alex Gordon, Royals
CF: Adam Jones, Orioles
RF: Josh Reddick, Athletics
P: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays/Jake Peavy, White Sox

National League:

C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
2B: Darwin Barney, Cubs
SS: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
3B: Chase Headley, Padres
LF:
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
CF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
RF: Jason Heyward, Braves
P: Mark Buehrle, Marlins

Plenty of guys were considered “snubbed” at their respective positions because of their reputation for making spectacular defensive plays. Take Mike Trout, for instance. He robbed home runs (literally going up the wall and bringing the ball back into the park) on three occasions this year as the center fielder for the Angels. But why did Jones win?

Statistically, Jones actually had a better defensive season than Trout; Jones had the better defensive WAR. Denard Span of the Twins also had a better defensive WAR than Trout.

In my opinion, that’s the way it should be- the guy who is statistically the best defender at each position should win. That happened in a few cases this year: Rollins had the best fielding percentage among NL shortstops, Barney committed just two errors at second base (which led NL second baseman, obviously), Teixera had just one error all year, Cano was tied for first in fielding percentage at second base, and so on.

But, of course, when it came to the possibility of a Brewer getting a Gold Glove, he got screwed. Aramis Ramirez led the NL in fielding percentage and had the fewest errors among qualifying third basemen. So who obviously wins the award at third base? Headley, duh.

But why? If one player has better defensive statistics than another player at a certain position, that player should win the Gold Glove. This is the one award I think should be strongly influenced by statistics, because there’s always going to be one player who is definitively better than another (statistically) at each position. Most of the defensive statistics go hand-in-hand, so it’s unlikely there’s going to be two players who each have one better defensive statistic than the other. This is a far different award than something like the MVP or Cy Young Award, in which there are a series of different statistics that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with each other. That makes for more of an argument for who should win those award, which is why it’s okay for there to be voters.

But there shouldn’t be a vote for the Gold Glove. There’s a best defensive player at each position, and that’s that.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers signed free agent righty Michael Olmsted to a minor league contract.

> Travis Ishikawa officially elected free agency.

> Two Brewers were selected to play in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game- Hunter Morris and Johnny Hellweg. Morris hit clean-up and went 1-for-1 with an infield single and a sacrifice fly.

> The Cubs nearly sent Carlos Marmol to the Angels in exchange for Dan Haren last night, but the deal wound up not going through. The Angels were looking for anything they could get before they had to decline Haren’s option for 2013, but, since the trade didn’t come to fruition, they were forced to decline the option. Haren is now a free agent and could be a possible fit for the Brewers.

> 10 teams are reportedly interested in lefty free agent Mike Gonzalez. I’d take him, seeing as the Brewers will be very thin on lefty relievers once again next year (if they have any). Manny Parra, the only lefty in the Brewers’ bullpen in 2012, is probably going to be one of the next guys to go.

> Minor moves:

Rockies: Outrighted Carlos Torres to Triple-A; reinstated Josh Sullivan, Todd Helton, Juan Nicasio, and Christian Friedrich from the 60-day DL.
Orioles: Outrighted Lew Ford, Zach Phillips, and Steven Tolleson to Triple-A.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas to Triple-A.
Twins: Outrighted Sam Deduno to Triple-A.
Royals: Outrighted Manny Pina to Triple-A; reinstated Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino from the 60-day DL.
Mariners: Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a two-year extension; re-signed Oliver Perez.
Blue Jays: Acquired Esmil Rogers from the Indians.
Indians: Acquired Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes from the Jays.
Cardinals: Outrighted Steven Hill, Bryan Anderson, and Adam Reifer to Triple-A.
Pirates: Outrighted Ali Solis to Triple-A.
Astros: Outrighted Chuckie Fick to Triple-A; outrighted Brian Bogusevic, Jorge De Leon, and J.B. Shuck, all of whom elected free agency.
Athletics: Re-signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jordan Smith 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.


Brewers end it somewhat fittingly

October 4, 2012

POSTGAME

> I don’t think the Brewers could have finished their season in a more fitting way. After an early 6-0 lead, they fell to the Padres, 7-6, to end a season in which this situation so often plagued them.

The Brewers scored six runs in the first three innings, with four of those runs coming from Travis Ishikawa (in what was likely his final game in a Brewers uniform). But after that, things went downhill quickly. The Padres got five runs between the fourth and six innings, including home runs from Chris Denorfia and Cameron Maybin. They then took the lead in the seventh off of Jim Henderson with an RBI triple from Chase Headley and a Yonder Alonso sacrifice fly.

MY TAKE

> I have to wonder if Ron Roenicke even tried to win this game. A day after taxing his bullpen by letting Tyler Thornburg go just four innings, he sits his ace, Yovani Gallardo, who could have easily given him at least seven innings. RRR instead started Josh Stinson, who he also let go only four innings, forcing his bullpen to go at least five innings again.

So obviously the bullpen was going to get rocked, and I worried about that from the start. In this case, it is DEFINITELY the manager’s fault, and there’s no argument against it.

THE NEWS

> Aramis Ramirez left the game early after reaching the .300 mark. The standing ovation he got was pretty cool.

> The Wild Card play-in games are tomorrow. It’ll be the Cardinals against the Braves (Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen) and the Orioles against the Rangers (Joe Saunders vs. Yu Darvish).

> Former Brewer Ben Sheets made what was probably his final big league appearance yesterday. He pitched the first inning of the Braves-Pirates game and struck out two.

THE NUMBERS

> Headley secured his RBI title with two RBIs yesterday. He finishes at 115, while Ryan Braun stayed at 112.

> The Brewers needed eight strikeouts to tie the Major League strikeout record set by the 2003 Cubs, but only got six (despite Stinson not striking out a batter). If Gallardo starts, it’s almost guaranteed the Brewers at least tie the record.

> Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years.

With the regular season over and the Brewers not in the playoffs, there are going to be changes here at BWI in order to better fit offseason news. From now until the beginning of Spring Training 2013, here will be the new format: the biggest news story of the day (whether or not it’s a Brewers headline or not) or an opinionated article, the regular news section (Brewers news will always come first), postseason coverage (up until it ends), and the extras. The numbers might pop back every now and then, but I doubt there will be enough statistics to report over the offseason to consistently keep it is a section.

I already have some opinionated articles in mind, but I’ll save those for days in which there’s nothing else to write about.

THE EXTRAS

> The FOX Sports Wisconsin analysts continued the tradition of wearing bowties on the last day of the season.


Brewers squeeze past Padres to take final series

October 3, 2012

POSTGAME

> All the Brewers needed tonight was Martin Maldonado’s third inning grand slam to defeat the Padres. Their 4-3 win gives them a series win in their final series of the year.

THE NEWS

> As Ron Roenicke announced yesterday, Tyler Thornburg went just four innings today. I thought RRR would let him go five innings and give him a chance for his first career win, but apparently that wasn’t his mindset.

Thorn looked good in his limited work though. He gave up a run on four hits and struck out four, including when he struck out the side in the first inning.

> Josh Stinson is going to start tomorrow. Yep, Yovani Gallardo won’t make his final start or have a bid at his 17th win.

Ron Roenicke, everyone.

> The Brewers will bring back their current coaching staff next year.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers need eight more strikeouts to tie the MLB single-season record for team strikeouts in a season. The record his held by the 2003 Cubs.

> The Brewers start seven rookies- Norichika Aoki, Logan Schafer, Maldonado, Taylor Green, Jean Segura, Jeff Binachi, and Thornburg- and still defeated the Padres. They also used two rookie relievers, Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson. Not to mention they started Travis Ishikawa at first base, which you could say is the equivalent of a rookie.

> Henderson’s string of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped last night.

> Kintzler, a reliever, has four wins in just 14 games. That’s a rather odd ratio for a reliever.

UPDATE: For some reason, Henderson was rewarded the win, despite the fact Kintzler should have received the win.

> Tomorrow’s match-up for the season finale (*sniffle*):

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Josh Stinson (0-0, 0.00)

THE EXTRAS

> Adam Greenberg got his dream at-bat for the Marlins today. But, he was facing R.A. Dickey, so the result was rather predictable.

> Michael Morse may have hit the greatest grand slam ever the other day.


Ninth-inning rally gives Brewers another comeback win

September 22, 2012

POSTGAME

> This team simply can’t lose. The Brewers once again pulled off the improbable, rallying in the ninth inning to defeat the Nationals- the best team in baseball- 4-2. Looking at the box score, you probably wouldn’t guess that it was that “improbable” of a comeback- the Brewers were only down by one going into the ninth. But, if you consider how foolish they looked in all aspects of the game during the first eight innings, then it was rather improbable.

Edwin Jackson, who for some reason dominates us, once again held off the Brewers for eight stellar innings. He gave up a run on six hits while walking none and striking out six. The only run Jackson gave up was as Jonathan Lucroy home run in the second inning, but that didn’t appear to phase him much.

After a bad first inning in which he gave up a two-run bomb to Adam LaRoche, Shaun Marcum probably had his best start since coming off the disabled list. He went six innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

The Nationals brought on Tyler Clippard for the ninth inning, which I actually questioned. Clippard has been getting hammered recently, and Drew Storen got the save for the Nats last night, so why not put Storen back in his usual role? (If you didn’t know, Storen spent more than half of the season on the DL and Clippard filled in for him.)

Oh well; the Nats paid a big price for it. Norichika Aoki started the rally with a bunt single. Two batters, after Aoki had reached third base on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly, Ryan Braun tied the game up with an RBI single. After a Braun steal, Aramis Ramirez wasted no time giving the Crew the lead on an RBI double. The Brewers tacked on one more in the inning on Travis Ishikawa’s RBI infield hit.

John Axford came on for the ninth, and, unlike his counterpart, nailed down the save.

MY TAKE

> For some reason, Ishikawa got the start at first base today, despite the fact Corey Hart proved himself relatively healthy yesterday. It’s also worth noting Hart was hitting .545 in his career against Jackson. But that’s RRR logic for you (which, for some reason, I continue getting gas for on Twitter).

Ishikawa should have gone 0-f0r-4, but he got lucky on shortstop Ian Desmond’s misplay in the ninth.

> Sometimes I wonder if Ed Sedar knows what he’s doing as the third base coach. In the fourth inning, with the Nats ahead 2-1, Ramirez hit a soft liner into center field; not nearly deep enough to score Braun, who was on second base. But “the windmill” was at it again; he sent Braun home, and he was thrown out by center fielder Bryce Harper.

Sedar nearly left the time two years ago for a Minor League job for the Astros; I wish he would have taken them up on that.

> Jon Morosi brought up a great point on Twitter earlier today that I should have speculated on prior to this: had the Brewers not suffered the Lucroy injury, we could already be ahead of the Cardinals. Not saying that Martin Maldonado didn’t do a great job while Luc was on the DL, but keep in mind Lucroy was hitting .345 before he went on the DL. If that bat had stayed in the lineup all year, this race would definitely be a different story.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers acquired catcher Yorvit Torrealba from the Blue Jays. Not a major acquisition; probably just so the Brewers have some catching depth down the stretch behind Lucroy and Maldonado. Should the Brewers make the postseason, though, Torrealba would not be eligible for the roster (unless he were replacing an injured player).

> The Cubs walked off on the Cardinals earlier today in 11 innings. The Brewers are now 1.5 games back. Yes, this is really happening.

THE NUMBERS

> The 3-4-5 guys in the lineup tonight- Braun, Ramirez, and Lucroy- went a combined 7-for-12.

> Axford recorded his third consecutive save in as many games. That means he’ll probably be unavailable tomorrow.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Gonzalez is shooting to become the first 20-game winner in baseball this year, but the Brewers knocked him around back in Milwaukee earlier this year, so it won’t be easy.

THE EXTRAS

> The Brewers acquiring Torrealba gives me an excuse to re-visit this episode: Torrealba literally whacked an umpire in the face during a winter ball game.

> Sometime during the game- I can’t remember which inning- Brian Anderson gave us an update on the Reds-Dodgers game. He said the Reds were winning, 1-1.

OK, Brian.


Brewers mount comeback to hold ground

September 21, 2012

POSTGAME

> It’s now safe to say that the Brewers are never out of any game. Despite a large early lead, they had to play comeback today, and they were successful. The Brewers managed to take a 9-7 win in a four-hour, back-and-forth contest with the Pirates.

The Brewers got off to a quick start, jumping on Wandy Rodriguez for three runs- including an Aramis Ramirez two-run blast- in the first inning. But, with a 4-0 lead in the third, Mike Fiers gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Fiers, who needed 81 pitches to get through just three innings, was removed after that.

After tying the game in the fourth, the Pirates rallied against Kameron Loe for three in the sixth inning, with a home run from Clint Barmes and an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Going into the eighth inning, the Bucs had a comfortable 7-3, but you could just tell the Brewers were going to mount a rally against struggling reliever Chad Qualls. And they wasted no time in doing so, as a two-run double from Norichika Aoki and a two-run triple from Rickie Weeks quickly knotted the game up at 7-7. Ramirez then gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI single. Logan Schafer tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as well.

John Axford nailed down the save for the second straight night, as he worked around a Jean Segura error to strike out the side.

MY TAKE

> Segura’s error in the ninth inning should have probably been charged to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Segura’s throw was slightly high, but it’s a throw that Ishikawa has to be able to handle.

> After the bullpen got off to a rough start (Brandon Kintzler gave up the lead following Fiers’ exit, then Loe nearly let the Pirates blow it open), they settled down nicely to shut down the Pirates for the rest of the game. Jose Veras got out of Loe’s jam in the sixth, Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Francisco Rodriguez handled the eighth, and Axford got another save as he continues his return to form.

> I hate to say it, but Fiers is starting to look legitimately fatigued on the mound. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his last three starts. As I noted on Twitter earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke pull the plug on his season any day now.

> Jason Grilli plunked Ryan Braun in theseventh inning- when the Pirates had a three-run lead. That drew a standing ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd. Hope they enjoyed the eighth-inning rally too.

So now I’ve concluded that their fanbase doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, or a mere .500 season. If they act like that, they can stay in the cellar of the NL Central for the next 20 years as well- or longer.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart made an unexpected return to the lineup today. He went 1-for-3 with a single, but it was noticeable that he was uncomfortable at the plate. Hart was removed in the fifth in exchange for Ishikawa.

> Axford said that the Zack Greinke trade “sharpened the Brewers’ focus.”

> Roenicke made a case for Aoki’s Rookie of the Year chances.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ current five-game winning streak is their longest on the season.

> This is the first time all year the Brewers have been give games over .500.

> Here’s the explanation for the Brewers passing up the Bucs in the standings: the Brewers have won 23 of their last 29 games. During that same stretch, the Pirates have won seven games.

> Oh, and the Pirates fell a game under .500.

> The Dodgers lost to the Nats, so the Brewers have leap-frogged them in the Wild Card race.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Nationals:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. ???

THE EXTRAS

> MLB Network’s Intentional Talk interviewed Axford the other day. But I was more amused at the murderous look on Jim Henderson’s face the entire time. Click here; you’ll know what I mean.

> This year’s edition of rookie hazing. They’re supposed to be the Flintstones… I think?

(It would appear Carlos Gomez took the photo.)


Crew takes series from Bucs; remain 2.5 back

September 20, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did what they needed to do in Pittsburgh: take the easy series, because the road ahead is going to be extremely difficult.

The Crew took down the Pirates again tonight, 3-1. The pitching continued to be as stellar as it’s been the past three games, led tonight by Marco Estrada’s seven scoreless innings.

Estrada also sort of led the way offensively. After Norichika Aoki’s first career lead-off homer in the first inning, Estrada was responsible for the final two runs- he got an RBI single in the fifth and received the benefit of a run-scoring error in the seventh inning.

John Axford was shaky in the ninth, but, after allowing a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen to lead off the inning, settled down to notch his 30th save of the year.

MY TAKE

> Estrada was removed after seven innings, but had just 96 pitches under his belt, and had allowed just three hits. If it were me, Estrada would be back out for the eighth inning, no questions asked. But apparently a starter needs to have below 90 pitches through seven if he wants to go beyond that under Ron Roenicke.

> Even if the Brewers continue to play well, don’t expect them to pick up much ground in the Wild Card over the next week and a half or so. During that span, the Cardinals- currently occupying the second WC spot- have the luxury of a schedule that goes Astros, Cubs, Astros.

THE NEWS

> Peter Gammons wrote about how Doug Melvin has been able to bring the Brewers back into contention during his tenure as Brewers’ GM.

> MLB Trade Rumors inquired on a topic I’ve also been preaching lately: whether or not Shaun Marcum deserves a decent contract come this offseason.

THE NUMBERS

> Estrada has brought his ERA all the way down to 3.56. He’s no slouch out there.

> Aoki’s recent power-stretch has him once again approaching the .300 mark, as he’s brought his average up to .293.

> As mentioned earlier, Axford recorded his 30th save of the year. A few months ago, I never would have guessed he could achieve that milestone this year.

> RRR finally attempted to fix the first base problem by using Taylor Green there today, but the results were basically the same ones Travis Ishikawa has been giving us: 0-for-4.

> The Brewers got another stolen base, but the Pirates also threw out a baserunner! That’s progress (even if the replay showed the runner was actually safe).

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.23 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> So apparently today was the annual International Talk Like A Pirate Day.” That must mean talking like a contender who’s falling out of the race.


Peralta carves apart the Mets

September 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> The way the Brewers are playing right now, it feels almost as if now matter who takes the mound is going to give them a chance to win. Wily Peralta took that a step further today, firing a gem in the Brewers’ 3-0 win over the Mets, which sealed yet another series win.

Peralta was absolutely dominant- eight innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. That’s up there with the best pitching performances of the season for the Brewers. Peralta needed 104 pitches for the eight innings, and I was hoping he could go the distance, but he appeared to be running out of gas in the eighth.

Peralta needed only three runs, which all came on separate home run balls: Ryan Braun hit two, and Aramis Ramirez hit one.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart had a baserunning session this morning, but apparently it didn’t go too well, since now he’s doubtful to even return on Tuesday.

Hart was officially diagnosed with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia, a tissue that goes along the bottom of the foot.

Keep in mind Hart was supposed to be back on Friday. Hopefully this doesn’t linger on for too much longer; the Brewers will need Hart down the stretch.

> Despite his struggles since coming off the disabled list, the Brewers are going to stick with Shaun Marcum in the rotation. It’s hard to tell if Marcum is just struggling because of his long stint on the DL, or if he really can’t pitch in September.

Either way, his 5.70 ERA since coming off the DL has really been the only problem the Brewers have had pitching-wise lately. If he could get on track, the Brewers could be a very scary team.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun’s two home runs today gave him two large milestones. The first one was the 200th home run of his career, and the second one gave him the first 40 homer season of his career.

> Peralta has improved with every start. In his first start, he gave up three runs in 6+ innings against the Marlins. He allowed one run in six innings against the Braves in his second. But today’s outing blew away both of those.

> The 5-6-7 hitters- Travis Ishikawa, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez- went a combined 0-for-10. We need Hart back.

> Peralta also picked up his first career hit, a double in the seventh.

> The Brewers can’t gain any ground in the Wild Card race because the teams that are tied for the lead- the Cardinals and Dodgers- are playing each other. One of them has to win, and whoever does win will be leading the WC. So, regardless of that game’s result, the Brewers will be 2.5 games back at the end of the day.

> John Axford’s save today was the 100th of his career. Where has the time gone?

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-gamer in Pittsburgh. Here are the probables:

Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.72 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.63 ERA)

Marco Estrada (3-6, 3.77 ERA) vs. Kyle McPherson (0-0, 1.54 ERA)

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.23 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65 ERA)

The Pirates announced today that they removed James McDonald from the rotation, which is why McPherson is starting on Wednesday.

THE EXTRAS

> I lol’d.

(That’s Ramirez during the postgame interview, if you can’t tell.)

> I also had a good laugh at this one.


Brewers do in Braves with huge 5th

September 13, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers are over .500 and three games out of the Wild Card.

No, seriously.

I didn’t think I’d be saying that any time soon, but the Brewers’ great play recently has pushed them back near contention. They KO’d the Braves tonight, 8-2, and improved to 72-71 on the season.

Paul Maholm looked good the first few innings with a few defensive gems behind him, but he completely unraveled in the fifth. With a 2-0 lead, he gave up a go-ahead three-run blast to Rickie Weeks. The Brewers got three more RBI hits from Jonathan Lucroy, Travis Ishikawa, and even Yovani Gallardo in that inning.

Yovani Gallardo was solid as well, going seven innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six, earning his 15th win of the season.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup again, and reportedly received custom foot support for the nagging arch injury. But, he’ll be available on Friday at the earliest, and even then he’d likely be in a pinch-hit role.

> Carlos Gomez left the game after attempting to break up a double play in the second inning. He was successful in doing that, but bruised the lower quadriceps on his right leg in doing so. Gomez is considered day-to-day.

Logan Schafer took his place in center field and in the lineup.

> Mat Gamel won’t be ready for the Arizona Fall League.

> The Brewers have changed their plans for Tyler Thornburg now that they’re contending.

> MLB released its 2013 schedule, including the new Interleague-every-series concept. The Brewers make some interesting Interleague trips, including visiting Seattle, and the Athletics coming to Miller Park for the first time.

> The Cardinals lost. Might as well start paying attention to what’s going on in the WC standings.

THE NUMBERS

> This is only the second time in franchise history the Brewers have swept the Braves.

> The Brewers are now over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 in April.

> Ishikawa went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, all coming on a bases-clearing double in the fifth. He isn’t quite as bad as I advertise him at times, I guess.

> The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow following a 20 games in 20 days stretch (during which they thrived). They’ll start a series against the Mets on Friday. Here are the probables:

Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 4.94 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.71 ERA) vs. Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA)

Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

MLB has yet to post the probables, so I just based this off the last order through each team’s rotation. The Mets’ starters might be one off since they’re using a six-man rotation.


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