All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.


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.


Welcome to the Brewers, Michael Olmsted

November 5, 2012

> Yesterday, the Brewers signed reliever Michael Olmsted to minor league pact and added him to the 40-man roster. My immediate first thought was, “Oh great, the Brewers are going to try and shore up the bullpen by signing no-names and hoping they pitch well.” That strategy works from time to time, but not often.

But, after doing some research on Olmsted, the kid might not be some no-name- at least not for long. This past year for Boston’s Class A and Double-A affiliates, Olmsted had a stellar 1.52 ERA, and picked up 19 saves as their closer. The year before that (2011), he had a 1.39 ERA between Boston’s Rookie and Class A levels. Olmsted also had unbelievable strikeout numbers, notching 92 in just 59 1/3 innings of work in 2012.

So why wasn’t this guy on the Red Sox (or at least in Triple-A) yet?

Turns out Olmsted has quite the story behind him. He was drafted out of college by the Mets in 2007, and posted a solid 2.52 ERA in 10 games that year. Then, in 2008, he put up a 2.67 ERA at three different levels for the Mets. However, while pitching in the Instructional League following that season, Olmsted blew out his elbow, and required the dreaded Tommy John Surgery.

He spent all of 2009 rehabbing, then reported to extended Spring Training in 2010 to get back on track. However, the Mets immediately released him after that, which came as a surprise to Olmsted- it’s not like he was pitching bad prior to his injury (in fact, the numbers say he was pretty good).

That was the beginning of three years away from American baseball for Olmsted. He became an assistant pitching coach at the college he attended before being drafted, then caught the eye of a Japanese scout. Next thing he knew, he was in Japan pitching for the minor league affiliate of the Softbank Hawks. But, while in Japan, he was hit with some shocking news: his mother, who already had cancer, had fallen into a coma.

So Olmsted decided to return from Japan. He did get to speak to his mother again, but she only lived for 23 days after awaking from the coma. Due to the circumstances, Olmsted decided to request his release from the Hawks, and they granted it to him. For the next few months, he continued pitching at his former college, but “thought his career was over.”

At a tryout the following spring, however, the Red Sox took notice of him and his stuff, and decided to give him a chance in their organization.

At that time, Olmsted’s fastball was sitting at just 89-92, but has improved to a consistent 95-97 since. He also features a hard slider.

But why were the Brewers able to pick up him up so easily? Olmsted was on Boston’s Double-A roster, but not on their 40-man roster. Unless the Red Sox added him to the roster, Olmsted would have been eligible to be snatched up by another team in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. But Doug Melvin acted fast and managed to get him before the draft. Since the Brewers offered Olmsted a spot on their 40-man roster (thus getting protection from the Rule 5 Draft), he was willing to leave the Red Sox organization to sign with the Brewers.

So I hope nothing but the best for Olmsted this season. Not only does he have a great shot at making the Brewers’ bullpen out of Spring Training because of the shape the ‘pen is currently in, but all he has been through makes him deserve this chance.

(By the way, most of this info came from Peter Gammons’ amazing article on Olmsted that he wrote back in August.)

THE NEWS

> Josh Hamilton’s asking price is $175 million over seven years. Ouch.

However, some are speculating that this won’t stop the Brewers from going after Hamilton. The only other major contender for Hamilton is the Braves, which could also benefit the Brewers.

> More Hamilton news: I don’t know who David Lennon is, but apparently he predicted the Brewers landing Hamilton with a five-year deal.

> Minor moves:

Dodgers: Outrighted Alfredo Silverio to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> Nyjer Morgan might be gone, but this remains one of my favorite pictures of all time.

> OK, I understand that the shortstop market is terrible this offseason, but there’s no reason to put Cesar Izturis and Yuniesky Betancourt among the rest of these guys who will probably have starting jobs.

EDIT: Just noticed Ronny Cedeno is in there too. The MLB Twitter account has gone insane.


Marcum gets screwed over in return

August 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> It looked like Shaun Marcum was going to have a solid return from the disabled list tonight, but his defense had other ideas in the Brewers’ 4-0 loss to the Pirates. All four runs came in the fifth inning, none of them charged to Marcum.

Carlos Gomez started the inning by dropping what would have been a routine line drive out, and instead allowed Neil Walker to reach. Of course that run had to come around to score, as Michael McKenry doubled two batters later. Then Marcum let his frustration get to him, allowing three straight RBI hits to Jeff Karstens (the pitcher), Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider.

The Brewers never really posed much of a threat against Karstens all night. They got back-t0-back singles against him in the eighth inning before he left with an injury, but the Pirates’ bullpen bailed him out.

MY TAKE

> I haven’t seen anything in Jeff Bianchi. He got two hits in final two at-bats tonight, but had been 0-f0r-18 prior to that. He also made an error behind Marcum (he should have had three errors, actually). One of them came when he completely missed a cut-off throw from Norichika Aoki (it wasn’t the greatest throw, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have caught it) in the third inning. Then he botched another cut-off throw in the fifth, which definitely should have been an error. The only error he was actually charged with was a Yuniesque play in which the ball went under his glove on a routine play.

In other words, he’s basically been a Brooks Conrad 2.0. Maybe Jean Segura was unavailable tonight (or Ron Roenicke was giving him a “breather”), but I don’t want to see much more of this guy at shortstop.

> Marcum didn’t throw the ball too bad at all for his first start since June. He gave up a few hard-hit balls here and there, but definitely didn’t deserve this fate.
THE NEWS

> Bullpen coach Lee Tunnell is confident that John Axford will get back to his former self eventually.

“It’s a different thing [making adjustments] here than in A-ball. I think he’ll get it figured out. There’s flashes of it. His last three games were pretty solid, so it’s just a matter of staying locked in, I think.”

“If he goes through this tough year the right way, it’ll help him the rest of his career. Look at how he got to us- he has resilience. He has that in his personality.”

If you didn’t know, Tunnell was named the bullpen coach after Stan Kyles was unfairly fired.

> The Brewers outrighted Mike McClendon to Triple-A to make room for Bianchi on the roster.

> The huge blockbuster trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox was approved today. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto will head to LA in exchange for Rubby De La Rosa and four other Minor League players.

> Zack Greinke had his first legitimate good start for the Angels yesterday, going 7 2/3 innings while giving up one run against the potent Tigers lineup.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers out-hit the Pirates 9-7, yet were shut out and lost by four runs.

> Brewers pitchers didn’t give up an earned run today.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mark Rogers (1-1, 5.02 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (7-13, 4.76 ERA)

 


Braun’s goose-egg ends up drowning Brewers

August 15, 2012

> The Brewers dropped their second straight series to one of baseball’s worst teams tonight, losing to the Rockies, 8-6. You can put some of the blame on Randy Wolf, who got pounded for six runs in five innings, with his ERA escalating to 5.65 in the process. But most of the blame, at least offensively, falls on Ryan Braun, whose inexplicable struggles continued tonight.

The Rockies jumped on Wolf right away in the first inning. Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run single to put the Rox up early, then Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco each followed him with RBI hits. The Brewers didn’t get on the board until the third inning on Norichika Aoki’s RBI bunt single.

Fast-forward to the ninth inning, where the Brewers appeared to be starting a rally. The score was a comfortable 8-3 in favor of the Rockies, so they put in Rex Brothers to hopefully finish the game. But the Brewers jumped all over him, with Corey Hart, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez getting three straight hits off him to produce a run. Brothers was pulled before he could record an out for closer Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt promptly recorded an out, which was a pretty lucky Jean Segura lineout. But Jonathan Lucroy followed that up with an RBI single to cut the deficit to 8-5. Then Aoki hit a first-pitch RBI single, and things were starting to look interesting. But, Rickie Weeks popped out, then Braun flew out on the first pitch. Rally killed in a matter of seconds.

LOOKING INTO BRAUN’S SLUMP

> Throughout his career, Braun has always been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2007, then took home the National League MVP last year. There was the drug scandal that put doubts into other’s minds, but Braun vindicated himself after his monster first half of this season.

But, the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing a different Braun. He’s been struggling mightily at the plate, something we have seen him do very seldom. Last Wednesday, Braun hit a double in the eighth inning of the Reds-Brewers game, and that snapped an 0-for-17 slump prior to that game. Unfortunately, that hit didn’t snap him all the way out of the slump. Coming into today, Braun was hitting .303 (keep in mind he was hitting around the .320’s not too many weeks ago). An 0-for-5 mark- with five important runners left on- dipped his average below .300 for the first time since May.

Recently, I’ve been analyzing Braun’s at-bats more closely than I have in a while, and here’s what I’ve noticed. Braun is swinging at the first pitch a lot more often than he usually does, and lately it hasn’t been working. You can bet that other teams are scouting this, and pitchers aren’t giving him as good of a pitch to hit on the first pitch. Second, Braun is looking at pitches that he normally wouldn’t, particularly late in the count, such as pitches right down the pipe. I’ll admit the entire team is actually doing that right now, but a hitter of Braun’s caliber shouldn’t be caught guessing that often.

Now, it’s worth noting that Braun has been dealing with blisters on his left hand lately, which can be a nagging issue. But, I highly doubt blisters can cause a slump like this. If they were really a problem, I think Braun would have said something by now.

I’m not trying to put all the team’s struggles on Braun’s back right now, because most of that is on the bullpen. But, when basically everyone in the lineup is productive on a night where they score six runs, yet Braun didn’t even have a hit, you know there were a few runs left on the field. And some of those are due to this slump of Braun’s.

THE NEWS

> Brandon Kintzler was promoted to Triple-A today as he continues his comeback trail following various arm surgeries. Kintzler went down in early 2011, but had been solid going into May, posting a 3.86 ERA. He also spent a little time with the Brewers in September of 2010.

If Kintzler can prove he’s completely healthy, don’t be surprised to see him up come this September.

> There have been rumors flying that the Brewers are going to shut down Jed Bradley, one of their two first-round picks in 2011, for the season. Bradley is currently in Double-A, and has dealt with his share of injuries.

> After designating him for assignment last week, the Royals released Yuniesky Betancourt today. Is it bad that I had a dream about him returning to the Brewers last night?

> Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky passed away yesterday, at age 92. Pesky had a short career in the 40’s and 50’s because of his time spent in the military, but he quietly had a nice career, as his career .307 average shows. He stuck around with the Red Sox organization for basically the rest of his life after his career ended, and proved as a very influential figure for Boston. Anyway, my thoughts and prayers are with the Sox organization and their fans.

THE NUMBERS

> Weeks and Braun, both of whom ended the ninth inning rally, each went 0-for-5 today, out of the two and three spots, respectively. Figures.

> Maldonado went 2-for-4 to bring his average up to .283, and Lucroy’s pinch-hit single brought his average up to .330. It might be safe to say that they’re one of the better young catching tandems in the Majors, considering either of them can start and put up consistent numbers at the plate while doing it.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. ???


Bullpen hangs on for much-needed win

August 7, 2012

Postgame

> Finally, a game I can enjoy covering. It’s been too long. The Brewers defeated the Reds somewhat handily today, 6-3. This snapped a three-game losing skid courtesy of the Cardinals, and was a strong start to an important series, even if the Brewers aren’t contending.

I wasn’t high on Yovani Gallardo’s chances coming into tonight’s start. He had struggled his two starts before his last one, and, despite performing well in his last one, it came against the Astros. Plus, Yo has struggled against the Reds at Miller Park in his career. But, he jammed that down my throat with a great start, going seven innings while giving up a run on six hits. He walked three and struck out four. Gallardo had  to dance around danger multiple times, but it was one of his better outings this year as far as pitching in the clutch. He improved to 10-8 on the year and his ERA fell to 3.79.

Meanwhile, the offense backed him late. Early on, it looked like the Brewers were in for another rough go against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Coming into tonight, the Brewers at a .139 average against Arroyo in three games this year. That stat held true until the fifth inning, when the Brewers finally solved the puzzle. Martin Maldonado led off the inning with a double. After Jean Segura advanced him to third on a sacrifice fly (the throw actually hit Maldonado as he was sliding into third), Gallardo himself drove in the game’s first run. That was all the Brewers got that inning, but they added on massively later.

The Brewers hit three home runs off Arroyo in the sixth inning, which is what they should be doing to him all the time. Aramis Ramirez, who had been barking with Arroyo earlier in the game due to some beef that goes back a ways, hammered his 14th home run of the season. Corey Hart followed that up with a mammoth shot into the Harley Davidson deck (if you know Miller Park’s geography you know that’s pretty far). Then, after a single by Rickie Weeks, Maldonado hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball off the bat, but it just kept carrying until it was a two-run homer.

The only Reds tally came in the seventh on a Zack Cozart home run, which was the one blemish on Gallardo’s line.

Then, in the eighth, the bullpen appeared to be having one of its classic meltdowns. Jay Bruce led off the inning with a single off Francisco Rodriguez. One batter later, Scott Rolen hit a ground-rule double that put men on second and third with one out. After K-Rod walked Todd Frazier to load the bases, Ron Roenicke opted to go to the Brewers’ other struggling closer, John Axford. Ax promptly gave up an RBI single to Xavier Paul. Then, the Brewers were given a dash of luck. On a 3-2 pitch to Dioner Navarro, he hit into the right center gap, and it looked like it was going to be a bases-clearing double. But, right fielder Norichika Aoki saved the game with a sliding catch, and it turned into a sacrifice fly for Navarro. Axford then induced a Cozart pop-out to end the threat.

The Brewers tacked on one more on Maldonado’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth. That allowed Axford to come back out for the ninth and record his first multi-inning save since 2010 (yes, all the way back to the Ken Macha era).

The Analysis

> Segura made his anticipated Brewers debut tonight, batting eighth and playing shortstop. It didn’t go well, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He saw eight pitches total, six of which were sliders that his nerves wouldn’t let him lay off of. He did have a productive at-bat to advance Maldo to third in the fifth, and he smashed a line drive to right field in the sixth, although Bruce had him played perfectly.

Segura didn’t look bad defensively, though. I was worried he’d pull some Yuni B’s in his debut, but that didn’t happen, thankfully.

I’m excited to see what Segura will do in the future for the Brewers. I have very high hopes for the kid who was the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade for the Brewers.

> I forgot to mention this last night, but Jim Henderson finally gave up a run. His ERA is now 1.93. Despite the small sample size, I consider him the most reliable reliever in our bullpen. Had Axford blown it tonight, my theory of Henderson closing may have became a reality.

The News

> Shaun Marcum will make his first rehab start for Class A Wisconsin on Thursday, which will be the first step for his comeback. Once he comes back, he’ll basically be auditioning for the free agent market or a late August trade, though.

> Cesar Izturis is headed to the Nationals, as he was claimed off waivers by them earlier today. That allowed the Brewers to call up Segura and get a look at him.

>And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up, which should be a low-scoring contest, with each team’s best pitcher going:

Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA)


Brewers hope to snap skid at home

August 6, 2012

Pregame News and Notes

Here’s what the Brewers lineup is looking like tonight:

  1. Norichika Aoki RF
  2. Carlos Gomez CF
  3. Ryan Braun LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  5. Corey Hart 1B
  6. Rickie Weeks 2B
  7. Martin Maldonado C
  8. Jean Segura SS
  9. Yovani Gallardo P

Amazing how much formidable of a lineup that looks like without Cesar Izturis or Cody Ransom.

> The Brewers called up Segura in an unexpected move today. Izturis was sent to the Nationals in a trade (they placed a waiver claim on him), so, in a corresponding move, they were able to give Segura a chance. The young shortstop hit .433 since being sent to Double-A Huntsville upon his acquisition, and his batting eighth tonight in his first start with the Brewers.

(Scroll down for the news/opinions from earlier today)

*****************

> The Brewers just can’t seem to find a break in their schedule that will get them going. Ever since the All-Star break, they haven’t been able to match up against the tough opponents that have been thrown at them. After going 4-2 against the Pirates and Cardinals to start their post-ASB season, the Reds dealt them a crushing blow, basically sweeping the Brewers out of contention.

Obviously, things haven’t gone well since. The Brewers were then swept by the Phillies in a series that should have been a sweep in the Brewers’ favor, but that series exposed how bad this bullpen truly is. Then the Nationals took three out of four from the Brewers at Miller Park. The Brewers followed that up with a three-game sweep of the Astros (who almost don’t even count as a team anymore), managing to put up enough offense that series to get around the horrible bullpen.

But, after getting swept out of St. Louis last night, the Brewers find themselves 17.5 games out of the division leader Reds, 10.5 games behind the third place Cards, and 13 games out of the second Wild Card slot. The Brewers have yet to be mathematically eliminated (unlike the Astros), but any real chance of contending definitely diminished after this series in St. Louis.

So, as Brewers fans, all we can hope for now is that the Brewers can just win some games and bring our spirits up, even if they aren’t in contention. That starts with a tough three-game series at home against the Reds, who have become the best team in baseball (66-42) after a recent hot stretch that included a 10-game winning streak (after which radio voice Marty Brennaman shaved his head).

Anyway, tonight’s match-up is between Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA) and Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92 ERA). Arroyo is 13-8 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against the Brewers. The Brewers seemed to have Arroyo solved for a while, but he’s come back to once again make Brewers hitters look foolish this season. Gallardo, on the other hand, continues to be relatively inconsistent against the Reds. Over his past two starts against Cincy (both at Great American Ball Park), he’s 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA. As always, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, and Scott Rolen have given him trouble over that span. Thank goodness Joey Votto is on the disabled list right now.

> Remember Yuniesky Betancourt? Of course you do. He was designated for assignment by the Royals yesterday after supposedly complaining about not getting enough playing time. It sounds like the Royals were going to give him a chance to stay had he been satisfied with less playing time so that younger players could get a shot, but Yuni wasn’t going to play that.

Betancourt was struggling at the plate this season, hitting just .228 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs. He also missed 27 games in May, which didn’t help with that.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betancourt back in a Brewers uniform before too long. The Cody Ransom/Cesar Izturis platoon just isn’t getting it done offensively (although I have to say I like their defense most of the time). Even though recently-acquired Jean Segura has been tearing it up at Double-A Huntsville, the Brewers seem reluctant to call him up until rosters expand in September. So that leaves the shortstop position in the flux it’s been in all season.

Which leads me to believe that Doug Melvin, who considered re-signing Betancourt last offseason as a utilityman, might go after him now. I’m not saying I’m in agreement with it (which I’m not), but don’t be surprised to see it happen.

UPDATE: Never mind what I said about Segura. According to multiple sources, he’s been called up to the big leagues. Izturis is also reportedly heading to the Nationals.

> Another ex-Brewer was also DFA’d yesterday in outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. There’s no chance the Brewers pick him up, though, since they’re already stocked with outfield depth. Plus, Gwynn is really nothing more than a late-inning defensive replacement anyway.

> Speaking of outfield depth, one Brewers outfielder seems to finally be reaching his potential: Carlos Gomez. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball lately, hitting .347 over his last 12 games. He has four home runs and 10 RBIs over that stretch. He also has five steals in that span, giving him 20 on the year, which is tied for 10th in the National League.

If the Brewers can keep him going like this on a consistent basis, what a weapon Gomez would become. He’s always been considered a five-tool player, but only three of those tools appeared in his first few years in the big leagues- a cannon arm, stellar play in center field, and speed on the bases. In this stretch of games, the other two tools- hitting for both average and power- have finally shown themselves.

I doubt Gomez will ever be a .300 hitter; I just can’t see it happening. But the power could be there to stick, which gives the lineup a huge boost.

> And that’s about it. I’ll update with the probable lineups later, but for now, thanks for reading.


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