Analyzing the veteran starters on the market

October 30, 2012

> Doug Melvin and the Brewers have made it known that they’re probably going to go after a free agent starter this offseason, preferable an experienced guy to anchor what looks to be a young rotation. Personally, I’m still debating whether or not that’s the right decision; the bullpen probably needs more tending to than the rotation. But, if the Brewers do choose to go after a free agent veteran starter, there’s actually a surprisingly decent market for that category this offseason. Here’s a list of the key possibilities for the Brewers:

Ryan Dempster
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Kyle Lohse
Brandon McCarthy
Anibal Sanchez*
Dan Haren*
Jake Peavy*

*Sanchez, Haren, and Peavy all have options (or other contract impediments) with their current teams, so it remains to be seen if they actually reach the free agent market.

Basically, the guys I listed are possibilities that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing, and most of them are relatively realistic for the Brewers as well. Greinke, obviously, isn’t very likely, but you still can’t count him out.

Dempster was stellar with the Cubs in 2012, but sort of fell off a cliff with the Rangers (despite a winning record in Texas). He’s clearly better in the National League, but I’d say one of the only benefits of the Brewers signing Dempster is that they wouldn’t have to face him (he has 15 career wins against the Brewers).

Guthrie might be the worst option on the list. He was awful with the Rockies, probably because of Coors Field, but resurrected himself with the Royals during the second half, posting a 3.16 ERA. Guthrie is still one of the riskier options on the list, however, and the Brewers will probably try and go with someone else.

Jackson quietly had a decent year as the fifth starter in the Nationals’ rotation, but he’s had an inconsistent career, and the number of teams he’s played for will tell you that. I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing him, but there’s a bit of a risk with him as well.

For me, Kuroda is the best option on the list. After years of getting no run support in Los Angeles, he blossomed on the big stage in the Bronx. He proved he can pitch in the hitter-friendly environment of Yankee Stadium, meaning he probably wouldn’t do too bad at Miller Park.

There’s no denying Lohse had an unbelievable season in 2012, but I just don’t see him fitting in with the Brewers. Plus, he’s going to draw a ton of money (at least $12 million a year), and I don’t see the Brewers spending that on a starter.

In my opinion, McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game; he knows how to shut down a good offense. But, it’s not often that he isn’t injured, whether it be shoulder/elbow problems, or taking line drives off the head.

Those are my top options. There are also guys like Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there’s no doubt that those guys would turn into Jeff Suppan-like signings, so I hope the Brewers stay away from them.

THE NEWS

> Now that the offseason has officially started, the Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, and Alex Gonzalez all elected free agency. Marcum and K-Rod are both as good as gone, but Gonzalez has a chance of returning as the back-up shortstop (or starter, depending on Jean Segura’s status). The Brewers also reinstated Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson from the 60-day disabled list. Lastly, they re-signed shortstop Hector Gomez to a minor league deal.

The Brewers’ other free agents, Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba, are already on the market, as they elected free agency during the NLCS.

> The Gold Glove Finalists were announced today. Here’s a list of them at each position:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Peavy, C.J. Wilson
Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters
First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixera
Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan
Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy
Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout
Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz
First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto
Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop:
Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins
Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright
Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado
Center field: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs
Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Eithier, Jason Heyward

That awkward moment when Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox anymore, yet could win the AL Gold Glove at first base.

Anyway, Ramirez should win the third base GG, seeing as he had the fewest errors in the league at the position. But Braun won’t win the GG in left field, because steroids. (You can bet that’s what all of the voters are thinking.)

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised 2013 options for David Aardsma, Cano, and Curtis Granderson.
Phillies: Declined 2013 options for Ty Wigginton, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco.
Twins: Declined 2013 option for Scott Baker; signed P.J. Walters to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Exercised 2013 option for Luis Ayala.
Athletics: Optioned 2013 option for ex-Brewer Grant Balfour; declined Stephen Drew’s option; signed Mike Ekstrom to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera, and Matt Treanor.
Pirates:
Outrighted Jeff Clement, Eric Fryer, and Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Takuya Tsuchida.


Axford blows the season

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> Just when we thought John Axford was attempting to earn our trust back, he goes out and does this.

He turned a very pivotal game for the Brewers into a 2-1 loss to the Reds. With a 1-0 lead going into the ninth, Axford seemed to be cruising through the ninth after striking Zack Cozart and Joey Votto. But then the wheels abruptly fell off- Todd Frazier game-tying homer, Jay Bruce single, Dioner Navarro walk-off triple. Game over.

Season over.

MY TAKE

> Yes, you could argue that the Brewers should have scored more runs. But, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting more than one or two runs against Mat Latos. He’s quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half; not to mention he’s dominated the Brewers this season.

THE NEWS

> Since I missed the whole game today, I was confused while looking through the box score as to why Wily Peralta only went 5 1/3 innings, despite having just 71 pitches. Turns out he left with tight biceps, and it was Aramis Ramirez who signaled to the dugout that something was wrong.

But Peralta was twirling a gem. He’d given up just two hits up until his departure, and also had a career-high six strikeouts.

>The Cardinals have an off-day today, so it’s already official that the Brewers are four games back.

> The Astros named Bo Porter their new manager. The first team he’ll face as their manager is the Brewers.

THE NUMBERS

> Norichika Aoki has more extra base-hits (18) in September than Miguel Cabrera (15).

> Ryan Braun went 2-for-4, raising his average to .319. But it’s doubtful he’ll catch Buster Posey (.333). That batting average could be the decisive factor on who takes home the NL MVP this year, even though most of the rest of Braun’s stats are relatively better than Posey’s.

> Axford extended his Major League-leading blown save total to nine.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Astros (and the start of where the schedule flips over):

Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 3.94 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (16-8. 3.59 ERA)

Dallas Keuchel (3-7, 3.66 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (4-7, 3.87 ERA)

Jordan Lyles (4-12, 5.44 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (9-9, 3.55 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> The Marlins are giving Adam Greenberg another chance at a big league at-bat. If you don’t know Greenberg’s story, click here. Pretty cool, if you ask me.


Fiers not perfect, but still stellar in win over Cincy

August 8, 2012

Postgame

> I missed pretty much all of today’s game, but I have to say I knew what I was going to be missing. The Brewers defeated the Reds today, 3-1, in yet another amazing performance by Mike Fiers. I know I’ve said this about nearly all of his starts, but I think today was the best performance of his young career. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Brewers jumped on Reds ace Johnny Cueto right away in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez stayed hot and smacked a two-run shot into left field to give the Brewers the early lead.

Cueto did settle down after that inning, turning in a good start (7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K). But, after that first inning, Fiers never looked back either, and out-pitched an opponent who has been tough on the Brewers recently.

Fiers threw eight stellar innings while giving up one run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. The eight innings are a new career-high in innings pitched for Fiers. He also lowered his ERA to 1.80, which is just flat-out remarkable.

But the story tonight was Fiers’ bid for perfection. He needed just 66 pitches to get through the first six innings, which were flawless. But, Zack Cozart led off the seventh inning with a double to break up the perfecto. Two batters later, Brandon Phillips drove him in with a sacrifice fly, which wound up being the only blemish on Fiers’ line.

Fiers ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth as well. He started off the inning by striking out Scott Rolen, but then gave up a single to Xavier Paul. Two batters later, Ryan Hanigan hit a single to put runners on first and third with two outs. But, Fiers did what he’s done so well all year: get out of the tough jams. He struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat in the eighth.

The Analysis

> There really isn’t much more you can say about Fiers at this point, other than he’s turned himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. You can say all you want about the over-hyped Bryce Harper (who is now hitting under .260, mind you), but my vote would go to a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA, rather than some overrated 19 year-old outfielder who’s only in the conversation because of his age.

Anyway, I decided to check out some scouting reports regarding Fiers today to see what the prospect experts were saying about him. What I found interesting is that his scouting report is nothing compared to the stats he’s putting up. But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise- Fiers has a mid-to-high 80′s fastball, a solid cutter, and two plus off-speed pitches. That usually makes for a good fly-ball pitcher, but that isn’t what Fiers is doing: he’s being a dominant strikeout pitcher at the Major League level.

The News

> Ron Roenicke once again talked about the frustration he’s having with Francisco Rodriguez’s role in the bullpen. We know, Ron. We know.

> As I mentioned in today’s pregame post, Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment by the Rays today. The man of the .000 batting average wasn’t going to last long there anyway.

The Numbers Game

> The theory I’ve been talking about the past few days finally occurred today: Jim Henderson closed out the game. He preserved Fiers’ two-run lead with a scoreless 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Henderson is throwing the ball the best in the bullpen by far right now, so hopefully we see him in these situations more often.

> Jonathan Lucroy had been slumping since his return from the disabled list, with his batting average dropping from .345 to .327. But, he went 2-for-3 today to bring the BA back up to .329.

> The Brewers’ third run came on Jean Segura’s first RBI as a Brewer (and in the Majors overall), which was a groundout off Cueto in the seventh inning. Segura is still looking for his first hit.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up. So let’s just say it’s a good thing the Brewers took the first two games.

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)

 


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’ offense once again absent against Reds

July 22, 2012

> This is frustrating, and just doesn’t make any sense. The Brewers, who were once known as one of the better offensive teams in baseball, have been unable to score runs at what is, statistically speaking, a hitter’s haven, otherwise known as Great American Ball Park. That trend did indeed continue today, as the Brewers fell to the Reds, 6-2.

Great American Ballpark was a house of horrors for the Brewers in 2010, and most of 2011. The Brewers swept the Reds at their home park in September of 2010, but they’ve proved this year that it was a fluke.

Yovani Gallardo’s line today was somewhat deceptive. He went 5 2/3 innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. Anyway, Gallardo gave up four runs right away in the first inning. Jay Bruce hit an RBI single, Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly, and then Ryan Ludwick smashed a mistake pitch from Gallardo for a two-run shot. After that inning, Gallardo held the Reds in check. But, the way the offense has been lately, a 4-0 deficit is far too much to come back from.

The Brewers got their first run in the fourth inning on Corey Hart’s RBI single. They got their second and last run when a run scored on Aramis Ramirez’s double play in the sixth. The sixth could have become a big inning for the Brewers, but the double play- which was slickly turned by shortstop Zack Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips- killed the rally.

The Reds tacked on two more in the seventh against Jose Veras, a two-run blast from Phillips, which pretty much put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo once again inexplicably dominated the Brewers. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out six. I guess I don’t really see what’s so good about Arroyo, since other teams seem to hit him just fine.

> And that’s already about it. Not much news today, other than this pretty crushing loss, since the Brewers desperately needed to get out of Cincy with a series win.

Anyway, here’s tomorrow’s match-up:

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-5, 2.28 ERA)


Brewers out-pitched in Cincy opener

July 21, 2012

> Tonight was just an ugly game on all fronts. The Brewers fell to the Reds, 3-1, in the first game of a critical series for the Crew. To put it simply, the Brewers were out-pitched by a Reds pitching staff that’s been pretty hot lately.

The Brewers’ pitching wasn’t, either, but wasn’t enough to match the Reds. Marco Estrada went seven solid innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. But, all three of the runs he gave up came on solo home run balls, coming from Zack Cozart (fourth inning), Jay Bruce, and Scott Rolen (both in the seventh inning). But Estrada had a very Estrada-like start: he mowed through the Reds’ lineup the first time through, nine up, nine down. But he broke in the fourth inning on Cozart’s homer.

Anyway, the Brewers’ only run came in the eighth inning on Norichika Aoki’s RBI double. That was the one blemish on Reds starter Homer Bailey’s line, who was stellar tonight. He went eight innings while giving up one run on six hits. He also didn’t walk a batter and struck out a career-high ten. The one thing I don’t understand is that Bailey was 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA in his career against the Brewers coming into this start, and they had already rocked him twice this year. You could make the argument that Bailey is hot right now, I suppose, but I’m not completely bought into that. Bailey went eight innings in his first start after the All-Star break against the struggling Cardinals lineup, which we saw last series. Maybe this just means the Brewers’ lineup is struggling.

The Reds used Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Brewers, who threw a perfect inning with two K’s. There were no somersaults tonight, though.

> There was one bright spot tonight: Ryan Braun’s 1,000th career hit. He came into today with 998, and got hits in his first two at-bats. He becomes the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-hit milestone, but got to the milestone the quickest in franchise history, needing just 815 career games to do it. That’s even faster than the likes of Pete Rose, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount.

> Zack Greinke has confirmed himself that the Brewers have indeed made a contract offer to him, but refused to go any further. The word on the street is the Brewers are willing to give him five years and over $100 million, but Matt Cain’s deal is still larger than that. Unless Greinke gives the Brewers a discount because he likes pitching at Miller Park or something, it seems more and more unlikely that he’s going to get traded (or will just walk into free agency at the end of the season).

> A couple of starting pitching notes: Shaun Marcum will throw off flat ground tomorrow for the first time since he went on the disabled list. There’s still no timetable for his return, however.

Also, Tyler Thornburg has been moved back to the bullpen with the impending return of Greinke. Thorn filled in for Greinke against the Cards the day before yesterday.

> One more thing before I go. I was pretty disturbed at something I saw on Twitter tonight. I tweeted something after Braun made an outfield assist to throw out Rolen at home, and some obnoxious Reds fan made a crack about him being on steroids. It’s really too bad that this had to happen to Braun, because idiots, such as this random guy from the Reds fan base, are going to think for the rest of his career that he did a performance-enhancing drug.

Braun didn’t get out of it on a “technicality,” he got out of it because of a flaw in the process. Other than that, there wasn’t proof that he did it.

Also, Braun has vindicated himself so far this season. He clearly isn’t doing any drug, otherwise routine drug tests would have shown it by now. Yet he’s still putting up these numbers. That’s the part of this whole thing that fans of other teams seem to be misunderstanding- or just ignoring so they can keep making cracks at him.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)


Close plays, missed chances cost Brewers in loss to Giants

July 24, 2011

Update 10:42a A little more clarification on the ejections and umpires. Bochy wasn’t actually ejected; it was the Giants’ bench coach, Ron Wotus, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. And I figured out that the home plate umpire was not West, but Sam Holbrook. I guess that means Holbrook was the one making the bad calls. But that doesn’t change anything I said about West later in this post. Anyway, sorry for any confusion, and hopefully it’s cleared up now.

11:14p There are a few things that have made me angry during the Brewers’ time in San Francisco. That includes their loss today, but it’s more than that, and I’ll get to that later.

Brewers-Giants Wrap-Up

The Brewers lost a close game with the Giants today, 4-2. Randy Wolf was on the mound, and had another solid start, but the Brewers’ bats seem to always shut down whenever he pitches.

The Brewers struck first in the fourth inning, when Ryan Braun hit a solo homer off of Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. Rickie Weeks followed up with a double, then Casey McGehee hit a hard single to left field. Weeks tried to score, and he did, but not according to home plate umpire Joe West. Left fielder Cody Ross’ throw was on the money, but catcher Chris Stewart completely missed the tag, and yet Weeks was called out. But West was making questionable calls all night, which was another thing that I wasn’t too impressed about, but I’ll get to more on that later as well.

The Giants immediately answered in the bottom of the fourth, as Nate Schierholtz, who would be a nightmare for the Brewers the rest of the game, hit a two-run double off of Wolf to make it 2-1, Giants.

The Brewers tied the game in the fifth, however, on Nyjer Morgan’s RBI double. But, in the bottom of the inning, the Giants regained the lead on Aubrey Huff’s sacrifice fly.

The Giants added another run on Andres Torres’ RBI single in the eighth inning. Brian Wilson and his shoe polish beard came into finish the game for the Giants, who sealed the 4-2 victory over the Brewers.

Morgan “flips off” fans in center

He didn’t, actually. That’s what put me over the top about this.

While Morgan was playing center yesterday, he made a great catch to rob whoever was batting of extra bases. Morgan then put up two fingers to signify that there were two outs in the inning, but the fans in the center field crowd, who must have been blind, took it the wrong way. They all assumed that Morgan had flipped them off. Morgan, who is an emotional player and likes to have fun on the field, played along and continued to taunt the fans (which the deserved for being that stupid). Ever since then, Morgan has been booed whenever he makes a play or comes up to bat in a game in this series.

Anyway, Giants beat reporter Henry Shculman made the whole situation worse by tweeting and blogging that Morgan flipped off the center field crowd, which probably got him some extra boos today. Shculman also said that Morgan would probably be suspended for a game or two. I noticed Shculman’s tweet earlier today, and said that he was only signifying that there were two outs (and many others did as well). His reply? “That debate was so yesterday.” I guess Giants fans and affiliates have a little less class than I thought.

By the way,  I don’t normally do things like this on my blog (meaning referring to tweets and things on other blogs). But this was just flat-out stupid and I had to say something.

Anyway… I could go on about past experiences where the Giants didn’t have too much class, such as an incident between Prince Fielder and Barry Zito, and some offensive comments by Giants GM Brian Sabean regarding Buster Posey’s season ending injury. But that would get me WAY off topic…

West is the greatest home plate umpire ever.

Not.

West, who was umpiring home plate for today’s game, was making extremely questionable calls early on in the game, and continued throughout. He actually screwed over Vogelsong on a lot of pitches, which led to him having to throw 103 pitches just to get through the fifth inning. In fact, Giants manager Bruce Bochy (or another coach in their dugout, I couldn’t really tell due to the camera angles) was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes, which isn’t allowed.

Anyway, back to West. He’s made a pretty bad reputation for himself this year as one of the worst umpires in baseball. This wasn’t the first time he’s made a scene in a game this year. I remember earlier this year when he was umpiring a Boston game, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona got into an argument with another one of the umpires in the crew. West, of course, had to get into the argument, because, as Francona said after the game, “he’s always getting in other people’s business.”

I’ll stop my ranting after this, but I just want to say one more thing about how bad umpires have been this year. Former Brewer Bill Hall, while he was in a game for the Astros, was at bat, and the umpire was giving him some bad calls. Now, we all know that Hall takes awhile to get set before he steps back into the batter’s box after a pitch, but he took a few extra moments before getting back into his stance. While he was taking his time, the home plate umpire came up to him and said, “Get the **** back in the batter’s box.” (I censored the word because I’m not going to go as far as putting swears on my blog.) Yeah. An UMPIRE said that. Hall clearly wasn’t too happy with that, and, after the game, he made a statement that went something along the lines of “all umpires think that fans come to the games to watch them and try to attract attention to themselves.” Which is completely true. I could name a few umps who appear to think this way, such as West, Bob Davidson, Angel Hernandez… I could go on. But, when did all this craziness with umpires start? Well, I noticed it immediately after Jim Joyce blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. Which makes perfect sense, if you think about it.

Anyway, I’ve gotten way too far off topic with these last few topics, so I’m going to get back to the Brewers now. My apologies for all this ranting.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play a rubber match against the Giants tomorrow in the finale of their three game set. Yovani Gallardo (11-6, 3.96 ERA) will go for the Brewers, hoping to become more consistent as the ace of the staff. Gallardo has had success against the Giants in his career, going 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA against them. I should also mention that Gallardo won the first game of his career against the Giants.

The Giants will counter with Madison Bumgarner (5-9, 3.72 ERA), who has been victim of even less run support than Wolf, and his having a much better year than his record shows. Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cardinals knocked around the Pirates, 9-1. They are tied with us for the division lead and one game back, respectively.
  • The Cubs defeated the Astros, 5-1. They are 12.5 games back and 20 games back, respectively.
  • The Reds blew out the Braves, 11-2. They are four games back.
  • Zack Cozart and Scott Rolen of the Reds were both placed on the DL today. (By the way, I’m going to start putting news about other teams under this section of my posts, if you’re wondering what this is doing here.)

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee Brewers 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
San Francisco Giants 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 X 4 10 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 3 1 1 0 1 1 0 .258
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 1 1 0 0 1 .327
c-Brett Carroll, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
d-Mark Kotsay, PH-CF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250
Ryan Braun, LF 3 1 1 1 1 2 0 .319
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .285
Rickie Weeks, 2B 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 .275
Casey McGehee, 3B 4 0 1 0 0 1 3 .227
Yuniesky Betancourt, S 3 0 1 0 1 0 2 .252
George Kottaras, C 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .207
a-Jonathan Lucroy, PH-C 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .283
Randy Wolf, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
b- Josh Wilson, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .283
Total 30 2 7 2 4 7 9

a-Lined out for Kottaras in the 7th.

b-Grounded out for Wolf in the 7th.

c-Batted for Morgan in the 8th.

d-Flied out for Carroll in 8th.

BATTING

2B: Weeks (25), Morgan (10).

3B: Hart (2).

HR: Braun (19).

RBI: Braun (67), Morgan (23).

Team RISP: 3-for-6.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

SB: Weeks (9).

CS: McGehee (2).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf (L, 6-8) 6.0 7 3 3 3 6 0 3.62
LaTroy Hawkins 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.15
Kameron Loe 0.1 2 1 1 1 0 0 4.60
Marco Estrada 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.50

Pitches-strikes: Wolf 101-62, Hawkins 18-12, Loe 13-7, Estrada 3-3.

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 4-6, Hawkins 1-0, Loe 0-1, Estrada 1-1.

Batters faced: Wolf 28, Hawkins 4, Loe 4, Estrada 2.

Inherited runners-scored: Estrada 2-0.


Brewers beat Cordero again on Counsell’s sac fly

July 11, 2011

4:01p Well, we can thank Francisco Cordero for sending us into the All-Star Break on a good note. I can’t imagine he’s going to be the Reds’ closer for too much longer.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Reds again today, 4-3, in yet another thriller. All of the games the Brewers won in this series were one-run games, including two walk-offs. The first was the day before yesterday by Mark Kotsay off of Cordero. Then, there was another one today. Cordero was in again, and this time, Kotsay tied up the game, but there was a new hero- Craig Counsell.

The game got off to a rocky start for both sides. Brewers starter Randy Wolf wasn’t getting much help from the umpires in the first inning. He started off the game by walking Drew Stubbs, but the pitch before could have gotten him the strikeout, had the umpires not been blind, which they were the entire first inning. Wolf would go on to walk Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce (he might have also struck out Bruce, but do I even need to say what happened?). Then, Wolf “hit” Scott Rolen with a cutter that ran inside. It did, in fact, hit Rolen, but he clearly swung at the pitch. The umpires, however, didn’t see it, and a run scored from third base. Jonny Gomes would ground out to finally end the inning.

Reds starter Dontrelle Willis, making his first Major League start in over a year, didn’t have the greatest of starts to the game, either. After Rickie Weeks led off with a double, Carlos Gomez bunted him over to third, which set up an RBI single for Corey Hart. Willis would walk Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, but got out of it after a pop-out and a groundout.

The second inning was also rocky for both sides. Joey Votto hit an RBI single to drive in Zack Cozart, but that was all the Reds would do against Wolf in the second. In the Brewers’ half, Willis walked Weeks, then Gomez hit an RBI triple to tie the game at 2-2.

In the fourth, Weeks was trying to turn a double play, but the ball sailed past Fielder. Ramon Hernandez, who started the inning with a single, scored on the error. After that, there was no more scoring until yet another Brewer’ rally in the ninth.

Wolf exited after seven strong innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked four and struck out two. Willis, meanwhile, made a solid return to the Majors, going six innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out four.

After Willis left the game, flamethrower Aroldis Chapman entered the game and fired two perfect innings, continuing his domination of the Brewers. He struck out four, including in the seventh inning, when he struck out the side.

Then, Cordero came in, and you can figure out what happened from there. But, I’ll tell you anyway.

After Cordero retired the first batter he faced in Yuniesky Betancourt, Nyjer Morgan stepped up, pinch-hitting for Josh Wilson. Morgan, who has turned himself into one of the most clutch players on the Brewers, singled, then stole second while George Kottaras was batting. Kottaras eventually drew a walk, then Kotsay, the hero from a few nights ago, stepped to the plate.

Kotsay wouldn’t win the game, but he did tie it with a single that scored Morgan. Cordero nearly caught Kotsay’s line drive, but it deflected off his glove. Then, the struggling Counsell stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded an one out. Coming into to today, Counsell’s career average with the bases loaded was .382. So, you can probably figure it out now.

It wasn’t a hit, but it was a sacrifice fly that scored Kottaras from third. That was enough, as the Brewers won 4-3, and defeated Cordero yet again.

“Coco’s gone loco”

Came up with that phrase myself, mind you.

But it’s true. Cordero has blown three consecutive saves in as many opportunities, including the two blown saves against the Brewers in this series. He had also blown one before this series in the Reds’ previous series with Cardinals, giving up a game-tying homer to Jon Jay in the ninth inning of what would have been a huge Cardinals comeback, had the Cards not lost it in extra innings.

Cordero didn’t look like himself all series. He was walking guys like crazy, his velocity was somewhat down, and couldn’t contain Kotsay, who beat him and tied the game to blow the saves for Cordero.

Loe seemingly doing better in less-pressured role

Kameron Loe came in the game today, so naturally, I started to think the Reds would extend their lead. Instead, he threw two perfect innings and struck out two. He also had to work around a lead-off walk in the eighth inning, courtesy of Zach Braddock, who came in to try and retire Bruce. Loe was rewarded with the win. I’m still no too thrilled with his seven losses, but three wins aren’t bad I guess.

Kotsay, Weeks establish themselves as Reds-killers

Kotsay and Weeks both had a great series. Kotsay, obviously, beat Cordero twice in the ninth inning, but Weeks really dominated the Reds as well. Weeks was already a Reds-killer before this series, but continued it this series. He had one homer, which was the inside-the-parker off Mike Leake in the second game of the series.

Braun sits again, won’t start All-Star Game

Well, I was scared it would come to this, and it did. Ryan Braun announced that he will not start the All-Star game and didn’t play in today’s game, either. It was his eighth consecutive missed game. To be honest, I’m surprised we got by this series with the Reds without our most consistent hitter. Not to mention it was the Reds, the team we struggle the most against.

Braun will be replaced by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, which I wasn’t too thrilled about. Don’t get me wrong, I think McCutchen is a good player. But, when he saw that he didn’t make the All-Star team when the rosters were announced, he started complaining because he didn’t make it and thought he should have. I can’t stand guys who smart about stuff like that.

By the way, Cordero was also smarting because he didn’t make the All-Star game. That was a few days ago, when his ERA was 1.49. Now, hopefully he sees why he didn’t make it.

Up next for the Crew…

There’s your first half for the Brewers. When they come back from the break, they’ll start a four-game set against the Rockies. Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76 ERA) will be the most likely starter for the opening game. Gallardo has had a rough career against the Rockies, going 0-3 with a 5.85 ERA.

The Rockies will counter with Ubaldo Jimenez (4-8, 4.14 ERA). Jimenez is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

The Brewers swept a three-game set with the Rockies earlier this season at Miller Park.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Astros lost to the Marlins, 5-4. They are 19 games out. And remember, if they reach 20, I’m just going to stop putting what they do on here.
  • The Pirates beat down the Cubs, 9-1. They are one and 12 games back, respectively. (I’m still having a tough time comprehending that it’s the Pirates who are one game back. Then again, the Cubs being one game back would be scary as well.)
  • The Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks, 4-2. We remain tied with them for first.

Kotsay beats Cordero as Brewers walk-off

July 9, 2011

EDIT- 2:02p It doesn’t look like I’ll be home tonight, as I’m staying in downtown Milwaukee for the night. I doubt I’ll have access to internet where I’m staying, so that means there probably will not be a post tonight.

Anyway, let’s hope the Brewers can take this series from the Reds tonight, and that the Cardinals and the Pirates both lose to give us some breathing room in the Central. Let’s go Crew!

11:18p This probably goes without saying, but that had to be the best Brewer game I’ve ever been to.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

I don’t know if it gets much better than that. The Brewers defeated the Reds, 8-7, in a crazy back-and-forth game. Early on, Zack Greinke was getting roughed up again, but settled down as the game went on. His counterpart, Reds starter Mike Leake, was the opposite. He was great early in the game, but fell apart in the middle innings. But this turned into a game of bullpens.

Things were not looking good for Greinke in the first inning. After Greinke retired the first two (including a caught-stealing of Drew Stubbs), Joey Votto hit a solo homer. Then, after a Brandon Phillips double, Jay Bruce drove him in with an RBI single.

In the third, Greinke got into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. After striking out two and coming close to escaping with no damage done, Scott Rolen hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Mat Gamel. The ball ate up Gamel and got into the outfield, and two runs scored, making it 4-0.

The Brewers would finally answer in the third when Rickie Weeks hit an inside-the-park homer off Leake, making it 4-1. They would score again in the fifth, when Weeks, after a Greinke single, hit an RBI double. Nyjer Morgan then drove in Weeks with a single. Morgan later scored on a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly, which tied the game at four. The Brewers would take the lead in the sixth after Mark Kotsay’s go-ahead homer. That would end Leake’s night. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out three. Greinke’s night also ended after six innings. He gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits to go along with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He finally lowered his ERA a bit, which now stands at 5.45.

Things started to look bad in the seventh. After Zack Cozart singled, Votto hit what looked like a single to the left fielder Kotsay. But, we’ve learned over the past few days that Kotsay has no idea how to defend in center field, and this was another example of it. The ball skipped past him, which scored Cozart and allowed Votto to advance to third. Phillips then scored Votto on a sacrifice fly. Bruce added on to the lead with a solo shot, making it 7-5. All of this came off of Zach Braddock, who deserved a better fate, but was charged with three earned runs and his first blown save of the year. Ironically enough, Kameron Loe came in to finish the inning. Loe went 1 1/3 scoreless before handing the ball off to Marco Estrada, who also pitched a scoreless inning. Then came the ninth, where all the action happened.

Francisco Cordero, a former Brewer, was on to close it out for the Reds. He had a two run lead, which you think would be enough for a guy like Cordero. But, after giving up a lead-0ff walk to George Kottaras, I could tell it was going to be a rough night for him. Kottaras would advance to second on a wild pitch by Cordero, then Morgan slapped a triple, which scored Kottaras. Corey Hart then grounded out but reached first on a fielder’s choice, as Morgan was thrown out at home attempting to tie the game. After that, Cordero’s command struggles continued, as he walked Fielder. Then, Casey McGehee reached on an infield single, which loaded the bases for Mark Kotsay.

Kotsay would hit a two-strike single to right field which scored Hart. Carlos Gomez, who was pinch-running for Fielder, scored the winning run. He might have been out had Bruce’s throw from right field been on target, but it was airmail, and flew passed catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Brewers get fourth walk-off win of season

If I’ve been counting correctly, this was the Brewers’ fourth walk-off win of the season, but I definitely didn’t picture Kotsay being the star.

I found it ironic that gave us the lead with a homer, then cost us the lead with that error, but wound up giving us the win on his single. I guess the walk-off lets him off the hook for that error, but I hope Ryan Braun is back so Ron Roenicke can stop playing Kotsay in left.

Speaking of Braun…

Braun sits again, but could be back tomorrow

Braun sat AGAIN today, and I’m kind of sick of having to put that in all of my posts. But, I noticed that he came running out of the dugout and was jumping during the walk-off celebration. I don’t think someone with a bad calf could do that, so I’m expecting him to be able to play tomorrow.

Slow curve is slow

For those of you who don’t know Greinke’s pitching repertoire, it looks something like this- fastball, circle change, curveball, slider. The slider is, obviously, is his out pitch. He doesn’t use the curve much, but when he does, it’s a spiked, or knuckle, curveball.

However, on occasion, he uses a half-eephus curve that’s usually only in the mid-60 MPH range. It’s similar to Randy Wolf’s sweeping curve, but Greinke’s doesn’t sweep as much, and it’s usually slower.

Anyway, Greinke was pitching to Chris Heisey (I think that’s who it was), and he threw the eephus curve to him. Heisey must have been looking fastball, because that’s just about how far ahead of the pitch he was. Then, I noticed that the pitch speed on Greinke’s curve was 61 MPH. 61. Now that is slow. It had to be the slowest pitch I’ve ever seen a Brewer throw.

I’m not sure what the slowest curve Greinke has ever thrown is, but that was the slowest I’d seen him throw. When he was with the Royals, the slowest I saw was 62 MPH, making this a new record.

Anyway, I don’t know why I ranted on about his slow curve for so long. I just thought it was worth being in this post. So, let’s move on.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will send Shaun Marcum (7-2, 3.32 ERA) to the mound tomorrow, who has been screwed out of a few wins by the bullpen lately (mainly Loe or Estrada blowing saves after Marcum leaves with the lead). Marcum’s two career starts against the Reds both came this year. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in that span.

The Reds will send their most consistent starter, without a doubt, to the mound tomorrow in Johnny Cueto (5-3, 1.77 ERA). He hasn’t been given the best run support, as evidenced by his five wins, but his ERA is no fluke; he’s really been throwing that well. Cueto is 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Pirates defeated the Cubs, 7-4. The Pirates are now tied for second in the division, while the Cubs are 12 games out.
  • The Astros lost to the Marlins, 6-3. They are now 18 games out. (Note: If the Astros get 20 games out, I’m going to stop putting up what they do on this blog. It’s hilarious how awful they’re doing, though.)
  • The Cardinals lost to the Diamondbacks, 7-6, giving the Brewers the division lead all by themselves. If the Pirates pass them in the division tomorrow… That should be interesting.

Weeks’ homer helps Brewers edge Reds

July 8, 2011

10:13p The Brewers beating the Reds? That’s not something you hear too often, at least over the past few years.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers took game one of a four-game set against the Reds today, 5-4. It turned into a bit of a thriller at the end, but was a win for the Crew, nonetheless.

The scoring started in the second inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Prince Fielder with a sacrifice fly. Fielder had doubled to begin the inning, then Mark Kotsay moved him to third on a groundout.

The Reds answered in the third, when Miguel Cairo hit an RBI single to drive in Homer Bailey, who doubled earlier in the inning. The Reds then took their only lead of the game in the fourth, when Ramon Hernandez hit an RBI single to drive in Zack Cozart, who was making his Major League debut. Cozart had a solid debut, going 1-for-3 with a single.

In the fifth, however, after Jonathan Lucroy singled and Chris Narveson walked, Rickie Weeks took Bailey deep with a three-run shot to give the Brewers a 4-2 lead. Later in the inning, Kotsay added an RBI single to make it 5-2. Bailey would go one more inning after that, finishing with six innings, while giving up five runs on eight hits along with two walks and a strikeout.

Narveson turned in a solid outing, going six innings while giving up two runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out five. It was Narveson’s first career win against the Reds. Coming into today, Narveson was 0-3 against the Reds with an ERA above seven.

The Brewers bullpen was a bit shaky after Narveson left. Takashi Saito tossed a scoreless seventh, but LaTroy Hawkins ran into trouble in the eighth. He got out of a jam after giving up one run. Closer John Axford’s save didn’t come easily, either, as he gave up a lead-off homer to Hernandez in the ninth. After allowing back-to-back hits to Miguel Cairo and Joey Votto, Axford fielded a Brandon Phillips comebacker to record the save.

Bullpen surprisingly shaky

I was surprised that the bullpen had a rough time today, considering Kameron Loe didn’t enter the game. Both Hawkins and Axford, who are two of the most consistent guys out of the bullpen, gave up runs. It appears Saito is getting settled back in from the DL, considering he tossed a scoreless inning.

But I am happy that Ron Roenicke used Hawkins in the eighth again today. That marks back-to-back days that he’s done that, and that could symbolize a role change for Loe, who just hasn’t been doing it in the setup role. That could very well be the case, because I was actually at the game today and noticed that Loe was warming up in the sixth inning. It was probably just in case Narveson got in trouble. But that was the role Hawkins was used in for awhile, which is why I think they may have changed roles, at long last.

Braun sits AGAIN…

Alright, it didn’t surprise me today, because Roenicke said yesterday that Ryan Braun probably wasn’t going to play today. But note that this is fifth consecutive day not on the field, and if it gets longer than this, Braun might need some rehab time before coming back to the Brewers. I hope it doesn’t get that far, though, because we’re going to need him back soon.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of the four game series with the Reds tomorrow (I’m actually going to that game too…). Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.66 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he is in need, and I mean in NEED, of a good start. He is 7-3 with a 5.66 ERA, and let me tell you, I’m sick of seeing that high of an ERA next to his name. It’s just so uncharacteristic of him. He’s coming off a start in Minnesota where he gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings. But he really needs to get it together, and a start against the Reds could be what he needs. In two career starts against the Reds, he is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.

The Reds will send Mike Leake (8-4, 4.03 ERA) to the mound, who has made two starts against the Brewers this season, but didn’t take a decision in either of them. Those are his only two career starts against the Brewers, and he has a 3.46 ERA against them over that span.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cardinals and Diamondbacks just got out of a delay, and the Diamondbacks are leading 3-0. Joe Saunders was tossing a gem against the Cards, but the D-backs turned to their bullpen, meaning the delay didn’t let him finish. If the Cards lose, they will be tied with the Brewers for first in the division.
  • The Cubs defeated the Nationals, 10-9. They are 11.5 games back.
  • The Astros were shut out by the Marlins, 5-0. They are a whopping 17.5 games back. (I have no idea why I even put what they do on here, but they are part of the division, despite they aren’t contenders.)
  • The Pirates had an off-day today. They are 1.5 games back.

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