Gamel shows he’s ready for season with big game

March 31, 2012

> After today, I think it’s needless to say I’m no longer worried about what the Brewers’ offense is capable of doing in 2012. The Brewers defeated the Padres in a slug-fest today, 10-7. The Brewers’ offense was lead by Mat Gamel, who had two home runs- including a grand slam- for a five-RBI day.

Prior to this spring, there were some worries about whether or not Gamel could fill the shoes of Prince Fielder, whom he’s replacing at first base. But I think people were setting expectations too high for Gamel- he doesn’t necessarily need to put up Prince numbers (30 home runs, 100 RBIs) for the Brewers to win. I think if he can hit around .27o-.280, hit 20-25 home runs, and have an RBI total of somewhere between 80-90, that should be good enough. In fact, numbers like that might even be enough for him to win NL Rookie of the Year, because he’s still actually considered a rookie.

Anyways, back to coverage of the game. The Brewers got on the board in the third inning. But simply saying they “got on the board” is an understatement, considering they put up a six-run inning against Padres starter Tim Stauffer. It started with Alex Gonzalez’s solo shot for his third home run of the spring. Then, Nyjer Morgan, on an intended safety squeeze, reached first for what was scored as an RBI single. Then, after a Ryan Braun single, Aramis Ramirez struck out. I thought he would be the one to clear the bases, but then Gamel came up and pulled a first-pitch grand slam into the left field seats of the Padres’ ST complex. All of this made the score 6-0.

The Padres got on the board in the fourth on Jesus Guzman’s three-run home run off Chris Narveson. They got another run in the fifth on an RBI double play- if you can call if that- from Orlando Hudson. But, in the sixth, Gamel hit another first pitch home run, this time a solo shot. Later in the inning, Carlos Gomez hammered a three-run home run to make the score 10-4. The Padres picked up three more runs in the bottom of the inning from Jason Bartlett, John Baker, and James Darnell, but wouldn’t rally any further. The Brewers finished in the ninth, as John Axford picked up his first save of the spring, striking out two Padres in the process.

Narveson, who started for the Brewers today, didn’t have a particularly great outing. He went five innings while giving up seven runs (although only three were earned) on seven hits. He walked two while striking out three.

> One thing I liked about today’s game was that Ron Roenicke finally started all of the projected regulars at once. The lineup was (in order from 1-9) Rickie Weeks, Morgan, Braun, Ramirez, Gamel, Jonathan Lucroy, Gonzalez, Gomez, and Narveson. Gomez wouldn’t normally be a regular, but, if Corey Hart starts the season on the DL (and he probably will), he and Norichika Aoki could see starts at an outfield position.

Anyway, hopefully Roenicke starts doing this more, because Opening Day is now less than a week away, and the starters need to start getting a feel for all being on the field and in the lineup at once.

> Braun is really getting back into the swing of things at the right time. He went 2-for-3 today with two singles to left off Stauffer. And, the only time he was retired was a deep fly ball to center field. It’s good to see that he’s finally finding his groove, and hopefully he can have another MVP-caliber type season in 2012. If only ESPN hadn’t ruined his image…

> And that’s about it. The Brewers play the Giants tomorrow at 3:05 CT as they start to wrap up the Cactus League season. They’ll send Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 4.00 ERA) to the mound, who hopes to have a decent start in what will probably be his last of the spring before his Opening Day assignment. The Giants will counter with their own ace, Tim Lincecum (2-0, 4.26 ERA).

On a personal note, my fantasy draft is tonight. Maybe I’ll post my team when it’s finished just for the heck of it. Also, on another personal note, I still can’t log in to Reviewing the Brew. It’s been almost a week now, so I don’t know what to make of this.

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

Braun, Gomez homer as Brewers maul Dodgers

March 31, 2012

> A day after getting brutally defeated by the Reds, the Brewers turned the tables and took down the Dodgers, 9-4. For the Brewers, it was mostly a relief pitcher game, with Francisco Rodriguez getting the start (he only went one inning, as you’d expect). And still not all of the Brewers’ regulars were playing, despite the fact Opening Day is exactly a week away. But some of the regulars who were playing did damage.

Ryan Braun started it with a mammoth home run off of ex-Brewer Chris Capuano. It was his second home run of the spring, and he’s now hitting .176 (which actually isn’t bad if you consider where he was not too long ago). You could hear sarcastic cheers from the LA fans in the crowd, but I’ve learned to deal with that, and hopefully Braun has too. Screw them if they can’t accept the fact he’s not a drug-head. Ironic that the the LA fans cheered for Manny Ramirez for a few years, though.

Anyway, enough ranting- that event is behind us. In the bottom of the first, Andre Ethier answered back with a two-run double. He then hit a two-run homer in the third to make the score 4-1 (yes, Ethier had all four Dodger runs of the game). But, starting in the seventh, the Brewers went on a tear. Brooks Conrad hit a solo shot in the seventh to make, and Carlos Gomez followed that with a go-ahead three run blast in the eighth to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead. Then, in the ninth, another ex-Brewer, Todd Coffey, had some trouble with a few no-name farmhands. He first gave up an RBI double to Sean Halton, then a bases-clearing double to Shea Vucinich. None of the runs were charged to Coffey, though.

> Over the past few days, we’ve learned that non-roster invitees Conrad and Cesar Izturis will probably make the Brewers roster. I tweeted earlier today that neither of them should make the roster, and I’ll admit that wasn’t completely true- I was just ticked because I had just seen both of them make errors on what appeared to be easy plays (especially Izturis’). Conrad sort of deserves a roster spot. He’s shown solid power at times this spring, as his home run today was his fourth so far. He’s also extremely versatile- he can play any infield position (except maybe shortstop, haven’t seen him play there yet), including catcher. His defense is questionable most of the time, but he still could be a more important piece than I thought.

But I refuse to give any sort of credit to Izturis. The Brewers signed him as a hopeful backup shortstop for Alex Gonzalez, mainly because Izturis specializes in defense- at least he used to. He has looked awful this spring, as his error today was his fifth of the spring (though his first four errors came in the first four games). His offense hasn’t been anything special either, but that’s expected- Izturis has the lowest career slugging percentage of any active player.

In any case, I guess I wouldn’t mind Conrad making the roster, but Izturis has got to go. I was hoping Taylor Green would make the roster over him, but he was optioned to Triple-A yesterday. I don’t see why, though- Green’s spring wasn’t any worse than Izturis’.

> And that’s about it. Reviewing the Brewis continuing to give me log-in issues, and I can’t really do anything about it because our head writer is taking a break from the site, so I’ve got no one to ask about this at the moment. But hopefully this resolves itself soon, and I can get back to writing on RtB- I’ve been stockpiling ideas lately since I haven’t been able to go on.

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

Wolf gets hammered in loss to Reds

March 30, 2012

> The Reds were in their Brewers-murdering form from 2010 today, as the crushed the Crew, 9-3. Randy Wolf had has longest start of the spring, but got knocked around in the process. He gave up seven runs on 12 hits in seven innings, while striking out six. This ballooned his spring ERA to 4.78. Zach Braddock also pitched in the game, and was erratic, giving up two runs on a hit and two walks.

Cincinnati got on the board first with Juan Francisco’s solo homer in the second inning. They got two more runs in the third on Miguel Cairo’s RBI double and a Todd Frazier RBI single. The starting pitcher, hard-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman, helped his own cause with an RBI double in the fourth. The Brewers would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fourth on George Kottaras’ two-RBI single.

But the Reds weren’t quite done. They had a three-run sixth inning, with RBIs coming from Ryan Hanigan, Paul Janish, and Wilson Valdez. They also got one more run in the ninth on Francisco’s sacrifice fly. The Brewers got one more run on a Martin Maldanado solo shot in the ninth, but couldn’t rally any more than that.

But here’s a funny incident from the game. Chapman’s first pitch of the game was apparently way outside, and flew to the backstop. This led to radio announcer Bob Uecker’s classic sarcastic line: “Just a little outside.” He doesn’t say it all that often anymore, but it’s still never gets old.

> The Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Unfortunately, they lost prospect Zelous Wheeler off waivers to the Orioles. I always had high hopes for that guy, but best of luck to him in Baltimore.

The Brewers also optioned Braddock, Taylor Green, and Maldanado to Triple-A Nashville. With Green optioned, that means Cesar Izturis is probably going to make the Opening Day roster- exactly what I’ve feared all spring. Anyways, the Brewers also placed Brandon Kintzler on the DL with right elbow inflammation, something he just hasn’t been able to get around for the past year or so.

With Braddock and Kintzler out of the mix, the chances for Tim Dillard and Manny Parra to make the bullpen out of camp have increased.

> And that’s about it. My Reviewing the Brew problems have continued- now I can’t log in. Maybe tomorrow… Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Lucroy, Greinke continue stellar springs vs. D-Backs

March 29, 2012

> Jonathan Lucroy and Zack Greinke have been two of the best and most consistent players on the Brewers this spring, and both continued that today in the Brewers’ 7-1 win over the Diamondbacks. Greinke had by far his best start of the spring, going seven innings while giving up a run on five hits. He walked one and struck out eight. Greinke’s ST ERA is now 0.93, which is the best in the Brewers’ rotation.

The run he gave up came in the first inning on Jason Kubel’s- a guy who has seen a lot of Greinke from their days in the AL Central- RBI groundout. But, starting in the fourth, the Brewers went on an offensive binge. It started with Lucroy’s RBI double in the fourth. Then, Greinke had an RBI double of his own in the fifth, followed by a Carlos Gomez RBI double. Alex Gonzalez then had a two-RBI single, and Lucroy finished it off with a two-run home run. All of this made for a six-run fifth, and all seven runs were charged to D-Backs starter Wade Miley.

You can’t say much more about the spring Lucroy is having. After going 3-for-4 with three RBIs today, he’s hitting .513. Not a bad way to start right after signing a five-year extension. Anyway, let’s hope he puts up this kind of production during the regular season- I’ve always seen Lucroy as a potential power catcher.

> It was announced today that Shaun Marcum will likely start the season on the Brewers’ Opening Day roster, rather than on the DL. He’ll probably be the fourth starter, since he hasn’t good luck against the Cardinals, who the Brewers will play during the first three-game series of the season.

Other injury updates include Corey Hart, who played in a Minor League game today. He probably won’t be ready by Opening Day, however.

> And that’s about it. I wanted to get up a post on Reviewing the Brew today, but ended up not having time again. I should have time tomorrow, though, since my schedule isn’t as busy. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Brewers rally too late against Royals

March 28, 2012

> The Brewers dropped another ST game today, this time to the Royals, losing 9-7. Yovani Gallardo once again struggled against the Royals, giving up four runs in five innings, though he struck out six. But Gallardo wasn’t the only pitcher who was off today. Jose Veras gave up a run, making his ST ERA 4.82, as questions begin to surround his ability to solidify the seventh inning role. Mike McClendon also gave four runs in two innings, and it may not be long before he’s optioned.

On the bright side, though, the offense wasn’t too shabby for the Brewers, although it wasn’t for the Royals either. The Royals took an early 1-0 lead when Yuniesky Betancourt attempted to make Brewers fans want him back by hitting a solo homer off Gallardo. But, to be honest with you, he could hit 25-30 home runs and I wouldn’t want to see him in a Brewers uniform again. Anyway, the Royals got two more runs in the third on Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer. A Mat Gamel throwing error also gave the Royals another run that inning.

The Brewers finally got on the board in the fifth when Gamel hit another home run, his fourth of the spring. But the Royals answered back in the sixth on Mike Moustakas’ solo shot, making the score 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Hosmer hit another two-run homer. But, in the bottom of the inning, Alex Gonzalez continued his red-hot spring with a two-run blast of his own to make the score 7-3.

But the home run parade wasn’t finished until after Max Ramirez’s two-run homer in the eighth. The Brewers scattered four runs via RBI groundouts and scoring on wild pitches, but they couldn’t come all the way back, with the final being 9-7.

> The Brewers finalized Jonathan Lucroy’s contract extension today, after Ken Rosenthal reported it yesterday. The deal is for five years, and will keep Luc in Milwaukee through at least the 2016 season. The deal also has a 2017 club option that would buy out one of Lucroy’s years in free agency.

Lucroy will make a guaranteed $11 million over the five years, but assistant GM Gord Ash said that a second contract the Brewers are working on could bring it up to $13 million.

But, Lucroy specifically said it wasn’t about the money, which is always what you want to hear. Here’s exactly what he said:

“It’s not all about the money for me. I believe his organization gives me the best chance to get better, just because of the fact that you’re playing with people that care. This works best for me and my family. You really can’t ask for anybody better to work with than these guys and our coaching staff. It’s easy to play, it really is. It was a very fair deal based on what I’ve done, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

It’s great to see he thinks that way. Even before that quote, I thought of Lucroy as a likeable guy, but this makes it even better. I’m glad he’s here until 2016.

> Norichika Aoki sat against the Royals today with a tight hamstring. It doesn’t sound like a major injury, but Ron Roenicke thought it wasn’t worth putting him on the field today.

> And that’s about it. If I have time, I’ll get up another article on Reviewing the Brew tonight, but if not it’ll come tomorrow. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Brewers down Tribe, sign Luc to extension

March 27, 2012

> Today was a big day for the Brewers, both on the field and off.

For starters, they defeated the Indians, 6-5. Chris Narveson was on the hill for the Brewers, and he wasn’t extremely efficient, going 6 1/3 inning while giving up four earned runs. But, he was backed by a solid offense, which included Ryan Braun finally doing some damage.

The Brewers took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on Braun’s RBI groundout, which followed Nyjer Morgan’s triple. But the Indians answered back in the third with on an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single. The Brewers took the lead again on a Braun RBI single, which was Braun’s first hit in quite some time. Later that inning, Travis Ishikawa continued his bid for a roster spot with a two-RBI double to make the score 4-1. Jason Kipnis brought the Indians within two in the bottom of the inning with an RBI groundout, but Taylor Green’s RBI double in the sixth made it 5-2, Brewers.

But then Narveson started having some issues, as he gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Santana in the sixth. The Indians then tied it in the eighth on Felix Pie’s RBI single off Kameron Loe (although the run was unearned). But, the Brewers took the lead in the ninth on Norichika Aoki’s RBI triple, and that would win them the game.

But the other good piece of news was the Brewers signing a certain young catcher to a five-year extension- Jonathan Lucroy. I’m not going to go over the details of it here, but I finished a post on Reviewing the Brew about it just a few minutes ago, as did fellow RtB writer Curt Hogg. You can read both of the articles here.

But this is a great move for the Brewers, and hopefully they can get around to signing other guys who we’ve been waiting for them to sign (i.e. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum).

> And that’s about it. Sorry for a somewhat short post, but I’ve had a lot going on tonight. There was the RtB post, a few behind-the-scene things at RtB that I’ve been dealing with, and more. But at least I still got a post in. So thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Brewers split-squad KO’s Dodgers, Royals

March 26, 2012

> The Brewers haven’t had the greatest spring thus far, coming into today with a 7-12 record. But, they got two of those wins back in one day today, with a split-squad sweep of the Dodgers and Royals. Both of these games had a few big storylines.

> The Brewers defeated the Dodgers, 7-1. It was Shaun Marcum’s first start of the spring, and it couldn’t have been much better (at least for his first start). He went three scoreless innings while giving up one hit. He struck out three and walked one.

But the biggest story was Norichika Aoki, who hit his first home run of the spring. And it came off of none other than reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who is supposed to be tough on lefties. But Aoki tacked on a single along with the home run against Kershaw. Aoki is now hitting .313 in his first Major League ST.

The rest of the runs came later in the game. Rickie Weeks hit an RBI double in the fifth. In the seventh, Matt Cline hit a bunt single for an RBI, and Jay Gibbons hit a two-RBI double. The last run came in the eighth on Martin Maldanado’s RBI single. You’ll notice that a few of these guys are sort of no-names (Cline and Gibbons in particular), but it’s good to see them producing.

> The Brewers-Royals game also had its share of storylines. The Brewers won, 7-3, largely in part to second baseman Scooter Gennett hitting for the cycle, which is pretty rare in an ST game. He hit his triple in the first inning, and later scored on a wild pitch. He then hit an RBIĀ  ground-rule double in the second. He struck out in the fourth inning, but hit a single in the sixth inning. Gennett finished his cycle off with a two-run home run in the eighth inning.

Now, I doubt Gennett is going to be in the Majors anytime soon, despite his top prospect status. He’s blocked at second base for the next few years by Weeks, so, unless a position change is in order, he may not be up for awhile. But it’s still good to see him do something like this, even if it’s just in an ST game.

But it is sort of sad that the Royals didn’t put up more of a fight today. The Brewers team they were playing had just two regulars in the lineup, Nyjer Morgan and Mat Gamel. Marco Estrada was the starter, and threw four scoreless innings, but other than him, the three pitchers who pitched (Josh Butler, Dan Meadows, and Victor Garate) probably won’t make the Brewers’ roster.

> Carlos Gomez and Alex Gonzalez were both out with what were called “minor ailments” today. Gomez went home sick before the Brewers’ home game, and they didn’t say what his sickness was. Gonzalez has a bruised right heel, but it must not be very serious since Ron Roenicke nearly started him anyway. And it better not be serious- I don’t want to see Cesar Izturis starting at shortstop to start the season.

> And that’s about it. I know I said I was going to a post on Reviewing the Brew today, but I wound up not having time, so sorry about that. Hopefully that will be up tomorrow, though. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.