First WC game brings about controversy

October 6, 2012

> It was an ugly, ugly sight today in Atlanta, where the Braves and Cardinals played the first ever Wild Card play-in game (or whatever you want to call it). As you’d expect, it was dramatic as ever, but things took a turn for the worse in the eighth inning.

With the Cards up 6-3 in the eighth inning, Mitchell Boggs was pitching, and allowed two baserunners to start the inning. Then, Andrelton Simmons hit what looked like a routine pop-up off the bat, and shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday each went for it. It appeared Kozma had the ball played and was about to catch it, but at the last second he ran out of the way, expecting Holliday to take charge. But, as they stared at each other in shock, the ball fell in between them. This would have loaded the bases for the Braves and set them up for a comeback.

But, after the play appeared to be over, Sam Holbrook- the left field umpire- signaled that the infield fly rule had come into effect. In other words, Simmons was out, despite the fact neither fielder caught the ball.

At first glance, it looked like Holbrook blew the call: an outfield umpire shouldn’t be calling an infield fly rule, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t how the rule works. Since Kozma- an infielder- was close enough to the ball to have made a routine play on it, the rule still came into effect.

Braves fans didn’t take it well. In fact, they went as far as throwing trash on the field, which induced a 20-minute delay and forced Mike Matheny to do some jumbling in his bullpen.

So the first instinct is to blame Holbrook, but, in reality, he was just following the rules, and we can’t blame him for that- even if the rule is beyond stupid. The infield fly rule is supposedly there to keep runners from getting doubled off (or tripled off, in some cases) on shallow pop-ups like that. But, if the fielder misses it, why should he get credit for an out? That’s his fault, and the other team should be allowed to take advantage.

But, as usual, a Bud Selig idea gets off to an awful start. My opinion on the Wild Card play-in games is for another day, however.

MY TAKE

> It’s worth noting that Holbrook was the same umpire who ejected Zack Greinke after just three batters in Houston a few months back. That was a bad call, but is probably irrelevant in this situation.

> I’m really surprised at the hate Braves fans were getting for throwing garbage on the field. Sure, it’s a classless move. But what would you have done if you were a Braves fan, and you saw a play like that occur and didn’t receive an explanation for it right away? I really don’t blame the fans at all.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> In the midst of this controversy, the Cards wound up beating the Braves by the same score of 6-3. Kyle Lohse got his first postseason win, and Matheny used his bullpen effectively. On the other side, Kris Medlen took a rare loss (though only two of the five runs he allowed were earned).

> The Rangers not winning the AL West proved costly, as the Orioles knocked them out in the American League WC game, winning 5-1. Joe Saunders, despite being 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in Arlington in his career coming in, got his first postseason win. Former Brewer J.J. Hardy contributed one RBI for the O’s.

THE NEWS

> The was a Brewers press release yesterday in which Doug Melvin addressed a few issues going into 2013. I’ll have my opinions on that up within the next few days.

THE NUMBERS

> The Braves- who had the fewest errors in baseball during the regular season- committed three in a game when it mattered most.


Brewers pay tribute to Uecker nicely

September 1, 2012

POSTGAME

> Fittingly, on one of the greatest days in Brewers history, the Crew pummeled the Pirates, 9-3. They jumped all over Jeff Karstens for four runs in the first inning, including a Corey Hart two-run blast. Karstens was removed in the first inning with a lingering groin issue, but the Brewers kept it going against their bullpen, with a two-run shot from Aramis Ramirez and RBI hits from Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, all in the eighth inning.

THE NEWS

> The headline today was the debut of Bob Uecker’s statue outside of Miller Park. He’s now immortalized on the same land as Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and- *grimace*- Bud Selig.

Ueck grew up in Wisconsin and played part of his career for the Milwaukee Braves. He’s been calling Brewer games ever since the franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1970, and will continue to do so for as long as he can.

So congrats to the Ueck; he deserved it.

> Cody Ransom was claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks. This means the strikeout machine has finally returned to the team from which he came.

> Norichika Aoki was a late scratch from the lineup due to a stiff neck, likely due to his collision with Nyjer Morgan in yesterday’s game. Morgan manned right field today.

THE NUMBERS

> Mark Rogers won his third consecutive start. Oddly enough, he hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of them; pitch count has caught him each time.

Also, rumor has it tonight could have been Rogers last start before being shut down.

> Morgan went 3-for-5 in a rare start for him.

> Ramirez and Hart each went 3-for-4.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.67 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-5, 4.02 ERA)


Astros host Brewers for the last time as an NL team

August 10, 2012

Pregame

> The Brewers travel to Houston tonight to start a three-game series against the worst team in baseball. But, there’s a bit more to this series than that: this is the last time the Astros will host the Brewers as their National League Central rival. After this season, the ‘Stros will make their long-awaited switch to the American League, once again giving both leagues 15 teams (which makes you wonder why Bud Selig moved the Brewers to the NL in 1998 in the first place, but that’s another debate).

Despite the Astros fallout after the 2010 season, they’ve actually had some pretty good memories over the past decade in the NL Central. In 2005, the Astros came back from a dismal 16-32 start to win the NL pennant, defeating the rival Cardinals to make it to the World Series that year. They were promptly swept in four games by the White Sox, but that’s about the best memory the Astros have in recent years.

Anyway, that aside, here are the probable pitchers for the series:

Mark Rogers (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (5-9, 5.07 ERA)

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 5.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. ???

Rogers will go tonight, making his fifth career start (third this year). In his first start, he was solid against the Nationals, going 5 2/3 innings while giving up two runs. In his second start, he really only had one bad inning, but he was charged with five runs in five innings against the Cardinals. Rogers has never faced the Astros.

Norris, on the other hand, is pretty enigmatic himself. After starting the year 5-1, he has lost eight consecutive decisions. His last time out against the Brewers, he went seven innings while giving up two runs, but his bullpen blew it behind him. Overall, Norris has been very inconsistent against the Brewers in his career. In his first three starts against them, he went 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA. But that all changed mid-way through 2011, and he’s now 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA against the Crew.

The News

> The Brewers are contemplating shutting down Mike Fiers for the year in the near future. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll explain my opinion on it in tonight’s postgame.

> Shaun Marcum will make his first rehab start tonight at 5:35 PM CT in the first game of a Timber Rattlers double-header. He was originally going to make his start last night, but it was rained out.

> This isn’t necessarily news, but is an interesting case. Last Friday, first baseman Corey Hart made an error in the game against the Cardinals. But, MLB has overturned the ruling, and now the run is charged towards reliever Jim Henderson. So Henderson’s ERA, which started the day at 1.29, has escalated to 2.57, due to the limited number of innings he’s pitched.

The Numbers

> Surprisingly, since their move to the NL in 1998, the Brewers have gone just 40-71 in Houston (at Minute Maid Park and the Astrodome combined). Shows how much better of a team the Astros used to be, and how much worse of a team the Brewers used to be.

> The Brewers enter tonight on a nine-game losing streak on the road.

> The top three extra-base hit leaders in the NL are all Brewers: Aramis Ramirez (54), Ryan Braun, (51), and Hart (51).

> The postgame will be up later tonight. Here’s to hoping the Brewers send the Astros packing out of the NL Central.

 


Braun makes history

February 24, 2012

> After waiting for nerve-wracking months since this shocking news was first reported, we finally got the answer we’ve been waiting for.

Ryan Braun defied the odds and made history today, as news broke that he will not, in fact, receive a 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season. He is the first player in Major League history to successfully overturn a positive drug test. The three arbitrators, led by Shyam Das, voted 2-1 to overturn the suspension.

One of the things Braun’s party used in the case was the two days of custody in which the test was unprotected. Apparently, whoever was going to deliver the test to analysts for further examination found that the delivery store was closed. So, he left the test in his refrigerator for two days, unprotected. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s tampering with the test. (Sorry for the vague explanation of that, I can’t find a specific news article about it, it’s just what I’ve heard from various sources.) Anyway, more details regarding the test- such as what the real results were- should come out within the next few days.

But, of course, someone had to somehow interfere with this good news. And who else but Bud Selig and the Commissioner’s Office to ruin it?

This is the main part of the statement they released following the news: “Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

I’m not going to go into all that right now, but let me tell you it really ticked me off. I’m half thinking about putting up a post tomorrow of me ranting about that, and how Braun should take legal action against both the league and ESPN, who first leaded the news back in December.

For now, though, let’s rejoice that one of the best hitters in baseball is back in the Brewers’ lineup. Now, with this whole thing out of the way, I’ll be able to do something I’ve been waiting to do- projecting the Brewers’ possible lineups.

But, Braun has officially won. We can take that tension off our backs.

> Norichika Aoki arrived at Brewers camp in Maryvale, Arizona, today, and had to navigate through a lot of media, both local and Japanese. It’ll be fun to see how he performs, and what role he’ll have during the regular season.

> Rickie Weeks made it clear today that he doesn’t want to hit out of the five-hole this year. After leading off from 2010 to the midpoint of 2011, when Corey Hart took over, Weeks experimented with hitting out of that spot of the lineup, but didn’t have much success. So it doesn’t surprise me that he’d prefer not to hit there.

But the Brewers had horrible luck out of the five-hole last year, no matter who it was. Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt, Weeks, Hart- none of them got it done hitting out of that spot. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other options aside from Weeks, unless the Brewers are confident that Mat Gamel can take that important spot in the lineup early on.

> And that’s about it. A rather busy news day, capped by the Braun news. We’ll probably hear a lot more tomorrow. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Will the NL use the DH?

February 5, 2012

> Earlier today, I was reading an article in an issue of Sports Illustrated. I think it was the latest edition, but I’m not sure, because I just found it lying around the house. Anyway, the article regarded the use of the designated hitter, and how the AL has the luxury of throwing money at free agent sluggers more than the NL. Why? Because of the DH.

The DH provides a cushion for hitters as they get older, as we all know. Because of this, AL teams can give out mammoth deals of 6-10 years worth anywhere between $150-200 million. Probably about five to six years into that deal, the hitter- at least defensively- will start to slug off because of age. So, regardless of his position on the field, he can move into what the article referred to as a “semiretirement position”- the DH.

And we’re seeing this happen more and more nowadays. Albert Pujols and his 10-year, $254 million deal with Angels. Prince Fielder’s 9-year, $214 million deal with the Tigers. Pujols is already 31, and Fielder is 28. But, because of the DH rule in the AL, age isn’t a factor.

You would never see an NL team give out a deal like that. NL teams don’t have the comfort of the DH, so, once players get too old to play in the field, they’re forced to retire, or sign with an AL team (i.e. Adam Dunn).

We have seen a few mega-deals, as I like to call them, in the NL over the past few years. Obviously, there’s Ryan Braun, who just keeps getting extensions, and is now under team control until 2020. Then, there’s the Rockies, who signed both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to monster deals prior to the 2011 season. And there’s Ryan Howard of the Phillies. Dan Uggla of the Braves. I could probably keep going.

But, there’s one difference between the deals that the NL give than the AL- most of them are five-year deals. Howard’s and Uggla’s deals are both for five years. The Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, and Braun deals are longer, but they’re a bit younger.

Anyway, I think I’ve made my point- there’s more risk involved when NL teams sign players to huge deals.

But probably not for long.

Starting in 2013, assuming Bud Selig follows through on moving the Astros to the NL, thus forming two 15-team leagues, there will be Interleague games every day. With the rules that are in place right now- the AL using the DH and the NL not- the rules of the game would be changing every day, which would be a hassle for all teams, and just the sport in general. So, there are two possible theories, one of which is going to have to happen- the NL adds the DH rule, or the AL drops it.

You and I both know very well that the AL isn’t going to get rid of the DH rule, after its success ever since it was experimented with in the 80’s.

Which means, inevitably, the NL is going to add the DH. I never thought the day would come, but when Selig announced that he was moving the Astros to the AL (despite the fact he moved the Brewers from the AL to the NL back in 1998, which to this day I still don’t really understand), it came to my mind immediately that the NL would finally have to use the DH.

To be honest with you, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. A lot of people I know absolutely hate the DH, and, up until recently, I kept telling myself that I did too.

But now I don’t know. It could really benefit the NL, as the cumulative batting average of all pitchers has constantly dropped over the years.

But, whether or not we want it to happen, I think it’s coming.

> Anyway, with all that aside, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been gone for a few days. So, I might as well go through the news that happened while I was away.

> The Brewers came to terms with Shaun Marcum on a one-year, $7.725 million deal on Friday, minutes before their scheduled arbitration hearing. This is alright, I guess, but I was hoping the Brewers would sign Marcum to a multi-year extension. Even a two-year deal would be fine for now, but a one-year deal is dangerous, because Marcum is a free agent after 2012.

The Brewers still have all season to sign him to an extension, assuming Marcum isn’t one of those players who doesn’t allow negotiations during the season, though.

Marcum also said the other day that he’s going to start using his legs more in his pitching motion. His September/postseason faults probably came from him being all arms, and he said using his legs more should generate more velocity.

> And that’s about it for now. Again, sorry for my brief absence, but everything should be back to normal now. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Nats remain in on Prince

January 24, 2012

> It appears Prince Fielder may finally be finding a destination sometime soon. The Nationals remain the top contender for him, and Tom Haudricourt (@Haudricourt) said this morning that he heard from a source that the Nats and Fielder had an eight-year deal in place. The amount of money involved was rumored to be $20 million per year, just a little less than what Albert Pujols is earning annually with the Angels.

But nothing is final, and, according to various sources, the “race is far from over.” There are several other teams involved. It was reported yesterday morning that, after the Dodgers are officially sold, they’ll become contenders for him. The Orioles may also be contenders for him, as manager Buck Showalter has told the O’s front office about his interest in having Fielder on the team. Then, there’s the Rangers, but, after the Yu Darvish signing, they aren’t in the financial position to sign him. There’s also the Mariners, but they haven’t been linked to Fielder at all recently.

> Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Ryan Braun is innocent. Earlier today, Dan Patrick weighed in, saying that he also believes Braun is innocent.

That would be great if Braun makes history and overcomes his possible 50-game suspension. Whether or not Braun is in the lineup for the first 50 games of the season could determine the Brewers chances for contention in 2012.

> Bud Selig is returning for two more years. Ugh. I was looking forward to this guy retiring after 2012, but now he’s back until after 2014.

The only thing I credit Selig for is bringing baseball back to Milwaukee by moving the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee after the Braves had left for Atlanta a few years earlier. Other than that, I’m not at all a fan of him, and I wish he’d just retire already…

> And that’s about it. Not much news today. But, I’d like to announce that I’ve become a staff writer for the fan blog Reviewing the Brew. I’m very excited for this opportunity, and my first post should come tomorrow.

In the meantime, though, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays

NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.