Veras has arby hearing

February 14, 2012

> The newly acquired Jose Veras reportedly went to an arbitration hearing with the Brewers earlier today. I don’t really see why, considering Veras asked for $2.375 million, and the Brewers countered with $2 million. Not that big of a difference, but apparently they were having trouble coming to an agreement.

The last time the Brewers went to an arbitration case was with Corey Hart, prior to the 2010 season. Hart ended up winning the case, and the Brewers’ fan base was angry because he’d made some cracks at the fans, and hadn’t been much a player before that. However, he completely turned it around in 2010, and had a career year with 31 homers and 102 RBIs. Hart’s feelings towards the fan base also changed, as he’s becoming a fan favorite in Milwaukee.

I don’t if Veras is worth going to an arbitration hearing with, but he’d better have at least a decent year next year.

> The Athletics have apparently came out of nowhere and signed Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.

But, in my opinion, this really isn’t going to help them at all. They’ve already traded away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey. I’m guessing this move is only to make their fan-base a little more confident in their team next year, but I still predict that they’ll come in last by a large margin next year in the AL West.

> Remember that show called “The Franchise” that started airing last year? They went behind the scenes of the Giants’ clubhouse, but this year they’re featuring the Marlins. I might actually watch it this year, just because Carlos Zambrano‘s tantrums will be available for the public to see. Ozzie Guillen is also quite the character.

I assume that’s why the Marlins are going to be the team featured, though, because they have so many different personalities on their team.

> Very, very, very slow news day today. The only Brewers news was the Veras case, and there isn’t much to talk about there, so I kind of had to go into some non-Brewers related topics. I don’t usually do that, but it’s inevitable when the Brewers aren’t making any interesting moves. But Spring Training is coming soon enough, and I’ll have plenty to cover then.

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


Did the Cubs’ rotation improve?

January 20, 2012

> Probably not.

The Cubs had another Cubs-esque year in 2011, going 71-91. The actually had a half-decent offense, as they were near the top of the NL in team batting average.

But why were they so bad? Their pitching; primarily the starting rotation. Practically none of their starters performed to the expectations they were expected. They did deal a few of their starters and acquired a few as well, but I don’t know if it was enough to lift them out of the chasm that is the bottom of the NL Central.

This is how I would assemble the Cubs’ rotation in 2012:

#1 starter- Matt Garza- 10-10, 3.32 ERA

Garza was the only decent starter in 2011, despite the fact Mike Quade named him the #3 starter at the beginning of the season. Garza actually had a career year, setting a career-best ERA. His wins don’t show it, but he didn’t get run support most of the time.

Garza also had a career-high in strikeouts, punching out 197 in 198 innings. His K/9 was exactly 9, which was a huge improvement from his 6.6 K/9 while pitching for the Rays in 2010. Garza, who used to be known as primarily a fly-ball pitcher because of his aggressive use of the high fastball, could be turning into a strikeout pitcher.

For some reason, Garza is on the Cubs’ trade block. If they trade him, their rotation will have close to no hope in 2012, as you’ll see from the pitchers I’m about to talk about.

#2 starter- Ryan Dempster- 10-14, 4.80 ERA

Dempster had an awful 2011, to say the least. In 2010, he went 15-12 with a 3.85 ERA, so his numbers really plummeted in 2011. The only area he was half decent was his innings and strikeouts. He ate up 202 1/3 innings, something the Cubs needed.

Garza has a sinker, splitter, and slider in his repertoire, so he’s known as a groundball pitcher. But, his 8.5 K/9 in 2011 was a career-high, so, like Garza, he could be becoming a strikeout pitcher.

But, since Dempster’s career year in 2008 in which he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA, his ERA has consistently gone down- 2.96, 3.65, 3.85, 4.80. Maybe we could expect worse next year, but I kind of doubt it. Dempster can be a good pitcher, but he just isn’t consistent enough yet, and it may be too late in his career to turn it around.

#3 starter- Paul Maholm- 6-14, 3.66 ERA

After the Pirates opted not to re-sign Maholm, the Cubs picked him up on a one-year deal, and, in my opinion, it isn’t a bad pickup. His 6-14 shows nothing of how well he pitched in 2011- the Pirates didn’t have any offense.

Maholm definitely isn’t a strikeout pitcher, as he had just a 5.4 K/9 in 2011, to go along with 97 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings. I don’t see him pitch very often, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he’s a groundball pitcher. But it’s fine that he doesn’t strike out many batters- Garza and Dempster have that covered.

I think Maholm will have a decent year in 2012. But that’s just my gut feeling, I could be wrong; he’s been pretty inconsistent over the past few years.

#4 starter- Randy Wells- 7-6, 4.99 ERA

Wells got injured in his first start of the year, so he missed the first few months. When he came back, he struggled, and for most of the year his ERA was well north of 5.00. But, he had a good September that included a shutout against the Giants, and lowered his ERA by a large margin.

Wells is an extreme groundball pitcher, and his K/9 was just 5.5 in 2011. Yet, he somehow found a way to give up 23 homers in just 135 1/3 innings, which means left a few too many sinkers up.

I don’t know about Wells. I don’t see much in him, and have a feeling he won’t have more than an average season in 2012.

#5 starter- Chris Volstad- 5-13, 4.89 ERA

The first thing the Cubs need to to do with Volstad- thank him. He was part of the trade that sent the psychopath- AKA Carlos Zambrano- to the Miami Marlins, so they won’t have to deal with his antics anymore. Anyway, with that aside, I see talent in Volstad. He hasn’t had the best career so far, but he’s still young and has time to turn it around. I think the Marlins gave up on him a bit early, and it was actually their fault for his lack of wins, because they didn’t give him any run support.

Volstad is considered a groundball pitcher, but I don’t really see it, as he gave up 23 homers in 2011. He doesn’t strike out all that many, with his K/9 being 6.4 in 2011. But I think all he needs to do is start missing more bats, and he’ll be successful.

I see a bright future for Volstad, but for some reason I have a feeling he won’t be in Chicago very long.

And that’s how I think the rotation should go. There will be some competition in Spring Training, as Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, and possibly Jeff Samardzija could possibly challenge for a spot in the rotation.

> Today was the day. Ryan Braun finally pleaded his case in front of three arbitrators earlier today, but not much info was released. The decision won’t be made by Saturday, however, so we’ll have to wait a little longer.

The case took place a few days earlier than expected, as it was supposed to happen after Braun received his MVP award at a dinner on Saturday. At least that’s what’s Lance Allen reported earlier this month. But it would be nice if it were all settled before the dinner; it could make things a little less awkward, or ten times more awkward.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


More news on Aoki, Braun situations

January 6, 2012

> The two biggest offseason situations for the Brewers may have been resolved today, or are at least closer to being resolved.

> The Brewers announced that they’re going to be working outfielder Norichika Aoki this weekend at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale, Arizona. I saw an interesting article earlier today regarding Aoki’s role with the Brewers, and one particular thing in it caught my eye.

Aoki is going to be the Brewers’ fifth outfielder, assuming they sign him. That gives the Brewers Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez, and Aoki, and that’s obviously not going to work, because one of them isn’t going to get any playing time.

Morgan and Gomez platooned in center last year, which would have probably happened again next year. Hart has right field locked up, and same with Braun for left. But, there’s no guarantee Braun will be playing for the first 50 games of next year (which I’ll get to later), which could be part of the reason the Brewers are going after Aoki.

But let’s just assume that Braun does get suspended (which he hopefully won’t, but I’m just talking hypothetically). If he does, then the Brewers have four outfielders. But, when Braun comes back after the 50 games, then they have five, which, again, is too many. That article I mentioned earlier suggested the possibility of Gomez getting traded or cut at that point, which would make sense, since the other three are more valuable to the Brewers. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens- we don’t even know the fate of Braun yet.

> Which leads me to my next topic. According to Lance Allen (@lanceallen), Braun’s case is to be held after the BBWAA MVP award ceremony, which means it would happen around January 22nd or 23rd.

Also, according to Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS), Braun does plan to attend that ceremony to officially accept his MVP award. But I can’t even start to imagine how awkward that’s going to be.

> The Marlins officially acquired Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs today in exchange for Chris Volstad and cash. I still think they’re going to regret this…

But the funny part is that the Marlins only have to pay $2.5 million of the $18 million that Zambrano is owed in 2012. Who has to pay the rest? The Cubs.

> And that’s about it. Not much news today, but at least some light was finally shed on the Braun and Aoki situations. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Back at it again…

January 4, 2012

> It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve posted in over two weeks, and my apologies for that. I was on winter break in Florida, which was heaven. Now, it’s back to Wisconsin, where I have to get used to a 60-degree change for the worse in weather. Anyway, BW should start up again on a regular basis after this.

> Not much happened while I was gone, as far as the Brewers are concerned. But, there a few minor things that I’ll go over.

> The Brewers added two peculiar players on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training- shortstop Cesar Izturis and reliever Juan Perez. Both have a shot at making the Major League club, but I also have my doubts about both.

You’ve probably heard of Izturis at some point. He’s played in the Majors for 11 years, spending time with Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and, most recently, the Orioles. He was once considered a great defensive shortstop, winning the Gold Glove Award in 2004 with the Dodgers. He’s not at that level defensively anymore, but is still considered an above-average defender (and as long as he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, I’ll take it).

The only issue with IzturisĀ  is his extremely weak bat. He has a career .255 average, which isn’t awful, but he has the lowest slugging percentage of an active player at just .322. Over his 11-year career, he only has 15 home runs, never hitting more than four in a season.

Anyway, if Izturis does end up making the Brewers out of Spring Training, he’d probably serve as a backup to the newly signed Alex Gonzalez.

Perez has played professionally for 12 years, but has only spent part of three seasons in the Majors- two with the Pirates, one with the Phillies, which was last year. He has a career 4.79 ERA, but put up a career low 3.60 ERA with the Phillies in 2011. That was in just five innings over eight games, however.

Perez has a good shot at making the Major League club, though, because the Brewers are still extremely low on left-handed relievers. The three on the roster with Major League experience- Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter- all had injury-plagued years in 2011. Parra missed the entire year with elbow and back problems, Stetter couldn’t recover from a hip injury, and Braddock struggled with a social disorder. Because of all this, the Brewers spent the majority of the final months of the season with a right-handed dominant bullpen. So, Perez gives the Brewers a little left-handed depth in 2012.

> The Brewers shed a bit of light on the Norichiki Aoki situation. They won rights to sign him in mid-December, and have until January 17th to work out a deal, or Aoki returns to his Japanese team, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

It turns out negotiations with Aoki have started at around just $1.5 million, which shows the Brewers aren’t extremely interested in him. Aoki has speed and can hit for average, but his weak arm and not much power at the plate probably hold him at a reserve, or fourth, outfielder in the Majors. This shows why the Brewers started negotiations so low.

They plan to work him out at their Spring Training complex in Maryvale sometime within the next few weeks before making their final decision.

> Now, for the piece of news Brewers fans have been worrying about for a while now- the Ryan Braun story. Apparently, an MLB official with knowledge on how the whole appeal process works told Tom Haudricourt that he think the ruling won’t be overturned because of previous cases.

But, you have to take into account that the test results are “unlike any test results seen before,” so this guy’s opinion doesn’t really matter.

I’m still holding out hope that Braun can get this cleaned up and be ready for the start of the season. Because there is a first time for everything.

> One more thing Brewers-related- the Brewers have reportedly approached Zack Greinke about a contract extension. I don’t know if negotiations have even started yet, but this is a good sign, because the Brewers need both Greinke and Shaun Marcum extended by the time the season starts.

> And that’s about everything Brewers-related the took place while I was away. However, there was also some stirring around other teams in the NL Central.

> The Cardinals managed to sign outfielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal worth $26 million. That sort of helps fill the void Albert Pujols left, but not quite.

With Beltran, the Cardinals now have an outfield trio of Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. Normally, this would be a scary trio to have in the lineup offensively, but none of them have very good injury history, so I’m not too worried at this point.

> The Reds and Cubs struck an in-division trade, with the Cubs sending reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for three prospects- starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and second baseman Ronald Torreyes. In my opinion, the Cubs won this trade- the Reds have been giving up way more prospects then they’ve needed to over their past few trades. They also had to give up five prospects to acquire starter Mat Latos from the Padres a few weeks ago.

> The Marlins are reportedly closer to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. And here I thought they were having a productive offseason…

> And I think that’s about it. Before I go, I’d like to wish you all a late merry Christmas and a happy new year. Here’s to hoping for another good Brewers season in 2012. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


News from MLB over the past few days…

November 20, 2011

> There really hasn’t been much news in baseball over the past few days, which is why you didn’t see a post last night. So, here’s a bit of a recap of what’s happened, but it isn’t much…

> The biggest piece of news was Matt Kemp signing an eight-year deal with the Dodgers. There were rumors that the Dodgers were close to signing Kemp earlier this week, but it was just finalized yesterday.

Kemp had an unbelievable season in 2011, hitting .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs. He also had 41 stolen bases, making him a 30/30 player, and nearly a 40/40 player. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year, which is going to be announced on Monday.

> Carlos Zambrano was hit in the face by a line drive today during a winter ball start in Venezuela today. Apparently, he was having his best start since he started pitching this fall, but needed to exit the game after being hit.

So you can add yet another chapter to the odd career of the usually-psychotic Cubs pitcher. It seems like every possible negative thing in baseball that can happen to a player happens to Zambrano. Most of the time, it’s his fault, but this time it isn’t.

Zambrano is in winter ball because he missed the last month and a half of the 2011 season after being placed on the restricted list by the Cubs. This all started because he threw inside multiple times to Chipper Jones in a start against the Braves, in which he was getting crushed and was letting his frustration out. He was ejected, and while the benches cleared and his team was fighting for him, Zambrano simply walked off the field laughing. He then walked into the clubhouse, cleaned out his locker, and told the reporters that he was going to retire.

That may have been the break the Cubs were looking for, but, of course, Zambrano didn’t follow through with it.

In reaction to this performance, the Cubs placed Zambrano on the restricted list, as I mentioned earlier, which makes a player ineligible to be around the team or be paid for 3o days. Even after Zambrano’s time on the restricted list was finished (wow, sounded like he was in jail when I put it like that), he didn’t return to the team.

Anyway, that’s the story. Zambrano was having a crappy season as it was, definitely the worst of his career. It was the first time he had an ERA over 4.00, but still posted a winning record. Theo Epstein has announced that Zambrano is going to have to “work his way back” to get a spot on the Cubs’ roster next year, but I think we all know that he’s probably going to be there anyway.

> The Blue Jays have announced that they’re going to have a new logo for next year, and they’re basing it off their traditional logo. Which is awesome, because that Blue Jays logo is my second favorite logo in MLB history (only to the Brewers retro glove logo). Hopefully, it gives them some luck to win the AL East (or at least the Wild Card).

> The Twins signed catcher Ryan Doumit to a two-year deal, which pretty much means they’re expecting Joe Mauer to get injured at this point. Can you blame them?

Anyway, the Brewers had seen Doumit, the former Pirates’ catcher, a lot over the past few years. He tended to be a Brewers-killer, so it’s good that he’ll be out of the league.

> Dale Sveum has been officially named the Cubs’ new manager. You can read my post the other day about my take on that, because it would be a waste of time for me to do it again right here.

> Onto some minor Brewers moves from yesterday and today.

> The Brewers have added four prospects to their 40-man roster yesterday. They are outfielder Caleb Gindl, first baseman Brock Kjeldgaard, right-handed pitcher Santo Manzanillo, and third baseman Zelous Wheeler. With these additions, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 35. And, because these players were added to the roster, they can’t be taken by other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> I noticed the other day that Yovani Gallardo came in seventh place in the NL Cy Young Award voting. That has to be the best any Brewers’ pitcher has done in the voting in years. Gallardo wasn’t quite good enough to win, but his win total and strikeouts probably put him in the race (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts in 207 innings were his overall numbers).

> And that’s about all I’ve got right now. But, before I go, I just want to explain something new that I might be doing on this blog soon.

With the lack of news around MLB some days, I’m finding myself with nothing to post about. That’s happened to me twice over the past week, and definitely isn’t helping this blog get any more popular. So, I’m thinking about writing about things in Brewers’ history on days that there isn’t much news. By “things,” I mean historical seasons, players, events, top 10 players at a certain position, and so on. I think that would be something good to mix it up once in awhile, because up to now I’ve really just been blogging about news. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I love doing it, but I just want to try something different.

> Anyhow, feel free to leave you thoughts, if you have any.


Kimbrel, Hellickson take home ROY awards

November 15, 2011

> Needless to say I called this a few days ago.

> Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Hellickson took home the NL and AL Rookie of the Year Awards today (respectively). So for those of you who say that pitchers shouldn’t win this award (or the MVP), then this wasn’t your year.

Kimbrel was thrown into the Braves’ closer role since future Hall of Fame closer Billy Wagner retired before this year started. And he handled it just as Wagner would have; possibly better. Kimbrel set the record for the most saves by a rookie closer with 46, which also tied Brewers closer John Axford for the most in the NL. He put up a 2.10 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Despite the fact Kimbrel technically ended the Braves’ season by blowing a save against the Phillies on the final day, he was still the most deserving of any NL candidate.

I was one of the few (or so it seemed) who actually thought Hellickson would win. And you can’t argue with the numbers. His 13-10 record could have been better, and actually should have been better- he was victim of low run support from a weak Rays offense various times. But, his 2.95 ERA in the AL East was unbelievable, especially for a rookie. Hellickson also ate up 189 innings, the most among rookie starters in the Majors. I don’t know what it is about the Rays and managing to put together all of these homegrown starters who will eventually become aces (David Price being the other standout homegrown ace for them).

> Anyway, onto the Hot Stove news of the day. Unlike the other Hot Stove days thus far this offseason, this one was actually somewhat busy.

> The Dodgers are reportedly nearing an eight-year deal with center fielder Matt Kemp. The deal would be worth $160 million, which is odd, since I heard the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to make any of these gigantic signings until the Dodgers are sold. But it probably has something to do with the fact that Kemp is already on the team.

Kemp is coming off a stellar 2011 campaign, in which he hit .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, and 41 steals. He was just one home run away from the coveted 40/40 season. Kemp also won the Gold Glove for NL center fielders and one of the outfield Silver Slugger Awards as well. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year.

> The Angels are apparently “serious” c0ntenders for free agent starter C.J. Wilson. I find this strange, considering the Angels’ biggest need is obviously offense (as is any team in the AL West not named the Rangers). The Angels already have a trio of aces in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana (if you consider him an ace; I do).

Wilson is coming off a season in which he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers’ staff. The year before, he was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA, but was a reliever every year before that. So it should be interesting to see how he responds to what’s probably going to be a big multi-year deal.

> Theo Epstein, the new Cubs’ president, talked to Carlos Zambrano for the first time today. Epstein announced that Zambrano will have to “work his way back” to earn a spot on the Cubs’ roster for next year.

But honestly, why are the Cubs still even giving this psychopath a chance? He’s put together enough scenes to embarrass the Cubs forever, and was already placed on the disqualified list. I thought the disqualified list would be the last straw, but apparently not.

At the same time, however, I can’t really blame them. Zambrano still has a large portion of his contract left in 2012, and the Cubs won’t want to eat up another huge contract after releasing a player (similar what they did to Carlos Silva before the 2011 season).

> Before I finish, here’s some Hot Stove news related to the Brewers:

> Doug Melvin announced that the Brewers won’t offer Prince Fielder a contract during this week’s GM meetings in Milwaukee. Not like Scott Boras would have accepted an offer, anyway.

> Melvin also said that he hasn’t decided whether or not to meet face-to-face with Jose Reyes and/or his agent. Reports are saying that Reyes is extremely close to signing with the Marlins, but nothing is official yet.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back Yuniesky Betancourt on a contract worth less than what his option for 2012 would have been worth. I hope this a last resort option if the Brewers become that desperate for a shortstop…

> Lastly, the Brewers are also interested in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr., who put up a stellar postseason for the Brewers in 2011.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and free to leave your thoughts.


For third straight day, Brewers hammer Reds

September 19, 2011

If you didn’t see the Brewers’ offense before this series, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you they’d struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies. But, with all the offense in this series, I doubt the Brewers would remember how badly they were struggling, either.

The Brewers won their 90th game of the season today against the Reds, beating them 8-1 in yet another blowout win. With this blowout win, the Brewers outscored the Reds 24-5 in this series sweep of them, and also held them to just two hits in each of the past two games (courtesy of Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke). Anyway, the Brewers’ magic number now goes down to four, and, if the Cardinals lose to the Phillies in a game that’s starting right now, then it will fall to three.

Zack Greinke had a great start today and earned his 15th win of the season. That’s actually remarkable, considering he missed all of April and didn’t make his season debut until May 4th. He’s now just one win away from tying a career-high in wins (his career-high, 16, came in 2009, his AL Cy Young year). Anyway, Greinke went seven innings while giving up one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out 10, as he continues to be a strikeout machine. (Also note that Greinke is in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts despite missing a month.)

The Brewer offense started the game with a bang in the first inning. Carlos Gomez and Prince Fielder both hit two-run homers off Matt Maloney, who was making a spot start in place of Dontrelle Willis. Maloney clearly wasn’t ready for this start, as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs (six earned). Anyway, Rickie Weeks’ two-run single in the second inning made it 7-0, and Corey Hart’s solo shot in the sixth finished the Brewers’ scoring. The only run the Reds scored was on a Devin Mesoraco RBI single in the fifth.

Ryan Braun had another good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average to .336. Jose Reyes of the Mets, who Braun has been competing with for a batting title over the last month, wasn’t in the Mets’ starting lineup today. Reyes is currently hitting .331, so hopefully Braun can maintain the lead he has on him.

Oh, and one more thing, Logan Schafer got his first career hit today off usual Reds closer (and former Brewers closer) Francisco Cordero. I guess the fact that it was off Cordero makes it that much better.

The Brewers will travel to Chicago and start a three-game series with the Cubs tomorrow. Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40 ERA) will make his first start in awhile. The Brewers skipped his spot in the rotation due to off-days the last time through, but, in his last start, he gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies. Anyway, Narveson has had a lot of success against the Cubs in his career, going 6-0 with a 3.41 ERA against them.

The Cubs will counter with Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 ERA). He’s still replacing Carlos Zambrano, who won’t pitch for the Cubs for the rest of the season, and probably won’t pitch for the Cubs next year, either. Anyway, back to Coleman- he’s 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Justin Verlander of the Tigers picked up his 24th win of the season today against the Athletics. You never see guys getting win totals in the mid-20’s in this day and age. But Verlander is definitely something special… He can’t win 30 games, but, he could probably win 26 or 27 games, which would still be remarkable.


Greinke hurls longest start of season in crazy win over Bucs

August 13, 2011

10:18p It seems like every Brewers game I go to ends well.

Pirates-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Pirates (shocker) today, 7-2, and continued their domination of their NL Central rivals. They also improved to 6-0 against the Pirates this season, and 34-3 against them at Miller Park since the start of 2007.

The Brewers continued the trend of killing Pirates pitching, starting with Paul Maholm. Josh Wilson got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with an RBI single. Then, in the third, Casey McGehee hit a rare two-RBI triple to extend the Brewers lead to 3-0. (The reason I say rare is because of McGehee’s extreme slowness.) The Brewers also tacked on another run in the fifth on Ryan Braun’s sacrifice fly.

Maholm’s night ended after just five innings, as he gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He didn’t have a walk or a strikeout.

Anyway, until the ninth inning, the story of the night was Zack Greinke. He cruised through the first seven innings until running into some trouble in the eighth. He gave up RBI doubles to Michael McKenry and Andrew McCutchen to cut the Bucs’ deficit to 4-2 and was lifted after recording two outs in the eighth. But, this was Greinke’s longest outing as a Brewer at 7 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out nine. Francisco Rodriguez finished off the eighth for him to set the stage for a crazy bottom of the inning.

Joe Beimel came in to pitch the eighth for the Pirates, but his outing wouldn’t last very long. He gave up back-t0-back homers to Braun and Prince Fielder before being lifted, but the inning wouldn’t stop there. Jose Veras came in to replace Beimel, and, after recording an out, gave up a double to Yuniesky Betancourt. After Nyjer Morgan advanced him to third with a groundout, Jonathan Lucroy hit an RBI infield single to score him. Then, since Lucroy got on, Ron Roenicke did something crazy: he let Rodriguez hit.

It was K-Rod’s second Major League at-bat, since he never got to bat while with the Angels due to the DH rule, and only had one at-bat with the Mets. But, sure enough, what does K-Rod do? He took advantage of a Pirates’ defense that had no idea what they were doing and got infield hit; his first hit of his career.

Unfortunately, after the inning ended, he tried to come back out to pitch the ninth. But, apparently, he left the game with a leg cramp. It’s nothing serious according to Ron Roenicke, so we probably don’t need to worry. So Kameron Loe came in and pitched a perfect ninth inning to finish off the Bucs.

Weeks, Narveson on road to recovery

Injured Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks and pitcher Chris Narveson are both doing well in coming back from the DL, according to Roenicke. Weeks is apparently ahead of schedule and said his ankle is completely healed. Narveson, on the other “hand,” said he’s going to play catch tomorrow to see how his injured left hand feels. (That was an awful pun, I know. Just thought I’d give it a shot.) As far as injured center fielder Carlos Gomez’s recovery is going, I haven’t heard anything about that yet.

Greinke turning around his season

Greinke has noticeably been a completely different pitcher during the second half of this season, and his statistics are showing it. Since the All-Star break, Greinke is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. Obviously, he isn’t at the level he was in 2009 when he won the American League Cy Young Award with the Royals, but he’s getting closer.

Going into the All-Star break, Greinke had was 7-3, despite a 5.45 ERA. Looks like he finally figured out that he needed to pick it up.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of this series with the Pirates tomorrow on FOX, which is a national station. Marco Estrada (2-7, 4.80 ERA) will be making a spot start for the injured Narveson. This will be his first start since May 4th, when he filled in for Greinke while he was injured.

The Pirates will counter with Kevin Correia (12-10, 4.78 ERA), who isn’t exactly the same pitcher he was at the beginning of the year. Correia is 10-2 on the road this season, but the Brewers have already beaten him twice this season- once at Miller Park, and once at PNC Park. Correia is 2-5 with a 5.71 ERA against the Brewers in his career.

Zambrano has another episode…

This doesn’t have anything to do with the Brewers, but it’s worth posting, nonetheless. Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano made yet another scene earlier today in his start against the Braves. After giving up five home runs (two of which were to Dan Uggla), Zambrano vented out his frustration on Chipper Jones, nearly hitting him with a pitch well inside. Zambrano was ejected (like we haven’t heard that one before), and, instead of blowing up like usual, just walked off the mound and into the dugout, while the rest of the benches cleared. He was also seen laughing with a camera guy next to the Cubs’ dugout, so one can only guess what he was saying to the guy.

Anyway, it didn’t stop there. Later, Cubs manager Mike Quade went into the clubhouse only to find Zambrano’s locker empty. Players were spreading rumors of Zambrano possibly retiring, and those rumors eventually reached the media, so now it’s a national thing.

It’s not often you here about a 30-year old pitcher retiring, unless there’s some kind of medical issue involved. But who knows what goes on inside Zambrano’s head, so it’s probably better just to let him retire or do what he wants than to question his decision.


Bullpen shines as Brewers edge Cubs

July 27, 2011

11:38p A few quick trade rumors surrounding the Brewers: they’ve discussed trades for Clint Barmes (Astros), Coco Crisp (Athletics), and Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals). Of those three, I’d say I like Crisp the best.

10:08p That had to be the most stellar performance I’ve seen the Brewers’ bullpen give in quite some time.

Cubs-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Cubs today, 3-2, in what turned into a pitcher’s duel after the first inning. Chris Narveson ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, but the bullpen bailed him out instead of adding on to the Brewers’ Major League leading bullpen losses.

The Cubs struck quickly in the first, when Aramis Ramirez crushed a first-pitch fastball from Narveson over the fence for a two-run shot to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead. But, the Brewers quickly answered in the bottom of the inning, as they solved Cubs starter Ryan Dempster for the first time in over two years. After Corey Hart hit a lead-off double, Ryan Braun hit a broken bat fly ball that dropped into right field for a double. Then, after a Prince Fielder single, Casey McGehee hit a two RBI triple to give the Brewers a 3-2 lead. (Yes, McGehee, arguably the slowest man on the team, hit a triple.)

Anyway, it was a pitcher’s duel from there. Narveson and Dempster both settled down, but Narveson ran into trouble in the sixth, as the usual Narveson start goes. Geovany Soto led off with a single, and Marlon Byrd followed with a double. Thankfully, since Soto is painfully slow, he didn’t score and there were runners on second and third with no outs. Narveson would go on to walk Carlos Pena to load the bases, still no outs.

Then, who does Ron Roenicke bring in?

Sure enough, Kameron Loe.

You’d think Roenicke had learned his lesson by now about not bringing Loe into one-run games, but this time, Loe actually did his job. With the bases loaded and no outs, Alfonso Soriano grounded out to McGehee, who got a force out at home. Then, Loe induced an inning-ending double play to cap off an inning in which it was a miracle that the Cubs couldn’t even muster a run.

Anyway, Narveson went just five innings, but took the win, nonetheless. He gave up two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out three.

Dempster’s night ended after six innings, as he gave up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out seven.

From there, the Brewers bullpen did their part. After Loe got out of that huge jam, LaTroy Hawkins threw a scoreless seventh inning. Then, in the eighth, Francisco Rodriguez made Cubs hitters look like complete fools (that’s just how elite he is). John Axford worked around a Rickie Weeks error in the ninth to seal the win, giving him his 28th save of the year. It also extended his save streak to 25, which ties a franchise record.

Brewers finally solve Dempster

Coming into today, Dempster was 15-3 with a 2.50 ERA against the Brewers in his career. He was also 11-1 with a 2.52 ERA against them since 2008, and owns the most wins against the Brewers among active pitchers. But, three runs was all the Brewers needed to get past him today, as the Cubs couldn’t offer any support.

And, here’s another strange fact: In his previous 33 innings against the Brewers, he had given up just three runs against them. But, he gave up three runs in just one inning today.

K-Rod makes Miller Park debut

Rodriguez made his debut at Miller Park today (the Brewers haven’t had a home game since acquiring him), and he was greeted by a standing ovation as he came on the field. He responded to it well, as he made the Cubs look foolish at the plate, as I said earlier. He struck out two in a perfect eighth inning.

Gomez enthusiastic about returning this year

Carlos Gomez had successful surgery today on his left clavicle that he fractured last week in Arizona and is optimistic about still returning this year. His timetable says that he should be able to return in about six weeks if he doesn’t encounter any setbacks leading up to that point. Gomez injured the clavicle while making a highlight reel catch against the Diamondbacks to save a run.

Anyway, here’s a quick update on the rest of our players on the DL: Brandon Kintzler and Mitch Stetter are both to undergo surgery, and Manny Parra probably won’t pitch at all this season due to his many setbacks.

Next up for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of this series with Chicago tomorrow. Zack Greinke will go for the Brewers, and he is coming off a solid start against the D-backs, even though he took the loss. Greinke has had one career start against the Cubs, and that was earlier this year. He got shelled for eight runs (six earned), but struck out 10. I should also mention he had awful defense behind him that day.

Carlos Zambrano will go for the Cubs, who, like Dempster, is known as a Brewer-killer. In his career, Zambrano is 13-9 with a 3.85 ERA against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Pirates are currently in extra innings with the Braves, tied 3-3. If the Pirates lose, the Brewers will move ahead of them in the standings.
  • The Reds lost to the Mets, 8-6. They are five games out.
  • The Cardinals beat the Astros, 3-1. They are in first place and 22 games out, respectively.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago Cubs 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 10 1
Milwaukee Brewers 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 3 8 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 .262
Nyjer Morgan, CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .320
Ryan Braun, LF 4 1 3 1 0 0 0 .326
Prince Fielder, 1B 3 1 1 0 1 1 1 .287
Rickie Weeks, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 3 4 .270
Casey McGehee, 3B 3 0 1 2 1 1 2 .227
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 .253
Jonathan Lucroy, C 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .280
Chris Narveson, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .162
a-Craig Counsell, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .159
Total 31 3 8 3 2 11 12

a-Struck out for Hawkins in the 7th.

BATTING

2B: Hart (13), Braun (23).

3B: McGehee (1).

RBI: Braun (69), McGehee 2 (40).

Team RISP: 3-for-9.

Team LOB: 6.

FIELDING

DP: (McGehee-Weeks-Fielder).

Milwaukee Brewer

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Chris Narveson (W, 7-6) 5.0 8 2 2 1 3 1 4.41
Kameron Loe (H, 15) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.50
LaTroy Hawkins (H, 14) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.08
Francisco Rodriguez (H, 3) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 3.21
John Axford (S, 28) 1.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2.66

Narveson pitched to 3 batters in the 6th.

Pitches-strikes: Narveson 87-57, Loe 6-4, Hawkins 16-12, Rodriguez 11-8, Axford 19-13.

Groundouts-flyouts: Narveson 5-4, Loe 2-0, Hawkins 1-1, Rodriguez 0-1, Axford 1-0.

Batters faced: Narveson 24, Loe 2, Hawkins 4, Rodriguez 3, Axford 4.

Inherited runners-scored: Loe 3-0.