Braun comes in second

November 16, 2012

> I knew all along that the NL MVP voters were going to get it wrong, but at least they didn’t push it too far.

Buster Posey won the NL MVP today, something we’ve felt would happen ever since the regular season ended. I predicted him to win it, but, once again, that doesn’t mean I think it’s the right choice.

Ryan Braun came in second place. That is actually much better than I thought the voters were going to give him. When the five finalists- Braun, Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, and Chase Headley- were announced, I was sure Braun would get fifth as a result of being unfairly penalized for something that he was actually exonerated from. (Looking back, the exoneration literally meant nothing, except that Braun got to play while being showered by boos for the first 50 games as well.)

The voting wasn’t at all close. Posey received 27 of the 32 possible votes, while Braun got just two. However, Braun got the most second place votes by a large margin, with his 15 votes being at least nine more than every other candidate. Posey finished with 422 points to Braun’s 285 (the next closest to Braun was McCutchen with 245).

But, as mentioned earlier, the voters got it wrong. Here’s a complete list of the stats Posey topped Braun in:

1. Batting average
2. OBP
3. OPS+

And Posey didn’t have Braun beat by too much in each of those stats, while Braun murdered him in most of the other stats. Plus, batting average hasn’t been, for some reason, considered as much of a factor because of the rise of sabermetrics (but until Carlos Pena wins an MVP with a sub-.200 batting average, I’m not buying it).

Oh well. Not much else I can do to defend Braun, considering I attempted to defend him when Matt Kemp was in this position last year.

But, had it not been for the false PED accusation, Braun would have won the MVP- easily.

> Meanwhile, Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP over Mike Trout. Something told me I wanted him to win it, but I had a much tougher time defending his case than I thought. Perhaps it was because I actually opened my ears a bit more; most Cabrera-backers heard “TRIPLE CROWN!!!!” and nothing else.

> Following a very injury-plagued year for the Brewers as a whole (at least early on), they’re going to “focus as much or more on preventing injuries as on treating them.”

> Minor moves: 

Braves: Signed Gerald Laird to a two-year deal.
Cubs: Signed Dioner Navarro to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Signed Neil Wagner to a minor league deal.
Angels: Signed Billy Buckner, Luke Carlin, Brendan Harris, Trent Oeltjen, Jo-Jo Reyes, and J.B. Shuck to minor league deals.
Nationals: Signed Will Rhymes to a minor league deal.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood to a minor league deal.


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.


Late-inning heroics from Gomez, Braun give Crew sweep

August 8, 2012

Postgame

> I don’t think any Brewers fan was expecting a sweep coming into this series, but that’s exactly what we got. The Brewers took down the Reds today, 3-2, in yet another low-scoring affair that was interesting until the final out.

I was glad the Brewers won the first two games, because Randy Wolf was going today, and my confidence in him has waned over his past few starts. But, I forgot he was 11-4 in his career against the Reds, and that sort of showed today. Wolf threw six solid innings while giving up two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

But, he was being opposed by the red-hot Mat Latos today, who has been on fire ever since his 13-strikeout complete game against the Brewers back in June. After Dioner Navarro’s two-run shot in the third inning, it appeared that was all the support Latos was going to need. He went seven innings while giving up a run on just three hits. He walked one and struck out eight. The one run he gave up was a home run to another guy who has been on fire recently, Carlos Gomez. His homer cut the Reds’ lead in half in the sixth inning.

Going into the eighth inning, the Reds still held that 2-1 lead. Latos was at just 97 pitches and could have probably gone at least one more inning, but Dusty Baker went all Ron Roenicke on him and removed him in favor of the bullpen. (The only difference there is the Reds actually have a good bullpen.) Anyway, Baker opted to go to setup man Jonathan Broxton, who was acquired by the Reds at the deadline and has been dominant since. But, with the Brewers having faced the Royals in Interleague this year, they had already seen Broxton, which may have given them the advantage today.

Broxton started the inning fine, inducing fly-outs from Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy. But, Norichika Aoki got an infield single with two outs, and he was helped a bit by Broxton, who slowed it down and didn’t give third baseman Todd Frazier much of a chance at a play. After that, things just went downhill for the Reds. Aoki attempted to steal second base with Gomez batting, but the catcher Navarro fired it into center field, allowing Aoki to reach third. Gomez took advantage and hit a jam-shot RBI single to tie the game. After Gomez stole second, Ryan Braun hit a soft line drive into the left field gap, but Chris Heisey couldn’t make what would have been a highlight reel play, and it turned into a go-ahead double for Braun.

Jim Henderson came on for the ninth and recorded the save. Hopefully he has that job locked down at least for the time being.

Anyway, even though it may not look like much at the moment, I’m pumped that the Brewers swept the Reds. I’m particularly happy they jammed it down that obnoxious Reds fanbase’s throat. You can bet their excuse for losing this game was Braun being on steroids, even though it was a soft line drive. Those are the sort of fans I’ve ran into on Twitter lately, at least.

The News

> Manny Parra threw to live hitters for the first time since his injury. Parra never officially went on the disabled list, but has been sidelined for a few days with a shoulder impingement.

> George Kottaras hit a home run off Zack Greinke today. Wait, what?

> In the same inning Greinke gave up the home run to Kottaras, he walked five batters. All in one inning. That is not the Greinke we saw in Milwaukee through his year-and-a-half tenure, even when he struggled in the first half of 2011. Greinke’s overall ERA escalated to 3.74 today against the Athletics.

> I haven’t mentioned anything about Ben Sheets yet, but he’s having a heck of a comeback with the Braves. He’s 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts with them. The Brewers could certainly use that right now.

If he can stay healthy for once in his life, he could help the Braves go deep into the postseason.

> Here’s my latest article at Reviewing the Brew. It’s basically me talking about Henderson, his story, his stats, and so on. I also mention the always-popular Brewers closer curse.

The Numbers Game

> Henderson notched his second save in a row today, which is also the second save in his Major League career. He also lowered his ERA to 1.29.

> The two other relievers who threw today, Jose Veras and John Axford, didn’t do bad either. Both had scoreless innings. But do I trust either of them yet? No way.

> Segura notched his first Major League hit today, a fifth-inning single off Latos. With that out of the way, let’s see if he can become a productive force in the Brewers’ lineup.

> The Brewers’ comeback win today was just the second time in 2012 that, after trailing going into the seventh inning, they came back and took the lead. That makes them 2-43 in those games. I suppose that stat explains what’s happened this season.

> Braun’s double in the eighth snapped an 0-for-18 slump prior to that. His last hit had come on August 1st against the Astros. That slump dropped his season average to .304. Keep in mind Braun has only hit below .300 only once in his career.

> Speaking of the Astros, that’s who the Brewers play next after an off-day tomorrow. The Brewers then play the Rockies after that. So don’t look now, but they could start a long winning streak.

Anyway, I leave you with the probables for the Astros series in Houston. Apparently it’s become so bad for them that they don’t even know who’s starting until the day of.

Mark Rogers (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. ???

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


Bullpen hangs on for much-needed win

August 7, 2012

Postgame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis

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

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

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

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

The News

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

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

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

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