Brewers killed by Kendrick

August 20, 2012

POSTGAME

> With the lineup Ron Roenicke tossed out there today, it’s no surprise the Brewers couldn’t do anything offensively. They were shut out by the Phillies, 8-0, even though their weakest starter was on the mound. Kyle Kendrick threw eight scoreless against the for-some-reason depleted Brewers lineup, and seemed to do it pretty effortlessly.

Randy Wolf had another rough day at the office, serving up five runs on 10 hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out four. His two bad innings were the second inning, when he gave up a two-run homer to Michael Martinez, and the third, which featured a bases-clearing double from Dominic Brown.

THE FIRST BASE SITUATION: 2013 AND BEYOND

> Nobody can complain with the jobĀ Corey Hart has done at first base this year. After Mat Gamel went down for the season in a string of season-ending injuries, Hart came out of nowhere and became a near-elite first baseman, at least defensively. His bat in the lineup remains as inconsistent as ever, but he’s become one of the best defensive first baseman the Brewers have had in a long time.

Roenicke has found ways to ruin this at times, such as throwing Hart back in right field (where he’s become a sub-par defender) on occasion, or starting Travis Ishikawa at first, like he did today. If the Brewers were contending, I’m sure the media would be getting on Roenicke a lot more than it does for the matter, but we’re not, so Roenicke is safe on moves like that.

But, over the past week, I’ve been hearing that Hart might not be the permanent option at first base next year, or even after that. A while back, Roenicke said he wanted to keep Hart at first base next year, but now he’s backed off of that solution.

The one thorn in the Brewers’ side right now is actually Gamel. In my opinion, he’s run out of chances with the Crew, proving that he just can’t stay healthy. He’s a likeable guy, and I wish he still had opportunities with us, but, assuming the Brewers do the right thing, he probably won’t.

The “right thing” is keeping things the way they are now at first base and in the outfield. With Hart at first base, that gives the Brewers an everyday outfield of Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Norichika Aoki. Braun is obviously a lock, Gomez is showing signs that he might be turning into a consistent center fielder, and Aoki is far better defensively in right fielder than Hart.

But, I have a feeling the Brewers will opt to give Gamel another chance, which messes up everything I just explained. Gamel can supposedly play the corner outfield positions (although he never has in the Majors) and a little bit of third base, which at least gives him versatility. But, he’s blocked at all those positions, with Aramis Ramirez on a multi-year deal to play third. I would suggest Gamel go back to the Minors and try and become a second baseman or shortstop, but you can probably see the underlying problems with that: Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks are both locked up, and Gamel just doesn’t have the frame to be a middle infielder.

In other words, Gamel no longer has a place on a healthy Brewers team. If he agrees to become a bench/utility player, great. The Brewers will definitely need to revamp their bench for next season. But, Gamel will probably want a starting role. So, unless he decides to stay loyal to the team that brought him up and accept being a bench player, he could be facing an offseason trade, or even a release.

But, as I said, the Brewers will likely attempt to find a place for him, and that place is hopefully the bench.

Other than Gamel, Hart shouldn’t have any issues remaining at first base. Taylor Green could come back, but it would be as a back-up third baseman/utility guy. Brock Kjeldgaard was released from the organization a few weeks ago. Ishikawa is likely gone by next year. If the Brewers have any other first base prospects, they’re probably pretty far down in the system.

That leaves Hart as the starting first baseman for the long-term. People seem to forget that he’s already a free agent after 2013, but Hart himself has expressed interest in finishing his career with the Brewers, just as Braun did.

THE NEWS

> Aoki, Hart, and Ramirez were all out of the lineup on the same day. Some say Roenicke shouldn’t be blamed for our bad season. I still think otherwise, and today helps prove my point.

I don’t have an issue with giving a guy a day off every now and then, but why on earth would Roenicke take three of the biggest run producers out of the lineup on the same day? There’s no excuse for that. And yes, I know this is a “lost season,” but there’s no reason to throw away games, regardless of the situation.

> Edwin Maysonet, currently playing for Triple-A Nashville, went on the disabled list.

> Zack Greinke took another loss for the Angels today. His ERA since being traded to them now sits at an even 6.00.

> The Cubs agreed to a seven-year extension with Starlin Castro, although it may not become official for a week or so.

> The Astros replaced Brad Mills with Tony DeFrancesco as their interim manager.

THE NUMBERS

> Cody Ransom went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, making him 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in his two starts this series. But Roenicke needs to do everything he can to get the bat in the lineup somehow.

> Nyjer Morgan, Ishikawa, and Ransom went a combined 3-for-11.

> Probables for the Cubs series:

Justin Germano (2-2, 3.19 ERA) vs. Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.94 ERA)

Travis Wood (4-9, 4.83 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.52 ERA)

Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.17 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (12-8, 3.67 ERA)

Brooks Raley (1-2, 7.63 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (6-6, 2.90 ERA)

 

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Odd baserunning miscue looms large

August 19, 2012

POSTGAME

> Tonight was a strange game, and pretty much all the breaks went against the Brewers. They were narrowly defeated by the Phillies, 4-3, in a game that could have been won 5-4.

The Phils got on the board in the second inning on back-to-back home runs from John Mayberry Jr. and Erik Kratz. The Brewers answered one of those runs in the bottom of the inning on Aramis Ramirez’s solo shot, but the Phillies took it right back on Ryan Howard’s RBI double in the third.

Down 4-1 in the eighth inning, Ryan Braun hit a two-run blast to cut the lead and knock Cole Hamels out of the game, but Jonathan Papelbon came on and got the four-out save and seal the win for the Phillies.

ODDITIES ON THE BASEPATHS

> Before I get too far into this, I’m going to say that I watched the first few innings of the game on a TV with no sound, so I couldn’t hear any analysis or anything.

And hearing some analysis on a play like this would have been useful. In the third inning, with two outs, Jonathan Lucroy, who was hitting second today, hit a single. Braun came up and hit a line drive that bounced off the yellow line on top of the wall in left field, and that usually signifies a home run.

Apparently not, though. Lucroy was running from first base, and Braun, who thought he had extra bases if not a home run, was close behind him. But Braun had to stop about halfway between first and second base, because, for some reason, Lucroy was still sitting at second base. Braun appeared to be screaming at Lucroy and pointing to third base, but by that time Dominic Brown had already thrown the ball back into the infield, and Braun was eventually thrown out.

Turns out Lucroy had missed second base as he was running, and had to go back and step on it again. But, again, the ball was already back to the infield, so one of them would have been thrown out eventually.

I’m confused about a few things here. If there were two outs and Braun hits a fly ball, Lucroy should be running as hard as he can no matter what. Unless he really overran second base that far and had to go back a ways to touch it again, I don’t see why he couldn’t at least make it to third (even if it were a close play), and then there’s runners on second and third with two outs. Again, though, I was watching the game without sound, and the classic FSWisconsin camera work didn’t help me out too much either.

But, Lucroy’s baserunning aside, it appeared Braun should have had a home run. It looked like it hit the top of the wall, which would make hit a home run, regardless of whether or not it bounces back onto the field. FSWisconsin was showing replays of the ball hitting the yellow as well. I listened to some audio later and heard Bill Schroeder say that Braun “missed a home run by inches,” but FSWisconsin didn’t show an angle close enough to the wall for us to see, so I guess we’ll never know.

I guess this is just another frustrating way to lose in a frustrating season.

THE NEWS

> Rickie Weeks got the day off today. Cody Ransom took his place, and I’ll tell you what he did in the numbers section. (But you can probably already guess.)

> Yesterday, Doug Melvin expressed his confidence in John Axford rebounding from his struggles.

“It’s too early to say. We believe in John. I believe in John Axford, I believe in his stuff, I believe in his character, his poise. I think there’s 16 teams that they don’t have the same closer they had at the start of the year. That position, there’s so much pressure on that closer role. You look at other teams. People are yelling for a change after four of five [blown saves].”

> The Astros fired Brad Mills today. The last thing the Brewers will remember him for was him coming out to argue with umpires every five seconds in that last series.

THE NUMBERS

> What you’ve all been waiting for: Ransom struck out four times in four at-bats. He’s clearly going for a 90% strikeout rate by the end of the season.

> Mike Fiers got roughed up for the second straight outing, giving up four runs in five innings. His ERA has gone from 1.80 to 2.90 in his last two starts.

> The bullpen was uncharacteristically good tonight. Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jim Henderson combined for four shutout innings.

> Braun hit his 33rd home run, which already ties his total from 2011.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Kyle Kendrick (5-9, 4.53 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-9, 5.65 ERA)

 


Braun is officially back

August 18, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers took the series from the Phillies today, defeating them 6-2. The stars of the show tonight were Yovani Gallardo, who is showing he’s become quite the second-half pitcher, and Ryan Braun, officially out of his slump.

Gallardo dominated a pretty depleted Philly lineup, going seven inning while giving up a run on four hits. He walked two and struck out nine. He won his fourth consecutive start, bring his season record to 12-8.

Down 1-0 in the fourth, the Brewers posted a two-out explosion against Vance Worley. After Corey Hart hit a single and Martin Maldonado walked, Nyjer Morgan hit a triple that bounced off of right fielder Dominic Brown’s glove. That gave the Brewers the lead. Worley then opted to walk Jean Segura so he could get to Gallardo’s spot in the lineup, but Yo made him pay with a two-run single.

In the sixth inning, Braun hit his third home run- a two-run shot- over the past two games. Looks like the off-day and early batting practice is still paying off.

The Phillies’ last run came on a Kevin Frandsen RBI single in the ninth.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum will make one more start for the Class A Timber Rattlers. He’ll throw 75 pitches, then hopefully return to the Brewers’ rotation, assuming all goes well.

> The Nationals designated Cesar Izturis for assignment today. That’s the second former Brewer shortstop DFA’d this week.

> The Cubs are working on an extension with Starlin Castro.

> Prince Fielder belted two home runs to give the Tigers the win over the O’s today. Looks like he’s starting to figure out Comerica Park.

THE NUMBERS

> Gallardo is now 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA against the Phillies in his career. I have a strong hatred towards the Phillies, so I love that.

> Aramis Ramirez went a dismal 0-f0r-5 with three strikeouts in today’s game.

> It’s worth noting that tomorrow’s starter for the Phils, Cole Hamels, is coming off two consecutive shutouts. Hamels also threw a complete game against the Brewers last year.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Cole Hamels (13-6, 2.91 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (2.63 ERA)

> Sorry about tonight’s short article. I started late and don’t have much time on my hands. Everything here at BWI is kind of scattered right now (you can probably tell by the current setup of the site), but I’m hoping to get everything organized within the next few weeks.


Lindblom does Hart a favor

August 17, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers had to have been happy to finally get out of Coors Field, and they showed it with their 7-4 win over the Phillies- at home. The story of the night was Corey Hart, whose go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning pretty much sealed the win.

Cliff Lee was on the mound for the Phils, and he got off to a very rough start. He gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez in the first inning, giving the Brewers the early 2-0 advantage. Lee would surrender another home run to Braun in the fourth inning. After that, though, the former Cy Young Award winner buckled down and ended up going 7 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts.

Going into the fifth inning, the Brewers had a 3-1 lead, but Marco Estrada loaded the bases with two outs. Estrada had his typical blow-up inning that he absolutely has to have at some point each game, and Kevin Frandsen hit a go-ahead, bases-clearing double.

Fast forward to the eighth inning, with the score staying 4-3. Lee got two quick outs to start it, striking out Martin Maldonado and inducing a Norichika Aoki pop-out. But, the third baseman Frandsen botched what should have been an inning-ending groundout and let Rickie Weeks reach second on the error. Charlie Manuel decided to go to his setup man, Josh Lindblom (who, keep in mind, has struggled during his short time in Philly).

Lindblom came on and loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Braun, then an unintentional (but probably intentional) walk to Ramirez. That brought Hart to the plate, who hit his opposite-field grand slam just over Dominic Brown’s glove.

There was a bit of ninth inning drama, as Manny Parra allowed two hits to start it. But Jim Henderson came on and rebounded from his rough outing yesterday, recording his third save of the year.

MY QUESTION TO LINDBLOM

> If you watch every Brewer game, you probably know that Hart can’t touch the low-and-outside pitch- the slider in particular. None of the Brewers can really hit it, and the problem is they can’t lay off it. Hart is probably the worst at laying off it.

Anyway, after Lindblom walked Ramirez, I thought the inning was over. All Lindblom had to do was throw Hart three sliders just a little off the outside corner and low, and Hart would swing right through it, as usual. But maybe Lindblom misread the scouting report.

Lindblom did give Hart a few sliders, none of which were high enough in the zone for Hart to chase at. But, on a 2-2 count, Lindblom gave Hart a fastball up in the zone that cut home plate in half, and we know Hart didn’t miss it.

And that’s what I don’t get. On a 2-2 count, why on earth would you give Hart a fastball? There’s still a pitch to screw around with. I guess there’s the danger of bringing the count full, then the pressure of throwing a strike, or else the game is tied. But the odds of Hart eventually swinging at the slider are good, as he’s shown us.

Or we could ask Manuel a question. Why not just bring in Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save? I highly doubt Papelbon would come in, walk two batters, then give up a go-ahead slam. Papelbon is elite; Lindblom is a struggling reliever that Philadelphia probably already despises. There’s a better chance Papelbon gets through the heart of the Brewers’ order.

I’m not complaining here, but maybe now we know why the Phillies are having as bad of a season as the Brewers.

THE NEWS

> In the middle of his slump, Braun decided to take early batting practice for the first time since he was a rookie (or so he says). I think it worked.

> Shaun Marcum is scheduled for a bullpen session tomorrow. If that goes well, we’ll probably see him back in uniform next week.

> You can also check out my latest article at Reviewing the Brew here. I talk about Marcum, his constant injuries, and his free agent status come this offseason.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run tonight. And we won. Coincidence?

> After his slump, Braun stormed back, hitting two home runs off Lee. His average also rose to .302 after having fallen below .300 on Tuesday.

> Braun has three home runs in his career against Lee, all coming this year. Oh, and he’s batting .533 against the lefty.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Vance Worley (6-7, 3.97 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (11-8, 3.78 ERA)