Davies can’t contain Franco, Phils

April 23, 2016

> A day after getting embarrassed by Ricky Nolasco and the Twins, the Brewers dropped their second straight game, losing to the Phillies 5-2. Zach Davies (0-2, 9.72 ERA) improved upon his atrocious season debut against the Pirates earlier this week, but it wasn’t enough as Philadelphia’s lineup teed off against him the second through the order.

The Brewers got on the board right away in the first inning on Chris Carter’s RBI single. That appeared to be all Davies would need, as he cruised through the the first three innings without any trouble. However, in the fourth, Cameron Rupp hit a one-out double, and then Darin Ruf tied the game with an RBI single two batters later. The Phils continued to pour it on in the fifth inning: Odubel Herrera started the rally with a one-out single, and he was promptly driven in on a Freddy Galvis triple. Maikel Franco then put the nail in the coffin with a two-run shot to left field, extending the Phillies’ lead to 4-1. They would tack on another in the seventh inning when Franco hit his second bomb of the game, this one coming off reliever Chris Capuano.

After their first inning run, the Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Phillies starter Aaron Nola. He allowed just that run on four hits over seven innings. Nola walked two and struck out seven. Milwaukee did get one more run in the ninth inning thanks to Aaron Hill’s RBI double off reliever Jeanmar Gomez but couldn’t sustain the rally.

Davies wasn’t terrible on this night; his performance was better than the average Taylor Jungmann or Wily Peralta start so far this season. However, the Phillies evidently caught onto him the second time around. Davies went six innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out five in his second loss of the season.

> A lot has happened since I last wrote in July of 2013 (which was, ironically, the day Ryan Braun received his 65-game suspension). There’s far too much between then and now for me to detail, but here’s a quick recap of the major events that have taken place.

> The Brewers finished 2013 a dismal 74-88. That was to be expected as Braun was banished from the field for a better part of the second half of the season, and beyond him there wasn’t much offense. However, it was during 2013 that Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy began their respective rises to stardom; Jean Segura also had his lone All-Star appearance in a Brewers uniform.

> Towards the end of the 2013-14 offseason, the Brewers hadn’t done much of anything, and appeared to be headed for another down year. However, shortly before the 2014 season, they stunned the baseball world and signed Matt Garza to a four-year, $52 million deal, the largest free agent signing in franchise history. All of a sudden, Milwaukee didn’t look half bad on paper, and that translated to the field, at least for most of the season. The expected 3-4 combo of Braun and Aramis Ramirez actually didn’t contribute as much as expected, but Gomez and Lucroy led the way and helped the Brewers remain in first place in the National League Central for a majority of the year. Peralta also had a career year, going 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA and establishing himself as the new ace of the rotation. However, what appeared to be a sure playoff berth descended into one of the most disappointing finishes in recent history. What could have been a decent season for Garza got cut short with an injury, the rest of the rotation struggled to find consistency, the bats went cold, and the bullpen– which had been spectacular for most of the year thanks to finds such as lefties Zach Duke and Will Smith– fell off a cliff in the season’s final months. All of this led to a 3-16 stretch between Aug. 20 and Sept. 9 that completely killed the team’s chances at making the postseason. A resurgent Mike Fiers, who returned to his dominant form from mid-2012, was the only bright spot the team had down the stretch. The Brewers finished 82-80– even worse than in 2012 when they went 83-79 despite one of the worst bullpens they’ve had in recent history– good for third place behind the Cardinals and Pirates.

> The promise heading into 2015 was that the Brewers had put their awful finish in 2014 behind them and were ready to contend again. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Milwaukee started 2-10, tying their worst start in franchise history. Things didn’t get much better, and when they were 7-18, Doug Melvin finally pulled the plug on manager Ron Roenicke, a move that felt long overdue. He brought in former fan favorite Craig Counsell, who had been working in the Brewers’ front office since his retirement after 2011, as the interim manager.

The Brewers were nowhere near contention come summer, and with a few impending free agents, moves had to be made. Melvin started the fire sale by trading Ramirez to Pittsburgh– the team that originally signed him as an amateur free agent back in 1994– in exchange for Double-A reliever Yhonathan Barrios. A shortstop-turned-pitcher, Barrios can reach triple digits, and he impressed the Brewers when rosters expanded last September. He likely would have made the team out of spring training this year, but an injury has derailed him for the time being.

The next trade was no doubt the biggest and showed fans that the Brewers are truly trying to turn over their minor league system. Melvin sent Gomez and Fiers to the Astros for a package of four prospects: outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, left-handed starter Josh Hader, and right-hander Adrian Houser. Phillips, Santana, and Hader were all in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects at the time; Phillips and Hader still are, while Santana is proving a mainstay at the major league level in 2016.

The Brewers also scammed the Orioles out of one of their top prospects. In dire need of an outfielder, Baltimore sent the Brewers their #3 prospect, the right-handed starter Davies, in exchange for Gerardo Parra. Don’t get me wrong: Parra was hitting around .330 at the time and appeared to be a good acquisition on paper for the Orioles. However, the ended up only getting him for half a season, as he signed a free agent deal with the Rockies this past offseason. Basically, the O’s traded Davies– one of their best prospects– for a short-term outfielder who didn’t even help them make the postseason.

Milwaukee made another small trade before the deadline last season, trading Jonathan Broxton to the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Malik Collymore, who is still in Rookie ball. But the fact that the Brewers got anything of value in return for Broxton is a success in my book.

Fast-forward to the end of 2016: the Brewers finished 68-94, their worst record since 2004, when they went 67-94. However, they at least got what they could have out of a terrible season on the field by completely re-stocking their minor league system, which had been considered among the worst in baseball since they went all in back in 2011. Melvin also announced near the end of the season that he would be stepping down as general manager; this allowed the Brewers to hire the young David Stearns, formerly the assistant GM for Houston.

Stearns completely turned over the Brewers’ roster prior to the 2016 season. He brought in players he was familiar with, such as first baseman Carter and shortstop Jonathan Villar, from his days with the Astros. He also made a blockbuster deal with the Diamondbacks, sending Segura and top pitching prospect Tyler Wagner to the desert in exchange for right-handed starter Chase Anderson, second baseman Hill, and minor league shortstop Isan Diaz.

At just 30 years of age, Stearns is very young to be a general manager, but he’s already served as assistant GM for both the Indians and Astros, so he has experience. He’s also had the opportunity to watch the Astros go from nothing to a contender in just a few years by efficiently building up their farm system through the draft and trades, and he seems to be using the same process with the Brewers. Who knows what 2016 will bring, but, whether it be good or bad, I feel much more comfortable with Stearns at the helm than I ever did with Melvin.

> I guess this turned into a pretty long-winded article after all, which I hoped to avoid in my first post returning, but I might as well finish it. I thought I was deserting BWI for good after I could no longer find time to write it; my last post on here would have been the summer before my junior year of high school, and now I’m finishing up my freshman year of college. To be honest, though, I’ve had the itch to bring it back ever since I quit: in 2014, I started writing an article about how the second Wild Card was ruining baseball and making non-contenders think that they were contenders; I used the Royals as my prime example (the irony is still killing me). However, I never finished that article, which was probably for the best. Then, around the Trade Deadline in 2015, I started writing one about the speculation of why the original Gomez trade, in which the Brewers would have acquired Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores from the Mets, never happened. Both of those articles are still sitting in the drafts of this website, and I’ll probably never publish them, but they’re proof that I’ve wanted to come back all this time.

If I want to keep it up, I’ll have to balance it with schoolwork and my job, among other things, but I think I can do that. I go to a small liberal arts school in southern Wisconsin, where I’m majoring in Business Economics with a minor in Journalism. I chose the school primarily because it gave me the best scholarship, but also because of an interesting job opportunity in the area with a minor league baseball team. I’ve been doing stat-stringing– essentially relaying the play-by-play as it happens to Minor League Baseball, which allows them to post it to their website– as well as writing game recaps and other articles for the team (so it isn’t like I haven’t written a sports article in three years).

I intend to keep using this blog as a means of practice for (hopeful) future jobs in journalism, but developing a fan base/network using BWI would be cool as well. I’ve done that with this site in the past, though my Twitter account definitely helped out with that. However, ever since I left Reviewing the Brew, I haven’t used my Twitter account much at all, and at this point I’d say I’m probably never going to actively use it again. In any case, if you happen to be scrolling through, feel free to drop a comment or something. I’m looking forward to getting back to this.

 

Advertisements

Gold Glove Awards handed out, no Brewers win

November 2, 2011

Isn’t this a surprise. The 2011 Gold Glove Awards were handed out today, and nobody on the Brewers won.

Normally, I’d try to defend the Brewers and at least attempt to make a case that someone on the team should win (which I’ll actually do for three players later in this article). But, other than those three players, I can’t make a case for any infielder on the Brewers. If I remember my stats correctly, third baseman Casey McGehee, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and first baseman Prince Fielder all led the league in errors at their respective positions. I don’t think second baseman Rickie Weeks led the league in errors at second base, but I’m pretty sure he was up there.

Not to mention the outfield. Corey Hart has a cannon arm (although it isn’t always accurate), but, other than that, he looks like a fool in right field. Platoon center fielders Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan each had their share of highlight reel plays, but also made costly misplays.

Then there was that awful inning in the Brewers’ last game of the postseason- game 6 of the NLCS- where the Brewers made about five errors in two plays (but were only charged for three; the error is such a pathetic stat). That pretty much closed the book for me on the Brewers’ 2011 defense, and hopefully that’s Doug Melvin’s top priority this offseason.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about how awful the Brewers’ defense was, here are the actual 2011 Gold Glove winners:

American League

Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Shortstop: Erick Aybar, Angels

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Alex Gordon, Royals; Nick Markakis, Orioles

National League

Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Base: Joey Votto, Reds

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield: Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks

I didn’t get to see all many of these guys play very often this year to judge how good their defense actually was, but really- Gerardo Parra over Ryan Braun? And Kershaw is pretty much a lock for the NL Cy Young Award, does he really need a Gold Glove too?

From the Brewers, I think Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum at least deserved consideration for the Gold Glove Award at pitcher. Marcum was on the highlight reel all the time, while Greinke was just a good defender. But again, I can’t judge how good Kershaw’s defense really is, because I don’t watch “Dodgers Baseball!” (as Vin Scully would say) very often. But I never saw him on a highlight reel.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Before I go, here’s the Hot Stove news from today:

The Cardinals picked up and declined some options today. They picked up Molina’s option, which was expected, but they declined shortstop Rafael Furcal’s and Octavio Dotel’s options- something I didn’t expect. Maybe they intend to bring back Furcal for less money- either that, or they’re stuck with Ryan Theriot at short again, and we all know how that turned out. And Dotel was a great right-handed reliever, but he’s aging, which is probably why the Cards declined his option.

Brian Cashman is going back to what he’s done best over the past few years for the Yankees- spend as much money as possible and taunt the best players in the game to come to the Yanks. I’ve never really said this on this blog before, but I’m not a huge Cashman fan. Anyway, he’s back on three-year deal for them.

Lastly, the Cubs formally introduced Jed Hoyer as their new GM, and Jason McLeod as the head of scouting and player development. The only reason these guys are there is because of the Cubs’ new president- Theo Epstein. Together, these three created a World Series team in 2004 for the Red Sox.


Greatest moment since 1982…

October 8, 2011

At the beginning of the season, every sports magazine predicted a Red Sox-Phillies World Series. The moment I saw that, I counted them both out. And I guess I was right- neither of them even made it out of the NLDS. What a bunch of busts.

Anyway, let’s move on from the busts. The Milwaukee Brewers are going to the NLCS for the first time since 1982, and it’s going to be eerily similar to 1982. The Cardinals, who just finished off the Phillies’ season, will oppose the Brewers. Where have we heard that before? Oh, just the 1982 World Series. Obviously, it’s impossible for them to face off in the World Series, since they’re in the same league, but this is as about as close as it gets.

Before I get into the Cards-Brewers NLCS, let’s recap this crazy Brewers-Diamondbacks game first. It was a rematch of Game 1- Yovani Gallardo vs. Ian Kennedy- and both had decent starts. Gallardo needed 112 pitches for just six innings, but gave up just one run, nonetheless. That one run was a Justin Upton homer.

Anyway, it was a 2-1 game going into the ninth, and John Axford, owner of 44 consecutive saves, was in to finish it off, and clinch the Brewers’ first CS appearance since 1982. But not so fast- the Snakes weren’t going down that easily. Gerardo Parra led off the ninth with a double, and Sean Burroughs followed with a single, giving the D-backs guys on first and third with no outs. Then, Willie Bloomquist laid down a squeeze bunt. Prince Fielder might have had a play at the plate, but Axford somehow tripped him (still trying to figure out how that happened), so Fielder couldn’t make the play. And there’s Axford’s first blown save since April against the Phillies.

At that point, I thought the Brewers’ season was over. The last thing I wanted was for the Brewers’ season to end today, and then I’d have to wait until next April to see another game. But, Axford wound up getting out of the ninth inning jam, and came back out to pitch a scoreless 10th. He also received the win, and you’re about to figure out why.

Doug Melvin acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals in late March, just a couple days before the season started. At that point, I was actually against this trade. I wasn’t too familiar with Morgan then, and the only reason I knew him was because of the bench-clearing brawl he caused in a game against the Marlins. I wasn’t too impressed with that, and I was worried he would be a bad influence. I honestly don’t think I’ve been more wrong about anything in my life.

Morgan had a few walk-off wins during the regular season, but none were as big as this. The D-backs put in their closer- J.J. Putz- to pitch the 10th inning. Carlos Gomez, who has been swinging an extremely hot bat lately, reached on a one-out single off Putz. Then, catcher Henry Blanco (if you were a Brewers fan in the late 90’s, you probably remember this guy) couldn’t handle one of Putz’s pitches, and that allowed Gomez to go to second base. That set the stage for Morgan’s walk-off single, which is definitely going to go down as one of the biggest hits in Brewers history.

Anyway, now I’ll move onto the NLCS, which, as I said earlier, is going to be a rematch of the ’82 Series. The Cardinals rode Chris Carpenter’s shutout to the the NLCS, but that means he’s not going to be available until Game 2, at the earliest. Same goes for Gallardo for the Brewers, however.

So that means Zack Greinke is going to be starting Game 1 for the Brewers. I’m guessing the Cardinals are going to go with Kyle Lohse or Jaime Garcia, but I would guess it’s going to be Lohse, because he hasn’t pitched since Game 1 of the Phillies series. Anyway, here’s to the beginning of one of the most exciting series since 1982.

One more thing before I conclude- I never really thought about this up until I heard it on MLB Network, but the final four teams in the playoffs are from the Midwest. That’s right- every “beast of the east” (ugh, I hate basketball terms) is gone. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Phillies, Braves- all gone. And we’re left with the Brewers, Cardinals, Tigers, and Rangers. So screw all the east coast bias- the midwest has it this year.

I haven’t really taken the time to say anything like this yet on here, but the Brewers are having an incredible season. I know the defense can be frustrating at times and the offense has been inconsistent, but the pitching. If you compare our pitching now to what it was last year, there’s practically no comparison. Gallardo, Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson is one of the best rotations in baseball. Compare that to last year- Gallardo, Wolf, Narveson, Dave Bush, and a mix of Manny Parra, Doug Davis, and Chris Capuano. You could say that the Brewers didn’t even have a rotation last year.

But they do this year. And that’s why we are where we are- and have the potential to go even further.


Wolf struggles early as Brewers fall again

July 6, 2011

9:57p Diamondbacks-Brewers Wrap-Up

Not too many things are going the Brewers’ way right now.

Starter Randy Wolf struggled early and would end up giving up seven runs to the Diamondbacks as the Brewers lost, 7-3. It was their seventh loss over their past eight games, that only win being the comeback in Minnesota last week.

The Diamondbacks jumped on Wolf early,  getting four quick runs in the first inning. Miguel Montero hit a two-run single, and Xavier Nady and Gerardo Parra both had RBI singles. On Parra’s single, he tried to go for second base, assuming center fielder Carlos Gomez’s throw was going to the plate. Wolf, however, cut it off and threw him out at second. Who knows how much more bleeding would have happened in that inning had Wolf not cut off the throw. The Brewers answered immediately in their half of the inning, as Prince Fielder hit an infield single off of Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke to drive in Rickie Weeks from third. It was Fielder’s league-leading 70th RBI of the year. He would tack on another RBI later in the sixth inning, with his 22nd homer of the year.

The Diamondbacks got to Wolf again in the third, as Justin Upton and Parra both hit home runs. Parra’s was a two-run shot while Upton’s was a solo, and the Diamondbacks took a 7-1 lead.

In the eighth inning, Corey Hart hit his 10th homer of the year, making it a 7-3 game. It wouldn’t matter much, however, as David Hernandez put the game away by getting the last out in ninth after Alberto Castillo gave up a hit and a walk.

Duke finally gets it going against Crew

Duke, a former Pirate, got his first career win against the Brewers at Miller Park. Duke, and the rest of the Pirates, struggled a lot at Miller Park. He was 0-6 in his career at the home of the Crew coming into today. He pitched a decent game today, going seven innings and giving up just two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out one.

Wolf, meanwhile, couldn’t find his rhythm, and had one of his worst starts of the year. He was forced to go six innings because of a taxed bullpen, giving up seven runs on 10 hits, while walking four and striking out four. He likely would have been taken out earlier, but Brewers starters haven’t been going very deep into games lately, leaving the bullpen with a lot of work.

Braun sits for third straight game

This is not a good sign.

Ryan Braun sat out for the third time in as many games, still appearing to be nursing his strained calf. Utility man Josh Wilson started in left field instead, making his first career start in the outfield. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke claimed that he did not want to use Mark Kotsay for the fourth straight game, considering Kotsay has had health issues in his career. Roenicke also wanted a right-hander in the lineup against the lefty Duke, as he’s usually pretty tough on lefties, which is why Roenicke opted not to use the lefty outfielder Nyjer Morgan.

Braun was actually going to pinch-hit in the ninth inning with two men on base, but Hart grounded out for the last out of the game.

Brewers can’t continue home dominance

Coming into today, the Brewers were the only team in the Majors to not have lost consecutive home games. That changed after back-to-back losses to the Diamondbacks at Miller Park. To be honest, I was eager to see if the Brewers could go the entire season without losing back-to-back home games, which would have been quite the feat. Sadly, that won’t happen now.

Fielder announces Home Run Derby picks

Fielder, named the captain of the National League Home Run Derby team, finalized his picks today. These will be the sluggers joining him in the first ever team derby this year:

Prince Fielder (captain), Brewers- 22 home runs

Rickie Weeks, Brewers- 15 home runs

Matt Holliday, Cardinals- 10 home runs

Matt Kemp, Dodgers- 22 home runs

Kemp was obviously a must-have for the team, being tied with Fielder for the league lead in homers at 22. Weeks kind of surprised me, but I’ve heard he kills the ball during batting practice (which is pretty much what the derby is, competitive batting practice). Holliday surprised me the most. He’s had a few stints on the DL this year and has just 10 homers, but he was in the derby last year and should be a help to the NL team.

And, as long as we’re on the topic, I’ll list the American League team, led by Boston’s David Ortiz:

David Ortiz (captain), Red Sox- 17 home runs

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox- 16 home runs

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays- 27 home runs

Robinson Cano, Yankees- 14 home runs

I’m actually kind of surprised Gonzalez accepted the invitation to the derby, since he isn’t exactly what you’d call an extreme home run hitter, and you’d think that trying to hit homers on purpose would mess with his swing. Cano was the main surprise of the AL team for me, since he has only 14 homers. If it were me, I would have chosen Mark Teixeira over Cano, but I’m not the derby captain. Lastly, I don’t think I need to say anything about Bautista- those 27 home runs speak for themselves.

Haha, I guess I got pretty off topic with that whole derby thing. So let’s get back to the Brewers now.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will attempt to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks tomorrow, and will send Yovani Gallardo (9-5, 3.92 ERA) to the mound, in hopes he can bounce back from a rough outing against Minnesota. He gave up five runs (three earned) against the Twins his last time out. In his career against the Diamondbacks, he is 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA.

The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, will counter with Josh Collmenter (4-5, 3.17 ERA), who will hope to get back on track. In six starts after being moved out of the bullpen to the starting rotation, he compiled a stellar 1.05 ERA. However, in four starts since, he is 0-4 with a 7.54 ERA. Hopefully the Brewers will jump on him while he’s still struggling, because he can be hard to pick up when he’s on his game.

Elswhere around the division…

  • The Cubs lost to the Nationals again, 3-2. They are 12 games back.
  • The Pirates defeated the Astros, 5-1, and overtook the Brewers in the Central. Hopefully this doesn’t last long, but I guess the Pirates are finally proving their worth. I doubt this will change the fact that the Brewers destroy the Pirates, however.
  • The Cardinals defeated the Reds, 8-1. They are in first in the division and four games back, respectively.

Quick blog update…

Earlier today, I added a new page to BreakingWI. It was list of all of the Brewers currently on the 25 man roster, and I thought it would be handy to have a page for it on BreakingWI. I might add a page for the 40 man roster later as well.