Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their optionsĀ  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their optionĀ  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.


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Sveum considered front-runner for Sox managerial position

November 5, 2011

> The Brewers could soon be saying their farewells to their long-time hitting coach, Dale Sveum. Sveumer- a nickname he’s earned over the years in Milwaukee- is considered by many sources to be the primary candidate to occupy Boston’s managerial vacancy, which was left by Terry Francona. In my opinion, Francona didn’t need to be fired, but, after a collapse like the Sox had in September, something had to be done.

Anyway, back to Sveum. He was the third base coach for the Red Sox back in 2004- one of their World Series years- and 2005. He actually received a lot of criticism due to the rate of runners, who were sent by him, getting thrown out at home. But that doesn’t faze him, apparently.

After Ned Yost was fired with 12 games left to go in 2008 season, the Brewers’ most recent playoff year before 2011, Sveum took over for those 12 games, and the Brewers went 7-5 under his management. But that’s his only managing experience in the Majors.

I guess I wouldn’t mind Sveum leaving- it wouldn’t kill the Brewers. It’s always tough to tell if a hitting coach is doing his job (unless you’re a fan of a team like the Padres, Mariners, Athletics, and so on), but my biggest question for him, at least in 2011, is this- why couldn’t he get Casey McGehee out of his season-long slump? That’s what hitting coaches are there for. But I guess that wouldn’t matter much in Boston- most of the guys over there can already hit, and Sveum wouldn’t even be the hitting coach.

Anyway, if the rumors are true, goodbye and good luck to Sveum- he had a decent run as the hitting coach over here.

> Apparently Matt Kemp, the Dodgers’ star outfielder who is probably Ryan Braun’s biggest competition for the NL MVP this year, thinks that his team will be able to lure Prince Fielder over to Los Angeles this offseason. Here were his exact words:

“Every team can use another big bat, more offense would help us out. We lost a lot of one-run runs (don’t know if that’s a typo, but it’s what the quote says). One more big bat, we’d be more dangerous. Why not do it?”

To answer his question, “why not do it,” here’s the answer- your team is financially devastated.

I’m sorry, but I can’t see it happening. Sure, Fielder would be a decent fit over there, since James Loney proved his uselessness over the course of the 2011 season. But, the Dodgers aren’t even owned by a specific person or group right now, as the whole Frank McCourt episode just ended. It’s going to take time to recover form that, so I just can’t see any huge signings from the Dodgers- at least not early on this offseason.

Plus, despite the fact Fielder is friends with Kemp, Fielder has had his history of bad blood with the Dodgers. Of course, nobody can forget the time he tried to break into the Dodgers’ clubhouse a few years back after being drilled by ex-Brewer Guillermo Mota (who now pitches for the Giants). And, there was an episode earlier this year in a Spring Training game against the Dodgers, when Fielder charged the mound in defense of his teammate, McGehee.

So that’s my reasoning. I just can’t see it happening, with both the financial situation of the Dodgers, and the bad blood.

> The Brewers are going to have to look for a new radio voice to call games alongside Hall of Famer Bob Uecker. As of yesterday, Cory Provus, Uecker’s companion in the radio booth since 2009, had joined the Twins as their lead radio broadcaster.

I don’t listen to games very often on the radio, unless I don’t have access to a TV. But, I’m going to miss Provus; I thought he did a decent job with the Brewers.

Anyway, as for Uecker, who turns 77 in January, he’s already announced that he’s going to be back in the booth for the 2012 season. Which is a good thing, because I can’t imagine Brewers baseball without him, at least not yet.

> So I heard a rumor from a friend today at school about the Brewers possibly signing Jose Reyes. He said he heard about a five-year, $120 million deal.

No idea where, though. When I got home, I looked all over and couldn’t find any rumor like that anywhere.

I’m guessing he was either making it up, or heard something wrong. First off, it’s too early in the offseason to even be talking about deals of that caliber, especially with the top players in the free agent pool- I expect some of them to be out there for a month, maybe even two.

But, if this rumor does turn out to be true, I certainly wouldn’t have an issue with it.

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

> Jim Thome is going back to the Phillies. Wow.

Thome re-joined another one of his former teams, the Indians, last year after a trade from the Twins, and now he’s going back to the Phillies. It’s going to be nostalgic for Phillies fans, obviously. But honestly, what was Ruben Amaro Jr. thinking?

Thome’s primary position has been designated hitter over the past few years. The problem? The Phillies aren’t in the AL. I don’t know what position he’s going to play, other than being a power threat from the left side off the bench. Maybe some first base with Ryan Howard out for the first few months of the season, but note that Thome has only played 28 defensive innings since 2007- and he’s 41.

But hey- they’re the Phillies. They always seem to know what their doing.

> The Orioles still can’t find a GM. Apparently there’s nobody out there willing to take on the task of bringing the term “winning” back to Baltimore. But can you blame them? It would probably take three years, maybe two at the earliest, to get that team back on track and in contention.

> The Blue Jays acquired reliever Trystan Magnuson from the Athletics earlier today. He put up a 6.14 ERA in nine Major League relief appearances this year.

And that’s all. Not much news today, but the Thome signing really caught me off guard. I’m curious to see how that turns out.


Brewers reportedly decline Yuni’s option; full list of free agents

October 31, 2011

I didn’t look much at news today because I was busy, but here was the first thing I saw when I finally did- “Brewers decline Betancourt’s option.” My day was instantly made.

That’s right, Yuniesky Betancourt-haters (including myself). He probably won’t be playing shortstop for the Brewers next year, which means better defense at that position and better offense in the lineup- hopefully.

Betancourt had a pretty bad 2011. But it may have been good for his standards, actually. He hit .252 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI. All of those stats are worse than his 2010 season with the Royals, in which he hit .259 with 16 home runs and 78 RBI. Anyway, if you add his 2011 stats to his lazy defense at shortstop, you can see why the Brewers declined his option.

My guess is that Doug Melvin will make a push for Jose Reyes, the Mets’ All-Star shortstop who is now a free agent. His .336 batting average won him the NL batting title (although he technically cheated to get it). Reyes doesn’t hit for much power, but he did lead the NL in triples with 16. His offense, defense, and speed all make him a giant upgrade from Betancourt.

Oh yeah, and the Brewers are also expected to be top contender for lefty starter C.J. Wilson. He went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers this year, but he had an ugly postseason, as he went 0-3 with an ERA hovering around 7.00. But, he would make a great addition to the Brewers’ rotation, and would probably push lefty Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) back into the bullpen.

And just a couple more things before I move onto my next topic- the Brewers’ declined reliever Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option, but that was expected, as there was no way the Brewers would have been able to afford that. Also, Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed as one of the possible managerial candidates for the Red Sox. No idea why they’d want him, unless they’ve already given up on next year.

Anyway, onto the next topic. Here is a list of every free agent from every team, with their respective position next to their name:

Atlanta Braves

Alex Gonzalez, SS

Scott Linebrink, RP

Nate McLouth, OF

George Sherrill, RP

Jack Wilson, SS

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jason Marquis, SP

John McDonald, SS

Xavier Nady, OF

Lyle Overbay, 1B

Baltimore Orioles

Vladimir Guerrero, DH

Cesar Izturis, SS

Boston Red Sox

Erik Bedard, SP

J.D. Drew, OF

Conor Jackson, OF

Trever Miller, RP

David Ortiz, DH

Jonathan Papelbon, RP

Jason Varitek, C

Tim Wakefield, P

Chicago Cubs

John Grabow, RP

Reed Johnson, OF

Rodrigo Lopez, SP

Ramon Ortiz, RP

Carlos Pena, 1B

Kerry Wood, RP

Cincinnati Reds

Ramon Hernandez, C

Edgar Renteria, SS

Dontrelle Willis, SP

Cleveland Indians

Chad Durbin, RP

Kosuke Fukudome, OF

Jim Thome, DH

Colorado Rockies

Aaron Cook, SP

Mark Ellis, 2B

Kevin Millwood, SP

J.C. Romero, RP

Chicago White Sox

Mark Buehrle, SP

Ramon Castro, C

Juan Pierre, OF

Omar Vizquel, SS

Detroit Tigers

Wilson Betemit, SS

Carlos Guillen, 2B

Magglio Ordonez, OF

Brad Penny, SP

Ramon Santiago, 2B

Joel Zumaya, RP

Florida Marlins

Greg Dobbs, 3B

Jose Lopez, 2B

Javier Vasquez, SP

Houston Astros

Clint Barmes, SS

Jason Michaels, OF

Kansas City Royals

Bruce Chen, SP

Jeff Francis, SP

Jason Kendall, C

Los Angeles Angels

Russell Branyan, OF

Joel Pineiro, SP

Horacio Ramirez, RP

Fernando Rodney, RP

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rod Barajas, C

Casey Blake, 2B

Jonathan Broxton, RP

Jamey Carroll, SS

Jon Garland, SP

Hiroki Kuroda, SP

Mike MacDougal, RP

Aaron Miles, 2B

Vicente Padilla, SP

Juan Rivera, 1B

Milwaukee Brewers

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Craig Counsell, SS

Prince Fielder, 1B

Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B

LaTroy Hawkins, RP

Mark Kotsay, OF

Francisco Rodriguez, RP

Takashi Saito, RP

Minnesota Twins

Matt Capps, RP

Michael Cuddyer, OF

Jason Kubel, OF

Joe Nathan, RP

New York Mets

Miguel Batista, RP

Chris Capuano, SP

Scott Hairston, OF

Willie Harris, 2B

Jason Isringhausen, RP

Jose Reyes, SS

Chris Young, SP

New York Yankees

Luis Ayala, RP

Eric Chavez, 3B

Bartolo Colon, SP

Freddy Garcia, SP

Andruw Jones, OF

Damaso Marte, RP

Sergio Mitre, RP

Jorge Posada, DH

Oakland Athletics

Coco Crisp, OF

David DeJesus, OF

Rich Harden, SP

Hideki Matsui, DH

Josh Willingham, OF

Philadelphia Phillies

Ross Gload, OF

Raul Ibanez, OF

Brad Lidge, RP

Ryan Madson, RP

Roy Oswalt, SP

Jimmy Rollins, SS

Brian Schneider, C

Pittsburgh Pirates

Derrek Lee, 1B

Ryan Ludwick, OF

San Diego Padres

Heath Bell, RP

Aaron Harang, SP

Brad Hawpe, 1B

Chad Qualls, RP

Seattle Mariners

Josh Bard, C

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Wily Mo Pena, OF

Jamey Wright, RP

San Francisco Giants

Carlos Beltran, OF

Pat Burrell, OF

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Mark De Rosa, 2B

Guillermo Mota, RP

Cody Ross, OF

St. Louis Cardinals

Edwin Jackson, SP

Gerald Laird, C

Albert Pujols, 1B

Nick Punto, 2B

Arthur Rhodes, RP

Tampa Bay Rays

Juan Cruz, RP

Johnny Damon, DH

Casey Kotchman, 1B

Texas Rangers

Endy Chavez, OF

Michael Gonzalez, RP

Darren Oliver, RP

Matt Treanor, C

Brandon Webb, SP

C.J. Wilson, SP

Toronto Blue Jays

Shawn Camp, RP

Frank Francisco, RP

Kelly Johnson, 2B

Jose Molina, C

Washington Nationals

Rick Ankiel, OF

Todd Coffey, RP

Alex Cora, 3B

Jonny Gomes, OF

Livan Hernandez, SP

Laynce Nix, OF

Ivan Rodriguez, C

Chien-Ming Wang, SP


Fielder helps Brewers seal series win against Astros

August 7, 2011

9:23p It looks like the Astros have pretty much given up hope on this season, and it’s really starting to show now. Looks like the Brewers came to Houston at the right time.

Brewers-Astros Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 7-5, in a game that became somewhat of a thriller at the end. Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt both had great games, with Fielder going 3-for-3 and Betancourt going 4-for-5.

The Brewers jumped on the Astros with three runs in the first inning for the second consecutive day on Fielder’s three-run homer off Astros starter Brett Myers, who would end up taking his 12th loss of the season.

The Astros got on the board in the second inning, when Carlos Lee hit a solo shot off Brewers starter Chris Narveson. But, the Brewers immediately answered in the third on a pair of questionable calls that led to two runs. Betancourt hit an RBI double down the left field line, but the ball appeared to land in foul territory. Third base umpire Lance Barksdale called the ball fair, however, and the Brewers took a 4-1 lead. Astros manager Brad Mills came out to argue, and it wouldn’t be the last time he had to do that. On the very next play, Felipe Lopez hit a grounder to first baseman Carlos Lee. Lee threw home and it appeared that catcher Humberto Quintero had applied the tag on Fielder, who had been at third, but home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called him safe.

Those two runs would prove costly for the Astros, because J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning to make the game 5-4. But, Fielder added to the Brewers lead in the sixth inning with an RBI double. Jonathan Lucroy also hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to give the Brewers some insurance.

Anyway, Narveson exited after just 5 1/3 innings. He definitely didn’t have his best stuff, but it was good enough to get him his eighth win of the season. He gave up four runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four. The bullpen bailed him out, however, with Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, and Francisco Rodriguez combining for 2 2/3 scoreless innings before John Axford entered for the save.

It was a pretty shaky save for Axford, as he gave up a one-out solo homer to Clint Barmes. And, the last out of the game was crazy, but got it done. J.B. Shuck hit a line drive off the leg of Axford. Then, Axford tried to throw Shuck out at first, but completely botched it and the ball rolled into right field.

After that, it was Tony Plush to the rescue.

Nyjer Morgan, who was playing right field, jogged over to the ball and picked it up. Then, he noticed that Shuck was trying to get all the way to third, so he threw it all the way across the diamond to Casey McGehee. McGehee applied the tag, and that was game over for the Astros, thanks to a rookie mistake by Shuck.

I think Fielder can hit Myers.

Coming into today, Fielder was hitting .308 against Myers with three home runs and six RBI. He’s shown those numbers are no fluke twice this year. The second one was his mammoth homer earlier today, which hit the foul pole. But his huge homer against Myers came earlier this year, when Fielder hit a 486-footer off him. That home run was the longest this year until Jim Thome of the Twins hit a 490-footer to break the record.

Hart exits with bruised hand

This definitely isn’t good. Corey Hart left today’s game in the seventh inning after getting hit in the left hand by Astros reliever David Carpenter. Nyjer Morgan shifted from center field to right field to take over his position in the field, and Jerry Hairston Jr. took Morgan’s place in center field.

Hart had been on a hot streak coming into today, including a hitting streak spanning over the last eight games. If he has to miss any time, it wouldn’t be good for the Brewers, who have already lost two key players in Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez. This is probably the worst part of the year to be losing good players since the Brewers are in the middle of a pennant race.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a series sweep against the Astros tomorrow in an afternoon game. The Brewers will send Zack Greinke (9-4, 4.41 ERA) to the mound, who currently has a string of five straight quality starts going, including a win in his last time out against the Cardinals. This will be Greinke’s first start against the Astros as a Brewers. He is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his career against the Astros.

The Astros will counter with Bud Norris (5-7, 3.47 ERA), who has pretty much dominated the Brewers in his career. That’s shown by his 3-0 mark and 2.32 ERA against them. He has one start against them this year, and he went 7 2/3 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cubs continued to be hot and blew out the Reds, 11-4. They are 15 and 9.5 games out, respectively.
  • The Pirates just continued to fall apart today, losing to the Padres 13-2. They are now nine games out, and are also riding a nine-game losing streak that started when they were tied for first place in the division.
  • The Cardinals are just refusing to lose, as the beat the Marlins again, 2-1. They remain three games back.

Interleague Recap

July 4, 2011

10:54p Well, the Brewers rough Interleague schedule came and went as advertised, and it turned out pretty bad.

I remember last year, sometime towards the end of the year, I was watching a Brewer game. Brewers announcers Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder somehow got to the topic of Interleague, and then Anderson said he was going to show the Brewers’ 2011 Interleague schedule on the screen after the next commercial break. Being a huge fan of Interleague play, I was excited to see who we were playing. When the commercial break ended and Anderson showed the Interleague schedule, my excitement went away.

Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Twins.

At that point, I knew this was the most unfair Interleague schedule in baseball, and that remained correct. I don’t know of any team with a rougher schedule than that.

I remember a lot of people saying that we would have a 14-game losing streak during Interleague. I didn’t think it would be that bad. And, after we acquired Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, I thought we had a shot at those tough teams of the AL East. Turns out that Greinke and Marcum didn’t help us in Interleague at all- Greinke had two disaster starts (against the Yankees and Twins), and one great start (7 IP, 1 ER effort against the Rays), while Marcum pitched just 9 innings total because of a hip injury he suffered in Boston.

The final Interleague record? 6-9.

That was the opposite of last year, when we went 9-6 against the much easier AL West (Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and rival Twins).

It started with a series against the Red Sox- at Fenway Park- where we lost two of three to the Red Sox. Too bad we couldn’t have gotten them at Miller Park, for two reasons. One, we’re just plain better at home. Two, no DH for the Sox (so, in other words, no David Ortiz). But, hey, that’s the luck of the Brewers. The one game they actually won was behind a great effort from Randy Wolf. If I had to have chosen one of the games that the Brewers would have lost in that series, I would have chosen that one. But, Marcum and Yovani Gallardo both faltered in the other starts, and Wolf proved me wrong.

Then, the series at home with the Rays. I thought we would fair better against them, but we didn’t- another lousy one of three series for the Brewers. The one win came on one of Greinke’s rare decent starts, when he held the Rays to one run over 7 strong innings. We actually got kind of lucky in that series, because the Rays didn’t have the DH and had to use Johnny Damon in the outfield. We should have fared better because of his joke for an arm, but I guess it didn’t have that much effect on the outcome of the series.

Next came a much-needed sweep of the Twins at home. Randy Wolf, Yovani Gallardo, and Chris Narveson all picked up wins. Again, the Twins had no DH at Miller Park, so, despite the fact Jim Thome was finally returning from the DL, he could not be used, except for in pinch-hitting roles.

The tables would turn for the Brewers during the next series as the made their first trip to Yankee Stadium since 1997. They were swept at the hands of the Yankees, and the most embarrassing game of all was when Greinke gave up 7 runs in 2 innings- ballooning his career ERA at Yankee Stadium to 11.31.

Then came the series that just ended today, against the Twins at Target Field. Gallardo had a below-average performance and Greinke had another awful start. Narveson also got knocked around, but that was covered up because of the incredible comeback win that the Brewers pulled off against Twins closer Matt Capps.

So, those are a few of my thoughts on the Brewers’ disappointing Interleague series. We still somehow ended it tied with the Cardinals for first in the Central, which we should be thankful for considering we were up against the three top teams in the AL East.

By the way, sorry for venting out on Greinke so much. But he has just disappointed me so much this year. His injury in spring training gave him a bad impression immediately, and his 5.66 ERA isn’t making him look any better. I really hope he picks up the pace soon, because if we want to make a real run at the Central, we need Greinke to do it.


Brewers can’t hold on to early lead, drop series to Twins

July 3, 2011

4:28p Brewers-Twins Wrap-Up

All of the possible worst case scenarios happened to the Brewers today.

Zack Greinke had another rocky start, the bullpen faltered, and the offense couldn’t rally. All of these things diminished what was looking to be a series win for the Brewers early on, and an end to Interleague play on a high note. But the Twins chase of Greinke and late inning rallies against the bullpen ruined that ending, as the Brewers lost 9-7.

Everything was going right for the Brewers early on, except for Jim Thome’s homer off Greinke in the 3rd, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Brewers immediately answered, however, as Mark Kotsay crushed a home run off Twins starter Nick Blackburn. It was his first homer as a Brewer, and tied the game at 1-1.

But the huge rally began in the 4th inning, after Nyjer Morgan reached third on a throwing error by second baseman Alexi Casilla and an intentional walk of Prince Fielder. Mat Gamel hit a double, driving in Morgan and advancing Fielder to third. Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a rocket of an infield single that shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka couldn’t handle, which scored Fielder. Mark Kotsay continued his good day at the plate after that with a two RBI triple. Then, after Jonathan Lucroy drove in Kotsay with an RBI single, Blackburn finally got out of the mess. It would be his last inning, as he only went 4 innings while giving up 6 runs on 6 hits. He struck out 2 and walked 1.

But, Greinke began to struggle in 4th inning, when Rene Tosoni smacked a 3-run homer to tighten the screws of a now 6-4 game. Greinke would give up another run in the bottom of the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single, but had a shutdown 6th inning. He finished with 6 innings, 5 runs (4 earned), 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.

In the top of the 6th, Rickie Weeks hit his 15th homer of the year with a solo shot off reliever Anthony Swarzak, which made the game 7-5. That run would prove not to be enough insurance, however.

Things started to fall apart for the Brewers bullpen in the 7th. Zach Braddock had been in in relief of Greinke, but left with two outs and two runners on. Then, Kameron Loe was summoned from the bullpen in an odd spot, considering he’s typically the 8th inning reliever. Things did not go well for Loe, as he first gave up an RBI single to Cuddyer to make it a 7-6 game. He then walked Thome to load the bases. On the next batter, Danny Valencia hit a single to Kotsay. Kotsay, however, couldn’t handle the ball, and it rolled all the way to the track. The bases cleared, and Valencia wound up at third. It was now 9-7, and that was how the game remained.

Matt Capps, who blew the save yesterday, was in to try again, but after allowing back-to-back baserunners and with Prince Fielder on deck, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to bring in lefty specialist Glen Perkins. Perkins struck out Fielder and pinch-hitter Casey McGehee to end the game. McGehee’s struggles were visibly continuing, as he broke his bat over his knee after striking out.

Greinke gets more run support, but struggles continue (and a bit of venting about Loe)

The Brewers, as usual, gave Greinke seven runs of support today, but it proved not to be enough as his struggles continued. Greinke did not take the loss, but his ERA rose a touch to 5.66. If you’re wondering, Loe ended up taking the loss. He’s now 2-7 with a 4.72 ERA. Not to mention he has five blown saves. Yeah, not the greatest numbers for a setup man, if you can even call him that at this point.

Thome wasting no time trying to get to 600

If you were watching the game today, you probably noticed that Thome’s homer off Greinke was on the first pitch. He’s also took a few home run swings at pitches well out of the zone, which shows that he’s trying to get to 600 pretty bad. During this series, he hit his 594th off of Yovani Gallardo, and the one off Greinke today was #595.

McGehee still visibly frustrated about slump

McGehee pinch-hit for Gamel in the 9th inning today to try and get something going against the lefty Perkins. He struck out, however, and, as I mentioned earlier, broke his bat over his knee on the way back to the dugout. That clearly didn’t help his self-esteem, and now there’s no telling how many more days off Ron Roenicke is going to give him.

Braun’s hitting streak on hold

Ryan Braun sat out today’s game nursing a calf strain, so he did not get to continue his hitting streak. He may or may not play in tomorrow’s opener against the Diamondbacks, but his hitting streak remains on hold at 22, the longest active in the Majors.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will open a home series (thank goodness) against the Diamondbacks tomorrow. Shaun Marcum (7-3, 3.16 ERA) will get the start as he tries to bounce back from his below average start against the Yankees. Over Marcum’s past three starts, he has pitched a total of just 9 innings because of worries of a hip strain. Hopefully those are behind him now. The Diamondbacks will send Daniel Hudson (9-5, 3.49 ERA) to oppose Marcum. Hudson, in my opinion, is the ace of the Arizona staff, despite getting off to an 0-4 start this year.

Elsewhere around the division…

-The Reds finally beat the Indians today, 7-5, to avoid an Interleague sweep. They are 2 games back.

-The Pirates blew out the Nationals, 10-2. They are now just 1.5 games back, as they continue to be a surprise contender in the Central.

-The Cardinals lost to the Rays, 8-3. The Brewers still maintain a tie atop the central because of this.

-The Astros lost a close one to the Red Sox, 2-1. They are 16 games back.

-The Cubs defeated their southside counterpart, the White Sox, 3-1. They are 10 games back.


Brewers overcome 7-0 deficit, tie Cards atop Central

July 3, 2011

Brewers-Twins Wrap-Up

9:26p I cannot tell you how happy I am that my first post will be about this incredible game. I’ve got a lot to go over, so let’s get started.

The Brewers made what was probably their best comeback win of the season so far, defeating the Twins 8-7.

Now, a few things stuck out that the Brewers don’t often do- they overcame a 7-0 deficit, something that many teams cannot do very often. Secondly, this win was on the road- and I think we all know what the Brewers have (or haven’t, in this case) been capable of on the road this year.

The game started out extremely ugly for the Brewers. The Twins jumped on starter Chris Narveson (5-5, 4.86 ERA) early in the 1st inning, as Danny Valencia knocked in Alexi Casilla for an RBI single.

Then, in the 3rd, Narveson’s struggles continued, as he gave up back-to-back homers to Michael Cuddyer and Valencia, giving the Twins an early 3-0 lead.

The 4th was probably Narveson’s worst inning. He gave up five consecutive hits, with RBIs by Cuddyer, Valencia, Luke Hughes, and Jason Repko. He would eventually get out of it, but only lasted 4 2/3 innings. He gave up 7 runs on a career-high 14 hits allowed, while striking out one and walking two.

The Brewers finally started a rally against Twins starter Carl Pavano in the 5th, but it came in an odd yet convenient way. Yuniesky Betancourt singled with one out in the inning, then Mark Kotsay flew out to fairly deep center. Betancourt, surprisingly, attempted to tag up on the out, and center fielder Ben Revere’s throw appeared to be on the money, but the replays showed otherwise. Casilla had dove to tag Betancourt out before he got to 2nd, and wound up doing what looked like a cartwheel. Betancourt then jumped over Casilla’s tag, and landed on 2nd safely. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to argue, but the safe call remained. Jonathan Lucroy proceeded to drive in Betancourt with an RBI single, but Pavano got out of the strange inning after that. The Brewers would go on to score again in the 6th inning on Nyjer Morgan’s 2-run homer, making the game 7-3, and that would be the end of the scoring for awhile. Relievers Marco Estrada and Takashi Saito held the Twins offense scoreless until the ninth, when the Brewers would make their final strike.

Twins closer Matt Capps was in for the save, but the Brewers had other ideas. The inning started with Betancourt singling to center, then Kotsay followed up with a single of his own, advancing Betancourt to 3rd. Lucroy then drove in Betancourt and advanced Kotsay to 2nd with an RBI single. Capps then got a big out, inducing a Craig Counsell pop up. He also got Rickie Weeks to fly out, but Kotsay advanced to 3rd. After that, the real rally started.

Morgan, who was celebrating his 31st birthday, hit a 2-RBI double to deep right center, which tied the game at 7-7. George Kottaras, pinch-hitting for Carlos Gomez, came up and drove in what would be the winning run with a single. That would end Capps’ night, who was booed off the mound after blowing his AL-leading 6th blown save. Phil Dumatrait then came in to finish the inning. John Axford came in the bottom of the 9th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, including a game-ending strikeout of pinch-hitter Jim Thome, for his 21st save of the year.

Brewers snap 4-game losing streak

With the win tonight, the Brewers snapped a depressing 4-game losing streak, giving them a 1-4 record on this road trip. The losing streak started with a sweep at the hands of the Yankees, then a loss to the Twins last night.

1st inning troubles continue for starting pitchers

Narveson gave up a run in the first inning today, but that wasn’t an uncommon theme for the Brewers recently. The Brewers have given up a total of 17 runs in all of the first innings combined during Interleague play.

Braun extends streak to 22

Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to 22, the longest active hitting streak in the Majors right now, and a career-high for him. He went 1-for-4, the hit being a 4th inning double off of Pavano.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will finish up the three-game set with the Twins tomorrow with a rubber match. The Twins will send Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64 ERA) to the mound. The Brewers will counter with Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.63 ERA), who will be hoping to rebound from his short outing against the Yankees. He gave up 7 runs in just 2 innings at Yankee Stadium, where his career ERA is 11.29.

Elsewhere around the division…

-The Pirates went 1-1 in a double-header with the Nationals. They are 2.5 games back.

-The Cubs offense faltered against the White Sox, despite Matt Garza’s complete game. They are 11 games back.

-The Astros were hammered by the Red Sox, 10-4. They are 16 games back.

-The Cardinals lost to the Rays, 5-1, allowing the Brewers to tie the Central lead.

-The Reds woes against the Indians continued, as they lost 3-1. They are 3 games back. (Even the Pirates are ahead of them. That’s saying something.)

So… I hope you guys enjoyed. This was my first official post, and I hope to continue posting like this on a day-to-day basis. I’m excited to keep doing this, as I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but never really had the guts to do it.

EDIT: The chart below was supposed to be the box score, haha. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate that into the post. It should be up within the hour.