Braun gets two hits in NL’s third straight win

July 11, 2012

> Welcome to the new and improved Breaking Wisconsin (at least for now). More on the new setup later, but for now let’s get straight to the All-Star Game.

> The National League defeated the American League, 8-0, for the third consecutive year. Personally, I thought some of the NL’s starters shouldn’t have gotten the nod, as did many others. But, it was some of those starters in particular who may have won the game for the NL.

Justin Verlander was starting for the AL, and I’m sure everyone thought he would have a tidy six-up, six-down two innings. But he did exactly the opposite. After striking out Carlos Gonzalez to start the game, he gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. Then, Ryan Braun represented the Brewers with an opposite field RBI double off JV to give the NL an early 1-0 lead. Verlander struck out Joey Votto the next batter, but struggled with his control after that, giving up back-to-back walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval then made him pay with a bases-clearing triple (yes, Sandoval hit a triple). Dan Uggla followed that up with an RBI single, but got a little help from some sheepish defense by Prince Fielder. Corey Hart would have made the play.

The NL added three more runs in the fourth against Matt Harrison. Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off him, then Cabrera put the icing on the cake with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 8-0. The biggest deficit ever recovered from in ASG history was five runs, and that didn’t change tonight.

The NL pitching staff was stellar, as shown by the nine goose eggs in the AL box score. Matt Cain started, and he threw two solid innings to begin the game. From there, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, and Cole Hamels each threw scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman combined for an eighth inning that was filled with high-90’s and low-100’s fastballs, and Wade Miley, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Papelbon each got an out in a scoreless ninth inning. The only NL pitchers who didn’t make an appearance were Huston Street, the Padres’ only representative, and Lance Lynn. But who knows- maybe Tony La Russa called to the bullpen for Lynn, but got someone else this time.

Other than Verlander and Harrison, the AL pitching staff didn’t give up a run, either. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each threw scoreless innings. The only AL player not to enter the game was position player Adam Dunn, but he would have probably just struck out to end the game.

> As I sort of expected, Cabrera took home the ASG MVP award this year after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. I was gunning for Braun to win it- he also had a triple to go along with his RBI double- but Cabrera was definitely worthy as well.

> Here was a cool moment in the game. Chipper Jones got into the ASG thanks to an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Chipper announced at the beginning of the year that this will be his last year before he retires, so everyone wanted him to get into the game somehow, and that opportunity presented itself.

Not only that, though- Chipper got a hit in his only at-bat. He hit a weak tapper to the right side, and second baseman Ian Kinsler may or may not have let the ball sneak through for a hit. That was probably the case, because Chipper was laughing his head off by the time he got to first base. Still, though, that was a cool moment.

> That’s about all I’ve got about the game.I could go on forever about all of the different storylines that were going on, but I think I covered the main points.

> You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve given BW a new theme. I’ve been pondering that idea for a while, actually going all the way back to near the time I started the blog. The old theme was supposed to be temporary, and this one is also probably going to end up not being around very long. But I haven’t found a theme I like for the long-term yet.

Anyway, you guys probably don’t care much about themes, but, to go along with quality writing, there needs to be a catchy theme to grab the eye of the reader.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll try and put up an article with my ratings of all of the players on the Brewers’ roster up to this point in the season. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


And the slow offseason continues.

November 28, 2011

> As far as baseball goes, this has been one of the most boring weeks I’ve had in awhile.

> The Brewers made absolutely no roster moves, not even minor ones, which has left me with absolutely nothing to post about. And, on top of that, none of the major free agents- or even minor ones- signed with teams this week, also leaving me with nothing to post about. A few days ago, I attempted to come with my own topic, which was talking about whether or not five-tool catchers exist. Personally, I thought it was a good idea. But, judging by the amount of feedback (there wasn’t any), it must not have gone over well.

> I tend not to post about minor moves of other teams on here, but, since I can’t come up with any of my own material at the moment, I’m kind of forced to. So, here’s a list of those moves made over the past couple of days.

> Freddy Garcia is returning to the Yankees. The Yankees signed the right-hander to a Minor League deal last offseason as a last resort because they missed out on Cliff Lee, and Garcia responded by going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. In my opinion, the Yankees may have gotten lucky with him last year, but we’ll see how it goes over this time around.

> The Red Sox managerial search is reportedly down to two candidates- Bobby Valentine and Gene Lamont, both of whom are veterans with prior managing experience in the Majors. The Sox were interested in getting former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, but he opted to become the manager of the Cubs.

> Neftali Feliz is moving into the Rangers’ rotation. And no, it apparently didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he blew a save after being one strike away from sealing the Rangers’ first World Series title. Anyway, the Rangers signed former Twins closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal a few days ago, which forces Feliz out of the spot.

> Oh, and one non-baseball related topic- the NBA lockout supposedly ended yesterday morning. Not that I care, but I’d like to point out that this 149-day lockout made me realize how many people don’t care about basketball. I didn’t hear one person complain for the entire lockout. Which made me feel good, knowing that I’m not the only who could care less about a bunch of show-boating “stars.” I know people say that baseball is losing popularity (which it really isn’t), but there are probably still more baseball fans than basketball fans.

By the way, the NBA season starts on Christmas day. Classic.

> And that’s about all the major minor moves (if that makes any sense) of the past few days. Feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any. In the meantime, I’m going to try and come up with my own material for the next few days, because, if the first few weeks have been an indicator, it’s going to be a pretty boring offseason.


Why Verlander deserved his MVP award

November 22, 2011

> The AL MVP was handed out today, and, as I predicted, Justin Verlander won.

> But, there are a lot of people out there who think Verlander shouldn’t have won- because he’s a pitcher. Sure, the Cy Young Award is there for the best overall pitcher in each league. And they don’t need to play for a contending team. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) and Zack Greinke (while he was on the Royals) are the two most recent pitchers to take home the Cy Young Award while sulking on last place teams.

>  A lot of people are going to disagree with this, but I think the MVP should play for a contending team. If the player couldn’t get his team into the playoffs, then was he truly that valuable?

> Anyway, regardless of my policy on the MVP, Verlander deserved the award. Let’s start with the numbers- he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, becoming the 11th AL pitcher in history to win the pitching Triple Crown. I know some are saying, “What’s so special about a 2.40 ERA?”  I guess there isn’t much. There were two pitchers with ERAs lower than 2.40, both in the NL- Clayton Kershaw (2.28), who won the NL Cy Young, and Roy Halladay (2.35). Verlander’s 2.40 ERA did lead the AL, however. And, he threw 250 innings and had a .920 WHIP, both of which also led the AL.

> And was there anyone more valuable to their team than Verlander? Try imagining the Tigers without Verlander and his 24 wins. Their rotation would look somewhat like this: Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, Phil Coke, and who knows who the fifth would have been. (I didn’t put Doug Fister in there because, with that rotation, the Tigers wouldn’t have been contending at the Trade Deadline, hence not being buyers and probably not acquiring Fister.) As I said, the Tigers wouldn’t have been contenders- maybe not even a .500 team.

> Anyhow, this is just my theory that I’ve believed in for awhile now. I can see why some disagree with it, but again- it’s my opinion; you don’t have to agree with it if you don’t want to.

> There was no Brewers news again today. Hopefully, there will be news tomorrow about Ryan Braun winning the NL MVP…

> Greg Halman has been on my mind all day, and if you know what happened to him, he’s probably been on yours as well.

Halman, who had been an outfielder for the Mariners, was stabbed to death early this morning in his native country, the Netherlands.

Sometimes, I don’t understand why our world is like this.

Halman, who was just 24 years old, had played seven Minor League seasons with the Mariners, being drafted when he was 16. This past season, he played in 33 Major League games with the Mariners, and probably had a shot at being a full-time outfielder with them next year. In fact, he was in the Netherlands preparing for that possibility.

But no. Everything- everything he worked for, everything he dreamed of- was taken away from him in an instant, because of the blade of a knife.

> This has been a scary offseason so far. First, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his native Venezuela, but was rescued. Now, this. I hope nothing else like this happens for the rest of the offseason; I’ve had enough already.

But, this is my message to Major League players- don’t return to your native country. According to the events early this offseason, it can only bring bad things.

> The Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal today. They’ve announced that they’re moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation, so this probably means that either Nathan or Mike Adams will be their new closer. But I don’t know about this- it appears Nathan is past his prime.

> The Pirates officially announced today that they signed shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year deal. This makes the Brewers out of the running for the above-average defensive shortstop.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave comments, if you’ve got them.


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