Results of the major awards

November 17, 2012

> Now that the week of debating over awards is over, the boring part of the offseason starts: waiting for all of the big name players to sign. But first, let’s look at the complete placing for each award (via Baseball Reference).

NL MVP:

1. Buster Posey
2. Ryan Braun
3. Andrew McCutchen
4. Yadier Molina
5. Chase Headley
6. Adam LaRoche
6. David Wright
8. Craig Kimbrel
9. Aramis Ramirez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Matt Holliday
12. Aroldis Chapman
13. Brandon Phillips
14. R.A. Dickey
14. Joey Votto
16. Ian Desmond
16. Clayton Kershaw
18. Michael Bourn
19. Allen Craig
20. Gio Gonzalez
20. Kris Medlen
20. Martin Prado
20. Alfonso Soriano
24. Giancarlo Stanton
24. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Carlos Beltran
26. Aaron Hill
28. Jason Heyward
28. Carlos Ruiz
30. Johnny Cueto
30. Bryce Harper
32. Chipper Jones
32. Miguel Montero
32. Angel Pagan
32. Hunter Pence

AL MVP: 

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mike Trout
3. Adrian Beltre
4. Robinson Cano
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Adam Jones
7. Derek Jeter
8. Justin Verlander
9. Prince Fielder
10. Yoenis Cespedes
11. Edwin Encarnacion
12. David Price
13. Fernando Rodney
14. Jim Johnson
15. Alex Rios
16. Josh Reddick
17. Albert Pujols
18. Ben Zobrist
19. Joe Mauer
20. Rafael Soriano
21. Matt Wieters
22. Felix Hernandez
22. Jered Weaver
24. Raul Ibanez

NL Cy Young Award: 

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Matt Cain
7. Kyle Lohse
8. Aroldis Chapman
8. Cole Hamels

AL Cy Young Award: 

1. David Price
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jered Weaver
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Fernando Rodney
6. Chris Sale
7. Jim Johnson
8. Matt Harrison
9. Yu Darvish

NL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Todd Frazier
4. Wilin Rosario
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
6. Matt Carpenter
6. Jordan Pacheco

AL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Jarrod Parker

NL Manager of the Year: 

1. Davey Johnson
2. Dusty Baker
3. Bruce Bochy
4. Fredi Gonzalez
5. Bud Black
5. Mike Matheny

AL Manager of the Year: 

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura
4. Joe Maddon
5. Joe Girardi
6. Jim Leyland
6. Ron Washington

> I forgot to mention the other day that Ramirez placed ninth in the NL MVP voting. It seems like a lot of non-Brewers fans are overlooking that he actually turned in a great year.

> The Brewers signed Eulogio De La Cruz and Zach Kroenke- both pitchers- to minor league deals.

Kroenke is a lefty, so he gives the Brewers some much-needed depth in that department. And, if you don’t recognize the name “Eulogio” De La Cruz, trust me- you do.

Does “Frankie” De La Cruz ring a bell? Yep, he’s back, and n0w I can continue vomiting over how horrible his mechanics are.

> Jack Zduriencik- a former Brewers scout, and currently the general manager of the Mariners- said they aren’t actively pursuing Josh Hamilton. That could be good for the Brewers, though Doug Melvin has been saying basically the same thing as Zduriencik.

> The Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Interpret that how you want.

> Minor moves: 

Mets: Signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.
Padres: Acquired Tyson Ross and A.J. Kirby-Jones from the Athletics.
Athletics: Acquired Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino from the Padres.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood, Atahualpa Severino, Brian Sanches, and Anthony Ortega to minor league deals.


Predictions for the upcoming awards

November 12, 2012

> Seeing as the major MLB awards are going to be handed out all week starting tomorrow, I figured I’d better get this article up tonight.

So this is basically going to be the same drill as it was last year: I’m going to give my predictions for all of the major MLB awards (NL and AL Rookies of the Year, NL and AL Managers of the Year, NL and AL Cy Young Awards, and NL and AL MVPs). I’ll also put some other noteworthy players who are deserving of the respective award, but just weren’t my choice. (I’m going to do that regardless of who the “finalists” for each award are, because that’s a stupid concept.)

Also, one more note before we begin: I make my picks partly based on my own opinion, but also depending on who will draw the most votes. There are certain trends for each award that voters tend to follow, so I take those into account as well. This is who I think will win, not who I want to win. (If it were who I wanted to win, I’d find ways to incorporate Brewers players into winning all of the awards.)

Anyway, on that note, let’s begin.

NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants

It puts pain into my heart to write that, but that’s who I think is going to win it. As much as I want to put Ryan Braun, there’s no chance he’s going to win, despite putting up a much better year than Posey in every stat (except batting average).

There’s no denying Posey had a great year- 24 homers, 103 RBIs, and a .336 batting average- on a team that hasn’t been known for its offense in recent years. He also plays catcher (at least most of the time), which is a very important position, and will no doubt be taken into consideration during the voting.

Again, Braun had the better year, but there are unfair reasons he can’t win the award that we’ve just come to accept.

Other notable contenders for the NL MVP: Braun, Brewers; Chase Headley, Padres; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

This award probably has the best debate out of any of the awards this year. Many believe it’s become a two-horse race between Cabrera and Mike Trout, who had a phenomenal rookie season. It almost want to say it’s a toss-up between the two for who should win the AL MVP, but that wouldn’t be any fun. I can’t just say Cabrera is going to win the MVP; I suppose I have to state my case.

Trout definitely had a great rookie season, as mentioned earlier. That’s why he’s going to win the AL Rookie of the Year, which I’ll get to later on. But, in my opinion, Cabrera had the better season.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. The Triple Crown certainly helps his case, but even without that back him, I think he’d still win it. If the Triple Crown numbers weren’t enough, Cabrera also led the AL in slugging percentage (.606) and led the Majors in OPS (.999).

And, since the MVP seems to be determined by whether or not the recipient’s team makes the playoffs, Cabrera also wins it in that aspect- his Tigers made it to the World Series, while Trout’s Angels watched the playoffs from home. Do I agree with that part of the voting? No, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My final case is that without Cabrera, the Tigers don’t make the playoffs (a lot of other players in their lineup underperformed this season, in my opinion). The Angels would have finished in third place in the AL West with or without Trout, which is unfortunately true, despite the impact Trout had on that lineup.

Other contenders for the AL MVP: Trout, Angels; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Adrian Beltre, Rangers; Robinson Cano, Yankees

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Mets

No, I’m not picking him because he’s a “feel-good story.” The knuckleballer came out of nowhere and had one of the more dominant seasons in recent NL history, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. He also had five complete games (three of them shutouts) while eating up 233 2/3 innings. Dickey struck out 230 in that span, which is pretty wild for a knuckleballer. All four of those stats- complete games, shutouts, innings, and strikeouts- led the NL.

Dickey will probably win the award because he is, in fact, a feel-good story, but that’s not why I’m giving it to him. Once you get past that part of it, he had some pretty amazing stats.

Other contenders for the NL CYA: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Rays

Price nearly won the award two years ago when he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, but was narrowly beat by Felix Hernandez and his 2.27 ERA. This year, I think it’ll be the opposite: Price will take home the award as King Felix watches.

Price was tied for the AL lead in wins with 20, and also led the AL in winning percentage (he went 20-5). His career-best 2.56 ERA also led the AL. Price will be pitted against some tough competition for the AL CYA, as 20-game winner Jered Weaver and the reigning CYA/MVP Justin Verlander will no doubt give him a run for his money.

Other notable contenders for the AL CYA: Weaver, Angels; Verlander, Tigers; Chris Sale, White Sox; Hernandez, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

There’s an interesting crop of contenders for the NL RoY this year; some of them are overhyped, some not. But I’m giving it to Miley for a few reasons. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, which is spectacular, since he was barely being considered for the D-backs’ rotation during Spring Training. Miley also pitched about half of his games at the hitter-friendly Chase Field.

But I’m also sick of hearing that Bryce Harper should win the NL RoY because of all the hype surrounding him. What does that have to do with his performance? And I can guarantee that if Todd Frazier hadn’t saved someone’s life earlier this year, there wouldn’t be nearly as much hype around him.

Other notable contenders for the NL RoY: Harper, Nationals; Frazier, Reds; Norichika Aoki, Brewers; Mike Fiers, Brewers; Wilin Rosario, Rockies

AL Rookie of the Year: Trout

He should be given this award unanimously. Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, hitting .326 with 30 home runs. He also stole 49 bases.

Again, I’m not giving him the MVP for a case already stated, but he should win this award easily.

Other notable contenders for the AL RoY: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics; Yu Darvish, Rangers; Jarrod Parker, Athletics; Tommy Milone, Athletics; Robbie Ross, Rangers

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson

Before the season started, Johnson said that if the Nationals didn’t make the playoffs, he wanted the Nats to fire him. Many thought those were bold words at the time, but Johnson backed his statement by leading the Nationals to their first playoff berth since their move to Washington. Not to mention the Nationals led the NL in wins along the way.

Other contenders for the NL MoY: Bruce Bochy, Giants; Dusty Baker, Reds; Mike Matheny, Cardinals

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin

Now, this is literally a toss-up between Buck Showalter and Melvin for me. Both led their teams to unpredictable playoff runs. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go with Melvin, just because I predicted that the Athletics were going to have a terrible season prior to this year. He certainly jammed that back down my throat.

Other notable contenders for the AL MoY: Showalter, Orioles; Robin Ventura, White Sox; Joe Maddon, Rays

> And that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Any news (and minor moves) that I missed today will come tomorrow.


Zimmerman(n) kills the Brewers

September 25, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did split this series, which is better than nothing against a team like the Nationals. But, considering the circumstances, they needed to do better; and it doesn’t help that both games they lost were complete blowouts. They were crushed today, 12-2. Marco Estrada proved he, for some reason, can’t pitch during noon games, and hammered for seven runs (six earned) in four innings against his former team.

They Nats used both of their Z’s to kill the Brewers, with Jordan Zimmermann tossing 6 2/3 strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman hitting a three-run blast off Estrada.

The Brewers only managed two runs, one coming on a Corey Hart homer.

MY TAKE

> Estrada had been able to avoid the big inning his last few starts, thus being able to go 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his six starts prior to this. But it came back to haunt him today. After getting two outs in the fourth, he allowed five consecutive baserunners, and that doomed the Brewers for the rest of the day.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals took down the Astros, 6-1. The Brewers are now 3.5 games back with nine to go. It’s going to take a miracle- and probably a Cardinals collapse- to make it at this point.

THE NUMBERS

> Aramis Ramirez hit his 50th double of the season.

> Norichika Aoki has no hits in his last nine at-bats.

> The probables for the upcoming Reds series:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.38 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (18-9, 2.84 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-8, 3.63 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)


Offensive outburst puts Brewers 2.5 back

September 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> After a rough loss last night, the Brewers proved that they can put bumps in the road like that in the past. They came back and won a slugfest with the Mets tonight, 9-6.

Shaun Marcum and the Brewers got off to a bad start, as the Mets tagged Marcum for four runs over just four innings, including a three-run fourth. But the Brewers finally got to Mets starter Jenrry Mejia, who had been begging for trouble through the first few innings, in the bottom of the fourth. After Logan Schafer hit a two-run triple to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-3, Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead three-run blast.

MY TAKE

> If the Brewers end up making the playoffs, a lot of the credit could go to Weeks. He got a lot of hate during his sub-.200 first half, but has had a much better second half, including the fact that he’s found his power stroke lately. The home run was his 20th of the season, a milestone I didn’t think he had a chance at reaching after the start he got off to.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals fell in walk-off fashion to the Dodgers, 4-3. They had a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning, but Jason Motte managed to blow another save. Former Brewer Luis Cruz was part of the rally, as he hit the game-tying double before Juan Rivera won it with an RBI single. The Brewers are now just 2.5 games out of their Wild Card spot.

Oh, and the Phillies were shut out by the Astros, so the Brewers once again passed them up in the standings.

THE NUMBERS

> Marcum hasn’t completed six innings since returning from the disabled list.

> Zack Greinke was great for the Angels tonight, going 8 1/3 innings in a bid for his first complete game shutout since 2009. But he was pulled with an out in the ninth, only for the usually reliable Ernesto Frieri to blow his lead, and the Angels’ win.

> Johnny Cueto got rocked again tonight, giving up six runs against the Marlins. For awhile I thought he was going to win the Cy Young Award, but now I think it almost unanimously goes to R.A. Dickey.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> So I was at the game tonight, and was sitting in the terrace level with my friend. Sometime around the seventh inning, I was talking to him and not looking at the field, when I heard the crowd start oddly cheering and people yelling “airplane!” I turned around and saw a paper airplane slowly gliding from a few rows behind us and towards the field.

I thought eventually it would just fall into the seats in front of us, but it just never stopped. It continuously glided until it was finally over the field, and at this point the crowd was going insane. None of the players noticed until Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy turned around and saw it coming down. Aramis Ramirez, who was batting at the time, called time when he saw it and stepped out.

But things got even more ridiculous- the plane landed inches away from second base, and received a standing ovation from the crowd. A bat-boy came out and retrieved the plane, and then Murphy made a clapping gesture towards the seats that the plane came from. Anyway, that was my take and perspective on the whole fiasco; you can watch part of it here.

However, Mets pitcher Manny Acosta wasn’t amused by the prank, and drilled Ramirez on the following pitch.


Fiers not perfect, but still stellar in win over Cincy

August 8, 2012

Postgame

> I missed pretty much all of today’s game, but I have to say I knew what I was going to be missing. The Brewers defeated the Reds today, 3-1, in yet another amazing performance by Mike Fiers. I know I’ve said this about nearly all of his starts, but I think today was the best performance of his young career. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Brewers jumped on Reds ace Johnny Cueto right away in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez stayed hot and smacked a two-run shot into left field to give the Brewers the early lead.

Cueto did settle down after that inning, turning in a good start (7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K). But, after that first inning, Fiers never looked back either, and out-pitched an opponent who has been tough on the Brewers recently.

Fiers threw eight stellar innings while giving up one run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. The eight innings are a new career-high in innings pitched for Fiers. He also lowered his ERA to 1.80, which is just flat-out remarkable.

But the story tonight was Fiers’ bid for perfection. He needed just 66 pitches to get through the first six innings, which were flawless. But, Zack Cozart led off the seventh inning with a double to break up the perfecto. Two batters later, Brandon Phillips drove him in with a sacrifice fly, which wound up being the only blemish on Fiers’ line.

Fiers ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth as well. He started off the inning by striking out Scott Rolen, but then gave up a single to Xavier Paul. Two batters later, Ryan Hanigan hit a single to put runners on first and third with two outs. But, Fiers did what he’s done so well all year: get out of the tough jams. He struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat in the eighth.

The Analysis

> There really isn’t much more you can say about Fiers at this point, other than he’s turned himself into a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. You can say all you want about the over-hyped Bryce Harper (who is now hitting under .260, mind you), but my vote would go to a pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA, rather than some overrated 19 year-old outfielder who’s only in the conversation because of his age.

Anyway, I decided to check out some scouting reports regarding Fiers today to see what the prospect experts were saying about him. What I found interesting is that his scouting report is nothing compared to the stats he’s putting up. But I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise- Fiers has a mid-to-high 80’s fastball, a solid cutter, and two plus off-speed pitches. That usually makes for a good fly-ball pitcher, but that isn’t what Fiers is doing: he’s being a dominant strikeout pitcher at the Major League level.

The News

> Ron Roenicke once again talked about the frustration he’s having with Francisco Rodriguez’s role in the bullpen. We know, Ron. We know.

> As I mentioned in today’s pregame post, Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment by the Rays today. The man of the .000 batting average wasn’t going to last long there anyway.

The Numbers Game

> The theory I’ve been talking about the past few days finally occurred today: Jim Henderson closed out the game. He preserved Fiers’ two-run lead with a scoreless 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Henderson is throwing the ball the best in the bullpen by far right now, so hopefully we see him in these situations more often.

> Jonathan Lucroy had been slumping since his return from the disabled list, with his batting average dropping from .345 to .327. But, he went 2-for-3 today to bring the BA back up to .329.

> The Brewers’ third run came on Jean Segura’s first RBI as a Brewer (and in the Majors overall), which was a groundout off Cueto in the seventh inning. Segura is still looking for his first hit.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up. So let’s just say it’s a good thing the Brewers took the first two games.

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)

 


Fiers’ sub-2.00 ERA hopes to give Brewers series win

August 7, 2012

Pregame

> With the Brewers taking last night’s game, they have a chance to claim this series against the Reds tonight.

And they’ve got the perfect pitcher on the mound to do it: Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA). He has been phenomenal since his call-up in late May, as that sub-2.00 ERA shows (despite the lousy W-L record). He made his debut at Dodger Stadium and threw well that game, going seven innings and giving up one run for his first career win. I’ll admit I was completely sold after that game for two reasons: it was just one game, and Dodger Stadium is extremely pitcher-friendly. That theory actually appeared to be coming true after Fiers went 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in his first two starts at Miller Park (obviously a hitter-friendly park). But, after those two games, Fiers has been nearly unstoppable, posting an ERA below 1.00 since those games.

Fiers will be opposed by a tough opponent in Reds ace Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA). These two already faced off at Great American Ball Park a few weeks ago, with Fiers taking the loss despite giving up only one earned run. But, Cueto hasn’t been very sharp his past two outings, despite recording wins in both. One of them was against the Rockies at Coors Field, which is understandable with the way the ball has been flying out of there this year, but the other was against the Padres, a team you expect an ace to dominate. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers knock him around a bit.

Despite all the praise I’ve been giving Fiers lately, this is actually his final test to see if he’s a real Major League pitcher. The Reds are the first team Fiers will have faced multiple times. A lot of times with rookie pitchers, they might get away with an outing against a team that hasn’t seen him before, which brings the luck factor into this. I hope that isn’t the case with Fiers (and I doubt it is), but we’ll find out tonight.

The News

> The Rays designated Brooks Conrad for assignment today. Do I even need to go there, though?

> Earlier today, I was reading an article by Richard Justice on the Roy Oswalt situation with the Rangers, and I honestly couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I read it. Not because it was funny, but because it’s the type of writing I love to read, and on rare occasion do any professional writers do it anymore.

First, though, let me brief you if you’re unaware. Oswalt signed a mid-season contract with the Rangers a few months back, a move that was anticipated by many. But, the deal never really panned out, as Oswalt struggled to a 6.49 ERA in the Rangers’ rotation (despite posting a 3-2 record). So, the Rangers went out and acquired Ryan Dempster, and Oswalt was moved to the bullpen. Simple as that.

Or not. Oswalt had been pitching solidly out of the Rangers’ ‘pen the past few weeks, but the other night that may have come to a halt. After Oswalt had thrown two innings of relief, Rangers manager Ron Washington asked him to go back out for a third inning. But, Oswalt told him he’d had enough. That’s where the dilemma starts.

Oswalt had made it clear to the Rangers, though he may not have said it publicly, that he wanted to start. In other words, he was putting himself in front of his teammates, something that doesn’t go on in the Rangers’ clubhouse (or any contending team’s clubhouse, for that matter). So Washington took Oswalt’s gesture the other night as him declining to pitch because he wasn’t starting.

I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of Oswalt’s attitude, even going back to his days with the Astros. The talent was definitely there in the early and mid-2000’s, so you could ignore it. But now, Oswalt is well past his prime, but still has that same attitude. That will drive people in the wrong direction regarding Oswalt. So if he doesn’t get his crap together and accept his role, he may not be on a Major League roster much longer.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I recall Brewers fans suggesting they sign Oswalt. While that may have looked good at the time, I’m considering it a bullet dodged at this point.

The Numbers Game

Basically everyone had a good night in the Brewers lineup last night, so here are the highlights.

> Martin Maldonado went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He knocked two doubles and a home run, bringing his average up to .286. Needless to say he’s showing that he doesn’t want to become dead weight now that Jonathan Lucroy is back.

> Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each went 2-for-4 with home runs last night. They seem to be always be hot at about the same time.

> Despite the power display, though, three hitters in the Brewers lineup went 0-for-4: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura. Gomez had been hot for awhile, so I don’t expect him to keep up that pace for the rest of the season. It was Segura’s Brewers debut, so the nerves probably got to him. But keep in mind it wasn’t too long ago that Braun’s average was up in the .320 range.

> And that’s about it. I’m going to miss most of tonight’s game because I’m going to a concert, so I’ll try and get up the postgame when I get home (should be somewhere around midnight). Anyway, I leave you with the probable lineup for tonight:

  1. Norichika Aoki RF
  2. Nyjer Morgan CF
  3. Ryan Braun LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  5. Corey Hart 1B
  6. Rickie Weeks 2B
  7. Jonathan Lucroy C
  8. Jean Segura SS
  9. Mike Fiers P

Bullpen hangs on for much-needed win

August 7, 2012

Postgame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Analysis

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

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

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

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

The News

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

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

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

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


Morgan, bullpen make sure Brewers get swept

August 6, 2012

> Getting swept by division opponents multiple times is no way to get back into a playoff race. But the Brewers appear to have yet to learn that, as they were shut out by the Cardinals today, 3-0. There are plenty of things we could criticize as to what went wrong today, but I’d just be explaining basically the same thing I’ve been saying all season.

Marco Estrada still couldn’t find his first win, despite putting up another quality start. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It was a very gutsy outing for Estrada, who, after giving up an RBI double Daniel Descalso in the second inning, was pretty much untouchable. He kept the Brewers in the game while he was in, but was foolishly removed (more on that later).

Anyway, the Cardinals added two more runs late, with Allen Craig hitting an RBI double in the seventh and a David Freese RBI single in the eighth.

(EM’s coverage)

***************************

> So here was what pretty much lost the game for the Brewers. The Cardinals removed starter Kyle Lohse after six scoreless innings, so you’d think the Brewers would be jumping for joy that he was out. And it looked like they were. Cody Ransom promptly led off the seventh with a single off Edward Mujica. Estrada’s spot in the batting order was next, so Ron Roenicke pinch-hit for him with Nyjer Morgan (who, as usual, was massively booed). Estrada is not a good hitting pitcher, so I can understand pinch-hitting for him in this situation. But, as I expected, Morgan was going to bunt anyway, which he did. And what did he do? He tried putting down the sacrifice, popped it up, and catcher Yadier Molina easily fielded it. Ransom, naturally running on the sacrifice attempt, was doubled off at first.

Which brings me to my point: if Morgan was going to bunt anyway, why not let Estrada lay it down instead? Morgan has proven that he’s extremely inconsistent at bunting. And, Estrada’s pitch count was at a manageable 84 through six innings, so he could have given at least one- if not two- more innings and save our horrible bullpen.

But, as we learned even in the great 2011 season, Roenicke likes pinch-hitting for players so that the pinch-hitter can bunt, when the original hitter could have done it himself, and Roenicke hates the idea of pitchers going deep into games. Even though our bullpen is the worst in baseball this year.

I don’t even want to attempt to explain what probably goes on in our manager’s mind.

> For the third straight regular season start, Lohse inexplicably dominated the Brewers. Going into 2011, Lohse was 3-10 with a 5.10 ERA in his career against the Brewers, and didn’t have a win against them as a Cardinal. But, in his last three regular season starts against the Crew, he’s 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. (That excludes the postseason, when the Brewers beat him in Game 4 of the NLCS.)

> Shaun Marcum is closing in on his return to the starting rotation, as he threw a simulated game at Busch Stadium today.

But, to be honest with you, I’m not looking forward to his return anymore. The Brewers (and Marcum himself) have made it clear that they aren’t going to make a run at re-signing the crafty right-hander, so I don’t want to see him pitch at the end of the season and watch what could have had (but won’t) the next few years.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers return to Miller Park tomorrow to start a three-game series against the Reds. The Reds are a division opponent, so there’s a good chance of the Brewers getting swept by them (again). But we can at least hope that the Brewers win one or two in this series, right?

Anyway, here are the probables:

Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92 ERA)

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

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)


Brewers’ offense once again absent against Reds

July 22, 2012

> This is frustrating, and just doesn’t make any sense. The Brewers, who were once known as one of the better offensive teams in baseball, have been unable to score runs at what is, statistically speaking, a hitter’s haven, otherwise known as Great American Ball Park. That trend did indeed continue today, as the Brewers fell to the Reds, 6-2.

Great American Ballpark was a house of horrors for the Brewers in 2010, and most of 2011. The Brewers swept the Reds at their home park in September of 2010, but they’ve proved this year that it was a fluke.

Yovani Gallardo’s line today was somewhat deceptive. He went 5 2/3 innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. Anyway, Gallardo gave up four runs right away in the first inning. Jay Bruce hit an RBI single, Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly, and then Ryan Ludwick smashed a mistake pitch from Gallardo for a two-run shot. After that inning, Gallardo held the Reds in check. But, the way the offense has been lately, a 4-0 deficit is far too much to come back from.

The Brewers got their first run in the fourth inning on Corey Hart’s RBI single. They got their second and last run when a run scored on Aramis Ramirez’s double play in the sixth. The sixth could have become a big inning for the Brewers, but the double play- which was slickly turned by shortstop Zack Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips- killed the rally.

The Reds tacked on two more in the seventh against Jose Veras, a two-run blast from Phillips, which pretty much put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo once again inexplicably dominated the Brewers. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out six. I guess I don’t really see what’s so good about Arroyo, since other teams seem to hit him just fine.

> And that’s already about it. Not much news today, other than this pretty crushing loss, since the Brewers desperately needed to get out of Cincy with a series win.

Anyway, here’s tomorrow’s match-up:

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-5, 2.28 ERA)


Kotsay beats Cordero as Brewers walk-off

July 9, 2011

EDIT- 2:02p It doesn’t look like I’ll be home tonight, as I’m staying in downtown Milwaukee for the night. I doubt I’ll have access to internet where I’m staying, so that means there probably will not be a post tonight.

Anyway, let’s hope the Brewers can take this series from the Reds tonight, and that the Cardinals and the Pirates both lose to give us some breathing room in the Central. Let’s go Crew!

11:18p This probably goes without saying, but that had to be the best Brewer game I’ve ever been to.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

I don’t know if it gets much better than that. The Brewers defeated the Reds, 8-7, in a crazy back-and-forth game. Early on, Zack Greinke was getting roughed up again, but settled down as the game went on. His counterpart, Reds starter Mike Leake, was the opposite. He was great early in the game, but fell apart in the middle innings. But this turned into a game of bullpens.

Things were not looking good for Greinke in the first inning. After Greinke retired the first two (including a caught-stealing of Drew Stubbs), Joey Votto hit a solo homer. Then, after a Brandon Phillips double, Jay Bruce drove him in with an RBI single.

In the third, Greinke got into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. After striking out two and coming close to escaping with no damage done, Scott Rolen hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Mat Gamel. The ball ate up Gamel and got into the outfield, and two runs scored, making it 4-0.

The Brewers would finally answer in the third when Rickie Weeks hit an inside-the-park homer off Leake, making it 4-1. They would score again in the fifth, when Weeks, after a Greinke single, hit an RBI double. Nyjer Morgan then drove in Weeks with a single. Morgan later scored on a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly, which tied the game at four. The Brewers would take the lead in the sixth after Mark Kotsay’s go-ahead homer. That would end Leake’s night. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out three. Greinke’s night also ended after six innings. He gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits to go along with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He finally lowered his ERA a bit, which now stands at 5.45.

Things started to look bad in the seventh. After Zack Cozart singled, Votto hit what looked like a single to the left fielder Kotsay. But, we’ve learned over the past few days that Kotsay has no idea how to defend in center field, and this was another example of it. The ball skipped past him, which scored Cozart and allowed Votto to advance to third. Phillips then scored Votto on a sacrifice fly. Bruce added on to the lead with a solo shot, making it 7-5. All of this came off of Zach Braddock, who deserved a better fate, but was charged with three earned runs and his first blown save of the year. Ironically enough, Kameron Loe came in to finish the inning. Loe went 1 1/3 scoreless before handing the ball off to Marco Estrada, who also pitched a scoreless inning. Then came the ninth, where all the action happened.

Francisco Cordero, a former Brewer, was on to close it out for the Reds. He had a two run lead, which you think would be enough for a guy like Cordero. But, after giving up a lead-0ff walk to George Kottaras, I could tell it was going to be a rough night for him. Kottaras would advance to second on a wild pitch by Cordero, then Morgan slapped a triple, which scored Kottaras. Corey Hart then grounded out but reached first on a fielder’s choice, as Morgan was thrown out at home attempting to tie the game. After that, Cordero’s command struggles continued, as he walked Fielder. Then, Casey McGehee reached on an infield single, which loaded the bases for Mark Kotsay.

Kotsay would hit a two-strike single to right field which scored Hart. Carlos Gomez, who was pinch-running for Fielder, scored the winning run. He might have been out had Bruce’s throw from right field been on target, but it was airmail, and flew passed catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Brewers get fourth walk-off win of season

If I’ve been counting correctly, this was the Brewers’ fourth walk-off win of the season, but I definitely didn’t picture Kotsay being the star.

I found it ironic that gave us the lead with a homer, then cost us the lead with that error, but wound up giving us the win on his single. I guess the walk-off lets him off the hook for that error, but I hope Ryan Braun is back so Ron Roenicke can stop playing Kotsay in left.

Speaking of Braun…

Braun sits again, but could be back tomorrow

Braun sat AGAIN today, and I’m kind of sick of having to put that in all of my posts. But, I noticed that he came running out of the dugout and was jumping during the walk-off celebration. I don’t think someone with a bad calf could do that, so I’m expecting him to be able to play tomorrow.

Slow curve is slow

For those of you who don’t know Greinke’s pitching repertoire, it looks something like this- fastball, circle change, curveball, slider. The slider is, obviously, is his out pitch. He doesn’t use the curve much, but when he does, it’s a spiked, or knuckle, curveball.

However, on occasion, he uses a half-eephus curve that’s usually only in the mid-60 MPH range. It’s similar to Randy Wolf’s sweeping curve, but Greinke’s doesn’t sweep as much, and it’s usually slower.

Anyway, Greinke was pitching to Chris Heisey (I think that’s who it was), and he threw the eephus curve to him. Heisey must have been looking fastball, because that’s just about how far ahead of the pitch he was. Then, I noticed that the pitch speed on Greinke’s curve was 61 MPH. 61. Now that is slow. It had to be the slowest pitch I’ve ever seen a Brewer throw.

I’m not sure what the slowest curve Greinke has ever thrown is, but that was the slowest I’d seen him throw. When he was with the Royals, the slowest I saw was 62 MPH, making this a new record.

Anyway, I don’t know why I ranted on about his slow curve for so long. I just thought it was worth being in this post. So, let’s move on.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will send Shaun Marcum (7-2, 3.32 ERA) to the mound tomorrow, who has been screwed out of a few wins by the bullpen lately (mainly Loe or Estrada blowing saves after Marcum leaves with the lead). Marcum’s two career starts against the Reds both came this year. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in that span.

The Reds will send their most consistent starter, without a doubt, to the mound tomorrow in Johnny Cueto (5-3, 1.77 ERA). He hasn’t been given the best run support, as evidenced by his five wins, but his ERA is no fluke; he’s really been throwing that well. Cueto is 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Pirates defeated the Cubs, 7-4. The Pirates are now tied for second in the division, while the Cubs are 12 games out.
  • The Astros lost to the Marlins, 6-3. They are now 18 games out. (Note: If the Astros get 20 games out, I’m going to stop putting up what they do on this blog. It’s hilarious how awful they’re doing, though.)
  • The Cardinals lost to the Diamondbacks, 7-6, giving the Brewers the division lead all by themselves. If the Pirates pass them in the division tomorrow… That should be interesting.