Back for the summer- hopefully

June 2, 2013

> I probably have a lot of explaining to do, seeing as I abruptly stopped posting in regularly in January and haven’t actually written an article since February. But I’ll get to that later on; first let’s recap what became a pretty wild game for the Brewers.

> Since I wrote about the Brewers’ spring opener, more than a lot has gone wrong for the team. Since a nine-game winning streak in late April, the team has fallen apart at the seams, as shown by their May record (which I’ll also get to later). But, today, they held on to defeat the Phillies, 4-3.

Logan Schafer, who has torn it up when given the opportunity to start, continued to do that today. He got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with a two-RBI single. In the fifth, Jean Segura- who happens to be leading the National League in hitting- notched an RBI triple. The last Brewers run turned out to be an important insurance run, which was a Jonathan Lucroy solo blast in the eighth.

But there’s no doubt a lot of Phillies fans- and anyone else who strongly wants to expand instant replay- will put an asterisk next to this Brewers win because of what took place in the ninth inning. Francisco Rodriguez was on for the save and promptly gave up a solo homer to Freddy Galvis, then Jimmy Rollins reached on a single. A few plays later, K-Rod attempted to pick off Kyle Kendrick, pinch-running for Rollins, at second base. The throw beat Kendrick, but the shortstop Segura dropped the ball before applying the tag. However, second base umpire Mike Estabrook had the wrong angle and didn’t see the ball, so Segura sold it and still got the out. You can watch the play for yourself here, but the Brewers got a break any way you look at it.

> And it was a break the Brewers needed. They’re coming off what ended up tying for their worst month in season history: a 6-22 record in May. But it’s not the offense’s fault, or even the bullpen’s: it’s been the starting pitching. Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta have struggled to make it beyond five innings before being yanked because of pitch count in recent days, and even Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse haven’t been too sharp over their last few starts or so.

Peralta broke out of his slump today, however, firing seven strong innings against the Phillies. He struck out six while allowing just two runs for his best start of the year. It was also the first time he finished seven innings on the year; his previous high was 6 2/3, which he accomplished in two starts against the Cubs.

> On a day when Ron Roenicke decides to field the correct lineup, these are the averages of the Brewers’ 1-5 hitters:

  • Norichika Aoki: .298
  • Jean Segura: .352
  • Ryan Braun: .300
  • Aramis Ramirez: .300
  • Carlos Gomez: .321

That might be the most consistent 1-5 in baseball. For a while, Yuniesky Betancourt could have been thrown into that conversation as well, but he’s cooled back to his old self over the past few weeks. Lucroy could be paving his way back, though: after coming into yesterday’s game with an average below .230, he’s brought it all the way to .259 after going 5-for-5 and 2-for-4 yesterday and today, respectively.

> The bullpen has been lights out as of late as well. Burke Badenhop’s ERA is 2.66, Tom Gorzelanny’s is 2.37, and Michael Gonzalez’s is 2.61. Jim Henderson had been stellar in the closer’s role (John Axford lost the job- again), but he hit the disabled list last week with an oblique strain. K-Rod, who was doing well at the time, earned the job while Henderson is gone.

> The Brewers will look for the sweep of the Phillies tomorrow, but I’ll say now that the odds don’t look very good. Mike Fiers (1-3, 5.66 ERA) will face Cliff Lee (6-2, 2.34 ERA). Interpret that how you want.

> So the reason I haven’t posted in four months is basically because I thought I was over my head with more important things. I decided to leave Reviewing the Brew a short time before so I could decrease my writing workload a bit, but I wound having to completely shut it down. My grades were slipping a bit in school, and I decided to play high school baseball this year, which turned out to be a huge time commitment (but also one of the best experiences of my life).

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to write consistently over the summer. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll have a bit more time on my hands.

Once summer is over, though, I’m not completely sure what I’ll do with this site. I’ll be going into my junior year, so my time to write will probably decrease even more. But we’ll see what happens once that time comes.

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Brewers killed by Kendrick

August 20, 2012

POSTGAME

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

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

THE FIRST BASE SITUATION: 2013 AND BEYOND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NUMBERS

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

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

> Probables for the Cubs series:

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

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

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

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

 


Odd baserunning miscue looms large

August 19, 2012

POSTGAME

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

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

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

ODDITIES ON THE BASEPATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEWS

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

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

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

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

THE NUMBERS

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

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

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

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

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

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