Brewers making lefty relievers a priority

December 3, 2012

> The Brewers went a long time without announcing it publicly, but we all knew left-handed relief pitching was a necessity for the Brewers coming into this offseason. In fact, getting an established, healthy lefty for the bullpen has been a huge issue for the Brewers ever since early 2011. Going into that season, the Brewers thought they were going to have Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter as left-handed options out of the ‘pen, but injuries (and personal issues, in Braddock’s case) plagued all of them. Parra missed all of 2011, Stetter had season-ending hip surgery early on, and Braddock never quite regained his 2010 form. So, for their playoff run in 2011, the Brewers went without a lefty arm out of the ‘pen (until the postseason, when Chris Narveson was available). 

Now, all three of those lefties are gone, and the Brewers will have to begin from scratch. They’ll probably have to do so via the free agent market, where there’s a solid crop of left-handers. Those options include Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny.

Choate would probably be the toughest guy to sign, because the Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back, and we all know the Dodgers are going to get whoever they want this offseason. I thought it was going to be the same situation for Burnett and the Nationals, but now that we know he’s not actually seeking a four-year deal (which would have been ridiculous), I see him as a possibility for the Brewers. Howell would also be decent, but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams; same goes for Gonzalez. Gorzelanny would be the easiest and cheapest option, but I see him as more of a lefty long reliever, which the Brewers might already have if they decide to move Narveson to the bullpen.

In my opinion, the best guy on that list is Burnett. Ever since 2009, he’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. In 2012, he had a career year with the Nats, going 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 70 games (56 2/3 IP). He also had a 1.9 BB/9 and 9.1 K/9, which are exactly the stats you want to see out of a specialist like Burnett. My only concern regarding those numbers are they were far better than his career statistics in each of those categories- he has a career 3.6 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9, which leads to believe he could regress back to those numbers eventually. Regardless, Burnett is probably the best option on the list.

Burnett

There’s only one issue with the Brewers and the left-handed relief market: the Cardinals are also in dire need of a lefty reliever. Marc Rzepczynski flamed out under the pressure of being the only lefty reliever the Cards could rely upon in 2012. The Cardinals tried to fix that with minor leaguers Barret Browning and Sam Freeman, but neither of them really panned out, either. Hence, the Cards are also in the market for a lefty reliever.

It was reported the other day that Burnett came out and asked the Cardinals for a four-year deal, but his agent shot that down immediately (thank goodness). Still, that could mean the Cards also think Burnett is the best lefty available, so it could end up being a bidding war between them and the Brewers.

> When asked about the recent acquisition of Burke Badenhop, Doug Melvin called him a “young, cheaper Kameron Loe-type pitcher.”

I like the younger and cheaper part, but there was absolutely no need to insult the new guy right away. It’ll be tough for him to be as bad as Loe was.

> The Rockies are interested in another lefty reliever, Daniel Schlereth, who I almost forgot about. Schlereth hit the free agent market the other day after being non-tendered by the Tigers. He doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but, if the other options thin out quickly, he could become a potential option himself.


Rangers take 3-2 lead in World Series

October 25, 2011

I don’t have much time on my hands right now, but I’m going to write as much as I can.

The Rangers are just one win away from their first World Series title in their history (excluding ones won as the Washington Senators). The hero was Mike Napoli, whose two-run double in the eighth inning proved to be the decisive factor. The Rangers also got monster home runs Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre, both of which came off of Chris Carpenter. I also have something to say about Carpenter, but I’m going to save that until tomorrow. I might do a whole article on it, actually.

Anyway, for the second straight night, Tony La Russa’s clown car again backfired. Napoli’s two-run double came off of Marc Rzepczynski, a left-hander (Napoli is a righty). But, after Napoli’s double, La Russa went to get Lance Lynn- a right-hander- out of the bullpen. So Lynn intentionally walks Ian Kinsler, and then La Russa yanks him and puts in Jason Motte. I know La Russa loves cycling through relievers as fast as he can, but is it really necessary to waste pitchers like that? Because what if the Cards tied the game, and it went into extra innings? Lynn, who used to be a starter, would have been valuable to eat up some those innings. But that wouldn’t have happened, because La Russa wasted him for an intentional walk.

I’ll update more tomorrow. Also note tomorrow is a travel day, so there’s no game, but the day after tomorrow, Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) will face off in St. Louis.


Looking onwards to Game 3…

October 12, 2011

If you saw the Brewer game last night, you probably know why I titled this post the way I did.

A day after taking the all-important game 1 of the NLCS, the Brewers were destroyed by the Cardinals in game 2, 12-3. But, in my opinion, the Brewers didn’t lose to the Cardinals- they lost to Albert Pujols. The Machine went 4-f0r-5 with three doubles, a two-run homer, and five RBI. The only Brewers pitcher to retire Pujols was Chris Narveson, who made him ground out in the eighth inning. After that out, the Milwaukee crowd stood up and gave a standing ovation, probably with a sense of sarcasm. Anyway, two Pujols’ four hits came off struggling Brewers starter Shaun Marcum, who is in the middle of a horrible stretch.

Now, there are a couple theories as to why Marcum is having such a tough time on the mound right now. My first guess is that he’s just running out of gas, because he’s never pitched this many innings in his career. Marcum threw 200 2/3 innings this year, which was a career-high for him. If you include his two awful postseason starts, he’s thrown 209 1/3 innings. The other theory is that he’s just nervous because this is his first time in the postseason- his former team, the Blue Jays, were rarely ever contenders while he was there.

Anyway, despite this blowout game by the Cardinals, Tony La Russa still found a way to use practically every pitcher in his bullpen. He removed starter Edwin Jackson after just 4 1/3 innings because his pitch count was getting high early, and he didn’t trust Jackson to get out of a fifth inning jam. So, from there, La Russa went on to use Arthur Rhodes, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte. This has to be the first time I’ve seen the team on the winning side of a blowout game manage to use six relievers (seven total pitchers). Even the Brewers only had to use five pitchers, despite Marcum going just four innings. And Kameron Loe pitching one third of inning while giving up four runs (that 108.00 ERA fits him well).

Tomorrow will be a battle of aces- Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (11-9. 3.45 ERA). This should be an interesting matchup, considering neither has had much success against the opposing team. Gallardo is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in his career against the Cards, while Carpenter is 5-4 with a 4.67 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Jeff Suppan is apparently going to be throwing out the first pitch before game 3. I don’t know if this is the Cardinals’ way of making fun of the Brewers, but I don’t see why they’d have any other reason to let this former bust throw out the first pitch. Anyway, if you don’t know the story of Suppan and the Brewers, well- actually, just consider yourself lucky.

Oh, and here’s another funny thing before I go- Theo Epstein is more than likely becoming the general manager of the Cubs. I let you laugh at that yourself instead of giving a long explanation. Because even I can’t explain why the Red Sox GM would want to become the Cubs GM.


A few things to note about the Cardinals

September 13, 2011

The Cardinals lost to the Pirates today, 6-5. This gives the Brewers a 6.5 game lead in the NL Central, which is big, and their magic number also falls to single digits, at long last. Anyway, Marc Rzepczynski blew the Cards’ lead and ended up taking the loss, while Fernando Salas served up the go-ahead double to Pedro Ciriaco.

But, I’m sure that Cards fans aren’t too worried about this loss, since something better happened for them today- Chris Carpenter is now guaranteed to be a Cardinal next year. And the year after. The Cardinals and Carpenter reportedly agreed to two-year extension worth $21 million, and the first year of that contract replaces his $15 million option that the Cards probably would have picked up for next year anyway. Carpenter has been pitching for the Cardinals since 2004, and owns a 93-42 record with a 3.10 ERA. He also won the 2005 Cy Young Award. Before coming to the Cards, Carpenter wasn’t having any success with his old team, the Blue Jays, going 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA with them. Anyway, Carpenter is having a somewhat of a down-year this year, as he’s 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA. The ERA is respectable, but you’d expect the record to be better.

This signing pretty much defines what the Cards’ rotation will look like over the next few years. This is what it will look like (plus their numbers this year):

Adam Wainwright (Didn’t pitch in 2011)

Chris Carpenter (9-9, 3.75 ERA)

Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.68 ERA)

Kyle Lohse (13-7, 3.62 ERA)

Jake Westbrook (12-8, 4.61 ERA)

Edwin Jackson is also in the rotation right now, but, with Wainwright returning from Tommy John Surgery next year and everyone else already signed, that pretty much forces Jackson to leave via free agency. Which is ironic, since his 3.39 ERA with the Cardinals is the best out of that entire rotation. I’m sure they’d take him over Westbrook any day, but they kind of have to keep him.

Anyway, some games to keep an eye on- the Braves are losing to the Marlins in the 12th inning, 5-4, but they have a guy on second against Leo Nunez. I guess we’ll have to wait to see how that one turns out. On the other side of the country, the Dodgers are beating the Diamondbacks, 1-0, in the fifth inning. If the D-backs lose, they’ll fall a full game behind the Brewers for the second best record in the NL. If they win, they’ll tie the Brewers for the second best. (Oh, by the way, Ted Lilly has a no-hitter going against the D-backs through 4 1/3. I probably just jinxed it, but I’m just putting that out there.)


Kotsay gets walk-off single in ninth as Brewers roll

August 17, 2011

9:50p The Brewers seem to find new ways to win every day nowadays, and today was no different.

Dodgers-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Dodgers again today, 2-1, to continue their winning streak, which now stands at five. The final blow came on Mark Kotsay’s walk-off single in the ninth inning off Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal, who was struggling with his command throughout the inning, but I’ll get to that later.

The Dodgers actually struck first in the second inning against Yovani Gallardo when Aaron Miles hit a RBI single to drive in Matt Kemp. Gallardo struggled with his command early before settling in, but that was the only run he would give up. He ended up going eight innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out nine and walked one. This performance was uncharacteristic of Gallardo against the Dodgers, who came into today with an 0-3 record with a 10.80 ERA against them in his career. He didn’t pick up the win, unfortunately, settling for a no-decision, but that ERA probably took a large drop.

Anyway, the Brewers countered right away in the bottom of the second on Corey Hart’s RBI groundout. The game would become a pitchers’ duel and stay tied until the ninth inning.

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley also had a good start (not as good as Gallardo’s, but still good). He went seven innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Following Billingsley’s good outing, however, would be a bullpen meltdown for the Dodgers. They brought in Hong-Chih Kuo, a lefty, to face Prince Fielder leading off the inning. He promptly walked Fielder, which made Dodgers manager Don Mattingly go right back to his bullpen. This time, he brought out the right-handed MacDougal, who didn’t fare much better. He gave up a hit to Casey McGehee, then walked Yuniesky Betancourt to load the bases with no outs. That set the stage for Kotsay’s second walk-off single of the year.

Kotsay comes through in the clutch again

At times throughout the year, I’ve been extremely frustrated with Kotsay. A lot of times, he falters with guys on base by striking out, hitting an easy grounder, etc., but that all seems to change whenever he bats under pressure in the ninth. Kostay already had a walk-off against Francisco Cordero and the Reds earlier this year, and a game-tying single against Cordero and the Reds as well.

Brewers winning without many runs

Over the past four games, the Brewers have scored a total of eight runs. And yet they’re 4-0 in those games. Any other year before this, they would probably have been 0-4, but, this year, the pitching is good enough to bail out the Brewers even when there’s a lack of offense.

The Brewers have also hit only three home runs over the past four games, and all three of them came last night. So that goes to show that the Brewers don’t need the long ball to win, either.

Brewers extend division lead to seven

To go along with a Brewers win tonight, the Cardinals conveniantly lost in Pittsburgh. Garrett Jones hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off newly signed Arthur Rhodes, who has been a bust with both the Rangers and Cardinals this year. The game actually wouldn’t have even had to go to extra innings, had Fernando Salas not given up a game-tying homer to Neil Walker in the ninth. But, I guess that’s what the Cardinals get for not upgrading the back end of their bullpen at the Trade Deadline, despite the fact that was their biggest need. (And no, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Arthur Rhodes don’t count as the “back end.”)

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a series win against the Dodgers tomorrow and will send Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.08 ERA) to the mound. Greinke is on a roll since the All-Star break, and is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA since then. He has a 5.40 ERA in five innings for his career against the Dodgers, so I don’t really know what to make of that.

The Dodgers will counter with rookie starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.64 ERA), who will be making his third Major League start. He shut out the Astros for six innings his last time out, but the Brewers will obviously be much more of a challenge. I still don’t know much about Eovaldi, so I guess we’ll have to see how he does tomorrow.


Wolf stymies Cards, gives Brewers cushion in Central

August 11, 2011

9:49p Last night’s win against the Cards was big. And that’s what made this win even bigger.

Brewers-Cardinals Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Cardinals again today, 5-1. Randy Wolf may have had, in my opinion, his best start of the year. After giving up five runs against the Cards in his last start, he made them look foolish all night tonight, and went eight stellar innings while giving up a run on five hits. He struck out one and walked none. Wolf also only needed 92 pitches to get through eight, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth because there were runners on base.

The Brewers jumped on Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook right away in the first when Prince Fielder hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, Westbrook, being the groundball pitcher that he is, got a double play to get out of that inning after Fielder’s sac fly, but that wouldn’t matter as the game went on.

The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the first on Albert Pujols’ sacrifice fly, but that was the only run they would be getting in the game.

The Brewers took the lead back in the third on Fielder’s RBI double and Yuniesky Betancourt’s RBI single, and that would be it until the ninth inning.

Westbrook ended up going eight solid innings, giving up three runs on six hits. He struck out four, but the number that stuck out at me was his five walks, since he’s typically a control pitcher.

Anyway, the Brewers tacked on two more runs in the ninth inning on Corey Hart’s two-run single. Cards manager Tony La Russa also got ejected that inning, but I’ll have more on that later in the post.

Francisco Rodriguez finished his first game as a Brewer, in relief of Wolf. He got into a bit of a jam after giving up back-to-back singles to David Freese and Skip Schumaker, but got a groundout to end the game. If Rodriguez hadn’t waived his $17.5 million option, which would have come into effect if he finished 55 games, when he came to the Brewers, we obviously wouldn’t have seen him finishing out that game today. But, I guess that’s not a burden to Rodriguez or the Brewers anymore, thank goodness.

La Russa gets ejected on bad call

As I said earlier, La Russa got ejected from this game in the ninth inning. He was ejected for arguing that Josh Wilson, who bunted his way on, was out, and was angry because first base umpire Greg Gibson called him safe.

Replays actually showed that Wilson was out at first and that La Russa was right, but the first baseman Pujols didn’t help out too much with that. The throw from reliever Marc Rzepcyznski was wild, so Pujols had to step off the base for a second to make sure the throw to didn’t get by him. Pujols tried to come back down and first base, which he did, but he stepped on first base repeatedly, thinking he hadn’t touched the bag. That obviously led Gibson to think he didn’t touch the bag, hence calling Wilson safe.

Anyway, whether or not Wilson was safe, it’s always awesome to see La Russa get ejected, especially after the offensive remarks he made about the Brewers and their fans.

De La Cruz called up from Triple-A

Pitcher Frankie De La Cruz was called up from Triple-A earlier today. He’s one of the candidates to replace injured starter Chris Narveson in the rotation until Narvy can return from the DL.

Apparently, De La Cruz isn’t guaranteed to start in place of Narveson yet. Ron Roenicke said he may give reliever Marco Estrada a chance for a spot start, but, with how he’s looked out of the ‘pen lately, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

First five game lead since ’82…

That’s right. With tonight’s win, this marks the first time the Brewers have had a five game lead in a division since 1982. But, they weren’t leading the NL Central. They were leading the American League East. That was back when there were only east and west divisions, and when the Brewers were still in the AL (they moved to the NL in 1998).

But that ’82 year was probably the best year in Brewers history. Stars like Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas… They had all-stars up and down that lineup, including Mike Caldwell in the rotation. Now, I’m not going to go into comparing our team this year to the one in ’82, but the Brewers went to the World Series that year. And who’d they lose to? The Cardinals. At least it isn’t possible for the Brewers to lose to them in the World Series anymore, considering they’re in the same league (and same division). But I’m happy to say we’ve pretty much had the Cards’ number all year so far.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a sweep of the Cardinals tomorrow. Yovani Gallardo (13-7, 3.56 ERA) will go for the Brewers and look for his 14th win, which would tie a career-high for him. Gallardo is 1-4 with a 4.66 ERA against the Cardinals in his career, but his first win against them came earlier this year, when he no-hit them through the first seven innings.

The Cards will counter with Chris Carpenter (7-8. 3.75 ERA). He’s having a better season than his record shows, but has struggled mightily against the Brewers in his career. He’s 4-5 with a 5.50 ERA against them. That includes in 0-2 mark against them this year, during which Carpenter’s ERA against the Brewers is 8.18.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee Brewers 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 8 0
St. Louis Cardinals 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 1

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 3 1 1 2 2 0 1 .277
Nyjer Morgan, CF 5 0 1 0 0 1 3 .324
Ryan Braun, LF 4 1 1 0 1 0 1 .321
Prince Fielder, 1B 2 1 1 2 1 0 0 .304
Casey McGehee, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 .235
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 4 0 1 1 0 1 4 .265
Jerry Hairston, 2B 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 .264
George Kottaras, C 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .224
a-Josh Wilson, PH 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .262
Randy Wolf, P 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 .190
b-Jonathan Lucroy, PH-C 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .286
Total 31 5 8 5 5 4 13

a-Hit a sacrifice bunt for Kottaras in the 9th.

b-Hit a sacrifice bunt for Wolf in the 9th.

BATTING

2B: Kottaras (4), Fielder (28).

RBI: Fielder 2 (87), Betancourt (50), Hart 2 (43).

Team RISP: 4-for-9.

Team LOB: 7.

BASERUNNING

SB: Braun (21).

FIELDING

DP: (McGehee-Hairston-Fielder).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf (W, 9-8 8.0 5 1 1 0 1 0 3.48
Francisco Rodriguez 1.0 2 0 0 0 1 0 2.96

Pitches-strikes: Wolf 92-61, Rodriguez 14-10.

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 13-5, Rodriguez 1-1.

Batters faced: Wolf 28, Rodriguez 5.


Recap of the past few days…

July 29, 2011

3:29p Sorry for not posting for the past few days. I was out of town again and wasn’t able to post. I usually put up some kind of notice before I go, but I forgot to this time, so my apologies for that. But, a lot has happened in the past few days for the Brewers, and they’re starting to stir as the Trade Deadline approaches.

Weeks to 15-day DL

The biggest piece of news is the worst: Rickie Weeks, the Brewers’ starting second baseman, was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday morning. He sustained a severe ankle sprain in the game against the Cubs the day before yesterday, and it was not fun to watch. He was trying to leg out an infield single, and he was safe. But, on his last stride towards first base, he stepped on the wrong part of the bag, and his ankle completely twisted the wrong way. He went flying off the bag in pain and laid on the ground for a while. Weeks was eventually escorted off the field by Ron Roenicke and the medical trainer, but he couldn’t walk by himself and couldn’t put weight on the ankle.

Now, this is NOT the time of year that we need key guys getting hurt. First it was Carlos Gomez, our right-handed center fielder, and now Weeks. We can’t keep losing guys when we’re in the middle of a pennant race.

Anyway, the Brewers have a few options to replace Weeks at second base for the time being. Eric Farris was called up and sent back down to Triple-A within a day, but he remains a candidate to fill in for part of the time. The Brewers also acquired Felipe Lopez, who played for the Brewers in 2009, from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations, and his contract was purchased from Triple-A earlier today, so he’s also an option. Then, there’s versatile infielders Craig Counsell and Josh Wilson, who are both capable of playing second, but their offense is a question mark, especially since Counsell is mired in an 0-for-41 slump.

Brewers sweep Cubs, gain lead in Central

Despite Weeks’ absence for the last game of the series, the Brewers swept the struggling Cubs out of town yesterday, and gained some breathing room in the NL Central. They now lead the Pirates and Cardinals, who are in a tie for second right now, by 1.5 games. The Reds, meanwhile, are quickly falling out of contention. They were just swept in four games by the Mets and are now 6.5 games back. Sadly, we can’t count out the Reds yet, since they have the easiest schedule for the rest of the year out of any of the contending teams in the Central.

Brewers FINALLY get rid of Nieves…

It was music to my ears when I heard this. The Brewers traded, or sold, whichever you prefer, catcher Wil Nieves to the Braves. They supposedly did it to give Nieves a better chance to return to the Majors this year, and to clear a spot in Triple-A Nashville for catching prospect Martin Maldonado.

The Brewers signed Nieves this offseason to have a backup catcher in case something happened to Jonathan Lucroy or George Kottaras. And, sure enough, Lucroy got injured in Spring Training, so Nieves became the Opening Day catcher. Then, when Lucroy got back, the Brewers optioned Kottaras because they thought Nieves was a better defensive catcher than him. Turns out he was awful offensively and defensively. The Brewers finally outrighted him to Nashville after he hit .109 at the Major League level. He also flopped in Nashville, batting .170 until the Brewers traded him.

Anyway, here’s the funny part about this trade: GM Doug Melvin received $1 from the Braves in return for Nieves. That’s right- one dollar, about what you’d pay for a snack from a vending machine. That’s because the Braves have to pay for the remaining $775,000 of Nieves’ salary. But still, one dollar?

I think I’ve covered all of the important things I didn’t post about while I was away (that is, if you consider getting one dollar in exchange for a catcher important). But, there are a few more things I’d like to say before I end the post.

First off, the Brewers are starting a three-game series with the Astros tonight. (We must be blessed to get the Cubs and Astros consecutively at this point in the season.) Randy Wolf (6-8, 3.62 ERA) will go for the Brewers and is seeking his first win since June, and tonight is the perfect time to get it. Wolf, a former Astro, has done well against his former team in his career, going 7-5 with a 3.15 ERA against them.

The Astros will counter with rookie starter Jordan Lyles (0-5, 4.55 ERA). His record is somewhat deceiving, as he’s actually had a few decent starts this year, but hasn’t gotten any run support. This will be his first career start against the Brewers.

Anyway, one more thing before I go- the Cardinals made somewhat of a big trade yesterday, acquiring pitchers Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, and outfielder Corey Patterson from the Blue Jays. But, they had to give up a key piece of their outfield- Colby Rasmus. They also parted with relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet, and Trever Miller. Anyway, that doesn’t really have anything to do with the Brewers, I just thought I’d throw it out there.