Mutual interest between Brewers, Dempster

December 5, 2012

> It was reported today that Ryan Dempster is interested in being a Brewer in 2013. And, as the Brewers have implied over the past few weeks, the Brewers are interested in him.

Only one issue: the amount of time Dempster would be spending in Milwaukee.

Doug Melvin has shown his reluctance to give out three-year deals this offseason- particularly to pitchers. And you can’t blame him after seeing how the multi-year deals given to Jeff Suppan, David Riske, and Randy Wolf all ended. While I have a tough time imagining Dempster would turn out as badly as any of those names, there always a chance, especially since Dempster is already 35- older than any of the guys I just listed when they signed.

And that’s the thing: Dempster has made it known that he’s looking for a three-year deal. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the only other known team to be seriously considering Dempster- the Red Sox- is probably willing to give him those three years (the Sox have already given three-year deals to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino this offseason).

My solution to this issue for the Brewers would be to give Dempster two guaranteed years, then maybe a club or vesting option for the third year. I wish things worked that easily, but I can see where Dempster wouldn’t take that as full commitment from the Brewers.

> Melvin also hinted that the Brewers have offers on the table to Sean Burnett and Jason Grilli. The Brewer Nation later confirmed that those offers do exist: Grilli’s offer is worth $1.1 million for one year, while Burnett’s is $2.3 million for two.

> For some reason, the Brewers tried talking to the Mets about R.A. Dickey. But, as you’d expect, those talks didn’t get anywhere. The Mets asking price for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is insanely high, and the Brewers simply don’t have the prospects to give in return.

> Brett Myers’ name has also popped up in Brewers rumors. If he were willing to be a reliever, I’d take him. But as a starter? He can go rot with Twins, for all I care.

> The Brewers have kicked around lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan as potential relief options. Gorzelanny has previous starting experience, but has pitched in relief over the past few years for the Nationals. Lannan, on the other hand, has been a starter basically his entire career, and I have to imagine he’d like to continue starting.

> Just a few other random notes from an interview with Ron Roenicke today: Mat Gamel is progressing well in recovering from his knee injury, Jim Henderson could be the setup man, and RRR is debating whether to bat Norichika Aoki or Rickie Weeks leadoff.

> Minor moves: 

Rockies: Acquired Wilton Lopez from the Astros.
Rays: Re-signed Sean Rodriguez to a one-year deal; acquired Yunel Escobar from the Marlins.
Nationals: Signed Dan Haren to a one-year deal.
Red Sox: Signed Victorino to a three-year deal.
Diamondbacks: Signed Eric Hinske to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Signed Kyle Newby, Luke Montz, Justin Thomas, Garrett Olson, Scott Moore, Darwin Perez, and Mike Ekstrom to minor league deals.
Marlins: Acquired Derek Dietrich from the Rays.
Giants: Re-signed Marco Scutaro to a three-year deal.

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Crew will have to compete for Dempster

November 30, 2012

> Turns out the Brewers aren’t the only team expressing interest in Ryan Dempster. In fact, the other two teams could be very tough to bid against, seeing as they each reside in relatively big markets.

The two teams the Brewers will have to deal with are the Angels and Red Sox, both of whom are in desperate need of a starting pitcher; perhaps even more so than the Brewers.

If the Brewers don’t end up signing a veteran starter this offseason, it isn’t the end of the world. The Brewers still have a nice crop of big league-ready starting pitching prospects to choose from, including Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Tyler Thornburg. The same can’t be said for the Angels or Red Sox, however. The reason the Angels acquired Zack Greinke at the Trade Deadline was because of their lack of prospects ready to start at the big league level, and now they’re in jeopardy of not being able to re-sign Greinke. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have just had all sorts of starting pitching issues over the past few years, and now they’re trying to dip into the free agent market to fix it.

Despite the fact both of these teams have bigger markets than Milwaukee (though we have a ton of payroll flexibility right now), the Brewers could hold a few advantages. The first is that the Brewers are the only of these three teams in the National League. After posting a 5.09 ERA with the Rangers in the second half of 2012, which is his only extended period of pitching in the American League, it goes without saying that Dempster is an NL pitcher. Dempster’s success at Miller Park could also factor into the decision.

Or, the Brewers could get lucky and one of the other teams will drop out of the bidding. Last year, it was speculated early in the offseason that the Phillies- who needed a third baseman- were targeting Aramis Ramirez. There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to sign him and the Brewers would be left hanging, but the Phils unexpectedly dropped out and left Ramirez for the taking. It’s unlikely, but perhaps similar circumstances will ensue this offseason.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it isn’t the apocalypse (not until December 21st, that is) if the Brewers don’t sign Dempster. Their farm system is ready to occupy a few of the rotation spots if need be. And Dempster isn’t the only guy on the market. There are guys like Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson out there, who could also be potential fits for the Brewers (though, as I’ve preached, Dempster is the much safer play).

Dempster isn’t a neccesity, but could be a very nice asset to the 2013 Brewers.

> Tomorrow is the deadline to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players. John Axford, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez appear to be locks to be tendered contracts. Chris Narveson will probably be given a contract. The only guy who isn’t so likely to be tendered is Manny Parra, who I wouldn’t mind seeing the Brewers cut ties with at this point.

> Minor moves: 

Pirates: Signed Russell Martin to a two-year deal.
Rays: Signed Mike Fontenot to a minor league deal.
Royals: Outrighted Chris Volstad and Brayan Pena, both of whom elected free agency; re-signed Felipe Paulino to a one-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Collin Balester and Yangervis Solarte to minor league deals.
Padres: Signed Travis Buck, Eddy Rodriguez, and Daniel Stange to minor league deals.
Athletics: Signed Scott Moore to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Mariano Rivera to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Acquired Denard Span from the Twins.
Twins: Acquired Alex Meyer from the Nationals.
Indians: Re-signed Blake Wood to a one-year deal.


News from the last few days

November 22, 2012

> The Mariners have reportedly shown interest in Mat Gamel. I’m going to have an article up tomorrow about how that applies to the Brewers and what they could get in return, but for now I’m going to recap the news I’ve missed over the past few days.

> The Brewers added prospects Scooter Gennett, Hiram Burgos, Josh Prince, Nick Bucci, and Khris Davis to their 40-man roster, meaning they’re protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

> The Yankees re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal. I was holding out hope that the Brewers would some how be able to sign him, but it was unlikely the whole time.

> The Royals signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year deal. He could have been another option for the Brewers, though he was seeking a three-year deal, and I think he’s too dangerous to commit to for that long.

> 10 teams have reportedly shown interest in Kyuji Fujikawa. The Brewers could be one of those teams, seeing as Fujikawa is a hard-throwing reliever.

> Minor moves: 

Padres: Re-signed Kyle Blanks to a one-year deal; designated Cory Burns for assignment; added Yeison Asencio, Jaff Decker, and Adys Portillo to their 40-man roster.
Royals: Released Ysmelin Alcantara, Henry Moreno, and Jose Rodriguez; designated Adam Moore, Vin Mazzaro, Chris Volstad, Ryan Verdugo, Brayan Pena, Clint Robinson, and Derrick Robinson for assignment; added Chris Dwyer, Donnie Joseph, John Lamb, Justin Marks, Mike Montgomery, and J.C. Gutierrez to their 40-man roster; re-signed Brett Hayes to a one-year deal.
Pirates: Signed Felix Pie, Brooks Brown, Erik Cordier, David Bromberg, Luis Sanz, and Alex Valdez to minor league deals.
Indians: Signed Matt Carson and Cedric Hunter to minor league deals; designated Fabio Martinez for assignment; added Tim Fedroff, T.J. House, Chen-Chang Lee, and Trey Haley to their 40-man roster; outrighted ex-Brewer Matt LaPorta and Brent Lillibridge to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Signed Bobby Korecky, Jim Negrych, Ricardo Nanita, and Alex Hinshaw to minor league deals; designated Mike McDade, Mike McCoy, and Cory Wade for assignment; added Ryan Goins and A.J. Jimenez to their 40-man roster.
Tigers: Released Ryan Raburn.
Mariners: Acquired Robert Andino from the Orioles; designated Chone Figgins and Scott Cousins for assignment; added Julio Morban, Brandon Maurer, Vinnie Catricala, Anthony Fernandez, and Bobby LaFramboise to their 40-man roster.
Orioles: Acquired Trayvon Robinson from the Mariners.
Mets: Signed Carlos Torres, Scott Rice, and Jamie Hoffmann to minor league deals.
Yankees: Claimed Mickey Storey off waivers from the Astros; signed David Herndon to a one-year deal.
Athletics: Designated Brandon Hicks and Jim Miller for assignment; added Arnold Leon, Grant Green, Shane Peterson, and Michael Ynoa to their 40-man roster; signed Justin Thomas and Darwin Perez to minor league deals.
Rockies: Acquired Ryan Wheeler from the Diamondbacks; outrighted Andrew Brown and Matt McBride to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Acquired Matt Reynolds from the Rockies; signed Kila Ka’aihue to a minor league deal.
Cardinals: Signed Jamie Romak to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Sam Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez, P.J. Walters, Brian Dinkleman, Wilkin Ramirez, James Beresford, Deibinson Romero, Eric Fryer, Tom Boleska, and Jason Christian to minor league deals.
Cubs: Acquired Barret Loux from the Rangers; signed Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez, Johermyn Chavez, and J.C. Boscan to minor league deals; outrighted Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A; designated Bryan LaHair for assignment (I have to wonder when the last time a player was DFA’d following an All-Star season).
Rangers: Acquired Jake Brigham from the Cubs.
Astros: Outrighted Scott Moore to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Signed Jonny Gomes to a two-year deal; designated Danny Valencia, Ivan De Jesus, Sandy Rosario, David Carpenter, and Zach Stewart for assignment.
White Sox: Re-signed Dewayne Wise to a one-year deal; signed Bryan Anderson and David Purcey to minor league deals.
Reds: Signed Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league deal.
Nationals: Signed Fernando Abad and Caleb Clay to minor league deals.
Dodgers: Signed Nick Evans, Juan Abreu, Kelvin De La Cruz, Miguel Rojas, Hector Correa, Wilkin Castillo, and Gregory Infante to minor league deals.


Brewers avoid utter embarrassment

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> A sweep at the hands of the Astros would have made the Brewers truly hit rock bottom. But, they were able to avoid a sweep by the worst team in baseball, defeating the Astros 5-3.

Yovani Gallardo was able to go deep into the game, throwing 7 2/3 solid innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out eight. It was his longest outing of the year, and the second most pitches he’d thrown (114). Jose Veras came in to get the last out of what could have been a rocky eighth inning, then Kameron Loe recorded the save in the ninth (which was also pretty shaky).

Gallardo had a rough first inning, giving up back-t0-back doubles to Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez to start the game. But, Gallardo himself tied the game with an RBI single in the second inning. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with an RBI groundout to make the score 3-1. Gonzalez’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning cut into the Brewers’ lead, but Corey Hart added an insurance run in the sixth on 22nd home run of the year. The Brewers added another important run in the eighth on Martin Maldonado’s RBI double. The last Astros run came on Scott Moore’s RBI single in the eighth.

THE ROTATION SITUATION

> The other day, Ron Roenicke announced that the Brewers might start monitoring pitch count and the number of innings that pitchers throw, also mentioning that a few could even be shut down. If you don’t already know, I’m strongly against pitch count and the emphasis it has on today’s game of baseball, so naturally I’m opposed to this idea. But let me explain why I think it’s useless.

The only name Roenicke mentioned as to who would probably shut down is Mike Fiers, who is by far the best pitcher in the Brewers’ rotation right now. His 1.80 ERA makes him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. So why even think about shutting him down?

According to Roenicke, the Brewers want to “protect his arm.” After an eight-inning performance his last time out, Fiers is at 80 innings on the year (excluding 55 innings in the Minors). If you add those together, he’s at a total of 135 innings, and Fiers has never thrown more than 135 innings, which is RRR’s excuse to possibly shut him down.

And that’s what I don’t understand. Not letting a young a guy throw more innings than he has before isn’t going to help him develop. He has to get out of his comfort zone and throw more innings; he’s in the Majors now.

I do understand trying to protect his arm, but that’s pretty pointless, considering Fiers doesn’t have much injury history. For a guy like Mark Rogers, who has a ton of injuries on his ledger, sure, I can cope with not letting him throw as many innings until we know he’s back to 100%. But Fiers is at 100% right now, and is doing some of the best pitching the Brewers have seen in quite some time. So why take that away?

Roenicke has also suggested going to a six-man rotation, which would also hold back the innings of each pitcher. I’m not for that, either, but at least the guys would continue to pitch, instead of being shut down for the year. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the six-man rotation.

RRR also tried to compare this to what the Rockies are doing. Please, our pitching staff isn’t that bad. (Unless we’re talking about the bullpen, which we aren’t.)

THE NEWS

> Weeks was tried again at the top of the order, a role he lost earlier this year after his awful start. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so I doubt we’ll see him there tomorrow.

> Two former Brewers took the mound today. Chris Capuano took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Marlins before it was broken up by Jose Reyes. Ben Sheets will try to continue his astounding comeback tonight against the Mets, which will be broadcasted on ESPN.

> The Cubs picked up former Brewers starter Seth McClung today, signing him to a Minor League deal. The Brewers tried McClung again this year in the Minors, but just couldn’t control the damage, so he was released two weeks ago.

The Cubs have already tried something similar to this. Last year, they signed former Brewer Doug Davis to a Minor League deal, and he eventually reached the Majors. But that experiment didn’t work out too well, and I doubt McClung will either.

> One of the Brewers’ first round picks in this year’s draft, Victor Roache, was cleared to take dry swings today. He’d been out for over four months due to major arm surgery.

THE NUMBERS GAME

> Jean Segura continues to improve at the plate, as he went 2-for-4 today. His average is up to .250.

> Hart’s home run today snapped him out of an o-for-11 slump.

> This was Gallardo’s third consecutive start in which he himself picked up an RBI.

> Loe’s save was just the third of his career.

> Probables for the upcoming series in Colorado:

Mike Fiers (6-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.06 ERA)

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 5.07 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> This play may have been the Brewers’ play of the year, and sparks some excitement for the Segura/Weeks double play tandem.

> Hart technically had the only Brewers home run this series, but Mike Vassallo might disagree with that.


Henderson struggles in 10th as Brewers fall again

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> I guess there’s no getting around these bullpen problems. The Brewers lost to the Astros again today, 6-5, in 10 innings. The Brewers never had a lead in the game, so there wasn’t a save for the bullpen to blow. Up until the 10th inning, it actually wasn’t that bad, but Jim Henderson ran into some control problems in the 10th, which eventually doomed the Brewers.

Henderson had also pitched the ninth, but it seemed to be a breeze, as he had a 1-2-3 inning while striking out the side. But he ran into a wall in the 10th. He gave up a lead-off single to Jose Altuve, then walked back-t0-back batters in Marwin Gonzalez and Steve Pearce. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Brewers were forced to go with five infielders and bring everyone in. So all Scott Moore had to do was drive a single into no-man’s land somewhere in the outfield, and that’s exactly what he did.

Marco Estrada had a pretty rough start that was actually cut short. He went just four innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Estrada threw just 66 pitches, but was removed in the fifth inning with runners on first and third in place of pinch-hitter Cody Ransom. Ransom struck out (shocker), but Norichika Aoki followed it up with a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.

ADDRESSING THE BULLPEN

> I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure today, since Ron Roenicke didn’t use John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, he used almost everyone but, with Livan Hernandez pitching the fifth, Manny Parra the sixth, Kameron Loe the seventh, Jose Veras the eighth, and Henderson tossing the ninth and 1oth (although he didn’t record any outs).

Of course, though, people on Twitter were bashing Henderson for blowing the game, and that isn’t completely fair. Up to this point, Henderson had been lights out, and the only reliable reliever in the Brewers’ bullpen (and I think he still holds that title).

But the game wouldn’t have gone any differently had K-Rod or Axford been used in the 10th, so there’s no use in saying Henderson shouldn’t have been used in the situation. Last night I blamed Roenicke for not using Henderson, and I still do. But there’s not much he could have done tonight.

Anyway, here’s my theory that I’ve been trying to preach the past few days. In games where the Brewers have a three-run or less lead after the seventh inning (in other words, a hold/save situation), they should try Loe in the eighth, and Henderson in the ninth. Those are the two guys I sort of have confidence in at the moment. Loe has been shaky at times this year, but, out of the rest of the relievers, he’s been the best. Loe also has setup experience. He showed that he couldn’t handle the pressure of setting up when the Brewers were contending during the first half of 2011, but now the circumstances are different. Plus, they have no other choices right now, so it couldn’t hurt to try him.

Henderson has obviously proven he can close. He has yet to give up a run or a hit in the ninth inning. In three appearances in the ninth inning, he has six strikeouts and one walk. I have a feeling the 10th inning tonight was a fluke.

I’d love to see Roenicke try this. Hopefully he doesn’t assume Henderson can’t handle the job after his 10th inning tonight.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers said he didn’t mind that Moore broke up his no-hit bid in the sixth inning last night.

> Wily Peralta had a very efficient start for the Sounds tonight, going seven innings while giving up on run on six hits. He walked one and struck out six in Sacramento.

THE NUMBERS

> Tonight was the first time the Astros won back-to-back games since late June. Great.

> Carlos Gomez once again went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He might finally be cooling off.

> Jean Segura went 2-for-4 with an RBI for his first multi-hit game in the bigs.

> Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 to bring his average back up to .331. He had a .345 average coming off the disabled list, but slumped down into the .320’s.

> Tomorrow’s pitching match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-8 5.69 ERA)


The second chances aren’t working

August 11, 2012

POSTGAME

> You can say all you want about how bad the Brewers’ bullpen is. It leads baseball in blown saves. I guess it hasn’t left Ron Roenicke with many options, but lately one option has actually emerged. It’s Jim Henderson, the 29-year old Canadian who has spent 10 years in the Minors before finally getting his chance at the Major League level. And he’s been producing. Coming into today, he had a 2.57 ERA (should be 1.29), and appeared to have the closer’s role locked down.

But, Roenicke did what he’s been doing FAR too much this season; try and give the struggling relievers second chances. And it cost starter Mark Rogers.

The Brewers lost to the Astros today, 4-3, courtesy of John Axford’s eighth blown save, and his seventh loss.

It was going fine early. In the first inning, Ryan Braun drove in Nyjer Morgan, who had reached on a dropped strike three. In the second inning, Astros starter Bud Norris threw a wild pitch with Jean Segura batting, which allowed Rickie Weeks to score from third, giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead.

The Astros didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning on Carlos Corporan’s RBI single. Up until that inning, Rogers had held the Astros hitless through four innings. This was by far his best outing as a big leaguer, as he went seven innings while giving up a run on three hits (all in the fifth inning). He walked two and struck out eight.

The Brewers tacked on one more in the seventh on Segura’s RBI single.

So Roenicke must have thought it was 2011 today, because he used Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth, and Axford in the ninth. K-Rod gave up a home run to Corporan to cut the lead to 3-2, and from there retired the side in order.

Then Axford came in, and disaster once again struck.

Axford walked Brett Wallace to start the inning, who was pinch-run for by Tyler Greene. But, Greene advanced all the way to third base because of a wild pitch. Steve Pearce promptly tied the game with an RBI single and reached second base because of an error by center fielder Carlos Gomez. Scott Moore then drilled an Axford pitch to very deep center field (a few feet up Tal’s Hill), but Gomez managed to make the play, with Pearce tagging to third base. Brian Bogusevic dealt the finishing blow with a walk-off RBI single.

By the way, some people on Twitter were trying to blame Axford’s wild pitch on catcher Jonathan Lucroy. I’ll admit he didn’t make the best effort, but there’s honestly no point attempting to defend the bullpen anymore. It is what it is.

THE ANALYSIS

> I can’t explain everything, because I’d be attempting to figure out what goes on in the mind of Roenicke. I can’t do that, nor would I ever want to.

But I can say this. The Brewers have found another closer for the time being, that reliever being Henderson. But that’s useless if Roenicke continues to go back to the reliever who have failed the Brewers time and time again.

By the way- I’m not trying to come down on Axford, at least not directly. Obviously I have to blame him for the loss, considering he took the loss. But I’ve tried to stay away from mocking players directly lately, because I recently learned a lesson, that lesson being to not say anything online (or anywhere else) that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. I made that mistake three years ago on my old Twitter account, and I’ve made it a few times on my current account and even here on BWI. But I’ve tried to imply that rule to myself a lot more often lately, because I recently ran into Axford in person. All I could do was ask for a picture. Would I ever tell him “quit blowing saves” or “you’re horrible?” Heck no. There are plenty of people who do that on Twitter, and I don’t want to one of those people. But I’m a writer, so I have to at least be critical about it.

But I’m not afraid to come down on Roenicke, because it’s gotten to the point where I would probably blow up at him in person.

Anyway, I kind of rode off topic there, but I felt the need to get that out there.

> I was going to talk about the possibility of Mike Fiers (and other pitches) getting shut down before the end of the year, but I think I’m going to save that for another day. That topic requires its own article, because I’d also need to go into my opinion of that, pitch count, and so on.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum made his first rehab start today for the Timber Rattlers (Single-A). He went three innings and threw 36 pitches, 28 for strikes. He gave up a solo home run, but was otherwise solid. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Marcum was only scheduled to throw 35-40 pitches, so the low innings and pitch count were probably because he hadn’t thrown to live hitters in awhile.

Marcum hopes to return to the Brewers by their home series against the Cubs on August 20th.

> The innings limit suggested by Roenicke counts as news, I guess.

THE NUMBERS

> The bullpen is awful. You don’t need the numbers to tell you that anymore.

> Weeks went 3-for-4 with a career-high three doubles today.

> Gomez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all against Norris.

> Segura got his first hit that left the infield, and his first hit that drove in a run.

> Rogers’ chance at his first career win was once again blown by the bullpen.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 5.60 ERA)

 


Brewers hammer Astros again to complete sweep

August 2, 2012

> It may have only been the Astros, but it’s good to see nonetheless. The Brewers crushed the Astros again today, 13-4, to complete a three-game sweep over them. As the score shows, the bats were alive and well again, as they’ve been this whole series. Mike Fiers also had another good start.

It was a pretty gritty start for Fiers, actually, but he’s shown that he can pitch even without his best stuff. He went six innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. Fiers’ ERA went up to 1.88, which still leads MLB rookies.

The Brewers took advantage of a multitude of early mistakes by the Astros, who ended up making a total of four errors in the game. Nyjer Morgan led off the game by reaching on an error by third baseman Scott Moore. Three batters later, Aramis Ramirez reached on another error by Moore, and that drove in Morgan to make the score 1-0.

But, the Astros tied the game in the third on Jose Altuve’s RBI single, then took the lead in the fourth on Brett Wallace’s solo homer. But, the Brewers took back the lead in the bottom of the inning on Cesar Izturis’ RBI single. An error by the second baseman Altuve (a failed glove flip) allowed a second run to score.

In the fifth inning, the Brewers’ offense erupted. After Morgan and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back singles and pulled off a double steal to lead off the inning, Ryan Braun drove them both in with a single. Two batters later, Corey Hart hit an RBI double, and Rickie Weeks followed that him with his 12th home run of the year. But they weren’t done: Izturis, the one of the career .220 slugging percentage, hit a home run to extend the lead to 9-2.

Then, in the sixth, Braun added a homer of his own after a 14-pitch at-bat against Fernando Rodriguez. The Brewers tacked on two more in the seventh on Jonathan Lucroy’s first home run since his return from the disabled list, and a Morgan RBI single.

The Astros got two more in the eighth on Wallace’s second home run of the game, this one off Mike McClendon, but it wasn’t near enough to get back in the game.

> Shaun Marcum reportedly had a good bullpen session today, and is almost ready for a Minor League rehab assignment.

Marcum has been out since early June, and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Because of it, he lost all of his trade value. And, being a free agent at the end of the season, he will likely walk without the Brewers get anything in return for him (although the Brewers still might get a compensation pick, the new rules make that sort of confusing).

You’d think Marcum wouldn’t be that tough of a pitcher to retain, but I think some personal issues come into play. Marcum expressed his interest in staying in Milwaukee last offseason, but said Doug Melvin wouldn’t even talk to him about an extension, likely because he was so focused on the Zack Greinke case. So now, one of two things is happening: Melvin STILL won’t talk to him, or Marcum is bitter about it.

So now we’ve basically lost both of our prized offseason acquisitions from the 2010-2011 offseason. Not very smart navigating by our front office, if you ask me.

> And that’s about it. After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Here are the probables:

Randy Wolf (3-7, 5.45 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (1-4, 2.96 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.24 ERA)

Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA)