All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.

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Braun, Gomez homer as Brewers maul Dodgers

March 31, 2012

> A day after getting brutally defeated by the Reds, the Brewers turned the tables and took down the Dodgers, 9-4. For the Brewers, it was mostly a relief pitcher game, with Francisco Rodriguez getting the start (he only went one inning, as you’d expect). And still not all of the Brewers’ regulars were playing, despite the fact Opening Day is exactly a week away. But some of the regulars who were playing did damage.

Ryan Braun started it with a mammoth home run off of ex-Brewer Chris Capuano. It was his second home run of the spring, and he’s now hitting .176 (which actually isn’t bad if you consider where he was not too long ago). You could hear sarcastic cheers from the LA fans in the crowd, but I’ve learned to deal with that, and hopefully Braun has too. Screw them if they can’t accept the fact he’s not a drug-head. Ironic that the the LA fans cheered for Manny Ramirez for a few years, though.

Anyway, enough ranting- that event is behind us. In the bottom of the first, Andre Ethier answered back with a two-run double. He then hit a two-run homer in the third to make the score 4-1 (yes, Ethier had all four Dodger runs of the game). But, starting in the seventh, the Brewers went on a tear. Brooks Conrad hit a solo shot in the seventh to make, and Carlos Gomez followed that with a go-ahead three run blast in the eighth to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead. Then, in the ninth, another ex-Brewer, Todd Coffey, had some trouble with a few no-name farmhands. He first gave up an RBI double to Sean Halton, then a bases-clearing double to Shea Vucinich. None of the runs were charged to Coffey, though.

> Over the past few days, we’ve learned that non-roster invitees Conrad and Cesar Izturis will probably make the Brewers roster. I tweeted earlier today that neither of them should make the roster, and I’ll admit that wasn’t completely true- I was just ticked because I had just seen both of them make errors on what appeared to be easy plays (especially Izturis’). Conrad sort of deserves a roster spot. He’s shown solid power at times this spring, as his home run today was his fourth so far. He’s also extremely versatile- he can play any infield position (except maybe shortstop, haven’t seen him play there yet), including catcher. His defense is questionable most of the time, but he still could be a more important piece than I thought.

But I refuse to give any sort of credit to Izturis. The Brewers signed him as a hopeful backup shortstop for Alex Gonzalez, mainly because Izturis specializes in defense- at least he used to. He has looked awful this spring, as his error today was his fifth of the spring (though his first four errors came in the first four games). His offense hasn’t been anything special either, but that’s expected- Izturis has the lowest career slugging percentage of any active player.

In any case, I guess I wouldn’t mind Conrad making the roster, but Izturis has got to go. I was hoping Taylor Green would make the roster over him, but he was optioned to Triple-A yesterday. I don’t see why, though- Green’s spring wasn’t any worse than Izturis’.

> And that’s about it. Reviewing the Brewis continuing to give me log-in issues, and I can’t really do anything about it because our head writer is taking a break from the site, so I’ve got no one to ask about this at the moment. But hopefully this resolves itself soon, and I can get back to writing on RtB- I’ve been stockpiling ideas lately since I haven’t been able to go on.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.