Marcum open to returning in 2013

December 13, 2012

> For the first time this offseason, Shaun Marcum has said that he would be open to re-signing with the Brewers. Perhaps this is because the other teams that have expressed interest in him include the Twins, Royals, Padres, and Cubs.

Unlike some other fans who have unfairly hated on Marcum just because of his bad postseason run in 2011, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back on something like a two-year deal. But I’ve just gotten the impression that, ever since around January of 2012, Marcum and the Brewers’ front office have a bad relationship. The reason I say that is because Marcum appeared to be complaining that the Brewers hadn’t offered him a contract extension yet (which they still haven’t, nor have they given him a known offer this offseason).

There’s always the injury factor with Marcum, something that was exposed this year when he missed two months because of an elbow issue (he was originally only supposed to miss one start). But, looking at the numbers, he’s been nothing but a solid pitcher since coming to Milwaukee- he’s 20-11 with a 3.60 ERA in his two seasons with the Brewers. I wouldn’t mind taking him back as a solid #3 starter.

Marcum

> The Reds, Indians, and D-backs pulled a blockbuster three-team trade yesterday. Arizona is receiving Didi Gregorious, Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson, while the Indians are getting Trevor Bauer (wow), Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and Drew Stubbs. But the biggest part of this trade was the Reds’ acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo, who will play center field for them. If it wasn’t already clear before, the Reds, who also received Jason Donald in the deal, are going to once again contend in 2013.

> The Pirates re-signed Jason Grilli to a two-year deal, meaning he’s officially off the market.

> Minor moves: 

Tigers: Signed Brayan Pena to a one-year deal; designated Matt Hoffman for assignment.
Twins: Signed Kevin Correia to a two-year deal.
Royals: Signed Willy Taveras, George Sherrill, and Dan Wheeler to minor league deals.
Blue Jays: Signed Luis Jimenez, Rich Thompson, Eugenio Velez, and ex-Brewers Claudio Vargas and Juan Perez to minor league deals.
Yankees: Signed Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki to one-year deals.
Red Sox: Signed Jack Hannahan to a two-year deal.
Cubs: Claimed Sandy Rosario off waivers from the Red Sox; signed Chang-Yong Lim to a split contract.
Rangers: Claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees.
Dodgers: Acquired Skip Schumaker from the Cardinals; designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment.
Cardinals: Acquired Jake Lemmerman from the Dodgers.


Brewers capitalize on first inning mistakes to take series

July 19, 2012

> Despite a very discouraging first game of this series, the Brewers managed to battle back and take a much-needed two-of-three from the Cardinals. They sealed the deal today with a 4-3 nail-biter win. And we’d better get used to these nail-biters- they’ll be happening pretty often with Francisco Rodriguez assuming the closer duties.

The Cardinals have been slumping hard- and I mean hard– recently. If not for John Axford wrapping the gift to give them in the first game of this series, they would be 0-6 since the All-Star break. I thought Axford blowing the game like that was going to give the Cards a new hope and they were going to go on a hot streak from there, but that hasn’t appeared to be the case.

The sloppiness that has been Cardinals baseball the past few days showed up again today, mostly in the first inning. Norichika Aoki got on base to lead off the game, courtesy to an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal. After Nyjer Morgan hit a single, Adam Wainwright hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Corey Hart then came through with a broken bat, two-RBI single to give the Brewers the early lead. Two batters later, one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen occurred. Carlos Gomez hit your routine groundball to Furcal, and he fielded it cleanly. It looked at first like his throw was going to be fine, but it tailed off at the end, forcing first baseman Lance Berkman to come off the bag. But, Berkman’s momentum must have been a lot greater than I thought, and he tumbled over and nearly did a somersault. Not only that, but the ball flew out of his glove as he was rolling. This error allowed two runners to score and gave the Brewers a nice 4-0 lead to work with for the rest of the game.

And that was all they would need. The Cardinals got two runs off Tyler Thornburg: a David Freese solo home run in the second and an Allen Craig solo blast in the third. Other than those two runs, the Brewers’ bullpen shut the Cards down for the most part.

But K-Rod saves are always interesting, and the tale was no different today. After striking out Skip Schumaker to start the inning, Carlos Beltran hit a pinch-hit double. K-Rod then walked Furcal, but came back to strike out Matt Holliday (who was also pinch-hitting). But K-Rod walked Craig to follow that up, and the Cards’ third run came on Freese’s bases-loaded walk. To be honest with you, though, I was fine with that- better off walking him and giving up one run than letting him hit an opposite field bases-clearing double. Anyway, K-Rod finished the game by getting Berkman to fly out.

> Thornburg was making a spot start today in place of Zack Greinke, who is taking ten days off to “recharge” (although I think something else is going on behind the scenes). Thornburg’s start didn’t go all that well: he went just 4 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out five. Those numbers aren’t bad, but he needed 103 pitches to get through just 4 2/3 innings. He also served up two home runs, which brings his season total to seven home runs given up in just twelve innings. But all of the home runs are coming on elevated fastballs in the low 90’s, which, if not set up by the correct pitches, can mean trouble. Thorn has shown flashes of a great breaking ball and a decent change-up, though, which leads me to believe he can be successful in the future.

> But the bullpen managed to pick up Thornburg. Axford, removed from the closer’s role two days ago, came in and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the fifth and sixth innings. Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Jose Veras had a 1-2-3 eighth, and K-Rod got the save, despite walking three batters in the process.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers move into their final series of this crucial stretch everyone has been talking about- a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Brewers would probably need a sweep to get out of there as legitimate contenders, which I can’t see happening. But it’s worth hoping for, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s what the matchups for the series look like:

Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (8-6, 3.93 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. ???


Brewers hand win to Cardinals in series opener

August 31, 2011

This is exactly the kind of game that will not help you late in the season or in the postseason.

The Brewers fell to the Cardinals today, 2-1, in the opener of a three-game set at Miller Park. It was just the third time since the All-Star break that the Brewers lost at home, and their overall record at Miller Park is now 50-17. It was a pitchers’ duel for most of the game, but, the pitcher for the Brewers didn’t have much of a say in the turnout.

Shaun Marcum tossed a gem. Just like he did his last time out against the Pirates. But, the results were the same. Marcum took a tough luck loss, as he went seven innings while giving up two runs (none earned) on four hits. He walked three and struck out four.

And those two unearned runs were the only runs the Cards scored. They came in the fifth inning, and, to start that inning, the Brewers committed two consecutive errors. The first one was by first baseman Prince Fielder, who let a ball that should have been a routine grounder bounce through his legs, allowing Skip Schumaker to reach. The next one was a botched play by second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. He took what should have been a routine double play ball and turned it in to an embarrassing play in which the ball bounced off his chest, followed by him throwing the ball to first base like a girl. That throw allowed Rafael Furcal to reach. Both Schumaker and Furcal would come around to score on a RBI single by the pitcher, Edwin Jackson, and a sacrifice fly by Jon Jay, respectively.

But this is the one thing that drives me absolutely insane about the Brewers. They have pitching. They have offense. Both of those are extremely important aspects of the game. But, they don’t have the third aspect, which is defense. You need all of them to succeed. Having two of three doesn’t cut it. And there’s proof that they have bad defense- Casey McGehee (third base), Yuniesky Betancourt (shortstop), and Fielder (first base) all lead the league in errors at their respective position. That’s saying something.

The only other contending team I can think of that manages to get by with horrible defense is the Rangers. But, the reason they have to account for so many errors is because of their shortstop, Elvis Andrus, who leads the Majors in errors at any position. Anyway, I guess I’m losing my point here, but what I’m saying is the Brewers need to pick it up defensively if they want to go deep in the postseason.

Anyway, the only Brewers run came on a Nyjer Morgan RBI double in the sixth inning. In that same inning, the Brewers 3-4-5 combo- Ryan Braun, Fielder, and McGehee- were due up with a guy on second and no outs. So what do they do? Get retired in order by Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson and strand the baserunner. Great.

The Brewers threatened in the ninth against Cardinals closer Fernando Salas with runners on first and second with Mark Kotsay up, but he grounded into a game-ending double play. That followed a botched bunt by Betancourt that practically turned into a double play itself.

Now, I’d be more angry about this loss if the race in the NL Central were tighter. With the loss tonight, the Brewers still hold a whopping 9.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the Central, which I’m still comfortable with for now. Had the Brewers won, the Cards would have fallen to an 11.5 game deficit.

Anyway, now that I’m done venting about the Brewers’ defense, I’ll get into tomorrow’s game. The Brewers and Cardinals play the second game of this three-game set at Miller Park tomorrow night, and the Brewers will send Randy Wolf (11-8, 3.37 ERA) to the mound. Wolf’s last start against the Cardinals was great: he went eight shutout innings and was poised to toss a complete game. Anyway, Wolf is 7-7 with a 3.80 ERA against the Cards in his career.

The Cardinals will counter with Jake Westbrook (10-7, 4.75 ERA), who hasn’t really impressed me any time I’ve seen him pitch. Westbrook is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Brewers, and both of those losses came this year.


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.