With the recent addition of Doug Davis, the Brewers now have 6 pitchers contending for spots in the starting rotation.
The Crew’s wishy-washy starting brood managed to muster a 5.37 ERA last year, the highest in the National League. The Brewers snuck in a few bullpen guys like Seth McClung, Chris Narveson and Mike Burns in there at times to try and help out the slumping rotation, but they did little to remedy the situation.
GM Doug Melvin made it clear that Milwaukee was in the market to shed payroll and use the cash for 1 or 2 useful arms to bolster the starting rotation and the new remedies of Davis and fellow lefty Randy Wolf will hopefully prove successful.
Let’s take a look at last year’s numbers, shall we?
Wimpy: Jeff Suppan
7-12 30 Games 5.29 ERA 161.2 IP 80 SO
Wimpy: Dave Bush
5-9 22 Games 6.38 ERA 114.1 IP 89 SO
Wimpy: Manny Parra
11-11 27 Games 6.36 ERA 140.0 IP 116 SO
Lefty: Randy Wolf (LA Dodgers)
11-7 34 Games 3.23 ERA 214. 1 IP 160 SO
Lefty: Doug Davis (Arizona Diamondbacks)
9-14 34 Games 4.12 ERA 146.0 IP 146 SO
Lefty: Manny Parra
Now, don’t get me wrong, there were worse things happening on the mound for the Brewers last year than Manny Parra. Braden Looper gave up 39 homeruns, just as an example. (However, Looper won 14 games.) Parra just needs to get out of his own head. He gets too caught up in one bad performance, hence the stint in Triple-A last season and the trip to the bullpen in ’08. If Manny can calm down and stop psyching himself out, 2010 should be his breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for.
Doug Davis didn’t have the best year in ’09, either, but compared to Milwaukee’s usual suspects, he’s a godsend. Many fans are welcoming him back with open arms and rightfully so. With all the talk about Mark Mulder, I kind of forgot Davis was still on Melvin’s radar. So I’m happy to have seen this deal work out.
What remains to be seen is how the final rotation will shake out for the start of 2010. The Brewers now have 6 established arms competing for 5 spots. I’m not convinced that Jeff Suppan still has what it takes to be a respectable starting pitcher, but he did manage to squeeze out 2 more wins that Dave Bush. Bush, however, pitched in 8 less games than Suppan (and also took a Hanley Ramirez liner off the elbow). Either way, Soup’s still got a year on his contract. Ick.
But in other Brewers news, the Crew has reached agreements with second baseman Rickie Weeks, center fielder Carlos Gomez, outfielder Jody Gerut (I’d rather see Frankie C, but whatev) and pitcher Todd Coffey. Locking up these 4 players for 2010 only leaves Bush, right fielder Corey Hart and reliever Carlos Villanueva. Since the Brewers have a notorious track record of avoiding arbitration hearings, it should only be a matter of days before they’re locked up, too.
These are just a few topics from the weekend that I’ve got an opinion on. Feel free to “tawk amongst yourselves.” Or, you know, leave your own opinion on the matter.
Brewers win 5 in a row!
The Crew has won 8 of their last 10, including sweeps of both the Diamondbacks and Astros, as well as a series split with the Cubs. The playoffs seem to be all but drifting away, yet the Brewers aren’t content, and I’m glad to see they’re still taking the field with their chins up. All it will take to officially be knocked out of the NL Central is a Cardinals win, but if Milwaukee can manage to keep winning (I can dream, can’t I?), the Wildcard isn’t entirely out of the question.
The Cubs are in town for their final showdown with the Brewers starting tonight, with Braden Looper (13-6, 4.89 ERA) going for his 14th win. Looper notched lucky #13, a career high, last Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Chicago has replaced scheduled starter Rich Harden with Tom Gorzelanny (5-2, 5.29 ERA). Harden was done after only 3 innings last week facing Milwaukee and this will be the first time the Brewers lineup has seen Gorzelanny since being traden from Pittsburgh.
Keep up the momentum, Boys, and kill those Cubs!
Corey Patterson doesn’t stike out. For once.
That’s right, Patterson swung at a pitch and it actually went into play. And then he was picked off. Super. Who is this guy and why is he here again? It seems like he’s trying just as hard as former Brewer Brad Nelson. I’m over him.
Milton Bradley suspended for remainder of season.
The same Milton Bradley who’s done nothing but cause trouble for every team he’s ever been with has been formally sent home for the final 2 weeks. The powers that be in Chicago had enough after Bradley reportedly said some nasty things about, not only Cubs fans, but the entire Cubs organization. I can’t say I blame them for sending him packing. Is is just me, or does the guy ever realize there’s an actual game going on? He was picked up for 3 years over the winter and stands to make $30 million. Astounding. Good luck with that, Cubs. Not only does Bradley hate playing for your team, but he pretty much flat-out sucked this season. It’s gonna be hard to unload that guy. Although, I can’t imagine why. He seems like a real sweetheart…
Gallardo shut-down for ’09.
Yovani Gallardo made his 30th and final start for the Brewers yesterday, to a pretty sad weekend crowd of just over 30,000. (My guess is no one wanted that Doug Melvin Bobblehead.) I guess I just don’t understand a world full of pitch counts and innings limitations. If it were up to me, I’d let Gallardo finish out the season. Especially after what he was able to do yesterday to round out the sweep of the Astros.
Yo went 5 scoreless innings, with 7 Ks, 3 hits and 3 walks, all with only 77 pitches. Those 7 strikeouts put him over the 200 mark, making him only the 4th pitcher in club history to hit at least 200 in a season. Rounding out 2009, Gallardo was 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA and struck out 204 over 185 2/3 innings.
I say, with Manny Parra still up in the air, Gallardo should have one more start this season. But I suppose I get that he missed nearly all of last season and the club doesn’t want to push him, especially since he’s the future ace of the Brewers. Okay, fine. Shut him down. But I’m not gonna be happy about it.
Cecil Cooper dismissed.
Really, Astros? Your team is out of contention. They have no chance left this season. Sure, Coop let them slide to 9 under .500 in the last 2 weeks, losing 7 in a row. Sure, they just got swept by a team that’s only 4 games ahead of them. But you know, there’s only 2 weeks left to play. Other than spoilers, what role do the Astros have? None. Let him keep his job until the end, at least. Who or what could that possibly hurt? It’s a hard decision for any ballclub to make to fire a manager, coach, whoever. It would be different if Houston was in the forefront leading up to those 7 losses, but they really weren’t. What’s done is done, but it’s a tough break for Cooper. I hope he finds a team for next season. I really like that guy.
Melvin questions roster expansions.
As he does just about every year, Brewers GM Doug Melvin had some things to say about the MLBs rules regarding September call ups. I never really thought much about it, but I have to say, I reluctantly agree with Dougie. (Only reluctantly because he’s not been on my good side this season.)
Go right ahead and let rosters expand from 25 to 40. Let the teams call up as many or as few guys as they deem necessary. I believe September is a good time to let the minor leaguers get a taste of the Bigs and I think it’s a good time to throw some extra arms in the bullpen and put some extra bats and gloves on the bench. I think, however, there does need to be some regulation on a game-to-game basis.
Melvin proposes that, after September 1st, teams must submit a limited roster prior to the start of each game, thus evening the playing field. I like the proposed limit of 30 players per team. It still makes each manager strategize before and during a game, yet limits the scenarios of countering pitchers and hitters, which could seemingly go on forever this time of the season.
I think 30 is a good number, allowing a team to put extra players in both the bullpen and on the bench for any number of situations throughout a game. Limiting who a manager can use per game keeps the game interesting, yet fair.
So keep on pushing, Melvin. I’m all for it.
Prince sets some new records.
Prince Fielder tied Cecil Cooper’s single-season RBI record at 126 and went 5 games without another one. Fielder finally broke the Brewers record on Saturday, with Cooper in attendance, as he did it against the Astros at Miller Park. Not only did it take him 5 games, but it took him 3 tries that game just to knock in that one run. He finally did it though, and the hometown crowd couldn’t have been happier.
Prince also broke a 9-year old club record for walks in a season held by Jeromy Burnitz. Yesterday, Fielder walked for the 100th time. He also hit his 40th homerun during yesterday’s 6-0 shut-out, making him just the 2nd player in Brewers history to have two 40 homerun seasons. I’m gonna say that he’s got more than 5 but less than 10 more in him in the remaining 13 games. I doubt he’ll hit 50 again this season, but he’s gonna have a big finish. And I think he’s gonna be ahead of Poo Holes in RBIs at season’s end.
The creepiest mustache ever.
I am a fan of high socks. I am a fan of stirrups. I am not a fan of people that look like child molesters.
There have been some amazing mustaches in baseball over the years. This is not one of them.
And that’s only the beginning. And only slightly less creepy than what Cardnials SS Brendan Ryan currently has growing on his upper lip.
The full-on thing not only ages Ryan by about 20 years, but it makes me want to grab all small children in his vicinity and run the other way. Creep-o.
Okay, that’s all. Just wanted to get some of that stuff out. This week is gonna be crazy for me, what with it being the final homestand for the Brewers, and all. I only have 2 games lined up for the week, but they’re doozies.
Wednesday will mark the last time my ladies and I will all be at Miller Park together this season. It’s only a little sad though, since we’ll all be in St. Louis next weekend to give our Boys a proper send-off. On the bright side, every time the Brewers play the Cubs and the 3 of us are all there, the Crew has come out on top. So that’s promising!
Saturday, Nik and I will use up the last of my 9-pack tickets and will officially say farewell to Miller Park until April 5th, 2010 when the season begins anew. I must say, 2009 has been a little bittersweet but I most definitely look forward to the next 2 weeks and everything they have to offer.
As I checked the MLB leaderboards this afternoon on my lunchbreak, the Brewers players (or lack thereof) listed got me thinking about a lot of things. Take a look at some of these numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
MLB Batting Leaders
Prince Fielder – 31 (4th)
Ryan Braun – 26 (Tied, 13th)
Prince Fielder – 107 (1st)
Ryan Braun – 86 (Tied, 6th)
Ryan Braun – .314 (Tied, 15th)
Felipe Lopez – .313 (Tied, 18th)
On Base Percentage
Prince Fielder – .420 (4th)
Prince Fielder – .600 (4th)
Ryan Braun – .568 (9th)
Ryan Braun – 143 (11th)
Felipe Lopez – 140 (Tied, 13th)
Ryan Braun – 85 (6th)
Yovani Gallardo – 11 (Tied, 17th)
Yovani Gallardo – 165 (6th)
Trevor Hoffman – 26 (Tied, 10th)
Mitch Stetter – 57 (Tied, 11th)
Todd Coffey – 56 (Tied, 12th)
I’d say it’s pretty apparent what the problems are here. It’s a major, major issue when only 2 players show up consistently on the batting leaderboards. Admittedly, it’s nice when players hit hot streaks, like Fielder’s current tear. And, of course, not every position player on a team will get hot at the same time. And true, the Brewers have logged double digits in the hits column for what? The last 7 games? But when the one pitcher you see on the boards only takes the mound once every 5 games, things aren’t going to sync up as often as they need to. And even when Gallardo does pitch, the Brewers have trouble giving him ample run support.
It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s pitching staff has taken a perpetual beating this season. Currently, the starting rotation has given up both Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the DL, Braden Looper gives up homerun after homerun (to be fair, the entire staff has given up 159 longballs – the most in the majors. Ouch.), Manny Parra spent a few weeks in the minors only to come back and be crazy-consistent, Gallardo is the ace in the making and then there’s Mike Burns, reliever on loan. Even when the starters manage to go the distance, the distance is generally somewhere around 6 innings – definitely not enough.
Which leads me to the bullpen. It’s no wonder the Brewers have 2 relievers showing up as having pitched in the most games. The bullpen works far too often because the rotation can’t get it done. Adding a few new arms out there have so far not paid off. The only thing Jesus Colome, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have in common with the rest of Milwaukee’s pitching staff? The ability to give up runs in great numbers.
There are only 44 games left for the Brewers this season. If the pitching doesn’t match up with the offense soon, the team will be in serious jeopardy of falling further out of contention. (Despite what it may sound like so far, I do still have faith in my boys.) It’s just really hard to fathom a big comback in either the NL Central or Wildcard races if batting and pitching coming together is about as rare an occurence as a solar eclipse.
Including wrapping up this current series in Pittsburgh, there are 14 match-ups left in 2009. Only 6 of those series will the Brewers face teams lower in the standings than they are. Also looming for Milwaukee are 3 series against the Cardinals, 2 versus the Cubs and 1 against the Wildcard-leading Rockies. If the Brewers are hoping to take any or all of those series, they had better start by winning more against the teams that, on paper, they’re capable of beating.
And at the risk of sounding selfish, I have at least 6 more games to attend this year, including 2 in St. Louis at the end of the season. I’d like very much to see a major turnaround from my team by then. Well, in addition, I’d like to see the Cubs and Cards take a nosedive, but beggars can’t be choosers. And don’t get me wrong, I know enough about baseball to understand it’s full of ups and downs and I can’t expect the world all the time. But come on, Brewers. I’m really sick of the downs.
Okay, so in other news, Bill Hall’s future will be decided by Friday. It’s entirely possible that Doug Melvin will use Hall as a trading chip. Quite honestly, I hope that he does. Obviously, Hall’s career is far from over and there’s got to be at least a few teams interested in picking him up. The Brewers, if I haven’t made it clear enough yet, need another starter. I’ve been reading the Reds are interested in Billy and, well, they’ve got a couple arms they’re willing to part ways with. And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bronson Arroyo or Aaran Harang put on a Brewers uni. But the decision on Hall still has a few more days to be made, so don’t worry – I won’t hold my breath.
Anyway, the Crew is at PNC Park again tonight to try and restore some dignity and stop the downward spiral. Manny Parra (8-8, 6.44 ERA) matches up with Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA). Parra’s been nothing short of spectacular since returning from Triple-A just a few weeks ago and since the last time the Brewers saw the Pirates, they’ve gotten rid of the majority of their team. Hopefully, this will bode well for Parra and he’ll be on point again tonight. Hopefully.
Obviously, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I was waiting for something really super-awesomely spectacular to happen before I wrote anything else, but since the Brewers have failed to do anything super, awesome or spectacular for quite some time, I suppose I have to comment on today’s actions within the ballclub.
First, dismissing pitching coach Bill Castro isn’t going to change the fact that the rotation is struggling and the bullpen can’t seem to salvage the myriad of situations they’ve been put into. Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush are out– let’s not forget that’s still a factor. Carlos Villanueva is par, at best, as a starter, Braden Looper can’t seem to work 2 quality starts in a row and Yovani Gallardo pitches well, but the offense rarely supports him. Since coming back from his latest stint in the minors, Manny Parra has been the only pitcher to garner both quality starts and wins. The marred rotation, coupled with the wishy-washy bullpen (including the recent acquisitions of Jesus Colome and 2 former Brewers, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas) are never going to be enough to consistently win games.
Castro’s replacement, Chris Boscio, has big league experience both as a pitcher (with Milwaukee and Seattle) and as a coach (with the Tampa Bay Rays). The Triple-A Nashville Sounds, whom Boscio is leaving behind for this interim position, have a team ERA of 4.05, which is good enough for 2nd in the league. Hopefully whatever he’s doing with the Sounds will translate to the Brewers and he can help whip the pitching staff into shape.
The second move Doug Melvin and Co. made today was to send shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A for the first time in over 2 seasons. Alcides Escobar has yo-yo’d between Nashville and Milwaukee over the past season and a half as has gotten the call as Hardy’s replacement. Escobar is batting .298 in the minors while Hardy has been struggling to make it out of the .220 range all season. The plan for JJ is similar to the one Manny Parra had– regroup, start producing and get his head on straight. Hopefully, it’ll work to his advantage the way it worked for Manny.
Lastly, Bill Hall, the oft-slumping infielder turned outfielder turned infielder turned outfielder, was designated for assignment. Hall was sent to Nashville just a few weeks ago but was quickly recalled after Corey Hart had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. Nevermind that he hit a 2-run homer last night, Hall has been platooned for the past 2 seasons and has been unable to match or exceed career-high numbers in the past 3 seasons. Hall’s replacement is a virtually unknown Jason Bourgeois, who missed most of the year so far due to a thumb injury. The Brewers now have 10 days to decide Bill Hall’s future with the team.
So what do I think about all this? I think the shake-ups are good. I think the majority of the players on this team will look at what was decided today and will realize their fates may not be secure if the team can’t turn it around. However, I don’t think this is going to be enough to pull out of the middle of the NL Central.
The Brewers are in desperate need of consistent, quality starts, something the rotation has been lacking in all season. The addition of 3 pitchers to the bullpen is like putting a bandage on a bullet wound. Milwaukee’s starting rotation is suffering and will continue to suffer if a new arm isn’t added soon. And the bullpen is exhausted because they’re constantly expected to clean up the mess. A number of pitchers have recently cleared waivers that are worth taking a long, hard look at, despite what it may cost to finish out the season with them. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang of the Reds are options. So is John Smoltz, despite a poor showing in 8 starts with the Red Sox. All I’m saying, is anyone is better than what the Brewers have going on right now. The rotation has been in constant flux since April and I think consistency will be key, if the organization decides to add an arm and once everyone is healthy and back with the club.
One can only hope these moves are just minor stepping stones to something bigger. But until then, the Brewers need to figure out how to turn themselves around and start winning again. I will not be looking forward to St. Louis in October if those last 3 games mean nothing.
Tonight, the Crew looks for some sweet redemption from last night’s embarassing showing against the Padres. Carlos Villanueva (2-9, 6.05 ERA) is on the mound against Kevin Correia (7-9, 4.51 ERA).
I’ve been throwing around a few differen’t headlines for today’s post. There actually is quite a bit to talk about since Monday night’s debacle. So instead of recapping, here’s the condensed rundown of everythig I want to touch on.
MRI reveals Suppan sucks, now on 15-day DL
Villanueva struggles, Crew dissapoints, I leave early
Avoided last night’s game, Brewers fiiiiiiinally beat Nats — Go figure
Series split. Whatev. Milwaukee back at .500
Wins. Plays. Games. (In Triple-A.)
Gallardo should be careful, could hurt back carrying the Brewers
Dear Crew, be less embarassing in San Diego
Pirates trade away entire roster, content with staying in cellar
Lackluster NL Central — does anyone want it?
Cubs acquire Grabow and Gorzelanny, will still choke by end of season
The Brewers head to San Diego for a 3-game series against the perennial cellar-dwellers, the Padres. I will not go on record saying the Brewers will sweep, given the situation with the Nationals this week, but my confidence in the team is slowly going back up, so I say they at least come back with a series win. (Maybe even RHP Kevin Correia?)
Tomorrow’s match-up, Braden Looper (9-5, 4.79 ERA) vs. Chad Gaudin (4-9, 4.57 ERA).
As Meatloaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.
So a Brewer finally won the Homerun Derby. Nice. I was certainly not expecting Prince to pull it off, but the big man went all out and took home the trophy. And how about that 503 foot bomb? It’ll be ages before someone does that again. But the big question has been, was there too much pressure on Albert Pujols? Probably. But he’s a pro, right? What I loved the most was the press in St. Louis going on and on about how it was good Pujols didn’t win. He could’ve messed himself up for the second half swinging for the fences all night. He can’t be perfect all the time and he needed to rest up for the All-Star game the next night. (Because he did so amazingly well, right?) And, of course, Prince should be so greatful for the applause and reception all those people in Busch Stadium gave him, so he should’ve kept his shirt tucked in at the end of the night. Seriously? Get over it, St. Louis.
I was holding out a glimmer of hope that the NL could pull off a winat the All-Star game this year. I thought Jerry Manuel put together a pretty good team. And they contended right up until the end, when that damn Mariano Rivera came in and saved another one. Blast! Manuel’s team even had a lead at one point. Fielder had a pinch-hit RBI double, RB had a nice catch (but he’s in the middle of an offensive slump) and Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless inning. Way to represent, Brewers!
And last night was the start to the second half and, despite the hiccup by Seth McClung in the 8th, the Brewers pulled off the win. Braden Looper went 3-3 with an RBI and the only starter to not get a hit was Craig Counsell, although he reached on a fielder’s choice and scored a run. RB even broke the 0-17 slump with an infield hit. The offense produced mostly will small ball, but Fielder’s 3-run homer carried over nicely from the Derby and Hoffman notched his 21st save. Not a bad way to kick it off, boys.
Tonight is game 2 of the 4-game series in Cincinnati and it’s Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.70 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 5.38 ERA). I’ll be at Leff’s with the gang celebrating my birthday (and the win!) a couple days early.
So I spent 13 hours working today. Well, I spent around 8 hours working, the rest was in the car driving to and from downtown Chicago, thus I didn’t see any of today’s game.
Manny Parra was brought back up to the Big League’s to start today’s final game against the Cardinals. And for once, he had nothing to do with the loss. He went 7 scoreless. Nice. Yet again, lack of run support (and a weakened bullpen) was the culprit.
I have no idea what the box score was, I have not a single inkling of who did what, or more importantly, who did nothing, so I can’t be too judgey. But seriously. 5-1? I know I said I was sick of the 1-run losses, but I didn’t necessarily mean scoring only 1 run. I meant losing by 1. But I guess this is kind of the same thing.
So, since I have no details to report on and I’m way too tired to look anything up (I left my house at 4:30 this morning. Why am I even still awake?), I guess this is just a short, sweet little post. Well, not sweet. Just short.
Nik and I are going to the game tomorrow night and hopefully the Brewers will start winning again. As luck would have it, they’ve won the last 3 games I’ve attended, all come from behind. I’m not looking for a come from behind win tomorrow, but any win whatsoever would be nice. Thanks in advance, Boys.
Tomorrow night: Braden Looper (7-4, 4.78 ERA) vs. Chad Billingsly (9-4, 3.14 ERA)