Tagged: Carlos Villanueva

6 words for yesterday, today

Brewers strike first, yet can’t win.

 

Bush better, Villanueva gives it away.

 

There are shadows! Deal with it!

 

Damn Astros and their Wednesday wins.

 

A-Rod’s only 5 away from 600.

 

Josh Hamilton at 23. Neverending story?

 

LaRussa drinking again? Supports AZ immigration.

 

Holy Vlad! Five RBIs vs. Angels.

 

I voted 25 times. Did you?

 

Cubs can’t deliver. Lose in 10.

 

Awe. Sad. Utley going under knife.

 

Brewers at Busch. No more woes!

 

Guess who’s playing tonight? George’s beard!

 

Guess who’s happy about it? Me!

 

Go Brewers! Go Brewers! Go Brewers!

 

 

 

6 words for June 28

Parra’s wild first yield’s no runs.

 

Rodriguez at home in Puerto Rico.

 

Strasburg pitched? Oh, I hadn’t heard…

 

Zambrano mad! Zambrano need anger management!

 

Edmonds + Counsell = 79. Old Men Brewers.

 

Bourne’s first homer. Off Crew. Shocking!

 

Manny goes wild again. Run scores.

 

Braun homers. Trails Hart. Bizarro Brewers.

 

Pujols: No Derby. Can’t whine afterwards.

 

Strasburg allows 3. *gasp* He’s human!

 

Indians squeeze out win over Jays.

 

Villanueva loads ’em for Coffey. Ehhhh…

 

Aaaaaand Pence ties it. 5 all.

 

I like Braddock better than Coffey.

 

Rolen reaches 300 against former team.

 

Heyward to DL. Active for ASG.

 

Opportunity wasted by Prince, Ryan. Ugh.

 

Bullpen fails. Astros ginormous comeback win.

 

Losses okay when Cubs lose, too.

 

Carlos Lee’s on my fantasy team.

 

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. It’s still early.

After sweeping the Pirates with astronomical numbers, the Brewers were apparently too pooped out to swing the bats (or pitch even remotely well) against Chicago on their home turf.

We fans walk into Miller Park like we own the place (which, we kinda do. Thanks, stadium tax!) when the Cubs come to town. And more and more often, it seems, we leave what’s become known as Wrigley Field North with our tails between our legs. It’s embarassing. I, for one, will no longer stand for it.

Well, okay, it’s not exactly up to me. But Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin and Ken Macha have finally converged and wisened up and made what could be a pivotal decision in getting this ball club, not only back above .500, but headed back to the top of the standings, which is where a 47-runs-in-4-games type of ball club deserves to be.

The much needed turn-around starts with a shake-up to the starting rotation and it seems MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman crawled inside my head while I was sleeping last night and wrote the exact article I would’ve written. Here are a couple of my favorite gems.

“There is no guarantee that Narveson will be the definitive answer in Milwaukee’s 5th starter spot. But he will have the virtue of not being Jeff Suppan.”

LOL!!!

I mean, honestly. Go to Miller Park and ask any Brewers fan who would be a better starter the Suppan. The answer? Anyone other than Suppan. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the decision to send Ol’ Reliable to the bullpen was finally made. It was too late, but it was finally made.

 

“From a pitching rather than a personal perspective, the Suppan situation in Milwaukee has been a mistake for three plus seasons.”

Ummmm, yes! Why can everyone with eyes that follows Major League Baseball, Brewers fan or not, see that, yet it took so long for the people that sign the checks to understand??? Just because management made a mistake in 2007 doesn’t mean the rest of the team should just now be starting to clean up after it.

 

But the real question is, Is the Narv Dog the answer?

Well, he probably would’ve been 3 weeks ago. Instead, Suppan was on the DL, all but awaiting his turn in the rotation. Meanwhile, Narveson’s Spring momentum of 13 scoreless innings dwindled to a 7.20 ERA in 9 relief appearances so far in regular play.

I mean, I still cannot get over his start last September against the Cubs. The Narv Dog pitched 5 2/3 innings, struck out 10 and allowed only 4 hits, with 1 earned run. Pitching like that is why I adored him going into Spring Training and why I was pushing for him to be the Brewers #5, even over Manny Parra.

This decision is definitely what’s best for the team. Right now, anyway. One can argue that Narveson may not be the best option if Suppan’s destiny is an overpaid slot in the bullpen. However, Parra is scoreless in relief so far and the other viable option to start, Carlos Villanueva, has been pitching extremely well in mid-to-late inning relief. If the Narv Dog’s best days have happened starting the first inning on that mound, then by all means, yes. He’s the best choice.

And if the Brewers have to go through 5 more #5’s before finding a rotation that can get the job done, then let them do it.

Afterall, it’s still early.

 

Go Brewers!

 

 

What a busy week…

I first must tell you all that I have finally gotten a new computer. Therefore, I am blogging from bed, iTunes and Twitter are running simultaneously and should I need to do any last minute research while posting, it will not be a problem. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve been able to run more than one program at a time? No? Well, let me just say it’s been a long *** time. This is sooooo nice!

But on to baseball…

Did you all hear that the Brewers were moving to Orlando? Some dude running for Congress down there wants a Major League team to move, thus some reporter took that to include the Crew, thus we all think he’s an idiot. It would’ve taken 2 minutes to find out that wasn’t true.

A few guys settled before arbitration hearings are to get underway. Dave Bush agreed to terms with Milwaukee, signing for a year and earning $4.215 million. But, there are a lot of possibilities out there for Bush. He may not make the cut when it comes to the starting rotation. Hell, he may not even make the bullpen with the other guys competing out there. Bush also stands to make up to $110,000 in bonuses but if that’s to happen, he’s gotta shrink that 6.38 ERA.

Also signing this week was starter-***-reliever-***-starter-***-reliever Carlos Villanueva. Villa asked for just over a mill, but signed on for 2010 for $950,000.

The only player yet to sign is right fielder Corey Hart. Hart seems to think he deserves $4.8 million coming off a, well, let’s face it, bad year. And 2009 was only made worse by a missed month with an emergency appendectomy. If Hart and the Brewers don’t come to an agreement, Corey could be on his way out and, I’m gonna just say it: that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Milwaukee claimed utility man Joe Inglett off of waivers on Wednesday. This gives the Brewers another left handed bat and an another extremely versatile player should he make the roster out of Spring Traning. His addition meant clearing room on the 40-man, thus designating reliever Chris Smith for assignment. Since Inglett has experience in both the infield and outfield, he’s got increased odds of making the team since the Crew is still in need of bench players that can do either.

In a move that had little to no rumblings in us fans’ heads, the Brewers signed near-40-year-old Jim Edmunds to a minor league contract yesterday. Just last week Edmunds made it clear that he wanted back in the Bigs and GM Doug Melvin was quick to make a move. Should Edmunds make the squad come April, he’s got a chance to hit some career milestones before officially calling it quits. He’s got the goods should he make it to Miller Park, including a career .284 BA, 4 trips to All-Star games and 8 Gold Gloves. Plus, he’s another lefty that can play any spot in the outfield. It’s been reported that Edmunds stands to make as much as $2-2.5 million if he makes the 25-man roster and reaches certain achievements, such as playing a full season.

So, the Brewers have been busy this week but still have a few things to be addressed before the end of February. If the club can’t come to terms with Hart, there’s right field, for starters. And speaking of starters, Melvin still has his eye on Mark Mulder. It may seem like there’s still a lot of time before the start of Spring Traning, but January’s almost over. I do have to say that I’m quite happy with what’s happened this winter, though. This team is really shaping up to be a contender. So…yay!

 

Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy…Lefty, lefty, lefty

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

(See above.)

 

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.

 

 

Fiiiiinally Doug Melvin does the right thing

The offseason is starting to finally produce some newsworthy content and I’m happy to report (even though I’m a little behind) that the Brewers organization is actually doing some useful things this winter. 

Doug Melvin promised us all that he would do his best and be aggressive in getting at least one new arm to the starting rotation and he has done exactly that in signing lefty Randy Wolf to a 3-year contract. Wolf is coming off his best season in years after posting a 3.23 ERA with the Dodgers in 2009, going 11-7 in 34 starts. He stands to make $29.75 million and has a 4th year club option. Wolf is excited to come to Milwaukee, where he’ll fit into a young(er) rotation of Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra for sure, and possibly Dave Bush (who is arbitration-eligible) and Jeff Suppan, who unfortunately still has a year left on his contract. Although, nowhere in Suppan’s contract does it stipulate he must hold a spot in the starting rotation, all of us fans will just have to hold our breath and hope that, come spring, he will not. 
With the Brewers team ERA being the lowest in the Majors last year (5.37), Melvin and Co. are not only looking for improved arms in the starting rotation, but are looking for stability and health in the bullpen as well. Last year, the pitching staff was oft-injured, the bullpen was tapped for spot-starters and therefore was stretched very thin and there were some problems with, um, mental health? The addition of Wolf will be nothing but an improvement and the Brewers have begun to add to the bullpen, too.
LaTroy Hawkins was signed to a 2-year, $7.5 million contract after the Houston Astros couldn’t guarantee him a multi-year deal. Last season, Hawkins was nothing short of outstanding, posting a 2.13 ERA in 65 appearances, including 11 saves. With Mark DiFelice out for 2010 (and possibly off the team), Hawkins is a much-needed lefty out of the bullpen and should work well as a set-up man for closer Trevor Hoffman. 
The Crew is close to finalizing a deal with RHP Claudio Vargas (although I’m not sure why…) and have 3 other arbitration-eligible right-handers awaiting offers in Todd Coffey (highly likely), Carlos Villanueva (pretty likely) and Seth McClung (unfortunately, not likely). Also on the 40-man roster are lefties Mitch Stetter and Chris Narveson, as well as RHP Chris Smith. David Riske is recovering from Tommy John surgery but could rejoin the club at some point in 2010 and there are a lot of pitchers in the farm system that could fit well with the team after Spring Training wraps up. 
The Brewers also picked up 23-year-old lefty Chuck Lofgren in the Rule 5 Draft from the Indians. Lofgren would likely come out of the bullpen, but worked well as a starter in the Indians Double- and Triple-A affiliates. 
Although it seems right now there is no shortage of pitching in Milwaukee’s bullpen, it seems Dougie isn’t quite done with his search. However, I hope he remembers that he’s got one more thin spot that should be addressed: the outfield. 
The JJ Hardy trade brought Carlos Gomez to centerfield to accompany team stud and Top 10 Hottie Ryan Braun in left. Everyday right fielder Corey Hart is eligible for arbitration this year and unless Melvin has some big deal planned, I don’t see him leaving Milwaukee any time soon. Back-up outfielder Jody Gerut also has to wait until tomorrow’s arbitration deadline to see if a deal will come his way. I can be on board with the Braun-Gomez-Hart combo, but it wasn’t until later last season that Gerut really stepped up and I’d almost rather have more power coming off the bench than what Gerut can provide. But beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. 
It also seems that the Brewers have more infielders than they know what to do with. The Crew picked up 2 catchers in Gregg Zaun and George Kottaras, thus leaving little room for arbitration-eligible Mike Rivera. They added Adam Heether to the 40-man roster, picked up Luis Cruz and are continuing to negotiate Craig Counsell’s return.
But so far, it seems like the team is really taking shape. The additional pitching will only be helpful, provided all the pieces can fall into place after the arbitration deadline. If the Brewers can get one more discounted starter after tomorrow, the could really be in business for 2010. With the majority of the power hitters still in place, Milwaukee may finally have that 1-2 punch of pitching and offense they’ve been lacking. I know we fans say it every season, but this really could be their year. 

Will all this be enough?

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).

Go Brewers!