I have very little to say regarding this weekend’s wrap-up of the first half. The Brewers continued to fall further behind in both the NL Central and Wildcard races and, aside from RB, no one really had too much to say about it. I think I’ll remain mum on the subject and instead focus my bloggin energy on tonight’s Homerun Derby.
Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay Rays
Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
(Top 10 Hottie) Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
These 4 hitters combined so far for 82 homeruns, 24 coming off of Peña’s bat alone. Mauer has already surpassed his career high with 16 longballs so far in 2009 and leads the AL in hitting.
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
NL skipper Charlie Manuel was smart enough to bolster his roster with power-hitting firstbasemen and all 4 are competing in the derby this year. Pujols leads the NL with 32 homers, but add in the other 3 bats, and there are 100 longballs represented so far this season.
So who’s gonna win? Well, based on last year, it’s clearly anyone’s game. Josh Hamilton certainly outslugged eventual winner Justin Morneau, but playing by the rules sometimes has a tendency to turn the tables. The obvious favorite to win is Pujols. He’s clearly got that homefield advantage working for him. I’m gonna hope that this year Fielder will hit more than 3 and make it at least to the 2nd round. I also think that Mauer has a chance to make it pretty far, even though of the 8 contenders, he has the least HRs going into it.
But no matter who wins, it always turns out to be a pretty exciting event. I look forward to it every year, mostly to see the comraderie of all the players and their families out on the field. I always look forward to seeing a Brewer get his turn to take some hacks and there’s always a good cause attached to the Derby.
Alright, so it’s just past the half-way point in the season and the All-Star break is a mere 6 games away. I shouldn’t be too worried, but alas, my team has given me some concerns.
1. Is it completely impossible for the Brewers to take a series against the Cubs?
I mean, come on. They’ve faced each other 10 times so far and the Brewers are down 3-7. They play 7 more games before the end of the season, too. Now, I’m not saying this is an entirely horrible outlook, but I’m kind of thinking about the next 6 games. It would’ve been nice for the Brewers to come home with some momentum, a little mojo working in their favor–is that so much to ask?
2. I would like a new starter before the trade deadline, please.
So would Ryan Braun. I know the Brewers aren’t going to pick up another CC Sabathia, but another arm out there would be extremely helpful. Will Milwaukee be buyers? Win a few more games, and the answer is probably yes. Is Doug Melvin and Co. ready to talk? Not quite yet. All I’m saying is using your bullpen to start games while Manny Parra takes a mental health break and Dave Bush’s arm is fatigued, or whatever, isn’t working out too well. Mike Burns started 3 games so far, only 1 ending favorable for the Brewers. Seth McClung is a reliever and let’s leave it at that. As evidenced by the opening and closing games of this most recent Cubs series, allowing 14 runs isn’t going to help win games. At least Burns didn’t allow all 7 of his to come off the same bat. Don’t you think after a 3-run Derrek Lee homer you’d be a little more careful with the bases loaded, McClung?
3. Run support needs to happen in all games–not just that occasional blowout.
Saturday’s 11-2 win over Chicago was great. We all know I love to see games like that. But what’s been killing me lately are the 1-run losses. Last week’s 1-0 loss to the Mets was weak. Yovani Gallardo pitched a hell of a game and he deserved a much better fate. Friday’s 2-1 loss (besides being a total joke. That was a strike, sir.) was just sad. It’s inexcusable the amount of men left on base there have been in losses like those. I’m not saying powerful offense is the only way to go, but when your starters are struggling (minus Yo) and the holes in the rotation are being filled with relievers, the offense needs to step up more than usual. Yo and Jeff Suppan gave great starts in each of those games and they were both squandered by the inability to play small ball.
But okay, before I become a total Debbie Downer, there is something positive I must comment on.
Congrats are in order for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for making it to the 2009 NL All-Star team! We fans did all we could to get RB that starting spot in left field for the second year in a row. And you gotta love Charlie Manuel for bolstering that roster with heavy hitters like Prince. I’m thinking maybe the NL could win this year? Maybe?
And also, thanks to Matt Snyder of fanhouse.com for giving some well-deserved props to some guys that didn’t get the All-Star nod. I know he’s not eligible this year, but Casey McGehee has been putting up better numbers that a lot of guys in the infield so far this season. So, no All-Star game, but Rookie of the Year, anyone? Also, thanks for mentioning Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers may not have the best rotation lately, but Yo has been proving himself again and again and I agree that he could’ve been a valuable asset to Manuel’s team.
The final 6 games before the break will be played at home and the Crew faces 2 of only 4 teams to have a better record than them in the NL, the Cardinals and the Dodgers. I’m not entirely worried, but I’m glad to have ranted a bit.
Tomorrow night’s match-up: Gallardo (8-5, 2.75 ERA) vs. Wainwright (8-5, 3.32 ERA).