Tagged: Chris Coghlan

Who says there’s no baseball in winter?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
Rogers Hornsby


No baseball in winter? Yeah, right!
Alright, maybe no actual MLB games. And trips to the ballpark for me are reserved for meals at Friday’s Front Row or sales at the Brewers Team Store. And I suppose my TV schedule is freed up quite a bit. But there is plenty of baseball in the winter.
True, I wish I didn’t have to go through this period of cold, blustery days of shoveling the driveway (although I do love wearing cute cold weather accessories), worrying about getting in car accidents (which happened for the first time last winter and now I’ve developed a slight phobia of driving in the snow) and waiting for snowman snow (it’s the only kind of snow I actually enjoy). But without those days, what would there be to look forward to except for spring and baseball?
Okay, so winter doesn’t technically start for 25 more days, but for all intents and purposes, it’s already here. And I’ve had lots of baseball to occupy myself with. For starters, shortly after the World Series wrapped, the free agency buzz began. There were a bevy of awards to be given away and the Hot Stove has only begun to cook.
I’ve kept myself busy so far wondering if the Baseball Writer’s Association got everything right. For the most part, I think they did alright. Top 10 Hottie Joe Mauer most definitely deserved the AL’s MVP with just an incredible season for the Twins. But I do have to say that the award is Most Valuable Player, not hitter. To be fair, Albert Pujols had a great year offensively. Again. But as far as all-around players go, how the H did Prince Fielder finish fourth?
Of the top 4 (Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard and Fielder), Prince was the only one to start all 162 games, had only 7 errors, giving him the highest fielding percentage at .995 and, if you ask me, he’s come a long way at first base as a defensive player. And that all goes along with his league leading 141 RBIs (albeit tied with Howard) and he only trailed Pujols in homeruns by one with 46, not to mention his career high .299 AVG. So what if the Brewers finished out of contention and below .500? If it weren’t for Fielder, they would’ve done considerably worse. 
Tim Lincecum of the Giants won the NL Cy Young for the second year in a row, although that’s been a sore subject for some. There were quite a few pitchers in the NL that could’ve won and with the way votes are tabulated, there was bound to be some controversy. Zack Greinke completely deserved his Cy Young and both Rookies of the Year were right on (sorry, Casey). The Marlins’ Chris Coghlan hit the ground running and led all NL rookies in batting average and runs and Oakland’s closer Andrew Bailey had an amazing first season with 26 saves in 30 opportunities, not to mention the crazy low ERA and WHIP, 1.84 and .88, respectively. 
As for managers, I couldn’t agree more. I voted for Jim Tracy in TYIB and he did a great job taking over a slumping team in the Rockies and leading them to the National League Wild Card. Mike Scioscia overcame the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart and kept the Angels’ heads up, all the way to the ALCS where they eventually lost to the Yankees in 6, but not without putting up a damn good fight. 
I’ve already touched briefly on Milwaukee’s free agent situation in an earlier post, but since the market officially opened last Friday, I’ve become a Hot Stove junkie. Well, a Brewers junkie, at least. Now, I know I can’t believe everything I read, but can I please have John Lackey, Carl Pavano, Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe and Jarrod Washburn and just start with a clean slate in 2010? Please? That would be super. Oh, wait… stupid Jeff Suppan still has another year on his contract. And I am okay with Yovani Gallardo in the Brewers rotation. And I wouldn’t be totally opposed to giving Dave Bush and Manny Parra another shot (because I do love them so). Okay, fine. I’ll settle for any one of the aforementioned free agent pitchers. Although we all know there are quite a few teams that are going to be contending for starting pitching and that can afford WAY more than Milwaukee can. I guess I’ll hold out a bit longer and see what happens. Hopefully Doug Melvin makes some smarter decisions this off-season…
So anyway, Mr. Hornsby, whoever said there’s no baseball in winter was clearly wrong. There’s a ton. But you’re right. I can’t wait for spring, either. 

This Year in Baseball

It’s been awhile. I know. Bear with me.

I’ve decided to forego talking about the World Series because I’ve been reading The Yankee Years and my disdain for that team is doing nothing but growing. Needless to say, I was disappointed in the outcome.

I’ve also decided to save my thoughts on the JJ Hardy-Carlos Gomez trade for another entry, as I’m getting kind of sick of people asking me about it and have far too much to say. Let’s leave it at this for now: excellent move for the Brewers. Mike Cameron, I’ll miss you.

Instead of all that, I’ve decided to let you all in on my votes for the This Year in Baseball Awards. I’ve literally been on that website for at least the last hour mulling over the choices. And instead of just voting for all the Brewers nominees and whomever else I liked the most throughtout the season, as I have in the past, I think I’ve actually made some very well thought out decisions this year.

 

Hitter

My team did have 2 nominees this year in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Looking at everyone’s numbers, Braun probably could’ve been bumped off the list, but needless to say, I was happy to see his name.

Naturally, I voted for Fielder. True, his average was kept just shy of .300, but he had held it quite near that mark the majority of the season. Ending at .299 was probably a bit of a disappointment, but his other numbers made up for it. Fielder led the league for RBIs, tied at 141 with Ryan Howard, went 2nd to Albert Pujols with 46 HRs, led in OPS with 1.014 and capped out with 103 runs.

If it weren’t for Prince, I was leaning towards Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and his league-leading .365 AVG and 28 HRs or the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez’s .342 AVG coupled with 106 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.

 

Starter

Of course, with the Brewers’ abysmal starting rotation, there were none of my own boys to choose from, so I went with Zach Greinke of the Kansas City Royals. I’m sure he’ll walk away with this honor given his 16-8 record and 2.16 ERA, which led all other pitchers in the category. Not to mention he struck out 242 batters.

I picked Greinke over St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, whom I do think is a strong contender for Cy Young this year with his 19-8 record (the Brewers spoiled his 20th win. Ha!) and 212 Ks. I also was considering Detroit’s Justin Verlander because of his 19-win season and 269 Ks, leading in that category.

 

Rookie of the Year

Picking a single winner is going to be tough. As far as batting goes, it’s a tough call. But so is pitching.

You must know that I voted for Casey McGehee, not only because of his strong offensive numbers, but because I was able to watch him on the field all season, too. Sure he led the rooks in RBIs with 66 and was 2nd in just about every other major batting category (.301 AVG, .859 OPS, 58 R and 16 HRs), but he battled his way to an everyday spot starting for the Brewers at third base and did a pretty damn good job at it, too.

If it weren’t for Casey’s name on the list, I more than likely would’ve voted for Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins. Coghlan led with a .321 AVG and 84 R, while knocking in 47 runs, stealing 8 bases and hitting 9 out of ballparks across the country.

As far as pitching, I just find it really hard to compare to everyday players at any other position. Tommy Hanson of the Braves went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA, struck out 116 batters and had a WHIP of 1.18. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey went 26/30 in save opportunities while striking out 91 batters, keeping his ERA well under 2.0 and had a mere .88 WHIP. (But I still finding batting stats way more impressive. Sorry.)

 

Manager

Although the winner will most likely be the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, who led his team to the best record in the MLB at 103-59, my vote goes to Jim Tracy. Tracy took over the sagging Colorado Rockies partway through the season and led them to a NL Wildcard victory with a 92-70 record.

 

Closer

Milwaukee’s own Trevor Hoffman was 37/41 with a 1.83 ERA, 48 Ks and a WHIP of .91.  Not the greatest, but he gets my vote because, well, he’s Trevor Hoffman. Jonathan Broxton of the LA Dodgers had a crazy-high 114 Ks and the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera did only blow 2 saves. He also had the lowest ERA with 1.76. But, as I’ve previously stated, I don’t like the Yankees. Therefore, I vote for NO YANKEES!

 

Set-Up

Who to choose? The Giants’ Jeremy Affeldt had the lowest ERA (1.73) and tied Matt Guerrier of the Minnesota Twins with 33 holds. Oakland’s Michael Wuertz led in strikeouts with 102 and with .95, had the lowest WHIP.

Even though there was a Brewer on this list, I just can’t vote for Todd Coffey with guys like Wuertz and Affeldt sharing the nomination. My vote foes to Jeremy Affeldt.

 

Defense

I can’t quite get a grip on what’s better: putouts or assists? Fielding percentage is one thing, but what should I be more impressed with–the number of outs you make, or the number of outs you help make? My vote is for the Angels’ Torii Hunter. He only made 1 error, giving him a fielding percentage of .997, while also having 286 putouts. Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies was also pretty impressive with .986 fielding percetage and 433 assists. But I based my decision solely on fielding percentage and went with Hunter.

 

Performance

Yovani Gallardo offered a stellar game vs. Pittsburgh in late April, taking the win entirely into his own hands. Gallardo went 8 innings, struck out 11 with no ERs and smacked a solo homerun, accounting for the only run the Brewers would need to secure a victory. But I didn’t vote for Yo.

White Sox starter Mark Buhrle gets a lot of praise for his perfect game against the Rays, but with only 6 strikeouts, I think a lot of the credit should really go to his teammates. So I didn’t vote for him, either.

Troy Tulowitzki impressed me the most hitting for the cycle, going 5-5 with 7 RBIs and scoring 2 runs. Why was this feat more impressive than the rest? Welllllllll, it was against the Cubs!

 

Play

I watched evey play, waiting for the best reaction. I needed to be impressed. Making a leaping catch at the wall to rob someone of a homerun? Big deal.

The winner? The flip from Angels’ Maicer Izturis to Erick Aybar. Izturis flipped the ball from his glove directly to the waiting bare hand of the human projectile that was Aybar in time to throw Kurt Suzuki out at first. I watched that clip twice just to be sure I was actually impressed. I was.

 

Moment

Hands down, the Angels’ tribute to fallen pitcher Nick Adenhart after winning the AL West. No other moment put a bigger smile on my face.

 

Oddity

This is the one that I vote on purely because of what makes me laugh the hardest.

I still get a kick out of Milton Bradley’s stupidity, but the absolute take-down of Racing President Teddy Roosevelt had tears in my eyes. That Peirogi was brutal!

 

Executive

Tag-teaming with my vote for Jim Tracy, I picked Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd for being the man with the plan. Who knows where Colorado would’ve finished in ’09 if O’Dowd hadn’t had a hand in firing Clint Hurdle, but kudos for making the move. It certainly paid off.

 

Unsung Star

With numbers all over the place, it was hard to decide on this one. I went with Jayson Werth of the Phillies. His .268 AVG, 36 HRs and 99 RBIs helped get his team to the post season yet again. But with names like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, then adding Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, a name like Werth gets lost in the mix. (Although, after this post season, it probably won’t be lost for long.) Ben Zobrist of Tampa Bay was a very, very, very close second.

 

Post Season Moment

After Dexter Fowler leapfrogged Chase Utley in the 8th inning of Game 4 of the NLDS between the Rockies and Phillies, Colorado stirred up an eventual 4-2 lead going into the 9th. But, Ryan Howard smacked a 2-run double off of Rockies closer Huston Street to tie the game, giving the Phils enough momentum to eventually take the series. Since I’m a bit of a sucker for the Phillies (only after the Brewers, of course!), I chose that moment of Game 4 over Fowler’s gymnastics.

 

So there you have it. My picks. It’ll be interesting to see how many of my choices are actually winners. I’m guessing probably not many, but that’s alright. I have my reasons for voting the way I do and I’m quite impressed with myself for not just outright voting for the Brewers and Phillies like I’ve done in years past.

So that’s all I have in me after not posting for I don’t even know how long. But I promise I’ll keep it up a bit more, especially with all the free angents that will be floating around soon. And with the Brewers mounting need to pick up some key players. There will be much to write about soon enough.

 

 

Making a Case(y) for Rookie of the Year

The Brewers season has been marred by injuries, poor starts, fatigued bullpen arms and too-high expectations. There have been some bright spots, however. Prince Fielder has tied the club record for single-season RBIs, Ryan Braun has become the second fastest player to reach 100 homeruns, new addition Trevor Hoffman is padding his all-time saves lead and Alcides Escobar is finally getting his time in the Major League spotlight. Despite the standings, the list could go on and on.

In addition to all that, Casey McGehee, added to the 25-man roster back in April as a bench player, has gotten his first full season with a Major League ballclub and has proven himself as a valuable asset. More than that, McGehee has become a legitimate contender for NL Rookie of the Year. I think it’s unlikely that he’ll win the honor, but let me plead the case on why I think he should.

 

Top 10 NL Rookies

Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres

Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida Marlins

Chris Dickerson, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Dexter Fowler, OF Colorado Rockies

Travis Ishikawa, 1B, San Francisco Giants

Garrett Jones, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Casey McGehee, IF, Milwaukee Brewers

Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

 

Those 10 guys represent the top hitting performers of all NL rookies this season. I’m going to break down the top categories by where Casey ranks and who’s got the highest ranking, for a quick comparison.

G: 101, 6th (132, Rasmus)

AB: 303, 7th (436, Coghlan)

H: 92, 6th (132, Coghlan)

AVG: .304, 1st

RBI: 58, 1st

R: 51, 7th (72, Coghlan)

HR: 15, T – 2nd (19, Jones)

TB: 155, 6th (192, Coghlan) 

SLG: .512, 2nd (.586, Jones)

OBP: .368, 3rd (.376, Coghlan)

 

Out of the top 10, it’s obvious there are 2 names that are standing out way above the rest. But that’s not to say McGehee hasn’t proven himself worthy. What it’s really going to come down to is the voting. Garrett Jones has playing time in the majors over the last 4 seasons and the Pirates have pretty much accepted this season as a failure. That’s not to say what Jones has been able to do, despite Pittsburgh admitting 2009 was a terrible year, isn’t impressive. (And he’s def making the revamped Top 10 Hotties list. But that’s to be continued on a later date.) Chris Coghlan is absolutely a top contender for the award, and rightfully so. The kid has pushed his way to the top 5 in all batting categories and it’s going to be hard to see how he couldn’t win it. Another guy worth mentioning is another Pirates outfielder, Andrew McCutchen. His arrival to the big leagues was much-anticipated and it’s clear why. Despite not leading any categories, his name shows up pretty consistently in the top 5, as well. And his defensive skills are pretty on-point.

My plea for Casey McGehee is the fact that he started off the year basically as a bench player, working in a 3-man platoon at the Brewers’ hot corner with Craig Counsell and Bill Hall. Fortunately for McGehee, a rather unfortunate season-ending injury of everyday 2nd baseman Rickie Weeks afforded McGehee consistent playing time, splitting duties at 3rd with Hall and 2nd with Counsell. He was good at 2nd, but it became clear 3rd base was a more comfortable fit. Still, Hall was on the team and as a tenured player, albeit a mediocre one, he garnered more starts. When McGehee did step in, he proved his worth and Hall was forced to sit more and more, eventually being traded to the Mariners, which gave McGehee the starting nod at 3rd nearly every game. Not only has Casey’s bat been hot, but his defensive skills should definitely warrant a second look when it comes time to cast the votes. Sure, he’s got a few errors, but nobody’s perfect. Quite honestly, and I’ve said it before, I know it’s unlikely that Casey McGehee will win Rookie of the Year. But seriously, I feel like this guy plays with more heart and tenacity than I’ve seen in a while. Even if he doesn’t get it, he’s definitely more than deserving of it.

So that’s it. My 2 cents on the matter.

 

Let’s talk a little bit about this Brewers-Cubs series though. Just a little.

I will take a split. A split is better than a loss. Especially when the Brewers scored 16 runs in the last 2 wins, and will ride those wins back home to Miller Park.

Alcides Escobar was supremely awesome last night, going 4-5 with 3 RBIs and turned 2 doubles plays, 1 of which was just beautiful to watch. Especially after that whack DP the Cubs supposedly turned in the top half of the inning. (Andres Blanco stepped off 2nd before the ball was anywhere near his glove. Neither here nor there. The Crew still won.) It took last night’s game for me to actually sit back and come to terms with the fact that JJ Hardy is replaceable and Escobar will be the way to go come 2010.

Today, the Brewers had an early 1-0 lead taken away, but Jody Gerut’s grandslam (yes, I said Jody Gerut) put them back on top, giving Dave Bush and the Crew a much-needed win.

Tomorrow the Crew comes home to face the Astros over the weekend and then the Cubs come to Miller Park for one last showdown before the Phillies wrap up the final homestand of the season. It’s kind of sad to think I only have 2 more trips to the hometown ballpark before season’s end (of course, there’s the trip to Busch Stadium after that), but in a way, once the year is over, it means the powers that be in Milwaukee can start thinking ahead towards next season. And, of course, it means I can focus all my sports energy on football.

 

Manny Parra will be replaced by Chris Narveson(1-0, 4.67 ERA) again tomorrow night. Narveson takes the mound against the Astros’ Bud Norris (5-3, 5.44 ERA).

Go Brewers!

 

Not that anyone asked, but here’s my two cents

I have never enjoyed the Happy Youngster’s blog. I want to read about Brewers baseball, not the circumstances of some 30 year old getting baseballs.

The bullpen coach threw it to me. I caught some BP homers. I put on the opposing team’s hat and called out a first name (“Anyone can read the back of a jersey.”). Big effing deal.

I like writing about the Brewers and if you’re going to post yourself as a Brewers blogger, I’m gonna be a hell of a lot more interested in reading about the happenings of the actual game, not your lame conquests of doing what any 10 year old with a glove and a loud voice could do.

I don’t make it a habit to read Nick what’s-his-name’s blog, but when I stumbled across an article on AOL about a rookie MLB player’s homerun ball, I naturally read it. I read almost anything baseball related I come across, because, unlike Happy, I enjoy baseball for the sport. When I saw it involved a Brewers-Marlins game, I was almost certain I knew it would also involve said blogger.

Keep in mind, only because tonight’s battle of the two NL Central first place teams was rained out am I even writing about this. I already spent more time than necessary reading comments on Happy’s blog after I read the article on AOL. However, I feel I must say something about this whole situation because I’m a fan of, not only the Brewers, but baseball in general.

Chris Coghlan hits his first major league homerun. It’s a pretty big deal. When you’re only, what? 22, 23 years old? It’s a huge accomplishment. The Florida Marlins obviously have enough stock in this kid to bring him up to the Bigs and guess what? He delivered.

Sure, Happy is a ballhawk. Yes, catching homerun balls is a big deal to him. Has he bartered for homerun balls before? Probably. But is having homerun catch no. 50 worth more to him than Coghlan having the ball from his first Major League homerun? Apparently so.

According to Happy’s latest post, he clearly says when the Marlins offered another ball in exchange for the HR ball, that he already has over 775 balls and doesn’t need another one. Then give up the ball right then. What’s the point? Having a couple bats instead? Wow. That’s an enormous difference.

Now, as I’ve said already, I don’t care about catching game balls. I don’t care about batting practice or foul balls or any of that. I like watching baseball for baseball. That doesn’t mean I’ve never wondered what I would do if I miraculously caught such an important ball. As I don’t own a glove and never have or never will bring one with me to a game, it probably won’t happen, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering. I’m sure I wouldn’t be smart enough to request something other than what was offered to me in exchange and you know what? That’s fine. If it was me that caught Coghlan’s ball and the Marlins staff offered me a signed ball in exchange, I’d say okay. I have other player’s autographs. Guess what? They’re really not worth anything. Will anyone pay me for Ryan Braun’s autograph? Probably not. Go to a game, go to a Brewers sponsored event. You’ll get one of your own. But, in the moment, if some official from any MLB team came up to me and said, “Hey, that’s his first homerun. It’s a pretty big deal to him.” then proceeded to offer me anything in exchange for it, I’d give it up right then and there because I AM NOT A MARLINS FAN! What the eff would I want with his ball? Let the freaking kid have it!

Here’s my reasonable comparison to the whole thing. Imagine that Chris Coghlan was the now free agent Brad Nelson. Brad had a pretty damn good Spring. He made his first Major League roster this April (not counting the call-up last September. This is the one that matters.). Aside from him sucking at the plate, he’s had some pretty close calls. He’s a power hitter. Is it out of the question for Nelson to hit a HR? Absolutely not. So, say Brad Nelson is still with the Brewers and he hits his first homerun in the Majors and the Happy Youngster, because he’s just THAT GOOD, happens to catch it. Now there are numerous people from the Brewers staff requesting he give up the ball for a Brad Nelson signed ball, maybe even a bat because, you know, it’s only Brad Nelson. Instead, Happy requests not only those 2 items, but also a Ryan Braun game used bat because he’s the stud of Milwaukee. And while you’re at it, throw in some Marquee Game Diamond Box seats to the next Cubs series. Does that sound at all reasonable? HELL NO! So why does it seem reasonable to ask for a Hanley Ramirez game used bat? He had nothing to do with Coghlan’s homerun! And why tickets to a game that takes place in Florida? Even if Happy gets himself down there, why? That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Regarless, as I’ve said already, I’m not a fan of the Happy Youngster. I don’t want to get too much into the why’s and why not’s of it, but national news? Hardly. Let Coghlan have his ball. Don’t be greedy. This kid has worked his whole life to get where he is. Happy puts on a glove and an opposing team’s gear and thinks he’s owed the world for standing in the bleachers for batting practice. I don’t care how many balls you’ve caught. I don’t care that you tie a freaking string to your glove and steal balls out of a bullpen. I don’t care that you have a youtube video at Spring Training or people that wear your lame tshirt. Respect the sport for sport, for the people that love the game and the players that live to play. This thing shouldn’t have ever become such a controversy but quite honestly, I’m kind of glad it did because otherwise I would’ve never had an excuse to vent any of this. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be like this, but I’m glad I was able to get it out. It feels pretty good.