Tagged: Craig Counsell

Brewers sweep the Pirates–And there was much rejoicing

First of all, hello again, after a lovely vacation from my normal, boring, mundane (redundant?) life.

I spent a big chunk of it driving through some of the most boring landscape all by my lonesome, some of it on a boat, some in the water, eating and drinking a ton and, yes, even a week in the land of the Viqueens. And it couldn’t have possibly been any better.

I came back to Wisconsin ready for back-to-back tailgates and Brewers games, but not quite ready for the inevitable return to work. Boo.

So, there’s lots to cover, no?

Let’s first talk about Christopher and his inability to properly handle a scissors. Or his inability to let an equipment person fix his glove. I mean, what an idiot. Even if you think you’re completely capable of fixing your glove, you should probably let someone else do it. You know, just in case a sharp object has it out for your thumb. If anyone’s gonna suffer the wrath of a vengeful pair of scissors, I’d rather it not be a starting pitcher. Seriously. Dumb.

Because of Narv Dog’s stitches and subsequent DL stint, the Brewers called up Frankie De La Cruz to fill the spot in the bullpen formerly occupied by spot-starter Marco Estrada and Zack Greinke’s scheduled start was pushed up to the opener against Pittsburgh Friday night. Greinke absolutely killed it. So did the Crew’s offense. Brewers win 7-2. No surprise.

Saturday was my first game at Miller Park in, I’m almost ashamed to say, over a month. I was not looking forward to Estrada pitching. I was, however, looking forward to the inaugural lighting of my new blue grill and pretty much just being at a Brewers game. Well, Estrada pretty much put me in my place, pitching 5 scoreless innings before letting the bullpen protect his 1-0 lead. If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the game that Estrada would have a 1-hit shutout thru 5, with 5 Ks, and oh yeah, hit a double and that Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homer would be the only run on the board, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Thankfully, my doubts were for naught and Milwaukee came out on top over Pitt. Shocking.

So Sunday’s game was Leff’s monthly tailgate, Craig Counsell bobblehead and Bierbrauer day. Excited, kinda excited, could care less. The Pirates already had a run on the board by the time I got my Long Island and pulled pork parfait and I was definitely not in any mood for extras once Ryan Braun tied the game at 1-all in the 9th. But alas, George, Casey and T-Plush all came through quickly in the 10th–single, double, sac fly. Boom. Done. Pirates suck.

After the weekend, Milwaukee has become just the 3rd team in the NL to 70 wins and is still holding onto a 5-game lead over St. Louis in the Central. The Cardinals head to Pittsburgh for a 3-game series and I hate to say it, but if the Pirates play even remotely close to how they played this weekend, they could have a chance to win a couple. I know I wouldn’t be too disappointed with that. The Brewers welcome the 3rd place, sub-.500 Dodgers to MP for 4 games and, you know, I think they’ll be just fine.

And, unrelated, but my mom just walked in and handed me a Hot Dog bobblehead. Awesome.

Tonight’s game: Randy Wolf (9-8, 3.48 ERA) has won his last 3 starts, including an 8-inning, 1-run outing in STL last week. Dodgers starter Ted Lilly (7-12, 4.71 ERA) has a 2.37 ERA in his last 3 starts but has had 2 tough-luck losses. He’d only given up 2 runs in each of those 3 games.

And since Randy’s on the bump, George is behind the plate. Yay!

Go Brewers!

Not as squishy as I’d like, but I’ll take it

I never had any doubt that the Brewers would be leading the NL Central by August.

I knew there would be continual sweeps, great pitcher’s duels and offensive outbursts that couldn’t be matched.

I always hoped that Felip-ayyyyyyy Lopez would be back in a Brewers uniform.

There was never once a bit of hesitation whenever asked if Milwaukee was a legitimate contender in 2011.

Of course, you know that none of the previous statements are true. Yes. I’ve had my doubts about this team. Who hasn’t? They got even bigger once I saw the Pirates were forcing their way towards the top and I thought they were going to be insurmountable when Rickie Weeks went down last week against the Cubs. (Though the surprise re-addition of Lopez puts a bandage on that wound, and the pick-up of Jerry Hairston, Jr. is kinda like the Bactine–it really will help, even though you might not want to put it on.)

However, the Brewers swept that series and followed it up with a sweep of the Astros, which isn’t hard to do when both teams are scraping the bottom of the division and Houston decided to part ways with both Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn during the series.

Milwaukee extended their winning streak to 7 with one monster inning against Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter last night. Zack Greinke allowed a 2-run homer to Matt Holliday in the top of the first and the Brewers were playing with that deficit because Carpenter was lights out through the first 4, allowing just one hit. The Crew batted around in the bottom of the 5th, starting with Yuniesky Betancourt, and all 5 of the runs scored before the first out was recorded. Turns out, Milwaukee didn’t even need all 5, but hey, any time Tony Plush decides to poke his head out for a little fun (and a bases-clearing double), I’m into it.

But, there were a couple of moments that had my heart racing (and not in a good way). I was not pleased to see a bases-loaded, one-out jam at the hands of Greinke in the 6th. The Brewers probably wouldn’t have gotten out of it without harm if it weren’t for a, well, blown call at first on a Skip Schumaker double play-inducing grounder. We all hate bad calls. Until they go our way. So, obviously, I’m okay with it.

With last night’s win, Milwaukee has a relatively comfortable 3 1/2 game cushion over STL. It’s certainly no LoveSac. More like your standard beanbag chair. But it works. And who doesn’t like a beanbag chair?

But what hasn’t been helping on this little climb to the top? Craig Counsell’s bat.

Remember when Counsell used to come in to PH and would actually do something beneficial? Aside from the walk-off sacrifice fly to finish the first half (which I didn’t actually see, due to a 3rd day of preoccupation with Dave Matthews), I do not. Forty-five ABs without a hit. Four RBIs on the season with a .145 AVG. It’s atrocious. Yes, he’s a veteran presence, yes he can still play above average defense, yes he’s…nope. That’s all I got. I love you, Craigy, but turn this around offensively or it’s gonna have to be time to retire. I don’t particularly like either of the 40-year-old lefties on the bench (seriously, Brewers. Who needs TWO??) but something’s gotta give with Counsell. Like, soon.

Attempting to stretch the current streak to 8 wins, Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.33) faces off against Jaime Garcia (10-5, 3.14). Garcia is tough on left-handed hitters, thus Hairston getting the start in CF over Nyjer Morgan and the only lefty in the Brewers line-up is, of couse, Prince Fielder. On the flip-side, Garcia’s ERA in 2 previous starts at Miller Park is 7.20, so if the Crew can continue to swing and play the same smart baseball they’ve been playing as of late, they may be able to solve the otherwise on-point Garcia.

But I’m good. I think that LoveSac is on it’s way.

Go Brewers!

6 words for July 6

Get Off My Mound? Braden: “No.”

 

Two post-snub homers? I’m voting Votto.

 

Official: Yo to DL, Davis activated.

 

Hart going with Prince’s winning pitcher.

 

New beard in town: Joe Inglett.

 

Johan’s first homer. Take that, Reds!

 

Escobar’s glove is hurting. Night off.

 

Good god, Pablo Sandoval is large!

 

Wolf through 4. No score, 6Ks.

 

George still can’t catch runners. Ugh.

 

Counsell’s error leads to 2 runs.

 

Sixth inning unraveling. 5-0 Giants. Boo.

 

Late throws make George look worse.

 

Johnny Damon notches 2500th hit. Congrats!

 

(Briefly leaves Crew for The Hills.)

 

Zohmy. Fan falls at Rangers game.

 

Wolf: 3 up, 3 down seventh.

 

Zimmerman’s 2 HRs help Nats, me.

 

Mariano Rivera out, gives NL chance?

 

Favorite MLB beard goes 0-fer. Again.

 

New beard gets only RBI. Fiiiiiiinally!

 

Corey stops at 20. Bad break.

 

Youkilis exits. Bo-Sox need more milk.

 

Damon walks off. Tigers in 11.

 

A-Rod’s slam puts him within 4.

 

MLB’s night not over. Mine is.

 

 

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.

 

 

Sausage Shots and Cactus League Nachos = A Must!

Yes, Stargirlmol, I agree that the reasoning for the Brewers horrid start to the season is that we Triplets have yet to participate in our traditions as a threesome. Although, I swear, when I take a lonely Chorizo Shot, those boys try their damnedest to turn it around. (Scout’s Honor, I’ve only done that once. And it did work. Although it could’ve been the bridesmaid shoes, too.) Regardless, come this Friday, we will do our best as superfans to get the Crew that elusive win against the Cubs and I’m feeling like we will succeed.

Why do I feel this way you might ask? I mean, understandably, the Brewers have done very little in the first 2 weeks of the season to warrant any faith on my part. Let’s take a look at this past weekend in our Nation’s Capitol, shall we?

Friday night I went to dinner with some very lovely ladies and only heard the first couple of innings in the car on the way there. Casey McGehee was still on fire, Adam Dunn was ejected in the bottom of the first and by the time we sat down to eat, Milwaukee was leading Washington 3-2. After dinner I checked to make sure the Brewers had indeed won only to find out that they indeed had not. Instead of looking at the box score, I took to the TwitterWorld and found out it was basically LaTroy Hawkins’ fault and it was late inning heroics on the Nats part and lack of late inning offense on the Brewers part. Super. Nice job, guys.

Saturday was supposed to be nice and relaxing for me. I just wanted to sit, make lunch and watch the game. What I did not anticipate was an all out annihilation from Washington. I’m pretty sure that the Brewers picked up Randy Wolf over the winter to help out the otherwise mediocre pitching staff and instead, he winds up with a wallop of a loss. The Nationals slammed my boys 8-0. To be fair, Washington had some above stellar defense on Saturday and the Brewers seemed to barely make it on base. Needless to say, I watched the entire beating, biting off my nails in the process.

*Sidenote*

As I was getting ready to curl up in bed and flip aimlessly through channels until SNL came on, I stumbled across what I thought was sports highlights on the local news. Um, nope. Just your regular old 17th inning of play down in St. Louis. I called to my mom to turn it on and we watched the rest of that game together by shouting across the hallway. I was laughing so hard at Felipe Lopez, not because he was pitching, but because he actually pitched pretty well. That and he reminded me of when I used to work at the zoo and we’d work day-into-night 14, 15, 16 hour shifts and by post-dinner break we were all on our second winds and were just downright giddy for the second half. He was just laughing and having a good time. So adorable. The Cards lost to the Mets after 20. Not that I had to tell any of you that, but it was the most exciting, watchable baseball I’d seen that day.

So anyway, yesterday, I swore off the Brewers. My mom and I were out running some errands and I told her not to turn on the radio and I was doing my best to keep my phone in my purse and not check scores. Well, I’m no good at keeping promises to myself and peeked. Umm, zohmygod. I was not prepared to see a 10-0 score, especially with how crappily the Crew had been doing. Upon closer inspection, I noted that it was THE TOP OF THE FIRST! And there was ONLY ONE OUT! (Mind you, I did actually shout these things. My mom was literally sitting right next to me.) So of course, we turn on Bob Uecker. Which, of course gets us no information whatsoever except that someone hit a grandslam and Doug Davis had a sacrifice fly. Seriously, Bob. Stop the babbling and catch us up on the game! Aren’t you aware that I wasn’t listening until right this second?? So, I go to the box score and find out all the details. Craig Effing Cousell! It takes that guy like half a season to get one homerun these days. Well, not anymore. Looks like he’s hitting grandslams in the first 2 weeks. So by the time we finished our errands and made it home, it was still 10-0, Davis was still pitching and for the first time in 2010, I was actually comfortable with the Brewers lead. Perhaps a little too comfortable… We all know that you don’t count your chickens before they hatch and we Crew fans should really heed that advice when it comes to runs. Just because you have a 10 run lead doesn’t mean you should expect your bullpen to carry you through. And, of course, they didn’t. The Nationals battled and came up with 7, yes 7, runs of their own before Milwaukee tacked on the 11th and final run they could muster. But, alas, it was enough and the Brewers got that all important, sweep avoiding win.

So now the Boys will be in Pittsburgh and the Pirates have actually been doing really well to start the season. This isn’t like last year when the Brewers were in the middle of that 17-0 winning streak or whatever it was. Their last trip to PNC was a sweep. Although, the Pirates came back to Miller Park and were swept right back, but the way the Crew has been playing, it’s gonna be super important for them to finally win a series opener. And I’d really like to see them start that now. Because then maybe they’ll remember how good that feels when the Cubbies come to town on Friday and win while I’m actually there. This time last year I had a pretty good record at Miller Park and, granted, I’ve gone to a lot less games so far, but I’m 1-2. I wanna get back to .500. And I’d like to see the Brewers hit that mark, too. At the very least.

 

Go Brewers!

 

 

Great things happen when the TV is turned off

It’s that time of year again. I no longer have to plant myself in front of the television for nearly 3 straight hours on Thursdays to catch all the zany action in Pawnee, Scranton, New York and Philadelphia. The Top Chef has been chosen, Dexter killed his last victim until next year and I still don’t know how Ted met his kids’ mother. The freetime I have is astounding. I mean, just check out what I did last night in the same amount of time I would’ve spent on my couch with some of my favorite fictional friends.

 

Cute, huh?

I seriously don’t understand why I give so much of my life to television when I see what I’m able to do instead. I still can’t manage to turn away from The Jersey Shore or Tough Love, though. Ah, well. We all have our weaknesses.

 

But moving on to baseball.

The Brewers finalized their deals with new pitchers Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and also worked out a 1-year deal to bring Craig Counsell back next season. (Yay!) The Crew is also only a physical away from having Claudio Vargas back in their bullpen even though they probably could’ve had Seth McClung instead. Sorry, Big Red. I’ll miss you! In addition to McClung, the Brewers non-tendered catcher Mike Rivera and pitcher Mark DiFelice, though DiFelice later signed a minor-league contract with the club.

A couple of Milwaukee’s free agents have found homes this week, as well. Mike Cameron is heading to Boston, while Jason Kendall will be the Royals new backstop and Corey Patterson will be sucking in the Mariners minor league system. But the biggest news this week was undoubtedly the 4-team deal involving Toronto, Oakland, Seattle and Philly. The deal sent post-season superstar Cliff Lee to the Mariners and Roy Halladay can finally breath easy, having landed in Philadelphia after much trade speculation for the last six or seven months. Halladay wanted be part of a contending team in 2010, the Phillies seemed like the perfect team for him and he finally approved the trade.

And the TYIB winners were announced today. My picks didn’t fare so well. Obviously, Joe Mauer was winning Hitter. I just had high hopes for Prince Fielder. I was right on with Zach Greinke for Starter, was waaaaay off the mark picking Casey McGehee for ROY, but got back on track by choosing Jim Tracy for Manager. Stupid Yankee Mariano Rivera got closer. Again. I did pick Jeremy Affeldt for Set-Up, so way to go me, but Torii Hunter wasn’t even close to Jacoby Ellsbury for Defense. Mark Burhle, blah, blah, blah. Really? Dewayne Wise? The best play of the year? Sure, he kept perfection in order, but it was just robbing a homerun. It happens pretty much every game. Over it. How the Angels celebrating the post season in honor of Nick Adenhart didn’t beat out everything else for Moment is beyond me. Phillies Dad got his 15 minutes. Over that, too. Ruben Amaro, Jr. was pretty deserving for Executive. I tooooootally picked the Unsung Star in Jayson Werth and, yes, I’m a Yankee hater so their post season anything didn’t deserve to win. But anyway, congrats to all the winners. These awards mean nothing, so way to go.

And, lastly, since Christmas is only a week away and I work in retail, don’t expect any new posts for a bit. I mean, unless the Brewers manage to do something astounding in the next 7 days. Which is pretty unlikely.

 

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.