Sooo the Brewers play their next 18 games within the NL Central.
Given that 9 of the first 12 are against Chicago and Houston, the divison’s losing-est teams, you’d think coming out of those 18 games with a winning record shouldn’t be a problem.
And the fact that Narv Dog is starting the first game against the Cubs tomorrow night shouldn’t hurt, either. He’s 5-0 in his last 11 appearances against Chicago but he’s facing Ryan Dempster, who’s been trouble for the Crew since, oh, just about forever.
Now, coming off a losing series in San Francisco, where little offense, multiple base running blunders and costly errors all weighed heavily on the outcomes of both losses, the Brewers are finally returning to the comforts of home for the first time since the All Star break.
On the plus side of this sad road trip, Ryan Braun seemed to have found his stroke after sitting out the last couple of series of the first half, homering in 4 of the last 5 games, putting him at 20 for the season. (3 of those homers were in his first at-bat.)
On the minus side? Meh. Take your pick.
Prince Fielder struggled throughout the entire roadie, almost as mightily as the swings he took at pitches outside the strikezone. In those 11 games, he went just 8 for 39, with 7 walks. The fact that only one walk was intentional and it came in the first game in Colorado tells the opponents exactly what it told me: Fielder currently isn’t a threat at the plate. Fix that, dude.
Also on the negative side was the injury to OF Carlos Gomez. Yes, he made a spectacular catch but he broke his collarbone in the process. The Brewers called up Brett Carroll from Nashville as a replacement and he made quite a defensive debut in SF yesterday, but went 0-3 at the plate, so I don’t know how beneficial he’ll be just yet.
So will Milwaukee’s recent bad play carry over to what should be one of the easier stretches of the second half? It’s hard to say.
Of course, with Gomez out, no lefties in the bullpen and the defensive woes in the left side of the infield, the Brewers have some holes to be filled and the trade deadline is looming. Of course, which hole is the biggest remains to be seen. The ‘pen hasn’t been working all too hard given the high amount of quality starts coming from the rotation, Carroll, Nyjer Morgan and Mark Kotsay are all capable outfielders, but none are everyday outfielders and Yuniesky Betancourt seemingly is getting sick of people saying he’s useless and went on an offensive tear, even going 3-5 with 2 homeruns in a single game in Arizona.
Relievers, infielders, outfielders–Dougie’s got some choices to make.
So, while they may currently share first place with St. Louis and Pittsburgh (Who knew?!), Milwaukee needs to seriously step it up. Like, now. They’re not gonna hit an easier string of opponents anytime soon and they need to take advantage and make do with what they’ve got until Melvin can find some new blood. I mean, if the Pirates can push and shove their way to the top with complete disregard for how crappy they are, then the Brewers should be able to knock everyone else down a peg or two.
I mean, really. It shouldn’t be that hard.
(PS, if you have Showtime, you really should be watching The Franchise. Even if you aren’t a Giants fan. Seriously. Great show. Wednesday nights.)
So I’ve been away for a bit.
There was Summerfest. There was a wedding. There were 3 glorious, albeit sweltering, days of Dave Matthews Band.
But the good news isn’t that I’m back. No. The good news is that I have good news to report. And not even report, really, but just weigh in on. Because, let’s face it, you already know what I’m about to tell you.
The Brewers wrapped up the official first part of the season in a first-place tie with the Cardinals before sending 3 elected starters to the All Star Game. Even though top vote-getter Ryan Braun bowed out of the game with a lingering leg injury, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder were not only starting the game, but participating in Monday’s Home Run Derby. Which we can just gloss over.
But for once, some Brewers players actually helped out during the game. Prince’s 3-run homer off CJ Wilson put the NL on top and subsequently was named MVP. Later, in his 3rd and final at bat, Weeks reached on a fielder’s choice and scored an insurance run. Not too bad of a showing for the Brewers. Minus the Derby, anyway. (Hottie Robinson Cano absoultely killed it.)
And just to be sure the excitement we Brewers fans were feeling after the ASG wasn’t wavering, Doug Melvin wanted to present us with one more little nugget before bedtime: Francisco Rodriguez was joining the team.
Yeah. You know, Mets closer. Little bit of a temper, apparently. But hey, for a spotty bullpen, any arm helps.
All Dougie has to do is send off 2 minor league prospects and K-Rod is his. Not a bad deal.
I mean, let’s face it. The ‘pen needs help. It needs consistency. It maybe even needs a guy that isn’t afraid to assault an old man. I don’t know. It needs someone. Maybe Rodriguez isn’t the solution. But maybe he is. Melvin’s stated K-Rod won’t officially take over the closer’s role from John Axford but he won’t not close, either. So he’ll apparently be a set-up/closer on an “as needed” basis, sharing both roles with Axford.
But, you know, I can’t knock it til I try it.
I learned that lesson with Nyjer Morgan. I hated that guy for all the bases he stole against Milwaukee and all the fights he started on the field. But hot damn do I love me some T. Plush now!
So, welcome, Francisco. I hope you help.
Now. Middle infielders, anyone…?
And, just because there are so many American Leaguers fresh in my mind after the All Star Game, my running tally of MLB Hotties will get a final run-through on this wonderful off-day. I expect to have the official list up in the coming weeks.
I know you can’t wait.
But real baseball is back tomorrow. Milwaukee takes on the NL West this week. Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants.
Narv Dog not bad, no offense.
Garcia pitched amazingly. Cards on top.
Cubbies killed. No gain on Crew.
Manny’s antics headed to DL again.
D-Backs give new guy big win.
Hiatus from 6 words for weekend.
Missing 2 games. Music is better.
Milwaukee lakefront: fireworks, wine, Counting Crows.
Dave Matthews at Alpine Valley. Yes!!!
Parra takes mound against Carpenter tonight.
George starting behind plate. Soooooo happy!
Gallardo on hill for holiday = WIN!
Happy Fourth! Be safe! Go Brewers!
Yovani : Homers :: Brewers : Wins. (Holds true.)
Gabe the Babe inching towards Rays.
Rodriguez leading Fish for season’s remainder.
Fielder racks’ em up! Go team!
Two first basemen, two homers each.
Cards smoke Dbacks, lead NLC again.
Lee: 3 wins in 3 CG’s.
Span knocks three 3Bs. Twins = first.
Prince gets bad calls, gets mad.
Was that Axford or Hoffman? Yeesh!
Finally over. My tapping foot relaxes.
Supertramp’s ‘Dreamer’? No post-game at Leff’s.
Crew up to 5. In shock.
Lucroy shows hot stuff at plate.
Big Z is Big Baby. Suspended!
Morgan learned how to fly. Incredible.
Jackson far from perfect. Still no-hit.
Finally off to Miller Park. Yay!
Go Brewers! Six in a row!
Most people, in everyday life, wouldn’t get to take a day or two off work for performing poorly and still get paid. Most people wouldn’t get to sit out the day (unless they’re needed in a pinch) because a certain bigwig is coming and they do a better job working with a right-handed bigwig. Most people don’t do an amazing job 3 or 4 days in a row and then fall off as if they’ve never set foot in their office before.
Well, most people aren’t members of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Yes, it’s only the second week of May, but we all know that I’m not one to sit idly by and wait for actions. I openly air my greivances. And maybe I should’ve been more diligent with my blog and been posting during the last leg of that NL West roadie because then I would’ve been more apt to talk about things like the Narv Dog’s combined 11 Ks in his 2 wins against LA and Arizona. Or Yovani Gallardo’s 10 strikeouts over the Dbacks bringing him his 4th win and put him at 50 Ks on the season. I would be much happier to be talking about Prince’s birthday homer and the Mom’s Day 8th inning offensive outburst.
But, apparently I’m a glutton for punishment and choose not to post until all that positivity came to a crashing halt last night against Atlanta.
Now, I could just say to myself, “Calm down. It was only one game.” But the thing is, with the Brewers, that one game tends to lead to another and then another. They go through obnoxiously waivering spurts of insane offense coupled with sturdy pitching to lead to win after win and that eventually makes way for a few terrible, short starts, poor relief and a lack of bats. Fortunately for the Crew, they’re only 2 games under .500, but are 5 games behind the Cardinals.
So what exactly do I have a problem with. Really, it’s only 2 things.
One, this team seemingly relies on massive offense to pick up average pitching. “But what else is new?” you might ask. Sure, Milwaukee leads the league in runs scored, and that’s great, but then look at the amount of shut-outs they’ve been on the wrong end of (4). Or the number of games they’ve won when scoring less than 3 runs (2). Gah. Very rarely does the entire team, pitchers and batters, work seamlessly for normal wins (and by ‘normal’ I mean scoring single-digit runs and still winning).
My second problem might just be because of the hype I created in my own head, but I think I had waaaaaay too high of expectations for pitching coach Rick Peterson. Here’s a guy that created a system for finding a guy’s ideal pitching conditions. His biomechanic approach to pitching is designed to show exactly where a pitcher’s flaws are, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and then is able to work with each individual on how to improve his pitching game while avoiding any major injury or overexertion. Yet, the Brewers pitching staff is having it’s same old problems with inconsistency. I understand that Peterson isn’t a godsend or anything, but it seems like the amount of money spent to improve the staff and bringing him on board as coach are all for naught, seeing as the 2010 pitching staff is basically the same as the staff from years past–troubled and temperamental.
So that’s all.
If Milwaukee could somehow get their bats to speak up every game (when it counts, Casey. I mean, thanks for avoiding the shutout last night, but still) and their pitchers, both from the get-go and out of the bullpen, to get a little less erratic, they could really get themselves closer to the top. Yeah, yeah, it’s all easier said than done. But come on, I don’t get rewarded for not doing my job correctly. I mean, Jeff Suppan’s making $12 mil just to sit in the ‘pen for days at a time. Seriously, I know it’s not just me thinking it. It’s about time these guys get out there and do what they’re paid to do.
The Brewers split their 4-game series against the Diamondbacks this weekend, starting and ending with wins.
Of course, I had to attend one of each. (I have yet to get 2 wins in a row.)
Thursday, win, Friday, loss, blah blah blah.
Saturday, the ladies and I suited up and headed out to the left field bleachers at Miller Park to be close to our favorite Hottie, Ryan Braun. When we arrived and saw Chris Duffy standing on that worn spot in the grass, we figured it was just a night off. We were disappointed, sure, but Sunday was Ryan Braun bobblehead day. He needed to rest up, because, as history has it, the bobblehead generally has a big game that day. No big deal.
The game was a crappy one, including the giant group of ungrateful, drunk underagers that maintained everyone else was sitting in their seats, even though no one could produce a ticket to prove otherwise. I got flipped off by a little girl wearing a denim mini-skirt with yellow leggings. She was wholly inappropriate and interrupting and all I said was she was an inconvenience, everyone around me agreed, and she got upset. I wanted to grab that finger she waved in my face and break it, but since I’m 25 years old and was far from being nearly as inebriated as she, I played nice and held back. Eventually we moved away from them and attempted to enjoy what was left of that awful game.
Sunday, quite tired, the ladies and I met up again, headed to Starbucks, then proceeded to the drunk lot, where, I believe for the first time ever, none of us consumed a single alcoholic beverage. Weird. Not in the game, either. Again, we were near left field, and this time, we see resident suck artist Brad Nelson. What? Where’s Ryan? (Chris Duffy eventually filled in, after Nelson proved to the world that he deserves to play no higher than Single A ball. Maybe. 0-16 now?)
Break out the Blackberries. Ryan Braun is out with a stiff upper back. Huh. Wonder how something like that got by me, got by all of us. Someone would’ve surely known about that. Weird. So, it’s Ryan Braun bobblehead day and those little bobble-y figurines were about all we saw of him. Well, we borrowed some binoculars to catch a glimpse of him in the dugout.
Sunday’s game was much better for us. Dave Bush pitched a hell of a game. Well, up until the 3 homeruns he gave up in one inning to tie up the game. Oops. But, the Brewers charged back with a Chris Duffy RBI groundout in the 8th and Hell’s Bells came on to win it again. I love Trevor Hoffman!
My record so far is 4-3. I like being over .500. I hope I can stay above it after the 2 games against the Cubs this weekend!
But tonight, the Brewers had me a little worried. PNC Park, a place of past nightmares for Milwaukee, was seeming to go that direction once again. Not only was Braun still out, he wasn’t even at the park yet. Bill Hall subbed for his first Major League start in LF and Casey McGehee garnered only his second start for the Brewers, his first at 3rd base. Hall dove for his first catch in the first inning and came up with a hamstring cramp which took him out of the game. Mike Cameron slammed into the wall and looked like he was going to be done. He was a trooper, though and managed to stay in, while Chris Duffy filled in for Hall.
Yovani Gallardo had another quality start, and coming off his last game, you could imagine he felt he had a lot to live up to. But he stayed in it, despite allowing 3 runs early on. Pirates started Paul Maholm blanked the Brewers after giving up 1 run in the first. He came out after 7 1/3 and I’m not quite sure what John Russell had in mind when he went through 3 more pitchers to finish out the 8th. Milwaukee tied up the game at 3 apiece with a Ryan Braun pinch-hit 2-run double. Love that guy. He doesn’t even show up in the dugout until the 5th inning and then he goes and does that. Then stays in the game to play left. Awesome. Then Mark DiFelice came out to pitch for the Crew in the bottom of the inning and Pittsburgh was only able to muster up one more run to regain the lead, but a poor outing by Pirates closer Matt Capps in the 9th. JJ Hardy had the go-ahead RBI with a sacrifice fly, then Rickie Weeks hits this 3-run bomb to left field. I was jumping on the bed at this point.
And then, of course, Trevor Hoffman saves the day.
Man, I love Brewers Baseball!