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.
Such was the story of Christopher Narveson and the Brewers vs. Bud Norris and the Astros: 24 total strikeouts.
Christopher, who took the loss despite 6 strong innings and 7 strikeouts, has failed to earn his nickname back. He was pretty much dialed in until a towering 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Lee gave the Astros a bit of insurance on their way to an eventual 5-0 win and series victory.
Brewers relievers Sergio Mitre (who gave up Houston’s 5th and final run) and Zack Braddock tacked on another 5 Ks, bringing the Crew’s strikeout total to 12 for the day.
Bud Norris, however, managed to strand 11 Brewers at the plate all on his own, even though he was the only one of the Astros 4 pitchers to give up any hits. (Mark Melancon notched Houston’s 12th K.)
On a somewhat positive note for Milwaukee, Ryan Braun walked in the first inning which mean’s he’s reached base safely in all 27 of the Brewers games this season. That was pretty much the only bright spot, even though Christopher seemed to have gotten his command back.
The Brewers also committed 5 errors in this 3-game series (if I remember correctly, they were all throwing errors?), so I’m pretty much over hearing Bill Schroeder talking about how great they are defensively. Um, not so much. And while we’re talking about their flaws, how about that Carlos Gomez running the bases? He’s so smooth. I wish I could be just like him. Grr…
Carlos Lee, despite his own bright spot of the homerun, was carted off the field and taken to the hospital during the top of the 7th after he and Angel Sanchez collided going after a Mark Kotsay pop up. Ouchie.
So the Brewers head to Atlanta for 4 games starting tomorrow and Zach Greinke is slated to pitch Wednesday against Tim Hudson. (Yay!) The Braves and Brewers are both in 3rd place in their respective divisions, but Atlanta is coming off a walk-off win against St. Louis to open this series. While the baseball world is waiting with bated breath to see Greinke’s National League debut, Milwaukee will have to take on Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson before that day even comes. Hopefully Yovani Gallardo has shaken off his streaky April and Marco Estrada will shine once again before his likely departure to Nashville.
In other baseball news:
If you’re playing in Cleveland as a visitor, plan on going home with your tail between your legs.
Don’t even bother trying to pitch to Andre Ethier because he will hit you.
Don’t make obscene gestures and homophobic slurs to fans of the opposing team. You’ll probably get suspended.
While you’re not doing things, don’t tweet about your ejection from the clubhouse. You’ll probably get suspended.
Lots of people are having surgery or breaking things. Casey Blake: out. Ryan Zimmerman: out. Panda: out. David Freese: out.
@TonyPlush will be back Tuesday. Lord knows the Brewers need him.
Only need three: Giants stomp Brewers.
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.
One hour without internet. Missed much!
Counting Crows, great. Dave Matthews, greater!
Parra gives up 5, still wins.
Brewers batter Cards for series split.
Gallardo strains oblique, maybe avoids DL.
Corey Hart is only Brewers constant.
Weeks ejected for first time ever.
Escobar’s many errors prove costly. Ouch.
(This girl distracted by Always Sunny…)
ASG rosters announced: Stars and Snubs.
Mauer leads with over 5 million.
Votto with early lead in Finals.
Braun, Hart represent Crew, Gallardo out.
Hart to pound out in Derby.
Lilly gives up 4 long balls.
Baby bears routed by Reds, Stubbs.
15 innings, 5+ hours, Rockies prevail.
Torii racks ’em up over Royals.
Kershaw forgets direction of basepaths. Whoops!
Carl Pavano + Brendan Ryan = Creepy Mustaches.
Bush pulled, relievers falter, Crew loses.
Brewers’ only run was walked in.
Hart still manages hit. Streak: 20.
Crew, Giants lefties only for series.
Geoff Jenkins retiring as Brewer Friday.
Need Miller Park trip before ASG.
Come on Brewers, step it up!
@MLB discovered six words! Yay me!
zkonedog: Twins fave in AL. Sad.
mimi: Love twitter! Thanks for stopping!
Braun leads NL. Outfield starter? Yep.
Heyward no-go, even if voted in.
LaRussa tossed. Multiple mistakes. Cards victory.
Dodgers turn five DPs, tame Giants.
Utley to DL. Thumb injuries abundant.
Almost cried watching Zumaya’s injury. Ouchie 😦
‘Bourn’ not ‘Bourne.’ Oops. My bad.
Google six-word memoirs. Life changing. Addicting.
Davis on way back. Rotation bound?
Fielder to SF? For who, Bauman?
Softball. Mobile MLB, then bar TVs.
Gallardo follows up 12K shutout tonight.
Could be two-parter. Tune in post-softball.
This post was to have a different, more positive sounding title, but then I read the box score to today’s game against the Giants and it got decidedly more negative. Grrr.
My favorite oft-bearded, high socks wearing pitcher is set to go 4th for the Brewers this season. Dave Bush (who was 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 3 appearances at the time I began taking notes for this entry), is likely the best option for the 4th spot in the rotation, despite allowing a ginormous 7 runs in 6 innings today. What keeps me believing he fits the bill to start after Yovani Gallardo (who’s officially been tabbed as the Opening Day starter for April 5th in Milwaukee), Randy Wolf and Doug Davis is that he’s a legitimately great pitcher who just has some legitimately (really) bad days. I’ll forgive the inordinate amount of homeruns he gives up because he’s pitched multiple near-no-hitters, he’s had a buttload of quality starts and, let’s not forget folks, he’s got the only post season win for the Crew in the last 27 years.
Bush has proved in Arizona this spring (minus today’s hiccup. And, not to put all the blame on DB, it was a bit too little, too late on the offense, Brewers) that he’s back and ready to start. After taking a hard liner off the elbow last season, he spent 2 months on the DL and had the worst record of any of the myriad of Brewers starters to take the mound in 2009. Bush went 5-9 with a 6.38 ERA in just 21 starts, 22 total appearances. But, even after today’s 7 runs, Bush’s current ERA for the spring is 4.34 and, as someone whose opinion is completely taken into consideration by the powers that be, I think he’s going to be a worthy starter for Milwaukee in 2010.
As far as the Crew’s 5th starter goes, it’s been said more than once that a decision doesn’t have to be made until around April 14 because of how the schedule pans out. It’s still up in the air where Manny Parra (1-2, 6.32 ERA, 4 appearances), The Narv Dog (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 appearances) and Jeff Suppan (1-1, 7.71 ERA, 5 appearances) will fall before that make-shift deadline. Is it possible for the Brewers to settle on 6 starters and be an arm short in the bullpen? Sure. Is that likely? Probably not so much. I’ve said it many times, overpay Suppan in the bullpen because that guy hasn’t lived up to the expectations since signing with Milwaukee in 2007. He’s past his prime as a starter and we fans just plain old don’t like him. The Narv Dog has had a pretty good track record when he’s started for the Brewers, but I know his lack of Big League experience is weighing against him. And, I’m just gonna say it: It’s Manny’s year. He’s due for a breakout season and I think the Brewers need to give him that chance or risk losing him.
In addition to the pitching conundrum, the Crew currently has 29 guys on their active roster. And we all know that means some house cleaning will need to be done before next week. Catcher Angel Salome will likely be gone, as will outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Marco Estrada. The Brewers are an arm over in the bullpen so that means one more guy will have to go. There are a lot of guys in that ‘pen that Milwaukee can’t afford to lose, so unless something big happens with how the starting rotation falls into place (ie, getting rid of the odd man out), an established reliever will be on his way out.
Now, as there are 7 days before the best day of the year, I shall share with you the new creation, made especially for the chilly Wisconsin temperatures that we generally get on Opening Day.
Today nearly brought a tear to my eye, as I walked in the front door after work and heard the sounds of Brewers baseball coming from the other room. Yes, folks, today was a televised game all the way from Maryvale Baseball Park in Arizona. And even though I didn’t sit down until the 5th inning, it made me downright giddy with excitement knowing that Opening Day will be here exactly 28 days from today.
What makes me so excited is the uncertainty at this point of who will and won’t make the 25-man roster. The 4-ish innings I watched today were a good indication of what kind of talent the Brewers staff is working with and I definitely liked what I saw. Hello? Jim Edmunds! There’s a guy that’s got something to prove and prove it he has. (Catch or not, that was an amazing play for a guy his age, not to mention for a guy that didn’t play in the Majors at all last season.) And, as was indicated by Mol’s retweet from Journal-Sentinal writer Tom Haudricourt, the starting pitchers have yet to allow a run. Granted, it’s been less than a week of Spring Training play, but for a team that came in dead last in ERA last season, that’s def something to brag about. Even Manny Parra got in on that today, going 3 scoreless innings, with 1 strikeout.
So, since it’s too early to really make any discernible predictions about who may or may not be paraded out at Miller Park come April 5th, I’ll continue on to my Week 4 apparel pictures. (Because I know you all can’t wait to see things you’ve already seen before.)
Still one of my favorites.
And, not that I ever wear them together, the matching shorts.
I am currently working on a new shirt for my 5-year-old niece. She picked it out and decided what she wanted. It will look eerily similar to another top I’ve made, but only because I had to give her limited options. She’s 5. Who knows what she would’ve come up with otherwise.
The Brewers will take on a whole slew of teams before next Monday, including the Cubs, Reds, Padres and Giants. Should anything noteworthy happen before then, I’ll try my best to make some sort of comment. But until then, Go Brewers!
Whilst I was recovering from New Year’s Eve Friday afternoon, my dad read me Tom Haudricourt’s Top 10 Brewers Highlights of 2009 from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Before he began the short but sweet countdown, I tried guessing what might be on the list. I was way off base, considering Mr. Haudricourt’s and my definition of “highlight” were a little different.
Here is My (Tom’s) list of Top 10 Highlights for 2009:
1. First baseman Prince Fielder shatters Cecil Cooper’s 26-year club record (126) with 141 RBI, tying Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard for the major league lead. Fielder, who also set a club record with 110 walks, became the first Brewer to lead the majors in RBI since Cooper tied Boston’ Jim Rice in 1983.
**Alright, yes, agreed. Prince Fielder had an amazing year, I’ll give you that. And we fans did wait with baited breath for, like, 7 games for him to finally break that RBI record. And that Cecil Cooper was in town when he did was pretty exciting.