With the recent addition of Doug Davis, the Brewers now have 6 pitchers contending for spots in the starting rotation.
The Crew’s wishy-washy starting brood managed to muster a 5.37 ERA last year, the highest in the National League. The Brewers snuck in a few bullpen guys like Seth McClung, Chris Narveson and Mike Burns in there at times to try and help out the slumping rotation, but they did little to remedy the situation.
GM Doug Melvin made it clear that Milwaukee was in the market to shed payroll and use the cash for 1 or 2 useful arms to bolster the starting rotation and the new remedies of Davis and fellow lefty Randy Wolf will hopefully prove successful.
Let’s take a look at last year’s numbers, shall we?
Wimpy: Jeff Suppan
7-12 30 Games 5.29 ERA 161.2 IP 80 SO
Wimpy: Dave Bush
5-9 22 Games 6.38 ERA 114.1 IP 89 SO
Wimpy: Manny Parra
11-11 27 Games 6.36 ERA 140.0 IP 116 SO
Lefty: Randy Wolf (LA Dodgers)
11-7 34 Games 3.23 ERA 214. 1 IP 160 SO
Lefty: Doug Davis (Arizona Diamondbacks)
9-14 34 Games 4.12 ERA 146.0 IP 146 SO
Lefty: Manny Parra
Now, don’t get me wrong, there were worse things happening on the mound for the Brewers last year than Manny Parra. Braden Looper gave up 39 homeruns, just as an example. (However, Looper won 14 games.) Parra just needs to get out of his own head. He gets too caught up in one bad performance, hence the stint in Triple-A last season and the trip to the bullpen in ’08. If Manny can calm down and stop psyching himself out, 2010 should be his breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for.
Doug Davis didn’t have the best year in ’09, either, but compared to Milwaukee’s usual suspects, he’s a godsend. Many fans are welcoming him back with open arms and rightfully so. With all the talk about Mark Mulder, I kind of forgot Davis was still on Melvin’s radar. So I’m happy to have seen this deal work out.
What remains to be seen is how the final rotation will shake out for the start of 2010. The Brewers now have 6 established arms competing for 5 spots. I’m not convinced that Jeff Suppan still has what it takes to be a respectable starting pitcher, but he did manage to squeeze out 2 more wins that Dave Bush. Bush, however, pitched in 8 less games than Suppan (and also took a Hanley Ramirez liner off the elbow). Either way, Soup’s still got a year on his contract. Ick.
But in other Brewers news, the Crew has reached agreements with second baseman Rickie Weeks, center fielder Carlos Gomez, outfielder Jody Gerut (I’d rather see Frankie C, but whatev) and pitcher Todd Coffey. Locking up these 4 players for 2010 only leaves Bush, right fielder Corey Hart and reliever Carlos Villanueva. Since the Brewers have a notorious track record of avoiding arbitration hearings, it should only be a matter of days before they’re locked up, too.
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.
When I found out Narveson would be starting one my final games at Miller Park this season, let alone against the Cubs, I had to just grin and bear it. The Brewers season was over, afterall, but I don’t ever like to go into a game with the anticipation of a loss. Even though Narveson won his previous start, Milwaukee had very little to show for so far in the series, amassing a measly 4 runs in 2 games, while giving up 17 to Chicago.
As it turned out, I had absolutely no reason to be worried.
After Nik, Mol and I settled in to our seats, we looked around at the poor showing for a marquee game. Attendance was just over 31,000 for the night and we girls pretty much just got to chatting about anything other than the game.
All of the sudden, it’s the top of the 3rd and my most hated Cub, Reed Johnson, leads off the inning with a double. As I groaned the obligatory, “I hate Reed Johnson,” I glanced at the scoreboard to see that his hit was the first allowed in the game and Narveson had already recored 3 strikeouts. And then Johnson was unable to score. Darn!
The Brewers walked away with a 3-2 win last night, all 3 runs coming via the longball. Prince Fielder smacked a 2-run dinger, his 42nd of the year, in the 4th and also coasted above Poo Holes in the RBI column once more, now with 131, while Jody Gerut added that 3rd insurance run in the 6th.
The obvious hero of the game was Chris Narveson, though, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings, only allowing 4 hits. The only mistake he made was a first-pitch fastball to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija to start off the 6th. That mistake didn’t end up costing the game, but it was Samardzija’s first major league hit, so I’m sure he felt pretty good about it. After that, Narveson padded the already impressive strikeout total by fanning Tyler Colvin and Derrek Lee before being pulled after throwing only 70 pitches.
Todd Coffey made his amusing sprint to the mound in record time to then finish out the 6th and the only other Chicago run allowed came from a small string of hits put together while Police Academy’s Tackleberry look-a-like David Weathers was on the hill in the 7th. No biggie though, as Felipe Lopez, second baseman extraordinaire, was able to pull off a very close play at first, then had an amazing line-drive catch to end the inning. If it wasn’t a WebGem, it certainly deserved to be. Claudio Vargas pitched a scoreless 8th, proving me wrong in my wavering trust in his abilities, then before we knew it, it was Trevor Time. Hoffman recorded his 35th save of the season and added to his All-Time lead, now standing at 589.
Chris Narveson looks to get at least one more start this season, but with Monday’s scheduled off-day, it could turn into 2. I’m pretty much sold on him to get as many in as the powers that be deem worthy. I know last night could be a fluke, but it could also be a window into what this guy’s capable of. I’d like to think of it as the latter. Narveson deserves to be seen and deserves to be put into consideration to stay with the team for 2010. I realize the Brewers have other, far more pressing pitching issues to take care of in the off-season, but throw Narveson in the mix. I’m pretty much all over that guy.
So tonight the Phillies look to close in on the post-season, sending J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 ERA) to the mound to face Jeff Suppan (7-10, 4.76 ERA).
The Phillies lead the NL East by 6.5 games over Atlanta, whose elimination number is 5. It’s a possibility during this 4-game series that Philadelphia, unless Milwaukee can hold them off, could be celebrating once again at Miller Park. Last season, of course, we all remember Philly winning the Division Series and the champagne being uncorked in the visitor’s clubhouse. The Brewers need to embrace the spoiler role and do everything they can to not let that happen again this year.
I’m gonna go ahead and just skip right past the sweep in Minneapolis this weekend. I’m not gonna go into the starting pitching that fell apart or the offense that could barely produce. I won’t dwell on the terrible playing conditions at the even more terrible Metrodome. I won’t mention the astroturf or white roof–none of that matters now.
What matters is Yovani Gallardo struck out Albert Pujols (among others) and held the Cardinals scoreless for 8 innings yesterday. What matters is Trevor Hoffman came in in a non-save situation and got 3 outs on 7 pitches. Bill Hall does still win games! That’s what matters.
The Brewers are alone again in first place and are so far 4 for 4 in wins over St. Louis, who have now fallen a game behind. And Cincinnati has climbed above the Cubs (Ha! Fourth!) to sit comfortably at third. Well, until the Brewers knock them down a bit more after this coming weekend series.
And Ken Macha sure has had to make some interesting decisions regarding his roster as of late. I’m not sure what the future holds for Mat Gamel after his stint at DH against the Twins didn’t go so well over the weekend. Although, it’s not entirely his fault–there was very little offense to speak of. Outfielder Frank Catalanotto was called up yesterday and lefty RJ Swindle was sent back down to Triple A to make room. Casey McGehee has been doing a fair job filling in at both 2nd and 3rd as needed and there are currently 5 outfielders to play around with, as Tony Gwynn, Jr. was traded to the Padres to follow in his Hall Of Famer dad’s footsteps for veteran Jody Gerut.
As I leave for Las Vegas with the ladies early tomorrow morning, there won’t be any posts for awhile. We will make it a point to watch the Brewers vs. Reds on Friday afternoon while we’re placing some bets at the sports book at ESPN Zone, though. I’m sooooo excited!
And speaking of excitement, here’s a glimpse of what I did this weekend!
This was 2 weeks ago. Mol and I signing our lives away before skydiving! (We were postponed until this past Sunday.)
All ready to go! Sort of. I don’t think you’re ever 100% ready to throw yourself out of a plane!
Mol, Nik and I. Nik wasn’t part of our jump group, but she was just as crazy as we were!
Yep. That’s me way up there!
Nik and her husband, all ready!
Success! Eight went up, and eight came down…well, safely, anyway! Seriously, one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done and would sooooo do it again!
But back to baseball, tonight it’s Jeff Suppan (3-3, 4.71 ERA) on the mound against Adam Wainwright (4-2, 3.41 ERA). Unfortunately, I’ll probably sleep through most of the game, I we’ve got a super-early flight tomorrow.