Tagged: Mark DiFelice

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.

 

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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. 

Worst. Game. Ever. Period.

Remember a few posts ago when I said playing the Nationals this season would basically be 8 free wins for the Brewers?

Welllllll, either I was completely off-base thinking a team like the Brewers could easily beat the team with the worst record in the Majors, or every single National read that post and decided to retaliate. (I’m going with the former.) The final tally? 14-6. Ouch.

I don’t turn a lot of games off, and if I do, it’s generally near the end and Milwaukee has an insurmountable lead and I’m fairly confident I won’t miss anything. Not so last night. Jeff Suppan pitched like only Jeff Suppan could and surrendered 8 runs, including the first of 2 grand slams for Washington’s Josh Willingham. Mitch Stetter came on in relief and was resposible for letting the rest of Suppan’s earned runs score, bringing his grand total for the evening to 10.

And, as if a 6-run 5th inning weren’t enough for the Nat’s, they came up to the plate again the next inning and scored 7 more, including that second slam by Willingham off of Mark DiFelice. Oops.

Good thing the Brewers managed to eke out 4 other runs in the game. Or else it could’ve been quite the embarassment. Oh, wait…

So tonight, I have last minute free tickets. You know me. I can’t turn down a game. I’m gonna say that the fire should’ve been lit after last night and if the Crew can’t turn themselves around after that horrific game, then they may as well just surrender the NL Central now.

The match-up? Gah. Carlos Villanueva (2-7, 6.18 ERA) vs. Collin Balester (0-1, 6.00 ERA).

I guess I have to say it…Go Brewers!

Just when I can feel I can lament no more, my boys go and do something spectacular!

Interleague win #2. Done and Done!

Check out this rollercoaster of a box score:

Milwaukee 14, Cleveland 12   Today’s Boxes 6/15/09 LAA 9, SF 7

June 15, 2009
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   R   H   E 
Milwaukee
2 0 1 0 3 1 1 6 0   14 15 1
Cleveland
2 0 2 4 0 4 0 0 0   12 11 1

And holy eff what a win it was.

But first, poor, poor Dave Bush. The guy can’t catch a break. Six runs scored before he was pulled from the game after his shortest outing all season. Only 3 1/3 innings pitched. Dave, you know I love you, but you’ve gotta stop giving up homeruns!!! But don’t think it was just six ERs. Two more crossed the plate thanks to a Victor Martinez hit off of first time Brewer Chris Narveson. Ouchy, Dave. And it’s too bad for Bush that the run support came too late to save him. I really do hate to see him and his newly trimmed beard struggle like that.

At this point, the Crew had let 2 separate leads go and the Indians were ahead 8-3. But not to worry–this would be the first of 2, 5-run leads the Tribe would let get away from them. Following Cleveland’s 4-run 4th, the Brewers would close the first gap to 8-7.

But the Indian’s big inning was the 6th, when Narveson and Mark DiFelice would combine to allow 4 runs, thus lending a hand to the second of Cleveland’s 5-run leads.

I’m not gonna lie, at this point, I was ready to give it up. It was already 3+ hours into the game. But then Todd Coffey came out to pitch the 7th and had Milwaukee’s first 1,2,3 inning. He was the first of 4 pitchers to not let a run to score. The Brewers then sent 11 men to the plate in that decisive, 6-run 8th inning to garner Coffey his second win of the season.

Casey McGehee is certainly proving his worth with 2, 3-hit games in a row, including belting his first career HR on Sunday. JJ Hardy broke an 0-30 slump (finally!), but still only managed to go 1-5 last night. Baby steps, I guess. Ryan Braun was one hit shy of the cycle, knocking in 5 runs on 3 hits, including a 2-run homer and a 2-run triple.

But the true hero of the night was Prince Fielder. He had a career high 6 RBIs, 4 of which came off the 130th HR of his career. Scratch that–4 of which came off his first career GRANDSLAM!!!

(Side note: thanks to my mom for watching the game on an analog tv, thus screaming in excitement 2 seconds before I even saw the pitch in HD. Tiny ugh.)

Coffey and Mitch Stetter combined to hold the Indians at bay in the bottom of the 8th and the Brewers bats couldn’t produce anymore runs in the top of the 9th. But they had a 2-run lead going in to the bottom of the frame, prompting a 16th save opportunity for Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman gave up a run Sunday and inevitably posted something other than 0.00 in the ER column. It was bound to happen. But, Trevor remained perfect, gaining his 16th save for the Crew this season.

So, no negativity today.Yay! Dave Bush hasn’t quite taken Manny Parra’s place on the Hotties List, but if he lowers his ERA, he might have a chance to be bumped from the Honorable Mentions. He did finally listen to me and trim that Amish-y beard of his.

Anyways, getting back on track…

Crew and Tribe again tonight. Yovani Gallardo (6-3, 2.88 ERA) takes the mound opposite Jeremy Sowers (1-3, 5.10 ERA).

Go Brewers!

 

This is what I come back to? Ugh.

Before I start in on the game that completely fell apart last night, let me fill you in on the trip to Vegas.

We stayed at the Luxor. This was our second night out. It took nearly 2 full days before someone took a great picture of us in front of the Sphinx. (I love how Vegas-y and sparkly I am!)

 

We found a fellow Brewers fan! This guy loved us. His wife however…

 

We met this Canadian “hawkey” player at LAX the first night because we thought he looked like Ryan Braun. He had no idea who Ryan Braun even was.

 

But, the real Ryan did show up. Personal TV at ESPN Zone. We all bet on the Brewers to win Friday’s game. And we all won a huge sum of $6.25. Awesome.

 

On our last night, we discovered a 24-hour TGI Friday’s. It was no Front Row grill, but there were half-price appetizers and that was easily the best deal we found the entire time.

It was kind of sad to leave and have to come back to crappy Wisconsin weather, but at the same time, 4 days was enough. The flight home was horrible, we were all hungover from being at the Palms until 4 am and only getting 3 hours of sleep, we had an hour layover and our flight was late getting in. Ugh. All I wanted was my bed and to not have to stand anymore.

But the whole time we were there, the Brewers hung on to first place and kept it on Sunday when Trevor Hoffman (on Trevor Hoffman bobblehead day) saved his 13th game, keeping his save streak alive. I watched mostly from the comfort of my own bed and anxiously awaited my parents arrival home from the game with a tiny Trevor of my own.

Sooooooo, on to last night’s should-have-been win.

One might have thought that Jeff Suppan had stepped in for Marlins pitcher Andrew Miller, what with all his walks and hits allowed early on. Not only did he walk Jason Kendall for a run, but he followed walking pitcher Suppan for another in the second inning. The third is where some sloppy baserunning most likely cost the Brewers a couple runs. First Prince Fielder suddenly thinks he’s a base stealer and tried to steal 3rd with no clear lead or signal to even do so. Of course, the big man is thrown out by the entire length of his body. Nice job. Mike Cameron advanced to 2nd on the throw but was quickly tagged out on a poor decision to run on a JJ Hardy grounder to short. He literally walked right into that out. At least Casey McGehee tacked on another run in the 5th, but the top of the 6th was truely the downfall for Milwaukee last night.

Former Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jorge Julio was called on to pitch and I’m not quite sure I’d call what he did “pitching.” Throwing seems like a more apt word. He hit 2 batters, walked another and all in all was charged with all 5 of the Marlins runs that scored that inning. Oh yeah, and didn’t record a single out. Not that it was all Julio’s fault. There was a Prince Fielder error in there at some point. Todd Coffey came in after that and it wasn’t all roses for him, either. He surrendered a single and a walk, both for runs, before striking out the side to finally end that horrific sixth inning. After that, the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless, but the Marlins’ bullpen did the same to the Brewers.

So, now Julio is out and Mike Burns is in. With the way Ken Macha is trying to preserve his bullpen, I hope Burns will be able to come in and be effective, taking some heat off Coffey and the slightly injured Mark DiFelice. I’m not saying I don’t trust Manny Parra to win tonight’s game on his own, but he does have the worst record for Milwaukee starters so it’s nice to see a new arm out in the bullpen that could help out if Parra gets himself in a jam.

Tonight it’s Brewers, Marlins. Manny Parra (3-6, 5.7 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (1-4, 5.79 ERA)

Go Brewers!

 

This chick sure digs the long ball!

Sorry for the hiatus. I promised a Monday post and, as it’s now Wednesday, this one is going to be a bit longer than I had anticipated. (Good thing I was taking notes all weekend!)

Friday. Brewers 3, Cubs 2

Danny Gokey Day here in Milwaukee proved to be eventful. The poor guy looked crazy tired, but he managed to belt out a pretty amazing National Anthem.

 

The first pitch? That didn’t go as well. A bit high, but at least it crossed the plate.

Gah, how annoying to have that American Idol camera that close to your face since 5am!

On to the game. Dave Bush, my favorite high-socks wearing pitcher, gave up a couple of runs early on, but then settled into a nice (eh) pitcher’s duel with Randy Wells (?). We all know I’d rather see some action. I guess I did when Aramis Ramirez separated his shoulder diving to stop a Ryan Braun liner to third. And, sorry that he got hurt and all, but the ball was still in play. Run to second, RB. Granted, there wasn’t really any more offense that inning, but still. JJ Hardy smacked a homerun in the sixth for the first Brewers run and Braun blasted one after a wild pitch advanced Corey Hart in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead and prompt a nice 1-2-3 visit to the mound by Trevor Hoffman.

Ah, Hell’s Bells. Can’t get enough! (Love the leg kick!)

 

Saturday. Brewers 12, Cubs 6

As we were unable to skydive due to low cloud cover (boo!), we all pretty much just sat around and drank until it was time for the game. Then we watched and drank some more. Since it was the longest baseball game known to man (not including a 20-ish minute delay due to the lights going out at Miller Park), you can imagine how much that might have been.

This is the kind of game I love. I’m not much for favoring pitchers and defense in a game. Give me the bats and the long ball. That’s what I live for. The Brewers got an early lead, and held on to it. Yovani Gallardo may have only pitched 5 innings, but he managed to hold the Cubs to 2 runs. The score stood at 3-2 in favor of the Crew until the bottom of the seventh, when Milwaukee batted around and then some, scoring 6 runs along the way, including back-to-back homers by Craig Counsell (haha!) and Ryan Braun. Braun’s came after a pitch by Ryan Dempster in the fifth grazed the top of his helmet. Maybe. Either way, he stared Dempster down before trotting off to first.

The top of the eighth wasn’t so lucky for the Brewers. Jorge Julio and Todd Coffey combined for 4 runs, bringing the Cubs within 3 and prompting Hoffman to warm-up in the bullpen. He could relax, though, as another outbust by Milwaukee bats let him sit back down and watch the rest of the game.

Sunday. Brewers 2, Cubs 4

Ugh. Happy Mother’s Day. Right.

The pink bats usually help, but I guess they only helped the Cubs this year. An early 2-0 lead for the Brewers was quickly erased by a 2-run homer from Alfonso Soriano off of starter Jeff Suppan. They scored 2 more and Milwaukee’s bats were silent the rest of the game. I did have a good time with my mom though, so that’s good. And it was nice to not have any Cubs fans rubbing a win in our faces afterwards. Afterall, the Cubs lost the series and Sunday’s win was nothing to gloat about.

As Monday was an off-day, I anticipated seeing some players at work. Although, of all the guys that have been spotted, I’ve managed to miss them all so far. Lo and behold, I get a text from Mol about 20 minutes too late. Yovani Gallardo was shopping in men’s dress shirts. I was already on my way out the door. Damn!

But I swear I saw Mark DiFelice. No one else did, so it probably wasn’t him. And he wasn’t as tall as I remembered. Maybe I’ll still tell people I saw him to sound a teeny bit cooler.

And last night was definitely my kind of game! While I was at my dad’s softball game and checking the Brewers game on my phone, the score never changed from a 3-2 Marlins lead.

As I walked in to Leff’s afterwards, the whole place erupted. A Rickie Weeks homerun tied it up. This was quickly followed by Prince Fielder’s second HR of the night. (His first was responsible for the Crew’s first 2 runs.) Mike Cameron tacked on a bit of insurance in the 8th with a solo shot of his own and then, Hell’s Bells yet again! It was impressive, of course, but I think that Leff’s needs to blast the AC/DC just as loud as Miller Park does. I just like pretending to have that experience.

In other, non-game news, Milwaukee signed veteran outfielder Frank Catalanotto to a minor league contract. I’m gonna go ahead and say he won’t be in the minors for long. As a left-handed bat, he could be a good replacement for the large-headed Brad Nelson, who, by the way, struck out AGAIN in a pinch-hit situation. Poor Manny Parra kicked *** last night and then that big, dumb, oaf of a guy comes in to bat for him and sucks like always. Smooth move, Ken Macha. Don’t you know this guy is worthless?

And my favorite bit of baseball from the past week was this little quote by Macha, referring to the ball that supposedly hit Ryan Braun in the helmet Saturday night:

“The league frowns upon people throwing at people’s heads.”

Haha!

Go Brewers!

 

A little recap…

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!