…I’ve just had a super busy week or so that’s barely enabled me to update my Facebook status, let along blog about my beloved Brewers. So, even though I can’t catch you up on all my thoughts about everything, I’m sure as hell gonna try.
First, let me just let out a huuuuuuuuge typewritten LOL to Ben Sheets giving up 9 earned runs out of 10 batters and not recording a single out in a game last week. I found it funny. It’s not an “I told you so” moment or anything by a long shot, especially because it’s only Spring Training, but him saying at least he felt good after it? Whatev. Of course he felt fine. He clearly wasn’t throwing as hard as he could if he couldn’t get anyone out. Sheets is a strikeout kind of pitcher and if he was just lobbing ’em up there, what else would he feel physically afterwards? I’m just so happy he’s not gonna be a crybaby in Milwaukee anymore. Enjoy it, Oakland.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned it yet, and if I did, here it is again. It’s exciting for me, so I don’t care. My parents gave the family certificates for Christmas to go to a Brewers game, disclaimers and all. Liiiiiiike, no Diamond Box seats, no Marquee games, etc. So when I suggested maybe getting a table at Friday’s Front Row Grill, I didn’t think it would be heeded. Instead, it was and we got a table right over the bullpen for Robin Yount bobblehead day. It’s probably the game I’m most excited to go to. Yes, the Minnesota roadie with the ladies is still on, but Robin Yount bobble and prime-o homerun ball territory? Awesome. (Don’t worry. I won’t be doing an “ballhawking.” But if a ball happens to land in my food, super.)
And speaking of that roadie, I’d like to personally thank Target and Joe Mauer for making it near impossible to get reasonably priced tickets. Stupid new stadium and stupid astronomical contract. Lucky for us, we managed to get tickets to the Friday night game, but by the time we were done ordering those, Saturday’s game was sold out. Unless of course we wanted to buy season tickets or a 20-game pack. Gah. So unless we can miraculously find tickets before we leave, the ladies and I are just going to have to find the most obnoxiously Twins-y bar and be our obnoxiously Brewers-y selves. Any suggestions, Twins fans?
And, since I’m obnoxiously Brewers-y pretty much all the time, guess who’s in charge of the new MLB display at work? I mean, duh. As if I even had to ask. The men’s department isn’t even one of my areas, but my boss knows better than to trust anyone else with this task. By the time I bring in some of my personal memorabilia to make it that much cooler (provided I can keep it all out of any human reach), the buyers in New York will finally understand that Milwaukee is NOT a suburb of Chicago and henceforth will never send us any Cubs gear again. Ever. (It will be worked on this week. Pictures shall follow.)
And because I said I haven’t forgotten about baseball, let me touch on a few things related to the world of baseball right now. Let me start with some looming decisions the Brewers staff has to face.
First, pitching. We all know Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Doug Davis have their spots locked down. And any idiot can tell you that Manny Parra and Dave Bush are prrrrrobably better choices than Jeff Suppan. Even Chris Narveson (whom I shall forever refer to as “The Narv-Dog.” Because he’s awesome. And it will catch on.) has been verging on amazing this spring, but lacks big league experience. I mean, your guess is as good as mine as how this starting rotation will pan out, but please, please, please leave Suppo out of it. Please!
Second, the Brewers have a few guys with “out” clauses whose deadlines are creeping up. Jim EdmOnds (I’d noticed I’d been spelling his name with a ‘u.’ No idea why.) has a 98.4% chance of making the Opening Day roster and I completely agree if and when that decision is made. So his “out” should be pretty much taken care of. Left handed reliever Scott Schoenweiss could make it to the bullpen, but so far, the staff seems content with Mitch Stetter taking on that lefty specialist role, not to mention LaTroy Hawkins being able to hold his own against left handed batters, as well. Schoenweiss may just be on his way out. And earlier today, contending back up catcher Matt Treanor was traded to the Rangers, answering the question of what the Brewers were going to do with him. I have to agree with this move, as I think George Kottaras is offensively better and will make a better back up to starting catcher Gregg Zaun.
And, I hope you all know what’s coming next.
THERE ARE 14 EFFING DAYS TIL OPENING DAY!!!
That means 2 weeks until cupcakes and cute shirts and flipcup tourneys and tailgating and wearing hats in appropriate, non-dirty hair situations and raspberry Long Islands and blue flipflops and cornhole and Ryan Braun’s bum and high socks and Sausage Races and Bernie’s Slide and, one things I’m most excited for at Miller Park this season, 50/50 raffles!
Seriously, 2 weeks until the best day of the year. Two weeks until My Boys are back to kick off 162 glorious games. I heart baseball.
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.
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.
As I checked the MLB leaderboards this afternoon on my lunchbreak, the Brewers players (or lack thereof) listed got me thinking about a lot of things. Take a look at some of these numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
MLB Batting Leaders
Prince Fielder – 31 (4th)
Ryan Braun – 26 (Tied, 13th)
Prince Fielder – 107 (1st)
Ryan Braun – 86 (Tied, 6th)
Ryan Braun – .314 (Tied, 15th)
Felipe Lopez – .313 (Tied, 18th)
On Base Percentage
Prince Fielder – .420 (4th)
Prince Fielder – .600 (4th)
Ryan Braun – .568 (9th)
Ryan Braun – 143 (11th)
Felipe Lopez – 140 (Tied, 13th)
Ryan Braun – 85 (6th)
Yovani Gallardo – 11 (Tied, 17th)
Yovani Gallardo – 165 (6th)
Trevor Hoffman – 26 (Tied, 10th)
Mitch Stetter – 57 (Tied, 11th)
Todd Coffey – 56 (Tied, 12th)
I’d say it’s pretty apparent what the problems are here. It’s a major, major issue when only 2 players show up consistently on the batting leaderboards. Admittedly, it’s nice when players hit hot streaks, like Fielder’s current tear. And, of course, not every position player on a team will get hot at the same time. And true, the Brewers have logged double digits in the hits column for what? The last 7 games? But when the one pitcher you see on the boards only takes the mound once every 5 games, things aren’t going to sync up as often as they need to. And even when Gallardo does pitch, the Brewers have trouble giving him ample run support.
It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s pitching staff has taken a perpetual beating this season. Currently, the starting rotation has given up both Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the DL, Braden Looper gives up homerun after homerun (to be fair, the entire staff has given up 159 longballs – the most in the majors. Ouch.), Manny Parra spent a few weeks in the minors only to come back and be crazy-consistent, Gallardo is the ace in the making and then there’s Mike Burns, reliever on loan. Even when the starters manage to go the distance, the distance is generally somewhere around 6 innings – definitely not enough.
Which leads me to the bullpen. It’s no wonder the Brewers have 2 relievers showing up as having pitched in the most games. The bullpen works far too often because the rotation can’t get it done. Adding a few new arms out there have so far not paid off. The only thing Jesus Colome, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have in common with the rest of Milwaukee’s pitching staff? The ability to give up runs in great numbers.
There are only 44 games left for the Brewers this season. If the pitching doesn’t match up with the offense soon, the team will be in serious jeopardy of falling further out of contention. (Despite what it may sound like so far, I do still have faith in my boys.) It’s just really hard to fathom a big comback in either the NL Central or Wildcard races if batting and pitching coming together is about as rare an occurence as a solar eclipse.
Including wrapping up this current series in Pittsburgh, there are 14 match-ups left in 2009. Only 6 of those series will the Brewers face teams lower in the standings than they are. Also looming for Milwaukee are 3 series against the Cardinals, 2 versus the Cubs and 1 against the Wildcard-leading Rockies. If the Brewers are hoping to take any or all of those series, they had better start by winning more against the teams that, on paper, they’re capable of beating.
And at the risk of sounding selfish, I have at least 6 more games to attend this year, including 2 in St. Louis at the end of the season. I’d like very much to see a major turnaround from my team by then. Well, in addition, I’d like to see the Cubs and Cards take a nosedive, but beggars can’t be choosers. And don’t get me wrong, I know enough about baseball to understand it’s full of ups and downs and I can’t expect the world all the time. But come on, Brewers. I’m really sick of the downs.
Okay, so in other news, Bill Hall’s future will be decided by Friday. It’s entirely possible that Doug Melvin will use Hall as a trading chip. Quite honestly, I hope that he does. Obviously, Hall’s career is far from over and there’s got to be at least a few teams interested in picking him up. The Brewers, if I haven’t made it clear enough yet, need another starter. I’ve been reading the Reds are interested in Billy and, well, they’ve got a couple arms they’re willing to part ways with. And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bronson Arroyo or Aaran Harang put on a Brewers uni. But the decision on Hall still has a few more days to be made, so don’t worry – I won’t hold my breath.
Anyway, the Crew is at PNC Park again tonight to try and restore some dignity and stop the downward spiral. Manny Parra (8-8, 6.44 ERA) matches up with Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA). Parra’s been nothing short of spectacular since returning from Triple-A just a few weeks ago and since the last time the Brewers saw the Pirates, they’ve gotten rid of the majority of their team. Hopefully, this will bode well for Parra and he’ll be on point again tonight. Hopefully.
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!
Lately, it seems that’s all a team needs to make fools out of the Brewers. Lucky for them, New York didn’t have any to send to the mound in this series. That, coupled with nearly all of their A-squad on the DL, and they pretty much handed the series win to the Crew.
Brewers 10, Mets 6
If it weren’t for Carlos Villanueva, I would say Monday night’s was one of the best games of the season so far. Instead, it was just a really good game with a bit of a blemish.
The Brewers finally rejoined the hit parade, nearly tying their season high of 20. That game was the 15-3 blowout in Cincinatti back in May. Aside from the high hit count, this game had something else in common with that one: the grandslam.
Casey McGehee had the honor in the bottom of the 6th–sweet redemption from the lazy pop-up that entered, then promptly left, his glove in the top of the frame.
But, being the diehard gamer that he is, McGehee didn’t seem to even acknowledge the grandslam. He was too busy mulling the error that eventually led to 2 Mets’ runs to even think about what he’d just done. Either way, he was beckoned back out by the thankful crowd and he reluctantly obliged the curtain call. It was nice to see his post-game interview, too because, one, I’ve never seen him smile or heard him speak and two, I wanted him to show some pride over what he’d accomplished. Way to go, Casey!
There were other things working for the Brewers that night, too. JJ Hardy went 4-4, including a solo HR. Jason Kendall went 3-4 with an RBI, and even when McGehee was taken out, Bill Hall was shockingly able to produce. Hall stepped up, going 2-2 with 2 RBIs.
Villanueva, as I mentioned, was the lone dark spot on an otherwise great game. After Todd Coffey and Mitch Stetter worked a combined scoreless 1+ inning, Villa gave up enough runs (including a Gary Sheffield 2-run shot. Boo.) to warrant a trip to the mound from Trevor Hoffman. Ordinarily, I’m not opposed to seeing Hoffman, but with a 7-run lead going into the 9th, I’d rather not have to. Instead, he comes out with 2 on and 1 out, and with one pitch, the game is over and the shirts are untucked.
When all is said and done, Milwaukee leads the NL Central by 1. Awesome.
Brewers 6, Mets 3
Mike Burns vs. Johan Santana. Hmmmm….
This game did not go as many wouldn’ve expected it to. Although, it started that way.
Burns gave up a 2-run homer early in the first to David Wright. His remaining 6+ innings were basically flawless.
Santana, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. A series of hits in the 3rd ended up scoring the first Brewers run on a Ryan Braun RBI. One inning later, I found myself hoping for another grandslam. Santana walked Burns on 4 straight pitches then Corey Hart doubled on the most hilarious outfield slip I’ve seen in a long time. (I kid you not. The fall that Fernando Martinez took was classic. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.) JJ Hardy followed with a walk to load the bases for Braun.
What happened next may as well have been a grandslam, as far as I’m concerned. But I’ll take what I can get.
Braun doubled on an 0-2 count to Gary Sheffield. Burns and Hart scored easily, but a throw to the plate to catch Hardy was deflected past Omir Santos to Santana, allowing the third run. Santana then overthrew third on an attempt to tag Braun out and, despite not technically being a grandslam, that 4th run scored anyway. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy after that play, for I was home alone, screaming like an absolute maniac. (Can you blame me?)
Three innings go by with nary a run scored. Somehow Burns is out of the game in the 7th with a mid-90’s pitch count, while Johan remains in the game, over 100 pitches, and proceeds to give up a solo bomb to Prince Fielder. Just a little insurance, I guess. Looks like Jerry Manuel wasn’t thinking too clearly by leaving Santana in to start the bottom of the 7th. He finally exits the game after that.
A myriad of pitchers come out for both teams and the Brewers narrowly avoided an 8th innings Mets’ threat. And because Hoffman worked a grueling 1-pitch game the night before, it was Coffey on the mound to finish it off. A nice double-play ball put the first 2 outs on the board, but I guess Martinez wanted to make up for his embarassment back in the 4th and hit a homer to the Tundra Territory. Ah well. Too little, too late.
The game ended one batter later, preserving Burns’ first Major League win.
The Brewers now lead the Central by 2 games. Awesome.
Brewers 0, Mets 1
Apparently Yovani Gallardo can’t catch a break against the Mets. The poor guy pitches another great game, yet loses again in a 1-0 shutout.
Newly appointed Top 10 Hottie Ryan Church was responsible for the single RBI of the game, and Gallardo was tabbed for the loss.
Despite outhitting the Mets 7-5, the Brewers were unable to capitalize and give Yo what would’ve been a well-deserved win.
Gallardo struck out a career-high 12 batters in 7 innings pitched. That’s twice as many as Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey.
And Fielder was caught stealing. Shocker.
The Brewers currently lead the Central by a game and a half. Still awesome. Hopefully the Cardinals will get swept.
The Brewers final roadtrip of the first half is a 4-game series this weekend in Chicago. The Cubs have been faltering lately, so I’m not too worried the Crew will come home with their lead in tact. But before the All-Star break, the Cards and Dodgers come to Miller Park. That leaves a bit up in the air. But, as I said in my last post, the second half is relatively easy for Milwaukee. Hopefully the lead will still be theirs come October.
Tomorrow’s match-up: Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09 ERA) in a rare Thursday night game at Wrigley.
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
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).