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.
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.
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.
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 Meatloaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.
So a Brewer finally won the Homerun Derby. Nice. I was certainly not expecting Prince to pull it off, but the big man went all out and took home the trophy. And how about that 503 foot bomb? It’ll be ages before someone does that again. But the big question has been, was there too much pressure on Albert Pujols? Probably. But he’s a pro, right? What I loved the most was the press in St. Louis going on and on about how it was good Pujols didn’t win. He could’ve messed himself up for the second half swinging for the fences all night. He can’t be perfect all the time and he needed to rest up for the All-Star game the next night. (Because he did so amazingly well, right?) And, of course, Prince should be so greatful for the applause and reception all those people in Busch Stadium gave him, so he should’ve kept his shirt tucked in at the end of the night. Seriously? Get over it, St. Louis.
I was holding out a glimmer of hope that the NL could pull off a winat the All-Star game this year. I thought Jerry Manuel put together a pretty good team. And they contended right up until the end, when that damn Mariano Rivera came in and saved another one. Blast! Manuel’s team even had a lead at one point. Fielder had a pinch-hit RBI double, RB had a nice catch (but he’s in the middle of an offensive slump) and Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless inning. Way to represent, Brewers!
And last night was the start to the second half and, despite the hiccup by Seth McClung in the 8th, the Brewers pulled off the win. Braden Looper went 3-3 with an RBI and the only starter to not get a hit was Craig Counsell, although he reached on a fielder’s choice and scored a run. RB even broke the 0-17 slump with an infield hit. The offense produced mostly will small ball, but Fielder’s 3-run homer carried over nicely from the Derby and Hoffman notched his 21st save. Not a bad way to kick it off, boys.
Tonight is game 2 of the 4-game series in Cincinnati and it’s Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.70 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 5.38 ERA). I’ll be at Leff’s with the gang celebrating my birthday (and the win!) a couple days early.
Alright, so it’s just past the half-way point in the season and the All-Star break is a mere 6 games away. I shouldn’t be too worried, but alas, my team has given me some concerns.
1. Is it completely impossible for the Brewers to take a series against the Cubs?
I mean, come on. They’ve faced each other 10 times so far and the Brewers are down 3-7. They play 7 more games before the end of the season, too. Now, I’m not saying this is an entirely horrible outlook, but I’m kind of thinking about the next 6 games. It would’ve been nice for the Brewers to come home with some momentum, a little mojo working in their favor–is that so much to ask?
2. I would like a new starter before the trade deadline, please.
So would Ryan Braun. I know the Brewers aren’t going to pick up another CC Sabathia, but another arm out there would be extremely helpful. Will Milwaukee be buyers? Win a few more games, and the answer is probably yes. Is Doug Melvin and Co. ready to talk? Not quite yet. All I’m saying is using your bullpen to start games while Manny Parra takes a mental health break and Dave Bush’s arm is fatigued, or whatever, isn’t working out too well. Mike Burns started 3 games so far, only 1 ending favorable for the Brewers. Seth McClung is a reliever and let’s leave it at that. As evidenced by the opening and closing games of this most recent Cubs series, allowing 14 runs isn’t going to help win games. At least Burns didn’t allow all 7 of his to come off the same bat. Don’t you think after a 3-run Derrek Lee homer you’d be a little more careful with the bases loaded, McClung?
3. Run support needs to happen in all games–not just that occasional blowout.
Saturday’s 11-2 win over Chicago was great. We all know I love to see games like that. But what’s been killing me lately are the 1-run losses. Last week’s 1-0 loss to the Mets was weak. Yovani Gallardo pitched a hell of a game and he deserved a much better fate. Friday’s 2-1 loss (besides being a total joke. That was a strike, sir.) was just sad. It’s inexcusable the amount of men left on base there have been in losses like those. I’m not saying powerful offense is the only way to go, but when your starters are struggling (minus Yo) and the holes in the rotation are being filled with relievers, the offense needs to step up more than usual. Yo and Jeff Suppan gave great starts in each of those games and they were both squandered by the inability to play small ball.
But okay, before I become a total Debbie Downer, there is something positive I must comment on.
Congrats are in order for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for making it to the 2009 NL All-Star team! We fans did all we could to get RB that starting spot in left field for the second year in a row. And you gotta love Charlie Manuel for bolstering that roster with heavy hitters like Prince. I’m thinking maybe the NL could win this year? Maybe?
And also, thanks to Matt Snyder of fanhouse.com for giving some well-deserved props to some guys that didn’t get the All-Star nod. I know he’s not eligible this year, but Casey McGehee has been putting up better numbers that a lot of guys in the infield so far this season. So, no All-Star game, but Rookie of the Year, anyone? Also, thanks for mentioning Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers may not have the best rotation lately, but Yo has been proving himself again and again and I agree that he could’ve been a valuable asset to Manuel’s team.
The final 6 games before the break will be played at home and the Crew faces 2 of only 4 teams to have a better record than them in the NL, the Cardinals and the Dodgers. I’m not entirely worried, but I’m glad to have ranted a bit.
Tomorrow night’s match-up: Gallardo (8-5, 2.75 ERA) vs. Wainwright (8-5, 3.32 ERA).
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.
With the excitement that’s still running through me from the awesome game that ended nearly 2 hours ago, I have to tell you about the day that almost wasn’t.
I feel like it’s a long story, but bear with me. It has a very happy ending!
My dad and I purchased 2 seats in a 9-pack for the season and tonight’s game was to be our third. As we had 2 graduation parties to attend, he decided I could have the tickets for tonight. It was a 6:05 start time and he didn’t want to be rushed. Awesome. Of course, I’ll take the tickets.
Then, of course, no one is available to go with me. People are either working, or have plans or are already going. Typical. I had a week to try and unload the second ticket, but no takers. eriously, annoying.
So my dad decides he’ll take my mom, if that’s alright with me. I said sure, since I had just gone to Wednesday’s game. No big deal.
Well, all day I’m getting texts from Mol from her tailgate party asking if I found anyone to go with because I should meet them down there. So now I’m a little jealous I’m not going. And I’m sulking my way through the 2 grad parties and I really wished I could go.
My mom offers her ticket back to me, but my dad wasn’t having it. “Why don’t you just get a standing room only ticket?” she asks. I thought about it and just decided I didn’t want to deal with trying to meet up with people and wandering around until someone texted or called. Plus, at this point, it was a little over an hour before the first pitch.
So, we get home, mom and dad change and are ready to walk out the door and I changed my mind super-last minute and bought myself a ticket when we got down there. I bummed a seat in their section just in time to see Seth McClung throw his first pitch.
Then I was kindly asked to leave the seat. So I move to another and same thing. Three seats later, I just leave to wander and get some food, maybe something to drink and end up behind the right field bleachers with a margarita in my hand.
A nice guy comes and starts chatting me up, because, hello? Why wouldn’t he? And I find out he’s with a bachelor party, the groom had disappeared 4 innings prior, thus there was a seat open, would I like to join him? Why not? My friends, at this point, had not told me where their seats were, nor had offered to meet up with me anywhere.
Now, not that I’m the good luck charm or anything, but on Wednesday when I moved down into the right field bleachers, the Brewers took the lead and thus, won the game. Tonight when I sat down there, the Brewers tied it up 4-4 on a Prince Fielder 3-run homer followed by a first-pitch blast from Casey McGehee. Coincidence? (Probably.)
It’s still tied in the 7th, I finally hear from my friends and I leave the nice bachelor party-goers and head one section up. The panels were open in right field and it was the most amazing breeze I’ve ever felt. Todd Coffey’s pitching, he does an amazing job, and then the Brewers fail to score, prompting Trevor Hoffman to enter the game in the 9th, minus Hell’s Bells. Ugh.
This doesn’t look so troublesome on paper. Except Hoffman proceeds to give up 3 basehits in a row, loaded the bases and 2 Giants’ runs score. Oops. And the 3 batters coming up for Milwaukee aren’t really who you want at the plate in the bottom of the 9th to face Brian Wilson, one of the best closers this season — Mike Rivera, Bill Hall, pitcher’s spot.
Rivera was out and Craig Counsell batted in place Hall. Good move, Macha. Seriously. If anyone can start a 9th inning rally, it’s Counsell. Sure enough, he singled. Jason Kendall stepped in for Counsell as a pinch runner. Mat Gamel pinch hit for Hoffman and walked. Corey Hart’s single scored Kendall and JJ Hardy, who hadn’t done too much offensively all night, singled in Gamel. When Ryan Braun stepped to the plate, we knew it was gonna be a “go big or go home” kind of at bat. And Braun struck out. Eh. Not surprised. Then Prince Fielder saunters up, bat in hand, ready to make some magic happen.
The fans at Miller Park were doing all they could to summon something of greatness from that bat. And we got it. An RBI double to right field scored Hart for the win.
It was absolutely incredible that my little saga of a day ended the way it did! And I was so happy to have been with friends, instead of strange men at that bachelor party when it happened!
So now that the Giants have lost the series, I wonder if they’ll end up sending Tim Lincecum to the mound tomorrow. Their off day this week would mean it’s his day, but not his spot in the rotation. If the do, it would be an Opening Day re-match for Jeff Suppan. Otherwise, it’s Ryan Sadowski with the ball for San Fran. Either way, the Brewers already have the series win and are still holding on to that first place tie in the NL Central with the Cardinals.
However, after tomorrow, the Brewers face some major obstacles to get to the All-Star break with that lead in tact. I guess I should really start thinking one game at a time, since July hasn’t even started yet, and the way Milwaukee’s played these last 2 games, I shouldn’t be too worried. But they’ve got the Mets, Cubs, Cards and Dodgers over the next 2 and a half weeks. Not easy.
Anyway, I shall not dwell. Tomorrow is another day.