Tagged: Trevor Hoffman

6 words for June 29, Pt. 2

Yovani : Homers :: Brewers : Wins. (Holds true.)

 

Gabe the Babe inching towards Rays.

 

Rodriguez leading Fish for season’s remainder.

 

Fielder racks’ em up! Go team!

 

Two first basemen, two homers each.

 

Cards smoke Dbacks, lead NLC again.

 

Lee: 3 wins in 3 CG’s.

 

Span knocks three 3Bs. Twins = first.

 

Prince gets bad calls, gets mad.

 

Was that Axford or Hoffman? Yeesh!

 

Finally over. My tapping foot relaxes.

 

Supertramp’s ‘Dreamer’? No post-game at Leff’s.

 

Oh yeah. I dig the longball!

 

 

Out with the old…

What started out as an ordinary, boring Monday turned out to be one of the best days ever. Well, if you’re a Brewers fan, anyway.

Jeff Suppan was finally released.

Happy, happy. Joy, joy.

Suppan’s last appearance for the Crew came in Friday night’s 8-0 loss to the Cardinals. I was out watching the game and, upon seeing him come out of the bullpen, immediately wanted to pick up my empty pint glass and hurl it at one of 2 things: the 60 in. NON HD television (seriously? No HD?) or the speaker sitting directly next to it that was blasting Nickelback instead of game analysis. Instead, I calmly set my glass back on the table and excused myself and went into the bathroom for fear of seeing something catastrophic. Thankfully, I didn’t witness the final straw that was 3 hits, 1 walk and 3 ERs.

The organization will eat the $2 million buyout and Jeff will likely sit around, hoping some other team as naive as the 2007 Brewers come along.

But, being the stand-up guy that he is, Suppan will continue to donate to Brewers charities until the end of the season and handled his release extremely professionally.

In reaction to the release, the Brewers bought reliever Chris Smith’s contract from Triple-A Nashville. In 23 appearances for the Sounds, Smith is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings. He’s allowed 17 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), and 6 walks, but has 29 strikeouts. So as far as right-handed relievers go, he’s waaaaaaay better than Suppan.

Also, Todd Coffey was placed on the 15-DL with a thumb injury, so the Brewers are expected to make at least one more roster move to fill the bullpen. David Riske is the likely replacement, who needs to make one more appearance in Triple-A on Wednesday and also needs to be put back on the 40-man roster.

And, since I’ve been talking about pitchers this whole time, how about that Manny Parra, huh?

Last night, Parra pitched relatively unscathed through 4 solid innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters (including 7 in 2 innings. Yes, that’s right.) before giving up a home run to Albert Pujols in the 6th. After that, Parra lost whatever it was that was finally working for him. After walking the bases loaded with only 1 out, Dave Bush was called out of the ‘pen for one batter, Kameron Loe finished out the inning. Loe continued into the first 1/3 of the 8th, but after giving up the game-tying run, Zach Braddock held on for the final 2 outs of the inning and got his first major league win after Corey Hart hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. Then, you know, John Axford pitched the 10th and, once again, made me forget about Trevor Hoffman for a little bit.

 

Go Brewers! (Don’t let the Cubs and interleague play ruin this homestand, please!)

 

 

Hassle the Hoff. See if I care*

*Except I do care. Please stop hassling him, and the rest of the Brewers pitchers. Thanks.

 

It’s time yet again, to complain about the team I still, for reasons that I can hardly explain, hold so dear.

Monday, the Narv Dog was awesome. Yeah, awesome until he and/or Manager of the Year Ken Macha decided he could go ahead and get that final out of the 5th inning and instead gave up a game-tying homerun. Then the bullpen came out and that’s where things really got out of control. Brewers lose, Marlins win. Ugh. (Oh, yeah. Neither here nor there, really, but Cameron Maybin had an inside the park HR, too. Super.)

Yesterday, my old favorite bearded Brewers (current fave: George Kottaras) pitcher, Dave Bush, struggled in the first inning, giving up a Marlins team cycle and 3 runs before he even had 2 outs under his belt. He settled in (sort of) after that, pitching 5 scoreless innings and the Brewers tied the game with HRs from Prince Fielder and Corey Why-am-I-not-on-the-All-Star-ballot Hart, thus putting Bush in line for the win. But, alas, DB was suffering from a blister (ahhhhh, so that’s why he couldn’t find the zone all game) and left after 6.

Enter Trevor Hoffman.

Dude comes in to the pitch in the 7th and gives up hit after walk after hit after hit for an eventual Marlins 6-3 lead by the time he managed to scrape up a 3rd out and walk off the mound. Yes, Hoffman, the all-time saves leader. The man with 4 more saves to go until 600. The man with a 1-4 record this season and an 11.65 ERA in SEVENTEEN INNINGS!!!!!

Sooooooo, the Crew calls upon the new guy, the beastly 6’8″ Kameron Loe, to pitch the 8th. And what does this guy do? Shows Hoffman how it’s done. Loe goes 1,2,3 with 2 strikeouts.

Alright, so now it’s time to play the blame game.

We can argue all day about who’s fault it is that the Brewers are having a wickedly bad start to the season. I can tell you who’s fault it isn’t: the offense.

I don’t like to throw numbers around, but this is something that cannot be disputed. There is at least 1 Brewers player in the Top 10 of every major batting category in the National League. Clearly, offense can’t do it alone (CLEARLY!), but these numbers don’t lie.

HR- Corey Hart, #1 (seriously. I know.)

RBI- Casey McGehee, #1

AVG- Ryan Braun, #4 (T)

OBP- Prince Fielder, #7 (notice lead-off man Rickie Weeks is absent)

SLG- Hart, #1 (T)

SB- Braun, #5 (T)

H- Braun, #2   McGehee, #7 (T)

R- Braun, #2

As a team, Milwaukee ranks 2nd overall in the NL in OPS and SLG, 3rd in HR and OBP and 5th in SB. So, you know, the Brewers are pretty damn good offensively.

One might argue that since it’s not the bats’ fault, it must be the pitchers’. One might be right. The only name you’ll see among the NL pitching leaders is Yovani Gallardo with 5 wins, 2.78 ERA, 73 Ks and a .714 WPCT.

The team ERA? 5.36, good for 14th in the National League. That’s right. Good enough to not be last but so terrible that it’s nowhere near 1st. And for a team that scores enough runs per game to be ranked 2nd in that category, the pitching staff allows 5.78–also 14th.

So, here the Brewers sit at a massive 10 games below .500 with a starting rotation that’s seen more guys come and go in the last 2 months than your friendly neighborhood brothel. The only bright spot, besides Gallardo, seems to be that just about every guy that’s been called up from Triple-A to help salvage the mess has been doing his part and then some.

But, there are still those that believe it’s not even the pitching staff’s fault. Because someone had to have hired that staff, right?

I mean, yes, Doug Melvin had his hand in signing insanely awesome acquisitions like Jeff Suppan. But then again, he saw something in Yovani Gallardo, too. Sure, Mark Attanasio is keeping Melvin around. But that guy? He basically brought baseball back to Milwaukee (according to a guy I know). And what about Manager of the Year Ken Macha? Well, he’s just making some bad decisions. That is, when he can make up his mind at all. (Find a line-up and stick with it, Keebler Elf!)

So, blame whoever you want to blame. The point is, the Brewers, my team, my Boys, suck right now. And that’s putting it mildly because what I really want to say would just get all starred out on here (thanks, censorship!).

 

 

And, now, game on.

Go Brewers, I guess.

 

 

A real Mexican-American hero–Go Yo!

Yovani Gallardo has done it again.

I’m not gonna get all gung-ho about last night’s win over the Padres just yet, though. Gallardo definitely has been on point in his last 2 starts and his bat has been doing just as much work as his arm. Last night’s season-high 11 K’s (granted, it was a generous strike zone) held San Diego at just 1 run in 7 innings of work and it was Yo’s solo homerun (he’s now at 5 in his short career) that put the Brewers on top in the 3rd.

After Rickie Weeks added the only insurance with a solo homer of his own in the 5th, I’ll admit, I almost wanted to throw up knowing Trevor Hoffman would be coming out for the save. That feeling was quelled a bit watching LaTroy Hawkins pitch in the 8th. I mean, if he could pitch well again, well, then why couldn’t Hoffman?

And Hoffman did. Thankfully. So now, only 5 away from 600 saves, one would have to think that Trevor may be turning over a new leaf in this second month of play.

So with this new month, we Brewers fans have to hope that April is, although not forgotten, at least behind us. Prince Fielder will notoriously leave his season-opening slump behind him and become the home run machine once again, the rotation will start going deeper into ballgames and the offense will learn that, while we love the power, small ball wins games.

April is gone and May started with a (small) bang. So here’s to moving on. Here’s to beating those fluke-ily good teams. Here’s to getting back on board with Trevor Time and 600 saves. Here’s to the Prince of Power getting his swing back. Here’s to offense and pitching working together. Here’s to pushing above .500. Here’s to becoming the team I know and love again.

Go Brewers!

 

 

Opening Week: Could’ve gone better

As I read today on Twitter, people do not like when other people write sports blogs and just recap the games of the day. Apparently, there are plenty of other outlets to get a game recap, thus a recap is just a copout when it comes to said blogs. Therefore, I will not be recapping the past weeks games, but merely calling out the highlights (and maybe venting about some lowlights) and gracing you all with some photos from the multitude of games I attended during Miller Park’s Opening Week.

 

 

I am pleased to say that the cupcakes made it to Opening Day in tact this year. They were delicious, as usual.

 

The Triplets with our favorite beer guy, Malcolm.

 

 

And ps, I hate the Cubs.

 

Go Brewers!

 

 

Baseball, the cure for the common hangover

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. 

See, Tom had things like signing Trevor Hoffman as a highlight, whereas I would’ve just put Hoffman’s save streak or how many scoreless innings he had pitched, because it goes without saying that he was signed. Duh. He also put drawing 3 million fans. I wouldn’t have included that, either, since the club did that in 2008, too. Whoopideedoo.
At any rate I got to thinking about his list, what with all the time I had spent lying on the couch that day-turned-into-night, and, well, he left some good stuff off of it.  
Here’s Tom’s Top 10 (with comments, of course), followed by a couple additions that must be worthy, since 2009 was really a season not worth bragging about.

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.

2. Closer Trevor Hoffman signs a free-agent deal, then pitches scoreless ball for his first 18 games and converts 37 of 41 save opportunities, with a 1.83 ERA in 55 games.

**Was signing the All-Time Saves Leader a big deal? Hell yeah. A highlight of the season? Well, let’s just say by the time the season begins and the good stuff (like actually getting to watch and/or go to games) starts, the off-season is a mere distant memory. Let’s just focus of what Hoffman did for us. Those are the real highlights.

3. Leftfielder Ryan Braun leads the National League with 203 hits, the club’s first 200-hit season since Paul Molitor in 1991 (216).

** Again, here’s where the definition differs. There are any number of Ryan Braun ‘highlights’ that contributed to his league-leading 203 hits. He had numerous multi-home run games, a grand slam, a near cycle. Either way, I agree this was a big deal for the club.

4. The Brewers draw 3 million fans (3,037,451) for the second consecutive season with their second-best attendance in club history. Considering the market size, it is an astounding feat.

**Not a highlight. They did it last year, the year prior and they’ll more than likely do it again this year, even coming off a losing season. I m
ean, let’s get real. I individually contributed to at least 135, 294 of those tickets. It won’t be a problem in 2010.

5. On July 29 against Washington at Miller Park, 2-year-old Mackail McGehee, suffering from cerebral palsy, throws out the ceremonial first pitch with the help of Prince Fielder. His father, Casey, later socks a pinch-hit two-run homer that provides the difference in a 7-5 victory. McGehee finishes his rookie season with a .301 batting average, 16 HRs and 66 RBI in 116 games.

**Fo’ sho’ agreed. It was a pretty exciting game.

6. On Sept. 6 against San Francisco at Miller Park, the Brewers turn a triple play, then win on a walk-off homer by Prince Fielder in the 12th inning, with teammates greeting him by sprawling backward at the plate and tumbling to the ground in a “boom goes the dynamite” celebration that drew some criticism around the game.

**Yes. This is a true highlight. A walk-off home run after 12 innings and the greatest ‘new school’ celebration I’ve ever seen. Don’t hate. The Brewers had already lost that series, were all but out of contention and, if you really think about it, were probably just happy they won a damn game

7. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo becomes the fifth pitcher in team history to record 200 strikeouts in a season when he reaches 204 in his final start Sept. 20 against Houston.

**For an ace in the making, this is a big accomplishment. My favorite Yovani highlight will be in the Haudricourt addendum. 

8. Prince Fielder wins the All-Star Home Run Derby on July 13 in St. Louis, socking a 503-footer in the process and topping Texas’ Nelson Cruz in the finals.

**This has no outcome on the team, therefore I do not count it as a Brewers highlight, but merely a Prince Fielder career highlight. 

9. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder lead all major league teammates with a combined 255 RBI.

**Impressive, no doubt. Again, doesn’t fit in my definition of ‘highlight.’ But, then again, there isn’t a whole lot to be proud of from 2009, so I’ll take it.

10. Right-hander Dave Bush pitches no-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings in Philadelphia on April 23 before pinch-hitter Matt Stairs smacks a home run off the right-field foul pole to end his bid for a no-hitter.

**Since Dave Bush didn’t have much else to be proud of last season, yes, this works as a highlight.

As for the addendum, I have 2 highlights by my definition and 1 by Tom’s. Where any of these fall on the list is up for interpretation.

First, it was the Yovani Gallardo Show when the Pirates came to town back on April 29. Yo went 8 scoreless innings, striking out 11. And the only run scored in the 1-0 Brewers win? Yep. Gallardo’s solo shot in the bottom of the 7th. Nice. 

Second, was the roller-coaster game in Cleveland that ended in an eventual 14-12 win for the Crew. The Brewers managed to blow up after the Indians blew not one, but two, 5-run leads. In this game, Ryan Braun was one hit shy of the cycle and managed to contribute 5 RBIs while Prince Fielder had a career-high 6 RBIs of his own and also smacked his first career grand slam. Not too shabby.

For the Haudricourt-esque highlight, let’s talk about 2 outstanding pitchers. It’s important to remember that, aside from Gallardo and Hoffman, the Brewers did have other bright spots in their pitching staff. Albeit teeny, tiny bright spots. Todd Coffey pitched 83.2 innings in 78 games with an ERA just shy of 3.0 and a WHIP of 1.16. His hiccups in the relief role were minute compared to others’ and he provided the team a much-needed, reliable arm out of the bullpen. Another reliever to be mentioned was lefty-specialist Mitch Stetter, who set an MLB record of 15 straight outs via the strikeout  between June 9-25. This record came amid a streak of 17 straight appearances without allowing a run from May 27- July 8. 

So, alright. Tom had some things right, but I like my choices, too. True, 2009 could mostly go down as forgotten, but the Brewers did some pretty great things in there. While I’m completely looking forward for the new season to get underway, I had a good time reminiscing about last year. It helped me forget my massive hangover. (For a little while, anyway.) 

Oh, and Happy New Year. Is it time for baseball yet?

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.