Friday, February 29, 2008

A's 11, Brewers 4

The crew found themself on the wrong end of a trounsing today, falling to the A's 11-4.

The box score tells the story, but to sum it up - as is the case with most 11-4 losses - pitching proved the Brewers' downfall. Big games by the Oakland duo of Jack Cust (5 RBI) and Bobby Crosby proved too much.

Dave Bush scuffled early, surrendering four runs in his two innings of work. Parra then gave up a run of his own, Turnbow added another two and, in his first appearance in a Milwaukee uniform, Eric Gagne gave up three earned runs in a mere inning on the mound.

Though the pitching left much to be desired, there exist a few offensive positves that warrant mention. Gabe Gross blasted a solo shot, Corey Hart went 2 for 3 including a triple and a team high 2 RBI. Prince Fielder continued his strong start with a 2 for 3 day at the plate.

The team registered a dozen hits, but 10 strikeouts translated to 10 left on base.

Tomorrow brings about the defending NL Champ Rockies and again the DH. A question I'm sure a lot of fans have been pondering as of late may be answered Sunday, as the Brewers take on the Angels with pichers to hit. Will Kendall still bat in the nine hole? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Leap year lineup

In his JSonline blog, Tom Haudricourt drops some knowledge in terms of the Brewers starting lineup for today's rematch against the A's.

The team is to field the following:
2B Rickie Weeks
CF Mike Cameron
1B Prince Fielder
LF Ryan Braun
RF Corey Hart
3B Bill Hall
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Joe Dillon (hitting for RHP Dave Bush)
C Jason Kendall

Haudricourt speculates this may be the team's eventual lineup (once Cameron returns from suspension), minus Dillon designated hitting, of course.

Some other brief notes of mention: Manny Parra is expected to toss two innings and Gange is tentatively slated to pitch the 8th inning. For those Vinny Rottino nuts out there (I'm with you), I'd expect to see him play today, primarily because he didn't play yesterday and saw a good amount of reps last Spring Training. I think it'd also be reasonable to anticipate seeing either a Turnbow or Riske appearance today.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In the News

1-0!

- The Brewers are on pace for perfect Cactus League season. These games mean nothing, but it's nice to get wins still and to start out with one. The game seemed to have been well played all around for Milwaukee. Here's a recap.


- Prospect Jeremy Jeffress is working to overcome his marijuana problems. He sounds like he's recommitted himself to baseball. Hopefully he taps some of his incredible potential.

- Gallardo and Dillon sign contracts.

- Gallardo is keeping his arm in shape by playing catch following his surgery.

- Kendall is still excited about his eye surgery and he likes Yost and the team.

- Michael Hunt says when it comes to baseball, the games cure everything. 


- Yost's batting order is still in question. I'm slowly warming to the idea of Kendall batting ninth (and Yost's argument that he'd hit into less double plays does make sense on some levels), but I'm still not ready to commit to it.

- Gagne will pitch tomorrow.

- The Sports Bubbler says Turnbow and Shouse are the most important relievers for the Crew in 2008.

- BrewersNation profiles Rickie Weeks.

- Doug Melvin flatly denied any trade discussions regarding Gross to the Padres, but this column has a brief mention of a deal in the works: "Gabe Gross soon will be dealt from the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres." Does Marty York know something we don't or did he misread the other reports?

- This is the oddest pre-season prediction I've seen for sure... It's like from some alternate universe where Suppan, Marquis, Edmonds, Rolen, and Eckstein are still Cardinals, Prior is still a Cub, Carlos Lee is still a Brewer, Clemens and Pettite are still Astros, Bagwell and Biggio have not retired... I could go on and on. It seems almost like someone took a preview from 2006 and re-wrote it for this season. But things get stranger... "Ryan Dunn" is a star on the Reds and Francisco Cordero is already on the Reds (so it couldn't be from 2006). All I can say is I'm completely baffled...

Brewers 7, A's 1

What a great way to begin this storied season.

Braun mashed a two-run tater off Blanton in the first inning and added another RBI later on, Prince notched two ribbies of his own. Kendall also registered his first (unofficial) hit as a Brewer and fellow newcomer Mike Cameron made his presence known going 2 of 3 with a RBI and a stolen base.

On the defensive side of things, Vargas was the game winner as he held the A's to a mere three hits in his scoreless two inning stint. Also, both assumed starters and reserves connected for two double plays... one of which involved third base (re)transplant Bill Hall.

I've heard no immediate word on how Braun performed defensively in his first game in left, but maybe in cases like these no news is good news.

Tomorrow: The Brewers and A's face off again. According to the team's site Dave Bush and Manny Parra are each scheduled to toss two innings and Eric Gagne is tentatively slated to take the mound at some point too.

Bryan's News and Views: Beginning of Spring Training

- So, Joe Blanton's trade stock just took a tumble, eh?

- Did anyone else try to order tickets online on Saturday? Let me tell you, it's basically like waiting in line with yourself. It took over an hour and a half to order tickets and the reason I finally ordered tickets was I decided to stop waiting online and call. (Not that calling was much better, I had a busy signal for most of the morning there too). At least those who braved the weather got a hot dog and a t-shirt. Those waiting online get the Virtual Waiting Room of DOOM. It's basically a screen that refreshes itself and never goes anywhere.

- I love that the team is doing well and that the state finally has some Brewer fever again, but not being able to get extra opening day tickets really ticked me off. I feel bad for those who are big Brewer fans but couldn't get any opening day tickets. By the way, the lowest price for opening day tickets on StubHub was 71 bucks on Saturday.

-I usually name someone as most underrated. I'd like to say Corey Hart, but he's become somewhat rated; he's been getting a lot of well deserved respect. I'm going to say Bill Hall. He had a letdown of a year last year in center. I just have a feeling that he's going to have a better season since he's back in the infield. I also hope he's gotten better at making adjustments at the plate.

- I can't believe how much faith I have in the bullpen already. I feel that even if someone flounders, there's at least 2 people to take their spot. If Gagne repeats his Boston miscues, we still have Torres, Riske, and (gasp) Turnbow. If Gagne lights it up as a closer, we have many different set-up options to keep the arms fresh. It's great to me that Guillermo Mota, who was New York's hope to be a great set-up man, is about our 5th option, behind Torres, Riske, Turnbow, and Shouse.

- Does anyone else think Prince Fielder's bobblehead is way too reminiscent of the creepy Burger King? I completely can see Burger Prince sneaking around giving away Whoppers (or Boca burgers now).

I'm the anti-Burger King. Don't you dare eat that Whopper, son.
Get your a$$ some Boca, pronto.

- Since we're going with bobblehead gripes, when is that last time we've had a real quality likeness for bobbleheads? It's been at least a year and a half. This year's crop doesn't look much better. Ryan Braun's looks more like Drew Anderson (Give the man his signature scruff). I'm scared as to how Corey Hart's bobblehead will look. It'll either look like a tall Scott Podsednik bobblehead or like a character from Caveman.

- Yovanni's injury, while it is a setback, could have been a lot worse. It's better it happened now before we traded away Capuano, Bush, or Vargas.

- Yost is considering batting the pitcher 8th. Does he have some kind of man-crush on LaRussa? It didn't work for the Cardinals, it probably won't work for the Brewers.

- Cub fans are unhappy that the owner wants to sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field. While it could be funny to think about who could buy the rights (PBR Presents Wrigley Field, Boeing Field, etc...), but since we in Wisconsin are blessed with Lambeau Field I might actually feel their pain on this one. I would hate the owner talking about selling the naming rights to Lambeau and I would hate to see Wrigley or Fenway to turn into GoDaddy.com Stadium or Sobe LifeField.

Starting lineups for game one

However insignificant in the wide scope of things, I know many Brewer fans have been looking forward to this day since late September. Finally, the Brewers and A's are to take the field - thus truly setting the 2008 season into motion.

Courtesy of The JSonline.com, here are the starting lineups for today's (2 p.m.) game:
Oakland Athletics (0-0)
RF Travis Buck
2B Mark Ellis
1B Daric Barton
LF Emil Brown
DH Dan Johnson
SS Bobby Crosby
3B Jack Hannahan
CF Chris Denorfia
C Justin Knoedler
SP Joe Blanton (not batting)

Milwaukee Brewers (0-0)
2B Rickie Weeks
CF Mike Cameron
1B Prince Fielder
LF Ryan Braun
RF Corey Hart
3B Bill Hall
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Gabe Gross
C Jason Kendall
SP Claudio Vargas (not batting)

Batter up!

Hail to the Commissioner!?!?

With the Red Sox's visit to the White House yesterday, I was compelled to mention an old Vanity Fair article brought to my attention by The Mockingbird our sister blog on mlbhub that's devoted to the Toronto Bluejays.

The political feature makes mention of (Then Texas Rangers owner/now President) Bush's alleged interest in becoming the commissioner of baseball as then commissioner Fay Vincent was at the cusp of losing his job. The future leader of the free world was reportedly torn between consideration of trying to obtain the most incredible and important job on Earth - and putting himself within reach of the presidency.

"What would you think of me becoming commissioner?" Bush blurted (to ex commissioner Vincent).

Surprised, the old family friend said gently, “George, I think you’d be terrific. However, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Bush sounded confident. “I’ve talked to Selig and he tells me he’ll support me.” (Bud Selig, then owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, had helped oust Vincent and was acting commissioner.) Bush confided to Vincent, “But they’re pushing me to run for governor. I’m going to have to make up my mind one of these days.”

Vincent applauded the idea of Bush’s running for governor. “You’d be great, and if you want to run—”

Bush interrupted. “I think I’d rather be commissioner than governor.”


As we all know, Bud Selig remained commissioner while Bush ran for - and subsequently won - the governorship of Texas.

All politics aside, I can't imagine how different baseball would be... how different the world would be had Bush found his way to the commissioner's seat. Weird stuff.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the News


I figure i'd take the reigns on an abbreviated In the News to give Jared a breather.

Ryan Braun to appear on SI Baseball 2008 Baseball Preview issue: I'm not too accustomed to the Brewers getting mainstream print media mention, much less covers, so I like this...pending he can stave off the supposed "SI Curse." Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and ROY runner-up Troy Tulowitzki will appear alongside Braun.

"Home" whoops "Away" 10-4 in today's intersquad game: Prince went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI and a two-bagger. My cousin Vinny (possibly motivated by a dangling roster spot, ha) apparently doinked Gwynn Jr. in the nose on a throw down to second. Gwynn was okay, and went on to swipe third. Let's hope the run production carries over to tomorrow.

Carlos Villanueva resigns for 2008: It is what it is. Not much threat of him not signing, but good to see it's official.

U.S. Cellular inks multi-million dollar deal with Brewers: I have no real opinion on this. I have U.S. Cellular - maybe i'll visit the kiosk?

Zach Jackson looks to rebound in 2008: I think I like ZJ more than any other RFBer. We saw him pitch a so-so start in Nashville last August. I think as a young lefty, he'll be a Miller Park regular eventually. He was another great part of the Overbay/Taubenheim deal. Even a Jackson for Taubenheim swap would've been a steal in retrospect.

List of Non Roster invitees: I feel like I should just make this available to scope out incase anyone is interested.

I'm sure the blog (me and Jared at least) will be abuzz with news views and thoughts on tomorrow's first game.

Welcome to baseball season, friends!

In the News

Spring Training games start in about 15 hours... Incredible.

- Ryan Braun will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He'll be joined by Justin Upton and Troy Tulowitzki. Congrats to Braun and the Brewers. That's quite an honor. One that I believe hasn't taken place since April 1987 when Rob Deer was featured on the issue above as the Brewers won their first 13 games.

- Gwynn Jr. wants Cameron's job. Competition brings the best out of people. I look forward to seeing what Tony can do if he gets the job while Cameron is suspended.


- David Pinto likes the idea of the Brewers batting pitchers eight. I still don't, statistical evidence or not. Call me a traditionalist I guess...

- Fielder's diet a concern to some. Being a vegetarian is easy. I speak from experience. I didn't eat meat for over three years at one point. Being a healthy vegetarian, especially as a professional athlete, is not so easy. I'm sure Fielder has plenty of help in the Brewers clubhouse now that he's come out as a vegetarian though.

- Zach Jackson says don't forget about me. He says he worked on a lot last season and improved as a pitcher. While his numbers were a bit disappointing last season, he's still young and could develop into a fine MLB pitcher. The article also mentions Luis Pena is making strides and that Bobby Cox didn't even know who Matt LaPorta was until this fall.

- Yost says players have unmatched "passion." Is this Yost's new buzz word for the year? Is he replacing "gamers" and "battlers"?

- Gagne is back in camp.

- Gorman Thomas is in camp to help teach the young players.

- David Riske collects unworn "Air Jordan" shoes. He has over 100.

- Braun and Hall are moving along with their position changes.

- Haudricourt previews the bench.

- Villanueva signed a deal with the team.

- The Sports Bubbler continues their bullpen preview: The Forgotten.

- BrewersNation interviews Jim Goulart of BrewerFan.net.

- The Brewers signed a deal with U.S. Cellular.

- And in the most suspicious news of the day, Al from Al's Ramblings says he's been told there will be an "announcement of importance" from the Brewers in the next few days. He says the source is legitimate and it could be related to a young player signing a contract extension...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In the News

- Braun is improving in the outfield, according to him and Yost. What else are they going to say before exhibition games even start? I hope it's true.

- Speaking of games, the Brewers played an exhibition game today. Details are in the story linked above.

- Hall is also adjusting to his new position, which isn't as new for him... On a side note, in that article Yost talks about a ball Hall hit today saying, "That's a home run in every other park in baseball." Seriously? How often is that line used? Come on... They just need to ban that statement. It means nothing anymore.

Here's a nice article on Rickie Weeks. It's pretty hard not to like this guy. I hope he has the breakout season a lot of people are predicting.

- Speaking of predicting a breakout for Weeks... This article is pretty complimentary. I especially liked this fact: Weeks and Barry Bonds are the only players since 1900 to score at least 85 runs in a season with fewer than 100 hits.

- Tony Gwynn Jr. signed a contract for 2008. Prince, Braun, Weeks and Hart have to sign deals still for the season.

- Cecil Fielder is the "proudest father in the world" and looks forward to reconnecting with Prince, who has not spoke with him in over three years. Cecil has been vocal about their relationship while Prince has been mostly quiet. I think there's a lot more to it than Cecil is willing to admit (likely stemming from the gambling problems and his relationship with Prince's mom), but I hope they can have a good relationship again some day. It's sad to see a father and son not get along.

- MiLB.com previews the Brewers minor-league system. This quote sums it all up: "How another team hasn't swooped in and made Jack Zduriencik a general manager remains a mystery."

- BrewersNation speculates that the Rangers could make for a good trading partner again with the Brewers. The Brewers have excess pitching and the Rangers have some injury concerns in their rotation. With Melvin's history there, there could be another Ranger/Brewer swap in the future.

- SportsBubbler.com continues their bullpen previews: The New Guys, Eric Gagne, and The Closer's Role.


- BrewersNation profiles Jason Kendall. Their verdict? "Jason Kendall will not be a glamorous signing for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he will provide the veteran toughness and grittiness that a young team like the Brewers needs."

- Area bars are having a tougher time getting group packages together for opening day. While it's certainly disappointing for bar owners, it's really a positive. The Brewers are good and tickets are selling. No more going to the game 10 minutes before it starts and getting nice tickets.

- Are Brewer fans setting themselves up for disappointment?

- Who knew? Maxim St. Pierre, the catcher the Brewers traded Ben Hendrickson for last year, was battling alcoholism last season AND the Brewers tried to convert him into a pitcher. The story is really interesting, Brewer connection or not...

And now, your Milwaukee Flu-ers

Eric Gagne's first days as a Brewer haven't exactly been sweet. A week after his bi-lingual apology for a potential "distraction" he may be causing his team, he's now sidelined with the flu bug according to an Adam McCalvy article. The article also mentions Eric Munson's recent bout with the bug.

"Yost sent closer Eric Gagne home on Sunday to help his wife, who was in bed with the flu and struggling to contain the couple's three kids. Gagne called in Monday morning to say he had caught the bug himself. The team is trying to contain the epidemic, which has hit Phoenix hard, according to a report last week in the Arizona Republic. Catcher Eric Munson missed workouts on Saturday and Sunday because of the flu, but returned on Monday. 'If you're sick, stay away,' Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said."

I hope this marks the end of Gagne's troubles this season, but something tells me Gagne-related disappointment might be an underlying theme of 2008. I hope I'm wrong, and wish him a speedy recovery.

Beyond that, Spring Training games start around the bigs tomorrow afternoon. The crew will be taking part in a pair of short intersquad games today and tomorrow with Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush reportedly penciled in as starters. The Brewers will play their first game against the A's on Thursday.

The time has almost arrived!

Monday, February 25, 2008

In the News

With Spring Training games only a few days away, baseball season seems so close...

- The Journal-Sentinel features an article on Corey Hart. I don't think casual fans realize how good of a season Hart had last year. He was sort of over-shadowed by Fielder and Braun and a slow start. Hitting 24 home runs, stealing 23 bases, hitting nearly .300 and racking up 86 runs and 81 RBI in your first full season of play is pretty impressive, especially since he was moved all around the line-up. The fact that a 30 HR, 30 SB, 100 run, 100 RBI, .300 batting average season at some point is not out of the question speaks volumes about the tools Hart has. That's asking a lot and it's probably unlikely that it will come together that well (especially this early in his career), but I think Hart is going to burst into the national spotlight this season.

- The Brewers have four regular starters that are black, which is very rare in today's MLB. It's kind of strange that we still have to point this out in 2008... What's more important about those African-American players is that they are very talented (Fielder, Weeks, Hall and Cameron with Gwynn Jr. possibly starting the season as a starter while Cameron serves his suspension) and all are great role models (aside from the drug suspension for Cameron, which I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on).

- It's hard to swallow, but it looks more and more like retaining Fielder past his arbitration years is going to be very unlikely for the Brewers. Check out his comments regarding the Brewers "buying out" some of his arbitration years: "I'll let my agent deal with it. I'll hear his opinion, then make my decision. He's all for me, all for the players. He tries to get the best for us." If Fielder wants "the best" for him, that probably won't be in Milwaukee. He'd all but definitely have to take a "hometown discount" to stay here, but that seems like a longshot with Scott Boras as his agent and with comments like the one above. Enjoy him while you can.

- Gallardo could be ready to start running this week. Good news.


- Attention Ned Yost haters: You'll like this satirical piece previewing the Brewers' season. Even Yost supporters will have a few laughs with it.

- Beyond the Box Score previews the Brewers. Pretty much the same cautious optimism most previews have given the team.

- WTMJ has some Brewer video news stories (follow link and click on "Video.")

- Baseball Musings previews the Cubs rotation. They like it. Personally, I don't see Lilly repeating his season and I expect Hill and Marquis to drop off too. Zambrano looked shaky at times last year. And counting on Dempster or Lieber for anything is pretty risky. It seems like a bit of a house of cards to me, but it all fell together nicely last year so I suppose it could again in 2008 if the Cubs are fortunate.

- Cubs GM Jim Hendry is optimistic going into the Cubs 100th year since their last World Series championship. I hope they cap off the century of losing in grand fashion.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

First Pitch

One of the main reasons the five of us do we do at Right Field Bleachers is to meet other passionate Brewer fans and to hang out with them and talk Crew. As we've passed the one-year mark of RFB, we felt it was appropriate to mark the occasion and the beginning of a new (and hopefully historic) Brewer season with a party with the friends we've made over the last year and hopefully a bunch of new friends too.

We're holding a concert on Saturday, March 29 at The Maritime in Appleton (336 W. Wisconsin Ave.) with four great Wisconsin bands. We know it'll be a blast and we hope you all come out and have a few beers with us.

(Click image for larger version of flyer)

Check out the bands:
Sunday Flood
Tim Schweiger and the Middle Men
The Response
The Scarlet Escape

In the News

This will have to serve as the weekend's version of "In the News." I got a little busy, including a trip down to Miller Park yesterday for single-game ticket sales so I'll have to lump all the news together.

Speaking of that trip... Sorry we didn't make our appearance more public, but we ran into some trouble. We handed out two flyers before a security guard stopped us, grabbed a flyer and told us if we handed one more out, he'd have the police site us for trespassing. We were also informed that the guard had to turn the flyer in to his boss. The flyer was for the upcoming concert we are sponsoring, a free event, to celebrate the return of baseball (look for more details very soon). Needless to say, it wasn't the happy experience we were hoping for...

Anyway, on to the news...

- Cameron is settling into his new team. His suspension was a concern of course, but every other piece of news I've heard about Cameron is about how great of a guy he is and how hard he plays. I think a blue-collar state like Wisconsin is going to fall in love with this guy.

- The Brewers set a single-day ticket sale record on Saturday. It's looking more and more like pretty much every ticket record on the books could be beat this season, especially if the team plays well all year. Good work Brewers fans.  More on ticket sales HERE.

- Turnbow is out to prove his doubters "wrong" and Kendall is "very impressed" with him so far. Turnbow had a lot better season last year than a lot of casual fans realize, but if he can return to his late 2005 season/early 2006 season form, the end of the Brewers games could be lights out with Turnbow setting up Gagne. I'm glad to hear that D-Bow is going to be pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Turnbow is in the last year of his contract, but has one year of arbitration left after this season. He will be a key part of the team over the next two seasons.

- Another pitcher who has something to prove is David Bush. I really thought Bush was going to take a step forward last season, but he actually fell back a bit. I still really like what he brings as he's a mentally tough pitcher that has an incredible strikeout-to-walk ratio. If  the decision for the starting rotation were up to me, it'd be Bush and Villanueva to fill the last two spots to start the season along with Sheets, Suppan and Gallardo (when he's healthy).

- I wouldn't bet against Capuano either though. Capuano is a good pitcher and he's probably the smartest guy on the team. He's always been a hard worker and it seems that last season's troubles have made him even more dedicated. He will probably bounce back if given a shot.

- Attanasio spoke at spring training camp. I continue to love what Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio has to say. He's obviously a big fan of the game of baseball, is passionate about the team and the city and lets Melvin make the baseball decisions. I can't imagine his first few years going much better as far as things he has control over goes (maybe if he lowered the beer prices...). And I love comments like this: " We have a huge amount of emotion in the community. And we have a team that's really good. That's what I always dreamed of happening."



- Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports said the Padres were after Gabe Gross and Melvin says, "Huh?" Doug said the two sides haven't even talked about a deal involving Gross.

- Attanasio shot down the rumor about the Brewers moving to the AL.

- Braun is making good progress in the outfield. I'm sure he's going to be an above average fielder out there after some time because of his physical tools. You can tell he's also much more confident at that position.

- The Brewers are also considering a long-term contract for Braun with the Tulowitzki deal serving as a bar of sorts. It's an interesting concept since Braun is still years away from arbitration, but it's definitely something worth at least consideration by both sides.

- Long-term deals for other younger players, including Prince, has also come up. I fully expect the Brewers to go on a "pay-as-you-go" plan with most of the guys until they are close to being eligible for free agency, but some financial certainty could be nice for both the players and the club.

- That same article touches on Yost hinting that he may consider batting pitchers eighth with Kendall ninth with Braun hitting second and Prince third. I'm glad Yost is mulling all the options for the batting order, but I think this tactic, which LaRussa has used in St. Louis, is getting a little too cute...

- Hardy says self doubt contributed to his numbers falling off last season. I think J.J. will be fine this season. He probably won't hit 25 home runs, but he's going to be a positive force on the offense.

- LaRussa is a vegetarian and is a fan of Fielder's choice to go with a non-meat diet. LaRussa might be warming up to Prince, but I have a feeling Tony is not on Prince's speed dial after that game late last season in which a clearly intentional wild pitch nearly hit him in the dome. I expect some over-the-wall retaliation early this season.

- There is a nice little piece on former Brewer Matt Wise in the New York Times. Most of it will be old news to Brewer fans, but Wise did talk a little about his last few days with the Brewers and how the team gave Gagne his number a few days before he was cut: "My mom called me and told me that they gave up my number, and she was pretty upset about it. I might have been the only one who wasn't. My friends and family thought it was pretty weak. I like Wise. I hope he makes the team and does well, as long as it doesn't come back to haunt the Brewers.

- Another class-act former Brewer I'll be rooting for is Geoff Jenkins. There's a piece on him HERE.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Holding the Hebrew Hammer and Getting Rid of Gross Things

According to mlb.com's Adam McCalvy the Brewers are exploring a possible contract extension with Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun. Last season, as we all know, Braun raked. If those numbers (or even numbers in the same neighborhood as last season's output) continue, it might be good to nail Braun down while we can, especially with his fielding woes no longer a factor.

I don't quite know how I feel about this recent trend of rewarding youngsters with an early pay day. Braun seems like a safe bet to continue the big league skillz he displayed in his abbreviated 2007 stint - and with Ryan Howard winning a 9.5 million dollar raise in his recent arbitration hearing, it could save in the long run. Regardless, it's always good to see the club looking to the future instead of merely sitting on current potential.

In other news, mlbtaderumors features a tiny blurb regarding our favorite disciple Gabe Gross. The Cubs' Matt Murton (who oddly enough - I kind of like) has been speculated to be sent packing all winter. With his name losing steam around the rumor mill, the focus looks to be shifting Gross' way. To me - minus the scorching red hair - Gross is very similar to Murton and, biased as I am, the Brewers have a more vast harem of capable outfielders than the Chi guys do. Beyond nostalgic San Diego, I think the rest of the league has disregarded the hype of Tony Gwynn Jr.

Gross is still young, SUPER cheap and can aptly play any outfield position. He's also one of the few left-handed bats on the club. Frankly, I don't see why he'd be dealt... but for the right price (Texas' Taylor Teagarden/cash) I wouldn't think twice to bidding him and an excess starter goodbye. Texas seems about the only team in dire need of both outfield and starting pitching help. Plus Doug Melvin seems to have a decent working relationship with the organization. Maybe they'd even offer to send Nelson Cruz back.

I can already hear Melvin politely say no.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In the News

- Brewers considering optioning Villanueva to AAA??? That would be a slap in the face even if it would help the team "control" its roster. He's been great as a starter and solid as a reliever. I think it'd be a shame if he wasn't in the starting rotation to start the year. He's clearly one of the five best. More on this HERE.

- At the bottom of the last link is an update on Gallardo. He said the surgery went good and "there's no pain." Good news.

- Hall is settling in at third and hoping he's there to stay. I don't blame the guy for not loving the position changes every season, but I admire that he has been willing to do it and he has worked hard at each position. I expect he'll stick at third now, at least while he's on the Brewers, and hopefully he gets some of that 2006 offense back.

- BrewersNation breaks down the 2008 Brewers ZIPS projections.

- SportsBubbler.com says the Brewers could realistically match last year or improve at closer this year.

- MLB Rumors says Rickie Weeks "is in for a big year."

- No Brewers make Jonathan Mayo's list of top NL Central prospects, but Matt LaPorta and Alcides Escobar get mentioned.

- Brewers set fan giveaways.




- Brewers check in at #15  on CBS' power rankings. They don't like the Cameron or Gagne signings.

- Dugout Central previews the Brewers season.

- Reds sign Josh Fogg. The Reds and Cardinals are scrambling for arms... The Cardinals are rumored to be after Jeff Weaver.

- Former Brewer Tomo Ohka signs with White Sox.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In the News

Another spring training day, another load of news...

- Most shocking news of the day: Prince is a vegetarian. He's also working diligently on his fielding and is not content with his hitting. I like the makeup of this kid.

- Cameron sat out practice with an injury, a hamstring strain. Isn't serious, but I could do without any more injury news.

- Counsell hopes he doesn't play. Seriously. He says it would be better if the younger guys go out and play 150 games each. It's true, just surprising to hear from a player himself.

- Yost is still tinkering with the line-up. This is not a surprise since he had roughly 150 different line-ups last season it seemed... But he says a combo of Braun and Fielder will not necessarily make up the three and four spots. Huh?

- Negro Leagues tribute slated for Saturday, July 5. Cerveceros Day set for Saturday, Sept. 6.

- Brad Nelson had a comeback year last year and hopes to crack the Milwaukee squad this season. I expect he'll at least get a token call-up this season if he plays well, but I don't really see him playing anywhere but first and he's not going to get playing time there.

- Yost says "don't forget" about Layne Nix for the centerfield spot to begin the year before Cameron returns from suspension.

- Mike Woods and Dick Knapinski of the Post-Crescent debate if Ben Sheets can win 15 games this season. Woods says no. Knapinski says yes. Why am I not surprised Woods said no? Has the guy written a positive column about a Wisconsin sports team in his life? I don't remember it... Anyway, I hope Knapinski is right.

- The Royals dismiss the Royals for Brewers AL/NL central swap rumors. It was hard to believe this one had legs, but it's nice to see it has now been completely shot down.

- Fox Sports' Dayn Perry says Doug Melvin is eighth best GM in MLB.

- Baseball Prospectus' Top 100 Prospects is posted on CNNSI.com. LaPorta is 31, Parra is 42 and Jeffress is 76, despite his alleged marijuana problems.

- SportsBubbler.com says Francisco Cordero might not have been worth the money. They had an article comparing the Brewers bullpen to other NL bullpens yesterday that I missed.

- Steve Stone allegedly said the Cubs will run away with the division. He also apparently completely failed to even mention the Brewers in his analysis. Oh well, sitting next to that blathering drunk Harry Caray all those years probably had an affect on him...

- Speaking of the Cubs, Aramis Ramirez says his involvement in cockfighting is "personal" and "it's a different culture in the Dominican." Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, a Cubs' blog, had a great take on the situation last week: Cock-a-doodle-doo!!!

- Ryan Howard and the Phillies have an arbitration showdown. Keep an eye on the Ryan Howard situation. The Brewers situation with Prince Fielder could be very similar over the next few years.

- Former Brewer Dana Eveland is competing for a spot with the A's.


- Single-game tickets go on sale on Saturday. Some of the RFB crew will be on hand. Say hello if you see us.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Russell the Muscle" - Opening Day, 2005

With the news of an imminent Russell Branyan signing (minor-league deal or not), I thought it was time to relive a few images from opening day of 2005 when Branyan hit two home runs, including a monster blast off the scoreboard. It was his finest hour in Milwaukee and an awesome game for Crew fans.



Will we see "Russell the Muscle" in Milwaukee in 2008?

In the News

Another spring training day full of news...

Sheets said his goal is to throw 200 innings. He also said he did not make any major changes to his offseason workout program, which is a little discouraging considering he has never appeared to be in stellar physical shape and has an injury history (though most of the injuries do not seem to be related to conditioning). Sheets is in a contract year and it seems unlikely that he'll be with the team next year. Hopefully he can put together a great season and make it to the postseason for the first time with the Brewers. The team will need him to have a good year if they want to play in October.

- Speaking of Sheets, Hardball Times has a feature where they list most similar pitchers on player pages. Sheets' pitching doppelganger? None other than the Brewers' own Seth McClung. Other Brewer comparisons of note include Manny Parra's match of Roy Oswalt. His number two? Much-publicized Phillip Hughes of the Yankees, followed by John Lackey and Rich Hill. Not bad... Gallardo's number three match is Gary Glover with the other Ryan Braun (of the Royals) and former Brewer Dennis Sarfate also on the list. And Bush's list is littered with closers: Todd Jones, Jonathan Papelbon and Jason Isringhausen.

- Russell Branyan sighting. He'll join the Brewers AAA squad. I'm sure the guys on the BrewerFan.net boards are going to have a field day with this one as Branyan is one of the most controversial figures in the history of that site and a "prophet" of 3TO.

- Braun is starting to get accustomed to the outfield. And it turns out all of the fans that were mad he was being moved because they thought he would be upset by it, need not worry:
Braun did not mention it to reporters last year, but he never really liked third base.


"I'm enjoying it more than third base already," Braun said of the outfield.


"He's happy," Sedar said. "You can just tell."

Also in that column is a blurb about Kendall playing extra time in spring training while he learns the Brewers' pitchers.

- Gallardo's surgery went smoothly.

- Haudricourt previews the catcher position.

- Yost says Gagne has to start the game in his underwear in the clubhouse in order to be effective. Well, not exactly, but he says the fact that he was not closing games in Boston could have thrown off his routine, leading to his late-season meltdown. Melvin has confidence in Gagne, saying he is strong and another year removed from surgery. Turnbow says he aims to prove the Brewers wrong about demoting him from closer and looks to have a strong season. He says the bullpen was worn out at the end of the year and that he likes the revamped group.

- Daniel Rathman at MVN previews the Brewers rotation battle. He thinks the Crew will start the year with Parra in the rotation with Villanueva and Bush splitting time in the fifth spot. I've seen/heard a lot of predictions about Parra getting a spot to start the season, but I think he's all but sent to Nashville already with the surplus of pitchers the Brewers have. He has minor-league options and could use a little time to develop anyway.

- In easily the worst prediction column I've ever read, Eric Neel of ESPN's Page 2 picks the Brewers 29th in his latest power rankings. Page 2 is mostly based in humor, but I guess I just don't get the joke... The Cubs 26th? Red Sox 16th? The Twins 5th? Rangers 9th? Reds 10th? Is it funny to pull teams out of a hat to rank them?

- In other predictions, JJ Stankevich at Bleacher Report says, "It'll take a few surprise performances by Brewers pitchers for Milwaukee to contend in 2008." Another Bleacher Report writer, Bob Kessler, says, "Cubs fans have to believe that the team is in a handful of contenders in the NL. The Mets look to be stacked now that they have Johan Santana. The Brewers, D-Backs and Rockies also continue to have solid young rosters, which will undoubtedly be competitive for years. But you have to say this team (the Cubs) has a chance." And Bob Matthews of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says, "The Brewers should be at least co-favorites to win this division."

- BrewersNation does a good job of recapping Minor League Ball's John Sickels Mailbag comments relating to the Brewers.

- And finally, in news from around the NL Central. Hunter Pence runs into outfield walls and THROUGH glass doors. Wow. And the Cardinals' rotation sucks.

Revisiting Cuba

Nearly a year ago, RFB made mention of Brewers prospect Yohannis Perez and his taxing journey to professional baseball.

I thought with the current happenings in Cuba, it wouldn't be out of the question to revisit the Tom Haudricourt story.

Perez put up pretty good numbers (.287 avg, 33 RBI, 6 SB) in Brevard County (High A) last season, factoring in he only played there about half the season. Already 25, blocked by Hardy and with quite a minor league ascent to ahead of him, a Major League stint may not happen, but it's good to see he's been able to put himself at least in position to potentially don a big league uni.

Monday, February 18, 2008

In the News

Well, today was an eventful day of spring training... Here are some of the highlights:

- Gagne apologized, but we don't really know what for. Disappointing... Sporting News joins a growing list of outlets projecting Gagne's signing to be a "bust."

- All eight of the projected positional starters were at camp early and practicing, even Mike Cameron who arrived at 4 a.m. this morning due to a delayed flight.

- Gallardo is holding out hope that he will be able to start the season in the rotation after knee surgery.

- With the battle for the last two spots in the rotation heats up, Tom Oates says they should go to Villanueva and Parra.

- Lou Palmisano does not have a tear in his knee and will only be sidelined five to seven days.

- Former Brewer Dennis Sarfate has chance to compete for Baltimore closer job along with another former Brewer, Greg Aquino.

- Speaking of bullpens, SportsBubbler takes a look at the Brewers' bullpen with a focus on Melvin's role in assembling the bunch. (Notice the Right Field Bleachers props in the main photo). And speaking of Melvin, he's not a top 10 GM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. In fact, Heyman does not even give him an honorable mention for the top 10. MLBTradeRumors.com noticed the omission, however.

- Prices go up at Miller for food and parking. Happens every year. Sucks every year.

Gagne Speaks (Sort of)

For the first time since his mention in the Mitchell Report, new Brewers closer Eric Gagne spoke to the media today and essentially said nothing.

Apologizing primarily for the distraction he was causing his family, friends and teammates, Gagne failed to once mention the Mitchell Report or any banned substance (in English version). And to that, I stand fairly disappointed.

Not to entirely rehash Jared's earlier post, but admitting use (assuming he did, as many of those named in the Mitchell Report have already fessed up) seems the lone move with at least a shred of respectability amid such a deed so lacking in character. Even Gagne's former teammate Paul Lo Duca (who was said to have purchased substances for Gagne) has recently apologized, though he too utilized a cryptic and open-ended apology to do so.

If anything, the fact that Gagne isn't openly adressing the true issue at hand poses a considerably larger distraction to the Brewers clubhouse than a flat out admisson ever would. I hoped Gagne would have done the right thing and either admitted what he'd allegedly done OR stood up and fought for his innocence.

I take his one-minute long half-hearted apology as not only a sign of guilt - but as a precursor to a season long issue neither Gagne nor the Brewers will be able to dodge.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gallardo to target April 22 return?

This is pure speculation by me, but hear me out...

The Brewers will not need a fifth starter until Tuesday, April 22 due to days off. Gallardo should be pitching again by opening day, but he will all but certainly start the year on the DL and throw a few warm-up games in extended spring training. A four man rotation while shooting for Yo to return on the 22nd seems like a reasonable plan to me.

If my math is right, Mike Cameron will be eligible to return a week after that date (April 29th) so it looks like two guys could get longer looks by the team due to the injury and suspension.

Gagne to speak tomorrow

Gagne will break his silence on the HGH issue tomorrow, according to the Journal-Sentinel notes column. He will not be taking questions and will not address the situation again. He will address his teammates before practice though.

I'm glad he's going to say something and I'm looking forward to hearing what it is. I really hope he just owns it. Something like, "I did it. It was a mistake. I regret it. I'm truly sorry to my former teammates and to fans of the game. I will prove on the field this year that I don't need it to be a great player." It would be much easier for me to forgive him and cheer for him this season if he said something like that.

I don't want to hear any of these now famous excuses:

- "The report is false." - This one almost always comes back to bite the player when more evidence or testimony surfaces.

- "I did it so I could get back and help my team" - What a great teammate! Not... Seriously, this is a good attempt at spinning the issue and I'm sure someone paid a PR firm big bucks to invent this excuse, but it just doesn't fly with me. It's just a clever way to duck the issue and try to save a little face.

"I'm sorry for what I did" (with no mention of steroids, HGH or other performance-enhancing drugs) - Vague apologies without addressing the issue at all are as bad as not saying anything. How can you apologize for something if you don't tell us what you're apologizing for?

I'm sure we'll all be back to comment tomorrow on what is said.

There are a couple of other interesting blurbs in the notes column too:

- Simmons says Yost doesn't have to look over his shoulder - I like Yost for the most part and think he doesn't deserve nearly as much criticism as he receives from fans, but I doubt he's naive enough to think he doesn't have to look over his shoulder this year, whether it's Simmons he's looking at or any number of other candidates. This is a big year for Yost. He's got the horses. Now he has to prove he can win the race or at least give it a good show.

- Robin Yount will be coming to spring training to do some coaching - It can't hurt to have a hall of fame player coming in to give the guys some tips. I wish he was still on the coaching staff...

Also, make sure to check out this Q&A with Doug Melvin.

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First injury of camp...

Gallardo might have torn knee cartilage. Ugh. An injury already? Fortunately it looks like it will be minor, but Haudricourt speculates that if the injury requires surgery, Gallardo would likely start the season on the DL. It seems to me that oftentimes these "minor" injuries in spring training turn out to be a lot bigger problems than teams let on at first. Hopefully Gallardo's injury is actually minor and does not become a recurring problem. He will be a big part of the Brewers' success this season.

The Brewers could still stand to deal a pitcher, but, as Melvin has said all offseason, having depth is nice. It's just not feasible to keep as much depth as the Brewers have (barring substantial injuries and DL stints) since most of the players cannot be stashed in the minors. It will be a situation worth monitoring as spring training winds up.


Update: Gallardo will miss 4 weeks, likely start season on DL. That's a bad way to start camp, but luckily it's not too serious. Unfortunately, catcher prospect Lou Palmisano appears to be headed for a similar surgery, according to the post.