Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Foreign Right Field Bleachers

The Right Field Bleachers Crew will be sitting in the right field bleachers later today (as I write, it's nearing 12:30 a.m.), but it will be far from the friendly confines of Miller Park. We'll be in enemy territory at Wrigley Field.

Thankfully, the Brewers crushed the Cubs today, meaning the game is a rubber match. If the Cubs were going for a sweep, I can only imagine how annoying the naturally douche-baggish Chicago fans would become. As it is, we'll represent our Brewers strong and try to come home with a series victory and hopefully a Prince Fielder home run ball (or three).

Look for us on TV and let us know if you see us. We'll be in the front row of the bleacher box section in right field (close to the foul pole) and all five of us will be in our Cub Killer shirts. We'll be the ones bringing Cliff Floyd to tears (and likely being showered with beer, peanuts, spit and obscenities from those uncivilized scrub fans).

We'll have a full report Sunday night. Hopefully it'll be a good one.

Jonesin' for my First Padre's Bobblehead

At the risk of saying something obvious on a fan-blog, I'm really glad the crew struck down with the hammer of thore and tore those Cubbies a new one from the get go.Though I'm sure Cubs will still be tossing brag-fodder left over from Friday's game and the last great Cub momment, the 1908 World Series, I'm glad the Brewers won in such dominant fashion today. It should make our great seats (front row of "the Craig Counsell Taterzone") in an otherwise faltering Wrigley Field that much warmer during tomorrow's rubbermatch in the windy s**tty.

Tommorrow marks a historic day of firsts for me:
-First time at Wrigley
-First time catching 3 Tony Graffanino opposite field jacks in one game (I mean, this season).
-First time getting a free bobblehead of a player who currently plays for a team not involved in that day's game.

That's right, it is Michael Barrett bobblehead day. And no, I will not be giving mine to a kid, NOR, old-timer. Hey, he's a Padre now... I'm indifferent to Padres. Plus any man who threw down (albiet got demolished) with Zombie, is a man I want a bobblehead of.

Let's win this series!

Ouch...

If the great extra-innings, come-from-behind defeat of the Cubs in late April was the single-game highlight of the season for me (and it was), yesterday's game was the single-game low point of the season so far.

Scoring five runs in the first inning in support of another strong pitching performance by Yovani Gallardo should have guaranteed victory. But the bats went dead for the rest of the game and Villanueva and Cordero, arguably the bullpens' two most reliable pitchers so far this year, blew it. UGH.

I wish I had video of my reaction as Uecker said, "And Aramis Ramirez just won the game for the Cubs" while I was driving home from work. I'm positive the person behind me thought I was losing my mind and I'm lucky calmer heads prevailed because I felt like driving into a telephone pole.

This series is arguably the most important series the Brewers have played in a decade or more and that was a TERRIBLE way to start. I mean, a blow out would have been worse, but it wouldn't have tore out Brewers' fans heart like that loss did.

Lock this game down today, Brewers.

Oh yeah, there won't be news tomorrow. We'll be at Wrigley, hopefully for a rubber match. Look for all five of us in the first row of the right field bleachers. We'll be ones catching Prince's home runs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

MANNY PARRA THROWS PERFECT GAME

Brewer pitching prospect Manny Parra threw a perfect game for the Nashville Sounds tonight in only his second start with the team. Read the game story HERE.

If he can finally put together a full season without injury, we might have another pitcher to add to the bottleneck that the Brewers' starting five has become. Congrats Manny! Hope to see you in Brewer blue soon.

Brewers sign top draft pick LaPorta

This Week's Random Brewer!

Since no one got last week's Brewer, here's a really easy one...enjoy!

This Week's Random Brewer:




And the Answer Is...

Rob Deer


Last Week's Brewer:

Edwin Nunez

Seven deep — A good problem to have

With Chris Capuano set to come off the DL any day and Yovani Gallardo pitching well, the Brewers have a tough decision to make regarding roster spots.

It's fair to say that Gallardo has earned a spot with his two starts, but that's not always the way it works. It's important for young pitchers to not go much more than 25 to 30 innings over their previous career highs. Gallardo would all but certainly go over that number if he started the rest of the season, especially if the Brewers need him in the playoffs. Since he has pitched so well, it's hard to send him back to Nashville, but we don't want him to turn into next year's Jered Weaver, who missed time late last season and over two stints already this season with injuries after going far over his career-high in innings in 2006. I just hope the higher-ups have a plan in place. Since I love his stuff and what he brings to the team, I'd propose using him as the fifth starter and skipping him when the team has an off day. He could pitch a couple innings out of the pen if needed in those cases too.

If Gallardo stays on the team and Capuano comes back up, some more roster shifting will have to take place. As has been discussed in past posts, Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan have their spots locked up. Capuano is also all but assured a spot in the starting rotation due more to the fact that he is the only lefty starter the Brewers own than to how well he's been pitching. That leaves Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas fighting for a spot in the rotation. I've already made it clear that I think Vargas is better suited for the bullpen than Bush in previous posts. The fact that Bush has simply been pitching better than Vargas lately makes it an even easier decision in my mind.

We know what Vargas is: A low-end starter who will not go more than six innings (and usually will fall short of that mark) while posting a high 4 or low 5 ERA. He's done it for four seasons before this one in the big leagues, while never hitting 200 innings and posting his best ERA (4.34) in his first major league season in 2003. His 4.01 ERA and 6-1 record this year will most likely end up much closer to his career averages by the end of the year (and his ERA has already begun creeping up). Right now he's a pitcher that is a burden on the bullpen since he can't go deep into the game, but with his propensity to get out of jams, he could be a help to a struggling bullpen.

Dave Bush simply has more upside than Vargas. Last season was his first as a full-time starter and second serving mainly as a starter. He posted a 4.41 ERA (better than all but Vargas' first season) while leading Brewers pitchers in wins with a 12-11 record in 2006. His 166 strikeouts were good enough for 25th in MLB, tied with Houston ace Roy Oswalt. Bush was also an innings hog, going 210 innings. He had three complete games in 2006 while Vargas has zero career complete games. Yes, he has struggled this season, but he has thrown two straight quality starts and three out of five. Bush is tied with Vargas with six quality starts on the year. Bush's ERA will continue to come down (it's dropped a half run over his last two starts alone) and he will start to collect more wins. As he continues to develop as a MLB starter, he will prove to be a much more valuable hurler than Vargas.

If the Brewers shift Vargas to the pen, someone has to go. The decision will probably come down to Chris Spurling or Jose Capellan. Since Brian Shouse is a lefty, he's pretty safe. Francisco Cordero, Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise and Carlos Villanueva's jobs also seem safe. Spurling has a decent ERA, but has given up runs in key situations and seems to get hit hard. Capellan has a better upside, but has also been unreliable. Vargas could fill either of their roles as a middle relief man who can go long. I would send Spurling down, especially since Capellan has not really had an opportunity to prove himself since he's only pitched 11 innings so far this season.

That leaves Villanueva in the pen for now. As I've said before, he deserves a spot in the rotation. But I'm not sure the team should shift two guys out of the rotation at once and Villanueva is valuable to the bullpen, which has been the Brewers' biggest weakness. Injuries are inevitable and Villanueva will get his shot at starting again. He could be the Brewers third best starter right now (behind Sheets and Gallardo) so it'll be hard to hold him down long. Bush should get two more starts before the all-star break. If he pitches poorly, the Brewers could shuffle the rotation at the break and come out with Villanueva starting and Bush joining Vargas in the pen.

In the end, having seven viable big league starters is a great problem to have and as the trade deadline looms, the Brewers should look to use that to their advantage. Vargas could be a valuable piece to a trade that could perhaps bolster the Brewers' bullpen or possibly bring in a full-time starting left fielder (though one or two other outfielders would also have to go in that scenario).

So, there it is: Cappy placed back in the rotation, Gallardo stays up and Vargas is sent to the pen. Since it took approximately four hours for the Brewers to do the exact opposite of what I suggested the last time I made a long, involved post, I expect to see Bush in the bullpen later tonight...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Odd Mang Out: The Legion of Six

I'm going to go ahead and quickly sum up the extremely heralded (and lengthy) off day featurette, "What Ever Happened to...?" in a few sentences.

Former Brewers hurler Ricky Bones was once an All-Star and even appears on rare the still-valuable "Gold Rush" baseball card. He is now the pitching coach for the Binghampton Mets and probably snags a bunch of road trim, if he isn't married. Satisfied?

I skipped over nostalga today in favor of getting down to some brass tacks. With Gallardo now up in the bigs and already performing to the tall expectations that preceeded him into Miller Park, and Cappy coming off the DL in not too long, arguably the best problem a team can face is now bestowed to the Crew.

Which talent five take the bump at game's beginning and what unlucky soul joins fellow should-be starter Villa in the bullpen?

Let's go down the line, shall we?
Sheets? I won't even waste my time there.
Suppan? As if. For that kind of skrill with Soup's take my time to settle in-type of stuff, he'd be like the 2007 version of Dave Burba in the pen, with 5 times the salary.
Cappy? No. Him coming back into the fold from the DL causes this whole fiasco, there's not way.
Gallardo? Maybe, but sometime tells me here's in the rotation to stay. I'm sure many would agree.
Vargas? That would be one of the more popular choices. He's not flashy, as Joe said, he's great with runners on base... a great relief quality, but he's earned that fifth spot since he was battling it out with Villanueva in spring training and in my opinion, he's held it down quite nicely. I say keep him

My unfortunate choice for the odd man out is one David Bush. He just hasn't been great this year. He's had some great showings, but in all... he's the shakiest piece to the rotation's puzzle. He could improve volumes in the pen, plus with more than half a season left, he would undoubtedly start again eventually either due to injury or ineffectiveness by one of his counterparts. Plus he's one of our top stikeout pitchers. My one worry would be his shakey first innings now and then, which should he come on in relief during the 6th or 7th frame, would be HIS first inning of work. In all, it's a tough call... but I like Gallardo up, but only as a starter. When Capuano is healthy again, I think we'll be seeing Mr. Bush blowing bubbles back in the pen.

I'm curious to whether others agree with this sentiment?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Get rid of Yost? ... I'll keep my trust in Melvin

Reading Bryan's post got me a little riled up. Here is the thing ... Ned Yost does make some "interesting" decisions that I do not agree with fairly often, but I think we are far away from calling for Ned's neck, or job. People, including local sports radio guys, constantly find things to be upset at Yost about. (Bryan's example is great) Very rarely, however, does anyone have a good point. I find myself questioning, on nearly a daily basis, if these callers or even radio guys (see the Fan in Green Bay/Fox Cities) know ANYTHING about baseball. I heard one guy call in today and call for Ned's job because he didn't pull Vargas after two batter's in the fifth inning. Yeah, he started to struggle, but you don't pull a fairly proven Major League pitchers after two batters in the fifth inning after giving up no runs and two hits in the first four innings. Plus, his ERA and average against with runners on is incredible. Of course, Vargas doesn't get out of it (one of the rare times this year) and that proves that Yost should be fired. Okay. These comments drive me nuts. Think about what you are going to say and/or ask someone who actually knows a thing or two before opening your mouth.

Yost has made some bad decisions and will undoubtably make more, but when it comes down to it, I'm not calling for Ned until Melvin does. Go Brewers!

P.S. Since I post about once very few weeks, I'm sure I won't post before this weekend's series. Look for the RFB flag in the general lot Saturday and Sunday and stop by!

Been a Long Time...

-Since the Rock and Roll? Since The Brewers have been on a Winning Roll? Does that work?...Anyway, some opinions and thoughts

-For all who complain that the All Star Voting is all about the big names from the big markets and nothing about the actual season, you should all be happy that Prince has surpassed Pujols in votes for NL First Base. It's more than deserved and I hope there is some serious scrill coming Prince's way for doing so well this year, since they couldn't sign him earlier this year and just renewed his previous contract. I also hope for a better slogan for him; "Every Prince Needs His Castle"? Really, that's all we could come up with?

-Speaking of Prince, what hasn't Prince done this year? His offense and defense are tops and the man got an inside the park homer!!! How sweet was that? I'm still looking for that clip on youtube, someone has to have it.

-Who's hoping that we're past the biggest valley of the season? I am

-Who loves watching Cub fans squirm? Seeing them talk on message boards about how trading Barrett might be a good thing makes me laugh. Yes trading away a top catcher for a backup and a class A prospect is always good...Bwahahaha...As Johnny would say: "As If, Cub Fans!"

-Ryan Braun...I didn't realize how much I'd like this kid. He's doing better than I expected and isn't trying to do too much. Brewers have drafted some very mature players (see Fielder, Prince) and Braun is just another quality guy

-If you're going to do the “he’s a bum” chant, at least have the single person yelling out “What’s wrong with number 11?” enunciate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Was wong wif nuh’er elen?”

-Someone needs to let me know how big this movement is, hopefully a product of talk radio and a couple overbearing fans, but are we really calling for Ned's dismissal? Why? Yesterday, on our local sports talk station, a reason they gave for calling for Yost to be fired was the following: He kept Villaneuva in against a left handed hitter. Seriously? They wanted Shouse to come in, but Shouse pitched about 2 innings the night before and Carlos has been the best middle/long reliever so far this year. Villaneuva did his job, got a pop out from this lefty, and that drives them insane about Yost? Nevermind that he has a team that works as a team (unlike the Cubs), has the young talent giving it their all, and is 9 games over .500.

-Since we are extinguishing non-debates, can we put to rest the talk about Sheets not being an ace? We can?!? Thank you.

-Finally, to Tony Gwynn Jr: You did a stand up job and you should not take your assignment as a slap in the face. We'll see you back soon.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This Week's Random Brewer!

This Week's Random Brewer:




And the Answer Is...

Edwin Nunez


Last Week's Brewer:

Dave Nilsson

Thursday, June 14, 2007

GALLARDO TO BE CALLED UP

Gallardo to get the call; lefty Capuano poised for DL stint

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

For the birds...

OK, I can't be the only one that is pissed off seeing dozens of seagulls flying all around Comerica Park during baseball games. I know they can't do a lot about it, but it seems like MLB would make them do SOMETHING. It's a joke. Seagulls flying between the pitcher and batter during an MLB game? That shouldn't be happening like it is there.

I also can't be the only one who is praying for a repeat of Randy Johnson vs. bird circa 2001:


Handle it Sheets.

(The violent explosion of feathers is great, but I think my favorite part of the video is the catcher. He has no idea what the hell just happened.)

No Yo Yet, But a Pitching Change Is Needed

As my love for Yovani Gallardo has grown to mythical proportions this season when it was merely at epic proportions last year, it's been hard to resist calling for Yo to toe the mound for the Crew, especially with the struggles of Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas and Chris Capuano and the crafty minor-league ace's roster spot on my fantasy baseball team.

But if I'm anything, and my girlfriend will whole-heartedly agree with this, I'm stubborn. It's not Yo's time. Yes, he is dominating AAA aside from a minor hiccup last week, but there's one huge problem with inserting him into the rotation: He's young and has to be on a strict pitch count. There is no way he would be able to start for the rest of the season in Milwaukee without shattering his career high for innings-pitched (145 last year) and jeopardizing injury, especially if the team makes the post-season. Handing him the ball now could be a ticket to another career of injuries for a highly-touted Brewers pitching prospect. Plus, the Brewers are still in first place and he's getting more seasoning in AAA. There's no need to panic. He's 21-years-old. Pitching prospects are no guarantee (look at "can't miss" Tim Lincecum's spotty start so far in the Majors for proof). Sit back, watch Gallardo embarrass some more minor-league hitters as he progresses and imagine what it'll be like to watch him put up those gaudy Nashville numbers in a Brewers uniform.

I do have a shake-up in mind for the Milwaukee pitching staff though and it was cemented tonight. Carlos Villanueva should be a starter. I felt that way before the season, despite Vargas' relatively good spring, and I feel even stronger about it now. What does he have to prove? He's been outstanding whenever he has had the chance to show it. Yes, he has been a much-needed long man in the bullpen, but Vargas could take over that role and he might even be better suited for it. The guy gives up hits to the tune of a .358 average with no runners on, but only allows a .200 average against with runners on, including a ridiculous .077 average with the bases loaded. Does that not scream relief pitcher? Villanueva, on the other hand, shut down the Detroit Tigers' powerful offense for five innings while rarely running into even a hint of trouble in his unexpected start tonight.

The bullpen does still need help and if it doesn't improve or isn't fixed with a trade or two in the next couple months, then it's time to call up Gallardo, for relief. That way the team can control his innings while still improving the team. His electric stuff would be intimidating out of the pen and if the team needs a spot starter, he'll be a prime candidate.

Villanueva and Gallardo are the Brewers' future. One half of that future should start now.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This Week's Random Brewer!

This Week's Random Brewer:




And the Winner Is...

Dave Nilsson



Last Week's Brewer:


George Canale

Thursday, June 7, 2007

LaPorta to Success: A Hopeful Leftfield Transition

Let's face it, Prince is pushing 23 now. He's not going to be around forever. That's why I was overjoyed to see the Crew use a highly-sought seventh selection on Matthew LaPorta, a first baseman just as old.

Wait, I sometimes forget that it's difficult to detect online sarcasm. When I, one of the 12 people who watched MLB First Year Player Draft, heard Matt LaPorta's name called, I uttered a mighty "Whaaaaaaa?"

Why not a pitcher? Why not now Mariner future-stud Aumont? Why a player Prince's age who plays his position? Then I listened on, admittedly not exactly a Baseball America expert, and realized that LaPorta is a hard-hitting, seemingly mallable athelete who shouldn't be tough to sign... experienced and fairly proven to boot.

As a Melvin disciple, I trust the crazy moustachioed Canadian and that brilliant mind of his. LaPorta played catcher in high school, he could move to third (also occupado with young talented stud with seemingly no ceiling) or my hope, he could slide to left field when the time comes (should it ever). So for now, I'm excited to see how things work out, though it will likely be a long time.

Other first day Brewer draftees include:
101 Lucroy, Jonathan U Louisiana Lafayette C
131 Farris, Eric Loyola Marymount U 2B
161 Gindl, Caleb Pace HS CF

With another day and 45 rounds left of picks, let's hope to see some pitchers on the draft board as well as a plethora of other potential superstars and low-rounders eager to prove their worth.

What are your thoughts on the first four selections? I'd like to see what other fans think.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

And With the Seventh Selection...

Tomorrow marks a beautiful day that happens about now each and every year. The Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft is a 50 round rockstravaganza, in which the cream of the high school and collegiate baseball crop is rewarded for their innings upon innings of labor, with a real life Big League contract, albiet usually microscopic and riddled with uncertainty.

For some, tomorrow's selection will just play part to a futile barroom pickup line after years of diminishing oppourtunity is wasted, but for others... hearing their name called will set their future into motion, a baby step in what could be the a Hall of Fame career.

Unlike most drafts, tomorrow's draft will be televised. For the first time ever, MLB Draft preceedings will be aired live on ESPN2. At 1 P.M. Central time, round one will begin. Perennial lovable losers (and 2nd favorite team of two RFBers), the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will pick first, Royals hold the number two pick, the Cubbies will throw too much money at the 3rd pick and the Brewers will select 7th, an unusually late pick for the Crew.

Who will the Brewers take? Pssshhhh, I haven't the slightest idea. Like many fans, I have little to no idea of who's even in the draft, but I must admit...I have been doing a bit of scouting around, in anticipation of welcoming the new to the Crew.

My dream first-rounder: Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Du Versant Gatineau, Quebec
This 6'7'', French-Canadian righty has been projected to go as early as 5th to Baltimore, but I have a good feeling (hope) he may stick around that long. I would love Aumont tossing croussant's in the earned run department as I near my thirties.

Current projections have the Brah'rz taking Jarrod Parker, a high school righty from Indiana. I don't want to leave our pitching future in the hands of two small right-handed high school draftees (see Jeffress last year), though an E.R.A. coming in at lower than one, it'd be tough to pass on him. But, i must say, bring on Aumont or draft a Blue Chip catcher.

Keeping it local: Brian Gerl, RHP, UW-Oshkosh
If I were a GM (I know, nothing good ever comes of this precursor), I would spend a mid round pick, somewhere between rounds 16 and 30 on a promising local boy. Fans love it, it would make the kid's life to play for his hometown team and he would try to pay it back tenfold. Drafted or not, Racine's Rottino is tearing it up, fellow 'Kosh Titan crusher Ned Yost IV isn't doing too bad either, though he also wasn't drafted, but instead signed prior to the draft. Matt Erickson and Alan Simpson both suited up in the pro unies as well. Like each of those names, Gerl is no pity pick. He posted a 5-3 record with 2.97 ERA in 26 appearances last season. Oh yeah, he also led the NCAA is saves.

With 50 rounds and an immense talent pool, it is nearly impossible to predict many of the Crew's draft picks, but I implore you to watch the telecast so that this oppurtunity can continue in the future and maybe, just maybe...we'll all have a better idea of who's out there before their names are called.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

This Week's Random Brewer!

Sorry it's a day late, we were at the game Monday. It was a fun day, but it could have used a Brewer Win. Without further adieu...

This Week's Random Brewer:




And the Answer Is...


George Canale


Last Week's Brewer:

Pete Vuckovich

Monday, June 4, 2007

CUB KILLER SHIRTS!

Kick the Cubs fans out of Milwaukee in style. Right Field Bleachers now offers shirts in our popular Cub Killer design.


The shirts are available online HERE, but if you're going to the game tonight you can get one before the masses. We'll be in the general parking lot in front of Gantner Gardens. Look for our flag pole with a Brewers flag and a Right Field Bleachers logo flag like this:

The shirts are $12 and are available in sizes Youth Medium, Small, Medium, Large, XL, 2XL and 3XL. Get these while you can. The first order will probably go fast.

Come say hi, buy some sweet threads and share a beer with us before the Brew Crew stomps the Cubs.

GO CREW!

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