Archive for April, 2007

Some thoughts….

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

So the Crew is 14-8 and looking damn good. I just have a few quick thoughts. Here it goes:

  • I watched the game last night with Jared and afterwards he made a good comment. He said, “Joe, I like seeing the Brewers winning these kinds of games. They never used to.” I couldn’t agree more. How many close games have the Brewers lost over the past few years? It seems like they never won the close games, and now they are pulling them out. I love this team because they can be up against one of the best starting pitchers in the league like Roy Oswalt, get dominated for six or seven or even eight innings, and I still feel like I can safely expect them to score runs. As long as the game is within a few runs, this team always has a chance to win.
  • Think about the last handfull of series’. Going back to the series they lost to the Cubs at Miller and looking forward. They won the series against the Marlins 2-1 and tied the series’ against the Cardinals and Reds 1-1 leading to a winning road trip. The Brewers came back to Milwaukee and swept the Pirates in a two game series. Then they beat the Astros 2 games to 1 making it a 4-1 home stand. Then they go on the road and win the series at Wrigley 2-1. A win tonight or tomorrow means yet another series win, and on the road non-the-less. Awesome!
  • Outfield platoon is kicking ass, period.
  • Starting pitchers may not be dominating a ton of games, but they keep giving the Crew chances to win.
  • Last but not least, the Brewers don’t have a single person that is standing out as an All-Star this season yet. Now, many might ask why I think this is good. Here’s why: This means the Crew is playing team ball. Everyone is contributing. Plus, we know there are a handful of guys on this team that could potentially be all-stars, or have been. JJ could be an All-Star this season, and so far looks like he may be the best bet, besides probably Fransisco Cordero. Bill Hall and Prince will be All-Stars in the very near future. I don’t think many would argue that.

Game two of the Brewers-Astros series starts in an hour. Go Crew! I’m feeling good!

Soiled Sheets: A Familiar Feeling

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

“I don’t think it seems severe at all,” he said. “I could see it coming down to two days, but what do I know? [The medical staffers] seem to think the same thing.”

Those words should strike little fear into the heart of a baseball fan, when uttered by the undisputed staff ace, yet… when said ace wears a 15 on his back and goes my the catchy moniker of “Big Ben,” the words are accompanied with a bit of doubt.

The injury endured by Sheetser in Wednesday’s 9-3 walloping didn’t seem to look very bad to me, but with Benny’s grocery list of previous debilitations, I sit just a bit weary and, frankly, a tad afraid. Sure, injuries are a natural part of any long, trying season AND this is a mere groin pull, so I’m not crying just yet. For any gamer lacking the names Wood or Gagne, maybe one to two starts will be missed (if any), and the rest of the rotation (beyond Dr.Jeckyl/Mr.Vargas) has been epic against formidable division foes.

I, not surprisingly, just hope Sheets can stay of the DL for most of, if not the entire season. He’s been a mainstay on such a trecherous list since early 2K5, the year after his Cy Young-calibur season in which his outstanding/inning consuming performances were plagued with a plethora of 1-0 or 2-1esque losses. The run support is finally here Bennyhana, just be yourself, stay as healthy as you can and the season of your life will be delivered.

p.s. Way off the subject, but still somewhat relevant… There are few things I love more than seeing Tony Graffanino’s average climb 33 points, with three hits in the last two games. Those stats are not extremely flashy, but solid… just like him, “Mr.Yoga” himself.

Some “Stories” We May Have Missed:

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Ben Hendrickson plays second fiddle to Jorge de la Rosa….again.

With de la Rosa finally showing some of his promise in the big leagues, Ben Hendrickson is in AAA with a 6.75 ERA. It has been rumored that Hendrickson and Dewon Brazelton have become best buds because of their uncanny inability to be effective in the majors.

Chris Spurling to Jose Capellan: “Oh Snap!”

With Doug Melvin basically saying “You missed your chance Capellan. Now wait some more and this time, quit being such a teet baby”, Chris Spurling was seen saying “Oh Snap” to Capellan before heading to Milwaukee.

J.J. Hardy shows the league he is not eye candy for the ladies.

Hardy is hot…with the bat. Pitchers are underestimating the young SS because, as one pitcher said, “he’s just so darn cute”.

In “Let’s Keep It Up Brah’z” News:

Jenkins is hitting very well and Rickie is fielding very well. Maybe Rickie should show Graffanino his defensive practice routine. (Note: I wrote this before last night’s game, but he’s still doing quite well)

Cordero and Turnbow Poll Batters to Find Out Who’s Slider is “Nastier”

These two outstanding relievers for the Brewers have been nothing short of dominating. But what started as a simple statement by Matt Wise has turned into a full blown study. “I just said ‘The only thing more scary than salad tongs right now are Coco’s sliders. Derrick totally took it the wrong way.” Now it seems that both pitchers are trying to strike out the batters using just the slider on strike three, then handing the batter with a brief questionnaire. We obtained Mark DeRosa’s questionnaire, but it was only a mish-mash of excuses and distasteful language.

Finally, In Other Wisconsin Sports News:

- Bucks in position for another lottery pick. This would make them relevant for at least 3 months again, which is something the Bucks haven’t been since their last lottery pick.

- The Draft is coming up for the Pack. Everyone thinks the Pack will get Lynch. I think Lynch will be gone by the time we pick, so I really have no idea where the Packers will go if he’s not around.

- Wisconsin Basketball fans excited that Oden and Conley Jr. are going to the NBA. It’s been reported that Bo Ryan was at the State Street Bar and Grill and offered drinks on the house. The only Wisconsinite not happy is Alando Tucker, since it hurts his draft position even more.

- Matt Kenseth is still blacklisted in the Left-Turn Automobile Club. When he wins a race, it’s not news. I believe this happens because he’s a “Northy”. When Stewart or Earnhardt finish in the top 10, it’s a top ESPN story. I can’t stand Nascar.

Serious Guts

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Geoff Jenkins


This game was set up for disaster from the start. The Cubs jumped out to a two-run lead in the first at Wrigley with their ace, Carlos Zambrano, on the mound. They add two more in the third before a Rickie Weeks fielding error and Claudio Vargas gets taken out of the game after four innings with the Crew down three. Zambrano is dealing, the Crew can’t get anything going and the middle relievers, who have been brutal all year, have to carry the game into the late innings. Game over.

Not this time.

Trust me, I’d like to say I knew they’d come back, but I had it chalked up as a loss. The Brew Crew showed some serious guts tonight and the story was the bullpen. Elmer Dessens, who took a 9 E.R.A into the game and had given up runs in four of six appearances on the year including his last three, pitched two scoreless innings. Chris Spurling, who was just called up from AAA to replace the reeling Greg Aquino, got an out between an infield pop that dropped between a charging Prince Fielder and Johnny Estrada and a walk, but Brian Shouse and Matt Wise bailed him out with huge outs to end the inning. (Estrada left the game after a slight collision on the bunt pop-up play and is day-to-day with a knee injury). And, in easily the best performance of the night, Carlos Villanueva, who had a 6.75 E.R.A. coming in and hadn’t pitched more than an inning all year, threw four scoreless frames despite starting out with a four-pitch walk and having base runners in all but one of the four innings. (Geoff Jenkins gets a huge assist for making an incredible diving catch to end the eighth inning on a ball that would have scored at least one.) Then Derrick Turnbow came in for the 12th to finish the game for his first save since last July.

The whole time the bullpen was taking care of business the Brewer hitters were clawing back into it. Tony Gwynn Jr. singled in Gross with a clutch pinch hit in the fifth after J.J. Hardy’s home run in the fourth (his sixth on the year tying him with Barry Bonds for second in the NL). Prince Fielder hit a ball a mile high and just deep enough to get out to straight away center for an eight inning solo shot followed later in the inning by Counsell’s single to plate Damian Miller and tie the game. And then Prince came up huge again in the top of the 12th with the game-winning home run that just cleared the baskets over the vines on right field wall.

It’s also worth noting that Ned Yost had to make several tough, strategic decisions during the game and almost all of them panned out. He’s been taking a lot of heat this season, especially for how he’s managed the bullpen. I didn’t agree with everything he did tonight, but I can’t argue with the results.

Yes, this was a win in April, but it was a big win for a team that is now winning the division by two games and is surging. And the shot of confidence the bullpen received was sorely needed. This was a huge W for a young team over a division rival at their place. (On a side note, the fact that Villanueva did not earn Brewers player of the game honors on FSN was a joke in my opinion even though Fielder did come up huge in the game…)

The Brewers will have a tough match-up against Rich Hill tomorrow. He’s been nearly unhittable so far this season (3-0 with a .41 E.R.A. including a start in which he gave up one run in seven innings in Milwaukee). Let’s snap his winning streak and push our own winning streak to four!

P.S. — In the hilarious, but starting to get slightly sad department: Prior to undergo exploratory surgery (MLB.com). From the tone of the article, it seems like a reasonably good bet that he’s done for the year again.

What is Yost thinking?

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

In general, I love Ned Yost, and who am I to judge or question the manager, but what the heck was he thinking during last nights game? There are some times when I just do not understand his moves with pitchers. Why, with a tie game in the 9th inning, with the top half of the order due up in the bottom of the ninth, do you put in an unproven reliever like Greg Aquino and not your closer? As soon as he brought Aquino in, I knew there would be trouble. Obviously, I am no Ned Yost, but I do think I know the game of baseball pretty damn well. I think, you give your team the best chance to win by bringing in your closer in the top half of the ninth, give up no runs and let your offense try to score ONE run for the win. If they don’t score, fine, put another reliever in. I just had to rant because that move really does not make any sense to me at all. Oh…and another question: Why do you run Tony Gwynn in the bottom of the ninth when there are no outs, he is the only runner on, and you need to score 4 runs? To give the team a better chance of scoring one run and losing by less? Yeah, Gwynn stole second, but if he’s thrown out, you’re doing the other team a favor and giving them an out. Okay. I’m done ranting. I have to head up north for Jared’s bash. Sorry again for the lack of news posts this weekend. I’ll hit you up Monday morning. Go Crew!

Vargas Ignites, Powers Crew Past Buccos

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Here’s a riddle for you:
Which No.5 starter for a mid-market team, who was thrown in the Johnny Estrada deal, has struck out 22 in a mere 13 innings of work?

The answer:
CLAUDIO VARGAS!

Vargas threw cheese once again last night. The small crowd in attendence was fanned by 11 K’s, most of the “you totally fooled me, I’m frozen in place and cannot swing” variety. Despite the 11 K’s and the, now, overall ERA of 3.46 and a mere two walks registered, I turned off last night’s game most impressed with how dear Claudio worked out of that no outs, bases loaded jam. That was a pivitol moment early on and, in my eyes, laid the foundations for a Brewer victory.

I realize it’s still early. I mean Ian Kinsler is second in the bigs in homers! There is a chance that Claudio can fall back down to earth and become…well… Claudio Vargas again, but with a formidable 5 starter like him, who has improved in each of his three appearances thusfar, the Beer-makers might take a lot of games similar to last nights. Vargas can out pitch pretty much every fifth starter in the league, most fourths. Never in recent history have I loved a Brewer rotation as much as I love this one.

Of course, Vargas giving up 3 runs in 6 innings wouldn’t have brought him a victory if it wasn’t for the offense. I loved seeing hitters pull the ball, two out hits, agressive base-running and coming through with RISP. Hall is starting to heat up (through he still ranges from phenomenal to childish in CF) and players are doing what they need to do (i.e. Gwynn’s awesome infield single). Jenks and Mench are even both producing whenever they play, my God, I’m just really happy with the past few games, excluding Tuesday. Let’s hope Soup can cement the sweep this afternoon and we can maintain our ascent toward post-season play… game by game.

Expect a drop off in blog entries over the next few days…if a drop off is even possible from this dead snail pace we’ve been keeping lately. Jared turns 25 tomorrow and the RFB crew as well as a group of others are going to celebrate in grand fashion until Sunday, when 4/5 of the RFB will be in attendence to witness the sweep of the ‘Stros, followed by Carlos Lee crying, drying his eyes with fistfulls of money, then binge-eating cold cuts from the locker room spread due to stress.

Holding it down in NC

Monday, April 16th, 2007

It has been way too long since I’ve blogged. Opening week I think. I am lame and apologize. I am currently in North Carolina visiting my parents. I was very disappointed to find that the local Greensboro Grasshoppers will not be hosting the Brewers Single-A affiliate West Virginia Power while I am here. I did stay in Charleston, WV on the way here, and the Power did have a game; however, I am on the trip with a friend who isn’t really a baseball fan. Horrible, I know, but at least he doesn’t like soccer. Anyway, I have a few things to say about the Crew. Here it goes:

1) We are all still waiting for Sheets to find his stuff. It is way way too early to freak out though. I’m sure he will come around soon. I hope so.

2) I will be satisfied if the Brewers can split the series with the Reds today and tomorrow. This will mean a winning road trip for the Crew. When is the last time that happened? Of course, two wins would be better.

3) I was excited to find out that, here in the Greensboro, NC area, FSN South carries Cincinnati Reds games. I’ll be able to watch the Crew tonight. I’ll miss the game tomorrow; however, as we are traveling to the wondrous Atlantic Ocean.

4) Where is the Bill Hall of last year? We have yet to see half the man that was Bill Hall last year.

5) On a final, completely non-Brewers note, thank you Ian Kinsler for carrying my fantasy team to a 11-1 performance last week while Soriano and ManRam do nothing for my team. Jeff Derks can eat a ****.

That’s all I have for now. I can’t wait for Jared’s huge quarter century party and the Brewers defeating the Astros this coming Sunday.

It’s Always the Quiet Ones…

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Almost silently, the Brewers have won four straight games, without even registering a blip on the radar. Albiet these four wins have come in seven days due to rain outs, postponements, etc… they are still wins. Better yet, these wins are some of the more quality variety, not your typical 2007 Washington Nationals “I don’t know how we won, but we did” sort of wins.

Every starter has registered at least five innings during this streak (and I believe in every game this year, minus the Dave Bush implosion against the Cubs), even Vargas has looked pretty damn good pitching on odd days rest at the back end of the rotation. With such a shakey and fairly young bullpen, marking every starter’s punch card with five innings, if not six or seven, is great.

Once again, the bats are pretty quiet. Sir William Hall hasn’t stroked one of his gorgeous dingers since opening day, Prince isn’t exactly following the blueprints of what a three hitter ought to be. Maybe I’m just optimistic seeing four consecutive W’s, but that’s okay. When the big guns of Prince, Billy and Geoff go silent, Hardy and Weeks produce at the dish. As long as they can keep two to three guys hot, if not just warm, with the stick… the good guys are going to return to brew city with a sack of victories.

Today, almost as a gift from some sort of a god above who’s wearing a custom Vinny Rottino jersey he/she ordered on mlb.com, the rainout of Friday has transformed into positive turns of fortune. With Soup’s win over the Card’s staff in a quality outing yesterday…Big Ben is slated to face off against failed closer/converted starter in Braden “Fruit” Looper this afternoon and Capuano will now face a predominatly left-handed hitting Red’s lineup in the Emerald City on Monday.

Let’s hope the Brew Man Group (trademark) can notch a few more wins on this Spartanesque roadtrip before returning home to the greatest ballpark in the world (if you disagree, ask the Indians). With a continuation of quality/inning-eating starts, the placing of 1-2 loadbearers on a hotplate to produce runs and error free ball, that shouldn’t be a problem. We can lose all the series against the Diamondbacks and Padres that we want. This early, and virtually always, it’s more vital to win games against teams in your division.

Today’s Predictions:
Sheets will go 5 and 2/3, allowing two, fanning six.
Estrada will hit his first homer of the season.
The bats will be red-hot and Looper will be tourched.
Somewhere, Jose Capellan will be complaining.
A 6-3 win.

7,8,9 Spells Game Over

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Derrick Turnbow


Last year, with Wise’s injury problems and inconsistency and Turnbow’s brutal season, the end of the bullpen turned into a complete mess, a mess that cost the Brewers a lot of games.

This year, it looks like if the Brewers can carry a lead into the seventh inning, they can pretty much mark one down in the win column. Wise, who will often pitch the seventh inning when the Crew has a lead, has given up one run in 3 1/3 innings, not spectacular, but solid. Meanwhile, Turnbow and Cordero haven’t given up a run in a nine outstanding innings.

In fact, D-Bow and Co-Co have been down right dominate.

Turnbow looks to be returning to his 2005 form after pitching 5 innings and only giving up a hit and, more importantly, allowing only one walk. His breaking ball, which he calls a “slurve,” has been nasty AND in the strike zone and his fastball is sick as it touches the high 90s. I can’t imagine being in the batter’s box knowing D-Bow has a plus fastball and a great off speed pitch. Batters have to sell out on one or the other and that can leave the hitter looking foolish, which has happened often so far this season. Turnbow has struck out nine of the batters he has faced. For those keeping track at home, that’s one out of every two batters he’s gone up against this season. I thank God Melvin didn’t pull the trigger on trading Derrick this off season. His value was extremely low with his terrible 2006 season and relatively high contract. It’s now looking like a good bet that he could return to the closer’s role in 2008 if the Brewers don’t re-sign Cordero.

Cordero has been almost as impressive as Turnbow, giving up one hit in four innings and collecting three saves to go along with seven strikeouts (through 15 batters faced). He has been an imposing presence on the mound since coming to the Brewers after collecting 16 saves with 1.69 ERA on the team last season and looks to be continuing his success this season. He’s confident in the bullpen’s success too as noted in this Journal-Sentinel article:

“I’ve said it before and I’m going to keep saying it. They have put a real good bullpen together here,” said Cordero. “Turnbow has been great, unbelievable. Everybody is pitching good in the bullpen.”

What a difference a year makes… From Brewers fans holding their breaths at the end of games for a huge liability to calm and confidence when holding a lead through six. Hopefully the success continues and the Brew Crew can cash in on more close wins (now if only they could find some clutch hitting…)

The Ann Carroll Rant

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

I just finished watching FSN as the game was postponed for tonight and will pick up tomorrow. I was waiting about 20 minutes to hear if the game was called and who do I get to listen to? Ann Carroll. Wonderful…

I was going to withhold judgment on this person, since it is so early in the year, but she is TERRIBLE. I mean brutally terrible. Brian Anderson has already gotten much better. He still doesn’t get excited and over pronounces names, but he has impressed me with his knowledge and he has a good voice. Ann Carroll doesn’t. Her voice cracks more than most 7th grade boys in a 10 minute period. She seems to be basically just a “pretty” face to stick on the TV. Her segues are clumsy, she stumbles whenever she goes to a break, and her recaps sound like they were written by a twelve year old. “And that ball was well hit” LONG AWKWARD PAUSE “but, uh, caught”. I wish I had TIVO just so I could remember all the inept things she has said and post it. Instead of Bushism’s, we’d have Carrollisms (or Annisms).

The first time I saw her, I was impressed with how terrible she was. If it wasn’t for Davey Nelson, my remote would have been jammed into my ears to stop the pain. She forgets what team she’s talking about, she flubs almost every minute on the air, and it looks like she’s made of plastic.

The Brewers should have known what they were getting. I Googled her name and the second link leads to this:

My two favorite parts: The on court broadcaster shaking his head in disbelief and her going to break saying “What the hell?”

You know it’s bad when a MINNESOTA native can’t remember what sport she’s talking about. You also know it’s bad when a MINNESOTA native loses her job in Minnesota.

I’m all for women calling sports, in fact I wish there were more. But isn’t this a step back? If I was a woman, I’d be ticked at how terrible she is and how she seemingly got her job just by having a good smile, a slender physique, and nothing upstairs. I feel the same way about the terrible Jillian Barberie they have doing the FOX football pregame shows. It’s sad that Suzy Kolber technically has to call Ann Carroll and Jillian Barberie colleagues.

As I said, I tried to withhold judgment because it’s only a week into the year and I do hope (especially for all our sakes) she gets better. But right now, her annoying level is right up there with Sandy Maxx (which I still think is more of a porno name than a PA announcer handle)

Feel free to email any Annisms you hear during the year to bryan@rightfieldbleachers.com and we can make this a semi-regular bashing.

Insomniac Ink