Archive for October, 2007

First Great Move of the Offseason

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Ted Simmons

Let me be the first to welcome new Milwaukee Brewers Bench Coach Ted Simmons on board.

In a surprise move, the former Brewers’, Cardinals’ and Braves’ catcher is joining the Brewers staff in a position that was not even thought to be open. Bench Coach Dale Sveum agreed to move back to third base, the job he filled in 2006, and “Simba” will take over in the dugout.

I absolutely LOVE the decision.

Ted Simmons instantly improves the baseball IQ in the dugout exponentially. The catcher, who was the team leader of the 1982 Brewers, oozes baseball knowledge. Anyone who caught his in-game conversation with Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson this past season knows exactly what I’m talking about. I always liked Simmons, but I came away from that interview knowing that he was a truly special baseball mind. His know-how is exactly what this young team needs. In fact, Yost himself, as a young player, looked to Simmons as a mentor on those 1980s Brewers teams. I hope and believe that Yost will rely on and trust Simmons’ advice for in-game decisions, a department Yost admits he has struggled in.

It was somewhat surprising to me that Simmons was even interested in the job. The man is extremely well respected all around baseball for his personality and know-how, but he has never coached. He has worked in front offices since almost immediately after he retired and even served as the Pittsburgh Pirates GM for a season in the early ’90s before a heart attack forced him to resign. That he would decide to dump his cushy front office job for the demanding, thankless job of bench coach says two things to me: 1. He wants to be closer to the game he loves. 2. He’s going to give everything he has to the job.

Simmons has the potential to be a difference maker for a young Brewers squad. I look forward to seeing what he can do.

End of the Year Reflection

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

What a year! It may not have ended the way we wanted it to, but it still was a fun summer. Plus we can be glad about two things: One - The Mets collapse was bigger than ours, so no one is focusing on that. Two - Cubs getting swept. Cubs fans will say “well at least we made it”. Um…I’d rather not make it than be embarrassed in front of the nation. That’s like getting a seat on prom court only because your entire class wanted to point at you and laugh at how cursed you are. I’d rather be the one doing the laughing.

Anyway, it’s always interesting to take a look back at the start of the year, what you thought and felt at the time, and find out if what you thought/said was right…or a load of BS.

I said…the Cubs were cursed by SI.
What Happened…well, they beat us to the postseason, but laid an egg. We were more cursed…cursed by ESPN the Magazine. Ben Sheets did an article about the 10 things everyone should know about the Brewers. THAT SAME WEEK, he went out with an injury. Later in the year, Prince was on the cover and the Brewers lost their first place rank.

I said…Rickie needing cortisone shots at the beginning of the year was a red flag
What Happened…Rickie had a very disappointing year mostly due to that nagging injury. I also said that I felt good about Graffy. That feeling ended in April…

I said…Having Counsell and Graffanino at third scared me and Counsell wasn’t going to work
What Happened…They were so bad, we brought up Braun early (but not early enough apparently). I could go for hours about how disappointed I am in Counsell, but I won’t.

I said…Jenkins is due for a .280-.290 year
What Happened…He did well early and tailed off. He also never got his September hot streak.

I said…JJ Hardy would bounce back and have a good year
What Happened…He had an unreal first half, and tailed off in the second half (well, it’s his first full healthy season…what did you think would happen?) He still had a very good year.

I said…We’ll find out who the real Brady Clark is
What Happened…We did…he’s a journeyman

I said…Astro’s would fold over the lack of talent in their pitching staff
What Happened…The Astro’s folded because of a lack of talent in their pitching staff and a half-asleep Lance Berkman

I said…I like the Dessens Deal
What Happened…I didn’t like the Dessens deal, not that Clark did much anyway

I said…Ann Carrol was bad bad bad.
What Happened…After a small controversy, no one had to worry about what I thought about her because she seemingly disappeared two months into the season. No search party was formed. (C’mon, who didn’t love Davey Nelson and CC do their post game in the RFB)

A couple more thoughts I’ve had about the Brewers and Wisconsin Sports in General:

We better resign Linebrink or else the Linebrink deal is going to tick me off all winter. He wasn’t worth the three pitching prospects we gave for him. Couldn’t we have gotten Heath Bell???

Capuano probably needs surgery. Is that what happened this year? He went from possible ace to trade bait. We need a lefty and I really like the guy so I hope we keep him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we traded him.

If the Yankees cut Rivera loose, I think they’ll try to get Cordero. It’s a hunch/nightmare I had.

What happened to the Badgers Defense? Wow, it’s disgusting. I didn’t think they lost too many people on defense, but they must have been important after all. Another week of this and I’ll be asking for UW basketball to start early.

The Bucks signed Yi. I think I’ll pay attention to the Bucks for…meh…a month now. Mostly to prove the opinion I have that Yi was the right pick, even if he is anti-Milwaukee.

Packers 5-1!!! Didn’t think it would happen. Still can’t believe it happened, but I’m really happy it did. It made missing out on the playoffs a lot easier to get over. The Badgers, however, are killing my buzz….

Ryan Pickett…underrated Packer of the year so far.

Burning Questions

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

As we head into the offseason, there are many burning questions that will make this a most interesting winter:

1) How much is Coco’s Price Tag going to be? Can we afford him? The answers don’t look very promising. Some people have said that Coco is going to give the Brewers a price cut for resurrecting his career, but that rarely happens. I hope they keep him, because our fans with high blood pressure can’t have Turnbow as closer again.

1a) What will happen with the pitching? We traded 3 prospects for Scott Linebrink. This might end up as a rare Melvin miss. Thatcher was very good in limited time for the Padres and we haven’t seen Inman yet. What we did see was an unreliable Scott Linebrink that will probably sign with the Padres in the offseason. The team loves him, he loves the team, his family is still there…it doesn’t look good retaining him. If we lose Cordero too, it means we have Turnbow, Wise, Vargas, Shouse, and Villanueva (Who should be a starter next year). The other starters will be Sheets, Gallardo, Suppan, and Bush/Capuano. That is, of course, if nothing happens. I have a sneaking feeling that the Brewers will get some pitchers. I think they will trade for a relief pitcher, hopefully a closer if Cordero doesn’t get resigned, and probably sign a pitcher. I don’t think starting pitchers will go as high as last winter, especially with the mediocre-ness of Barry Zito. Relief Pitching might get very pricey though…

2) Will Jenkins be a Brewer? I think the Brewers will deny his option and try to sign him for less. He knows he doesn’t deserve a raise (especially after NOT getting his September hot streak for the first time in years…you know…when we finally needed it). With all the high talent free agent outfielders this offseason, Jenkins runs the risk of being overlooked. I don’t think he wants to leave the town and the Brewers will give him a fair deal. He’ll be an excellent veteran presence off the bench next year.

3) Do we really have to suffer another year with Craig Counsell? Yes. How bad does the Counsell signing look right now? Not only did we sign him for millions, but we had to sign Tony Graffanino too, who is a slightly better Craig Counsell, but pretty much the same player. Since we had those two, we cut loose Cirillo because we didn’t know what would happen with Koskie. That was bad enough. After Craig Counsell hitting .220 this year, being the opposite of clutch for the most part, and not having a strong enough throwing arm for shortstop much less third base, it’s worse. I respect Counsell and what he’s accomplished in his career, but he was more of a liability than an asset, especially with Yost pinch hitting him every other game. Next year, our infield bench is going to be Dillon and Counsell, unless something changes.

4) Which Rickie Weeks will we get next year? The healthy one you saw at the end of the year. As Joe has said, he has hit at every level except this year. How can you not believe he won’t hit again once healthy?

5) How will the Outfield Shake Out? You can count on Corey Hart and Bill Hall in the outfield. What happens to the rest? Jenkins or Gross will start if nothing changes. Both those scenarios scare me. One of the RFB’ers has said he’s excited to start Gross, but I’m not. I forsee him being as streaky as Jenkins with worse defensive skills. I think we’ll lose Gwynn, Mench, or both to a trade. Laynce Nix will be, as always, pretty good in AAA and pretty bad in the majors.

6) Will they spend the money? Yes, but proceed with cautious optimism. Look at the big deals last winter and how many of them flopped. It’s sad, but the best free agent acquisition over the winter was probably Ted Ninny, er Lilly.

Feel free to post questions (or answers) for any burning questions you may have…


Saturday, October 6th, 2007

As disappointing as the Brewers’ season turned out to be, at least they won the same amount of playoff games as the Cubs… Thanks D-Backs.

Insomniac Ink