Archive for December, 2007

Brian Shouse: Hero?

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Terminator Shouse

A mixture of Brewers obsession and having way too much time lead me the Web site for The Brian Shouse Fan Club, a light-hearted tribute to everyone’s favorite situational lefty. The site, too, seems to be founded on the principles of, well, Brewers obsession and having way too much time. It’s basically just funny Shouse-related photoshops. Take a look.

Weekly Bunts

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Due to the Holidays, there really wasn’t much new news.

1) Counsell to appear in ballet. In the realm of human interest stories no one cares about, this one tops the week. Apparently, Craig Counsell is taking part in the “Nutty Nutcracker” tomorrow. I’d really be happier with the story “Counsell works to improve depressing batting average”.

2) Brewers are considering Kenny Lofton. Even though it’d be poetic that the 1992 ROY runner-up to Pat Listach would join the team, I’m a little conflicted about the possibility. True, the Brewers could use an actual lead off man. Also true is that he has playoff experience. But the older he gets, the more unstable he’s going to be. I will say this: I’d rather have Kenny than Juan Pierre

3) In NL Central News: The Astros sign Darin Erstad and the Cubs still hope to get Brian Roberts. Do the Astros still not get it? I thought after getting Valverde, they might have wised up. Thankfully they haven’t. You can sign all the former big bats you want, but if your rotation goes from Roy Oswalt to, um, Wandy Rodriguez, you won’t win much (well, once every five games). As for the Cubs, they are the evil empire - Midwest. I’m surprised they aren’t in the Santana Sweepstakes…sheesh.

Brews of prey

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Last Christmas Eve the Brewers made the mid to high profile free agent signing of Jeff Suppan. This Christmas eve, and Christmas elapsed silently, finding Melvin and Co. making no moves. With winter meetings long gone, opening day still about 100 days away and spring training more than six weeks off, this period marks a lull, a patience-trying period in which fans will probably have to wait for an exciting transaction to take place later than sooner.

I fail to believe that Gabe Kapler will be the last player to be brought in before season’s beginning. So until such a groundbreaking transaction is to come to be, the best Brewer fans can do is look at moves made throughout the league and wonder what that says for the Brewers impending roster shakeup.

*Free agent outfielder So Taguchi just inked a one year deal with the Phillies for Gabe Kapler-type money. This says to me either 1. The Brewers are hanging their hat on a Gross/Kapler/Gwynn-like platoon, 2. They are seeking an outfielder via trade, 3. They will move Braun to LF and look into aquiring a 3B via trade.

*Recently, the Reds sent the walking feel-good story Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for a plethora of pitchers, including one the Rangers penciled in to be their No. four or five starter this coming season. Personally, (and I know I’m not alone) this indicates they need to bolster their rotation leaving the Brewers with considerable leverage in a deal involving 3B Hank Blalock (the popular name rumored), sending Braun to LF.

*Free agent hurlers like Silva and Prior ahve also just agreed to terms with the Mariners and Padres respectively, which aludes to the assumption that the numerous other teams that were pursuing one or both of those over-rated arms to seek pitching help elsewhere via trade. There really aren’t many quality pitchers left on the market - so names like Capuano and Vargas are looking a lot better.

In all, nearly each and every move around the league either opens up or cancels out a possibility for the Brewers. Yet, a number of free agents have yet to find homes, so as teams explore those options the club will likely sit wait to see how the chips fall and pounce when the time is right. So keep watching, and do your best to stay occupied and sane in what looks to be a tremendously boring period preceeding what looks to be a great Brewer season.

Weekly Bunts

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Here are some stories that crept through this week:

Matt Wise

- Matt Wise signed by the New York Mets. CBS reported it with the headline “Wise Move”. That is way over done, even by us. So the Mets have our old catcher and our old set up man. Interesting, since Stephen A. Smith believes that the GM for the Mets is a god. If he’s such a god, why is he taking Brewer toss aways? I will say that the Mets did get Wise for a fairly low 1.2 million. Only time will tell who got the better reliever; The Brewers with Mota, or the Mets with Wise. (What a fugly picture, by the way)

- Fernando Vina and Gary Bennett admit HGH use. We all knew Gary Bennett had to be on SOMETHING when he hit a home run in the World Series, but Fernando was a surprise. It was also refreshing to see someone who is sitting comfortably with ESPN admit they were wrong. The only question I have is in reference to this quote: “I never bought steroids from him. All I used was HGH.” You know…no big deal. I mean steroids is bad, but HGH isn’t as bad, right? I’m no ‘roider. I’m a hormoner…The best part about post-Mitchell Report baseball is all the lame quotes from the offenders. “I only used it twice (even though I said I never used it ever)”, “I only used it once”, etc…

Geoff Jenkins

- Geoff Jenkins a Philly. 2 years, 13 million a year with a chance to make it 20 million. Good for Geoff. Again, I plead…do not boo him (unless he does something clutch). He loved Milwaukee and was with the team through the worst years in the franchise. I would welcome him back as an outfield coach with arms wide open.

Gabe Kapler

- Brewers sign Gabe Kapler. As Jim Rome said when he was with the BoSox, Kapler is a “good guy”. He’s a hard worker and will always give it his all. That said, I don’t think he’ll see much time in the Majors unless there are injury issues. He’s a year removed from retirement and is basically a great morale guy for the young ones.

Surprisingly Not Found in the Mitchell Report

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

An Advertisement Taken from Gagne's Locker circa 2003

Replacing number five: Further outfielder outburts

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Rocco Baldelli

Keeping with my suggestion to bring in a corner outfielder, I have two new potential suitors to take Geoff Jenkins’ long-standing place in the Brewers clubhouse. One, fittingly, already wears number five.

With the recent aquisition of veteran free agent Cliff Floyd, the Rays find themself a team with five starting-capable outfielders, and only four spots in which to put them (including DH, crazy American Leaguers!). I assume Floyd will split time between DH and right field, Upton is a lock for center and it’d take a lot to pry Crawford from left — thus the two players that are likely to share time with Floyd are also the most expendable; Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes.

Not that the Rays wish to part with young, homegrown talent to give way to a short-tenured elderstatesman… but their starting rotation, combined with the outfield logjam, may force them to part with one of these players. Kazmir, Shields and the newly aquired Garza allude to a strong pitching staff but there’s a considerable dropoff after that. First overall pick David Price probably won’t be Major League ready right away, so I’m sure they’d at least listen to offers in the way of hurlers.

Capuano for Gomes OR Baldelli seems fair. Vargas and a backup catcher (Rivera) makes sense too. But the Rays aren’t known for their spending and Capuano and Vargas garner 3.5 and 2.5 million respectively, compared to the mere 350 and 750 thousand Gomes and Baldelli are to take in this season. If they aren’t willing to pony up the dough, Dave Bush and another player proves to be the best fit for both clubs.

Yes, Baldelli has been subject to various injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy he presents a blend of speed, defensive skill and even some offensive pop. I’d prefer him, and tend to believe the Rays would be quicker to part with him than Gomes. I’m not saying this will happen, in fact… it probably won’t, but i’ve grown accustomed to cheering for a nearby number five from my cheap outfield seats and this could be an affordable, doable and wise way to ensure that can continue.

Any off the wall propositions of your own? I’d enjoy seeing what others have to say.

To Austin or bust

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

To Austin or bust

In a now barren free agent outfield market that finds names like Shannon Stewart, Barry Bonds and, well, Geoff Jenkins its top hole-fillers, it becomes more evident than ever that, should the Brewers enlist the services of a new corner outfielder or (in case of a Braun infield exile) third baseman, he will come via a trade.

Baseball message boards, trade rumor mills and this blog have been a buzz with potential names suggested to heal what ailes Milwaukee. From outfielders like Teahen and DeJesus to third basemen like Rolen and Blalock, a lot has been proposed with no progress made. But I, a bonified baseball guru… or something, have given this matter much thought and each time am left with one name; Austin Kearns.

Not only does a Kearns aquisition make sense by way of his defensive prowess, his respectable power and low (less than 4MM) salary, the needs of the teams involved, too, indicate this would be a wise transaction. The Nats need pitching. Sure, they have seven options for starters, but only John Patterson has done anything in the bigs, and even that wasn’t much. Plus, reports of them looking at Benson tell of a team in need of quality starters. As we all know, pitching is the one thing the crew finds itself with a definiate surplus of.

The Nats also have an abundance of outfielders. Kearns is slated to be the Opening Day rightfielder, but they just aquired Elijah Dukes and seem intent on him turning his career/life around in Capital city. The club, too, resigned a finally healthy Willy Mo Pena for another two years, traded for unquestioned CF starter Lastings Milledge, resigned Ryan Langerhans PLUS renissanced 1B/OF Dimitri Young might find himself forced to a corner OF spot with the return of Nick Johnson.

This deal makes so much sense to me. I think Kearns would like to play for a pennant without looking over his shoulder, and I have to imagine with Melvin has at least considered this. Capuano or Bush paired with a backup catcher or low-level prospect should do the job. In an offseason wrought with so many names with either so much salary/prior injury or so little upside. I think Austin Kearns is the perfect solution to a sizable hole in an otherwise solid club.

Am I crazy to be drinking so much of this deal’s Kool Aid?

The Return of J.C.?

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Jeff Cirillo

No, not that J.C….

Jeff Cirillo.

The former Brewer who seems to make everyone’s list of top three all-time players to sport the Brew Crew colors reportedly wants back in Milwaukee:

“I still feel like there is some magic when I put on that Milwaukee uniform,” Cirillo told me. “Last season I was up in Minnesota and I kept wondering, ‘what am I doing here?’ I missed Milwaukee. We went down to Milwaukee last season for an inter-league game and I hit a homerun. I love Miller Park and I’d like to be a Brewer again. It’s a great community, and my family and I enjoy getting involved there. But who knows?”

There’s a little more on it here: Brewers: Bring Back Cirillo!

My heart says, “Of course, bring him back!” But I’m not sure he’d have a role on this team. One way it might work is if the Brewers bring in a left-handed third baseman that can’t hit left-handed pitchers, someone like Hank Blalock of the Rangers, who the Brewers are reportedly interested in. Cirillo would be a nice right-handed platoon mate to pair with Blalock.

Someone else would get knocked out of the opening day roster though, unless the Brewers traded two guys off the 25-man roster. If Melvin felt comfortable with Dillon and Gross as the backup outfielders, Gwynn could start the year in Nashville again.

It’s a tough call, but I’d love to see Cirillo in a Brewer uniform again and I’m sure he’d come cheap. It’s hard to pass up on a gritty veteran who is beloved in the community and would bring leadership to a young team.

What do you think?

Weekly Bunts

Friday, December 14th, 2007

We’ll see how long I can hold this up, but I’m going to try and find little stories and angles that haven’t been discussed much throughout the week that deserve at least a little mention.

- Probably the worst thing to happen from the Mitchell Report is that not one single current Cub was named.

- Speaking of our neighbors to the south, something interesting was lost due to the immensity of the Mitchell Report: Mark Prior was non-tendered. The pitcher, who was once considered a Cy Young candidate by Cub fans, was not offered arbitration and the Astro’s are reportedly interested in acquiring him. Well…with a pitching staff THAT terrible, I’d see if I could sign every pitcher on the market. (50 Million for Josh Towers? If anyone would do it, it would be the Astro’s) Personally, I’d like to see Prior go peacefully away from the NL Central and not go the way Clement did: try to make it in the American League and get shellacked.

- Our old friend Geoff Jenkins is allegedly getting a lot of teams interested in him. Basically, all the teams that didn’t get Fukudome, Hunter, or Rowand are now interested in Jenks. Phillies and Padres appear to be the most desperate. Let me just say this, Geoff does NOT deserve to get boo’ed when he comes back to Miller. He took out a big ad in the paper thanking the fans and saying he’d love to come back (perhaps as a coach).

- Since we’ve heard a lot of “what fairly unknown player would I like to see here”, I’ll put in my choice. If the choice would be between Hank Blalock, Scott Rolen, and Andre Ethier, I’d take Ethier. A lot of people are interested in moving Braun. I’m going to stay put my fear. Call it the Bill Hall factor. Moving infielders to the outfield is not as seamless as Soriano made it appear. Ethier would make a great outfielder (and probably a great number one or two in the order). However, it would take way too much to get Ethier; more than what he’s worth. It still is a possibility with the Dodgers having a very full outfield and if the Dodgers trust Matt Kemp. I’d do Capuano and a prospect for Andre. That would be an amazing trade, but probably won’t happen. I wonder if Markakis is available…

- Finally, farewell to gopher ball giving pitcher Greg Aquino. He’s a young player with promise, but no confidence. The Brewers tried to sneak him through waivers and the Orioles snatched him up. For his sake, I hope he can get over his jitters, because otherwise he’ll be throwing meatballs to the Yankees, BoSox, and Blue Jays sluggers instead of the Reds and the Astros.

“EHch-G-EHch”, Eh?

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Well, it is thursday. And as expected, the George Mitchell report was released to the commonwealth. Finally. Like most, I’ve patiently been waiting for G-day to come, licking my chops the whole time - hoping that some of my suspicions of players would ring true, casting the media’s gavel towards and thru their heinous brains. Literally.
However, this great day did not have the warm, squishy feeling I had expected for so long. Though I loved seeing “The Crocket” thrown into the fire, finally, the presence of another player pretty much ruined it for me.

Of course, I am referring to Eric Gagne.
One day ago, I was jacked about Gagne being a Brewer, abandoning my past perceptions about him and his attitude. Wiping his slate clean in my mind, and preparing for what I hoped to be his best season since the Cy Young winner.

But, Naaaaaaaaaaaay.

Like usual, my proven facts hold true, and my heart is broken.
For those who don’t know the proven fact of which I speak, it is:

“There is no such thing as a Canadian athlete.”

For a long time, Gagne has been eluding my stereotype tornado, and for just as long - I have failed to explain his freak existence.

Why, for once, couldn’t I have been wrong?
George Mitchell opened the blinds, and the sun of truth has burned all Milwaukee Brewer fans up a nice batch of Closer Melanoma. I will still route for Gagne to do well, while he plays in the Brew Crew Unis, but this will be a big pill to swallow.

I guess, we wait and hope he doesn’t get suspended, and that he will be mentally tough enough to pitch through the inevitable (and deserved) boos and heckling his ship is surely sailing for.

I won’t hog this whole subject, because I am sure the bloggers will want to talk more about it.

Until next year,
-The Rivdog.

Joe, with all of this news out now, I figured it would be a good time to let you in on RFB’s little secret from you. Seeing what performance enhancers did for Gary Bennett, we pretty much made the assumption that Pre-Steriod Gary Bennett was your athletic equal. So we pooled our bar money together and bought you a 24 month cycle of anabolic steriods, a boost if you will. May this be the catalyst for your Superstar backup catcher career on cellar NL teams we all know you were born for.

Insomniac Ink