Archive for March, 2008

In the News (3/31)

Monday, March 31st, 2008


Today’s Game: Brewers 4, Cubs 3 in 10
Record: 1-0, First Place
Games Ahead of Cubs: 1

- Craig Counsell, Jason Kendall and Tony Gwynn Jr. were the stars of the 10th inning. Counsell summed it up perfectly: “It’s just one game, but it’s sure a great way to begin the season.”

- Sheets looked like a healthy Sheets, pitching 6 and 1/3 innings of two-hit, shut-out baseball despite two rain delays. Can we please, please, please have him like this for a whole season again?

- Tony Gwynn Jr. had a big game, going 2-3 with the game-winning sac fly in the 10th and a sliding catch to end the game.

- Kendall looks like a solid addition. He was 0-2 at the plate, but took a walk and laid down a key bunt perfectly in the 10th. You also have to like what Sheets said about him: “We were on the same page. I probably shook him off two or three times, and every time I shook him off, I wish I hadn’t.”

- Gagne sucked. He gave up a three-run lead for the first time in his career. Hopefully his struggles are not an indication of the type of season he’ll have… Gagne ducked out of the locker room quickly after the game and made no comments to reporters.

- Fielder fought off the flu to make the start. He looked a little out of it, swinging way behind some pitches and appearing to overswing often, though he did collect a single in the 10th. He also misplayed a grounder to first in the ninth by attempting to tag the runner instead of stepping on the bag. Gagne should have been covering the bag, but it was still a mistake by Fielder. I’m sure he’ll bounce back Wednesday.

- New Cub outfielder Fukudome raked. He had a single, a double, a home run and a walk. His three-run home run tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. Thank God he didn’t come up again in the 10th. The Brewers had no answer for him. Hopefully they figure him out quick.

- Zambrano left the game with forearm cramps. It doesn’t appear to be anything more serious than that.

- Michael Hunt says the Brewers are resilient.

- The Cubs wanted a quick start to the season. Too bad…

- Rick Morrisey whines…

- Jay Mariotti joins in.

- Gallardo continues his comeback from injury. He may be back with team for April 19 start.

- The Brewers claimed Richie Gardner off waivers. The pitcher, who was formerly a highly regarded prospect, will serve as a starter with Nashville.

- Ned Yost IV has joined his dad as a coach. He’ll be a hitting coach in the Brewers farm system. He played catcher and first base in the Brewers system and was not guaranteed to make the AA-Huntsville roster this season before deciding to pursue coaching.

- Jeff Horrigan of the Boston Herald picks the Crew to win the division.


Monday, March 31st, 2008

Here’s something to keep you busy during the almost certain rain delay today…


Quick Prediction

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I won’t do a long-winded prediction post because there are roughly 10 million of those floating around the Internet already. I just want to get my prediction in writing before the season starts.

The Brewers will win the division.

This is not a homer pick. I don’t pick the Brewers to win the division every year (I picked them to finish second last year and to not get the wildcard spot). I just feel like this is finally the year things have lined up right.

I’m not even going to guess at a record. There are too many variables. The division will come down to the Cubs and the Brewers in my estimation and I think it will be very close until the end. I give the edge to the Crew because their offense should be considerably better than the Cubs and I believe the Cubs starting pitching will be an issue.

Team MVP: Prince Fielder - I think he will be a league MVP candidate again with Braun putting up similar offensive numbers as well.

Team Cy Young: Ben Sheets - You can call me a fool if you want, but I think he’ll stay healthy. He’s had too many bizarre injuries. Luck has to swing his way again some time and he’s in a contract season. I predict he’ll put up an 18 to 20-win season.

Surprise player: Dave Bush - Anyone that’s read this site for any length of time knows I like the “bulldog.” He’s been more solid than he gets credit for and has been the team’s most consistent starter over the last two years. I think he’s due for a breakout season. It will be interesting to see if he’s asked to pitch from the bullpen after Gallardo comes back though. Either way, he will likely get his fair share of starts this season.

First call-up: This one is a lot more difficult than in past years because the Brewers bench is pretty deep and two players will have to be sent down or cut after Cameron and Gallardo join the team. I’m going to guess Mitch Stetter will be the first call-up for no other reason than that it seems like the bullpen is the area with the most question marks going into the season and Stetter could be a valuable left-handed arm.

NL Division winners: Mets, Brewers, Diamondbacks
NL Wildcard: Phillies (I think it will be a fight between the Phillies and the Braves. I give a slight edge to Philadelphia.)

NL Divisional Round: Mets over Phillies and Brewers over D-Backs
NL Championship: Mets over Brewers

AL Division winners: Red Sox, Tigers, Angels
AL Wildcard: Yankees

AL Divisional Round: Tigers over Yankees and Red Sox over Angels
AL Championship: Tigers over Red Sox

World Series: Tigers over the Mets

NL MVP: Prince Fielder
AL MVP: David Ortiz
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander

In the News (Pre-Opening Day Edition)

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Fielder and Braun

Opening day is hours away. It’s finally time for baseball!

- It’s Sheets vs. Zambrano in Chicago to open the season. Go Crew!

- The weather forecast for Chicago looks ugly. Their are thunderstorms predicted throughout the day with a 60 percent chance of precipitation when the game is slated to start. Hopefully the baseball season does start for the Brewers tomorrow…

- Sheets is ready to go for opening day in what may be his last year in Milwaukee.

- Monday’s game preview.

- Meet the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers.

- Here’s the Brewers’ season outlook from

- 10 musts for the Brewers to win the NL Central.

- Dave Pinto at Baseball Musings picks the Crew to win the division. In fact, he says Milwaukee may win the division easily. Let’s hope.

- Baseball Prospectus picks the Brewers to win the wildcard.

- Jim Powell says, “Keep your October calendar open.”

- Ken Rosenthal predicts Ryan Braun will win the NL MVP award.

- The Brewers payroll now tops $80 million. Who would have guessed that four or five years ago?

- The Brewers are talking to Fielder and Braun about “long-term” deals. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple months.

- Speaking of Fielder and Braun, are they best 1-2 punch in baseball? An argument could certainly be made for that…

- The Brewers have more veteran leadership on this year’s squad.

- Michael Hunt says it’s time for the Brewers to take the next step.

- McClung and Dillon will win the last two spots on the roster, as expected.

- Munson accepted his demotion to AAA. I’m surprised he went to Nashville since the Brewers have said Rottino will be getting most of the at-bats there as he prepares to compete for a full-time job in Milwaukee, but I’m happy he did accept it. The Brewers have pretty nice catching depth if injuries strike.

- Fielder is battling an illness, but should be good to go for the game tomorrow.

- The field at Miller is ready for game play.

- Cameron begins his suspension. He’ll provide a boost to the team after 25 games. More HERE.

- MLB players have more bat options than ever before.

- The Brewers lost one and won one at Miller Park for their final two exhibition games.

- Bush looked good in his last outing.

- Suppan settled down after a rough two innings and salvaged a decent start in his last tune-up.

- It appears the race for Brewers broadcast rights is down to two companies.

- Some changes have been made to Miller Park over the offseason.

- Byron Clarke of Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, a Cubs blog, answers some questions on He says the Cubs’ biggest weakness is their starting pitching, especially after Zambrano and Lilly. I agree.

Season’s Eve Predictions Sure to be Half-Right

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Last year I made a couple predictions. I said that J.J. Hardy was going to impress us with his bat, which he did for most of the year. I said that Elmer Dessens was going to be a strong long reliever, which he was not. I said Counsell was not going to do well, which was right, but I also said he’d hit about .250 at best, which he didn’t even get close to. So I guess I’m about .500. So here are some predictions sure to be half right.

1) Corey Hart will make the All-Star team - He just will. He’s gone from underrated athlete to buzzworthy athlete.

2) Salomon Torres will be the unsung hero of the bullpen - Much like Shouse was last year.

3) Counsell will do better this year - Well, it won’t be very hard…

4) The Central will shake out like this:
1)Brewers - Health is always a concern, but I believe they’ve learned a lot from last year and should have a much stronger bullpen to get them through July and August.

2)Cubs - Spent a lot of money, got a Japanese player who’s name I still can’t pronounce without swearing, but still iffy in the starting pitching dept. Can you honestly say you trust Marquis and Lilly to have another strong year and you trust that Dempster will be better as a starter?

3)Reds - They’ve got a pretty good group, but the youth of this group will ultimately be too much for serious contention this year.

There will be a large disparity between the 3 team and the 4 team

(tie)4) Astros - Everyone talks about their offense and adding Miguel Tejada, but they have yet again NO STARTERS after Oswalt.

(tie)4)Cardinals - If their arsenal of DL’ers can reclaim past glory, I’d move them up, but Pujols can’t do it all by himself

6)Pirates - I like their young pitching to keep them in games, but the sad truth is that most of their offense will probably be gone by the trading deadline.

For the rest of the league:

1) Joba Chamberlin has too much hype to live up to. The New York media has built this guy up to be the ace to end all aces. The problem is that Ian Kennedy has already surpassed him and he’s basically what Carlos Villanueva was last year: A future starter being a good long reliever waiting for a chance to be in the rotation. I’m not saying the kid isn’t good. I’m not harping on him, either. There is just too much hype for him to deliver (see Matsuzaka, D.)

2) Mets and Phillies are overrated in the NL East, Braves are underrated. That being said, the Braves better be praying that their rotation of Chet Steadmans can hold it together for the year.

3) One question, can the Rays be considered a surprise team when most major sports media outlets are picking them to surprise the league? Wouldn’t that, then, NOT be a surprise. Needless to say, I do like the Rays, but they can’t get over the BoSox and Yankees. I’d say they have a chance to bounce over the Blue Jays, but they aren’t a slouch either. They do, however, have the best chance at something: playing spoiler to the Detroit Tigers in the last series of the regular season (who should be locked in a close race with the Indians).

4) I read in the Journal-Sentinel that the Dodgers will be close to winning the NL West. No, they won’t be. It’s just that easy. Arizona, Colorado, and probably the Padres will finish above the Dodgers.

5) Finally, I’m excited to see the race for the worst team of the year. I think it’s between the Giants and the Orioles, but the Pirates and the Marlins could also be in the running. It’s going to be fan-tastic.

Scenes from RFB’s First Pitch - 3/29/08

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

After months of planning and promoting (and having a run-in with the Miller Park Security), RFB’s First Pitch was held on March 29th. The Scarlet Escape, The Response, Tim Schweiger and the Middlemen, and Sunday Flood each brought their love for the Brewers with their love for doing live shows in what we hope will become an annual event. Here are some pictures of what went down…

The Response Rocks Out

The bassist thoroughly supports Bringing Back the Mug (and looks stylish in his RFB gear!)

Crowd Shot! Don't you wish you were here?

Tim Schweiger and the Middlemen rocking the Maritime

Tim Schweiger singing Sad State of Affairs

Ending the night with authority was Sunday Flood (nice shirt, by the way)

So that kicked off The Hunt for Ned's October in style.

*Apologies to the Scarlet Escape, your pictures are on a different camera

In the News (3/27)

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Alcides Escobar

This is going to be a quick and dirty In the News because I just ran out of time tonight…

- Alcides Escobar is even closer than management hoped to making it to the bigs. The shortstop’s defense is MLB-ready. His offense, which improved in the minors last year, will have to take another step, but if Hardy is injured, Escobar would likely get the call.

- Capuano will not have surgery after all. He’s going to try to rehab the injury. If he succeeds, he may be able to start working his arm strength back up in a month. It’s worth a shot. Tommy John surgery would put him on the shelf for a year or more.

- The Crew is back in Wisconsin and happy to be here.

- Proving the Cubs and Brewers are evenly matched, they duel to a tie. Well, OK, it was just an exhibition game that minor-leaguers decided…

- Yost is still mulling the line-up. If last year was any indication, the batting order will change nearly every game anyway…

- Hardy, recovered from a bad flu bug, packed on the pounds he lost with pizza. He says he feels good and went 2-2 against the Cubs today.

- The Brewers opener will be on national TV. And I will be sneaking to the lunch room…

- Baseball Musings says former Brewer Doug Davis has thyroid cancer. If true (I was unable to find it anywhere else on the Web besides where Al’s Ramblings linked to the Baseball Musings report), that’s terrible. I wish Doug the best and for a speedy, full recovery.

Almost Time for Brewers Baseball!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Hey Brewer fans,

We’re just days away from Brewers baseball! I don’t know about you, but all of us at Right Field Bleachers are jacked for the season to begin. We expect big things from the Crew in 2008.

For those of you in Wisconsin (and those willing to travel long distances for fun times), we’d like to remind you that we’re having a free concert to kick off the season this Saturday at the Maritime Bar in Appleton (336 W. Wisconsin Ave.). Four great Wisconsin bands will play, starting at 9:30. They are Sunday Flood, Tim Schweiger and the Middle Men, The Response, and The Scarlet Escape. We’ll also have our t-shirts there and available at low, low sale prices. It’s part to celebrate our first year as RFB, part to commemorate the beginning of a memorable season, and part to get to know more of the unbelievable fans we’ve met over the past year. Please come out and share a beer with us. We’d love to see you again or meet you for the first time.

First Pitch

As always, have a good one and GO CREW!

The RFB Crew

In the News (3/26)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008


- It is not official, but the final roster appears to be set. It looks as though Ned and company have chosen defense as Mike Rivera will be the backup catcher to start the year. There’s more on Rivera HERE.

- Ben Sheets had a rough outing today in his final spring training appearance. This is not something I’d worry about. It would have been nice to see him pitch lights out, but anyone who has been a Brewer fan for more than a couple months knows Sheets never has a good spring training. The Brewers did; however, pull out a win today. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each homered to help the cause.

- According to the JSOnline Blog, SI picks the Cubs to win the division and represent the NL in this years World Series.

- Prince Fielder was pressing early in spring training but has picked it up since getting some good words of advice from veterans Craig Counsel and Mike Cameron.

- Charter Cable has decided to add FSN Wisconsin to its high definition lineup this summer.

- This NL Central preview suggests Yost will be fired and the Crew will win the wild card. Ah…okay. I’m thinking if Yost gets fired, this team is in bad shape and not getting anywhere near a playoff birth.

- Another Brewers’ preview

- I saw a similar article about a month or two ago, but it’s interesting enough to post again. The article talks about how, then, Royals reliever David Riske helped turn Zack Greinke into a solid starter for the Royals. The Journal-Sentinel also has an article on Riske.

- The Brewers topped the Cactus League in attendance this spring. Good work Brewers’ fans.

- Ned Yost says he finally got the catcher he has been waiting for in Jason Kendall. Kendall wasn’t brought to the Brewers to hit 10-15 home runs, and he certainly won’t. He was brought in because of his experience in dealing with each pitcher as an individual. A lot of people still don’t like this signing by Doug Melvin, but I think Kendall is going to do wonders for our pitching staff. With young guys (Gallardo, Parra and Villanueva) making up a majority of the Brewers’ rotation, a guy like Kendall could end up being priceless.

Computers pick the Cubs

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

If computer projections are right, the Cubs may celebrate often in 2008

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has taken several projection systems for the 2008 season, run the season through Diamond Mind Baseball’s simulator 1,000 times for each system and came up with a Projection Blowout. They used CHONE, Diamond Mind, Hardball Times, PECOTA, and ZiPs projections.

The results are interesting, especially relating to the NL Central division race, which I’ve knocked down to the Cubs and the Brewers. Sorry St. Louis, Cincinnati, Houston, and Pittsburgh fans. I see this as a two-horse race and the projection systems agree.

Cubs – 86.9-75.1, 53% chance of making the playoffs, 108 highest win total
Brewers – 85.5-76.5, 42%, 106

Diamond Mind
Cubs – 85.3-76.7, 46%, 107
Brewers – 83.4-78.6, 31%, 110

Hardball Times
Brewers – 87.9-74.1, 52%, 110
Cubs – 86.3-75.7, 41%, 105

Cubs – 89.1-72.9, 62%, 109
Brewers – 86.4-75.6, 43%, 103

Cubs – 93-69, 85%, 115
Brewers – 82.6-79.4, 16%, 106

Average of all five
Cubs – 88.12-73.88, 57.4%, 108.8
Brewers – 85.16-76.84, 36.8%, 107

Average of four besides ZiPs
Cubs - 86.9-75.1, 50.5%, 107.25
Brewers – 85.8-76.2, 42%, 107.25

Some observations:

- This obviously does not mean much of anything, but it is probably the most accurate way we have available to predict the season at this point. These prediction systems, however, have been known to not predict pitching well. They also can’t predict injuries effectively and do not account for major changes in production from players. Take it for what it is, a prediction.

- No matter how you look at it, the Brewers and Cubs are very evenly matched again this season.

- While the Brewers are in first or second in all five systems, they are only first in one, The Hardball Times’ prediction. The Cubs are first in the other four.

- ZiPs loves the Cubs and hates the Brewers. ZiPs predicts the best Cubs’ record and worse Brewers’ record of all the systems by several wins/losses. The system predicts very good seasons for some players that come into the season as question marks for the Cubs (Soto, Pie, and Fukudome). If you take ZiPs out of the equation and average the other four prediction systems, the Brewers finish just a game behind the Cubs, which would mean the season would come down to the final series at Miller Park. That would make for one incredible playoff atmosphere in Milwaukee…

- The four systems besides ZiPs have the Brewers averaging a 42 percent chance of making the playoffs.

- The Cubs are a particularly difficult team to predict. Soto will take over as the full-time starting catcher with almost no major-league experience, Fukudome comes over from Japan with no major-league at bats, and Pie has only limited major-league at-bats as well. Dempster is transitioning from closer to starter and Wood is transitioning from the DL to the closer role. All five of these players will be very hard to project effectively and how much they perform above or below their projections could very easily determine the division.

- I didn’t investigate, but I doubt very much that the projections used Sheets, Suppan, Bush, Villanueva and Parra as the Brewers’ starting five and I also doubt it used Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Dempster and Marquis as the Cubs’ starting five. Even if it did, Villanueva, Parra and Dempster would be hard to project effectively.

- Almost all of the projections I’ve seen predict the Brewers offense to out-perform the Cubs offense. And almost all of the projections I’ve seen predict the Cubs pitching to out-perform the Brewers pitching. Personally, I think the Cubs pitching is the key to the division. If Zambrano, Hill, and Lilly stay healthy and perform all year and the Cubs don’t have a meltdown in the back end of the rotation (Marquis and Dempster with Lieber waiting in the wings), the Cubs will probably win the division. I just wouldn’t bet on that happening…

It should be another close race… Let the season begin!

Brewer fans, what are your thoughts?

Insomniac Ink