Archive for May, 2008

In the News (5/31): Early Edition

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Last Night’s Game: Brewers 5, Astros 1
Record: 27-28, fourth place
Games Behind Cubs: 7

Homers rained from the sky like the sweet ambrosia of the gods, Manny Parra showed glimmers of his solid big league capability, and I won 63 cents on CentSports as the Brewers began a new winning streak Friday. More HERE.

- JS urges fans to get out and vote for the All-Star game: Do your integrity and the game a favor and vote for the most deserving player. I mean, give the hometown nod when it’s close.

- Speaking of deserving All-Stars, Ryan Braun went 4 for 4 with an opposite field homer Friday: He leads the team in homers and trails only Gabe Kapler for team lead in level of Judea (club record held by Jesse Levis).

- Future All-Star Yovani Gallardo is concerned about returning to the field too quickly: No need to rush. Take Yo time to rehab.

- In honorary transactions: Negro Leaguer Joseph B. Scott will be drafted as an honorary Brewer in June 5 draft. If he can get anywhere close to his .289 average in 1948, draft him for real!

- Salomon Torres has been effective in the closers role: Sadly, due to his rubber arm and ability to work in the clutch, he’ll undoubtedly relinquish the closer role to Gagne upon his return to health.

- Sports economist says current Brewers ownership is building the right way: I don’t know, that 3 year, $21 million deal for Jeffery Hammonds was pretty clutch back in the day!

- Lyle Overbay, a great move by Brewers management both in his acquisition and eventual trade, hit two homers for Toronto Friday: Way to go, O!

- Brewers near league lead in strikeouts: But it’s cool, Yost said he isn’t worried about it.

- Shortstop prospect Brent Brewer is closer to living up to his namesake: He was promoted to High A Brevard County (FL) from Low A West Virginia.

- The Cardinals DFA OF Chris Duncan.

- The Cubs acquired RHP Jim Brower from Reds for cash money considerations: He had an ERA of 12.15 in 2006 (his last big league season. I would say this goes with Chicago’s recent trend of bringing in geezers with little upside and nothing left in the tank, but Edmonds homered yesterday so I better wait until he retires next week before I make fun of him, let alone get started on this Brower hack.

- At least 4/5 of we baseball nerds in Right Field Bleachers will be in attendance for today’s and tomorrow’s games. Look for the our flag near one of the Gantner Gardens and come talk Brewers and get good and sloppy with your (hopefully not least) favorite bloggers.

Here’s to .500 today and a winning record tomorrow!

In the News (5/29)

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Yost & McClung

Today’s game: Braves 8, Brewers 1
Record: 26-28, fourth place
Games Behind Cubs: 6.5 (Cubs have yet to play)

It was a rough outing for Seth McClung this afternoon, as a 5 run fifth - and an utter lack of offense - cost the Brewers the series sweep. New Brewer Julian Tavarez gave up two runs in his third appearance with the club, but Russell Branyan mashed a tater to at least put the crew on the board.

- Implied chairman of the closer committee, Salomon Torres, was unavailable to pitch today: Not that he was even needed.

- Manny Parra, who’s been inconsistent this season, will start against Houston Friday.

- Jim Powell reflects on the Braves series: In my opinion, it was kind of like Fight Club - 2/3 awesome and entertaining and 1/3 predictable and excessively violent.

- Mike Rivera has managed to play well in his rare opportunities to play in place of durable catcher Jason Kendall.

- Julian Tavarez brought his World Series experience with him to Brew City, but left his ring in Boston: This barely qualifies as news.

- Piniella seeking left-handed power hitter?: MLBTradeRumors.com names Milton Bradley, Ken Griffey Jr. and (Menasha WI’s own) Eric Hinske as viable options. The post’s author Tim Dierkes sees Hinske as the most attainable. There are few more effective ways to make me roll in my grave than to put a Fox Cities resident in a Cubs uni.

- Matt Murton, who is currently on the Cubs’ Triple-A roster, thinks he can blast ‘upper 20s, low 30s in home runs’: I agree. Call me lame, but I like the cut of Murton’s jib. Gwynn/low level arm for a capable OF bat. They say redheads have more fun!

- Brew Crew Ball inquires about the possibility of Brewers moving its AA affiliate to Norwich, CT: Their current parent club, the Giants, seem upset with the park. If it’s not broke in Huntsville, why fix it?

- Speaking of Nashville, Brewers Nation interviews Huntsville play-by-play announcer Brian Pollock.

- Getting to Know Your Sounds (Brad Nelson Q&A): His love for Tecmo Bowl, Contra and Larry Bird are the only stats I need to recommend he get a September call up. His 8 HR, 31 RBI and .328 average don’t hurt either.

- Author Bill Chuck gives his 2 cents on Jay Bruce’s bananas MLB debut.

- Derrick Turnbow is terrible. With a 13.50 ERA and 21 walks issued in 6 innings in Nashville, I’d much prefer the Brewers to just pay him and free his roster spot on the Sounds for a person capable of at least somewhat proficiently playing baseball. I (the eternal optimist in all situations regarding struggling relievers) have officially lost hope.

In the News (5/28)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Salomon Torres

Today’s Game: Brewers 1, Braves 0
Record: 26-27, fourth place
Games Behind Cubs: 6

The Brewers pulled out another close game behind Suppan’s stellar outing tonight.

They’ve won three in a row and four out of five and can get back to .500 with a win for a series sweep against the Braves tomorrow. It’s McClung versus Campillo. Finishing June at .500 or above (they’d need to go at least 2-1) would be a nice step in the right direction.

If the Cubs would ever lose, the Brewers could actually make up some ground, but the North Siders continue to grind out close games.

- Suppan pitched eight scoreless innings tonight against a potent Braves’ offense. He had seven strikeouts and dropped his season ERA under 4. This was a really encouraging start for Suppan.

- Weeks had two of the three Brewers hits, including the game winning triple that drove Hardy home in the eighth.

- Torres closed out the game for his fourth save. He seems to have taken over the closing role, at least for the time being. And he’s done a great job. More HERE.

- There were a handful of outstanding defensive plays throughout the game including Hardy’s game-ending, diving catch, a diving catch for Braun in the outfield, a double-play on a bunt that was started by Kendall’s quick reaction and a tough stop by Suppan on a ground ball.

- Yost haters, THIS is why you don’t change managers in the middle of the season when the team still has a chance to make a run at the playoffs. Since 2000, 18 teams have changed managers near the midpoint of the season and only two have gone on to playoff appearances. Changing managers mid-season can provide a spark for a team, but it’s a short-term answer that rarely pays off. Unless the Brewers are hopelessly out of the race, a manager change does not make sense. The Brewers’ best chance for this season is with Yost.

- Speaking of Yost, he got his 400th win as a manager last night. That’s good for third all-time on the Brewers list behind Tom Trebelhorn and Phil Garner.

- The Brewers bullpen has a .98 ERA over the last six games.

- Another Baseball Blog says the strength of schedule argument for the Brewers’ early season struggles does not hold water. I’m not convinced. I won’t say that’s the only reason they’ve struggled (the high percentage of road games, struggling bats and unreliable bullpen have as much to do with it or more), but I think it has definitely had some effect on the season thus far. And I believe the actual winning percentage of opponents is more reliable than the method he used to determine SOS too.

- The Brewers actually have until June 15 to decide on Jeff Weaver. Earlier reports said they had to call him up by June 1 or he could opt out of his contract. It looks like he has a couple more weeks to prove he has something to offer the big league team.

- Tavarez could end up being an important piece to the bullpen if he continues to pitch like he did Tuesday.

- Riske is recovering very slowly and won’t be activated when he’s eligible to come off the DL later this week.

- SI.com has a Mike Cameron interview.

- Jonathan Mayo still sees the Brewers picking high school shortstop Anthony Mayo with their first-round pick next week.

- The Brewers added a Brewers.com logo to the back of the pitching mound at Miller, but it’s not very readable unless the camera is zoomed in and it looks very underwhelming compared to similar mound designs like the W the Nationals used in the last series.

- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com puts Jeff Cirillo and Damian Miller in his “Starting 9″ of best free agent options available. Both seem to be willing to jump at the chance to play with the Brewers again, but are unlikely to get the offer.

- Rickie Weeks and Jason Kendall are among the league leaders in hit-by-pitches.

- Could two Jewish players win MVP awards in baseball? It’s way too early for MVP speculation and Youkilus and Braun wouldn’t even win the award if the season ended today, but it’s at least an interesting thought.

- Turnbow is trying to turn things around with Nashville. So far, not so good…

- Brevard County pitching prospect Omar Aguilar is the SportsBubbler.com Prospect of the Week.

- Huntsville won Tuesday with 17 hits, but only scored three runs.

- Catching prospect Angel Salome is raking for Huntsville. He’s hitting .420 in May.

- The West Virginia Power are going to have a losing record for a half season for the first time in three years.

- Outfield prospect Eric Fryer, a converted catcher, is playing well for the Power.

- Anthony Witrado of the Journal-Sentinel answers fans questions.

- Am I the only one that has a hard time caring about All-Star voting? Well, Braun may be the only Brewers’ position player worthy of an an All-Star appearance at this point. I suppose the argument could be made for Hart, but he’s a long shot at best right now.

- Robin Yount’s nephew Austin is making a name for himself on Stanford’s baseball team. Could he be a future Brewer pick? We all know how much the Brewers love blood lines and any connections to the “glory years”…

- Speaking of blood lines, Cecil Fielder is managing the Can-Am League’s Atlantic City Surf. The article made the inevitable Prince connection:

“I pull for these guys, but sometimes I get too close to my players because as a manager you have to keep your distance because you might have to release a player or jump on a player’s butt once in a while.

“But my players know if I do have to get after them, it’s total love.”

That must be tough for someone who hasn’t spoken to his own son, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder, in three years. But Big Daddy has clearly rediscovered his comfort zone back on the field.

- Corey Patterson has been sent to AAA by the Reds.

- The “Horry Cow!” shirt is still making news in Chicago.

- Are the Cubs protecting Soriano from Wrigley Field bleacher bums?

In the News (5/27)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Hall-Star

Today’s Game: Brewers 3, Braves 2
Record: 25-27, fourth place
Games Behind Cubs: 6

- What a game! Tonight was unsung heroes night at Miller Park as a strong 7 inning showing by Dave Bush, a 3 hit/2 RBI night for J.J. Hardy and all around clutch play by Bill Hall translated into a walk off win for the Brewers. More HERE.

- Newly acquired Julian Tavarez made his first Brewers appearance, pitching a scoreless eighth.

- Eli’s MLB Rumors weighs in on the possibility of Milwaukee trading Ben Sheets and Prince Fielder: He (in my opinion, accurately) indicates there’s no reason to deal Fielder right now. He’s under the clubs control for a couple more years and LaPorta - though tearing it up in Double A - is still in Double A and a bit away from everyday big league consideration; plus he’s playing outfield now… not first.

Eli does think Sheets is fair game to be dealt before the deadline though. But his proposed destination of Baltimore seems a reach. Baltimore may only be 4.5 out in their division, but Milwaukee is just 6 out them self… and it’s May.

- Eli’s back: This time with allusions of Milwaukee as a suitor for the Athletics’ Huston Street. I’d rather have Blanton… but maybe that’s just me.

- Jay Bruce made his MLB debut for Cincy tonight. He went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs and a stolen base on the night: Why wasn’t this guy called up sooner? He will be started in 99% of fantasy leagues next week.

- Brewers Nation interviewed West Virginia Power catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

- More on my man William Hall’s frustration with the third base platoon.

- The Mets placed former Brewer Matt Wise on the disabled list for the second time this season.

- Brewers Fanatics has a “Prospect Watch” on Jeremy Jeffress - who recently returned from a 50 game suspension.

- Brewerfan.net previews the draft.

- Why not trade up in the MLB draft?: Because there are fewer slam dunk draft picks in baseball than almost any other sport. What’s the point in trading up to draft one Texas high school shortstop over another?

- Have you ever truly delved into the rich history of this thing you love?: Armchair GM has an extensive history of the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Pilots. Worth a read.

- Bugs & Cranks takes a humorous take on J.J. Hardy’s costly error on Friday: This comes roughly a week after The Onion claimed the Piggly Wiggly Scouting Report indicated J.J. liked Rib eye Steaks.

- My brethren at Baseball Digest Daily writes of Lyle Overbay’s record-setting ways: He recently reached base in 12 consecutive ABs, setting a Blue Jays club record.

- I get my feet wet at BDD, mentioning Corey Hart and a good portion of my fantasy team in an article about bright spots over the past week for teams at or near the bottom of their divisional standings.

Pitching Dearth

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Eric Gagne

As the Brewers toil under .500 nearly a third of the way into the season and serious shortcomings are becoming evident, the most glaring hole going forward is pitching - starting and relief.

It was hard to not feel good about the rotation coming into the season. The Brewers had an ace (Ben Sheets), a developing ace (Yovani Gallardo), a solid veteran (Jeff Suppan), a consistent back-of-the-rotation starter (Dave Bush) and two young, up-and-coming pitchers (Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva). The rotation was in such good shape that the team felt OK letting a proven back-of-the-rotation starter (Claudio Vargas) go for nothing even after another veteran starter was lost for the year to injury (Chris Capuano) and Gallardo started the year on the DL. Now, less than two months into the season, Gallardo is lost, probably for the year, to injury. Losing a top-of-the-rotation starter means the bottom-of-the-rotation struggles are magnified. Villanueva was demoted to the bullpen as his ERA ballooned over 6. He was replaced by a fireballer who has been plagued with control problems throughout his career (Seth McClung). Bush has struggled and his ERA is also over 6 while Parra has taken lumps as he develops on the job. Suppan has been mostly the reliable pitcher the club signed last offseason, but is not getting any younger. Sheets, who is likely pitching his last season as a Brewer, has pitched as well as ever.

The bullpen, which was over-hauled by General Manager Doug Melvin this offseason, has fallen apart. The high-priced closer (Eric Gagne) is on the DL after blowing five saves. The other free-agent acquisition (David Riske) has joined him on the DL. The former All-Star closer (Derrick Turnbow) has flamed out in incredible fashion and is now in AAA where he is struggling even more. Salomon Torres, Guillermo Mota and Brian Shouse have been mostly reliable options, but the revolving door in the rest of the bullpen has included Villanueva, McClung, Mark DiFelice, Mitch Stetter, Zach Jackson, Tim Dillard and Julian Tavarez with mixed results.

The minors offer little help. The team’s top pitching prospects, Jeremy Jeffress and Zach Braddock, are still a long way away from pitching in Milwaukee. Even the next handful of starters in the minor-league system are seemingly years away. Nashville closer Luis Pena could get a call-up to the Brewers this season, but most of the other reasonable bullpen options have already spent time with the Brewers or are currently on the team (Jackson, Dillard, DiFelice, Stetter and Dillard).

So, what can they do this year?

Trade for a starter - Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio has said the team can add payroll if they’re in contention as the trade deadline draws closer. If the team does get closer to the top of the division over the next handful of weeks, they’d almost have to add a starter to improve the rotation for the stretch run. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be the only team looking for pitching and the small number of options on the market will come at a high price. Some of the possibilities for trades could include Greg Maddux, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and A.J. Burnett. I’d imagine the top prospects (Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and Alcides Escobar) will be untouchable, which would make a trade even more difficult.

Hope Parra, McClung, and Bush improve - Parra is young and is learning on the fly in the majors. He will get hit from time to time, but should improve as the season goes along. Bush is a better pitcher than he has shown this season (and pitched a very solid game tonight, going seven innings and only allowing two runs). And McClung looked good in his first try as a starter with the Brewers. He has the stuff to be successful, but needs to harness his command. He walked none in his first start. All three have room to improve as the season goes along and Villanueva also has some promise as a starter, but it’s a lot to ask of them to become the top-of-the-rotation options this team needs this season to compete.

What about next year?

The Brewers’ season certainly isn’t lost yet. They can still cement themselves in the division race before the trade deadline (when they’ll have to decide if they’re going to be buyers or sellers), but it will be an uphill battle. If they are out of the race by the deadline, the team will have to be aggressive to make sure they can improve the pitching for next season. This team should be above average on offense without major changes because of a boatload of young talent in the majors and a trio of promising players on the rise in the minors. They need pitching.

Trade Sheets - If the Brewers are not in the race, they simply have to trade Sheets. The odds of them signing Sheets to a long-term deal are next to none since he will be one of the best pitchers in free agency and will all but certainly cash in. The only chance the Brewers would have is if Sheets was willing to give them a huge “hometown” discount, which almost never happens after a player hits free agency. Even then you’d have to question if giving a lucrative, long-term deal to Sheets, who has battled serious (and often strange) injuries every season for the last handful of years, is a wise move for a small-market franchise that will have to sink a lot of money into keeping its young talent over the next few years. Management would have to seriously weigh the risks before committing.

Sheets would command a lot on the trade market if he’s still healthy and pitching like he has been. The Brewers should be able to collect a couple of very nice prospects in a trade (look at what the A’s got for Dan Haren this offseason). If teams compete for Sheets, who could be the best available arm on the trade market, the package could set the Brewers up for success for years to come in exchange for a player they have almost no hope of retaining anyway. They’d definitely need to get a highly regarded pitcher as part of that package, preferably one that is not far from the majors.

Trade relievers - Relievers are also in high demand when the trade deadline nears. While the bullpen has pretty much been a disaster, guys with very trade-friendly, one-year contracts like Mota, Torres and Shouse could bring in some solid mid-level prospects. Tavarez may also be worth something if he proves he still has something in the tank since he is pitching for the veteran minimum now. If Gagne turns his season around, he could also be traded for prospects, but with him struggling, sitting on the DL, and owed $10 million this season, it seems unlikely he will be worth much, if anything, in a trade at this point.

Draft college relievers - The Brewers should draft college relievers next week. Even if the team competes for the rest of the season and does not break up the bullpen over the season, many of the relievers are only signed to one-year deals. While college relievers might not be ready to contribute at the beginning of next season, they could possibly be ready during the season and hopefully would develop into low-cost relief options that the Brewers would control for several years. As the Brewers’ position players’ salaries go up with their arbitration and free agent years arriving, the team will not be able to spend as much on the bullpen. Developing low-risk (compared to high school arms) college relievers into MLB bullpen arms should help the team spend less on relief pitching in future years.

Sign free agent relievers or make trades - The Brewers will have to add relief pitching from somewhere this offseason. Reliable free agent relief pitching seems to cost more and more every offseason though. Melvin may be forced to trade pieces for relievers to help form the bullpen over the offseason again.

Trade Tony Gwynn Jr. - It’s obvious that TGJ is not in the team’s long-term plans despite what management says. The team wouldn’t have signed Mike Cameron and would have let Tony compete with a lower-priced free agent or in-house option this season if they believed he was a starter. The Brewers should trade Gwynn now while he still has value. They could probably add starting depth to the minor-league system or a relief pitcher or two for the big-league roster for Gwynn. The Padres always seem to have great bullpen pitchers and have been rumored to be interested in Gwynn since he was drafted.

Good luck in free agency… - The free agent market for starting pitchers is probably not going to be a viable option for the Brewers this offseason. Sheets, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are the top options, but they all have injury histories and will be out of the Brewers’ price range. Other free agent starters like Jon Garland and Derek Lowe could be signed for less, but will still demand large commitments despite only being a slightly above average starter (Garland) or getting old (Lowe). Since Attanasio says the team has money to acquire a starter now, there must be at least some money to get a starter in free agency this offseason, especially with Sheets’ salary off the books. Melvin will certainly look to free agency, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers decided not to buy in the over-priced market.

Position-player prospects could make other players expendable - If third baseman Mat Gamel, outfielder Matt LaPorta or shortstop Alcides Escobar advance quickly in the minors this season, they could be ticketed for Milwaukee next year, meaning position players like Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy or Mike Cameron (if the Brewers pick up his option), could be dealt for pitching. All three prospects are in AA now so it would take a big leap of faith on the Brewers’ part to give them a starting spot in Milwaukee at the beginning of next season, but all three are highly regarded talents. LaPorta and Gamel are mashing with Huntsville and are said to carry major-league-ready bats, but are still working on their defense. Escobar proved his glove is ready for the big leagues in spring training, but his bat is still developing. If any of the three make the move to Nashville mid-season, they could get a September call-up for an audition for next season. If they pass the audition, other players on the roster could find themselves on the move.

Trade Prince - Prince Fielder isn’t happy with his contract situation and appears to not be in Milwaukee for the long term since his agent, Scott Boras, will advise his client to not sign a deal before he becomes a free agent and will price him out of the Brewers’ market when he is a free agent. It still seems unlikely that Prince will be traded any time soon as the Brewers control his rights for three more arbitration seasons, but they could receive a big return if they did trade him. I think it will eventually happen, just not this offseason.

Time for Melvin to earn his money

Despite record attendance, a profitable team and a rising payroll, the Brewers are still a small market team that has to be smart about how it manages its roster. The payroll can only go up so much and the Brewers will still have to be creative in filling roster holes. Most of the talent has to be homegrown, but since the team has not developed pitching well in the minors, Melvin will have to work hard to fill out the rotation and form a reliable bullpen. Since the Brewers’ top position players have already arrived or should arrive shortly, the Brewers cannot afford to go into next season with question marks in the rotation or bullpen. The window for success is now. It will be a very interesting couple of months as management works to decide whether the club should buy or sell and what it is they can do to field the most competitive team possible for this season and next. Melvin will definitely have to earn his money.

In the News (5/26)

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Gabe Kapler

Today’s Game: Brewers 4, Nationals 3
Record: 24-27, fifth place
Games Behind Cubs: 6

- Well, the Brewers won in extras today and managed to go 4-3 on the rest of the road trip after getting swept in Boston. I guess it’s a starting point… especially when you consider how poorly they’ve played on the road for the last several years:

Preferring the comforts of home, the Milwaukee Brewers are 11-16 on the road this season and have had a losing road mark for eight consecutive seasons. Their last winning season on the road was 1999, when they were 42-39.

- Bill Hall is unhappy with the platoon situation developing at third base. I’ve always had a hard time understanding why players that are playing horribly are surprised and upset when they get less playing time.

Billy, do you actually think the Brewers WANT to bench you? Just two seasons ago you were a budding star on a team full of youth and promise. Fans loved you. Management raved about you. Yost said you’d be an MVP one day. You’ve been benched now because you suck. And you’ve sucked for the last two seasons. You ask, “Does that make any sense?” about being benched for a left-handed bat. YES! You’re hitting .158 against righties! It’s the most sensible thing management has done all season. Know what you can do to get back in the line-up? Start hitting. Stop swinging for the fences every at bat and try to hit some balls to the opposite field. Stop striking out at an Adam Dunn-like rate (because we all know you’re not going to take walks like Dunn). Maybe this is the wake-up call you need.

Oh yeah, and if that “We’ll see what happens the next couple of days” comment is some kind of a threat to management that you’ll demand a trade if you don’t get more playing time, I’m going to lose A LOT of respect for you. Just ask Javon Walker or Mike McKenzie how well that plays out in Wisconsin.

- In somewhat related rumblings, Brewers Bar suggests a trade with Cleveland: Bill Hall for Paul Byrd. Byrd is a decent veteran pitcher, but even with Hall playing so poorly (and getting less playing time), that’s a lot to give up for a 37-year-old pitcher. I don’t see it happening.

- And Brewers third base prospect Mat Gamel, who may eventually replace Hall at third, has been working hard on his defense at Huntsville and is making big strides.

- Eric Gagne was placed on the DL. And the Gagne train wreck continues… We all have to hope he comes back strong because the team will need him if they’re going to turn things around. More HERE.

- Russell Branyan is back in Milwaukee. He made a strong debut Sunday going two for four, but went zero for four today. At the least, it’ll be nice to have a powerful left-handed bat on the bench.

- Tony Gwynn Jr. was sent down to make room for Branyan. I still see Gwynn being traded at some point. It doesn’t look like he’ll ever get a shot to play every day and prove himself in Milwaukee.

- The Brewers signed Julian Tavarez. Well, there have been rumblings for weeks about the possibility of a trade or a signing by the Brewers and it finally happened. It’s a low-risk move and he’ll add depth with Riske and Gagne on the DL, but it’s hard to get too excited about Tavarez because it seems like he may be washed up. More HERE.

- Dillard, DiFelice and Jackson have all been called up from Nashville recently to help shore up the bullpen. It seems likely that one of them will get sent back down to make room for Tavarez though.

- The Brewers came back after being down 6-0, but lost Sunday. More HERE.

- Seth McClung pitched five solid innings Saturday and the Brewers got the win. It was good to see McClung pitch well. He may be a solid guy in the back of the rotation. It was especially encouraging that he did not walk any batters as he’s struggled with control throughout his career. More HERE.

- An error by Hardy opened the flood gates in the loss Friday. More HERE.

- The Brewers have a one percent chance of winning the World Series, according to The Book’s projections.

- Turnbow’s struggles have continued in Nashville. The Brewers say they won’t release him, which makes sense since they have to pay him either way. I still hope something clicks and he finds his magic again, but it’s looking less and less likely with over outing for him.

- Jeff Weaver can opt out of his contract on Sunday if he’s not on the Brewers roster. He hasn’t pitched well at all so it’s starting to look like he may have to agree to stay on the AAA team or will be released.

- Yost said batting Kendall ninth has been working, but then promptly switched him to eighth in the order in Monday’s game. I guess he was hoping to spark the offense by making the switch. It should provide more protection for Hardy.

- Brewers’ pitching prospect Mark Rogers is making very slow progress in his recovery from shoulder surgery.

- Baseball Prospectus has an interview with Ned Yost (for subscribers).

- Brew Crew Ball wonders if Kendall’s offensive production has gone down since he’s catching so much.

- The Brew Town Beat says the Brewers’ season is over.

- Babes Love Baseball breaks down Ryan Braun in ways I’ve never considered… And probably never will again…

- Baseball America has the scouting reports for draft prospects ranked 101-200.

- In extremely strange and sad news, former Brewer reliever Geremi Gonzalez was struck by lightning and killed this weekend.

- Jim Powell links to some audio and some analysis of Sunday’s game.

- Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt answer e-mails.

- Reds’ outfield prospect Jay Bruce finally got the call to the bigs.

- Crawfish Boxes wonders what happened to Roy Oswalt.

- Bleed Cubbie Blue asks for the Cubs to trade for Greg Maddux. He’ll probably be traded before the deadline since he’s only signed through the year and the Padres seem hopelessly lost. Chicago or Atlanta seem like the most likely destinations for him (since he’ll have say in where he gets dealt), but Milwaukee could also be in the picture with the Mike Maddux connection.

- The Chicago Sun Times says the Cubs are winning with youth. They have five rookies on their team (20 percent of their roster).

InReview

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Week 8 Record: 3-3
Total Record: 23-27

Things I Like:
- Ben Sheets saying “as if” to bullpen help
- Mike Cameron and Rickie Weeks heating up at the plate (both over .300 for the week)
- Salomon Torres closing games
- Carlos Villanueva back in the bullpen. Let’s make him the closer of the future.
- Timothy Dillard! Who is this kid that came up and threw 96 MPH heaters with ease?

Things I Don’t:
- JJ Hardy’s errors
- Bill Hall needing to be platooned at third. I really thought he’d get better being back in the infield…
- Geremi Gonzalez losing his life.
- Not winning the series against Washington.

Numbers of the Week:

.314 - Team’s batting average for this past week.

706 - Days since Seth McClung’s previous start before Saturday

5 - Number of former BoSox on the team if Julian Tavares joins (others include Eric Gagne, Gabe Kapler, Jeff Suppan, and Brian Shouse)

An Open Letter

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Ben Sheets

First of all, let me commend you on making baseball in Milwaukee count again. It was not so long ago when Brewers baseball was synonymous with the word pushover. Brewer baseball is now respected more than ever around the league and in our state. Thank you for that.

The reason for this letter is a simple request. That request is that you re-sign Ben Sheets. Now I know you’ve heard the talking heads and casual fans talk about Ben Sheets not being worth his current contract because he’s “always hurt”. I also know that signing up the young talent is a high priority, as it should be. But I believe that locking up Ben Sheets for at least 3 more years should be priority number one now that Braun is taken care of.

First of all, Ben Sheets is a certified ace. He’s a stopper and when he’s firing on all cylinders, so too does the pitching staff. He has a career ERA of 3.78 and holds the Brewers record for most strikeouts. I’ve heard the arguments. One argument is that he never won more than twelve games. While this is true, true Brewer fans will remember that if it wasn’t for a team with a dismal offense, Sheets would have been a top candidate for the Cy Young in 2004. It’s hard to win many games with starters such as Ben Grieve, Gary Bennett, and Wes Helms in your lineup and the team as a whole winning 68 games. Ben Sheets alone, then, accounted for about slightly less than 18% of the total wins that year. Not bad for someone who plays once every five games.

Ben Sheets

Secondly, the cost to replace Ben Sheets would be more expensive than re-signing him. You decided to let Cordero go on the open market, a move I agreed with. He ended up taking a slightly better offer with another NL Central team. You decided to sign Eric Gagne to replace him, which has been costly and ineffective. It’s too early to say bust, but the thought is out there. In the winter of 2006, you signed Jeff Suppan for 4 years and $42 Million. It was a very good pick up for the team, albeit costly. Now, Jeff Suppan is a good number 3 pitcher, but that’s what he is: a number 3. Imagine the price of trying to pick up a number 1 pitcher on the open market, which the Brewers probably couldn’t, or even a number 2 pitcher on the open market. Then the Brewers would have young Yovani Gallardo on top of the rotation, which will happen in time (don’t get me wrong), but not now, not with the unfortunate injuries. Yes, Yovani is a great pitcher, but one can basically use the same injury argument now with Yovani as they do with Ben. The difference is that Ben Sheets went 4 years in the majors without an injury while Gallardo is 2 for 2. It’s nothing against Yovani, but I’d rather have Ben at one and Yovani at two for a couple more years while he becomes dominant than Yovani at one, Suppan or Free Agent Acquisition at two.

Next, Ben Sheets is a great player to have in the clubhouse. He keeps things loose, but he shows other players that when the game is on, he is nothing but business. He also remembers being part of the terrible teams of yore and truly wants to make this Brewer’s logo as memorable as the ball and glove logo.

Ben Sheets said when he was last signed that he has no allegiances to other teams; he has no childhood dream of playing anywhere in particular, so he’s glad he’s a Brewer and has a home with Milwaukee. Please make him keep his baseball home right here in Brew City.

Signed,
a fan

After Further Review…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

According to Yahoo, Major League Baseball is considering instant replay for baseball. A proposal is in the process and testing could begin as early as this fall in the Arizona Leagues. Here’s a list of some things I’d like to hear:

1) After further review, it appears that Johnny Estrada actually WAS running out the ground ball and, yes, that is just how fast he runs.

2) After further review, Geoff Jenkins IS Brett Favre.

3) After further review, the Scott Linebrink trade was terrible.

4) After further review, it appears that Butch Heddo did hit the home run off of Henry Rowengartner.

5) After further review, it appears that Moises Alou wouldn’t have been able to catch the ball anyway so get over yourselves; you lost that series on your own.

6) After further review, the fan in the Field Outfield Box is a two-fisted slopper and should stop doing the “He’s a Bum” chant towards members of the BrewCrew.

7) After further review, there are still more Hardy’s Hotties than Braun Babes at the ball park.

8) After further review, the major sports outlets have run the story about Prince not eating meat into the ground. They will begin to run the Ben Sheets expiring contract story into the ground.

In the News (5/22)

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Dave Bush

Today’s Game: Pirates 8, Brewers 4
Record: 22-25, tied for fourth place
Games Behind Cubs: 6

- Another ugly game for Bush. He gave up six earned runs in five innings and suffered from a big inning again, giving up four in the fourth.

- DiFelice pitched a nice inning after Bush exited.

- The Brewers offense continued to collect hits, getting 14 tonight with Weeks and Hart contributing home runs.

- The team left 14 runners stranded on base.

- Fielder went 2-4 and Hall went 3-5. Hopefully they can both start to hit more consistently.

- McClouth went 4-4 for the Pirates without hitting the ball hard once. The “hit” he got in the first inning was terrible scoring though. Fielder fielded an easy grounder and started to slowly go towards first. He decided to keep it himself despite Bush being there before McClouth. Fielder arrived at the bag after McClouth. It should have been an error on Fielder, who had a throwing error that cost the Brewers a run later in the game.

- Gagne has right rotator cuff tendinitis and received a cortisone shot. He’s not available for at least the next three days and will be re-evaluated at that point. This is not a good sign… I can’t help but feel like he’s about to go on the DL. More HERE.

- John Donovan has a story up on SI.com on “the man Brewers fans loves to hate.”

- Dayn Perry of FoxSports.com says Yost is not the man to lead the Brewers to the next level.

- Defensive Indifference blogger Andrew Johnson says Yost made a bad decision allowing Sheets to pitch a complete-game yesterday. Sheets threw 123 pitches in the game, the fourth most of any pitcher in a game this year. Johnson says you have to treat Sheets, who has had injury issues for the past several years, much more careful than that. I think an MLB pitcher has to be able to throw 123 pitches in a game. That’s really not that outlandish for a veteran almost two months into the season. And Sheets’ injuries have not been related to being overworked. They’ve been freak injuries.

- Speaking of the complete game for Sheets, it was only the third time in Brewers’ history a pitcher threw a complete game and gave up 11 or more hits.

- Jeff Sackmann at Brew Crew Ball analyzes the possible Counsell/Hall platoon at third. He also feels it’s not a long-term solution.

- Kenn Ruby of RotoWire lists the Brewers closer situation among the most unstable in MLB.

- Baseball America notes Brewers’ pitching prospect Jeremy Jeffress’ second start since coming back from a suspension. Jeffress pitched five innings, giving up no runs and collecting 10 strike outs. He allowed four hits and one walk. Jeffress has all the potential in the world. Hopefully he can capitalize on it with the Brewers.

- Between the Green Pillars says A.J. Burnett and Rich Harden might be the best pitchers the Brewers could target in the trade market. I think either would help the team, but both come with big-time injury histories. When Harden is healthy, he’s an ace. He might not cost as much as other top pitchers in a trade because of his injury history so it might be worth looking into.

- Riske hopes to come off the DL by the end of the month, but is still feeling discomfort.

- Jim Powell provides a Gord Ash interview.

- Zambrano says he’s not hurt.

- Looks like MLB is considering instituting some replay. I have mixed feelings about it, but if it’s just for home runs and can be checked quickly, I don’t think it can hurt.

- The Cub Reporter picks out some of the best MLB mug shots.

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