Archive for July, 2008

In the News (7/31)

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Prince Fielder

Today’s Game: Chicago 11, Milwaukee 4
Record: 60-49, Third Place (St. Louis has yet to go final)
Games Behind Cubs: 5

As much as I hate to say it, you have to hand it to the Cubs. They met a Brewers team who was playing all-around good baseball (even when factoring in the Houston series) and just outplayed them in all facets of the game. Today was no different as Chicago completed the Miller Park sweep and further distanced themselves from a Milwaukee team that shared the division lead less than a week prior. As much as I’d like to blame umpires, fluke plays and all other non-game factors, the Cubs showed why they’re currently in first place and the Brewers… didn’t.

Though this series is one to forget, I don’t think much has changed as far as the season scope is concerned. The Brewers can rebound from this. Their just a game from the wild card and one week’s worth of a swing from topping the Central. Adam McCalvy says it best in his lead of Thursday’s recap - “It’s only July.”

- Both Eric Gagne and Prince Fielder were ejected for Thursday’s game: Gagne (seemingly intentionally) threw a ball behind Jim Edmonds, who hit two homers in the game and Fielder was tossed for arguing after flying out - both in the ninth inning. I hope Gagne doesn’t get suspended for the incident during such a frivolous point in the game.

- Furthermore to the Cubs’ credit: They managed to leave Milwaukee without making any gloating statements to accompany the four-game reaming they handed the Brewers.

- Oh yeah, the trade deadline came and went finding the Brewers making no additional roster moves: Not a big surprise. As Jared mentioned, both Arthur Rhodes and Eddie Guardado were reportedly looked into by the Brewers for possible veteran relief help, but (thankfully) neither was brought in. I’m more than happy with the moves Milwaukee made weeks before the deadline.

- The Cardinals and resurrected ace of the past, Chris Carpenter also saw the deadline elapse without making any moves.

- Two big NL Central names were sent packing in deadline deals: Ken Griffey Jr. consented to a trade to join the White Sox and Jason Bay was sent to Boston in the same three-way deal that brought Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and Andy LaRoche (along with others) to the Pirates clubhouse to join his brother Andy. I suppose in the wider scope of things, subtractions by other NL teams’ talent indirectly benefits the Brewers.

- The Brewers blogroll was pretty quiet today: I know it’s been a rough four days, but I think a weekend in Atlanta (where virtually anyone who remotely matters is hurt) will be just what the Brewers need. Step off those ledges and get back to the keyboard, bloggers. We need your posts for the continued postseason run.

In the News (7/30)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Manny Parra

Tonight’s Game: Cubs 7, Brewers 2
Record: 60-48, Tied for Second
Games Behind Cubs: 4

What a freakin’ nightmare…

- The Brewers were bludgeoned by the Cubs again at Miller. I have very little positive to say about the game, so instead, I will encourage Brewers fans to watch these videos of 20 Ways to Die Trying to Dunk a Basketball to raise your spirits if even just a little.

- It would be supremely embarrassing to be swept by the Cubs in a four-game series at Miller. The pitching match up is not favorable to Milwaukee tomorrow though…

- Where is the offense?

- And when is the last time the Brewers had a hit with runners in scoring position? More HERE.

- The Brewers have lost six of their last eight at Miller with a seven-game road winning streak sandwiched between crappy home stands. Are we in the twilight zone?

- Corey Hart has been terrible since the All-Star break. What happened? He looks lost at the plate and in the field. The worst part (at least for me) is he shows absolutely no emotion when he botches a play on the field or has another brutal plate appearance.

- The Cardinals tied the Brewers for the wildcard lead.

- Looking for some good news? The Brewers are still tied for the wildcard despite losing five of six, they’re only four behind the Cubs (could be three if they can finally beat the northsiders tomorrow) and they play the Cubs seven more times this season. There is still a third of the season left. There’s no need to panic despite how demoralizing this series has been…

- Here’s a little more good news. Gallardo’s rehab is going well and he’s still aiming for a late-season return. I’m still not counting on it, but it could be a really, really nice boost.

- CC is one classy dude.

- Bad Kermit at Hire Jim Essian says his (imaginary) Brewer fan roommate is impossible to live with in stark contrast to (and in jest of) Tyler’s post earlier this week about living with a Cubs fan.

- Can’t we all just get along?

- If the Brewers could swap Carlos Villanueva and something for Brian Fuentes, would you do it? I would without a second thought if the “throw in” was nothing of real value, but I don’t see the Rockies jumping at that.

- Guardado? Rhodes? Uh, no thanks…

- It looks unlikely any trades will happen anyway.

- Ticket sales remain very strong and it appears the team will make the three million attendance mark.

- Rickie Weeks is for sale, literally.

- Weeks’ brother Jemile, an Oakland prospect, was hurt in a game played at Wrigley.

- Brew Crew Ball interviews pitching prospect Donovan Hand.

- And hey, at least the Brewers aren’t as hopelessly out of the race and clueless as the Astros, right? LaTroy Hawkins? Ouch.

Mike Cameron meets Geoff Jenkins

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Cameron vs. Jenkins


After getting very worked up about my displeasure with Mike Cameron, a thought came to my head: What if Mike Cameron is basically the equivalent of Geoff Jenkins? The more I thought about it, the more sure I felt that Mike Cameron is Geoff Jenkins with more HR’s and strikeouts. Both players are known for their defense. They both can snag a fly ball with the best of them and throw out a runner at home. They also both strike out at the low breaking ball…and it’s infuriating watching Cameron do it more than Jenkins. Now, all I needed to do was some research. Here’s hoping that the 2008 Mike Cameron can get hot like the 2005 Geoff Jenkins

2005 Geoff Jenkins Stats after 70 Games:
257 AB’s, 63 Hits, 16 Doubles, 8 HR, 27 RBI’s, 36 Runs, 30 Walks, .245 BA, .341 OBP, .401 SLG%, .742 OPS

2008 Mike Cameron Stats after 70 Games
257 AB’s, 59 Hits, 17 Doubles, 15 HR, 41 RBI’s, 35 Runs, 34 Walks, .230 BA, .320 OBP, .471 SLG%, .791 OPS

The numbers are more than comparable, they’re eerie at times. As most of us know, Jenkins ended the season hitting .292 with 25 HR’s and 86 RBI’s. It’s a glimmer of hope that Mike Cameron can still turn things around and be a productive member of this team during the playoff hunt.

In the News (7/29)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Ben Sheets

Tonight’s Game: Cubs 7, Brewers 1
Record: 60-47, Second
Games Behind Cubs: 3

And another game bites the dust… Milwaukee’s co-ace Ben Sheets yielded six earned runs in yet another loss to the hated Cubs. Furthermore in the enraging category, Cubs scrubs Mark DeRosa and Kosuke Fukudome each registered two RBIs in the win. Disappointing, but I’m not exactly hanging myself.

- The Brewers are aggressive in their bid for Rangers catcher Gerald Laird: It looks as if Mike Rivera has become more expendable.

- Chuckie Hacks says Tom Haudricourt thinks Rickie Weeks should be held to the standards of every other struggling Brewers player: Team Wisconsin agrees.

- Watch out for Cubs fans wearing steel-toed boots: Simply another tale of Cub fans being awful humans.

- Baseball Asatte: Brew Crew Ball talks of 30 Brewers that could help out in “the day after tomorrow”: A great statistical analysis of names that will rule Milwaukee’s lineup in a few years.

- Brew Town Beat seems to know the score when it comes to Cubs fans.

- Brewers Bar blames Ned Yost for tonight’s loss.

- My favorite current Brewer Manuel Parra shows how to sport high pants: I’ll use this when I’m 60, fo sho’!

- Brewers Fanatics has prospect watch on our pal Evan Frederickson: They also have a link to our interview with him. Look out for this guy, he will pitch in Milwaukee.

Mike Rivera Should Sleep With the Fishes, See?: A Trade Proposal

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Mike Rivera

About a week ago I put on my GM hat and made a proposal in passing regarding Milwaukee’s backup catcher being traded. I realized immediately this would not only be an unlikely trade, but would register a half-blip on most fans’ radars if actually executed. Yet, maybe it’s just the eternal seller mindset instilled within me by losing season after losing season or maybe I just love seeing Dougie and Gord at work; whatever the reason is, I can’t stop thinking about a trade involving Mike Rivera.

With little more than two days remaining before the trade deadline, the only team I could see who’s in dire straights for a career backup with minimal Major League Baseball experience and just 51 ABs thus far this season is the Florida Marlins. The Marlins presently sit in third place, but just 1 game back from the lead in a competitive NL East (fourth place, 4 GB from wild card). They’ve somehow managed a surprisingly great 2008 campaign with next to no payroll and - almost more glaringly - no even near legitimate catcher to speak of.

Their “starting” backstop Matt Treanor has been on the DL with a hip injury since July 8 and he won’t be able to return to his .240 AVG, 2 HR form for another week or two. In 132 fewer at bats, Rivera has either nearly matched or exceeded all of Treanor’s offensive output. Rivera has barely more plate appearances than Florida’s other current catchers, Paul Hoover and John Baker, but his .314 AVG, .352 OBP and mere 9 Ks make him much more desirable than these less-experienced options who’ve managed .205 and .195 batting averages respectively.

There’s been plenty of rumbling regarding the Marlins seeking a catcher, even allusions to once household names like free Johnny Estrada and ex Marlins Paul Lo Duca and Ivan Rodriquez. Johnny Estrada, as many of us know, was cut by the Nationals after an ineffective and oft-injured beginning to the season, Paul Lo Duca - also a National - would be the Marlin’s highest paid player if brought in, and he plays for a division rival whose GM (Jim Bowden) has a track record of being virtually impossible to deal with. I personally don’t see why the Tigers would give up their starting catcher when they’re still within striking distance of the AL Central crown (6 GB) and the wild card (7 GB)… plus a salary of Pudge’s caliber would make the light-spending Marlins front office roll in their collective grave.

So I ask, why not Mike Rivera? In taking into account the stats he accrued while playing once roughly every 10 days, along with his game calling and plate discipline within that span, he’s exceeded the output of all three catchers on a surprise contender’s roster. The penny-pinching Marlins could have him for less than half of his sub-$500,000 salary and surrender a single chip from their stack minor league ranks to their suddenly catcher-heavy trading partner in return.

From the Brewers’ side of things, a deal could probably convey a low-level arm with some promise, like the Jose Capellan for Chris Cody and Gabe Gross for Josh Butler transactions of old, or bring a marginal infield prospect in. The Sabathia and Durham deals far from dried up Milwaukee’s farm system, but another arm couldn’t hurt a team who’s given up three of its pitchers in the past month. As for trading a tool to a team capable of claiming the wild card over the Brewers, I don’t realistically see Mike Rivera being the lone piece of a Marlins playoff push, do you?

I feel ridding themselves of Rivera would enable Milwaukee to call up Vinny Rottino a month early since a September promotion and a 2009 roster spot seem in his future anyway, and would give the Crew’s farm system the opportunity to promote each tier of their catchers up a level. They’ve each done great at their respective levels up to now. Angel Salome could benefit from a month of reps in Nashville, as could Jonathan Lucroy in Huntsville and Eric Fryer in Brevard County. If Rottino’s defense and game-calling are up to snuff with his potent offense and speed, which they seem to be in his 2nd consecutive Triple-A all-star season, then I don’t see how losing Rivera for the last month plus of the season really hurts the Brewers.

Rivera has been great in his rare opportunities this season, better than expect even. But wouldn’t it be worth looking into shipping off someone who catches every seven to 10 days if it could bring a pitcher who could one day take the mound as a Milwaukee starter every five?

In the News (7/28)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Derrek Lee

Tonight’s Game: Cubs 6, Brewers 4
Record: 60-46, Second
Games Behind Cubs: 2

Derrek “Tree” Lee and the Cubs hopped out the gates to score two early runs on the previously dominant CC Sabathia, but the Brewers managed to stay in the game with three homers. However, an errant throw by Rickie Weeks and two ninth inning runs surrendered by Salomon Torres proved costly as the Crew dropped the first of a four game set in a back and fourth contest.

- Ned Yost says Weeks is rushing his throws: Though his defense has improved slightly from a terrible initial showing in the bigs, throwing still seems to be his biggest problem… that and hitting for a respectable average and adequately playing the game of baseball.

- Eric Gagne pitched well yet again: He looks great so far in the setup role. After a rough start in Milwaukee, I’m happy he’s found a place in which he’s managed to thrive.

- South Side Rob thinks it’s time for the Brewers to “sack up”: They pretty much have this past month or so. I disagree that Monday’s game and the series are both must wins. There’s still nine more match ups against the Cubs and a fairly light remaining schedule for Milwaukee. In all honesty, though it would be sweeter to see the Crew crush the Cubs en route to the division crown, it’s not exactly necessary - as long as they don’t totally crap the bed and lose pretty much every remaining game against Chi town.

- Derrick Turnbow has a torn rotator cuff: He’s more than likely thrown his final pitch in connection with the Brewers, and possibly as a Major Leaguer. The guy has endured a terrible year, but such is the rise and fall that is the relief pitching gig.

- Apparently Jason Bay was very close to bring dealt to Atlanta for a glut of minor league talent (including ex Pirate infield prospect Brent Lillibridge), but the deal was shot down by the Pirates owner: It looks like a deal could still go down if the Braves can slap on a low-level arm. Bay said he’d like to stay a Pirate, but with Nady, Marte both gone – the Pirates are clearly sellers whose most realistic hope is taking fourth in the Central. This trade could still happen.

- Red Sox in talks with Astros for Miguel Tejada?: That’s odd, I thought the Astros (for whatever reason) saw themselves as buyers. :)

- Roy Halladay to St.Louis? Drunk Jays Fans give that rumor a great big “as if!”: As for the incessant rumors of A.J. Burnett, we’ll see (but probably not).

- Diamond Hoggers throws around some more possible trades.

- In-Between Hops says keeping Jeff Turnbow, er, Suppan in the rotation much longer is an insult to Dave Bush and Seth McClung: His playoff experience is valuable, but his experience in the postseason may not be necessary if he keeps handing the opposition games and wearing out the bullpen. He’s earned a chance or two more with his track record, but I’m not opposed to penning him up in the near future.

- Some single, obstructed view and standing room only tickets are still available for this week’s Cubs series: Get them before they end up in the wrong hands.

- Holy Cow! Braves pitcher Will Ohman does his best Harry Caray: Hilarious video. That impression pushed me over to the side of wanting Milwaukee to take a run at trading for the goofy southpaw.

- Our pal Melissa from Red Sox blog (that we still owe five Papi Seeds shirts to) Center Field posts a proposed solution to both the Brett Favre and Man-Ram fiascos: At this point I’m down with anything that will shut people up. The pictures are great!

- The Junkball Blues has some crazy rankings that I don’t immediately understand: See if you can make some sense of this thorough listing of statistical mastery.

Sleeping Near the Enemy: Rooming with a Cubs Fan

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Bobby n Me

I have a secret, Brewer fans.

For the past year I’ve held this information back, stowed it away in denial and flat out lied to preserve my own standing as a Brewers fan in this information’s wake. Hell, some guys in RFB don’t even know this, but with the Cubs coming to town for the first time this season – a season that finds Milwaukee and Chicago again pitted in a heated rivalry atop the NL standings – I feel I must finally fess up and face the music.

For the past year I’ve lived with a Cubs fan… and furthermore, (even when taking his allegiance into account) I like the guy.

Few could have expected that I, or any self respecting Brewers fan, would willingly become roommates with a person of this cloth, but I personally don’t see the big deal; we like different baseball teams and neither of us are loud, annoying douchebags over our difference. If anything, the friendly ribbing hinged on respect for one another adds a positive element to the rivalry.

Beyond his love for the Cubs and Bears, my roommate… let’s just call him “Bobby” since that’s his name, is a stand-up guy. He’s considerate, once sharing his homemade Kahlua mix, as well as the additional egg or slice of cheese from time to time. He’s much cleaner than I am and he’s significantly better about washing the dishes and not spitting his phlegm in the sink than our other (Brewer fan) roommate is. Plus, based on the photo above, he seems to have a closer to average head and body size than I do. All those factors and more indicate that he’s a class act – even if he may overvalue players like Mark DeRosa and Ted Lilly a bit.

But I suppose the real reason for this post is not to explain why I like Bobby, but it is to remind fans of both the Brewers and the Cubs that beneath the embroidered caps and allegiance-indicating outerwear, these fans are people and, despite their difference in favorite baseball team, have the ability to be good and likable people.

Sure, a lot of the Cubbie faithful may be obnoxious, self-entitled OAR fans who handle their booze like toddlers – but then again, so are a lot of Brewer fans. Don’t’ act like you haven’t rolled your eyes at the actions or stereotype fulfillment of a fan of your team at some point. If you haven’t, look for that wasted guy in your section who’s wearing yellow cargo shorts and trying to get everyone to start the wave in between booing Ryan Braun for going 1-4 without a homer on the day; he’s there.

As this HUGE series gets underway, remember you represent your fellow fans and your team. Fist fights, beer showers and arguing really does nothing in the end. For every meathead with a C on his cap and a barbwire tattoo around his bicep who wants to rumble because you like a different baseball team than he does, I’d like to believe there is a guy like Bobby in the stands – one who is respectful of differing opinions, knowledgeable of the game and just there to have fun while watching his team compete for the NL Central crown.

In fact, Bobby will be at game this week. If you see him, shake his hand and tell him you heard on some Web site that he was a decent guy despite his choice in teams.

Make the Brewers as proud as they’ve made us by allowing what has become an epic rivalry to play out without disruptions, arrests or shame. Go Brewers!

In the News (7/27)

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Three Aces

Today’s Game: Astros 11, Brewers 6
Record: 60-45, Second (wild card leader)
Games Behind Cubs: 1

- Today’s game and the series as a whole were pretty disappointing. It certainly sucked some of the excitement and momentum the club built on their 7-0 road trip and after catching the Cubs to tie for the division lead.

- Suppan had one bad inning and it was the main reason the Brewers fell so far behind the Astros.

- Haudricourt questions Yost leaving Suppan in for so long. I also questioned it, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight…

- McClung also struggled in two innings of relief, giving up three runs.

- Braun continued his ridiculous post-All-Star-game hitting with another home run and three hits.

- Speaking of hot hitting, Hardy’s resurgence has been key in the team’s hot streak.

- The Brewers tied the Cubs for the division lead for a day with a come-from-behind win against the Astros and Cubs’ loss to the Marlins. It was sweet, but the Brewers have more work to do. More HERE. And a Cubs’ point-of-view HERE.

- The Brewers offense decided not to show up on Friday against Houston. They scored just once in the 3-1 loss. More HERE.

- Has anybody heard something about a Brewers/Cubs series? Yeah… This series is huge. That’s all that needs to be said.

- The Cubs and Cardinals will likely see a lot of Sheets and Sabathia over the rest of the season. That starts tomorrow with Sabathia facing the Cubs.

- Hall has hit himself out of the platoon at third. He’s the full-time starter again.

- Braun has been playing great defense in the outfield. Any discussions or questions about his long-term position can be silenced. He’s found his home on the diamond.

- The “starter platoon” of Bush and McClung is in full swing. I still hate it.

- Jeff Sackmann at Brew Crew Ball questions the Brewers’ alleged interest in Brian Giles and Arthur Rhodes. I echo his questioning. I don’t see how either of those guys would help the team enough to justify giving up more prospects.

- Sackmann says the Brewers don’t need bullpen help. I agree with his conclusion. The Brewers could be slightly better with another reliable relief pitcher, but good relief pitchers cost a lot right now in terms of trade value and it’s not worth the price. The bullpen has been performing better and with the starters going deeper into games, it should be rested and ready to go. Melvin also seems to agree.

- Al at Al’s Ramblings says Yost deserves some credit for how well this team has played, especially in close games. The team is seventh in runs scored in the NL and fifth in team ERA, but have the second best record.

- A poster at Al’s Ramblings notes Fukudome’s brutal home/road splits. Looks like the Brewers should pitch to him this week.

- The new turf on Miller Park’s infield has been receiving nice reviews from the players.

- Dugout Central has a scouting report on CC Sabathia. The verdict? He’s real good.

- The Brew Town Beat says it’s time to ditch the retro unis. I agree. Those uniforms are great and 1982 was special, but it’s time for this team to develop it’s own identity.

- Haudricourt lists the top Brewers prospects at each position in his opinion. The Brewers’ minor-league system remains strong.

- Brew Crew Ball interviewed Brewers prospects Lucas Luetge and Cutter Dykstra.

- Jacob Odorizzi was the Brewers’ Prospect of the Week on Sports Bubbler. Many people think Odorizzi was a steal where the Brewers got him in the draft this year. Hopefully we’ll see him in Milwaukee in a few years.

- Former Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Smardzija is now on the Cubs. Notre Dame is my most-hated college football team (in a virtual tie with Michigan). The Cubs are my most-hated baseball team. Needless to say, I don’t like Smardzija. Here’s another reason the guy sucks:

“He has the girliest curlique-lookin’ lower back tramp stamp I have ever seen.”

A tramp stamp? Are you serious? Sometimes the Cubs make it too easy for me to despise them…

InReview

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Week 16 Record: 5-2
Total Record: 60-45

Things I Like:
- What will be referred to for the rest of the year as “The Road Series”
- Ryan Freakin’ Braun (see Numbers)
- Bill Hall remembering how to be clutch
- Brewers Battling all week long. The team coming from behind and winning was amazing to watch.
- CC Sabathia has 3 CG in a row!?!?! Are you kiddin’ me?!?!? Awesome. Absolutely.
- Making up a 5 game deficit in 9 games to tie the Cubs

Things I Don’t:
- And then losing the next day
- Letting the Astros come into Miller Park and take 2 out of 3
- Corey Hart having some bad days at the office

Numbers of the Week:

.414/4/12 - Ryan Braun’s BA, Home Run, and RBI totals for this week

.500/6 - JJ Hardy’s BA and Run total for this week

2.67 - Brewers team ERA for the week not including Sunday’s game

3.70 - Brewers team ERA for the week including Sunday’s game

1.325 - 1982 Brewers average Home Runs hit per game (Harvey’s Wallbangers)

1.304 - 2008 Brewers average Home Runs hit per game (Nedly’s Wallbangers?)

Those Cubs are Classy, Even in the Minors

Friday, July 25th, 2008

In an organization that employs a moonwalking home run hitter (Soriano), face-slugging first baseman (Lee), manager-punching starter (Lilly), dirt-kicking, base-throwing manager (Piniella) and a teammate-boxing hurler (Zambrano), I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising to see one more glaring example of the fine standard of class the organization upholds. The Cubs’ Peoria minor-league affiliate was involved in a large-scale brawl Thursday in the first inning of a game. In the most ridiculous display of idiocy I’ve seen in a long, long time, Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo took a ball and fired it as hard as he could towards the opposing team’s (Dayton, a Reds’ affiliate) dugout, but missed and hit a fan. The fan was taken to a hospital. Castillo was arrested. He had already hit two Dayton players, including one in the head, and came close to a third, all seemingly on purpose IN THE FIRST INNING. Wow… Classy.

Insomniac Ink