Archive for February, 2009

Delay on the Fan Favorite Vote

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Sorry if there’s any confusion, but I’m working off of a new poll site that’s going to make this year’s poll look better, work better, and be much easier for me overall. Problem is, since we switched to WordPress, we need to install a plug-in and since our awesome webmaster does this site pro-bono, the first vote will be delayed until probably Monday. That means you still have time to get in your entries until the first poll goes up. We’ve had a lot of people get their entries in already!

In the News (2/27)

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Thursday’s Game: Brewers 4, Cubs 7
(Spring Training) Record: 0-1-1

Game Recap

- Yovani Gallardo and Seth McClung each struggled with walks in limited time Thursday. Mikes Rivera and Cameron each tallied solo homers, but Milwaukee’s pitching woes proved too costly - as Chicago won. Luckily it’s just Spring Training and games mean nothing. Phew!

Brewers News

- JS fluff feature on Trot Nixon and/or Chris Duffy’s chances of making the team: I said Nixon would probably make the 25-man in last week’s roundtable, but I’d prefer Duffy (of the two).

- Speaking of hack outfielders, Tony Gwynn Jr. says he won’t miss a month due to injury, calling his ailment “day to day.”

- Brew Crew Ball asks “What’s Tony Gwynn Jr.’s Upside?”: That’s a trick question, right?

- The Brewers signed Manny Parra, Tony Gwynn Jr., Chase Wright and Hernan Iribarren Thursday: Expected but necessary moves.

- The Junkball Blue says Dave Bush was lucky in 2008.

- Ken Macha is rumored to be intending to pair backup catcher Mike Rivera with a starter to decrease Jason Kendall’s workload. Rotoworld predicts Parra might be Rivera’s batterymate if this plan is put into action.

- Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat has a schedule of six Brewers Spring Training games that will be aired on MLB Network.

- Single game tickets go on sale Saturday: These asshats are getting in on the festivities that allow them to wait in line to purchase something.

Minor Leagues

- Bernie’s Crew projects the Timber Rattlers lineup: That team looks good.

NL Central

- Cardinals apparently hope to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis forever: Luckily he’s probably 50 by now, so it won’t be too much longer… shitty Dominican birth records.

Other News

- Two Fisted Slopper piles on JS’s Anthony Witrado.

- Man-Ram turned down L.A’s offer… again: The offer was reportedly in the neighborhood of a 2-year/$45M deal. It must be nice to be able to do that.

Check out RFB on facebook. Be our friend, buy our shirts and interact. Have a tip top weekend.

Can you Just Not Make the Team Already, Casey McGehee?

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Get out of my dreams (and into my car). Wait, you're not skinny Brad Nelson!

It had to be someone.

I couldn’t tell you exactly why Casey McGehee will be absorbing the majority of my Brewers-related disdain as long as he has a chance of cracking camp - yet he will. With significantly better players ahead of him, multi-position versatility and the look of displaced farmhand moxie about him, McGehee resembles the type of Spring Training invitee whose name I’d usually be doodling beside hearts and shooting stars in my Lisa Frank Siberian Tiger Trapper Keeper. Yet he isn’t.

Instead, Casey McGehee’s name sits beside Tony Gwynn Jr.’s on my random shit list… and I don’t know why. But in effort to convince myself I’m not a terrible human to wish failure upon a man not too much older (or evidently better at baseball) than myself, I’ll hazard a guess to why McGehee seems to just rub me the wrong way.

1. Blocked… so very, very blocked: One of the few things I’ve cared enough to learn about McGehee in his brief stint as a Brewer is the position he plays. As a third baseman with prior catching experience, I think his chances at stealing Uecker’s job seem more realistic. Save for Bill Hall, the 3B class isn’t pants-tightening by any means - but Casey sits at the bottom of the landfill that rounds out the realistic options. Craig Counsell… ugh, still better than this hack. He’ll obviously make the team.

Mike Lamb is awful, and is old… but at least he’s racked up some decent numbers over the course of his 36-year career. McGehee’s lifetime line? .167, 4 hits, 5 RBI. Plus with the Twinks still paying Lamb $3.something M, Milwaukee is on the hook to pay these players the same amount of money.

Mat Gamel isn’t ready to start the season in Milwaukee. If you think he is, you probably wear your hat backwards, have just heard the name Mat Gamel for the first time and own stock in Remetee. Thus, I excluded him. And notice how these other guys (even Gamel) got to pick their own numbers? Not a good sign, Case.

2. Casey McGehee is not Brad Nelson or Vinny Rottino: That is perhaps the most glaring stat to support his necessary exile from Brewers camp. Being that this stupid planet seems to frown upon a scenario that will bring Eric Hinske to Milwaukee, I had to settle for Rottino to symbolize the weak branch in which to balance my desperate hopes upon… a player to identify with. As it became ever more apparent Rottino will grow old, build a cottage, whittle duck statues and eventually die on Nashville’s bench, I’ve since adopted Brad Nelson as the primary being to cradle in his burly frame my desire to see the underdog prosper.

In short, if you’re not from the Midwest and/or haven’t been met with constant obstacles that I’ve had years to personally observe and build up exponentially in my mind, then I don’t owe you shit, votto.

3. Based on pure speculation, no facts, and a series of unlikely situations, he seems totally lame: You know that guy from high school gym class, college intramural or rec league softball (Joe) who took things way too seriously? McGehee kind of looks like that guy. I envision this first week of Spring Training down time features Corey Hart telling Jason Kendall racist jokes, Prince Fielder mistakenly trying to eat Jason Bourgeois, thinking he’s candy - twice (that’s a he’s little joke, not a he’s black joke… for those of you scoring at home), Craig Counsell teaching Manny Parra Nordic Mythology and Casey friendless, alone in the workout facility grunting loudly in a sleeveless shirt with his embroidered with his collegiate insignia. When he does talk to teammates, it’s probably about “carb intake”, “delts” and “shredding his delts” while sweating constantly and reeking of oniony B.O.

4. The name “Casey McGehee” is annoying - and now I’m officially reaching: I don’t ever want to willingly allow a situation that requires me to cheer the name Casey aloud - unless she’s hot, and we’re alone (HEY-O!). And is it Mick - GAY - he? MIG - ay - hee, or something weird and overtly Irish that I haven’t even considered? Don’t tell me… I’m hoping I never have to find out.

I know none of these reasons are fair, accurate, well-thought or even well-written. But it’s my right to say them. After all, Spring Training is always long, often boring and full of optimistic fluff features of glory chases (not be confused with glory holes). If rooting for some dude to not make the team is the most investment in Brewers baseball I can manage before opening day, then it’ll have to be enough.

I’m sorry, Casey. But it had to be someone… and Trot Nixon was too easy.

In the News (2/26)

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Today’s Game: Brewers 3, Athletics 3
Spring Training Record: 0-0-1

Today’s Game

- The Brewers played their first Spring Training Game against the A’s today. The Brewers went down early after Jeff Suppan gave up a solo shot in the second. Corey Hart tied it up with his own solo shot in the 4th. Julio let 2 come in the 5th. Brad Nelson and Chris Duffy added RBI’s to tie the game up late and that’s how it would end.

- By the way, as someone who listened to most of the game, Cory Provous sounded real good. However, the best part of the broadcast had to have been when Uecker said “We wish everyone good luck to start this season…except Jim Powell.” He then proceeded to talk about Jim Powell for the rest of the inning. I think Ueck’s heart is a little broken…poor guy. But as I said, Provous sounds like a more than worthy sucessor and will only get better.

- Brewers play Cubs Thursday at 2:05 pm. Yovani gets the “start”.

Brewers News

- Tony Gwynn Jr. might be out for a month. Ouch, this is a very important spring for Tony and his future in the Brewers organization and this is just bad news.

- Brew City Sports says “When in Vegas, put down some fatty cash on the Brewers!”

- My Team’s Rivals adds themselves to the list of people who believe the Brewers can’t go back to the playoffs.

- Junkball Blues believes a modified rotation would maximize the Brewers winning potential. Instead of a normal 5 man rotation, a 4 man plus 1 swingman would be the rotation. The swingman would only be used when there are no off days, thus causing the 4 man rotation to have the same amount of days inbetween no matter what. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s not going to happen.

Minor Leagues

- In Appleton, the new T-Rats video board is going up. They are going to make so much money…

- Here’s the projection on the Brevard County Manatees squad. Lots of good young names in there…

Other News

- This is funny. So Yahoo Sports was doing a story on the return of Corey Koskie, but put a picture up of Gabe Gross. Great catch, Bucky Channel.

In the News (2/25)

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

 

Tired of waking up tired...

Brewers News

-SPRING TRAINING GAMES START TODAY!!!!! Brewers v. Athletics. Suppan v. Outman. Braun might play the whole day to get ready for the WBC and Trevor Hoffman is scheduled to make his debut.

- By the way, Macha knows the high expectations for the Brewers this year and if you don’t know much about him or his temperment yet, read this.

- Corey Hart said he was too tired at the end of the season and that’s what caused the slump. He’s also focused on proving people wrong. Kinda like how the fans proved you wrong when you said we don’t stand up for the players…

- Hardy homered in the intrasquad game and Lawrie got some time in at second base.

- Ok Ok, this one is a real banger! So…so, Craig Counsell is all like, older, and Vinny Rottino is like, not, so Craig totally gets one over on Vinny. Check this out, Counsell didn’t want to break in his glove and he was all like “Yo, Vinny, Give me your glove, beeotch” and Vinny was all like “Ah Sh*t Dawg, does I gots to?” So Craig got like all red and sh*t and starting like whining, I don’t really know but it’s what I heard..anywayz he ended up totally getting Rottino’s glove and it was like such a big deal or something ’cause Vinny had to use a glove that, wait for it….WASN’T BROKEN IN!!!!! AWH SNAPPITY SNAP SNAP!!!! Pssht. That’ll teach that rook…er…minor leaguer not to mess with the mini-CC. - Seriously, is this worth reporting?

- Tyler will not approve, but the Brewers already sent four players to the minors (red tagged em?) including Jason Bourgeois and Martin “Not Candy” Maldonado.

- Bleacher Report has 11 guys that need to come through. Rickie Weeks is listed as the second baseman who needs to come through and absolutely no Brewer fan disagrees with that.

- I’m liking this Miller Park Drunk post about how terrible Corey Hart’s batting music is. Maybe he was tired of his song like I was and that’s why he slumped in September…

- Short White Guys believe that the loss of CC and Sheets will be too much to overcome.

- BareKnucks also aren’t crazy about the starting pitching. But then they ask for Odalis Perez and Randy Wolf??? Wolf is back with LA, but I wouldn’t take either over Looper or McClung.

- Brian Anderson lets the “New Guy”, Corey Provus introduce himself. Nice, but we were first!

- You like-a the old MB logo? High Five-ah!!

- Want home opener tickets? Really really want home opener tickets? Want them so bad, you’d let someone poke you in the arm and drain you of your life fluid (for a good cause) just to have a chance at winning tickets? Then go to a BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

 

Minor Leagues

- Baseball America has their Top 100 prospects out!!!!

1-20 (Brewers: 19, Alcides Escobar)

21-40 (Brewers: 34, Mat Gamel)

41-60 (No Brewers)

61-80 (No Brewers)

81-100 (Brewers: 81, Brett Lawrie 100, Jeremy Jeffress)

- The T-Rats have a cool opportunity on April 8th. For $30, you could eat dinner with the new T-Rats at the Wave Bar and Ballroom (For a $300 table, they’ll even send one to sit with you). Gord Ash is the featured guest.

NL Central

- Carlos Zambrano might pitch in the WBC. That’s fine with me…I’m up for some spring training/WBC tantrums.

Other News

- Time to get ready for the season, eh Softball Guy?

- There’s still time to send in your contest entry for a chance to win a free shirt. Just need your top 4 choices, who you think will win, how many votes will be cast (last year there was 3000 total throughout the voting, so take that how you will), your name and address.

- Ben Hendrickson sighting! (Twins)

CLASSIC!!! In the World Baseball Sense…

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Rosters have just been finalized for the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and five Brewers have survived cuts. No real surprises, but here’s the breakdown.

USA: Ryan Braun

Canada: Brett Lawrie, Adam Stern

Italy: Vinny Rottino, Mark DiFelice

Former Brewers Corey Koskie and Chris Barnwell will also suit up for Canada; Henry Blanco will catch for Venezuela and the recently cut Ramiro Mendoza (after not being capable to qualify for a minor league roster spot) will represent Panama.

Keep up to date on how Brewers player perform throughout the World BaseballClassic at RFB. And for those of you who have a rooting interest for Rottino, DiFelice and the rest of the Italian team… or a hankering for tired stereotypes that tip-toe the line of acceptability, I’ll be covering Italy’s (likely short) WBC stint at Bugs & Cranks for some reason.

Play ball!

Blake Billings Interview

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Right-handed starter Blake Billings joined Right Field Bleachers for a phone interview this evening. The 19-year-old prospect from Tuscaloosa, Ala. was drafted by the Brewers in the 19th round of the 2008 draft. The 6′5” pitcher went 10-3 with a 1.52 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings in his senior year of high school in 2008. He threw three shutouts and one no-hitter on the way to Hillcrest High School’s Class 6A baseball championship. And he didn’t slow down after joining the Rookie League Arizona Brewers in July, posting a 2.25 ERA and 15 strikeouts in just 12 innings. Currently working out in Arizona before minor-league Spring Training begins, Billings hopes to start the 2009 season in Appleton with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

You can listen to the interview here:

Hi, this is Jared with Right Field Bleachers and we have Blake Billings on the phone. We’re just going to ask a few questions to the Brewers pitching prospect.

First off, Blake, you’re working out down in Arizona. How has that been going for you so far?

It’s been going well. It was kind of new because I was just out of high school and this is the first time I’ve lived on my own, but other than that, I’ve adapted pretty well and I’ve gotten pretty used to it. It’s really enjoyable and I’m liking it so far.

And you’re just about to start your first Spring Training with the Brewers. Are you looking forward to that?

Yes, I’m really looking forward to that. I know a lot of players that are in the minor leagues and they say that Spring Training is one of the most fun times of the year so I guess it’s something to look forward to.

Sure, and you’re getting a chance to meet a lot of the other players in the organization. How has that been so far?

It’s been pretty fun and exciting, you know, I guess.

You were drafted last year in the 19th round by the Brewers. Did you have any indication going into the draft that they were thinking about taking you?

Yeah, they were actually the first team to really contact me back in February so I kind of figured it was probably going to be the Brewers that took me. They were kind of the no. 1 team that really called me all the time and did stuff like that.

OK, and what was your reaction when you were picked?

I was actually in Boston, Mass. We were out on a senior trip and I was eating at a place called Chicago’s Bar & Grill and the scout that drafted me, his name is Joe Mason, he called me and let me know that he was going to take me. He told me that it looked like the money was going to be right and I was just really excited. I was bouncing around Boston. We went to a game that evening and watched them play the Mariners. So, it was an exciting time in my life.

Yeah, was a tough decision for you to choose to sign or did it all fall together pretty quickly for you?

I had the set signing bonus and I wasn’t going to take anything less than that. When they called me and told me that they had the money for me, I was like, “You know what? This is what I want to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.” And I’ve heard from a lot of different scouts and a lot of different players that the Brewers have one of the best farm systems out of all 30 teams. So, it just kind of worked out for the best.

Sure, and your high school teammate (outfielder) Wayne Dedrick was drafted by the Brewers in the 30th round. Was that pretty special for you guys to get picked by the same organization?

Oh, that was amazing. The guys out here ask us how we pulled that one off. We were just blessed, really lucky to have that because when we got out here we both knew each other really well. I mean, we’ve lived across the street from each other. We’ve been going to the same school forever so it was kind of nice to know someone out here already.

Have the Brewers given you any indication where you’ll start out playing this year?

No, they will let me know after Spring Training in April so I’ll know then.

Do you have any hopes for where you’ll end up?

Well, I would love to be on a full-season team such as Wisconsin, the Timber Rattlers or whatever, the Low-A club. But, you know, my goal is just to make it to the big leagues and however long it takes is however long it takes. I just want to keep playing ball for as long as I can. As long as God let’s me play, I want to keep playing.

Can you give me a little scouting report on yourself? What kind of pitches do you throw and what are your strengths?

I’m a four-pitch guy. I throw a fastball, curveball, change-up and splitter. And, for me, it’s kind of like what day it is. Some days one pitch works better than the others and some days it doesn’t. For me I like to spot up. I usually don’t walk many players and stuff so it’s kind of whatever.

I think I read your fastball tops out in the low 90s. Is that about right right now?

Yeah, that was last season. I think the highest I hit was like 93 or something. Hopefully it gets better as we go along.

And I’ve also read that control is a strength of your game. Do you think that’s accurate?

Yes, I mean, that’s kind of like the main part of my game. If I have control, then that’s how I get guys out. I’ve never been much of a strikeout kind of guy, but I like to get groundballs and flyballs and stuff and let the defense play.

Is there any part of your game that you think you need to work on in particular?

The main thing for me is consistency, being able to locate all four pitches. I guess the people that are pitching in the big leagues right now, their greatest attribute is probably consistency. They can all throw strikes every day and locate all of their pitches every day.

Last year, you had a great start to your minor-league career with the Arizona Brewers. Can you talk about that experience a little bit?

That was really nice to know that I can compete out here. You know, coming out of high school you never know. You never know what’s going on. You didn’t really know what to expect. And after going out there, you know, your first outing, I was extremely nervous. I didn’t want to mess up. I had a good first outing and it was all good from there.

Yeah, and what does that kind of a start do for your confidence going into this year?

Well, it’s kind of nice. You always have that in the back of your mind, but the farther you move up, the better the competition gets so you just kind of have to step it up and get on whatever level you’re at and try to get better. Obviously, being in the minors is not the goal you want. You want to be in the big leagues and that’s my main goal and that’s where I want to be.

Have you been up to Milwaukee at all? Have you seen Miller Park?

I actually haven’t. I have not been to Milwaukee. Mr. Mason, the scout that drafted me, really had no reason for me to go because the cross checker and all had seen me pitch and I guess they had liked what they had seen so they just did not invite me to the pre-draft camp.

So, I imagine you’re looking forward to checking that out when you get the chance?

I mean, that’d be amazing to be able to pitch in Milwaukee and pitch in front of all of those fans. That’s something to just look forward to. That’d be a dream come true.

In Milwaukee, as a pitcher, a starter, you’d have to take some swings too. How do you handle the bat?

Ha, um, I wasn’t much of a hitter in high school. I was just mainly a pitcher and that’s all I did. So, you know, it’d just be another exciting moment I guess, something that’s a little different for me.

And when you’re up with the team, what do you think your at-bat song would be?

I’m not real sure.

Well, you’ve got some time to figure that out I guess.

Yeah.

OK, well, is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything you think Brewers fans should know about you?

I guess just know that I love the game and I’m looking forward to moving up and being a part of the Brewers organization and ultimately get a chance to play with the big league club one day.

Well, thank you very much and good luck going into this season.

Thank you.

In the News (2/24)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Brewers News

- New Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman is looking forward to his season with the Brewers and (for the time being) is done looking back to his bitter break-up with the Padres. Damn, I swear I’ve read this article like ten times in the past week.

- Hoffman did express his love and thanks to the San Diego fans by placing a full-page add in the San Diego paper. Always a classy move.

- Ken Macha gave the Brewers players a short day today. Tomorrow is the first intrasquad game followed by the start of the exhibition season on Wednesday.

- Ken Macha set-up the Spring Training rotation today. Many JSOnline Blog commenters piss and moan.

- Bob Uecker’s new partner Cory Provus made it to Brewers camp today. More pissing and moaning from the same JSOnline Blog commenters commences.

- Beyond the Box Score has its Graph of the Day. It shows JJ Hardy versus Carlos Quentin.

- Check out the opening video to Game 2 of the 1982 World Series on NBC. Wow.

- I’m sure most have seen ESPN’s Mount Rushmore of Sports gimmick, so I’m not going to go into the background. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Anyway, the voting for Wisconsin yielded this as Wisconsin’s Mt. Rushmore of Sports. Jared rolled in his grave.

Minor Leagues

- Right Field Bleachers very own Tyler Maas has another post at Bugs and Cranks. Way to go Tyler. Now I know how you felt when The Onion stole your Craig Counsell thunder. Oh well, you’re much more funny in showing your animosity for morons.

- Bernies Crew takes a shot at predicting the Nashville Sounds roster for this coming season.

- Time Warner Cable is sponsoring the Timber Rattlers opening weekend. No surprise there. It is Time Warner Cable Field for crying out loud.

- Gord Ash will speak at this years Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ Lead-Off Experience. There are also details of the event that is being held April 8 (the day before the T-Rats opener).

NL Central

- Metrasha native Eric Hinske compares this years Pirates to the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. Okay.

Other News

- The Rays signed Jason Isringhausen to a minor league deal.

- Mark Mulder is reportedly close to holding an open bullpen session for interested teams.

- Tit-Baby Seth Frank Odalis Perez was cut by the Nats today. He has this to say:

“I thought it best and I prefer to sit in my house if the Nationals do not show more appreciation for my work,” Pérez said.

Ahh, isn’t a Minor League deal about the right appreciation for your work?

- Who do you think will be on the trading block come July?

- Ouch. Ha. I still love you CC.

RFB’s Annual Fan Vote and Contest

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The RFB March Madness Brewers Vote Returns! Last year we had over 3000 votes and we’re hoping for even more this year.

In order to get more people interested and voting, we are turning the vote into a contest! The person who predicts the final four Brewers will win a RFB Shirt of their choice!

Here are the rules:

1) Email bryan@rightfieldbleachers.com by Noon Central time on Saturday, February 28th with your name, address, and picks for which Brewers will be the top 4 for a chance to win.

2) Also include who you believe will win the whole thing and how many votes will be cast in the final as tiebreakers.

3) Vote! (only one vote per computer per poll will count…meaning it would be hard to SPAM vote for Hernan Irribarren 5000 times)

4) The person(s) who sends in the correct guess for the final four Brewers and wins the tiebreakers will get their choice of RFB t-shirt from our remaining stock for free! (We won’t even charge for shipping as long as you live in the continental US) Be aware that not all shirts and sizes may be available, but most will be. The winner will be announced on Rightfieldbleachers.com one day after the final vote has been taken down. I’m sure I’m supposed to add that no purchase is necessary or something like that.

Here’s this year’s bracket:

As you can see, the bracket is divided into two sides:  Pitchers on one side and Position Players on the other.

Here’s some very brief and basic information on each player:

Position Players:

1) Ryan Braun - Last year’s fan vote winner, Ryan Braun has quickly made his way from hot prospect to hottest player in Milwaukee. The 2007 NL Rookie of the Year had another great year in 2008 hitting .285, with 37 home runs and 106 RBI’s. Ryan also made a clean move to the outfield, committing no errors all year. Ryan also had two titanic home runs at the end of the season to help catapult the Brewers into the playoffs.

2) Prince Fielder - Big Prince seems happier with his contract and with life, so everyone is hoping he goes back to his 2007 numbers. Even though Prince didn’t have as good of a year in 2008, he still put up some great numbers hitting 34 home runs and knocking in 102. Prince is a big leader in this clubhouse and a big name on this team.

3) J.J Hardy - J.J. continues to prove his doubters wrong and had a very strong 2008. J.J. hit a career high .283 last year and hit over 20 home runs for the second straight year. Not bad from a defensive shortstop. J.J maybe known for his boyish smiles by the ladies, but by now, everyone is respecting his talent on the field.

4) Corey Hart - Corey lit the world on fire in the first half of 2008, but his mouth and second half slump hurt him and the team. Still, you can’t be mad at a 20/20 guy that has a fierce gun. Corey is hoping for a hot start to take everyone’s mind off of last years ending.

5) Mike Cameron - Cam missed out on the first 25 games of the season and never looked completely comfortable at the plate because of it until August of 2008. That’s when Mike Cameron hit .360 and helped the Brewers to a 20-7 record in August. Cameron is also a defensive leader and one has to ask if his tutelage helped young outfielders Corey Hart and Ryan Braun.

6) Bill Hall - Will his offseason lasik surgery really be the cure for Billy? Many fans are hoping so, because William has had trouble with his hitting ever since his breakout year in 2006. Last year was hopefully rock bottom. As the starting third baseman at the beginning of the year, he hit .225 and knocked in only 55 runners. Bill was platooned with Russell Branyan and Craig Cousell. Bill is starting off 2009 with an injury and one has to wonder if 2006 was an aberration.

7) Rickie Weeks - Rickie still has a lot of people who believe that he will reach his offensive potential. The problem is, after 2 tough years that number is down to about 50 people. Even though there are many that are down on Rickie, you have to be impressed at his ability to get home when he is on base. Rickie has also become far less of a defensive liability. With almost no one counting on him, maybe 2009 is Rickie’s year.

8) Jason Kendall - Milwaukee’s man of steel started 2008 off like a mad man, but slowed down offensively. That is the only thing he slowed down at, though. Jason has always hustled his @$$ off and was one of the best in the league throwing out runners trying to steal.

9) Craig Counsell - I know I give this Milwaukee-area native a lot of guff, but Craig can play almost any infield position and since Hall and Weeks have been struggling, there isn’t much drop off in OBP. Also, Counsell has a World Series ring, and that has to count for something, right? Last year, Craig hit .226, which is up from the year before when he hit .220.

10) Tony Gwynn - TGJ had a big chance at the beginning of last year with Mike Cameron out to stay a major leaguer. Problem was that Gabe Kapler outperformed Tony at almost every level. Tony will have to prove himself this year right away, especially since he’s out of options. Last year, Tony only had 43 at bats and hit .190.

11) Mat Gamel - Out of all the prospects, Mat Gamel has the best shot at being a starter in the big leagues first. Gamel’s hitting in the AA was supurb, but like Ryan Braun before him, Mat has to work on his defensive skills at third base. Matt was also a September call up.

12) Alcides Escobar - Another top prospect, Alcides has so many people talking about him, the Brewers might consider moving their already young infield around. Alcides hit .328 in AA last year and was a September call up.

13) Brad Nelson - Brad Nelson is a mini-legend at RFB for being permanently blocked by Prince Fielder. Nelson, however, had an amazing season last year for AAA Nashville and he seemed to find his patience at the plate. Brad was a September call up and was given more at bats than both Gamel and Escobar.

14) Mike Rivera - It seemed like once a month he would play, but when Mike Rivera was given a chance, he would deliver. Mike hit .306 off the bench, called a great game behind the plate, and had fans pleading with Ned Yost to let him play more.

15) Mike Lamb - We hardly knew ye last year, but Mike Lamb might have to be the Brewers starting third baseman. Lamb is a career .277 hitter and although he struggled in the Humpty Dome last year, he hit .289 in Houston in 2007.

16) Hernan Irribarren - Hernan was given this spot ahead of Salome because he actually played in 2008. That said, he got a total of 2 hits in 12 games. I don’t see Hernan beating out Braun in a fan vote anyway.

Pitchers:

1) Yovanni Gallardo - If not for a freak accident with human tofu train Prince Fielder, Yovani could have had a breakout 2008. Now, with not one full year under his belt, Brewers fans are expecting Yo to be the club’s ace. To his credit, Yo has never looked anything but confident and was stellar in the postseason. He is up to the task.

2) Manny Parra - Like Corey Hart, Manny had an amazing start to 2008. His innings did get a little high for a first year starter, and he tailed off mightily at the end of the year. Even with his drop, you have to be impressed with his first year numbers: 29 starts, a 10-8 record with the second most strikeouts on the team. He enters 2009 with the knowledge of what it takes to make it through the season.

3) Trevor Hoffman - All-Time Saves Leader Trevor Hoffman is bringing Hells Bells to Milwaukee and his arrival has gotten a lot of people talking. Many of us are waiting to see how he does in Miller Park versus Petco Park, but even in a year in which he “struggled”, Trevor accumulated more saves than any one Brewers pitcher last year.

4) Dave Bush - If Manny Parra had a great start and rough ending, Dave Bush was his polar opposite. Bush started 2008 off so poorly, he had to platoon with Seth McClung. Cooler heads won out and Bush was 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in the amazing August of 08. Let’s also not forget that Bush was the lone Brewers winner in the postseason.

5) Carlos Villanueva - Carlos is a super reliever. He will be absolutely stellar for 3 innings and that’s why I believe he needs to stay in the pen. There’s nothing wrong in having a great long reliever, and Carlos is just that. The numbers tell most of the story: As a reliever in 2008, Villa has a 2.12 ERA, struck out 62 in only 59 innings, and had an opponent BA of only .220.

6) Seth McClung - Seth McClung helped the Brewers in 2008 in any way he could. He started, he relieved, he was a long reliever. No matter where he was, he was nothing but solid. Seth will look to be solid again in 2009 and will be the first one the Brewers turn to in case of injury. Oh, and we all bet big Seth can party like a true Milwaukeean.

7) Eric Gagne - Gagne returns to Milwaukee costing a whole lot less and being relied on a whole lot less as well. Last year, Gagne posted a 5.44 ERA and had 10 saves. He did, however, start getting it together in September and closed the year only walking 3 batters while striking out 10 and having an ERA of 3.09. He also did a nice thing and purchased 5000 tickets for fans which were taken in only 20 minutes.

8) Jeff Suppan - Jeff started over 30 games for two years in  a row now for Milwaukee, but when he hasn’t proven to be a big game pitcher. Jeff is a solid starter, going .500 inboth his years as a Brewer, and has done a lot in the community.

9) Braden Looper - Also a former Cardinal, Braden Looper was picked up late this offseason, but for only 4.5 million dollars. Braden was an excellent reliever in Florida and was a strong starter in St. Louis. Even though his numbers last year may look likeSuppans, Looper is much more of a ground ball pitcher and his fastball is normally in the 90’s.

10) Mitch Stetter - Mitch Stetter was a very nice surprise in 2008 and fills the lefty-specialist void vacated by Brian Shouse. Mitch is still quite young and needs to work on throwing strikes more consistently, but was able to hold opponents to only a .160 BA.

11) David Riske - David had his worst year last year since 2002. What happened in 2003? He had quite possibly his best year…will history repeat itself?

12) Chris Capuano - Don’t call it a comeback…yet. Chris is a loooooooong time removed from his All-Star 06 status. Missing out on the entire 2008 campaign due to Tommy John surgery #2 and still getting paid over 3 mill, Cappie was non tendered, then signed to a minor league deal with the Brewers. He’s trying to make a comeback and Brewer fans haven’t forgotten his deceptive pickoff move…have they?

13) Todd Coffey - Todd went from Cincinatti’s next big reliever in 2006 to Milwaukee’s 2008 waiver wire claim. His tenure in Milwaukee started off strong; he didn’t give up a run in 7.2 relief innings with the Crew. I believe Coffey will be an excellent arm in the bullpen.

14) Jorge Julio - Jorge Julio is another former closer who can’t seem to put together a complete year. He does have a fastball that can almost touch 100, but has about a 2:1 Strikout to walk ratio and has ended up on a different team than he started with for the last 3 years.

15) Mark DiFelice - In only 15 games, Mark DiFelice posted a very nice 2.84 ERA for the Crew last year and never once blew a save. Even though the Brewers have brought in a lot of veteran arms, DiFelice will probably be back to help in 2009.

16) Tim Dillard - Brought up around the same time as DiFelice, Dillard surprised most fans with his mid 90’s fastball and the fact that he didn’t give up one run in his first 6 appearances. In fact, Dillard only had one bad outing that caused his ERA to rise, and that was when he gave up 4 runs in .2 innings against Toronto. He only gave up 3 runs in all of his other appearances.

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There you have it, get your contest entries in to bryan@rightfieldbleachers.com and come back for the first series of voting starting on Saturday, February 28th.

In the News (2/23)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Brewers News

- Hall is looking to regain the form he had in 2006. He dedicated his offseason to getting in better shape, having LASIK eye surgery and focusing on some bad habits he needed to correct. I think I speak for all Brewers fans when I say we’re pulling for the guy. And if he can even come close to the production he had in 2006, it would make an already imposing batting order even better.

- Hall will likely miss about one week of Spring Training games, a much better timetable than the original prognosis, which had him missing almost all of the Spring Training games.

- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story on the Brewers coming into Spring Training. Some nuggets:

  • Doug Melvin is less than pleased with the draft pick compensation the Brewers will be receiving after losing Sabathia and Sheets in free agency:

“I didn’t think we wouldn’t get a first-round draft pick for him. That’s the part that disappoints me. Stupid Elias rankings. It’s awful. So, the Angels (who lost Teixeira), who had 97 (100 actually) wins, get the (Type A) draft pick.”

“And no disrespect to 41-year-old Brian Shouse. But the draft pick we’re getting for him (a reliever who signed with Tampa Bay) is only seven picks ahead of the one we’re getting for CC. There’s some definite flaws in the system. Our owner (Mark Attanasio) is not very happy about it either.”

  • Braden Looper and his wife went to China in October to wrap up a lengthy adoption process for an 18-month-old Chinese girl, Gracyn Lynn, who has required several facial surgeries.
  • Looper would have preferred going back to St. Louis, but Milwaukee is “a really good fit” for him.
  • Macha said Trevor Hoffman is working on a curveball and a slider in camp.

- Gallardo will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Good decision. More HERE.

- Riske is also looking to put together a bounce-back season.

- How many times have we heard this? Rickie Weeks needs to slow down. I think anyone that watches Rickie knows he has a ton of talent and we’re all just waiting for him to put it together. He’s already an average player, but it’s easy to see he has the potential to be much more than that. Hopefully this is the year things fall together for him.

- Hardy is one of the top shortstops in the game, but he’s still a little under the radar.

- The Brewers will finish .500 and in fourth place in the NL Central, according to CHONE projections.

- McCalvy, Bernie’s Crew and Brew Crew Ball analyze the bullpen. And another look from Brew Crew Ball.

- Cecil Fielder says him and Prince will make up and drop their feud eventually.

- Hoffman is getting accustomed to life as a Brewer.

- Christina Kharl of Baseball Prospectus deems the Trevor Hoffman signing as the worst one-year deal from this offseason:

With little to keep lefties honest any more, and without the benefit of the game’s best pitcher’s park to provide an assist, the changeup fiend might have to switch from AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” to “Back in Black,” to at least celebrate his reward for almost certainly closing out his career as a Brewer.

- FantasyBaseballGeeks.com says Hoffman’s tank is just 1/3 full and speculates that his numbers will go down in Milwaukee.

- radiosilence at the Junkball Blues says many Brewers hitters should see improved luck in ‘09, but that Braun and Hardy could regress in the luck department.

- Eric Seidman at FanGraphs analyzes the Gagne signing and calls it a win for the Brewers.

- Capuano is slowly coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. More HERE.

- Brewers Chatters previews the upcoming season.

- Blazing With Phelps insults Milwaukee and the Brewers franchise in an aptly named “We Aren’t Experts” post. They declare Milwaukee the fattest city in America “even after losing CC Sabathia to free agency,” calls the Brewers a “horrible team,” says their rotation will be “Dave Bush, Oil Can Boyd, me, a JUGS machine and then whoever wins the KISS 99 “Takin’ Care of Business” prize for calling in how many times Bachman Turner Overdrive came on during the power hour” and then predicts the Brewers will finish fifth in the NL Central with a 70-92 record. Oh yeah, and they predict the Cardinals will win the division with 88 wins. Yes, they’ve very clearly established they aren’t experts…

- Brew Crew Ball provides pictures of the week from Brewers’ camp.

- Five things to know about the Brewers from MLB Rumors and CBS Sports. I wouldn’t have guessed the Brewers have had more wins than the Cubs over the last four years. That’s kind of interesting considering the Cubs won the division two of those four years.

- New Fox Sports Wisconsin reporter for the Brewers, Telly Hughes, introduces himself to Brewers fans.

- And former FS-Wisconsin reporter Trenni Kusnierek checks in with 540 ESPN Radio in Milwaukee.

- Beer, Brats and the Brew Crew likes the chemistry on this team.

- Garth Iorg, who is a coach in the Brewers system and served as the third base coach in Milwaukee over the last two weeks and the playoff series after Ned Yost was fired last season, has a son, Cale, who is a highly regarded shortstop prospect in the Tigers system.

- Jamie Navarro holds the mark for allowing the most sacrifice flies (17) in one season (1993). He was a Brewer that year, of course. Matt Kinney’s (I still shudder at that name) 2003 Brewer season and Suppan’s 2002 (Royals) and 2007 (Brewers) seasons rank tied for 11th in the 2000s with 11 sac flies allowed each.

- Tyler thinks Ryan Braun should stick to baseball.

- There is simply no reason for these guys to do this aside from getting attention. And I’m giving it to them…

Minor Leagues

- The Brett Lawrie experiment at the catching position might be over before it began. Lawrie is reportedly practicing at second base exclusively at Spring Training. I’d be a little surprised if the Brewers never even try him at catcher since all the talk sine he was drafted was that he’d get a shot there, but this is probably a good move for Lawrie and the Brewers if it’s permanent. The Brewers have a lot of catching depth in the minors and even if none of those prospects pan out, Lawrie is many years away from the Majors as a catcher. If he plays well as a second baseman, we could see him in Milwaukee by as early as 2011.

- Speaking of Lawrie, he’s waiting to hear if he’ll be on Canada’s World Baseball Classic roster. More HERE.

- Mark Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, threw to hitters for the first time in about a year. It was a nice step forward for the pitcher who has battled injuries since he was drafted. Hopefully he can start to take some steps forward this year in his development.

- Baby Brewers finished their top prospect list with Alcides Escobar landing on top of the list.

- Toby at BrewerFan.net takes a crack at predicting the 2009 minor-league rosters for the Brewers affiliates.

- Cody Scarpetta is at the Major-League camp because of a contract technicality and he’s soaking it all in.

NL Central

- The Cardinals might have made a run at Orlando Hudson. It would have made sense. Second base is a pretty big hole on their team right now. And they can’t seriously believe Skip Schumaker, who has no experience playing second, can make the switch there and be ready to go by April. That’s insane.

- The Reds might try to transform Micah Owings into a Brooks Kieschnick-type role. At the time Brooks was a Brewer, he was really fun to watch, but that’s just because the teams he was on were absolutely horrible and he brought at least some semblance of enjoyment to some of the games — a pitcher who can hit (unless you throw him anything that isn’t a fastball)! But I’ll trade having guys like Brooks on the roster for winning baseball any day…

- Carlos Lee showed up to the Astros’ Spring Training two days late because he got the date he was supposed to arrive mixed up and joked about it. Carlos is very funny and he had some nice seasons with the Brewers, but I definitely don’t miss his lackadaisical attitude on and off the field.

Other News

- Former Brewer Corey Koskie will play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Congrats to Koskie. It’s been a very long road back for him from concussion-related problems and I hope this is the first step to a successful return to MLB for him.

- Former Brewer pitching coach Mike Maddux is trying to improve the Texas Rangers pitching staff.

- Buster Olney has a pretty funny story about Deion Sanders from his early days of reporting on the Nashville Sounds.

- The Twins signed Joe Crede to a pretty affordable deal. I wish the Brewers would have looked into bringing Crede in since he could be a very nice one-year stopgap at third, but he should fit in nicely in Minnesota.

- Former Brewer Gary Sheffield comes in at #2 on Fantasy Pros 911 Top 10 Fantasy Seasons on Steroids list for his 2003 campaign. Shef is a supreme douchebag and I’m happy to see him on the list, but how are there no Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire or Brady Anderson seasons on this list?!?! Personally, I think the Anderson season might be the most glaring steroid season of all time. Seriously, the guy’s career high in home runs without counting that year was 24 and he goes off for 50? He hit 16 the season before that and 18 the season after. That’s pretty freakin’ fishy.

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