Posts Tagged ‘Blog Ambassador’

Blog Ambassador: Cubs

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Al Yellon founded and has blogged at Bleed Cubbie Blue, a popular and very informative Chicago Cubs Web site since 2005. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us, and more importantly, answer them honestly. I appreciate his time and perspective, and before blindly ripping him a new one in the comment section, I suggest you take his answers for what they are - the imput of a knowledgable baseball fan. Like what he says or not, the man knows his Cubs. Read on!

First off, good season (I guess!). With the Brewers on the up and up, the Cardinals still relevant and Astros making a ton of moves this offseason, did you expect this kind of success from the Cubs?

I did expect success, to see them build on what they started last year. To win close to 100 games and win the way they have? No, that’s totally unexpected. They have figured out ways to win where past Cubs teams would have found ways to lose. This is the best Cubs team since 1935, when they last won 100 games. 

In their second half matchups, the Cubs have basically throttled Milwaukee and snagged some key games in heartbreaking fashion. Do you expect Chicago to rest some key players or shorten outings in the last series to ready themselves for the playoffs? 

Yes, and they have already done so through shortening pitching starts and resting two or three regulars every day. I’d expect them to start the regulars this weekend vs. the Brewers, as they don’t want anyone to get too rusty before the playoffs start. 

Your guys have taken two from the Mets this week - and I thank them for it, as it’s keeping Milwaukee in contention. Speaking for the general Cubs fan, which team of New York, Philadelphia, Milwaukee or Los Angeles would you prefer to see the Cubbies face in the first round and why? 

Speaking only for myself, I’d like them to face the Mets (sorry - I know that’d mean the Brewers are out, as the Mets aren’t likely to win the NL East). I think they match up well with the Mets and they have won four of six this year from them. 

“Sweet Lou” is expected to name his playoff rotation soon, how do you expect him to align Zombie, Dempster, Harden or even Lilly - and would Carlos really be that pissed if he wasn’t the game one starter? 

After [Wednesday] night’s Z meltdown, I think Z understands that he has to accept that he might not be the game 1 starter. Lou keeps trying to help him not allow his emotions to get the better of him, but Z has failed so far. I expect Ryan Dempster to be named the game 1 starter. 

You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about CC Sabathia’s performance as a Brewer, but the Cubs made a rebuttle of their own in bringing in Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for significantly less, what have each of those players meant to the team’s play in the second half? 

Rich Harden has given the Cubs yet another “ace” type starter, someone who can go in and mow down lineups — assuming he stays healthy. He has had to go on long rest several times, and has stayed healthy as a result. With the extra off days in the playoffs, he should be just fine. 

Chad Gaudin was out for four weeks after hurting his back. He hasn’t pitched well since returning… it’s possible that Gaudin might not make the playoff roster. 

Matt Murton, a player I personally like a lot, was sent packing in that deal. Why did Murton get such a bad wrap in the Windy City? Attitude? Crowded outfield? Or just his goofy ass red hair? 

Murton wasn’t that good a player; that’s the bottom line. He drew walks and got on base — but hit .290 instead of .330, and that would have been fine if he hit for any sort of power — which he didn’t really have. He’s the classic example of a player who’s decent at everything but outstanding at nothing. He was a mediocre outfielder with little speed and only an average arm, and could only play left field. He had the right attitude, but that’s not always enough. 

Jim Hendry made two low-risk moves in acquiring outfielders Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson that seemed to pay volumes in dividends. Knowing what you know now, how key where those pickups? And do you think some fans regret being as worked up as they were when the moves were made? 

I’ve always liked Reed Johnson, even all the years he was with the Blue Jays. When the Cubs were in Toronto in Johnson’s rookie year in 2003, he led off a game with a homer and then hit a walkoff in the 10th inning. He’s got a great attitude, plays great defense and hits well enough to be a fine platoon partner with Edmonds. 

I was one of those who thought Edmonds was done when the Padres let him go, and looking at his numbers, what else could you have thought? But it was a low-risk signing - SD and StL had to pay all of his contract except the minimum, and if he hadn’t produced the Cubs would have let him go. He’s not only produced but been a model citizen. It was surreal to see him get a standing ovation at the season’s last home game — one of Cubs’ fans most hated rival players becoming one of the most loved players on this year’s team. 

Speaking of fans, I know Brewers fans regard Chicago as its biggest foe - but St. Louis has been an even bigger rival of the Cubs for much longer. Are you noticing a shift in your fanbase’s hatred to grow to despise Milwaukee more, or will the Cards always be number one on Joe Cubfan’s shitlist? 

Don’t call it a shitlist - as a Cubs fan I respect Cardinals fans, who love their team, are passionate and knowledgeable about baseball, and there’s a lot of history between the Cubs and Cardinals. 

Not so much - yet - between the Cubs and Brewers. I’d LIKE there to be more of a respectful rivalry, because of the proximity between Chicago and Milwaukee, but it seems as if the Brewer fans are more like the little brother nipping at the big brother’s heels, saying, “Can I play? Huh? Can I? Can I? Can I?” 

Wrigley Field - dump or semi-historic dump? I’m (half) kidding… Have you ever been to Miller Park? If so, what’s your opinion of it? 

I’ve been to Miller Park many times, including for Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter. It’s a nice park, sightlines are good, prices are pretty reasonable, and I have always liked the “Secret Stadium Sauce”. 

Predictions for this weekend’s series, playoff fate(s)? 

Of course, I’m picking the Cubs to win it all. Why wouldn’t I, at this point? This weekend I’m sure the Cubs will be playing all-out in a playoff tune up. You’ll be seeing Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis and I know that CC Sabathia will likely be going in the season’s last day. I’d love to see the Cubs sweep all 7 games in Milwaukee this year, but that isn’t likely. You guys have a good team. Looking forward to the series and - who knows - maybe seeing you again in the NLCS.

Blog Ambassador: Phillies

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

The upcoming four-game series between the Brewers and Phillies looks to be one of the most meaningful series of the Brewers’ season, thus this might be the most vital Blog Ambassador to get you up to speed on the enemy hosts. Brian from Phillies Nation was kind enough to weight in on all things Phillies, Wes Helms and, of course, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

The Phillies are nipping at Milwaukee’s heels right now, but it seems like pretty much all the legitimate playoff contenders are scuffling. To what do you attribute Philadelphia’s recent struggles?

I hate to say it, but Chase Utley. Chase has been really struggling lately - striking out and popping up in clutch situations, when earlier in the year he would have hit a home run. The rumor is that he is injured and being the hard-nosed player that he is, he is going to wait until the off season to deal with it. The Phillies starting pitching has been surprisingly consistent down the stretch thanks to a resurgence of Brett Myers, but the bullpen has had some troubles in the 8th inning recently.

Do you see any parallels between our clubs in that they both have young superstars and interdivision rivals from larger cities are routinely humped by the national media? Any other similarities your may see?  

I think there are a lot of similarities among the players. Obviously both Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder have the ability to change a game with the swing of the bat. Both clubs also have solid shortstops in Hardy and Rollins, though one may be a little more outspoken than the other. Also, in terms of in-game entertainment you really can’t beat the tag team combos of Bob Ucker/[Bernie] Brewer and Harry Kalas/Phillie Phanatic. Steel cage match anyone?

How is Brewer fan favorite Geoff Jenkins regarded in his new city? He seems to be a platoon-type guy for the Phillies, and is splitting time with newly acquired Matt Stairs… was the Jenks signing a bust or are you getting pretty much what you expected?  

I know Jenkins was a stud for you guys, but he is a bust here in Philly and that’s not something that will endear you with Phillies fans. I don’t expect him to return next year.

Speaking of former Brewers, do Philly fans hate Wes Helms as much as most Milwaukee fans do? I mean you guys are paying this fat Val Kilmer lookalike not to be on your team, right?

Despite having bricks for hands at third base, Wes played well for the Phillies. If there was a contest next year to see which ex-Phillie is more revered, I think Wes would win of Geoff. But yea, the Phils are paying him $2 million not to play… they’re also paying Jim Thome $7 million.

Could you explain to those who haven’t heard the name Carlos Carrasco what we can expect to see from him in the coming years? Are there any other minor leaguers we should keep an eye out for?

The Phillies have a solid core of prospects in their farm system which is something they’ve been lacking for a few years. In that regard, I am glad they didn’t sell the farm to land C.C. (but I still wish they did). Carlos has quickly made his way through the Phillies organization and is currently in AAA. In his first 3 starts for the IronPigs he put up an 0.48 ERA, struck out 22 and walked just 6 in 18.2 innings. Look for him on the Phillies roster next year along with catching prospect Lou Marson. Jason Donald and Greg Golson also could get some ABs next year.

In your opinion has Kyle Kendrick pitched his way out of the rotation for the remainder of the season?

Yes, it’s a shame because all season he consistently had a line of 6 IP, 3ER, which was fine in front of the Phillies lineup. With J.A. Happ on the roster now, I feel that he will take 1 or 2 of Kendrick’s starts. Adam Eaton could also make a comeback, we assessed the possibilities on the site earlier in the week. 

What are Philadelphia’s primary offseason priorities?

Resign Pat Burrell and sign a starter. The Phillies have a handful of unproven starters that can shore up the bullpen in the future but they need another consistent starter besides Cole Hamels that can win 15 games a year. Also Pat Gillick’s contract expires, so although people aren’t talking it about it now, finding a new GM will be a pretty big priority unless they just let Asst. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. assume the controls.

Most of us at RFB religiously watch “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and not that it’s a requisite for you to watch that show, I’d assume you’ve at least seen it; anyway, do you agree with me that “Mac” looks a lot like J.J Hardy? Please agree with me!

Yes, they do look alike, someone should call ESPN’s Page 2. What do you think about Pat Burrell and Dave Matthews? (Ambassador’s Note: Sorry Brian, I personally can’t really see it.)

Predictions for the upcoming series, the remainder of the season?

Phillies take 3 of 4 and reclaim the NL East. See you in the playoffs!

Question for you… if the Brewers don’t make the playoffs, do you think think the Sabathia deal was a waste?Question for you… if the Brewers don’t make the playoffs, do you think think the Sabathia deal was a waste?

If you would’ve asked me before the trade, I would have said yes - since we gave up our top prospect and two other decent guys (which will surely be three one the PTBNL is established) but, with the way he’s absolutely dominated, Milwaukee wouldn’t be in the favorable position they are in if not for Sabathia. If the Brewers don’t make the playoffs, fans can look at the CC deal knowing he gave the team a best chance to make it to October.

If anything, it’s been quite a treat watching him pitch in a Brewers uni. I’ve never seen a starter post a better half season - and when he leaves for an epic amount of money, I will fondly remember his brief stint here for a long time.

Thanks Brian.

Blog Ambassador: Padres

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

To help get us ready for the Padres series, I had the pleasure of asking Geoff Young a few questions about Milwaukee’s present foe. Young has operated Ducksnorts.com, a popular San Diego Padres blog since 1997. In addition to his own site, he writes for Knuckle Curve, is a regular contributor to both The Hardball Times and Baseball Digest Daily and he maintains Padresblog.com. In addition to his Web experience, Young has published two Ducksnorts Baseball Annuals. Thanks a lot for your offering, Geoff. 

Your Pads were just a one game playoff from reaching the postseason last year, but currently sit in last place in the NL West. Was this fall from grace something you or other fans could foresee coming into this season or were expectations high?

I had the Padres at 85-86 wins coming into the season, so I guess my personal expectations were pretty high. From a talent standpoint, this year’s team didn’t look much different from last year’s, and I didn’t see any one team dominating the NL West. Some folks I talked to felt that was a reasonable guess, others thought I was a tad optimistic. I don’t know anyone who expected them to make a serious run at the #1 draft pick in 2009.

The Brewers (who were already out of contention) played spoiler last season, winning the last two games of the season against the Padres to force their eventual playoff. Do you have any bad blood when it comes to Milwaukee for this, or do you tend to take a more introspective look into coming up short?

Not really. The Padres had numerous chances to take care of business before that series and failed. That’s got nothing to do with the Brewers, who were doing their job, which is to try and win ballgames. How can anyone begrudge them that?

As you know, Tony Gwynn Jr. played a huge role in the Padres’ final loss of the regular season. Speaking for the general Padre fan consensus, what is the opinion of him? Is he hated, or would fans still go bananas to have him at Petco? 

I don’t think he’s hated. Vinny Rottino bugs me more because… well, who the heck is Vinny Rottino? I still have fond memories of watching Anthony play at SDSU, and of course, his dad pretty much owns the city.

Would you explain to our readers, many of which are in bed by the time the Padres take the field, exactly how good Adrian Gonzalez is? Why do you think he seems to be overlooked in conversations of great NL first basemen?

If Gonzalez played half his games in Miller Park, he’d hit 40 bombs a year. He’s also a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. As for why he’s overlooked, I think the fact that many of your readers are in bed by the time the Padres take the field may have something to do with it. The media in this country is pretty focused on the East Coast, which is fine, because that’s where the money is, but it means that folks who don’t live around here tend not to be as well informed about what’s going on in our corner of the world.

Understand that I say this without any bitterness; it’s just a fact of life. Let me put it to you this way: When I went to Cooperstown last summer to see Tony Gwynn inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was surrounded by Orioles fans who were there to see Cal Ripken. Several of them expressed their surprise to me on learning just how good Gwynn had been. Not that Gonzalez is the player that Gwynn was, but I expect he’ll continue to be ignored by the masses so long as he remains in San Diego. It goes with the territory, and he seems to understand that. 

Brain Giles was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, but he elected to stay in San Diego. Do you respect his decision to stay loyal to his squad in thick and thin, or would have preferred the salary relief and prospects garnered in his departure?

I’m less interested in salary relief than in having the best possible players on the roster. Giles is one of our three or four best players, and he’s got an option for $9 million next year. He would have been difficult to replace, so I’m glad he’s still here.

How do you think your team faired in the Randy Wolf deal? Were the prospects/money saved worth letting him go?

Right-hander Chad Reineke came over from Houston in that deal. He doesn’t appear to be anything special, which is a pretty accurate description of Wolf as well. Seeing Greg Maddux traded to the Dodgers bothered me a lot more, although we don’t know yet who the prospects coming back in return are.

You’ve seen former/current Brewers prospect Callix Crabbe play more than most of us when he was claimed by San Diego in the Rule 5 Draft. He scuffled in his time there (was returned to Milwaukee when demoted), but do you think he can contribute anything at the big league level if given another shot?

Crabbe has some nice on-base skills and can run, but he was miscast as a utility player. Given his defensive limitations (he really can’t play shortstop), I don’t see him having much of a career, although I always hope I’m wrong about such things. 

What does a quality supporting cast like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jody Gerut, a player who hasn’t logged any Major League service time since 2005, mean to the future success of this team?

Kouzmanoff is a solid young third baseman who should have a long career. Gerut has been an absolute revelation. When he was signed to a minor-league contract in January, I didn’t think anything of it, but the guy can play. Now that he’s finally healthy, he’s hitting like he did as a rookie and playing a terrific center field. His numbers this year are almost identical to those of Mike Cameron, who is five years older and making 10 times as much money. Unless one of them gets traded, I imagine that both Kouzmanoff and Gerut will be integral parts of next year’s club.

With all due respect, the playoffs are pretty much out of the question – but what are some goals you as a Padres fan have for the team for the remainder of the season? 

Let’s be honest, there is no respect due, although I appreciate the gesture. The main goals at this point I think are to stay healthy, figure out which of the kids can play, and maybe knock a team or two out of the playoff picture.

What do you consider to be San Diego’s primary offseason priorities? 

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Petco Park causes people to mistakenly believe that hitting is the weak point of this team, but it isn’t. Right now, there are about four reliable pitchers on the staff — five if you count Chris Young, who hasn’t been healthy for most of the season. You don’t win championships with a four-man staff; as we’re finding out, you’re lucky to win 60 games with that.

Predictions for the series? 

Any of the games that Jake Peavy doesn’t start will be ugly. I hope your field goal kicker is ready.

Blog Ambassador: Cardinals

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

With the Brewers in St. Louis to partake in an ever-important two game series against their biggest Wild Card threat, I thought I’d catch up with Andrea Reiher, a longtime Cardinals fan who writes about her team at Bugs & Cranks. She weighs in the birds’ surprising season, Ryan Braun’s infamous homer trot, and her opinion of Cub fans. Thanks for your brutally honest answers, Andrea. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Going into this season, did you expect this Cardinals team to play this well with their current cast of players? Why or why not?

As far as this season goes, I read all the stuff [that] y’all [read]. ‘The Cards are going to be terrible, they won’t even be a .500 team, etc etc.’ For some reason, I just didn’t agree. And I have nothing to base that on. I didn’t go to any spring training games; I was mourning the losses of Rolen and Edmonds, I figured after Wainwright our rotation would be held together with silly string and bubble gum. But I just had this feeling that we were going to have a great year. 

So far, they have not disappointed. I mean, obviously we aren’t leading the division or anything, but we are still in the hunt at the end of August. That’s huge. I mean, if our bullpen hadn’t blown just half the leads they did, we’d be winning the division. So no, I didn’t expect it. But I just had this feeling. I was strangely optimistic.

The last time these two teams met marked a series Brewer fans can consider a major turning point in the 2008 season. Do you feel Cardinals fans were able to regard the Brewers as a serious contender as that series played out, or is it something the Cards’ fanbase as a whole doesn’t like to bring up?

Oh, I know we regarded the Brewers as a serious contender. We were honestly just shooting for a split, 2-2. That was a major blow to our season. However, we’re still 14 games over .500. That’s ridiculous for this team this year.  And we’re 3.5 out of the Wild Card, which is not insurmountable.

In Ryan Braun’s final at bat in that series he watched his homer and trotted in a manner deemed to be disrespectful by hoards of both Brewers and Cardinals fans. What do you think the odds are that Braun wears a fastball at some point during this upcoming two game set?

It was kind of a jerk move on his part, but anyone who has played sports has to have done that at some point in their lives. You get pumped, you celebrate, swept up in the moment. Happens to the best of us. If he gets plunked, I’m okay with that. As long as nobody is throwing at his head - which, to me, is not okay - then I’m fine with it. And I think he might. However, it’s been awhile since that series and maybe we don’t need to go putting men on base unnecessarily, you know?

Why do you think the Cardinals failed to acquire a player (or players) at the deadline to help solidify the starting rotation or bolster the bullpen? Did you feel a move was necessary?

I wanted us to pick up a reliever so badly. It felt like the front office really snubbed our guys’ hard work by not. However, we weren’t supposed to be anything this season and this scrappy group of guys has really exceeded expectations. So I kind of want to dance with the guys that brung me, ya know? I’d like to succeed with these guys. Of course, ask me again after we blow a three-run 9th inning lead.

How frustrating is it to have so much money and expectation invested in Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder, who have both missed significant time throughout the past two seasons?

I’m not frustrated with Carpenter. He’s an ace who has done well for us and now he’s back.  His first start back (until he left) was good. I actually hear rumors that he may start this week against the Brew Crew. I’m not bitter about the money/time invested in Carp. Mulder is a different story.  But again, nobody can see the future. Nobody could’ve known we’d trade away Dan Haren and get a pile of crap in return. Mulder was dominant in Oakland and if he’d stayed healthy, he’d still be dominant. It’s frustrating what has happened with him, but what can you do?

Though lacking their ace, unlikely heroes like Todd Wellemeyer and Kyle Lohse – not to mention Ryan Ludwick – have stepped in to post great seasons and keep the team in the thick of a playoff push. Do you feel these players can continue their surprise seasons and keep playing at such a high level if the Cards reach the playoffs?

I think Wellemeyer and Ludwick have proved their mettle. Ludwick seemed like a feel-good flash in the pan earlier this year, but he hasn’t trailed off.  He’s hitting so great this year and just today threw out someone at the plate. Wellemeyer went through a slump and has bounced back to be good. Those two are fantastic and I think would continue to play the way they are in the post-season.

Lohse is frustrating because for the first half of the season he was so great and now suddenly he’s terrible. He’ll pitch five good innings and then in the 6th inning, like clockwork, he’ll give up five runs. It’s uncanny and it’s happened like five starts in a row. That is frustrating. I would really like to see him back on form.

How good is Colby Rasmus? Who are some other highly regarded prospects in the Cardinals’ system?

Colby has been kind of a letdown in the minors this year, but I like what I’ve seen of Ankiel in center and that just gives Colby time to mature in the minors. As for prospects… you’ve seen a lot of them this year. We’ve started a Major League-leading 10 rookies this year. I like what I’ve seen from Mitchell Boggs, Chris Perez and Jaime Garcia particularly.

How much do you hate the Cubs? Feel free to be as descriptive as you’d like.

The thing is… I hate obnoxious Cubs fans. But I hate obnoxious fans of any team. There is no need to be a complete douchebag, is my thinking.  This year, it sucks to see them running away with the division and 100th anniversary and blah, blah. But the Cards have had so much success in my lifetime that I really can’t bitch. No team is going to be awesome every season and no team is going to suck every season. It doesn’t work that way. This year, since they are doing so well, I hope they continue to and the Brewers go away, and we can have a Cubs/Cards NLCS showdown.

Any predictions for the series? The NL Central/Wild Card race? 

Honestly, I think September is going to be a wild month. I honestly think, based on how poetic it is and destiny and the beauty and symmetry of baseball, that the Cards are going to win the Wild Card and end up facing the Cubs in the NLCS. It’ll be amazing and awesome and stressful. The Cubs should have to beat their big brother from the South to get to the World Series. It’ll be epic.  

Blog Ambassador: Pirates

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

 

 

In lieu of this weekend’s series against the Pirates, I decided there was no better way to get up to speed on the Bucs than to kick off Blog Ambassador by asking Charlie at Bucs Dugout a few questions. Thanks go out to Charlie for his insight.

Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the standings this season. Meanwhile, Nate McLouth has become a household name for baseball fans everywhere. Did Pirates fans see this type of potential in McLouth or has he been a surprise to them too?

Well, I have no idea what the new management saw, although I suspect McLouth’s fine season hasn’t been a surprise to them. The Pirates’ previous management certainly didn’t think McLouth was any good-they told the press he was unlikely to develop power and repeatedly benched him in favor of the massively inferior Chris Duffy and the ludicrous Nyjer Morgan. Oops! Anyway, many Pirates fans have been lobbying for McLouth, on and off, for years.

Though mathematically still possible, it looks as if the Bucs are a long shot to win the division. Speaking for the fan base, what are some goals - if not playoff related – for the remainder of the 2008 Pirates’ season?

I can’t speak for the fanbase at large, but for myself, I’d like to see Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss and Steve Pearce make strong cases for regular playing time. I’d also like to see some of the players the Bucs recently acquired from the Yankees stabilize the pitching staff somewhat. I’d like to see Tom Gorzelanny return and pitch well. I also wouldn’t mind strong finishes for Jack Wilson and John Grabow so that they can be traded during the offseason.

What’s your opinion of the Jason Bay trade? Does the return of Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris make losing the face of the franchise worth it?

I liked the trade. There weren’t any Matt LaPortas in this deal, but I think LaRoche can be a very good regular or even a minor star, and Morris has lots of upside. Moss might blossom into a solid regular, too. I think that’s a good return for a year and a half of Jason Bay.

Jeff Karstens has pitched great since getting a shot in the Pittsburgh rotation. In your opinion, was he (and the other three prospects) worth dealing Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte? Why or why not?

I liked that trade too, but Karstens wasn’t a particularly important part of it. It’s great that he’s had some good starts, but he’s really just throwing the ball over the plate and hoping for the best. Jose Tabata was the best player in that deal, and what the Pirates need most are high-reward players like him. Also, I’m suspicious of players who suddenly break out at age 29, and I think that Nady will be more like his 2007 self than his 2008 self next year. I also suspect most of the Pirates’ trading partners would agree with me on that.

The organization was able to ink top pick Pedro Alvarez just before the deadline to sign. Was he worth the $6 M? Furthermore, do you think the near $10 M spent to sign draft picks shows a commitment to a winning future?

Yes, and yes. From my perspective, the draft was noteworthy not just because of Alvarez, but because of the above-slot bonuses paid to late-round picks like Robbie Grossman, Quinton Miller and Wesley Freeman. Finally, the Pirates are taking their farm system seriously.

Do you see any parallels between the 2008 Pirates and Brewers of a few years back, or the Brewers of now?

I actually wrote a long article about this a few months back, but it’s not easy to summarize. Basically, though, it will take some time before we know whether the Bucs’ new management team is much like the Brewers’. The best I can say, at this point, is that the early months of the tenures of both Neal Huntington and Doug Melvin were both uneventful despite the obvious problems their franchises faced. About a year after he was hired, Melvin began taking decisive action to turn over the roster and improve the team, and it looks like Huntington is doing the same thing.

Did you ever imagine Salomon Torres having over 20 saves at this point in the season? 

Well, Eric Gagne’s implosion doesn’t surprise me much, but yes, I’m surprised that Torres has been so good. He missed time in 2007, the Pirates publicly criticized his conditioning, and he considered retiring instead of playing for the Brewers. I thought he was done.

After impressive 2007 campaigns both Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny have struggled this season, is there any chance they rebound next season? Which is more likely to find his old form? 

I’d say Snell has a better shot, just because his struggles this year don’t seem to have anything to do with his health. He looked filthy Tuesday night against the Cardinals. 

Are there any minor leaguers in your system (not named Andrew McCutchen) that Brewer fans may not know about who we should keep a collective eye out for?  

Until recently it was a pretty terrible system. I’d say Bryan Morris, Jamie Romak, and a couple of new guys, Robbie Grossman and Quinton Miller.

Any predictions for this weekend’s series? 

The Brewers go nuts on Zach Duke on Friday, and then the two teams play low-scoring games on Saturday and Sunday. 

* Read my answers to Brewers questions on his Web site HERE.


MLBHub.com Network Member

Advertise with the MLB Hub Network
Insomniac Ink