Posts Tagged ‘Playoffs’

RFB at Odds

Friday, October 24th, 2008

There are more question marks for the Brewers going into this offseason than there have been since before the Yost era began. The team made the playoffs and has become a proven contender, but with the likely loss of Sabathia and Sheets, holes at third base and in the bullpen, rising prospects knocking on the Major League door, questions surrounding the payroll and a change at manager, the winter will be a time of transition for the organization.

Will GM Doug Melvin play it safe and build the team back up through the draft and with minor free agent signings or will he make bold trades and pickups in order to reshape the team for another “all or nothing” run at the playoffs in 2009? Rumors started before the season even ended and Brewers fans anxiously await the important decisions the front office will make.

At Right Field Bleachers, we’re as excited as anyone. And we love making predictions that will make us look foolish just a few weeks down the road. So, we’ve put together some odds on how likely we think the already rumored transactions will take place. We also give some early odds on how far we think the team will get next year. Early indications are that you might want to wait to see how some of the offseason moves unfold before you bet on baseball, at least on the Crew.

 

The Brewers will sign CC Sabathia.

13.25% Chance

How we voted
Joe — 15% 
Bryan — 15%
Tyler — 15%
Jared — 8%

There is no doubt that CC loved his time in Milwaukee, but do you really expect the guy to turn down the type of skrilla the Yankees and such are undoubtedly about to throw at him? I don’t. — Joe

 

The Brewers will sign Ben Sheets.

9.25%

Joe — 10% 
Bryan — 10%
Tyler — 12%
Jared — 5%

There’s a small chance if the price is low enough, but he doesn’t think he’s going to be on the team and, sadly, neither do I. — Bryan

 

The Brewers will trade for Jake Peavy.

9.25%

Joe — 20%
Bryan — 5%
Tyler — 5%
Jared — 7%

He doesn’t seem to want to even leave San Diego, but if he did, Milwaukee doesn’t seem to be a place he wants to go. Short and sweet, I just don’t see this happening. — Tyler

 

The Brewers will trade for Matt Cain.

24.25%

Joe — 50%
Bryan — 10%
Tyler — 27%
Jared — 10%

The Giants and the Brewers seem to be good trade partners. I think the Giants want too much for Matt Cain to get this done, but it’s about the same chance as re-signing Ben Sheets. — Bryan

 

The Brewers will trade Prince Fielder.

23.75%

Joe — 50%
Bryan — 2%
Tyler — 33%
Jared —10%

Prince is coming off a productive year, but certainly not one that’s close to his peak potential. Why trade him now when his value is lower than it could be? Sure, he probably won’t sign a long-term deal to stay in Milwaukee, but the Brewers have him under their control for three more seasons. The team doesn’t have an in-house replacement ready to go either. Unless a team blows the Brewers away with an offer (Matt Cain is intriguing, but that might not even be enough), I say he’ll be back in Milwaukee next year. — Jared

 

The Brewers will trade J.J. Hardy.

19%

Joe — 40%
Bryan — 6%
Tyler — 18%
Jared — 12%
Average — 19%

It’s only so high because his salary is jumping upward every season, and he’ll likely garner at least $4 million in arbitration for 2009. With Alcides Escobar waiting in the wings and Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall next to untradable, Hardy might be forced to go… but I hope he sticks around. — Tyler

 

The Brewers will trade Rickie Weeks.

16.25%

Joe — 40%
Bryan — 10%
Tyler — 0%
Jared — 15%

I think, at this point, the Crew is ready to hear offers, but I wonder what teams will be willing to offer for him. In the right package, Weeks is gone. — Joe

 

Alcides Escobar will start 2009 in the Majors.

48%

Joe — 90% 
Bryan — 30%
Tyler — 22%
Jared — 50%
Average — 48%

His defense is MLB-ready and he has improved his offensive game considerably, enough that he could one day become a top-of-the-order hitter. Melvin has admitted the team is considering shifting Hardy’s position to make room for the slick-fielding Escobar, but that’s not the only way he could see the field. With Escobar on the cusp of a full-time call up, Hardy’s name is at the forefront of trade rumors. The Brewers have not been afraid to develop their prospects in Milwaukee (see Hardy and Weeks) and I would not be surprised at all to see Alcides on the field at Miller Park in April. — Jared

 

Mat Gamel will start 2009 in the Majors

23.5%

Joe — 40%
Bryan — 20%
Tyler — 9% 
Jared — 25%

Gamel certainly needs more time in the minors to keep working at his fielding issues. He’s the third baseman of the future and looks to have the makings of a great player, but there’s only so many spots in the outfield to exile former infielders to. — Tyler

 

The Brewers will make the playoffs in 2009.

55.5%

Joe — 80%
Bryan — 25%
Tyler — 84%
Jared — 33%

The odds will go higher if they get C.C., might go slightly lower if they don’t get any pitcher. — Bryan

 

The Brewers will win the division in 2009.

33.75%

Joe — 40%
Bryan — 25%
Tyler — 50%
Jared — 20%

I think the major competition will be the Cubs, and I don’t see them regressing from this year. The Astros and Cardinals always seem to be very solid and the Reds aren’t far off either. — Joe

 

The Brewers will win the World Series in 2009.

8.75%

Joe — 5%
Bryan — 8%
Tyler — 18%
Jared — 4%

Pitching and defense wins championships in baseball. The Brewers have average defense and will work to fill holes in their bullpen. It’s the loss of Sabathia and Sheets that will likely be too much to overcome. The team should be competitive in 2008 and Melvin might be aggressive this offseason, but I think 2009 will be used to reload. If the Brewers can usher in some of their top prospects and rebuild their rotation, 2010 might be the year you could make some money on the Brewers through sports betting. — Jared

 

Conclusion

So, there you go. Even though these rumors dominate the blogosphere, as a group we feel there is a coin flip chance at best of any of them happening and most are far less likely than that in our eyes. But we’re just four Brewer fan degenerates pretending we can get into Doug Melvin’s mind. What do you think the Brewers will do?

No matter what happens, it should be an interesting offseason.

RFB Offseason Roundtable

Friday, October 10th, 2008

This is the first in what will be a recurring offseason series at RFB. Every week, we will discuss a new topic related to the Brewers and/or baseball. We also invite you, the reader, to post your own thoughts on each topic.

 

This week’s topic: Besides clinching the playoffs, what was your favorite moment of the season?

 

Joe

Wow. It’s incredibly difficult to pin down one moment of the ‘08 Brewers season that was my favorite or stands out the most to me. This is especially true if I can’t count making the playoffs or the post season. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect a bit on this past season and think specifically about this question, there is one defining moment to me - When I found out the Brewers had officially traded for Mr CC Sabathia.

It wasn’t so much CC specifically that excited me. In fact, I wasn’t a huge fan or believer in CC coming into the year or even at that particular point in the season. I thought he was overrated and only won the 2007 Cy Young Award because AL pitching, in my opinion, wasn’t incredibly impressive last year. Yes that opinion quickly changed; however, that still isn’t the reason that moment stands out to me. It stands out because this was the small market Brewers making the blockbuster trade of the year.

Not in my entire life do I recall such a trade made by the Crew. That moment, in my eyes, marked the beginning of a new and improved organization. Though the Crew will never be able to spend money like the Yankees and Cubs of the world, they are now viewed as serious contenders in my eyes. No longer will the Crew have to sell every big bat or arm their farm system produces. We have a “go getter” of an owner and one hell of a GM that I believe can do more with $80 or $90 million than most can with $150 or $200 million.

Though the season is over and disappointment lingers from the quick post season exit, I truly think this is a very exciting time to be a Brewers fan. Be excited fans! This team will be a contender for many years to come. Mark my words.

 

Tyler

Selecting one moment to be my favorite span of time of Milwaukee’s 2008 season is like being handed a pile of photographs of Rihanna and being asked to choose the one where she looks most gorgeous; it’s nearly impossible to select just one. I mean in the last two months alone, there was Braun’s game-winning grand slam, Prince’s walkoff homer, Gabe Kapler going into the stands to rob a homer/save a game, and that two week period where Jeff Suppan was hurt. Beautiful things were happening left and right.

But if shouldered with the daunting task of selecting just one piece of the season that stood out more than most others, or did so for different reasons, I would select April 23 when the Brewers faced the Phillies at Miller Park.

A Wednesday night game within the season’s first full month isn’t exactly the perfect stage for the memorable to take place, but this particular game brought Geoff Jenkins back to his old stomping grounds for the first time as a member of a different team. I think a lot of fans, even some of the the constantly booing casual fans, recognized what Jenkins did for and meant to so many terrible, terrible Brewer teams. I was glad RFB was on hand to honor him properly (See-Off Geoff), and it seemed like he was happy to have been treated so well by everyone. He had to step out of the batter’s box and acknowledge everyone in his first at bat, and I had never been witness to that.

As far as the game goes, Jenkins went 0 for 3 in the game, making clapping for a Phillies player even more digestible. Cole Hamels struck out his fair share of Brewers too (11 over 7 innings), but was eventually tagged for 5 runs and 2 homers - both homers and 4 of the 5 RBI by Prince, who was had just broke out of his homerless drought less than a week prior. Derrick Turnbow then came in to record what’s likely to be the last save of his career. It wasn’t a game I’ll be telling my kids about when I’m older, but it’s one that sticks out when looking back at the season as a whole.

 

Jared

THE moment of the season for me was clearly Braun’s home run on the final regular season game of the year, but I believe that moment is everyone’s moment, so I’ll search deeper.

Aside from that moment, there are two moments that I think will stick out years from now in my memory: Gabe Kapler robbing a home run in LA and Ryan Braun hitting a walk-off grand slam in the final week of the regular season. Because of the importance of the win, the fact that it was Braun’s first career grand slam and the fact that it was the Brewers’ one and only grand slam of the season (good timing), I have to go with Brauny’s blast.

The Brewers were tied for the Wild Card lead going into the game and the Mets had already won the game against the Cubs. Stuck in a 1-1 tie in the 10th inning, Weeks led off with a single. After an intentional walk to Durham, a walk to Counsell and two outs in the inning, the bases were loaded for Braun, who had slumped badly since a rib injury in August.

I was packed in a bar with Joe, Lady Jarjohm, and a collection of other miscreants waiting for The Blueheels show to start. We were staring at the TV screens intently, praying the Brewers could find some magic at the end of the season to get into the playoffs. And we got it. Braun crushed a Jesse Chavez pitch into the seats and the bar erupted.

A Spotted Cow tastes even finer following a walk-off grand slam.

 

Bryan

This season was chock-ful of amazing moments. It was the most amazing roller-coaster ride in my life as a fan. There will be multiple stories to recant later in life, such as Braun’s airplane arms when hitting those big home runs and Gabe Kapler coming back from retirement to be an emotional leader on the team. We will talk about Ryan Braun in the Home-Run Derby and Ben Sheets starting the All Star Game. There were countless other moments of joy and despair that were shared with friends and family.

Since clinching the playoffs is out of bounds, I have to get some help from comic Lewis Black. Lewis says that nothing is better than the anticipation of a moment. There were two moments that had such build up, such high expectations that the anticipation surely couldn’t match the actual moment, right Lewis? The first moment was home opener day. Does anyone remember how we felt at the beginning of the year? The excitement for this team was off the charts! “This was the year” is what we chanted. “This will be the Hunt for Ned’s October and it’s bout time!” The Brewers ended up destroying the Giants 13-4. Even after this game, the anticipation for the rest of the year grew. Bill Hall hit two home runs, Jason Kendall was hitting. 500, and Weeks and Fielder were both hitting over .300.

As the year progressed, we found that 2008 truly was the Hunt for Ned’s October…and Ned wasn’t able to finish. Even so, the anticipation for the first playoff game was even more ridiculous than the excitement at the beginning of the year. Even the fact that the team was down 0-2 did not dampen the spirits of Milwaukee’s Fans. The heads on the radio were saying that they didn’t even know what to expect. They wondered if it would be as loud in Miller as it was in other stadiums. They thought fans might boo the team. Truth is, NO ONE knew what it would be like. What it was like when the team was announced was pure bliss. The noise was deafening as OUR team took the field in the postseason for the first time in 26 years. For at least one game, the dreams we all had of the postseason came true. So those are my moments of 2008: Where the actual moment matched or surpassed the anticipation of the moment.

A Year to Remember

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

The 2008 season might not have ended the way we dreamed, but it was still a dream season.

Was I let down the Brewers didn’t advance past the first round of the post season or even make it a close contest? Absolutely. But let’s keep things in perspective…

First of all, this was the best team the Brewers have had in a long, long time. They finished with 90 wins, the most since 1992. It was only the sixth time in franchise history (40 seasons, including one year in Seattle) that the Brewers finished with 90 wins or more. Regardless of the evident holes this team had, they were a hell of a team and one that should be remembered very fondly by Brewers fans.

Remember, they made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years! I’m 26 years old. I was born shortly after the 1982 season began. I’m told I was at a game in late September that year, but my memory is fuzzy on that for some reason… What I’m trying to say is, the best moments of Brewers baseball in my entire life came this season. The memories of Sunday’s playoff clinching win and my first two playoff games (including one incredible win) will be etched in my brain forever. Even if the Brewers were to somehow become the second-coming of the New York Yankees and make the playoffs for 15 consecutive years, those games will be very, very special to me for as long as I live. Of course, a lot of Brewers fans are old enough to remember the 1982 season, which remains the pinnacle of the Brewers’ success, but even those fans should remember the 2008 squad fondly. After more than a quarter century drought, any playoff baseball is something to talk about.

Also, give props to the Phillies. The better team won in this series. Philadelphia exposed some of the same holes that have haunted the Brewers all year long. The Brewers have no leadoff hitter, they are not patient at the plate, they do not take walks, they rely on the home run too much, they do not play “small ball,” their defense is average at best with serious shortcomings at some positions and with Gallardo not at full health and Sheets not on the playoff roster, they are not deep at starting pitching. The Phillies did not hit great in this series, but if Burrell and Rollins pick up where they left off today and Utley and Howard get hot, they are good enough to beat anyone. I expect them to beat the Dodgers and move on to the World Series.

It’ll certainly be an interesting offseason for Milwaukee. The calls to sign CC have (predictably) already started and I have little doubt the Brewers will make an offer to him. I doubt it’ll be enough to lure him back though. He was an outstanding addition for half of the season and will forever be a part of Brewers lore. Sheets has also likely thrown his last ball as a Brewer. So, starting pitching may be a priority this offseason. Gallardo, Parra, Bush and Suppan are likely cemented in the rotation (barring a trade of one of them) with McClung temporarily holding down the last spot, pending a roster move for a pitcher. The bullpen will have to be reworked. And it’d sure be nice if the Brewers could add a lead-off hitter and one or two OBP guys so the one- or two-run home runs turn into three- or four-run bombs. Doug will likely be busy. Oh yeah, there’s that coaching issue to take care of too. Will Sveum be back in ‘09?

Still looking for a silver lining? The Brewers had one more playoff victory than the Cubs.

Well, That Sucked

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I felt real good with CC coming to the mound tonight. I felt like I split in Philly would set the Brewers up nicely. They’d have two games in Milwaukee and CC would pitch Game 5 if it was necessary.

It looked like the big guy just ran out of gas. He was clearly not himself. It’s understandable. It certainly has to wear on a pitcher to always be THE guy, the stopgap that HAS to get the win… Not to mention the whole pitching on three days rest four times in a row thing…

The really disappointing thing for me though is that the game came down to just one big inning again. In two games, the Brewers have held the Phillies scoreless for 14 of the 16 innings they’ve played (the Phillies haven’t hit in the ninth in either game). On Wednesday, they allowed three unearned runs because of two horrible defensive miscues on one play and another would-be catch that wasn’t made. Today, CC gave up a grand slam to Shane Victorino of all people in a five-run inning. Just disappointing…

As great as CC has been, it sucks that this was in all likelihood be his last game in a Brewers uni. Despite only pitching in 18 games for Milwaukee, he certainly did not leave any shortage of great moments here. I will forever be a huge CC fan, wherever he winds up.

The bullpen has been outstanding. Nice to see, despite the lack of Ws in the first two games.

Unfortunately, the Brewers’ bats remain quiet. It’s hard to believe the team fell so far from their hot August in such a quick amount of time and just never came back. I can’t explain it, but it’s clearly been the team’s achilles heel.

And Corey Hart… What can you say? Would it be possible to be more horrible than he has been? A bases loaded double play? Seriously? Could you please just continue to strike out by missing the ball by two feet? How is he still in the line-up? What happened to him after the All-Star Break? Just totally miffed by Corey… Who are you? The player we voted into the All-Star Game or this useless hack of a player that criticizes his own fans that we’re watching now?

Well, we got what we wanted. Playoff baseball for the Brewers. It hasn’t been everything we dreamed it would be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have fun Saturday at Miller. Let’s go out there, cheer this team on to their first postseason victory in 26 years and pray for the most improbable of comebacks. There’s still some time to enjoy this.

In the News (10/1)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Today’s Game: Phillies 3, Brewers 1
Series: 0-1

 

Today’s Game

OK, so that’s playoff baseball…

It’s hard to feel too bad about the loss today, but it does make tomorrow’s game an absolute must win.

I actually took a lot of positives from the game.

First of all, I didn’t feel great about the matchup coming in. Cole Hamels is a nasty pitcher and the Brewers have not really been swinging the bats well. When you combine that with the nerves most of the Brewers had to be feeling as the young guys played in their first postseason game, it was a recipe for disaster. But this game wasn’t a disaster. The Brewers were within a ninth-inning single of tying the game. They fought back in the game and came up just short, but come out of it knowing they can play playoff baseball and that they can play with the Phillies. This isn’t the same team that left Philadelphia with a four-game sweep last month. Confidence should be pretty high tomorrow, especially with CC taking the mound.

Secondly, most of the Brewers line-up got a good look at Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who came into the game in the ninth despite Hamels dominating through eight innings and only throwing 101 pitches. The Brewers got two hits, a walk and an unearned run on Lidge. Now, they have a little bit better feel for him. He will also probably be pretty worn out for tomorrow’s game since he threw 35 high-pressure pitches today.

The pitching for the Brewers was outstanding. Yovani Gallardo struggled with command (five walks, one intentional), which is understandable in just his second game back from injury, but he looked very solid besides that and gave up zero earned runs in four innings. Mitch Stetter, Carlos Villanueva, Manny Parra and Guillermo Mota held the Phillies to zero runs and just one hit over the last four innings. In fact, the Phillies had just four hits the whole game and only one extra-base hit. Even the extra-base hit was in Mike Cameron’s glove before falling out. It was certainly an impressive pitching performance all around.

That’s not to say there weren’t negatives.

Dropped Opportunity

The third inning was obviously the killer. After a Carlos Ruiz single, Cole Hamels laid down a bunt to the third base side that could have easily been a double play with Ruiz’s slow feet. Hall fielded it cleanly, but bobbled the ball trying to get it out of his glove. After he got his grip, he decided to go to first for the sure out. The throw was perfect, but Weeks dropped it. Inexcusable. With those two defensive miscues, it went from two outs with no one on to no outs and two on.

Gallardo battled back to get the next two outs before allowing a deep fly ball to Chase Utley. Cameron took a bad angle to the ball, but got to it and had it in his glove before allowing it to fall out. It would have been a nice play, but one that needs to be made by a three-time gold glove outfielder in the playoffs. A catch would have ended the inning with no runs scored even after Hall and Weeks’ mishaps. The game would have been completely different.

With Utley on second, Gallardo then intentionally walked Ryan Howard and gave up a walk to Pat Burrell to push Utley to third and Howard to second. With the bases loaded, Gallardo walked Shane Victorino to push in the third Phillies’ run in the inning. A 2-0 deficit is much easier to make up than 3-0. Who knows what could have happened if Gallardo didn’t walk in that third run? You can’t give away runs in the playoffs.

The offense was pretty anemic too. Four hits and just one extra base hit is not going to get it done. Two of the four hits came from players who came off the bench in the game (Craig Counsell and Ray Durham). It was nice to see Hart get a hit, but it sure would have been a lot nicer to see it in that ninth inning. He struck out to end the game. He could have won back a lot of the fans he’s lost over the past few months with a base knock there.

The big spot in the game that won’t make the highlights was the sixth inning. Jason Kendall led off with a strikeout, but Craig Counsell followed him with a single and Cameron took a walk. With two on and just one out, Bill Hall had to do something, at least move the runners over. Instead, he (predictably) struck out and Ryan Braun ended the inning with a pop out. Hamels went on to pitch two more innings. If the Brewers score one or two runs in that inning, or even if they had just put a little more pressure on Hamels, he may have had to leave the game earlier, which would have only helped the Brewers’ chances.

So CC Sabathia takes the hill tomorrow and the Brewers have to have Game 2. They face Brett Myers, who has not pitched well since he faced the Brewers in September. Hopefully his slide continues. It’d be nice to win a laugher for the first time in a few weeks… but I’ll take any W of course.

Brewers News

- Here’s the Journal-Sentinel game story.

- Sabathia says he’s going to stay calm during the game tomorrow. Just do whatever you’ve been doing, big fella. And that primal scream fist pump at the end of another dominating performance will be a good release. More HERE.

- Enough can’t be said about Sabathia, but Sveum sums it up pretty well:

“It’s probably the greatest 2 ½-month performance you’ve ever seen from a professional athlete, in any sport.”

- Pitchers have done pretty well on three days rest this season. Hopefully CC continues the trend.

- The Brewers remain confident.

- I think fans can expect more offense the rest of the series, except the Phillies tomorrow against CC. There were no earned runs in today’s game. More on the Brewers’ offense HERE.

- Michael Hunt takes the defense to task. More on the miscues HERE and HERE.

- Bob Wolfley takes a look at the broadcasters from Game 1.

- MLB has some “Short Hops” from Game 1 and break down several of the key moments and decisions in the game.

- Ryan Braun has a blog, and is awesome:

“Then we went home and got changed and went out downtown to this place called Martini Mike’s with the whole team. Mark Attanasio, our owner, came out and there were a bunch of fans in there. We just had a good time celebrating, drinking, dancing. It was cool that the fans were there because getting to the postseason is a big deal for us, but those people have been through 26 years. Now they can be proud of their hometown team, proud of Milwaukee. That means as much to us players as anything else. I had grown men coming up to me, crying, and telling me what it meant to them and their family. That put it in perspective a lot.”

He already has a post up from Game 1 and is still pretty confident and ready to get back out there for Game 2.

- Gallardo was the second pitcher in MLB history to ever start a game in the postseason without winning a game in the regular season.

- “Playoffs could kick start Hart” - Uh, not exactly… but one hit is better than none I guess.

- Baseball Prospectus gave the Brewers a 54.7744 percent chance of winning the series against Philadelphia before it began. I’d guess it’s considerably lower now… (H/T to BBKTUTH!)

- The Hardball Times odds don’t look as good.

- But, hey, Diamond Hoggers picks the Brewers over the Phillies in five. Make it happen, Brew Crew.

- And Jeff Sackmann of Brew Crew Ball details why the Brewers will beat the Phillies.

- What superstitious thing are you doing to help the Brewers win?

- Matt at Chuckie Hacks has an interesting theory about why karma is on the Brewers’ side. Mini-horses?

Playoffs

- Sure, losing Game 1 stunk…but at least we didn’t already assume a World Series trophy was locked up. Cubs fans might want to rethink that a bit… Dodgers 7, Cubs 2. And they have a good chance of going down 2-0 with Chad Billingsley facing Carlos Zambrano tomorrow.

- The Cubs have now lost their last seven games called by Dick Stockton. Those Cubs sure have a lot of superstitions.

- Oh yeah, there’s another little twist to that goat thing too…

Other News

- It’s hard to be a Pirates fan.

Hump Day Heckler, the Views On Playoff Baseball by an Able Bodied Elated Heckler.

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I waited 22 years for that? Oh well, it was pretty fun while it lasted. No, but I’m seriously, the Brewers have dug themselves in a pretty significant hole. In my opinion, the first game in a 5 game set is the worst to lose. It is by no means a done deal, but now the Crew must win 3-4 games to advance. If the Brewers can take it to 5, they will be sitting in the Catbird’s seat. The Phillies are an offensive force, but two games against Carsten Charles usually end up as two L’s. So it is pretty much contingent on game 3. Will Suppan/Bush/McClung have what it takes to get us in position to send Sabathia out for the second time? I hope so.

They had a chance to win today; Yovani wasn’t exactly Yovani, but Weeks’ costly error and Cameron’s “Gold Glove” leather proved too much to overcome against a filthy Hamels. That all being said, you can’t really expect too much when the opposition has a dealer like King Cole on the bump.

I try to refrain from piling up on Richard Weeks with Heckler posts, I thought the verbal beat downs he was accumulating from every other blogger on the web would suffice. But I can’t cork this turd any longer.

 What is the deal with this hack? How could the Brewers peg this guy so wrong? Out of all the Baby Brewers Melvin drafted, why was this pillow biter the one who received a major league contract? 3N2 is probably rolling in their fiscal grave right now. They were probably excited to get a “budding superstar” to sign a shoe deal with them. 5 years later, they are still as obscure as Rickie’s power numbers. Somebody lost his or her job on that one.

 I realize that these takes aren’t exactly fresh; Rickie huffing dong is nothing new. I just question why they insist he play in the playoffs. He always chokes in clutch situations, in the field especially. Whether it’s botching a double play ball, booting a grounder, or missing easy PO’s by tossing a lollipop 30 ft. over Fielder’s dome. The only thing you can depend on him for is being not very good. At all. What I am trying to say is that he sucks I guess. For lack of better words, he sucks big wiener. 

CC Deserves the Hardware

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

CC Sabathia screamed from the Miller Park mound Sunday as the final out was recorded. It was the exclamation point on a historic stretch of pitching that carried a postseason-starved team to the playoffs.

Now, days later as baseball pundits debate who deserves the Cy Young Award in the National League, I cringe as the talking heads continuously brush CC away as a non-contender because he only spent a little more than 12 weeks in the NL with the Brewers.

First off, where is the definition of Cy Young that says all of a pitcher’s stats must be accumulated in one league to be considered for either league’s award? The best explanations of the award that I can find say it goes to the “best” or “most valuable” pitcher in each league. That’s a very subjective definition, but who could possibly debate that CC was not the “best” or “most valuable” pitcher in National League this season?

Take a look at what he did as a Brewer:

  • He went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA.
  • The Brewers were 15-2 in the 17 games he started.
  • He had more complete games individually in his half season as a Brewer than any team had collectively in the entire National League for the season.
  • He averaged 7.7 innings a start.
  • He threw three complete-game shutouts and another complete game in which he allowed zero earned runs.
  • He allowed less than one home run per 20 innings pitched.
  • He had a strike-out-to-walk ratio of better than 5:1.
  • In his last three starts, when the team needed him the most, he pitched on short rest.
  • He had a 0.83 ERA in those three starts.
  • Admittedly, it may not be fair to compare only that half season of work against other pitchers’ entire seasons. Brandon Webb was 9-0 in his first nine starts, after all. But even when comparing CC’s whole season against the rest of the pitchers in the NL, he was the most dominant.

    C. Sabathia, MIL - 17 wins, 25 QS, 251 K, 2.7 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10 CG, 253 INN

    J. Santana, NYM - 16 wins, 28 QS, 206 K, 2.53 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 3 QS, 234.3 INN

    T. Lincecum, SF - 18 wins, 26 QS, 265 K, 2.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2 CG, 227 INN

    B. Webb, ARI - 22 wins, 24 QS, 183 K, 3.3 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 3 CG, 226.7 INN

    R. Dempster, CHI - 17 wins, 21 QS, 187 K, 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1 CG, 206.7 INN

    CC was first in all of baseball in complete games, innings pitched and games started. If you consider his entire season’s stats, he finished second in the NL in strikeouts and third in quality starts. And he had the fourth lowest ERA and third lowest WHIP of starting pitchers in the Senior Circuit.

    Perhaps most importantly, most of the other Cy Young candidates are sitting at home right now, watching the playoffs. In the past, “pitching for a winner” has been a major qualification for Cy Young winners. Brewers fans know this well as Ben Sheets was robbed of a Cy Young in 2003 despite racking up 264 strikeouts and a 2.7 ERA in 237 dominate innings. This year, Brandon Webb folded down the stretch to the tune of a 5.7 ERA in his last seven starts as the D-Backs fell short of the postseason. Johan Santana pitched excellent, but watched his team crumble around him. And Tim Lincecum pitched well for a horrible team that had no chance of playing in October even as April began. The only NL playoff pitcher receiving Cy Young consideration is Dempster, who somehow became the Cubs’ ace this season. Despite Dempster’s brilliant year, Sabathia has better stats in nearly every category, some significantly better.

    Furthermore, there is precedent for awarding the Cy Young to a pitcher who switched leagues in the middle of the season. Rick Sutcliffe won the award as a Cub in 1984 after being traded from the Indians. Sabathia pitched less than 20 fewer innings in the NL than Sutcliffe and his numbers were even more dominant.

    R. Sutcliffe, CHIC, 1984 - 20 starts, 16-1, 15 QS, 155 K, 2.69 ERA, 1.078 WHIP, 7 CG, 150.1 INN

    C. Sabathia, MIL, 2008 - 17 starts, 11-2, 17 QS, 128 K, 1.65 ERA, 1.003 WHIP, 7 CG, 130.7 INN

    No matter how you quantify his season, Sabathia was the best pitcher in the NL this year. Hell, he was the best pitcher in baseball. Giving the Cy Young to anyone else would be a travesty and would depreciate one of baseball’s most dominate stretches of pitching ever.

    Luckily for CC and Brewers fans, he’s more worried about earning some team hardware right now than a personal award. The selfless ace will go on short rest for a fourth straight time Thursday in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Phillies, further cementing his place in Brewer lore.

    Thanks, CC.

    The Underdog Came Out On Top

    Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

    Great to see the Brewers get it done. It really wouldn’t have been too exciting if they would have just rolled into the playoffs. That is why sports is so compelling. It cannot be scripted.

    You had all kinds of drama this past weekend, but in the end, the good guys won. It reminded me of the finish to the movie “Hoosiers.” The small high school defying the odds to outlast the Amazin’ Mets. The quotes coming out of New York were of a team that felt their team overachieved. Disappointed, yes, but from a team that will be moving into a state-of-the-art facility and vast amounts of revenue the Brewers cannot match. If the Brewers came up short, the fallout would have been severe. The underdog won…

    Respect for the Pitching

    I really gained a ton of respect for five pitchers this past weekend for the Crew.

    1. CC Sabathia — Looking at the biggest contract for a pitcher in the history of the game. He pitches another complete game, in the biggest game of the season. Tough pitches all the way through as the playoffs are usually max-effort-type pitches. Third start in a row on three days rest, now looking at possibly as many as seven more starts on an already taxed workload. Anyone who ever thinks that players are all about the money haven’t been paying attention to what this guy is putting on the line. Don’t you think CC’s agent, the Yankees, Mets, Angels Dodgers and the MLB Players Association cringes every time they hear CC is going again on three days’ rest? What he has done for this team has put his own personal issues to the side for the good of the Crew. Trust me when I tell you that every player in the Majors has taken notice of what CC has done. The respect he has gained from his peers will be talked about for a long, long time.

    2. Ben Sheets – The free agent to be showed his true character by trying to take the ball on Saturday against the Cubs. He knew his arm was worn down and sore, but still put his own personal issues to the side and tried to step up one more time in possibly his last start as a Brewer. He had so many great games, but saved his best performance as a pro for the game on Saturday.

    3. Manny Parra — He rebounded nicely in relief on Saturday. Pitching in a meaningful spot, Manny put aside some of his struggles in the last six weeks to step up and pitch like a seasoned veteran.

    4. David Bush — This guy has pitched out of relief, back in the minors, started, pitched on a swinging fifth man rotation and for the last two months has been one of the top ten pitchers in baseball. So he gets asked to piggyback Ben Sheets, doesn’t gripe about again being bumped and goes out and throws three no-hit innings to give the team a chance to win.

    5. Yovani Gallardo — First Playoff game since 1982 goes to this young stud. What poise he has to come back in the pennant race to not only pitch but have very little rust or psychological hangover from his injury. The Brewers may lose two star pitchers at the end of this unbelievable season, but Gallardo and Parra have established themselves as two that can continue this run into ’09.

    Playoff Matchup

    The Brewers were ripe for the picking three weeks ago after a 3-7 homestand. Both teams start from scratch again. If anything, CC’s performance could give the Crew a slight advantage in momentum going in. When teams slump their isn’t much you can do except ride it out. Like a cold, it is going to last seven days and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

    That being said, the Brewers still are not swinging the bats very well as a whole. Prince has been absolutely carrying this squad on his back. Look for the Phillies, even with Hamels and especially Moyer, to pitch around Fielder and test his discipline. The same goes for Howard on the other side.

    It will be interesting to see Gallardo attack a good offensive team in a smaller ballpark. He is a strikeout, flyball pitcher. Love his poise. Nothing seems to faze this kid. He misses all of spring training, throws a gem against the Reds in Cincy. Look for the Phillies to test Yo’s durability and nerves on the grand stage.

    The batters for the Crew have been in another funk at the plate. They looked like they had gotten out of it the last two series on the road. But guys like Maholm, Duke and Lilly really gave the hitters fits at the plate. Not good considering they will face Hamels twice and Moyer once in this best of five. With Hamels they have to attack the fastball early in the count as to not let him get to his changeup, which is one of the best. The Brewers have seen him twice this season and really had some great at bats against him in that Saturday game in Philly.

    Moyer, is a tougher matchup than Hamels because of his ability to change speeds with a still unreal changeup. Hopefully the Brewers hitters will realize that Moyer is only throwing 81 mph and move up in the box and stand on top of the plate. Take away his bread-and-butter changeup that fades off the outside corner of the plate. Hart, Hall, Cameron and Braun all need to dare him to throw inside to get them out. If nothing else, Moyer, who is a great study of hitters’ tendencies, will have to learn on the fly as the hitters will look different to what he has seen from them on video. The problem is young hitters are stubborn and don’t want to get out of their comfort spots in the batters box.

    Brett Myers has pitched very well this second half, think Dave Bush. Myers pitched a complete game against the Crew last time out. But that is a bit deceiving. The Crew had nothing left in the tank the fourth game of the series. It didn’t matter who was pitching for the Brewers (Suppan) or who was pitching against the Crew (Myers). If you know anything about momentum, you realized that the Brewers had no chance in that one.

    I think Gallardo, CC and Bush can get it done this series. The bats need to come alive though. I think the pitching will be fine.

    The bullpen edge goes to the Phillies only because of Lidge. He is a strikeout pitcher who has the best slider in the game. Only guys like Pujols can get him, or Braun also has.

    I think that the Phillies have the edge on the bench too. They have Dobbs, who has become the best pinch hitter in the National League. The Brewers have Durham, who has really had some big hits down the stretch.

    Nostalgia anyone?

    Geoff Jenkins will be on the active roster for the Phillies in this series. Jenks, a fan favorite in Milwaukee, is beyond happy for the community and the guys on the team. He is also going to get himself off a dubious list — most games played without appearing in a playoff game for active Major Leaguers. I know this one well as I was ahead of him last year. The fans of Milwaukee probably won’t be as warm this time around, but for only this little bitty series.

    Send in Your Rants!

    I will be covering the games on FSN postgame Brewers Live with Craig Coshun. We will do a complete breakdown of Game 1 and have interviews and manager comments following the game. The show will start after the last pitch and run for an hour. Please help me with some comments for a Rant. Leave your comments on this post and I will choose one that I like.

    Nostalgia Two

    It is ironic that the guy the fans booed so much would end up being so loved. Thanks, Wes Helms!

    To Those No Longer With Us

    Monday, September 29th, 2008

    With Milwaukee’s playoff push going down to the final moment of the season before being ultimately made good upon, it took the contributions of many to be delivered – some of which who will not accompany the club into the playoffs.

    With the roster to again dwindle down to its usual 25 men, I thought it appropriate to recognize the efforts of two players who were brought in to help bring a team to the next level, a level they knew without doubt they would not be a part of.

    On Sept. 5, five days after roster expansions, the Brewers announced the acquisition of Mike Lamb. In 81 games with the Twins this season, Lamb hit an embarrassing .233 with just 32 RBI before being handed his walking papers. When Lamb was brought in, many fans wondered why he was brought in, and why he was brought when only eligible to be on the roster for less than a month.

    Lamb didn’t exactly dazzle in limited opportunities, but he didn’t make idiots of Brewers management either. In just 11 ABs, he had three hits, two runs, a walk here and there, and kept the ball in play in all but one plate appearance, as he struck out just once. A .273 clip in 11 at bats wasn’t anywhere close to deciding Milwaukee’s fate, but I felt better pinch hitting him in the pennant race over a less proven, or equally unflattering option. In all, he proved a no-risk option yielding some reward. 

    Todd Coffey makes a much easier case as a wise playoff-ineligible signing. The aged ginger hurler stunk his way out of Cincinnati with a 6.05 in 17 Emerald City appearances this season. He was then brought in on Sept. 10 to add depth and experience to a fledgling Brewers bullpen. 

     Coffey posted a 0.00 ERA during his nine appearances (spanning 7.1 innings). He gave up just six hits, two walks while vastly improving on his career K/IP ratio in chalking seven punchouts in almost as many frames of work. These numbers were not obtained in garbage time or meaningless games. Coffey was thrust into the flames bases-loaded jams and hearts of orders, only to work out of each scenario unscathed.

    Though these players will be watching the team they shared champagne with at home this October, they should look at themselves and know they had a hand in what this team has done, and in what the team still has the opportunity to do.  

    Mike Lamb and Todd Coffey were brought in too late, but in my opinion, it’s better late than never.

    26 Years of Frustration - Get Up, Get Up, Get Outta Here, GONE!

    Monday, September 29th, 2008

    I was at the game yesterday and I can’t even begin to recount how incredible it was. I’ll certainly try, but I’m not sure I have the words to describe the instantaneous release of 26 years of frustration.

    I’m at work so I have to make this brief, but I just wanted to let you all know we’ll be hitting the posts hard this evening and throughout the playoffs. The four of us that were able to go to the game took a bit of a vacation day yesterday to revel in what will surely go down as one of the greatest sports moments in our lives.

    We’ll be back in full force tonight. I promise.

    Insomniac Ink