Tagged: Brett Lawrie

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now Heading Into 2013


As I did last year, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.

They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Tuesday, February 26th. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.

As before I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. Last year there were six Brewers on the list. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9.

Based on what has been revealed, it would appear a safe bet that Rickie Weeks has fallen off of the list. And how about John Axford? Could he really be in the Top 40 or did he fall off too? I’m guessing he fell off despite his fantastic 2011 season.

Looks like the Brewers will only have three this year.

The criteria for the list remains the same:

  • Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
  • Projected 2013 performance
  • Defensive position
  • Accolades
  • Intangibles

Here now are the Top 100 Players as listed by MLB Network.

100. Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies

99. Sergio Romo – CL – San Francisco Giants

98. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers

97. Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers

96. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies

95. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

94. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – Boston Red Sox

93. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers

92. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals

91. Michael Bourn – CF – Cleveland Indians

90. Aroldis Chapman – P – Cincinnati Reds

89. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

88. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox

87. Mike Moustakas – 3B – Kansas City Royals

86. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays

85. Michael Morse – 1B/LF – Seattle Mariners

84. Allen Craig – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals

83. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers

82. Carlos Beltran – RF – St. Louis Cardinals

81. Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia Phillies

80. Brian McCann – C – Atlanta Braves

79. Miguel Montero – C- Arizona Diamondbacks

78. Curtis Granderson – CF – New York Yankees

77. Jim Johnson – CL – Baltimore Orioles

76. Jason Motte – CL – St. Louis Cardinals

75. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals

74. Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego Padres

73. Adam LaRoche – 1B – Washington Nationals

72. Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers

71. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants

70. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals

69. B.J. Upton – CF – Atlanta Braves

68. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals

67. David Freese – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals

66. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles

65. Kyle Lohse – SP – (FREE AGENT)

64. Wade Miley – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks

63. Johnny Cueto – SP – Cincinnati Reds

62. Jonathan Papelbon – CL – Philadelphia Phillies

61. Mariano Rivera – CL – New York Yankees

60. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox

59. Jason Heyward – RF – Atlanta Braves

58. Austin Jackson – CF – Detroit Tigers

57. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

56. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox

55. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals

54. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals

53. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees

52. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs

51. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies

50. R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays

49. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals

48. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles

47. A.J. Pierzynski – C- Texas Rangers

46. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

45. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants

44. Pablo Sandoval – 3B – San Francisco Giants

43. Josh Willingham – LF – Minnesota Twins

42. Yoenis Cespedes – LF – Oakland Athletics

41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals

40. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers

39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays

38. Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins

37. Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds

35. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves

34. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox

33. Paul Konerko – 1B – Chicago White Sox

32. Aramis Ramirez – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers

31. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds

30. Carlos Gonzalez – LF – Colorado Rockies

29. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals

28. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays

27. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves

26. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals

25. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays

24. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals

23. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles

22. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets

21. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants

20. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

19. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

18. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees

17. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates

16. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays

15. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins

14. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

13. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers

12. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

11. Prince Fielder – 1B – Detroit Tigers

10. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

9. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds

8. Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Yankees

7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners

6. Ryan Braun – LF – Milwaukee Brewers

5. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B – Detroit Tigers

2. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers

1. Mike Trout – LF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Totals by team:

  • Philadelphia Phillies – 7
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 7
  • Washington Nationals – 7
  • Detroit Tigers – 6
  • Atlanta Braves – 5
  • Cincinnati Reds – 5
  • New York Yankees – 5
  • San Francisco Giants – 5
  • Texas Rangers – 5
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 5
  • Baltimore Orioles – 4
  • Boston Red Sox – 4
  • Kansas City Royals – 4
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 4
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 4
  • Milwaukee Brewers – 3
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
  • Chicago White Sox – 2
  • Colorado Rockies – 2
  • Minnesota Twins – 2
  • Seattle Mariners – 2
  • Tampa Bay Rays – 2
  • Cleveland Indians – 1
  • New York Mets – 1
  • Chicago Cubs – 1
  • Oakland Athletics – 1
  • Miami Marlins – 1
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
  • San Diego Padres – 1
  • Kyle Lohse – 1


Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #18 Shaun Marcum

It’s been a long off-season for baseball fans, made to feel somewhat longer here in the Midwest by mild temperatures that we normally don’t feel until the regular season is well underway.

The Brewers made their first League Championship Series since appearing in American League’s version back in the 1980s. That means the off-season is officially shorter for Brewers fans and players, but after falling two wins shy of the National League pennant and an appearance in the World Series it’s been a painful shortened time.

There isn’t anyone among us in Brewer Nation who can claim a longer or more painful off-season than that of Brewers starting pitcher, and subject of today’s profile:

Shaun Marcum.

Acquired during the preceding off-season for top prospect Brett Lawrie, plenty was expected of Shaun Michal Marcum before he ever put on a Milwaukee Brewers jersey.

After missing the entire 2009 season while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Marcum rebounded in 2010 and seemed healthy and effective enough in doing so.

Milwaukee was in desperate need of an upgrade to its rotation after suffering for years with the likes of Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper, Dave Bush and even a stunted comeback attempt by Doug Davis. Sure, Yovani Gallardo was doing well and free-agent pickup Randy Wolf was fine enough, though overmatched by trying to be the number two, but they needed more front-end talent.

The Toronto Blue Jays made Marcum available and Doug Melvin pulled the trigger on the straight-up swap. The reason for the cost was because Marcum is talented and showed himself to be healthy. This is the same guy that pitched Opening Day for the Blue Jays in 2010.

It was immediately apparent that the Brewers had acquired a new number two…well, at least until the Zack Greinke deal went down.

Marcum’s 2011 campaign almost didn’t start off with the team. He suffered through a bout of shoulder stiffness (the same as he’s going through right now in 2012) that nearly took him to the disabled list. He was able to get up to enough of a pitch count to be deemed ready-to-go out of the gate. With fellow import Greinke on the DL with a cracked rib, Marcum was even more necessary to start the season on the right foot.

He began the year with very good results and was arguably the team’s best pitcher for the first two months of the season. Who knows how long that level of play would have kept up and what kind of season numbers he could have posted if not for a hip injury suffered during interleague play prior to a start at Fenway Park on June 17.

It’s my opinion that Marcum wasn’t the same all season after that injury.

His numbers prior to the injury look like this:

14 GS, 7-2 record, 90.2 IP, 69 H, 29 R (27 ER), 2.68 ERA, 23 BB, 83 K, 7 HR, 1.02 WHIP

And his number post-injury (regular season only) were:

19 GS, 6-5 record, 110.0 IP, 106 H, 55 R (52 ER), 4.26 ERA, 34 BB, 75 K, 15 HR, 1.27 WHIP

Still, Marcum managed to start 33 games in 2011 (winning 13 of them), but the season caught up to him eventually.

Despite all his overtures to the contrary, it was pretty apparent that something was wrong with Shaun Marcum this past October. He says he wasn’t injured, and while that must be true, he certainly wasn’t effective.

Now, all players go through certain periods of worse success than “usual”. Marcum is no exception and he and his coaches claim that all the 2011 postseason struggles were a result of one of those periods of ineffectiveness.

Those postseason numbers were:

3 GS, 0-3 record, 9.2 IP, 17 H, 16 R (all earned), 14.90 ERA, 5 BB, 5 K, 3 HR, 2.28 WHIP


I’m no pro scout or manager or baseball coach, but my educated eye saw some things that just lended themselves to the idea that Marcum was worn down. It wasn’t like the if the season lasted another two months that Marcum was going to pull out of that funk along the way.

His innings total (200.2) in just the regular season was the highest of his career. He had pitched through a couple of injuries during the regular season, not to mention the shoulder stiffness that he opened the spring with. The aforementioned hip injury was bad enough, but exactly one month late, on July 17, during a spectacular defensive play on a ball bunted to his right, Marcum bounded off the mound and spun while underhanding a throw to first base. That resulted in an official neck strain and likely an unofficial sore shoulder.

All of those things added up to a pitcher being put through a lot over 33 starts. To me, all signs pointed to physical exhaustion which coupled with a resultant mental exhaustion in the playoffs leading to the results on the field which we all remember far too vividly.

Much of that will fade with time, helped especially by Opening Day which of course is 18 days away from the day I’m writing this.

What will really help Brewers fans get over it, though, would be a duplication of last year’s early success out of Marcum.

As of this writing, that’s currently in mild jeopardy as Marcum has not yet appeared in a Cactus League game. There is still enough time to get him a handful of starts, but he needs to be to a certain pitch-count-based level of endurance before being ready to pitch in a regular season game.

That notwithstanding, the path in 2012 for the 6’0”, 195 pound, 30-year-old right-hander from Kansas City, Missouri is a relatively clear one. When healthy, be that on Opening Day or shortly at a point thereafter, he’ll be in the starting rotation. He’ll look to make 30+ starts and help lead the Milwaukee Brewers on a successful defense of their National League Central Division title, complete with a return trip to the postseason. It’s just that when Marcum last takes the mound in 2012, he’ll be anticipating much different results.

Let’s hope that by then, as fans, we’ll be able to anticipate a positive outcome as well instead of being haunted by the memories of opportunities squandered.

Reviewing Milwaukee Brewers Prospects in MLB.com’s Top 50 Rankings

By: Big Rygg

MLB.com released its updated list of their Top 50 Prospects today. While 28 of 32 organizations have at least one man on the list, the Brewers are one of 17 clubs that have at least two.

This is a quick review of that pair of prospects who just so happened to be teammates already when they took the field together in the 2009 All-Star Futures Games in St. Louis.

I will include some comments about the players along with offering a bit of my own opinion about their futures. I won’t claim to know whether or not they should be higher or lower because I don’t pay enough attention to other team’s farm systems, so the ranks themselves will simply get mention here.

SS – Alcides Escobar – #12 Ranking


Believe it or not, despite a batting average over .300, albeit in a truncated Major League demonstration, slick-fielding shortstop Alcides Escobar actually fell three spots from 2009’s list.

This drop also came after Escobar won the batting title in the Venezuela League this winter. Escobar practically sprayed the ball all over South America while posting a .393 batting average. He added an on-base percentage of .440 which was good for fifth in the league. Add in his 16 steals (3rd in the league) and it becomes quite evident that Escobar was busy displaying all of his tools this winter.

This offseason Doug Melvin cleared the way for Escobar to seize the starting shortstop job when J.J. Hardy was traded to the Minnesota Twins for new starting centerfielder Carlos Gomez. Hardy had a terrible season in 2009 even earning a demotion to the minors for a brief stay. The end result was Hardy being jettisoned to Milwaukee’s interleague “regional” rival and Escobar realizing the role of the Next Big Thing.

By all accounts a stellar defender, Escobar’s bat definitely took longer to be considered ready for the big leagues. In fact, some people still don’t think it’s quite ready and that Escobar may only accumulate a .260/.300/.350 type of line.

Let’s just say I hope those naysayers out there have a decent recipe for crow.

Prediction: Obviously, Escobar will be filled in as position #6 on manager Ken Macha’s Opening Day lineup card. Where he’ll hit in the order is a bit of a mystery for now, however.

With the teammates that make up the rest of the order, Escobar really has the chance to be hitting in one of four spots in the order to begin 2010. Those spots are 2, 6, 7 or 8. I personally believe that Escobar will eventually settle in to either 1 or 2, but that might take some time, especially given Macha’s propensity for letting young guys gain experience by batting lower in the lineup.

Escobar’s best chance to start the year off in the 2-hole would be to follow the Casey McGehee blueprint of tearing the cover off the ball all spring long. Even still, I expect Macha to slot Escobar in at number 7 to begin the regular season.

As far as his long-term prospects? Shortstop is the latest rockstar position in the majors and Escobar could fit right in with the game’s best if he reaches the potential that scout after scout has seen in him.

Do I see Escobar’s #21 hanging underneath the track of Miller Park’s retractable roof next to #19 and #4? Not yet, but winning a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010 would be a good way to begin changing my mind.

2B – Brett Lawrie – #26 Ranking


A former 1st round pick (16th overall), Brett Lawrie was selected out of high school as a catcher. He requested the switch to 2B during his first minor-league season in part because 2B stood out to him as his quickest path to the majors.

After finishing the 2009 minor league season already with the Brewers’ AA affiliate Huntsville Stars, Lawrie apparently has the right idea. Incumbent 2B Rickie Weeks has had a history of inconsistent play and a few significant injuries as well. Should he falter again or lose another season to injury, he might just find himself pushed right out of town by the brash, young Canadian.

Lawrie has played for Team Canada in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic as well as participating in the 2009 All-Star Futures Game as a member of Team World alongside Alcides Escobar.

While he doesn’t even consider himself the best athlete in his own family (Lawrie says his older sister has that honor), he definitely seems poised to legitimately take over as the system’s best.

Prediciton: MLB.com has Lawrie projected to reach the majors in 2013. This is no doubt mostly due to his still learning to play second. He is a pure athlete at heart and should have no problem continuing his ascent.

Lawrie has shown flashes of a full toolbag and, given time, he ought to be able to ply those wares in the big leagues for a while.

I’m personally going on record as saying that 2012 could be the year that we see Lawrie get his first significant stint in the big leagues. By all accounts he’d preferred to reach the majors on April 5th of this year, but I’m sure the realist in him knows that the competitor is being a bit irrational.

So there you have it. It’s a simple review, but it’s a review nonetheless. The main things we can hope for going forward are for more and more of our players to continue to warrant consideration for this list.

After all, players rarely make the big leagues without being recognized as a top prospect first as some point along the way.

Lots to Catch Up On…

…so let’s get going.

By: Big Rygg

Hey Brewer Nation! Thanks for dealing with our collective hiatus from the written word over the past couple of weeks. It’s been a crazy length of time for both South Side Rob and me. Suffice it to say that my hiatus is over and I’ll be posting more often going forward.

Anyway, like I said in the lead…let’s get going.

When I last posted, the Milwaukee Brewers were 37-29 (put away your calculators, that’s 8 games over .500) and held a one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals (then 36-30) as the Crew sat atop the National League Central.

While the Brewers have lost more than they’ve won over the past 18 games, they now sit 4 games over .500 at 44-40, and are one game behind the St. Louis Cardnials (who remain six games over .500 at 46-40) as the Redbirds sit atop the NL Central.

Casey McGehee has emerged as a potential NL Rookie of the Year candidate, Manny Parra threw his way to the minors and has hopefully pitched his way back to staying in the rotation for the remainder of the year. (Let’s be honest with ourselves…As much as I like Seth McClung and Mike Burns as people, they aren’t ever going to make up 40% of a playoff rotation.) Jody Gerut still can’t get a hit to save his soul. Prince Fielder is still tearing the cover off the ball.

But let’s hit on a few big items specifically, shall we?

And let’s get the negative out of the way.

Ryan Braun vs. Doug Melvin

I’m happy to say that this happened, exploded, was reacted to and overreacted to, and has nearly gone away from the mainstream media before I had the chance to comment here on the blog.

What I am on record as saying is that Braun was out of line in the words he chose to express his feelings. We all agree that the pitching hasn’t been up to par, which was especially evident in the Cubs series, but the words Braun said called out half of his team whether he intended it that way or not.

Doug Melvin responded in the media, something he has never done before against a player to my knowledge (at least since taking over here in Milwaukee). Braun has been saying lots of things over the last couple of years, but again in the words he chose to use, he crossed the line a bit too far this time and Melvin let him know it. Should Melvin have taken it to the media? Probably not, but the way in which Braun took it there made a non-response a non-option for Melvin if he wanted the club to save face at all.

The two met, Braun apologized for the misunderstanding, we move on. Above, though, are some of my thoughts on it.

Speaking of St. Louis, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder…

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder…St. Louis-bound!

The bad about this is that Trevor Hoffman isn’t joining them (though hopefully someone will have to back out and maybe he’ll be able to go). The positives are that both men are now two-time All Stars. Prince was the NL Starter back in 2007 at 1B and is a reserve this year. Braun became the first Milwaukee Brewer to be named as an All Star starter two consecutive years since some guy named Robin Yount back in ’82 & ’83. Sounds like impressive company to me.

Fielder will also be joining the three other National League first-basemen in the Home Run Derby on Monday, July 13th. For those of you that don’t know who they are, the four men are Fielder, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez. That should be one heckuva display as all four men have 20+ home runs so far in the regular season and Howard (the low man on that totem pole) is a past winner of the Derby.

Milwaukee’s own Happy Youngster will be in attendance at the Derby as well. Look for the yellow shirt in the first row behind the St. Louis bullpen (from what he told me at the ballpark last night, anyway).

Rotation Situation

I use this heading to talk about the following things:

1 – The Death of Dave Bush’s Beard. I will summarize this situation with one question: Was Dave Bush on the DL when his Beard was protecting him?

2 – The Rebirth of Manny Parra. Parra was sent to the minors sporting a 3-8 record and an ERA of 7.52. After putting together “quality” starts in four straight outings and five of six starts, Parra went on a run of futility that landed him in the minors. His ERA jumped nealry 2 runs in three starts. That’s a lot when you get to June. Parra allowed a lot of runs, though, in accomplishing that feat. In those three starts combined, Parra amassed a stat line reading; 0-2, 11.1 IP, 21 ER, 25 H, 7 BB, 9 K. That’s an ERA, over that span, of 16.68!!

Now, having said all that, Parra comes back to the Brewers to start his first game since June 13th at Miller Park when he lost to the Chicago White Sox. I think he’ll be fine so long as he stays relaxed. Even though he might be pitching for his position in the rotation in the 2nd “half” of the season, he can’t pitch that way.

3 – The Life of Roy Halladay Rumors. Lo and behold, Roy Halladay is on the block after all! Despite so many people saying that Halladay would never be moved this year, I told everyone that he was on the block. Sure, the Brewers might not end up with him, but it wasn’t that hard to see coming despite the good doctor having over a year left on his contract if you were paying close enough attention. Halladay does also possess a full no-trade clause basically allowing him to hand-pick his next team or to choose to stay with Toronto. However, once your name gets dangled out there as possible trade bait, and you’re a superstar (in talent if not in recognition outside of the AL East yet), you will be moved.

The Brewers have prospects that they could package together to get Halladay, of this there can be little doubt. It’s really just a matter of whether or not Doug Melvin is willing to part with them, further depleting a farm system that lost two top prospects to Cleveland in the deal that brought CC Sabathia (and a playoff berth) to the city of Milwaukee. Another potential option that would help save a piece from the farm system would be to package a current major leaguer in with prospects. Regardless of what the winning team ends up spending, they will gain easily the best pitcher available this season. No Jake Peavy or Cliff Lee or Javier Vazquez or Jarrod Washburn or Erik Bedard or anyone else would make the impact that Roy Halladay can and most assuredly will make on a contending team.

So, the question here becomes…

What Would You Be Willing to Trade for Roy Halladay?

Here is how I worded it a couple of days ago.

Halladay is under contract for the next season. If only we had a larger sample size on Casey McGehee. I’d like Gamel’s LH bat in the lineup going forward but with Rickie back next season, McGehee’s ABs will come at 3B. I would be willing to move Gamel. Point two: I’d personally rather move Hardy and hang on to Escobar as his immediate replacement. That said, the Jays would certainly rather have Escobar what with his better range, more speed and cheaper cost. I would be willing to move Escobar, but only if we’re able to sign Hardy to an extension. And pretty much any pitching prospect (with a couple of personal favorites excluded) would be fair game. Oh and feel encouraged to throw in a bat from last year like Canada’s own Lawrie if that gets the deal done.


I’ll go right ahead and close this down for tonight. There’s more I could talk about, but a hugely long post is usually a skipped over post.

So, good win tonight over the Cardinals. Glad Hoffman slammed the door shut. Let’s win a series tomorrow and then handle the Dodgers on our way to a nice three-day break for 23 of our 25-man roster.

Day One: Summary

By: Big Rygg

As you’ve seen, the first three picks were posted in the blog here within a matter of moments after they were selected.

Here now is the entire list of first day selections by the Milwaukee Brewers along with some comments about some of the selections from yours truly and some MLB.com linkage for your perusal.

Pick #16 – Brett Lawrie, C, 5’11”, 200lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Brookswood SS
Comments: Catcher is one of the thinnest positions in the Brewers’ Minor League system. This was a pick that the team was very excited to make once Lawrie fell to them. With the reports all saying that this kid should definitely hit, you can rest assured that the Brewers will give him EVERY opportunity to remain as a catcher.
Enhanced Scouting Report

Pick #32 – Jake Odorizzi, RHP, 6’2″, 175lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Highland HS (IL)
Comments: This high school pitcher has committed to playing college baseball with Louisville already, so it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll want to forgo that committment to begin his professional career. Having said that, the scouting reports say that this kid has four pitches that he can throw for strikes right now. If that’s the case, in my mind he projects (once his body fills out and he spends enough time mastering his controls) as a top-end of the rotation guy at some point. As we all know, there are SO many things that can happen between now and whenever that might be, but here’s hoping he signs with the organization and gets to finding out when and if that will happen for him.
Enhanced Scouting Report

Pick #35: Evan Frederickson, LHP, 6’6″, 238lbs, Bats/Throws: L/L | U San Francisco
Comments: A tall left-hander, Frederickson has the frame to really be a dominating presence on the mound. Whether or not he can harness his physical gifts will be up to his coaches, his drive and his determination to achieve success.

Pick #53: Seth Lintz, RHP, 6’1″, 170lbs, Bats/Throws: R/R | Marshall County HS (TN)
Comments: Another prep pitcher, which the Brewers have not had any real reservations about taking risks on. Lintz had committed to pitch at Kentucky next year, so we’ll have to see which path he ultimately decides on for his career. He graduated HS as his class Salutatorian after going 12-1 in his senior year while compiling 1.33 ERA. His fastballs registers in the low 90s and he apparently touts a power slider as well. He’ll need to develop at least a third pitch (if he doesn’t already have one) to project as a starter in the big leagues.

Pick #54: Cutter Dykstra, CF, 5’11”, 180lbs B/T: R/R | Westlake HS (CA)
Comments: The “family ties” episode that has spanned the last several years for the Brewers continues with another MLB legacy in the system. He hit .473 in 29 games during this year, and (like his father) had an even better on-base percentage of nearly 60 percent!! His OPS was a stellar 1.320. His defense, like a few other recent Brewer draft picks (see: Braun, Ryan & Gamel, Mat), is not nearly at the same level as his bat, but that’s definitely something he’ll have plenty of time to work on in the minor leagues. Cutter has a scholarship offer waiting for him at UCLA if he decides to go the college route for a few years, but to hear his dad (former Phillie and Met Lenny “Nails” Dykstra) talk, it sounds like he’ll sign with the club and begin what could hopefully be a rapid rise through the system.

Pick #62: Thomas Adams, RHP, 6’2″, 180lbs, B/T: R/R | Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) 

Pick #94: Logan Schafer, CF, 6’1″, 170lbs, B/T: L/L | Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Pick #128: Joshua Romanski, LHP, 5’11”, 180lbs, B/T: L/L | University of San Diego
Comments: You just don’t see many pitchers of this stature. Tim Lincecum is the anamoly, not the norm. That being said, the scouting report says that Romanski’s future might be in the outfield, but other scouts say that they just don’t think he could play there everyday and that his ceiling might be as a 4th outfielder in the bigs…which is still pretty damn good if you ask me.

Pick #158: Maverick Lasker, RHP, 6’2″, 190lbs, B/T: R/R | Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ)
Comments: This is my pick in the draft that I will be paying attention to for the duration of his stay with Milwaukee’s system, regardless of how high he ultimately rises. My dream would be to be the team’s new PA announcer and get to rattle off the Opening Day roster and be able to call someone Maverick. Yeah, if he an Cutter Dykstra are on the roster together, that’ll just be a bonus.

Pick #188: Jose Duran, SS, 5’11”, 190lbs, B/T: R/R | Texas A&M

Final Thoughts: As always, you can never have too much pitching and the Jack Zduriencik’s crew appears to have picked several potential contributors for the bump. I especially love the Brett Lawrie pick as the thinnest position in our system is catcher. I read a report that said his bat is big league ready right now. That remains to be seen, of course, but it could be very fun to watch him over the next few seasons.

I’ve been following our farm system closer and closer each of the past several years now, and like to keep tabs on our prospects. Except at the very least one Minor League report per month going forward.

Summing it up, though, I haven’t heard of all of these picks before today, but I know that Jack Z’s crew has and quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.

Round: 1, Pick: 16

The Milwaukee Brewers lost a few good players to free agency last off-season. Combined with winning 83 games, these happenings have given Jack Zdurencik’s staff several early picks in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft (not called a rookie draft for obvious reasons).

Well, the draft began nearly two hours ago and the Brewers have made their first selection. He is a catcher/infielder from Canada named Brett Lawrie.

lawrie_brett250.jpgBrett Lawrie – C – Brookswood SS (Canada)
5’11”, 200 lbs, Born: 1/18/1990

Here is what the MLB.com scouting report says on him:

Hitting Ability: 
got tremendous hand strength and a quick bat, but he’s a little pull
conscious and with an open stance, he gives away too much of the outer
part of the plate.

His best tool is his plus, plus raw power, though it’s mostly to the pull side now.
Running Speed: He’s an average runner, maybe a tick above at times.

Base running: 

He’s a good baserunner who runs better underway.

Arm Strength: 

He’s got a plus arm which plays average in games.

He’s got strong hands and quick feet, but his catching skills are rudimentary.


He has the athleticsm and quickness, but needs to work on blocking balls and shifting.
Physical Description: Lawrie is an athletic player who might have the right build and frame to be a quick backstop.
Medical Update: Healthy.

Plus, plus raw power, generated by strong hands and bat speed.

His lack of a true position. Catching might be the best bet, but he’s behind due to lack of experience.

Canadian players can sometimes be difficult because of the lack of
opportunity to see them. But scouts know all about Lawrie and his plus
power potential, something he’s been able to show off while playing for
the Langley Blaze in British Columbia. What they don’t know is where he
can play, though he’s shown the tools — raw though they may be — to
handle being a catcher. It may take a while, but putting that bat
behind the plate could one day make him a premium player.