Tagged: Jason Kendall

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.

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #18

Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.

#18

Tom Hausman (’75-’76)
Barry Cort (’77)
Bob Galasso (’79)
Danny Darwin (’85-’86)
Darryl Hamilton (’88)
Jim Olander (’91)
Alex Diaz (’92)
Tom Brunansky (’93-’94)
Duane Singleton (’94-’95)
Kevin Koslofski (’96)
Todd Dunn (’96-’97)
Charlie Greene (’99)
Jose Hernandez (’00-’02)
Wes Helms (’03-’05)
Gabe Gross (’06-’07)
Jason Kendall (’08-’09)
Shaun Marcum (’11-’12)
Khris Davis (’13-’15)
Ramon Flores (’16)

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #20 Jonathan Lucroy

Today is St. Patrick’s Day in the United States of America, but at least as important, if not more so, is the fact that today is 20 days away from Opening Day!

You read that correctly. There are less than three weeks to go, Brewer Nation!

Today while you’re likely out partaking in some adult beverages and/or watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s Round of 32, be safe. Getting hurt (or God forbid worse) simply isn’t worth missing out of Opening Day.

But sometimes playing it safe can’t keep you injury free and you might miss Opening Day after all.

Such was the case last spring with today’s subject:

Jonathan Lucroy.

During a normal drill during Spring Training last year, Jonathan Charles Lucroy broke the pinkie finger on his throwing hand. (Lucroy bats and throws right-handed.) It caused Lucroy to begin the year on the disabled list as Wil Nieves and George Kottaras began the season as the two catchers on the 25-man roster.

Lucroy was reinstated to the active roster on April 10th and immediately worked back into the starting role. He had a nine-game hitting streak to begin the season once he got back to Milwaukee and was named the team’s Player of the Month for May.

Overall for the year, Lucroy batted .265/.313/.391, in 430 at-bats over 136 games (114 starts). He scored 45 runs, drove in 59, and totaled 114 hits (16 doubles, 1 triple, 12 home runs) while striking out 99 times and only walking 29 times.

More important for a catcher though is how he performs defensively. In that regard, the Brewers had a 3.63 ERA when he caught (1043.2 innings, 421 earned runs) and went 68-46 when he started. Lucroy threw out 21 of 98 runners attempting to steal, good for a 21.4% rate.

What’s more is that there have been more than a couple of articles written over the winter about Lucroy’s ability to frame pitches and help get borderline strike calls for his pitchers.

He was also inserted late in games which he did not start to pair up with the late-inning relievers. He is much more defensively sound than George Kottaras and those late changes helped evidence that.

Lucroy joked at one point during the season that he was the closer off the bench for the closers in the bullpen.

Back to the bat, Lucroy is having by far the best Spring Training of his career. Coming into today, Lucroy is batting .571 (12-of-21) and slugging .857 by way of three doubles and a home run. He’s also recorded his first Cactus League stolen base.

It’s been related by the beat writers that Lucroy has really taken well to the instruction from first year Brewers hitting coach Johnny Narron. If the results in the regular season and over the course of the long summer reflect the improvements he’s made so far, it’ll be a banner year for third year big-leaguer at the plate.

If there is any knock on the way Lucroy has performed to this point in his career, it’s in the fact that he is only the starting catcher 80% of the time. He might get more days off than that of course with day games following night games, or the occasional double-header, but he’s only the #1 option for four of the five starting pitchers in Milwaukee’s rotation.

That’s not entirely Lucroy’s fault, of course, but the face remains that he and left-handed starter Randy Wolf have been unable to get on the same page. Wolf likes to pitch a game a certain way. He has a very specific game plan and knows what he wants to throw in any situation. Lucroy hasn’t gotten it yet. He needs to work harder to be able to catch Wolf and not force manager Ron Roenicke into having to catch Kottaras  (or more accurately “not Lucroy”) against tough left-handed pitchers.

Lucroy and Wolf have been paired together this spring and it seems to be working well enough so far. Having said all that, every catcher not named Jason Kendall needs some days off and catching Kottaras every fifth day all the time at least helps keeps Lucroy fresher.

As for being on the club on Opening Day, things are looking good for Lucroy there as well. Getting the start on the mound on Opening Day will likely be Yovani Gallardo, one of the four that Lucroy catches.

What all that means is that when Miller Park announcer Rob Edwards is rattling off the members of the Milwaukee Brewers prior to first pitch 20 days from now, it’ll be Lucroy’s name he calls out in the batting order as “in the bullpen” while he’s warming up Gallardo.

It may be a small thing, but making your first Opening Day roster means something to a ballplayer. But there’s something special about Opening Day.

For Jonathan Lucroy, it doesn’t signifying anything that we don’t already know. He’s the starting catcher and will be so for the majority of 2012.

But you just never know what it might mean to the individual. Hopefully in 20 days, we’ll find out what it means for Lucroy together.

Quick Hops: Non-Tenders, Counsell, Rumors

By: Big Rygg

Plenty to talk about as I roll out a new title here. When I have several things to discuss and I choose to put them in one post instead of several, it’ll be called “Quick Hops” as I hop from topic to topic. Oh, and if you don’t know, hops are an ingredient in beer…and the team is the Brewers…I hope you’re following me.

Anyway, let’s get to it!

Non-Tender Choices Add Intrigue to Spring Training

The Milwaukee Brewers chose not to tender contracts to injured relief pitcher Mark DiFelice, pitcher Seth McClung and catcher Mike Rivera. This makes the three men free agents, able to sign a contract with any team. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you understand the arbitration system and what the meaning of the non-tender is.

The system that is in place in Major League Baseball allows for a team to “control” a player for six seasons of service time (in the majority of cases). During the first three years of team control (again, in most cases) the team has 100% control over what they pay a player provided that the salary is at least as much as the league-mandated minimum. Typically teams negotiate salaries with players on a year-to-year basis anyway in an effort to involve the player in their money-dealings, but the team has the final say if they and the player cannot reach an accord. If that happens, then the team “renews” the player’s contract at whatever number they deem fair. This can upset players greatly if they feel they outperformed a certain level of pay with their level of play. Prince Fielder is the Brewers’ most recent example of that situation when, after becoming the youngest player in the history of the league to slug 50 home runs in a single season, he felt he was deserving of much more than the contract that he was offered. The two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, so the team renewed Fielder’s contract at a rate that was in line with their team’s pay scale for non-arbitration eligible players.

Being eligible for arbitration is what leads to the non-tendering of contracts if it’s going to happen. When a player becomes eligible for arbitration, salary is no longer completely up to the team. There are a lot of details that I could bore you with, but the basics are that the team and player negotiate to reach a salary for the upcoming year. If the two sides cannot agree on a number by a certain, pre-determined date then they exchange figures. These figures are those that they will submit to a salary arbiter before the season begins. Arbitration hearings are scheduled over a few days in the spring. The team and player can continue to negotiate up to the beginning of the hearing to reach an agreement. If they do, great. The player signs the contract and plays under its terms. If they don’t, a three-member arbitration panel hears the case and chooses one of the figures the sides submitted several weeks prior. (To note: During Doug Melvin’s tenure as General Manager of the Brewers, no player has gone to a hearing.)

Now, the reason that arbitration eligibility can lead to a non-tender is because the contracts a player gets go up in value significantly during arbitration. The jump in salary in the first year of eligibility is often a multi-million dollar one. What’s more, is that arbitration salaries are often influenced simply by service time itself more so than performance. For example, former Brewer J.J. Hardy made around $4MM in 2009. His 2009 season was terrible. It was terrible statistically and it was terrible peripherally. Hardy is not worthy of even the same salary let alone an increase in salary. However, with the system that’s in place, it is an unbelievable rarity that a player’s salary goes lower.

To summarize this entire Hop, allow me to say this: While Mark DiFelice was non-tendered under the rare case where he wasn’t arbitration eligible (he had shoulder surgery which will most likely cost him his entire 2010 season), the increases in salary that McClung and Rivera (who is eligible for arbitration for the first time) stand to receive are more than the Brewers want to pay for those positions for next year. McClung might have been a combination of high-salary/low-performance with the adding of LaTroy Hawkins and needed a spot on the 40-man roster for him, but most likely they could’ve kept McClung anyway with the injury to DiFelice. As for Mike Rivera, the Brewers are finally able to move on from the career backup. Rivera has been a servicable backup backstop during his time with this franchise however he has never been the future at the catcher position. The Brewers knew this when Damian Miller retired and they brought in Jason Kendall for the last two years with Rivera backing him up. Finally, however, the Brewers feel that they have talent at the position in the minor leagues such that they can promote from within and, with a season or two of tutelage at the Major League level, have a home-grown starting catcher for the first time since Mike Matheny.

This should make for a fun battle to watch during Spring Training. The Brewers have two catchers that might be ready to make the jump. Angel Salome has been the most talked about catching prospect in the system for a couple of years now, especially when he put up such gaudy offensive numbers as part of that stacked AA Huntsville club from two seasons ago that included Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and others. He was the starting catcher for AAA Nashville last year. The catching prospect that has gotten the most talk lately, howevere, has been Jonathan Lucroy who was the starting catcher for Huntsville in 2009. The consensus seems to be that Lucroy might be more ready for the big leagues now with his better plate discipline and what not, but that Salome’s ceiling might still be higher. The Brewers did also claim George Kottaras on waivers early in the off-season as well, so if both youngsters are unable to show anything in spring training that wins them the job, Kottaras might end up being the defacto big league backup while the kids get some more seasoning down on the farm.

Any way it ends up, it ought to be a fun ride. Stay tuned.

The Craigger Set to Stay Put, Announcement to Come Monday?

Monday is shaping up to be a big day for Doug Melvin’s staff. The reports from Indianapolis at the Winter Meetings this past Monday through Thursday were that free-agent pitcher Randy Wolf would be announced to the media as the Brewers’ latest acquisition this coming Monday after passing his required physical examination.

The Brewers, though, just might have two names to announce on Monday. While free-agent signee LaTroy Hawkins was rumored to be announced this coming Tuesday, veteran infielder and team leader Craig Counsell has reportedly agreed to stay in Milwaukee for what might be the balance of his career.

I couldn’t be happier about this move. Even if Counsell doesn’t duplicate his offensive production from 2009, his ability to play three infield positions very well defensively is a huge asset to this team. With inexperienced (at the major league level) starters at SS and 3B in Escobar and Casey McGehee respectively along with Rickie Weeks one bat waggle away from season-ending surgery, having Counsell to spell all three positions is as invaluable for 2010 as having him has proven to be over the past couple of years as well.

Welcome back, Craigger! The Brewer Nation is glad you never left.

Rumor Burner Stays Warm on Hot Stove

Doug Melvin has made no bones about his desire to add two starting pitchers during this off-season. Signing Randy Wolf to a free agent contract gives him one. Where the second one comes from has been a matter of some opinion.

There are still plenty of free agents on the market to be sure. Given the Brewers’ projected payroll, some of them are out of the team’s price range. However, there are several that can be had for a reasonable rate that have great chances to put up better numbers than most members of the Crew’s 2009 starting rotation. In this realm, names like Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer, Wisconsin-native Jarrod Washburn and the recently non-tendered Chien-Mien Wang to name a few.

Pulling off a trade is another possibility that is open to Melvin et al. The Brewers still have a handful of trade chips that they can deal to interested teams to get a starting pitcher in return. It’s all about making something work for all teams involved. The biggest rumor that has been floating around since the Winter Meetings is a trade involving the New York Mets which would send Corey Hart to the Big Apple in exchange for John Maine. This makes sense for a couple of different reasons for both teams, but the biggest thing for Milwaukee’s point of view is that it gets us another starting pitcher. It also relieves us of Corey Hart and his waning value. He performed poorly last year but has had recent success and could still have plenty of upside. Maine has worked with new Brewer pitching coach Rick Peterson before when Peterson was in the same role with the Mets. The pairing led to Maine’s best season as a pro so it’s reasonable that it could produce positive results should the two be reunited in Milwaukee.

The Brewers are rumored to be preparing for this possible trade by readying offers to a handful of right fielders. They haven’t offered contracts to any of them yet, of course, because Corey Hart is still on the roster and would start in right field is no move is made. However, I have been told that guys such as Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady and recent 2009 Brewer Frank Catalanotto (who has one of the best batter walkup tunes EVER!). It’ll be interesting to see if the Brewers need to make an offer to one of these players or to another outfielder altogether. Even if they keep Hart, they carried five outfielders for the majority of 2009 and they currently only have four on the 25-man roster in Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Jody Gerut and Hart.

Whether a trade or signing is next on the horizon for this team remains to be seen, but the Hot Stove League shouldn’t cool down for Milwaukee for a bit yet.

Just an FYI here to finish things up, the next Brewer Nation podcast with yours truly and Cary Kostka should be recorded at some point this month, schedules permitting. We’ll definitely keep you posted though here at the blog so come back often and thanks for your continued (or brand new) readership!

Milwaukee Brewers Sign Five, Including C Zaun

By: Big Rygg

The Hot Stove season in baseball can be a very exciting time. It’s the first real baseball-heavy stretch of time in the sports media since the end of the World Series and, chance are, the first time you’ve really heard much about your team since the end of the regular season.

The big event during the off-season in baseball are the four days collectively known as the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings are a gathering of all of Major League Baseball’s General Managers (amongst other MLB officials). A ton of agents and even usually a handful of players make the trip as well. It is a chance for everybody to meet face to face and, thusly, to get a LOT accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. Groundwork is laid, dialogue is begun, negotiations get underway and, when all the stars align, players get signed to contracts.

In 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers were a part of the big storyline of the Winter Meetings, that of course being the CC Sabathia sweepstakes (congratulations to CC for winning a World Series Championship, by the way). That didn’t work out in Milwaukee’s favor, but it certainly was fun to have all the national media focused on the Brewers for a couple of days.

Last year, Doug Melvin was focused pretty much solely on Sabathia during the Winter Meetings and didn’t really accomplish anything. This year, however, Melvin is casting a much wider net into the free agent waters, specifically into the Sea of Starting Pitching. It has been said that the Brewers are basically looking into every available free agent pitcher. Having signed two arms already (the rehabbing Chris Capuano along with John Halama), the Brewers have gotten started fairly quickly this year. The Winter Meetings don’t even start until this coming Monday, for what it’s worth.

But, two pitchers that are questionable at best if one were to rely on them to start 20 games in 2010 (and for Capuano that games-started number could be one) is not enough for this team. Fortunately, Melvin, assitant GM Gord Ash and the rest of the front office realize this fact.

And, since pitching isn’t the only need for this organization, the Brewers have been active in areas other than pitching too. The Brewers made a trade in acquiring a new center fielder, Carlos Gomez, from the Minnesota Twins for SS J.J. Hardy. They signed a 16-year-old (pending age verification) shortstop, a young OF prospect who had a taste of the big leagues last year in Trent Oeltjen and a new starting (more on that later) catcher in the tastefully-named Gregg Zaun.

Allow me to focus on the new backstop in Milwaukee for a bit. There has been much discussion amongst fans already as to what exactly the Brewers are gaining by signing Zaun as opposed to simply retaining the services of two-year starter Jason Kendall instead.

First and foremost to this off-season’s agenda of acquiring as much starting pitching help as possible, this move saves the Brewers money. Kendall earned $5 million last year. With so many servicable options available on the upcoming market, Melvin made the decision that the team couldn’t afford to pay $5 million for a catcher again. There was never a report on whether Kendall flat out told Melvin to take a hike or whether he would’ve considered resigning at a reduced rate. Kendall was said to have greatly enjoyed his time as a Brewer, so it’s nice to think that he would’ve at least considered it.

To focus on what actually happened, though, is to realized that Gregg Zaun was approached by as many as six teams in this first week of free agency. He has said that the Brewers separated themselves pretty quickly from the pack. It helped that Milwaukee could offer a chance to be the primary starter. nearly-40-year-old catchers (or ballplayers of any position at that age) seldom hear those words. Now, Manager Ken Macha has seemed to be a no nonsense guy in his first year. That would seem to indicate that if Zaun isn’t performing at an acceptable level, then he would lose a start or two per week as whomever the backup winds up being will gain that playing time. Zaun is veteran enough in this league to know that performance is what hangs onto a job.

Should Zaun falter and his backup be called on…well, I don’t know what to tell you at this point because there is no certainty who that backup will be. Rumors flew (and continue to fly) since the end of the season about giving highly-touted prospect Jonathan Lucroy a shot to make the leap from AA to the big leagues. Then again, had prospect Angel Salome not missed so much combined time in 2009 due to injuries, might it be his name that would’ve been getting ballihooed about? There’s also the realization that Mike Rivera has been a decent backup the last few seasons as well at the big league level, thereby making him the devil they know, so to speak. Backup catcher is a much more important decision this year because Gregg Zaun will not be starting 130+ games.

Enough sidebarring. What else is the team gaining with Gregg Zaun behind the dish? How about more power, a higher batting average and, since Zaun is a switch-hitter, a second left-handed bat against right-handed pitchers. A little more balance can make a big difference.

As for the things Kendall excelled at (blocking the plate, blocking up pitches in the dirt, calling a game), Zaun is good at all of those things too. Let me put it this way, without going to find defensive statistical numbers… When you’re 38 years old and still playing in the big leagues, it’s usually not because of your stick anymore, especially behind the dish. Why do you think Henry Blanco is still playing? A cannon arm is among the top reasons why.

So when you add it all up, is there really any debate as to whether or not the Brewers made the right call? Of course there is. That’s the beauty of baseball and of all sports. Until the games are played on the field/court/rink/etc, you never know. But at least in baseball, statistical analysis provides a pretty darn good idea.

Despite all of this, though, the team needs more help. Formally offering a contract to Craig Counsell is a good start (depending on the value of said contract), but it’s hardly enough. The Winter Meetings begin in Indianapolis, Indiana in three days. With Doug Melvin and company being able to spread their focus around in 2009, let’s all hope that more irons in the fire yield better results in the long run.

Where For Art Thou, Offense?

By: Big Rygg

What a night for the Milwaukee Brewers…and I mean that in a negative way.

Save for back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches by Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, the Milwaukee Brewers were unable to muster any offense on a night when they were once again playing against a National League Division’s worst team.

In the Brewers’ defense, the San Diego Padres had been playing quite well when Milwaukee came to town on Friday. That was evidenced by the fact that they were able to overcome a 7-1 deficit on Friday night. However, despite the Brewers scoring 7 runs with two outs in the 2nd inning of Friday’s game, the Brewers have been very quiet at the plate in this series.

What’s more, they got an acceptable start from journeyman Mike Burns in the game tonight but Burns may as well have given up three hundred runs as three since there Brewers were unable to put more than two on their own on the board in support.

Burns gave up those three runs over 5.2 IP, giving way to Mitch Stetter with men on in the inning and two away. Claudio Vargas, pitching in his first game since being reacquired by the Brewers prior to the non-waiver trading deadline, allowed one huge insurance run to score in the bottom of the 8th inning. Heath Bell came on, and after allowing a leadoff single to McGehee, struck out Cameron, got Frank Catalanotto to fly out to left and induced a pop out off the bat of Jason Kendall to end it.

Not everything is going wrong for Milwaukee lately, but enough things are going wrong at the same time so that the end result is a loss.

Last night we had a solid run total despite it all coming in one inning, but the pitching staff and defense couldn’t hold San Diego down. Tonight, we got good enough pitching to win most nights, but the offense decided to go to sleep for the most part.

Will the Crew be able to put it together tomorrow afternoon and salvage one win against the NL West’s worst? With Carlos Villanueva on the bump for the beermakers, there are no guarantees.

It doesn’t get easier by any stretch of the imagination on Monday night either as after the Brewers finish a three-game series against the last place Padres, they start a three-game series against the class of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But it all boils down to the fact that the Brewers have been unable to put enough parts of the game together at the same time to win some ballgames at the most crucial stretch of the season.

Four hits tonight (two of them the aforementioned solo home runs) and while they accumulated nine hits on Friday night, only three of those came outside of that big 2nd inning. Throwing that inning out, that’s only 7 hits in 17 innings. That’s not going to get the job done unless the Padres start walking 10 hitters a night.

The Padres, owners of the league’s worst team batting average mind you, have amassed 17 hits and 12 hits in the two games thus far in this series. Yes, that’s 29 hits in 16 innings. You don’t have to look much farther to figure out why they’ve won these two games.

Bottom line, the Brewers need to get it figured out and fast if they’re going to keep it close into September this year.

I’m not in the mood for silver linings on this one, but perhaps a post in the coming days will focus on some positives that can be picked out of the dreck that’s being dumped on the field lately.

Until then, let’s just remember that tomorrow’s another day and that at 3pm tomorrow afternoon, the game is 0-0.

Let’s get one tomorrow and try to keep our head above water for a bit longer.

Brewers Play Part of ChiSox from Major League

By: Big Rygg

For anyone that has seen the iconic, timeless, awesome movie that is Major League, you know that the Indians defeated the Yankees in a dramatic one-game playoff in order to advance to the post-season.

What they don’t tell you officially until Major League II is that the Erie Warriors lose in the ALCS to the Chicago White Sox, the team’s antagonist in the second film.

Well, the Milwaukee Brewers swept the Cleveland Indians in the stadium formerly known as Jacobs Field. And while the team won’t be taking a 757 back to Milwaukee (they’re headed to Detroit tonight), they put on quite a hitting display during a series which featured a Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn bobblehead giveaway, Bob Uecker throwing out a first pitch and even a Bob Uecker autographed jersey prize to a “follow-the-ball” video board game.

The totals for the Brewers in the three games? 30 runs on 40 hits!! (And that we gave up 25 runs on 34 hits? Who cares? We won all three games!!)

Individual totals for the hitters (in alphabetical order by player’s last name):

Ryan Braun          6/13, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 R, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Mike Cameron          2/14, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
Frank Catalanotto          DNP
Craig Counsell          4/9, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K
Prince Fielder          6/11, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K
Mat Gamel          3/14, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 SB
Jody Gerut          0/2
Bill Hall          1/10, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 K
J.J. Hardy          5/12, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Corey Hart          6/14, 2 2B,1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Jason Kendall          3/8, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Casey McGehee          3/9, 1 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Mike Rivera          1/4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K

Take a moment to really let that soak in.

I’d write more now about the series, but I started this last night after the game and am finishing it today after work because I fell asleep while writing it. Suffice it to say, it was an amazing three days for the offense.

Let’s hope that’s the part of our game we bring with us from Cieveland to Detroit.