Tagged: Mike Cameron
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.
- 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)
- 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: #25
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.
John Gelnar (’70-’71)
Bob Reynolds (’71)
Frank Linzy (’72-’73)
Bill Travers (’74-’80)
Reggie Cleveland (’81)
Bobby Clark (’84-’85)
Mark Clear (’86-’88)
Dave Engle (’89)
Ricky Bones (’92-’96)
Julio Franco (’97)
Jim Abbott (’99)
Raul Casanova (’00-’02)
Kevin Mench (’06)
David Bell (’06)
Mike Cameron (’08-’09)
Doug Davis (’10)
Mark Kotsay (’11)
Josh Prince (’13)
Juan Centeno (’15)
Michael Reed (’15)
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.
Put That in Your Flask and Let it Make You Pass Out at a Red Light, LaRussa!
By: Big Rygg
Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals have made no bones about the fact that they don’t like the Milwaukee Brewers’ brashness nor their postgame celebration. Obviously, Milwaukee doesn’t think that they necessarily do anything disrespectful toward their opponent in their postgame antics.
Let’s sidebar here for a moment when I ask you to think back to your childhood (or if you are still a child while reading this, think back to some time last week). Has anyone ever told you that you were doing something that they didn’t like and you reacted, to intentionally poke the bear so to speak, did the extreme opposite of whatever it was that they said they didn’t like?
The Milwaukee Brewers decided against maturity today when they absolutely hauled their collective rear ends off of the baseball field and out of their dugout once they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals today. They know exactly what the Cardinals think about the untucking of the shirts and everything that goes along with it. When Bill Hall (who hit the game-winning single), Casey McGehee (who scored the game-winning run) and MIke Cameron (who had to touch second base for it all to count) sprinted to the dugout steps and joined the mass of Brewer personnel pouring into the clubhouse, it was a nice little “nah-nee-nah-nee-boo-boo” to LaRussa’s second-place ballclub.
For the record, the team is saying that they just wanted to celebrate a hard-fought victory with themselves as a team in the clubhouse. Also for the record? They couldn’t have pleased me more as a baseball fan. Instead of letting Tony LaRussa lead in this NL Central dance, Ken Macha and the boys have their right hand firmly fastened to the Cardinals’ back.
Milwaukee has now won 11 of the last 12 games against St. Louis, including all four they’ve played so far in 2009. You have to start to wonder at what point the Cardinals begin to feel like they might be the next Pittsburgh Pirates to this ballclub (though, to be fair, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still the currently Pittsburgh Pirates to this ballclub).
Everything else aside, however, there was one heckuva ballgame played on the field today that got us to that point in the 10th inning.
Cardinal starter Chris Carpenter, making his second start since coming off the DL, was outstanding. He pitched 8 scoreless innings and even took a perfect game into the 7th inning before Craig Counsell singled past Skip Schumaker into right field. Carpenter finished with 10 Ks in the game in a masterful, ace-type performance. In fact, Carpenter has not yet allowed a run in 2009 over 23 IP.
Brewer starter Yovani Gallardo was nearly as dominant as his counterpart in a game that Milwaukee simply needed to be just that. Gallardo pitched 8 innings as well (despite starting the 7th inning over 100 pitches) and struck out Albert Pujols with a man on base to end the 8th inning. Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect 9th as he was already warming just in case the Brewers took the lead in the bottom of the 8th (sidenote: The sound guys at the ballpark, per Hoffman’s instructions this year, did NOT play Hell’s Bells as Hoffman trotted in for the 9th inning. It was not a save situation, and therefore Hoffman didn’t want it played.) Carlos Villanueva pitched a very good 10th inning and picked up the victory after Hall’s heroics.
In a game that felt early on like one run would win it, both starting pitchers have a lot to be proud of. Kyle McClellan, on the other hand, couldn’t do for Carpenter what Hoffman and Villanueva did for Gallardo as he suffered the loss for the redbirds.
This victory puts the Brewers back atop the NL Central all by themselves. It’s a lofty perch as with it comes the 2nd best record in all the National League (behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers), but it’s one that I certainly don’t mind resting my wings on.
This series isn’t over by a longshot, though, as these teams play two more games. If we win at least one more, the Cardinals leave town in 2nd place. If we are fortunate enough to sweep them again, we will once again hold a three-game lead in the division just like the last time we faced the Cardinals. We went into that series tied atop the division as well and left with a three-game lead (though we put the Cardinals into third place at that point, but the Chicago Cubs have helped us out by losing 7 in a row entering play tonight including getting swept by the red-hot San Diego Padres at Petco Park).
Tomorrow’s game is a rematch of another 1-0 game against these teams this year as Jeff Suppan squares off against Adam Wainwright. First pitch scheduled for 7:08pm and I will be there watching.
Let’s beat down the birds and regrab the momentum in the NL Central!
(By the way, was anybody else very comfortable when Hall strode to the plate in the 10th? After all, what does Bill Hall do best? Big hits on holidays!)
Gut Check Victory
By South Side Rob
Just a Monday night contest in Pittsburgh. I worked and watched the game at the same time. The game went pretty fast for the first 7 innings. Gallardo pitched ok but the Brewers were playing short-handed without Braun and Bill Hall had went down with an injury to his hamstring in the 1st inning. The score was 3-1 Pittsburgh and I was ready to concede that the winning streak over the Pirates was going to end.
But then came the 8th inning.
Ryan Braun was in the dugout with a helmet on and a bat in his hand and I don’t think Pittsburgh even knew about it. We finally got Paul Maholm out of the game who effectively got ahead of hitters with a nice change of pace pitches. In comes a righty-specialist, then, a lefty-specialist to face Fielder which didn’t work when he lined a single to center. Their lefty John Grabow stays in to face Cameron who works a walk. With left-hander Chris Duffy on deck, the Pirates had nobody up in the bullpen. Grabow may have even worked around Cameron to get to Duffy.
Duffy is called back for Ryan Braun. The camera panned into the Pirate dugout and they looked stunned. Braun looked at the first two pitches for strikes, then, barely fouled off the next pitch before depositing a texas-league double down the right-field line to tie the game at 3. Then, Casey McGehee struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates battled back to take the lead at 4-3 off Mark DiFelice who pitched well but the Pirate hitters just hit some good pitches.
9th inning and close Matt Capps comes in. He gets ahead of Jason Kendall 0-2 before Kendall smokes a single up the middle. Then, hitting for the pitcher, Craig Counsell hits the first pitch to right field for a single. Corey Hart tries to get a bunt down but Capps started to get wild and eventually walk Hart to load the bases with nobody out. J.J. Hardy picks out a Capps fastball and flies out to fairly deep center to tie the game and to have Counsell tag up and get to third.
Up comes Rickie Weeks. He battles Capps to a full count and with Hart attempting to steal 2nd, Rickie crushes a full-count sinker into the left-field seats for a 3-run blast to put the Brewers ahead for good at 7-4.
Hoffman comes in the 9th and closes the door. Brewers win. The streak over the Pirates is now at 16.
Fun game. I wish the Brewers could put up crooked numbers earlier than the 7th but lately, they have had a flair for the dramatic. Braun’s back must not be as bad as some thought. We still don’t know how serious Hall is injured. Chris Duffy and Mike Cameron both slammed hard into walls. It was wet and cold in Pittsburgh and early on, it looked like Cameron was going to come out of the game after slamming into the center field wall.
Now, on the post-game show, people are calling the show saying that Rickie Weeks should be our every-day 3rd hitter. Let the debate begin. I disagree with that thought but I do think that Ken Macha may try to keep Weeks in a run-producing part of the order instead of the leadoff hitter.
Any thoughts out there?
One For Their Last One
By: Big Rygg
For all of the talk about the last several games played at Citizens Bank Ballpark by the Milwaukeee Brewers, things have changed..
No longer have the Brewers lost their last seven games in a row in Philadelphia (including playoffs). No longer is the last Brewer win in the city of brotherly love May 17, 2007. No longer have we only one won game in our last 11 at Philadelphia.
The script, as they say, has flipped.
Could this be related to the comments Ryan Braun made to the media after yesterday’s mess of a game? Perhaps. More likely, though, it was directly related to the change that Manager Ken Macha made by flip-flopping J.J. Hardy and Mike Cameron in the lineup. Cameron has been red hot and came through with a two-RBI hit that pushed our lead to 3-0 at the time. Hardy also had a pair of hits (including a solo home run) and was on base three times. Necessary move by Macha and very nice that he actually made that move. Does anyone reading this honestly believe that move gets made last year?
A few notes on the pitching from this one:
First, good start by Braden Looper. 107 pitches, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 R. It would have been very nice to see him get into the 7th inning. But the guy did his work in this one. The biggest gripe is that with no strikeouts and no runs scoring, you’d think 107 pitches would get you a bit deeper.
Second, the bullpen picked up Looper for his second win of the season by twirling 3 innings of relief. Mark DiFelice still carries a 0.00 ERA, Carlos Villanueva actually held a team scoreless in an appearance (despite falling behind hitters again) and although Todd Coffey made it interesting in the 9th, he still recorded his second save in as many appearances by working the 9th inning (including a strike out of Ryan Howard).
The downstream affects of this game?
First, we have the chance to win a series. Albeit a small chance if Cole Hamels remembers how to pitch by tomorrow afternoon, but a chance. You can’t win three-game series with a win in game 3 if you lose games 1 & 2. That math doesn’t work.
Second, it appears that we’ve found our 8th inning guy once Hoffman returns from the disabled list. Coffey is getting it done by using a simple philosophy: Make them hit the ball to beat you.
Third, shutouts breed confidence. Granted, we did give up the one run in the 9th, but the shutouts I’m talking about are Looper’s, DiFelice’s and (most importantly) Villanueva’s. Great news for those guys, especially against the offensive lineup of this Philly team.
So, we move on to tomorrow. Dave Bush is on the bump against Hamels.
…with a chance at a series victory.
Yes, baby steps, but steps in the right direction for a change!
Spring Training – Game 1 – Milwaukee vs. Oakland
Today is the first full game of the spring. You might not recognize half the names after the 5th inning, but competitive baseball is about to be played again.
The Off-Season Cometh
By: Big Rygg
With the World Series having finished (finally), it’s officially the off-season for all of Major League Baseball. That brings a lot of things, but most notably for Milwaukee it brings the impending free agency of several members of the 2008 playoff team.
Let’s review those players and discuss them a bit both in how their 2008 season went and whether or not I think they will (or should) come back to the Brewers for 2009.
3B/OF Russell Branyan – .250/.342/.583, 33/132, 24 R, 8 2B, 12 HR, 20 RBI, 19 BB, 42 K, 1/1 SB
Branyan even being a part of the Brewers’ system was a matter of fortunate coincidence. He didn’t have a job coming into 2008 and because he lived in the same city as his former big league club’s AAA affiliate and said affiliate needed a third baseman…well, it worked out.
It was another matter of good fortune when The Muscle returned to Milwaukee. He had been tearing up the league at AAA Nashville and the Brewers needed a left-handed bat to platoon with Bill Hall at third base because of Hall’s propensity to suck so hard at hitting right-handed pitching this year, Branyan’s bread and butter by the by.
Branyan hit home runs at a near record pace for the Crew for a fair chunk of the year. Eventually, however, Branyan’s numbers began to tail off before he finally wound up on the disabled list for almost the balance of the season after hurting himself during an at-bat.
It was almost poetic the way that Branyan rode to the rescue for a stretch, but at the same time it was just as much happenstance. That being said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Crew could decide to open the year with Hall in the starting infield at 3B with Branyan sitting on the flight deck as the “Ready 5” player. (Note: That’s a reference from Top Gun…I really hope you knew that without me having to tell you.) The bottom line on bringing Branyan back would be how much left-handed hitting they end up with on the roster after the Winter Meetings. Either way, I don’t expect Branyan’s lack of contract situation to be resolved any time soon. Fortunately for The Muscle, the off-season is plenty long enough.
CF Mike Cameron – .243/.331/.477, 108/444, 69 R, 25 2B, 2 3B, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 54 BB, 142 K, 17/22 SB
So here’s the truly mind-boggling thing about Mike Cameron’s 2008 season: He missed nearly an entire month of games (25) due to a suspension but still managed to finish with respectable numbers in several categories. Unfortunately, Cameron also lead the team in strikeouts, beating guys that had at least 140 more at-bats than he did.
The former Gold Glove Award winner, Cameron’s defense was mostly solid this year. There were a few plays that he screwed up, but everybody has a few in a given year. I can’t remember how many times Cameron would go 0-2 in a count and then immediately take that same count to 2-2. Sure, he struck out thereafter an awful lot, but it’s still an interesting quirk of his season.
The issue with Cameron returning to Milwaukee next year is the price of the team option on his contract which stands at $10MM for one year. Yes, we’d have Cameron for 150+ games instead of a maximum of 137, but having already struck out 142 times in just 120 games, it doesn’t bode well for 2009. Cameron, like I’ll explain about Counsell next, might just come down to other roster moves. $750K is a whole lost easier to pay than $10MM, after all. What’s more, General Manager Doug Melvin has made it known that he wants to get more left-handed bats in the lineup to create better balance. The “holes”, so to speak, that we have to fill that we could fill with lefties are at 3B and CF (and possibly 2B depending on your viewpoint). For whatever reason, the Brewers don’t seem willing to give Tony Gwynn a shot despite the fact that he hits lefty, plays solid defense and is more of a prototypical leadoff hitter than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. That could help Cameron come back as a one-year bridge to another propsect being ready (Lorenzo Cain, perhaps, now that Michael Brantley was sent to Cleveland to finalize the CC Sabathia trade).
Time will tell on this one as teams have a deadline to announce whether or not they are picking up options on players.
INF Craig Counsell – .226/.355/.302, 56/248, 31 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 46 BB, 42 K, 3/4 SB
The Craigger (as I call him) or The Schnozz (as my wife does) is a local boy with a flair for coming up big in clutch situations. There’s always some great anticipation when he steps into the batter’s box when the bases are loaded, but quite frankly for the 38-year-old, those situations don’t happen nearly often enough.
He’s got one helluva glove and I routinely find myself assuming an out when the ball gets hit toward him…but the bottom line is that .226 overall isn’t going to get the job done anymore. I’m a big Craig Counsell fan, but realistically can the Brewers afford to carry a $3.5MM (or so) utility infielder? Depending on some of the other rosters moves the team is able to make or chooses to make…it’s probably not feasible. Besides, if things go according to my master plan, we’ll already have an expensive utility infielder in Bill Hall.
2B Ray Durham – .280/.369/.477, 30/107, 21 R, 12 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 23 K, 2/4 SB (with Milwaukee)
Brought it just before the non-waiver trade deadline, Ray Durham added a needed spark to Rickie Weeks at first, but ultimately the two fell into a platoon at 2B. one that doesn’t figure to be repeated in 2009 one way or another. Either the Brewers will recommit to Weeks or they’ll trade for a different double-play partner for J.J. Hardy (or possibly Alcides Escobar depending on how that situation pans out).
Durham missed several games down the stretch which could be contributed to either fatigue, age, bad luck or possibly a bit of all three. Durham is a switch-hitter, which is a nice thing, but the fact that he hits lefties about as well as Weeks hits righties (.238 overall this year vs lefties for Durham). His defense is more solid than Weeks’ too, but the fact is Durham is no spring chicken, or autumn chicken for that matter.
Bottom line on Durham is tha the was brought it to provide some veteran leadership for the stretch run and he delivered just that. If the price is right, he could be a fine bench player whether the Brewers retain Weeks or not.
RP Eric Gagne – 4-3, 5.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 50 G, 10/17 SV/SVO, 38 K, 1.47 WHIP
Fewer financial committments were worse in 2008 than the $10MM, one-year contract that Doug Melvin signed Eric Gagne to. Signed to be the closer after Francisco Cordero skipped town, Gagne struggled right out of the gate, blowing a 3-run lead on Opening Day in Chicago. The Brewers ended up winning that game, but it was the season for Gagne in a nutshell. Struggles, inconsistency, expectations…all in all Gagne just simply didn’t measure up despite falling into a setup role fairly comfortably late in the year after a stint on the DL.
As for next year? I wouldn’t even mind having Gagne back in Milwaukee, but at a much more believable price. I have a feeling that Gagne will listen to offers for a bit before deciding what he wants to do. If he has the chance to be a closer somewhere for closer-type money, perhaps he takes that offer. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Melvin extends Gagne an opportunity to return to Milwaukee.
OF Gabe Kapler – .301/.340/.498, 69/229, 36 R, 17 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 3/4 SB
What a story Gabe Kapler turned out to be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The guy retires, manages for two years, get the itch again, lets people know he’s available, signs a contract with the Brewers that the majority of fans (thank you, I am NOT included in that group) did not understand or agree with. All he did was capably fill in at all three OF positions, hit over .300 and was our best bat off the bench as well. Unfortunately, for many reasons, Kapler’s season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. He could have been extremely useful to spell both Ryan Braun (rib cage) and Corey Hart (mental fatigue perhaps?) down the stretch.
Kapler will be 33 for a little over half the season in 2009, turning 34 on July 31st. That’s definitely not too old, especially for a guy who keeps himself in as good of shape as Kapler does. He is a free agent, and given the state of the league, could probably find a starting job on a few teams. Hopefully, though, the fans and clubhouse here in Milwaukee impressed him enough that he would want to come back. Hopefully, also, Doug Melvin was impressed enough with Kapler’s play that he would want him back. I think it’s a great fit here and if I were on Melvin’s staff, I’d push for a deal to get done quickly.
3B Mike Lamb – .273/.273/.273, 3/11, 2 R, 1 K
Lamb has the option to become a free agent after this year. Based on his lack of starts while he was with the club, along with how they only picked him up off waivers, and there’s very little chance of Lamb not exercising that option.
*UPDATE* Lamb filed for free agency on the first day, as expected.
RP Guillermo Mota – 5/6, 5.11 ERA, 58 G, 57.0 IP, 1/4 SV/SVO, 50 K, 1.40 WHIP
Mota came to the Brewers in what was probably the best trade of Milwaukee’s off-season. Doug Melvin contacted the GM of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya, and struck a deal. He offered Johnny Estrada against a list of players he’d be willing to take back in a one-for-one deal. Minaya picked a guy that the fans in New York booed when he was warming up in the bullpen for crying out loud.
Mota pitched well in chunks for the Brewers, a couple of times falling into old habits in New York that got him into trouble. Pitching Coach Mike Maddux corrected Mota multiple times and made him serviceable. If he’s able to continue pitching like he does when he’s right, he’ll help out whatever team he winds up with.
Now, whether or not that’s the Brewers remains to be seen. I think that Melvin would probably be willing to bring him back for a reasonable price, as he did finish the season as our most consistent bullpen arm and you just can’t overhaul as drastically as they did in 2008..can you?
SP CC Sabathia – 11-2, 1.65 ERA, 17 GS, 130.2 IP, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 128 K, 1.00 WHIP
Um…what would I be able to say here that could possibly come close to stating how incredible CC Sabathia was for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008? The man was flat out amazing nearly every time he took the hill. He won his first 9 decisions in a Brewer uniform and, quite frankly, carried the entire team into the playoffs on his large back.
To say that the Brewers want him back is the understatement of the off-season. But, with CC comes a lot of $$. In fact, there is talk that the Yankees are prepared to offer him 7 years for a total of $175MM (that’s an average of $25MM per year, math majors). The Brewers supposedly are preparing to offer (if they haven’t already) a contract of comparable annual amount though not the years. Some talk has said 4/$100MM another I read said 6/$120MM. Either way, if the Brewers are fortunate enough to sign the unquestioned #1 arm on the free agent market…well…it’ll be a glorious day in the history of the Brewer franchise.
SP Ben Sheets – 13-9, 3.09 ERA, 31 GS, 198.1 IP, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 158 K, 1.15 WHIP
After finally confessing and repenting (if you don’t understand that point, you need to look at our September archive), Ben Sheets won a 13th game for the first time in his career and nearly pitched 200 innings for the first time in a few years. However, Sheets also fell prey to the injury bug yet again.
I personally feel that if this wasn’t a contract year for Sheets, he would’ve allowed himself to get shelved if not more often, certainly earlier in the year than late September. It’s unfortunate, but the guy is hamstrung like very few other players in the game. While Sheets hasn’t missed as much time, a decent comparison could be a Carl Pavano. Loads of talent, seemingly always unavailable when their teams need them most.
Doug Melvin has gone on record as saying that he has spoken to Casey Close (Sheets’ agent) and is going to making an offer to possibly bring Sheets back to the Brewers. Having endured the ups and downs of Sheets’ last few years, it’d sure be nice to have a healthy pitcher with his kind of talent. But the bottom line is that Sheets is NOT that pitcher anymore. Yes, a lot of his injuries are weird and random, but when they keep happening, I’m sorry; that’s a trend. And the bottom line that Melvin has to ask himself is whether or not the Brewers can afford the starts. They can afford the money that Sheets can/will get on the open market, but can they afford to carry six starters so that there is a guy ready to pitch when Sheets inevitably (yes, inevitably) misses a start?
The only way I’m comfortable bringing Sheets back to our mid-range payroll team is for Melvin to sign him to a slightly-below-market-value deal that protects our payroll figure from becoming over-bloated to the point where owner Mark Attanasio doesn’t give Melvin any flexibility to pull off deadline deals like he did this year.
RP Brian Shouse – 5-1, 2.81 ERA, 69 G, 51.1 IP, 2/5 SV/SVO, 33 K, 1.17 WHIP
Our left-handed specialist for the past couple of seasons, Brian Shouse is 41 years old but continues to get the job done coming out of the bullpen. Ned Yost used Shouse in some odd ways at times, but he is simply best utilized by bringing him in to face a lefty in a key situation.
Shouse is looking for a two-year deal which would be impossible to come by given his age if it weren’t for his continued success on the bump. Shouse has said that he would like to return to Milwaukee, but feels that he owes it to himself and his family to see what kinds of offers he’s able to field on the open market just to gauge his “value”.
The Brewers are grooming a replacement for Shouse in fellow lefty Mitch Stetter, but I’d still like to see Shouse return to the Crew for at least one more year. Left-handed relievers never seem to flame out so as long as he’s not given up homer after homer, Shouse will be worth the phone call to the bullpen.
CL Salomon Torres – 7-5, 3.49 ERA, 71 G, 80.0 IP, 28/35 SV/SVO, 51 K, 1.35 WHIP
Torres was traded for in the off-season to be a setup man but also provide more veteran leadership to a group that was sorely lacking in that department in 2007. When Eric Gagne was patently ineffective to begin the year and spent some time on the DL, Torres was handed the reins at the back end up the bullpen and did a stellar job until, quite frankly, he wore out by the end of the year. They say sinkerballers prefer to not be overly rested, but 80 innings over 71 games…that’s a LOT of work, fellow Brewer fans.
The team holds on option to bring Torres back, and I believe that they’ll exercise that option. It’s a reasonable cost at just $3.75MM and he pitched very well. He may not come into the year as the closer, but all that will be hashed out in spring training of course.
***NOTE: Joe Dillon was designated for assignment when the Brewers claimed 3B Casey McGehee off of waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Dillon was claimed by the Oakland Athletics so he is no longer a part of the Brewers’ organization.
By: Big Rygg
In what is hopefully the first of 9 victories on this homestand, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 3-2 courtesy of a Mike Cameron walk-off sacrifice fly. It was one hell of an ending to an exciting game, if at times frustrating, game.
J.J. Hardy had a 3/4 night with two huge RBIs and recently maligned Bill Hall scored the winning run on the aforementioned sac fly. Pretty much every one contributed in some way, but probably the biggest story of the night goes to starting pitcher Dave Bush.
The night started out seemingly on a powder keg as Bush allowed a solo home run in each of the first two innings, one being a rookie’s first career homer. Those two runs, though, would be all the Braves would get off of Bush or any other Brewer pitcher for that matter. Recently acquired Julian Tavarez pitched a perfect 8th inning on 8 pitches and Salomon Torres worked around one hit in the 9th and earned the victory on Cameron’s walk-off.
All in all, a good night for the Brewers and hopefully the jumping off point for a strong homestand. The Brewers are, after tonight, a mere 3 games over .500 at home. Granted, they’ve only played a MLB-lowest 21 games at home, but even still, the Crew needs to pick it up. I’m very encouraged by the face that the Brewers now sit 2 games under .500 overall after having played 31 games on the road so far. That being said, if we pick up the pace on this homestand, we stand to be a few games over .500 by the end of it.
The Braves have won 6 games on the road all year. We need to exploit that. Houston is only one game over .500 on the road, so we can hopefully use that to our advantage. Arizona, who had the majors’ best record at one point this year, did most of that work at home where they are 19-9. Away from Chase Field, they are 11-13.
After the beginning of the year where we ran into everyone’s aces, things have turned a bit, at least during this homestand. We avoid Roy Oswalt when Houston comes to town (even though he’s been getting hit way above average so far this year). We avoid Brandon Webb when the Diamondbacks come to town. We’re going to avoid Tom Glavine while the Braves are here…
The point is, all nine of these games are winnable. We won one…let’s see how far we can take these next eight games.