…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).
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.
By: Big Rygg
So have we finally seen enough? Wait…wrong question. We definitely have. Allow me to rephrase…
So…have they finally seen enough?
Of course the “they” in the revised question refers to Milwaukee Brewer Manager Ken Macha and General Manager Doug Melvin. And whatever might I be talking about when I ask if enough of it has been seen?
That’s a simple answer as well.
Julio almost single-armedly threw the Milwaukee Brewers from a series-opening (and road trip-beginning) victory into a loss. Between walks, hitting a couple of batters and general ineffectiveness all the way around, Julio was ultimately charged with four earned runs without recording a single out.It skyrocketed his ERA from 5.71 (still poor by itself, don’t get me wrong) to 7.79.
Now, to be fair, over his last four outings, Julio had put together 5.2 innings of scoreless ball. This was is mostly low pressure situations. Monday night should have been another low pressure spot again, just bridging the gap between Jeff Suppan who Houdini’d his way around trouble for the most part but did so by racking up 100 pitches in just 5 innings. All Julio was charged with was pitching through the 6th so that Coffey, Villanueva and (if necessary) Trevor Hoffman could take the game over and close the door.
But what did Julio accomplish? He loaded the bases, pushed a run across whether the Marlins wanted it or not, and finally gave way to Coffey who couldn’t stop the bleeding and actually allowed a run of his own in the inning as well. But with a a four run lead, facing the bottom of the order…you just can’t do what Julio did tonight and expect to stick in the big leagues very long.
I’ll admit that after seeing the numbers Julio put up in Atlanta at the end of last season, I was optimistic when the Brewers signed him in the off-season.
After a rough spring, Julio surprised everyone by making the 25-man roster when the team headed north to San Francisco for the opening series of the 2009 regular season. That could be as much of a matter of timing that he’s stuck with the team as long as he has. Julio made the team in the first place primarily because Hoffman was injured so there was an opening. When Hoffman was ready to come back, David Riske needed time on the DL (from which he’s still rehabbing). Even now, when the rumors are that the Brewers will be calling up someone from the minors to help the bullpen out, there’s talk that Mark DiFelice might have to go on the DL due to some elbow inflammation.
But truly, I don’t see how the stars continue to align to allow Julio to ply his trade at the Major League level. Maybe it’s because he does have a live arm and can throw very hard. Maybe it’s because every now and then he comes out and has a few appearances in a row where he doesn’t allow any runs to score.
Therein lies the problem, however, is because you just don’t know who is coming to the mound from the bullpen on a given night despite Ken Macha having Bill Castro call Stan Kyles with the exact same name.
Julio’s earned runs allowed over his last 10 appearances? 0, 0, 1, 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 4. How can a manager be expected to trust that arm?
So, to quote some lyrics from the song that the Miller Park audio crew has been using for when Jorge Julio is summoned from the bullpen:
“Well, I’m on my way
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m on my way
I’m takin my time but I don’t know where”
Allow me to respond to those lines the way Doug Melvin should have tonight after the game in Miami…
You’re going to the waiver wire because you’ve been designated for assignment. Oh, and as for taking your time? Don’t bother. Get to steppin’.
(I mean seriously…could you see Doug Melvin say “Get to steppin'”? That’d be hilarious.)
(…just change your name to Yovani.)
By: Big Rygg
This just in: Yovani Gallardo is good.
What a game! As I’ve made clear before, I love me a pitchers duel. Today was one of those days that garnered just that.
Gallardo won his second game for the Milwaukee Brewers today. You can say “single-handedly”, but his defense did still have to catch and throw (once in a while…Gallardo did strike out 11). Even still, nobody touched home plate to score a run in the entire 8.5 inning, 3-hour affair except for Gallardo after he laced a home run over the left-centerfield wall.
Gallardo’s final line was 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 BB (1 hit batter), 11 K.
That 9th inning? It wasn’t Trevor Time today for the third day in a row at Miller Park. Carlos Villanueva entered the ballgame and pitched a perfect inning including a strikeout of his own against Pirate slugger Adam LaRoche.
(Before anybody worries or goes crazy, Trevor Hoffman basically had a scheduled day off. He just got back from an injury that had him on the DL for nearly a month and really needs to be handled with a modicum of care for a little bit here as he eases into the swing of the regular season.)
The Brewers tallied six hits total, including the one big fly from Gallardo which was all the difference that was needed.
Milwaukee and Pittsburgh now have equal records after 21 games played of 11-10. Milwaukee is over .500 for the first time this season. They have now won six out of their last seven games. The one loss was the 2-3 game in Houston where we just couldn’t break through very much in the run column despite racking up seven hits and seven walks in that game.
Also of note? Pittsburgh opened the day in 2nd place in the National League Central. The Brewers have a chance to catapult from 4th to 2nd in today if other games result in certain ways. Both the Cubs and Reds have to lose and we instantly find ourselves in 2nd. Not a bad couple of weeks.
For now, though, another fantastic day for a team that is really in a groove right now.
Let’s keep it going here on the homestand. We’ve got four against the Arizona Diamondbacks starting tomorrow with veteran Jeff Suppan (1-2, 7.32 ERA) taking on rookie Max Scherzer (0-2, 4.91 ERA).
Suppan has, admittedly, pitched a lot better in his past two starts. I haven’t looked into Scherzer yet, but I will do that soon and post anything pertinent that I find out.
Come on out to Miller Park tomorrow and see the Brewers chalk up another one!
By: Big Rygg
The Brewers are finally back at home after starting the
season by playing 12 of their first 18 games on the road. Perhaps a little
surprisingly, the Brewers are 6-6 in those 12 games but only 2-4 at home during
that same stretch.
There is no way that anyone can deny that the Brewers
started playing their best baseball of the season on this road trip so
hopefully the first six (unfortunately all against NL Central competition) will
be the aberration.
Well, the Brewers are looking to prove that to be the case
and got off on the right foot toward that effort last night. The visiting
Pittsburgh Pirates came into Miller
Park sporting the best
staff ERA in all of baseball at a nifty 2.97 (which helps explain the 11-7
record they brought to town with them). By the time the first night of the
three-game series was over, however, that team ERA had jumped to 3.36 courtesy
of the 10 runs the Brewers put on the board over 8 innings (an 11.25 game ERA,
for those of you keeping score at home).
Braden Looper (2-0, 2.45 ERA) didn’t get the win in this one, but pitches well enough to have. While he didn’t produce another quality start in this one, his 101-pitch effort over 5.0 innings saw him leave with a 5-3 lead in the ball game. Only two of those runs against him were earned as well. Tough luck on the no-decision, but another solid if not spectacular outing from Loop.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens (1-0, 5.40 ERA) was spared
the blemish in his Loss column when his team rallied for two runs in the top of
the 8th inning off of Milwaukee reliever Carlos Villanueva, but his
personal ERA absorbed a 9.00 for the game which sent his figure up nearly a
full point from 4.50 to the resultant 5.40.
Something that won’t show up in his box score has the hit
that Karstens threw in the 3rd inning. That hit came when the first
pitch of an at-bat drilled Ryan Braun squarely in his back. When asked later if
he thought Karstens threw at him intentionally, Braun admitted that Karstens
probably had. The umpires immediately warned both benches after the HBP which
naturally drew the ire of Brewer Manager Ken Macha. I think the umpires
realized that there was a full three-game set to get through still so he was
trying to nip it in the bud because it was Game 1. As Braun alluded to,
however, even if another ball isn’t thrown inside the batter’s box all series,
the teams do play 11 more times this year after Pittsburgh leaves town on Wednesday
afternoon. This isn’t the type of thing that gets forgotten about, even if the
revenge isn’t immediate.
Otherwise, at the dish, the Brewers performed very well all
night long. They were consistently taking balls the other way, and the results
showed on the scoreboard. Rickie Weeks produced a lot of offense despite only getting one hit in the game. That one hit was a three-run home run, but Rickie drove in a total of four and scored twice.
Yes, the team hit three home runs in the game (all coming
with two outs in their respective innings, which is a good sign) that resulted
in five of their runs, but all five of the runs in the key 8th inning
came via alternative methods. It also showed the resiliency of the team to not
get down on itself after Freddy Sanchez’ two-out two-RBI two-bagger tied the ballgame.
The team came right back in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of
reach and allow for…
TREVOR TIME AT MILLER
For the first time all year, Trevor Hoffman entered Miller Park
as a member of the 25-man active roster. He began warming up in the 8th
and, according to Macha, would have pitched the 9th inning whether the
Brewers had taken the lead or not.
(SIDE NOTE: In a classy move, Fox Sports Network stayed with
the game during Hoffman’s entrance and subsequent warm up tosses from the
mound. Very nice that they realized the significance of that moment for fans
that weren’t able to make it to the game last night. Whoever produced that game
(SIDE SIDE NOTE: What the hell do we call our station? It
used to be FSN North, and I totally supported and understood the change to FSN
Wisconsin. Then it became FS Wisconsin and now, during Brewer games, it is
displayed on screen as FSBrewers. Anybody have any thoughts on that one?)
Anyway, in what was a non-save situation since the Brewers
opened the lead up to five runs the previous inning; Hoffman entered and shut
down the Pirates with a perfect 9th inning. The first of many games
that end in a victory for the Brewers with Hoffman on the mound is in the
books. It not only extended the Brewers winning streak against the Pirates to
13, but also increased the streak of Pirate futility at Miller Park
to 16 losses in a row.
Here’s hoping we add 14 and 15 (and thereby 17 and 18) to
the ledger this week.
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!
The Milwaukee Brewers have found their closer.
Reports are coming through all the major sports news media outlets (except, oddly, for SI.com) that the Milwaukee Brewers have come to an agreement on terms with free agent relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman on a one-year deal worth an up-front $6 million that has built-in incentives that could make the value of the deal worth up to a total of $7.5 million.
Some reports are also saying that the Brewers will hold a club-option for 2010 as well.
Hoffman, the all-time leader in saves in Major League history with 554, has said that he is intent on reaching 600 before retiring. No doubt the all but guarantee of closing in Milwaukee must have lended itself well to his decision to come to the brew city.
Hell’s Bells will be tolling in Milwaukee all season long. Here’s to 45 saves this year so that he’ll want to pitch again in 2010 for sure and not retire!
First of all, SI.com finally picked up on the story. Secondly, and perhaps this is why they were waiting, all outlets are currently agreeing that the deal is just for one year and for $6 million in base salary with up to $1.5 million more in incentives which could bring the total value of the one-year deal to what he made last year in San Diego.
There is, therefore, no option year tacked onto the deal. It is simply for one year which gives Hoffman the flexibility to reevaluate his situation after the year if he so chooses.
By: Big Rygg
When you think of the statistic known as “Saves”, what comes to mind first? Is it that there are very few closers in the Hall of Fame? Is it that the all-time single seasons Brewers team Save record belongs to Francisco Cordero? Or that the career saves leader in Brewer history is Dan Plesac (who is now a member of the MLB Network crew, by the way, and eligible for the Hall of Fame this year).
Personally, I pay attention to the numbers and try to know the records of baseball as well as I can. So when I think of saves, my mind invariably thinks about the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball history: Trevor Hoffman.
Cutting to the chase (I’ll save the career and recent season breakdown for if we actually sign the guy), but what do you all think about Hoffman and whether or not the Brewers should sign him?
Reports are that Hoffman is discussing terms of contracts with both the Dodgers and Brewers. One major thing working in favor of the Brewers is that Hoffman wants to close, period. We have that opening. The Dodgers, while they could probably slide Hoffman in, have a guy that’s been pretty paitent the last couple of years in Jonathan Broxton. A closer competition is probably not what the all-time saves leader is looking for.
The big question for Milwaukee, of course, is whether or not this is our Gagné move of the off-season.
By that, of course, I mean was Hoffman always our first (or maybe second behind Fuentes) choice? Or is he the only guy with closing experience left on the market and now we’re going to him out of necessity more than want?
I believe he’s got plenty left in the tank, despite one of his worst seasons of his career ERA-wise, because if not for the situation out in San Diego with the sale of the team due to the current owner’s divorce, he’d still be a Padre and there would be no discussion to have. He wasn’t tossed on the scrap heap because he was ineffective (a la Gagné). That’s why I think he’ll be an effective closer for the team that signs him.
And I’d be okay if that was Milwaukee.
But what do you thiink, Brewer Nation?