Gagne sputters, but Brewers win in 10

31 03 2008

It was not how Eric Gagne imagined his Brewers debut would turn out, but the Milwaukee Brewers scraped out a win in extra frames today against NL Central rival, Chicago Cubs.

Up 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Eric Gagne gave up a lead-off single to Derrick Lee and a walk to Aramis Ramirez, before giving up a three run shot by Kosuke Fukudome that tied the game 3-3.  Gagne was able to work the rest of the ninth without surrendering a run, and the Crew held on to win in the 10th inning.

Ben Sheets looked superb today.  He worked on the black with his fastball, and his curveball had a late, sharp break that gave Chicago hitters fits at the plate.  Sheets went 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings, only giving up the two hits to Fukudome.  Yost pulled Sheets in the seventh after his pitch count got a little too high for the manager’s liking.  Still, Sheets (along with Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs) gave fantastic outings to start the regular season.

Tony Gwynn Jr. had a fine day at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk and two sacrifices.  He knocked in Craig Counsell with a sacrifice fly to center, and it put the Brewers ahead for good in the 10th inning.  David Riske finished off the game with a scoreless frame to get the save.

Guillermo Mota looked very sharp in his Brewers debut, striking out two Cubs in the bottom of the eighth inning.  He had a very live fastball and a good change-up working.  Salomon Torres struggled a bit with his command, but pulled off an interesting scoreless inning in the seventh.  That inning featured Mark DeRosa getting hit by a pitch and committing a huge baserunning gaff that cost the Cubs a run in the seventh.

Records: Brewers (1-0); Cubs (0-1)

Hero of the Game:  Craig Counsell

One could certainly make a case for Gwynn, but the award has to go to the veteran who came off the bench to lead-off the 10th inning with a double.  Later in the inning, Counsell scored on Gwynn’s sacrifice fly to Felix Pie.  The Brewers are paying Counsell to do exactly what he did today.

Goat of the Game:  Eric Gagne

I just about gave this award to Bill Hall after watching him get picked off at second in the seventh inning, but Gagne’s struggles in the ninth inning speak for themselves.  I do have to give Gagne credit for getting through the rest of the ninth inning unscathed, but his blown save cannot be forgotten.  He relied far too much on his fastball to Lee, Ramirez, and Fukudome, and it backfired on him.  It was too straight to be relied on today.  After Fukudome’s home run, he started to mix in his curveball and change-up much more.  He had greater success after that.

Oh, I almost forgot the other reason I picked Gagne for this.  When Pie hits a sharp grounder to Prince Fielder, Gagne did not take off for first base to cover the bag.  Instead, Prince was forced to try to outrun Pie to the bag, and we all know that Prince will lose at that battle.  The announcers said that Prince should have tagged the bag and not the runner, but Prince would have been plowed over by Pie.  We do not need Prince getting hurt on Opening Day.  You could see how pissed off Prince was at Gagne after that play.  You can bet Gagne heard about that in the clubhouse after the game.

On Tap:

Jeff Suppan will take on Chicago’s Ted Lilly on Wednesday at 1:20pm.  The Brewers have a day off tomorrow, but the series will continue on Wednesday with game two.  Let’s hope that Soup bounces back from his Spring Training struggles just like Sheets did today.  I’d take 6 innings worth of three run ball from Soup Wednesday.  That’s the goal.

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Opening Day

31 03 2008

I have some bad news for you all.  It looks like the game against the Cubs will be delayed…if not canceled because of rain.  Here’s what the weather looks like down there.

I also wanted to link to Brewerfan.net’s preview to the season.  This has a lot of different perspectives and lots of good stuff.  Take a look!  It will keep you entertained for a while while you are at work.





Round ’em Up: OPENING DAY!

31 03 2008

Happy Opening Day to everyone!!! The Milwaukee Brewers and Ben Sheets will take on the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano at 1:20 to start the season. I personally am a little sad that the Crew is battling the Cubs so often in the beginning of the season, as it would be more fun down the stretch. Plus, Chicago will not see Mike Cameron as often. Oh well, on to the Round ’em Up for the day:

  • The Milwaukee JS reports the Prince Fielder is expected to play today, even though he is still a bit under the weather. It does not explicitly say that in the article, but when it says that Prince is “feeling a little better,” it’s not too hard to figure out that he’s still sick. Still, Prince at 75% is better than 100% of Mike Rivera or Joe Dillon playing first base.The JS also runs down the final cuts and the Brewers final 25-man roster. I didn’t post it yesterday because I thought everyone already knew the roster, but I’ve gotten a few emails asking. Here you go.
  • I have a plethora of predictions for you today.The Hardball Times predicts the winners in each division. The Brewers get a pretty good showing in these lists. The Reds also get some love here. Who knew?! The Baseball Savant has the Cincinnati Reds taking the division, while Milwaukee is stuck in second place. The best part (and by best, I mean funniest part) is that he has the Pittsburgh Pirates taking fourth in front of Houston and St. Louis. Oh, and that the youth of Milwaukee’s rotation makes it unreliable, but Cincinnati’s young pitchers are sure-fire studs. Good logic there.

    David Pinto from Baseball Musings has the Brewers winning the division by a good amount. He says that the young Brewers should continue to get better, and the starting rotation is not as bad as everyone thinks. Another interesting tidbit is that David believes that Milwaukee’s talent is so good that if they do not win the division, Ned Yost should be canned.

    John Sickels from Minor League Ball has many predictions for this upcoming season. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart will compete for the NL Batting Title. It is nice to see Corey getting some love in these previews. What else does John say? Your 2008 Milwaukee Brewers will be in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. John has the Crew losing in 5 games, but it still made my day. Actually, a Brewers win against the Cubs would make my day…

  • John Donovan from SI.com has his 10 Fearless Predictions of the ’08 season. Prediction number two: Ryan Braun will have a better season in ’08 than he did in ’07. That is a big prediction, but statistics say that it could definitely happen. Ryan has performed well this spring, and he will be in the bigs for a month longer than in ’07. His stats can certainly improve. Will they? I doubt it. Not because of ability, but because pitchers will be much more careful with him. Ryan’s best friend this season could be Corey Hart. If Corey can provide protection behind Ryan this season, Braun could put up MVP caliber numbers.
  • RealGM Baseball says that Carlos Villanueva was one of the 10 best pitchers of this spring. If Manny Parra wouldn’t have struggled in his final outing, he could have made that list as well.
  • Do you need a stress reliever? Play Whack-A-Cub! See how many Cubs you can whack in 30 seconds. I got 41 Cubs in 30 seconds. Wonderful!
  • Jeff Sackmann of Brew Crew Ball has an interview with a Cubs blogger. Normally I would have been appalled by this, but the blogger is not overly biased and is intelligent. Quite a refreshing thing for a Cubs fan, I must say.




Long-term contracts offered to Braun, Fielder

30 03 2008

Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio told the press that the team offered long-term contracts to both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  It is nice to see the Brewers take a proactive approach to Fielder’s contract problems, but it seems unlikely that he will sign.  He will look to break the bank next season when he becomes arbitration-eligible.  Scott Boras enjoys seeing his name mentioned year after year too much to let Fielder sign this contract.

Braun, in my opinion, will most likely sign a multi-year deal that will allow him to make more than a few hundred thousand dollars for the next couple years.  Braun is in position to help himself for the next couple seasons, but the deal can still be team-friendly because it is done so far in advance.  I expect to hear Ryan Braun’s new contract to be signed within the next week or two.

Speaking of Prince Fielder, did you miss him in yesterday’s game against the Royals?  The team sent him home because he was suffering flu-like body aches and pains.  The flu bug has been running rampant through the Brewers’ clubhouse, and it would not be surprising to see Prince get sick.  Let’s hope that his new, healthy vegetarian diet will fend off the sickness, so he can be ready for tomorrow’s opener against the Chicago Cubs.





Where will Rivera bat?

30 03 2008

Wondering what you thought Ned Yost will do with the lineup when Kendall isn’t in the game. Will Rivera bat eighth or ninth? 

Thanks,

Joe

When Jason Kendall isn’t in the game, the catcher will bat 8th in the lineup.  Yost says that it takes a “special kind of player” to bat in that ninth spot behind the pitcher, and Mike Rivera just doesn’t make enough contact with the ball to warrant that move.  I think you can definitely see that Rivera will be batting eighth if you look at the spring training games down the stretch.  When Kendall is not in the game, the catcher bats 8th.





Round ’em Up: Sunday

30 03 2008

Good morning/afternoon everyone.  I’m finally settled in again, so it’s time for me to catch up on the last couple days.  Let’s start with a Round ’em Up.

  • The Wall Street Journal did a little baseball analysis and ranked the managers in the game.  Where did Ned Yost show up?  According to the methodology used by the statisticians, Ned is the third best manager in the game.  Ned-haters are going to not like this article very much…

    I don’t put too much stock in this article though.  It lost credibility with me when it said that Bruce Bochy is the second best manager in the game.  I understand his team sucks, but if he was so good, it wouldn’t suck as much as it does.

  • Anthony Witrado from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes about the 10 things the Brewers MUST do to win the NL Central.  I agree with Jeff Sackmann from Brew Crew Ball on this one.  This article means well, but it completely misses the point.  If the Brewers do all of these things, they could win 110 games.  All these things do not need to happen for the Crew to win the Central. 
  • Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports says that Ryan Braun will win the NL MVP, and Manny Parra will contend for the NL Rookie of the Year.  Nothing new…
  • The Sports Bubbler gives perhaps the best NL Central preview that I’ve read this off-season.  Of course, the article is an off-shoot if the past few articles.  Take a look at them all.  It’s pretty good stuff.
  • Ex-Brewer, Doug Davis, has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  He’s scheduled to have surgery on April 10, but will still make two scheduled starts before his surgery date.  Best of luck to you Doug, and good luck with your fight against the cancer.  It’s been won before, and every Brewers fan knows you can do it too.
  • Remember Grant Balfour?  The Crew traded him for Seth McClung last season, and Grant has been DFA’d by the Tampa Bay Rays.  It would be interesting to see Grant come back to Milwaukee, but the control is just not there.  He’ll find a home somewhere though.  Good arms always do.




MLB ’08: The Show

29 03 2008

I apologize that I have been gone the last couple days.  I’ve been in Minneapolis for a bit, so I haven’t had a chance to get to the computer.

I do have a review for the new PS3 baseball game, MLB ’08: The Show.  First, let’s get a few basic points out of the way:

  • MLB 08 The Show is the long running officially licensed baseball title available exclusively on all PlayStation platforms: PLAYSTATION 3, PlayStation 2 and the portable PSP.
  • MLB 08 The Show is available exclusively for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable consoles.
  • MLB 08 The Show is the best-selling and most realistic baseball simulation available.
  • MLB 08 The Show for PlayStation delivers the closest experience possible next to actually playing in the Majors.
  • MLB 08 The Show is available right now wherever video games are available.

The Show has been the best baseball game running for a couple years now, and it is my favorite game that I have for my PS3 right now.  The gameplay is very fluid and solid.  The graphics are obviously much better with an HDtv, but they are quite impressive regardless.

The franchise option is by far my favorite part of the game.  The gameplay is very deep.  You can control the Double-A and Triple-A teams, along with deciding who your scouts and managers will be for your team.  I absolutely love playing with the lineups and the managers.  You can control every single part of your team.  It will keep you busy for hours.

The announcers are not incredibly annoying, which is a plus for a sports game.  There are nice tidbits to the gameplay, like batters walking to the dugout to get a new bat after breaking one.  The celebrations after a walk-off home run is a joy to watch, and players pump their fists and hold down their heads according to their play.  Hopefully you do not have to see your pitcher hold their head after giving up a bomb to Ryan Howard like I watched Jeff Suppan do.

Ryan Braun is an absolute freak in the game, as he should be.  The contracts are not representative of the players, so players like Dave Bush have to be paid $5M a year, while Ben Sheets is only paid $1.5M.  The trade market is a little too easy to make a very good team, even while staying under the team’s budget.  I had to restrain myself a bit with the Brewers.  I could have made my team much better than it is…but I wanted to keep many of the Brewers on my team.  If you take off the budget constraints, it is way too easy to make the team an all-star caliber team.

Overall, the game is well worth the money.  The gameplay is very realistic, and the teams are very well put together.  The announcers actually help you enjoy the game.  You don’t always want to put the game on mute.  I would very much suggest this game.

Now on to some good news.  I have a couple copies of the game to give away.  I haven’t decided how I’m going to give them away yet, but I need to know if there is some interest.  Would anyone be interested in a copy of MLB ’08: The Show?