Bush struggles as Brewers are snake bitten

30 06 2008

Brewers fans enjoyed the Dave Bush affectionately known as “Cy Bush” the past couple starts.  His fine performances did not carry over to Monday night, however.

Dave Bush returned to form, giving up multiple runs in the first and fifth innings.  That is vintage Dave Bush if I ever saw it.

He gave up a double and a triple in the first, which ended up costing the Crew two runs.  It sacrificed all of the momentum gained in the top of the first.  J.J. Hardy looked very comfortable at the plate again tonight.  He plated Rickie Weeks with a double to start the game, and later scored on a Prince Fielder single to right.  All seemed right in the world in the top of the first.

The Brewers right-hander must have decided that Milwaukee’s 2-0 lead was just too good to be true.  After giving back those 2 runs, things calmed down until the fifth.  Both Bush and Doug Davis appeared to have found a groove.

That groove ended for Milwaukee in the fifth, however.  Dave Bush strikes again.  He gives up three more runs to the slumping D’Backs order, and Milwaukee was never able to recover.  Doug Davis consistently kept the Brewers hitters off-balance after the first inning, and Milwaukee struck out a lot against the Diamondback relievers.

The offense could not bail out Dave Bush, but I cannot help but think the Crew could have pulled out the win had Dave been able to quiet the D’Backs in the first inning.  Should have, would have, could have, though.  That doesn’t put any tallies in the win column.  I do wish, however, that Dave Bush could do that more consistently.

Records: Brewers (44-38 ); Diamondbacks (42-41)

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy

J.J. started off the game right with a double that scored Rickie Weeks.  The Brewers shortstop has looked much more comfortable at the plate in the past week or so, and he showed that tonight.  He followed up that first inning double with a 3-5 night, adding another double to his stat line.  If J.J. can heat up in the second spot with Rickie getting on base ahead of him, this Brewers offense would be downright scary.

Goat of the Game: Dave Bush

You need to figure out those first inning woes.  That’s all that needs to be said.  Figure it out, or you’ll be on the outside looking in after the trade deadline.

The second Goat of the Game goes to Ryan Braun.  He has looked downright awful at the plate the past couple games, and it continued tonight.  Striking out twice and grounding into a double play, Ryan seemed to kill any momentum the offense tried to get going.

On Tap

Jeff Suppan has scuffled a bit in his past couple outings.  He will look to turn that around Tuesday night against the future hall-of-famer, Randy Johnson.  Randy shut down the Crew pretty easily until the late innings in his last start in Milwaukee.  The game starts at 8:40pm CT.  This is a big game for Milwaukee.  The squad needs a big win.

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Starting pitching possibilities

30 06 2008

UPDATE 06-30-08 1:39 pm – Here are a couple more names you can add to the possible starting pitchers. Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain are just a couple of rumors that are coming out of San Fran.

RHP Derek Lowe (Los Angeles Dodgers)08: $10M

RHP Matt Cain (San Francisco Giants)08: $0.7M, 09: $2.65M, 10: $4.25M, 11: $6.25M (club option)

LHP Jonathan Sanchez (San Francisco Giants)08: $0.395M – Under team control through 2012

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With all the trade rumors flying around concerning the Milwaukee Brewers and a starting pitcher, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look at some options connected with the Crew. Sorry about the lack of a game-wrap last night. The game sucked, and I’ve been working on this.

LHP C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland Indians)08: $9M

The Milwaukee Brewers have been most closely linked to the big left-hander out of Cleveland. The 2008 season has not gone as planned for the Indians, and they are almost certainly sellers at this point in the game.

C.C. scuffled out of the gate in 2008. Last year’s Cy Young leader sported a 7.88 ERA after April, and the baseball world wondered what was going on. Was he hurt? Did he get complacent?

Turns out nothing was wrong whatsoever. Sabathia may have even taken it personally. In May, C.C. dominated with a 2.44 ERA. He’s gotten even better in June. The biggest name on the trade market in 2008 has a 1.89 ERA this month. That is enough to make any team salivate nearing the trade deadline.

Okay, we’ve established that C.C. is the most dominate pitcher available come July, but how does he fit in Milwaukee? C.C. would certainly be only a rental player, as Milwaukee does not have the payroll to give him the Johan Santana-like contract he desires after the season is done. With that said, a Ben SheetsC.C. Sabathia top of the rotation would be the best in baseball. That is not a hyperbole by any stretch of the imagination, either.

It would take a talented group of prospects to get Sabathia to Milwaukee, and Mat Gamel or Matt LaPorta would almost certainly have to be included in the package. Cleveland’s farm system lacks power in the outfield and at third base. Either prospect would make a lot of sense for the Indians. I would suspect Cleveland would also demand either Jonathan Lucroy or Angel Salome in the deal. Perhaps Milwaukee could throw in Cole Gillespie/Chris Errecart into the mix and get Sabathia to Milwaukee.

When it comes down to it, it will cost three or four of Milwaukee’s best prospects to get C.C. Sabathia. Is it worth it for two and a half months of service? Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. If Sabathia could get Milwaukee to the post-season, it would definitely be worth it. If Milwaukee is not playing in October after making the move, however, Doug Melvin just gave away its future core and got nothing in return. Sure, they would get two draft picks, but replacing Mat Gamel or Matt LaPorta with either of those is highly unlikely.

If Doug pulls the trigger, it would mean 2008 is an all-or-nothing campaign. That’s dangerous for a small market team. I think Brewers fans would much rather go after someone with multiple years left on his contract. This would help ease the pain of losing Ben Sheets after the season is over. There are plenty of others that could greatly help the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 and beyond.

RHP Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals)08: $1.4M – Under team control through 2010

One of the biggest surprises in 2008 has been the play of Zack Greinke for the Kansas City Royals. The 24-year old has a sparkling 3.40 ERA thus far this season, and many Brewers fans (especially those at Brwe Crew Ball) are calling for a Greinke acquisition over Sabathia because he would be under the team’s control for longer.

Greinke would certainly cost just as much, if not more, as far as prospects are concerned. His value has skyrocketed over the past three months, and Milwaukee would have to pay dearly to get him. Gamel/LaPorta, Salome/Lucroy, plus a major league ready player like J.J. Hardy or perhaps a pitcher. If not a major league caliber player, two more prospects would be needed. Needless to say, it would be quite the haul for Kansas City.

Greinke is the en vogue pitcher of 2008, and he is a fine young pitcher. His success in 2008, however, has been bloated because of a fantastic March/April. Since those two months when he put up 1.25 ERA, he has posted a pedestrian 4.38 and 4.65 ERA respectively in the past two months. The young right-hander has been susceptible to the long ball lately, giving up eight home runs this month alone. That would not bode well for pitching in Miller Park.

It would be a nice addition for the Brewers, and it very well may put them over the top in 2008. Greinke is not a staff ace at this point, however. He is not on the same level as C.C. Sabathia, and Doug Melvin would have to put more on the table to get the Kansas City Royal. If Doug made the move, I could get behind it. The price is too high, however, in my opinion. Giving up four elite prospects for someone who has gotten worse as the year has gone on is not my first choice.

RHP Rich Harden (Oakland Athletics)08: $4.5M, 09: $7M (club option)

Rich is not definitely on the market, but Billy Beane is always willing to listen to offers. When healthy, Harden is one of the top 10 pitchers in the league, as is evidenced by his 2.15 ERA this season. The obvious problem is that the right-hander is rarely healthy. He has the Ben Sheets problem, that is. When on the mound, he is dominate, but that seems to rarely happen.

The Brewers could conceivably get Harden for a little less than Greinke because of his history of injuries. That is, if Rich Harden was on any other team, Doug Melvin may have a chance to get a steal. That doesn’t happen with Billy Beane, however. He waits and waits until he gets what he wants. Beane is one of the best GMs in the game for a reason. Other teams will not cheat him.

One thing Milwaukee does have going for them with Oakland is that Beane seems to go after quantity rather than pure quality of prospects. He gets as many as he can get and hopes to hit on a couple of players. That’s the philosophy he used when moving Dan Haren to Arizona during the off-season. Milwaukee would not have to touch their major league team to get Harden in a Brewers uniform.

The real question mark remains Harden’s health. Does Doug Melvin feel Harden’s arm troubles are behind him, and he can be a productive member of the Brewers starting rotation for the next year and a half? If the answer is yes, Melvin will not be afraid to post an offer like Mat Gamel/Matt LaPorta, Angel Salome, and Zach Braddock. Those three should be enough to get Harden to Milwaukee. If not, the risk is not worth it the price.

LHP Erik Bedard (Seattle Mariners)08: $7M – Under team control through 2009

Seattle gave up the farm to get Bedard to the West Coast during the off-season, but the results have not been what they had hoped. With a new man at the helm of the team, Bedard is almost certainly on the trading block. He should also not cost as much as Seattle paid to get him in January.

I think Mat Gamel/Matt LaPorta, Cole Gillespie, and Tony Gwynn Jr. should be enough to get Bedard to Milwaukee. If not, a player like Caleb Gindl or Amaury Rivas would need to be thrown in the mix. I don’t think Jeremy Jeffress is going anywhere this summer. Zach Braddock would be too much, as well. Seattle lacks offense in general in their farm system, so a package like this could get the deal done.

Is Bedard worth it though? Bedard has never pitched over 200 innings in his big league career, and he has already experienced back spasms this year. The left-hander is not a sure thing to take the mound like Rich Harden, and not as dominate when on the mound. Before this year, however, Erik had consistently improved on his previous year’s stats. That is always a trend a GM likes to see when making a move.

Another interesting aspect of Bedards stats in 2008 is that left-handed hitters have had more success than right-handers – .254 BA to .226 BA, respectively. He has also struggled away from the pitcher-friendly park in Seattle. Bedard could be had without costing Milwaukee too much, certainly less than the above mentioned pitchers. He also has a chance to be just as dominate as any of them. Melvin would be buying low at this point, which is always a positive aspect in a trade. It gives him some leverage when designing a package.

That is the main difference between Bedard and the rest of the pitchers on this list. Doug Melvin would be buying low, banking that a change of scenery will get Bedard back on track. It is interesting though that a 3.97 ERA is a disappointing season for the left-hander. He could be a nice pick-up for the Milwaukee Brewers. The problem is that Bedard only has 70.1 innings pitched in 2008. Compare that to Sheets’ 104.3, and you can see the durability concerns.

LHP Cliff Lee (Cleveland Indians)08: $3.75M, 09: $5.75M, 10: $8M (club option)

Cliff Lee has been a big surprise for the Cleveland Indians in 2008, and he is the cheapest option for the Milwaukee Brewers other than Zack Greinke. I believe that Doug Melvin would be wise to go after the overlooked pitcher in Cleveland. Lee has bounced back nicely from a below-average 2007, and his stats are great.

After an absolutely sensational 0.96 ERA in March/April, Cliff has regressed a bit in May and June. Emphasize a bit. He has a 2.88 and 3.41 ERA, respectively, but his control has remained fantastic. The lefty has a 16:90 BB:K ratio. That would be a relief for a Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff that has walked its fair share of opposing batters in 2008. The 29-year old also keeps the ball in the ballpark. Only five long balls have been hit off Lee in 2008, which would be very important in Miller Park. Zack Greinke has had surrendered more home runs in June alone.

I would think it would cost about the same to get Lee as Sabathia, just because of the fact that Lee is under contract through 2010. It would again be the likes of Mat Gamel/Matt LaPorta, Angel Salome/Jonathan Lucroy, and perhaps Zach Braddock. I would like to stress that Lee is most likely not the pitcher who has a 2.34 ERA in 2008. He is most likely someone that will fall between his 3.79 ERA he had in 2005 and his 4.40 ERA he had in 2006. With that said, the Brewers would be getting a #2/#3 pitcher for the next two and a half years. Melvin would be wise to give Lee a look.

LHP Jarrod Washburn (Seattle Mariners)08: $9.85M, 09: $10.35M

In one of the more interesting developments this June, Jarrod Washburn has reemerged as a viable option in the trade market. After posting a horrendous 9.30 ERA in May, the veteran left-hander has rebounded with a 2.93 ERA in June. He is making a serious push to up his market value as the trade deadline approaches. The price tag may be a hindrance to Milwaukee, however.

Cole Gillespie, Lorenzo Cain, and Brad Nelson should be more than enough to get him to Milwaukee. There is no elite talent in that package, but let’s be serious, Jarrod Washburn is not an elite talent. He is more in the mold of a left-handed Jeff Suppan. I realize how unappealing that sounds at the trade deadline. This is the most unlikely option, but his name has been connected with the Brewers, so it does warrant a look.

Overall

Milwaukee has plenty of options. If the price is right, any of these options would be a good pickup for the Brewers – minus Jarrod Washburn. Out of all of these pitchers, Zack Greinke and Rich Harden look to be the most unlikely. The Kansas City Royals have developed more of a “win now” mentality, and the are reportedly trying to sign Greinke to a contract extension. Harden is unlikely because of his injury history. Milwaukee does not want Sheets and Harden atop their rotation. Both are apt to be injured within the next couple of months. That would certainly be a negative for the Crew.

Doug Melvin has the best chance with Erik Bedard and C.C. Sabathia. Erik Bedard has a reportedly surly attitude in the clubhouse, which may speed up his ticket out of Seattle. The Brewers have the offensive prospects Seattle so desperately needs in their depleted farm system. The chances that C.C. comes to Milwaukee is augmented simply because of the big name attractiveness of him. He is far and away the best option on the market, and he has the best chance of pushing Milwaukee to the post-season. That alone will make him the number one target for Doug Melvin. Last year’s Scott Linebrink trade also shows that the front office is willing to mortgage a bit of the future away for a shot at the playoffs. I may not be a fan of it, but it does make some sense. If the Crew is still in the thick of the NL Central battle come mid-July, Doug may pull the trigger on Sabathia.

Cliff Lee is a long shot, but he would be a very intriguing pick-up for the Brewers. His control and his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark is very attractive at this point in the season, and Milwaukee would have him under contract through the 2010 season. The big downside is that they would be buying high, as he’s not as good as he’s showing right now. With that said, he could be very effective for the next two and a half years in the front end of the rotation.





Round ’em Up: Monday

30 06 2008

I think all Brewers fans are relieved that Interleague play is over.  More specifically, I think we’re all happy to get out of Minnesota.  They are playing some very, very good baseball right now.  They made the Milwaukee Brewers – who are playing good ball in their own right – look very pedestrian.

The Crew now moves on to Arizona to take on the D’Backs tonight.  Let’s see what’s in the news.

  • I hope you all have some medicine handy.  The Milwaukee Brewers activated Eric Gagne from the 15-day DL and sent down Mark DiFelice.  Gagne has been analyzed every way possible, so I’ll leave that alone.

    DiFelice, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise this season.  He has struggled against left-handers in the big leagues, but still posted a 3.95 ERA in 10 appearances.  The word is that he’s going to start in Triple-A.  That should bring some relief to a horrid starting rotation in Nashville.

  • Jayson Stark from ESPN.com says that one GM that has talked to Doug Melvin reported that Milwaukee will not be afraid to ship its prospects to Cleveland to get C.C. Sabathia in a Brewers uniform.  It will be interesting to see if this is true.  Will Doug be willing to ship the likes of Jeremy Jeffress, Matt LaPorta, or Mat Gamel to Cleveland?  I’m not so sure he is.

    This is not a very reliable source, but a post in the Brewerfan.net forum gives a recap of a radio show in which Doug Melvin appeared.  He said that the Brewers are interested in adding a #2 or #3-type starter to the rotation.  There are some untouchables in the farm system.  He says he will not trade someone he can control for six years for someone he only has for a couple months.  It would be a “quantity trade.”

    To me that “quantity trade” sounds like something right up Billy Beane’s alley in Oakland.  Rich Harden anyone?

  • Right Field Bleachers gives a little review of the past week.  I didn’t realize that Ryan Braun was tied for third in the NL in outfield assists.  He does have a great arm out there, that’s for sure.
  • The Brew Town Beat wonders if Ned Yost is setting up the Milwaukee Brewers for another Summerfest Swoon.  I still think it is crazy how their post after winning Saturday’s game is all about how 08 is totally different than 07, yet after a single loss, the whole season is going down the drain.  It’s a long season.  There are going to be ups and downs throughout the whole season.  I enjoy their writing at The Brew Town Beat, but their outlook on the season changes game-by-game.  Look at the bigger picture boys.
  • Our friend Aaron has a Brewers-Diamondbacks preview for you all.  Give it a look, as he spends a lot of time writing those previews.  It’s good stuff.
  • The Yost Infection is back after a long hiatus, and his target is Michael Hunt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  The hilarity of his name aside, Mike Hunt is apparently a little slow in figuring out that Ben Sheets was going to test free agency all along.
  • The newly drafted Evan Frederickson has performed so well in Helena in the couple weeks he’s been there, that he has been promoted to West Virginia.  (Hat tip to battlekow at Brew Crew Ball.  He certainly knows how to get it done.)
  • There has been a lot of movement in the Brewers farm system in the past week or so.  Let me give you a run down of some of the promotions, demotions, etc.

    RHP Jason Shiell – Transferred from Nashville to Huntsville
    RHP Jake Orodizzi – Sent to AZL Brewers
    RHP Josh Wahpepah – Transferred from Huntsville to Brevard County
    LHP Troy Cate – Acquired from Orange County and sent to Huntsville
    RHP Joe Bateman – Transferred from Huntsville to Nashville
    LHP Steve Bray – Transferred from Nashville to Huntsville
    RHP Nic Ungs – Transferred from Nashville to Huntsville
    LHP Evan Frederickson – Transferred from Helena to West Virginia
    C Martin Maldonado – Transferred from Brevard County to Huntsville
    C Chris Corporan – Transferred from Huntsville to Nashville





Minor League Boxscores: Monday

30 06 2008

Nashville Sounds (32-51), 16.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Nashville 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 6 0
Round Rock 0 0 1 1 4 1 0 0 X 7 10 0

LHP Chris Narveson – (L, 2-10) 5.0 IP, 8 hits, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K – 5.84 ERA
RHP Joe Bateman – 1.0 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 3.00 ERA
RF Laynce Nix – 3-4, 2 HR (15), 2 RBI – .284 BA

Huntsville Stars (6-6), 3.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Huntsville 0 1 2 1 0 2 0 0 0 6 17 1
Carolina 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 5 10 1

LHP Troy Cate – (W, 1-0) 5.0 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 ER), 1 BB, 6 K – 3.60 ERA
RHP Juan Sandoval – (S, 8 ) 1.0 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – 3.33 ERA
3B Mat Gamel – 5-5, 2B, RBI, 2 runs – .379 BA
RF Matt LaPorta – 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, run – .294 BA
1B Chris Errecart – 4-5, 2 2B, RBI, run – .289 BA

Brevard County Manatees (3-8), 5.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Brevard County 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 8 3
Fort Myers 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 3 8 0

RHP Jeremy Jeffress – ND, 6.0 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K – 4.34 ERA
RHP Mike McClendon – (BS, 2)(L, 2-3) 1.1 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K – 5.03 ERA
RF Lorenzo Cain – 2-4, 2B, HR, 6), RBI, BB – .279 BA
DH Jonathan Lucroy – 2-5, 2B – .317 BA

West Virginia Power (7-4), 1.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Lexington 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 0
West Virginia 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 13 0

RHP Evan Anundsen – ND, 2.2 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – 3.38 ERA
RHP Roque Mercedes – ND, 5.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K – 5.98 ERA
LHP Curtis Pasma – (W, 3-2) 2.0 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K – 4.30 ERA
RF Caleb Gindl – 3-5, 2 2B, RBI, run – .284 BA
CF Lee Haydel – 2-5, 2 1B, SB (27) – .290 BA

AZL Brewers (1-5), 3.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
AZL Brewers 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 3 7 2
AZL Rangers 3 0 1 1 0 0 0 4 X 9 9 2

RHP Joel Morales – (L, 0-1) 5.0 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K – 3.38 ERA
LF Jose Garcia – 1-4, HR (1), RBI – .292 BA
RF Hitaniel Arias – 2-4, 2 1B, RBI – .217 BA

Helena Brewers (6-7), 4.0 GB

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Missoula 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 3 5 10 11 1
Helena 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 11 2

RHP Michael Bowman – ND, 6.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs (1 ER), 2 BB, 6 K – 1.80 ERA
RHP Garrett Sherrill – (BS, 3)(L, 0-3) 1.2 IP, 5 hits, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K – 14.21 ERA
CF Erik Komatsu – 2-4, 2 HR (3), 4 RBI, BB – .405 BA
LF Christopher Dennis – 1-4, HR (1), RBI, BB – .245 BA
2B Jose Duran – 1-5, HR (1), 3 RBI – .256 BA
1B Brock Kjeldgaard – 2-5, 2 2B, run – .235 BA





Round ’em Up: Sunday

29 06 2008

UPDATE 06-29-08 1:08pm – Guillermo Mota successfully lowered his ERA after appealing a scoring decision that occurred against the Houston Astros.

It’s good to know Mota is far more concerned with his personal stat line than whether or not his team wins the game. Ned Yost didn’t seem too pleased about Mota’s stunt either.

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Ben Sheets will lead the Milwaukee Brewers against the hottest team in baseball right now. If the Crew can win this afternoon, it will be an excellent series win and a successful road trip. Who would have thought I would be saying that right now?

  • Eric Gagne expects to be back with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. I’m not so sure he’s ready for game action though. Normally, Ned Yost is one for hyperbole when talking about his injured players. He always says something like, “[Insert name here] is throwing the ball great in the bullpen” or “[Insert name here] is absolutely mashing the ball in BP.” Not with Gage though. Concerning Gagne’s bullpen session, Yost says that Gagne’s fastball control was “decent.” Oh good…
  • Jim Powell has a new post up, and he echoes my concern about Gagne. In fact, he says Gagne’s bullpen session was “just okay.” He had control issues. Why bring him off the DL if he’s not ready?
  • The Junkball Blues has a very interesting look at the Brewers offense. He hypothesizes that a team that walks a lot, hits lots of home runs, and strikes out a lot will have a more consistent offense because they do not rely on luck very much. How so? All three of those categories do not involve the opposing defense at all. It’s an interesting way to look at it, but the result is that Milwaukee needs to walk more. That’s what BN reader Aaron has been saying allllll along.
  • The post of the day goes to Between the Green Pillars. He talks about what the Brewers need to do concerning acquiring another starting pitcher. The article says that Milwaukee would be much better off trading for someone like Rich Harden, Zach Greinke, or Eric Bedard at this point, as all would be under team control beyond this season. I completely agree when BTGP says making a move for C.C. Sabathia would make 2008 an all-or-nothing season. If the Brewers make the playoffs with C.C., it would be a huge success. If they don’t, however, Milwaukee has nothing to show for their troubles. I would much rather have the likes of a Bedard/Harden/Greinke than Sabathia at this point.
  • Ken Rosenthal has a new Full Count video up, and he reports that Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn is becoming much more attractive given his recent success. That wouldn’t be a bad move if the price was right.
  • The Brew Town Beat notes that one year ago, the Brewers lost to the Chicago Cubs on that Aramis Ramirez walk-off home run. That marked the downfall of the Milwaukee Brewers last season. This year, however, the Crew started off slow, but has caught fire in June. My how things change.
  • The Huntsville Times has a nice article on OF Michael Brantley and how his father impacted his life in the game of baseball. An interesting part of the article says that Michael is the best player on the Stars ballclub. That’s a bold claim, but he has the entire package.
  • If you haven’t seen the recap of the Dodgers-Angels game from last night, check it out. Jerod Weaver for the Angels combined with Jose Arredondo to no-hit the Dodgers, but still lost the game 1-0. Two errors and a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning spelled doom for the Angels. Crazy game.




The Sunday Harvest

29 06 2008

Player of the Week: C/OF Eric Fryer

Last 10 Games:  .389 BA, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB

Eric has been flying under the radar a bit in West Virginia, but with Jonathan Lucroy now up in Brevard County, the spotlight is shining firmly on Eric.  He has been playing both catcher and outfield for the Power.  That kind of versatility for a catcher is a big plus.  It reminds me very much of Vinny Rottino.  The kid can hit though, make no doubt about that.  He’s hitting for power, while still showing patience at the plate.  In his last ten games, Eric has drawn five walks and only struck out four times.  Having that type of BB:K ratio will help any team.

Honorable Mention

C Jonathan Lucroy – (Last 10: .344 BA, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI) – Jonathan may have been promoted to Brevard County recently, but it has not slowed his bat down one bit.  The young catcher continues to prove that his bat is no fluke.  Solid catchers who can hit are difficult to find, and the Milwaukee Brewers may have found an absolute gem in Mr. Lucroy.

RF Caleb Gindl – (Last 10: .357 BA, 4 2B, HR, 10 RBI, SB) – Even though he is only 19-years old, Caleb is showing why he is one of the brightest prospects in Milwaukee’s system.  The free-swinging outfielder has found his stroke in June, and West Virginia’s team has benefited greatly because of it.  Caleb is upping his average right now, which is a great sign, but the power numbers should continue to come.  If he can polish up his defensive abilities in right just a bit, a promotion to Brevard is not out of the question.

OF Erik Komatsu – (Last 8 Games: .400 BA, 4 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB) – The season may have just started for the Helena Brewers, but Komatsu is already in mid-season form.  The transition from college ball to the pros seems relatively seamless in Erik’s case.  He is still hitting for power with a wooden bat.  That is not something to be taken lightly.  We’ll continue to keep an eye on Erik.

Pitcher of the Week: RHP Evan Anundsen

Evan has been the model of consistency for West Virginia throughout the season, but his start this week was fantastic.  The young right-hander threw eight innings of shutout ball.  He struck out six batters, walking none, and giving up four hits along the way.  Dominate stuff right there.  Match that with his astounding 2.41 ground-out/fly-out ratio, and you can see why Evan is a 20-year old to watch.

Honorable Mention

LHP Randy Choate – The veteran southpaw sought to make the big league squad out of Spring Training, but a broken hand stifled those dreams.  Randy is now healthy, however, and dominating in his rehab outings.  In 7.1 innings of work, Choate has given up only two hits, while allowing zero runs to cross the plate.  Mitch Stetter may be looking at a trip back to Nashville once Randy is finished with his rehab assignment.

RHP Alexandre Periard – This 21-year old Canadian had a fine outing last week.  He pitched eight shutout innings, scattering two walks and seven hits.  Alexandre is a ground ball pitcher who relies on his defense behind him, rather than the strikeout.  In an interesting split, Periard has been better on the road thus far in 2008.  A 21-year old who is unfazed by pitching on the road.  He should teach Dave Bush something about that.

RHP Liam Ohlmann – Before the season started for the AZL Brewers, Liam Ohlmann could hardly contain his excitement.  He had just been drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, and he could simply not wait to pitch in his first professional game.  That over-the-top enthusiasm led be to believe Liam would struggle in his first couple outings until he regained his composure.  Turns out I was wrong.  Liam has pitched four scoreless innings for the AZL Brewers thus far in his professional career.  He has only given up one hit, while striking out three.  The young man has yet to walk anyone.  Not a bad start at all.





Parra stops Minnesota’s win streak at 10

28 06 2008

The winning formula this evening was early offense and Manny Parra on the mound.

The top of the order got it going early for the Crew against right-hander Livan HernandezRickie Weeks walked to start the game, J.J. Hardy drove a single up the middle, and Ryan Braun delivered an opposite field single to score Rickie for the first run of the game.

Livan Hernandez doesn’t throw hard, but he nibbles around the strike zone and understands how to pitch.  After Bill Hall smoked a double to the right-center gap off Livan – yes, a right-hander – the veteran pitcher shut down the Brewers.  His off-speed repertoire is immense, and he will throw any of those pitches on any count.  After giving up five runs in the first three innings, Livan settled down nicely.

The damage was done, however.

Manny Parra held the red-hot Minnesota Twins to zero runs on two hits in seven innings of solid work.  The rookie struggled with his command again today – see the four walks.  He did keep the Twins off-balance though.  He began to pound the zone much more after the third innings, and his pitch count benefited because of it.

While Manny couldn’t find the strike zone early in the game, his stuff impressed everyone.  His fastball came in at about 94-95 mph this evening, and his curveball had a pretty big bite to it.  Did I even see a slider/cut fastball too?  Perhaps he’s been working on that with Mike Maddux during his throwing sessions.

The play-by-play announcers for the Crew did hammer home an aspect of Manny’s wildness.  He always misses low in the zone, which limits his vulnerability to the long ball.  While that is a good point, walks do not benefit a pitcher.  Neither does a high pitch count.  His lack of control…even if it is down in the zone…has given Manny some fits this season.  I will admit that he has limited the damage though.  A guy with great stuff can do that.  If he can combine that great arsenal of pitches with the confidence to pound the strike zone, he and Yovani Gallardo could make a stellar top of the rotation.  That is too premature to think about that though.

I may simply be reading too much into one performance, but I’m a little concerned about David Riske.  Yes, he pitched a one-two-three inning this evening.  Part of that can be attributed to Mike Cameron’s fine sliding catch in the outfield, however.

What I am concerned with is that Riske’s unwillingness to throw anything but fastballs.  In the 12 pitches he threw against the Twins tonight, 11 of them were fastballs.  He did throw one change-up to Carlos Gomez, but that is it.  Why is this?  Isn’t his split finger pitch supposed to be his best pitch?  In fact, he has two split finger fastballs that he throws.  Where are they?  Is he saving them for a closer situation?

There are two possibilities.  One, tonight is a small sample size and David simply chose to throw fastballs tonight against the patient Twins lineup.  He was able to get ahead of the hitters this evening because most of the Twins will take a pitch or two before swing.  That, of course, excludes Delmon Young.  He swings at everything.  He actually makes Ryan Braun look patient at the plate.  A statistical anomaly could be the answer.

The other possibility is that Riske’s elbow is not 100%.  The split finger fastball would put the most strain on his elbow, which is why he could be avoiding the pitch.  Most pitchers are a little gun shy when coming back from an injury.  This could be something more, however.  Wait until David throws again, but keep an eye on his pitch selection.  If it is mostly fastballs again, something could be up.

Records: Brewers (44-36); Twins (44-37)

Hero of the Game: Manny Parra

Any time a Brewers pitcher goes seven innings of shutout ball, he will get the hero of the game.  Even though he fought his command a bit in the early going, Milwaukee’s rookie pitcher showed his plus stuff again and again.  He handcuffed Twins hitters all game, striking out six and only giving up two hits before leaving because of a high pitch count.  Ned Yost and Mike Maddux stuck with Manny through the growing pains early in the season, and Manny is making their patience well worth it.  The young left-hander is proving himself to be a bona fide major league pitcher.

Goat of the Game: Russell Branyan

Sorry Russell.  You went 0-3.  No other Brewers hitter did that today.  The walk doesn’t count either, as it was an intentional walk early in the game.  Shrug it off, big man.  Come back tomorrow and hit a bomb.

On Tap

Ben Sheets looks to secure a series victory tomorrow against RHP Kevin Slowey for the Minnesota Twins.  The Brewers ace has pitched brilliantly all season thus far.  Slowey will not make it easy for Milwaukee, however.  In their last meeting, the right-hander confused Brewers hitters all day.  Let’s hope the Crew can figure him out tomorrow.  The game starts at 1:10pm CT.