Reds series highlights Brewers shortcomings

12 07 2008

After another devastating loss tonight against the Cincinnati Reds, it’s time to take a look at what has gone wrong. How have the Brewers lost two straight games to a team they are much better than? At home, no less.

These last two games serve as a microcosm for Milwaukee’s struggles in 2008. It’s been the big three for the Brewers.

1) Struggles at the back end of the bullpen – mainly Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne.

2) Below-average defense.

3) Poor plate discipline and too many strikeouts.

The Bullpen

In tonight’s game against the Reds, David Riske and Brian Shouse simply needed to keep the deficit at 3-2 in the eighth inning. They needed to give the Brewers a chance to put something together against the Cincinnati’s bullpen, as Edinson Volquez dominated through seven innings.

Instead of holding the score 3-2, Riske gave up a one-out double to Jerry Hairston – who has owned the Brewers. Ned Yost then called upon Brian Shouse to strand the runner at second. Thus far in 2008, Shouse could almost guarantee results. He has struggled in the past week, however.

Those struggles continued tonight. After striking out Jay Bruce on three pitches, he gave up an RBI single to Ken Griffey Jr. Shouse has had issues keeping the ball down the past week. The deception of his sidearm delivery can only do so much. He needs to keep the ball down and away from left-handers. That has not been happening, and the team is suffering.

The score is now 4-2 after the Crew couldn’t get anything going against the unimpressive David Weathers. There is still a slim glimmer of hope in the hearts of Brewers fans, however. Maybe the offense can score two off Francisco Cordero in the ninth. Perhaps the Crew can come back against their old teammate. Again, all the bullpen needs to do is keep the deficit the same.

Enter Eric Gagne – the newly-anointed set-up man. Milwaukee’s ten million dollar man has looked extremely solid in his couple outings since coming off the DL. Adam Dunn changed that. Dunn clobbered a 3-2 fastball out of the park to increase Cincinnati’s lead to 5-2. The lead only grew after Edwin Encarnacion went deep to make it back-to-back home runs. Before the inning could end, Gagne gave up four runs on four hits. The lead was now 8-2, and all the hopes of the Brewers winning the game left when Gagne left the game for Guillermo Mota. You know there are problems if you need Mota to get you out of an inning.

Defense

Doug Melvin and the Brewers went out and signed Mike Cameron to a one-year contract to sure-up center field. He has been very impressive patrolling center and has vastly improved Milwaukee’s defense from last year. Bill Hall was forced to learn on the job last season, and Cameron is an obvious improvement with his Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Friday night, however, that exceptional defense was not on display. Cameron got an excellent jump on a ball in the left-center gap (as usual), but he lost the ball in the lights. The ball almost hit the Brewer center fielder in the head, and it resulted in a triple for Jerry Hairston. Did I mention Hairston has owned the Brewers this series? It tied the game up in the seventh.

Then, with a tie game in the eighth inning, Bill Hall fields a routine ground ball at third base. The Brewers moved him to third during the winter to improve on the defense Ryan Braun gave the Crew last season. It hasn’t improved the defense as much as Doug Melvin and the team hoped. Hall rushed his throw and spiked it in the dirt. Prince Fielder was unable to handle the low throw, and the inning continued with two on and one-out, rather than one on and two-out. It turned out to cost the Brewers the game, as Hairston scored on a wild pitch by Salomon Torres.

The sloppy defense directly led to Milwaukee’s loss to the Reds Friday night. If Hall or Cameron could have come up with only one of those plays, the worst the score could have been was a tie game going into the bottom of the ninth. What ifs are pointless, but the sloppy defense does point to a chink in the armor of the Milwaukee Brewers. Doug Melvin certainly improved the defense this off-season, but it is certainly not perfect. The defense will need to improve to catch the Chicago Cubs.

Plate Discipline

Milwaukee has a powerful offense.  No one will dispute that fact.  The team does struggle to score runs when the long ball is not present.  Manufacturing runs does not come easy for a team that strikes out a lot and does not walk very often.  As a whole, the Brewers are too over-aggressive at the plate and make soft-tossing control pitchers like Josh Fogg and Glendon Rusch look like aces.

In Friday night’s game against Fogg, the Reds’ veteran right-hander cruised along the first five innings.  He kept the free-swinging Brewers off-balance by rarely throwing a first pitch fastball and inducing a lot of pop-ups.  You know a team has a strikeout problem when Josh Fogg strikes out six in five and a third.  Fogg threw everything but the kitchen sink up there, and the aggressive Brewers hitters obliged by swinging at difficult pitches.

After Friday night’s offensive struggles against Fogg, the Reds threw out the hard-throwing Edinson Volquez to the mound.  I am not suggesting a bad outing against Volquez is indicative of offensive struggles, as almost every team that has gone against Volquez has struggled immensely.  It is the way the Brewers scuffled that indicates potential offensive problems.

Volquez struck out ten Brewers in seven innings.  He kept hitters off-balance with his exceptional change-up, and the aggressive Brewers swung over it again and again.  J.J. Hardy – who has been one of the hottest hitters in the league the past month – whiffed three times against the NL All-Star.  Strikeouts do not move runners over on the basepaths.  Strikeouts do not even give Mike Cameron a chance to score the tying run from second in Friday night’s game in the ninth inning.  Strikeouts do not allow any sacrifice flies to get runners in from third base with no outs or one out.

Right now, the Milwaukee Brewers live and die by extra base hits.  When the team is going well, they will score in bunches.  The over-reliance on extra-base hits is a recipe for offensive slumps, however.  That is what the Brewers have been unable to overcome the past two games against the Cincinnati Reds.

If the Brewers are going to catch the Chicago Cubs and stay ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, the defense will need to improve, the bullpen will need to improve, and the offense will need to draw more walks and play more small ball.





Brewers come from behind to bite the D’Backs

2 07 2008

Milwaukee has secured at least a split in the road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The way almost all of the major leagues has played on the road this season, that is a victory in itself.  When you consider Brandon Webb will be on the hill tomorrow afternoon, the magnitude of this win is augmented greatly.

In one of the brightest stories of the 2008 season thus far for the Milwaukee Brewers, Seth McClung continued to impress on the mound as a starter.  I will be the first to admit that he did not have his A-stuff tonight.  The big guy may not have even had his B-stuff, but he battled and scraped together 5.1 innings while only giving up two runs.  The main thing: He gave the Crew a chance to win the game.  That’s what a starting pitcher must do.

Finishing with six strikeouts and only one walk, Seth excited the game in the sixth inning.  He scattered 8 hits and limited the damage.  Five of those hits, however, came in the first two innings.  His fastball had lots of life this evening, and McClung was dialing it up on the radar gun.  The big right-hander kept the team in the game and gave them a chance for a comeback.

And come back they did.

After Mike Cameron laced a two-out double in the seventh inning, Ned Yost called on Rickie Weeks to pinch hit.  Rickie has been out with a stomach virus the past two games, so it was a risky call on the part of the skipper.  Beware of the weary, however.  Weeks absolutely crushed an 0-2 pitch out of the park to left field.  3-2 Brewers.

The lead was short-lived though.  David Riske – who did throw more than fastballs today, by the way – gave up a first pitch bomb to Justin Upton.  It was almost a carbon copy of the Weeks home run.  3-3 Brewers.

For all the flak Mike Cameron has been getting from Brewers fans the past couple weeks, he came through in a big way tonight.  After Russell Branyan led off the inning with a single that ricocheted off Arizona first-baseman Mike Reynolds, Cam fought off a couple tough pitches before depositing the eventual game-winning single to left-center field.  That’s clutch hitting from the veteran center fielder.  That is why Doug Melvin signed him in the off-season.

Salomon Torres converted his 14th save after Branyan tagged third and threw a bullet to first base to end the game on a double play.  It was a big play by Russell, as Salomon worked himself in a spot of trouble after Orlando Hudson led off with a single and got to second after a deep fly ball to left.  All was for naught, however, as the Crew pulled out another one-run victory.

A couple other things to note after tonight’s game.  Did anyone else think that Stephen Drew’s cleat shot to Jason Kendall in the eighth was a cheap shot?  I understand he was trying to knock the ball loose from Kendall’s glove, but he risked seriously injuring Milwaukee’s catcher by spiking him in the gut.  I thought Kendall showed his true veteran mentality when he simply walked away from the situation.  Whether or not the Brewers catcher pursued the matter, I’m a little surprised a fine player like Stephen Drew would do that.  It was in the heat of the moment, but those metal spikes are no joke.

Joe Dillon pinch hit this evening and continued his fine approach at the plate.  He hit an absolute rocket out into deep left-center.  It looked to have a chance to get out of the park.  It certainly was going to give Milwaukee some insurance on the scoreboard.  That is, until Chris Young came out of nowhere to make a spectacular play, jumping into the wall and hanging on to the ball.  Fine play, Mr. Young.

Big Prince Fielder is still struggling at the plate.  He is going to very much welcome a little home cooking starting this weekend.  I’m not so sure Miller Park is going to help much unless he changes his approach at the plate, however.  He has a natural upper cut on his swing, which is why he hits so many home runs.  The upper cut is so pronounced right now though, that it is getting to Jim Edmonds territory right now.  Flatten out the swing, big boy.  That and don’t try to hit every ball out of the park.  That may help too.

This may be jinxing him, but J.J. Hardy continued his hit streak.  It is now at 14 games after a 2-4 performance with a clutch RBI in the sixth inning to start off the scoring for the Crew.  His bat is staying through the hitting area much longer right now, and he’s naturally getting better wood on the ball as a result.  That two-spot fits J.J. well, I think.

I have been unable to confirm this, but Arizona commentator Darron Sutton apparently said there is a deal going on between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers.  I did find it a little strange that Doug Melvin and Gord Ash have been attending this series, but there has been no confirmation.  The words were that the deal was going to come through “very, very soon.”

The only thing I can think of is a little help in the bullpen.  Arizona has some expendable arms with the likes of Tony Pena, Juan Cruz, and Chad Qualls.  They would almost certainly be looking for a bat in return.  Could Mike Cameron find himself on a plane to Arizona soon?  It could make some sense, as Gabe Kapler has been terrific.  Perhaps Gabe is the one in question.  Or perhaps this is completely unsubstantiated and nothing will happen.  Only time will tell.

Records: Brewers (46-38); Diamondbacks (42-43)

Hero of the Game: Mike Cameron

Mike came through today in a big way at the plate.  He almost hit one out of the park in the second inning, but it hit a little too far down on the trademark.  That at-bat was a sign of things to come for Mike, as he finished the game going 2-4 with two huge RBI.  His single in the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the game.  This is the type of player Mike Cameron can be on a daily basis.  Hopefully he can get on a hot streak sometime soon.

Goat of the Game: Prince Fielder

I understand Prince is an incredibly streaky hitter, but that swing needs to get a little flatter.  The plate discipline needs to improve.  He’s far too talented to fall into huge funks like he has this season.  Prince sorely needs to see Miller Park again.

On Tap

Manny Parra will take on Brandon Webb tomorrow afternoon in the series finale.  Parra has looked much better on the mound lately, and he’ll have to pitch effectively for Milwaukee to stand a chance against the fantastic Brandon Webb.





Crew holds off D’Back rally

1 07 2008

It’s not often that a Brewers fan says this, but Ned Yost played his cards right today.

Milwaukee’s starting lineup did not include the likes of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, or Mike Cameron.  Prince certainly needed a day off after his struggles this road trip.  Their replacements, however.  Did more than hold their own against Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks.

Joe Dillon swung a good bat tonight, hitting a two-run bomb off Johnson in the second inning.  The veteran utility man hit the ball hard in every at-bat, but only had one hit to show for it.  It’s okay though, Joe.  We all know how well you handled the stick tonight.

In for Prince at first base, the seldom-used Mike Rivera played his heart out tonight.  The opposite-field, two-out double to score Corey Hart was definitely a highlight of the game.  That ball was at his eyes and off the outside part of the plate.  There is no good reason he should have gotten any wood on that ball.  No matter.  Mike Rivera continues to produce at the plate without many opportunities to get in a groove.

To round out the subs for the day, Gabe Kapler roamed center Monday night.  Gabe didn’t do anything overly impressive tonight, going 1-4.  He continues to play defense though, which makes him invaluable coming of the bench.  Let’s not forget he’s hitting over .300.  Not bad for someone who was managing a minor league team last season.

Speaking of days off, one player that sorely needs a day off is Ryan Braun.  The announcers keep saying he has an injured muscle in his right thumb, but he’s in the lineup day in and day out.  If he’s truly hurt, give him a day off.  Even if he’s not hurt, the young man looks awful at the plate.  Ryan is getting over-aggressive again, trying to pull everything.  We all know he doesn’t want to take a walk, either.  Take a day off tomorrow, Ryan.  Come back Thursday afternoon and start tearing the cover off the ball again.

There is one more player that seems completely lost at the plate.  Want to take a guess?  Bill Hall.  Bill Schroeder hit the nail right on the head (if you will excuse the cliche).  The Brewers third baseman is swinging at balls off the plate, and taking strikes.  He is so frustrated at the plate that I could hear him yelling obscenities after fouling a ball off at the plate this evening.  That’s never a good sign.  I’m almost inclined to say Billy could use a little time in Triple-A to get his feet back under him.  Too bad that’s not an option at this point.

As far as pitching goes, Jeff Suppan was very unimpressive against the D’Backs.  The veteran right-hander could not find the plate to save his life in the fourth and fifth innings, and when he did, it split the heart of the plate.  Soup does not have the stuff to consistently fall behind hitters and get away with it.  His performance was utterly underwhelming, as have most of his starts lately.  Milwaukee needs Jeff to pick it up and be the leader he came here to be.  It’s easier said than done, but now is the time.

I want to follow up on something I mentioned a couple games ago.  David Riske again pitched an entire inning without straying from his fastball.  It ranged from 88-90 mph according to MLB Gameday.  He pitched extremely effectively with it tonight, but I am a little concerned about Mr. Riske.  He’s not throwing his best pitch.  Milwaukee signed him over the off-season because he has two outstanding split-finger fastballs.  One acts much like a change-up and dips into the high-70s, but the other is a true split.  It comes in to hitters in the mid-80s and falls off the table when it reaches home plate.  Those two pitches are non-existent right now.  I truly hope his elbow is okay.

I realize I’m going a little more in-depth about individual players this evening, but I have a couple things to note about Guillermo Mota.  As the play-by-play announcers said tonight, Mota is catching far too much of the plate with his fastball.  That is obvious.  All four balls were smoked by the D’Backs tonight, and the Crew could have been in big trouble had Mike Rivera not made a fantastic diving play at first to double off Chris Young.  The control problem is obvious.

Another thing I noticed about Guillermo is the complete absence of his change-up.  The big guy threw exclusively fastball-slider the entire inning, until getting Miguel Montero on a change to end the inning.  The change-up is arguably Mota’s best pitch.  It complements his 95-96 mph fastball very well, and it dives away from lefties when it reaches the plate.  He has not been throwing the change with any regularity, and the result has been more hard hit balls and more runs scored.  If Guillermo uses that change-up more often, it won’t matter if his 96 mph fastball is right down the middle.  Hitters will be off-balance and unable to catch up.  Sometimes it can be that simple.  Put the third finger around the ball, choke the ball back in your grip, and let it fly, Guillermo.  It would benefit you and the Brewers greatly.

I also must admit that Salomon Torres pitched very well to get the save tonight.  He had not pitched in a week, but he mowed down Arizona hitters after hitting Augie Ojeda to start the inning.  A tip of the hat to you, Senor Torres.  You have been a hero for the Crew the entire year.

Records: Brewers (45-38 ); Diamondbacks (42-42)

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy and Mike Rivera

I’m not one to give out multiple Heroes of the Game, but tonight is an exception.  J.J. Hardy looks like a completely different hitter at the plate over the past couple weeks.  He has been more patient and is driving the ball all over the field.  The hitting streak is now at 13 games after he hit two home runs this evening.  Perhaps he’s going to get on a two month streak like he did to start last season.  That would be dangerous for opposing teams.

Mike Rivera has quickly become one of my favorites on the team.  He plays maybe once a week.  He never complains about a lack of playing time, yet produces more than some of the regulars – I’m talking about you, Bill Hall.  That ridiculous two-out double that was at his eyes and off the outside part of the plate not withstanding, the back-up catcher flashed some fancy glovework at first base.  He made a couple nice flips to the pitcher, fielded the bunt rather nicely, and made an absolutely sick diving stab that turned into an unassisted double play.  That may have saved the game for Milwaukee.  I cannot say enough about Mike Rivera tonight.  Well done, sir.

Goat of the Game: Ryan Braun

Ryan and Prince Fielder have both fallen into a funk at the same time.  Braun, however, is still in the lineup while Prince gets the day off.  All signs point to Braun’s injury being worse than the team is saying.  Give him a day off to clear his head and heal his thumb.  Seeing such a talented player struggle at the plate as much as he has the past week or so is difficult to watch.  He’s in an 0-18 streak now.  A day off is sorely needed.

On Tap

Seth McClung will look to bounce back after a rough outing last week against Micah Owings and the D’Backs in Game 3 of the series.  The game starts at 8:40pm CT at Chase Field.  The Crew needs a win tomorrow night, as Brandon Webb is slated to pitch the finale.  Enough said.





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.





Prince’s Power Hour Propels

22 06 2008

The big boys came out to play in the Milwaukee Brewers’ final game against American League opposition, the Baltimore Orioles. Home runs from Corey Hart, Bill Hall, and a pair from Prince Fielder bailed out an out-of-sorts Manny Parra. Sprinkle in some nice defensive plays and a season-tying high for double plays and the result was good 7-3 victory finishing off a 6-3 homestand for the Crew.

From the get-go it looked like Parra might set up Milwaukee for a long afternoon. His pitch locations were off and a tight zone from the home plate umpire wasn’t helping his cause. Parra walked six guys including four in the first three innings. Two of Baltimore’s three runs were walks that came around to score.

Rickie Weeks was back in the lineup today (and in the lead off spot in the order) and looked shaky early on. Jason Kendall caught Jay Payton off of first, but Weeks, attempting to get Payton out, dropped Kendall’s throw.

Fielder has also looked shoddy on defense recently (something that he had looked to improve this season. He misplayed a bunt single in the second inning failing to pick up the ball and get it to Parra at first base. Earlier in the season is looked as though Fielder was making big strides in his defensive play, but in the last few series he has made several mistakes on plays that should be outs.

If the defense has fallen, the offensive game of Fielder has shown brightly. Prince belted a double and two home runs today. Fielder was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. His monster, two run blast in the seventh gave the Crew some breathing room heading into the closing frames.

The secondary storyline of the game is the positive defensive plays that the Brewers made to back up the struggling Parra. Ryan Braun made two outstanding sliding catches (the one in the sixth was ESPN’s #5 “Web Gem” today) to rob Baltimore of base hits. The infield also turned five double plays on an Oriole team that has the grounded into the least amount of double plays in the American League (45). Weeks was strong on his DP turns (something that has been troubling… low throws to first) and made a fantastic play to end the seventh inning.

Guillermo Mota and David Riske both continue to struggle in relief appearances this afternoon issuing two walks apiece. A strikeout for Riske and two nice defensive plays by JJ Hardy and the already mentioned Weeks grab bailed out David. It took an appearance by Salomon Torres and a double play to get Mota off the hook in the ninth. Mark DiFelice had a good outing, going 1-2-3 in the sixth, but otherwise this bullpen is starting to worry. There are a bunch of bright spots (DiFelice, Torres, Shouse), but they can’t pitch everyday and allow the inconsistent guys to shake down games.

Records: Brewers (41-34), Orioles (38-36)

Hero of the Game: Prince Fielder

The Prince has been going on a power binge of late. He’s got five home runs in the last six games. For June all of his vitals are skyrocketing. Take a look at his May/June comparisons:

Stat May June

On Base Percentage .358 .432

Average .294 .343

Slugging: .450 .757

Promising stuff from the kid.

Goat of the Game: Davillermo RiskMota

What’s up with these guys? I know the zone was tight, Parra struggle with his stuff all night, but Riske and Mota’s inability to find a strike lately is looking Gagnesqe. I guess I’m particularly worried about Riske because I never was that high up on him since the beginning of the season. For the money we paid for him I feel like the Brewers haven’t gotten a lot of relief security.

A few good outings early in the season was marred by several rough outings before going on the DL. Since being activated from the DL two days ago, Riske has participated in the almost-loss on Thursday against Toronto and stunk it up today. These sorts of trouble should be worked out with a player before he comes back from his rehab stint in the minors. I know he blew threw the opposition in his one inning of work in Nashville, but there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe and seeing he’s all there.

On Tap:

The Crew hits the road to take on the Atlanta Braves. Jo-Jo Reyes (3-4, 4.05 ERA) is on the mound versus Ben Sheets (8-1, 2.74 ERA). Game time: 6:05 CT.

By: Dan Wiersema





Tavarez Designated for Assignment

19 06 2008

Looks like Freddy Krueger is going to have to haunt elsewhere. From the JS Online Brewers Blog (which I still hate, but will link to grudgingly):

The Brewers made room on their roster today to activate reliever David Riske from the DL by designating reliever Julian Tavarez for assignment.

The Brewers signed Tavarez a few weeks ago to a minimum-salary contract after he was released by Boston but he did not impress club officials in his seven relief outings. Tavarez was 0-1 with a 8.59 ERA, allowing 13 hits, five walks and 10 runs (seven earned) in 7 1/3 innings.

The dumping of Tavarez shows that the Brewers have been impressed with the showing of rookie relieves Mark DiFelice and Tim Dillard.

Riske will be available to pitch in the game today against Toronto.

By: Dan Wiersema





Round ’em Up: Monday

16 06 2008

Unfortunately, I had to move to a new place yesterday, so I was unable to watch the game. It is pretty hard to give analysis of the game without watching it. The last thing I want to do is patronize you all with secondhand commentary.

Here are a couple game wraps for you – SportsBubblerMilwaukee JS.

Today’s Round ’em Up will be much better than yesterday’s. There is much more for you all to read, as the work week started. Let’s take a look:

  • The bullpen looks to be getting some help with the return of David Riske next week, but Eric Gagne could be coming back in a few weeks. He threw his first bullpen session since being injured. It’s not much, but it is a start. Salomon Torres appears to have the closer’s role secured upon Gagne’s return, but Eric will be a very valuable part of the middle relief squad.
  • Perhaps the best story of the year has been the success of Seth McClung in the starting rotation. After another very solid start yesterday, Brew Crew Ball analyzes the release point and movement of McClung’s pitches. Both have been much, much more consistent since he’s switched to the starting rotation. That mysterious “mechanical fix” has worked wonders for the big right-hander. He’s throwing much more over-the-top, which makes his curveball very much like that of Ben Sheets.
  • Speaking of David Riske and his imminent return, The Brew Town Beat hopes Doug Melvin and Ned Yost will send down Julian Tavarez rather than Mark DiFelice. I understand the reasoning, but Ned’s preference for gritty veterans will help Tavarez stick in the bigs. DiFelice would have more upside, however.
  • The Brew Town Beat also says that Brewers fans should give Lyle Overbay a huge standing ovation upon his return to Milwaukee tomorrow. I completely agree. Let’s not be like Cubs fans. Lyle gave the Brewers many good years, and he deserves to be congratulated for it. Brewers fans proved they are classy when giving Randy Johnson a standing ovation after moving into second in the career strikeout list. They should give that same respect to one of their own, Lyle Overbay.
  • Brew Crew Pub takes a look at the situations at third base and in center field. I agree that Russell Branyan has done nothing but prove he deserves more playing time. His defense has been better than anyone thought, as well. In center field, I’m not sure what should happen. There are arguments for both Mike Cameron and Tony Gwynn Jr. I will have to think about this a little more before coming up with a conclusion.
  • Brew Crew Ball interviewed RHP Garrett Sherrill, the Brewers’ 12th-round pick from Appalachian State University.
  • Brewerfan.net has their Farm Hops for May 2008. It’s a little late, but it has a great overview of the whole system. It even takes a look at a couple of the players the players drafted in the MLB First Year Player draft. They particularly like Jake Orodizzi with the sandwich pick. He’s compared to Will Inman, which cannot be anything but positive.
  • Fire Ned Yost is quite concerned with the Helena Brewers. Yost’s son, Ned IV is now the manager. Oh goodness…
  • There were a couple promotions yesterday in the minor leagues!LHP Chris Cody has been promoted to Brevard County.
    C Jonathan Lucroy has also been promoted to Brevard County.

    Congratulations to both players. They both were a bit old to be playing in West Virginia, so this promotion was a long-time coming.

UPDATE 06-16-08 – Jeff Sackmann from Brew Crew Ball is done with Tom Haudricourt and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

I agree with the sentiment that Haudricourt and Witrado can be snippy at times, but the Milwaukee JS still has incredible ties to the Brewers organization.  They can get information that no one else can.

I’m not willing to sever ties with the Milwaukee JS at this time.  I may change my mind if the trend continues, however.  His comments to Mass Hass at Brewerfan.net were inexcusable.  Mass Hass is a fantastic resource and extremely credible.  Tom Haudricourt was out of line.