Bush fantasti-K against the Rox

10 07 2008

Obviously, the game was not on TV today, so I was not able to watch it.  I did listen to it and see the highlights, however.  Here is the extended boxscore, if you are curious.

With all the attention on CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets (and rightly so), Dave Bush went out and gave a performance to remember.  It’s too bad that the game was not televised for anyone to see it.  The right-hander went 8 innings strong and struck out 13 batters.  And you thought Big Ben was impressive yesterday.

I was surprised Yost let Bush go 120+ pitches, but with the All-Star Break coming up, it should not be a problem.  Bushie had fantastic control this afternoon.  For the second start in a row, he did not walk a batter.  That is absolutely key for someone like Bush.  The strikeouts are just an added plus.  He has made an extremely strong push for the final spot in the rotation once Jeff Suppan comes back from the DL.  In his last two outings combined, Bush has gone 16 innings and only given up one earned run.

Dave Bush is notoriously a slow starter.  In his career, he has had an ERA above 5.00 in April and May.  When the weather heats up, however, so does Bush.  That is what we have seen this season as well.  He had a 3.65 ERA last month, and those numbers have only improved in July.  It looks as if the best option for Milwaukee is to move Seth McClung to the bullpen and give the ball to Bush every fifth day.  The ‘pen sure could use some help, considering how well Guillermo Mota has been pitching.

Speaking of Mota, Ned Yost says his mechanics are off.  He is “collapsing his back side,” which is causing his pitches to have little or no movement.  Mota and Mike Maddux are working extremely hard on correcting this fault.  Apparently, they corrected this before the season started, and Mota simply reverted back to his old ways.  I may simply be hard-headed, but I believe a part of it has to do with his reluctance to throw his change-up.  I will not beat that comment to death again though.  Hopefully, Maddux and Yost can get that situation worked out quickly because Mota has been absolutely brutal in the past two months.  The only question I have is: Why did it take 2 months for Maddux and Yost to notice this if they corrected it before?

Back to the game.  The offense came out to play today after getting embarrassed last night by Glendon Rusch.  Perhaps they all read everything being said about them last night, as the Crew walked four times today.  Not great, but certainly not bad.  J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart both hit home runs this afternoon.  Hart made the All-Star Game, by the way.  If you all have not seen the team mob him during the press conference, you should check it out.  Hart’s daughter got a good part of it too.  Congratulations, Corey.  You definitely deserve it!

Someone that deserves some ink is Gabe Kapler.  He produced again this afternoon, going 3-4 with three doubles and two RBI.  The comeback story is never-ending it seems.  I would love for Ned Yost to give Kapler more at-bats, but those at-bats are difficult to find.  Mike Cameron has been swinging the bat better as of late, and his defense is top-notch.  Did you see a couple of the plays he made last night?  He rarely makes a false step in center field and almost always takes a direct path to the ball.  It is an joy to watch him in the field.  Gabe provides the team with a more than capable fourth outfielder though, and that is extremely valuable.

Records: Brewers (51-41); Rockies (39-54)

Hero of the Game: Dave Bush

How can you go eight innings, give up only three hits, surrender zero earned runs, strike out 13, not walk a batter, and not get the Hero of the Game?  The only thing I would like to see is Dave have one of these performances on the road.  He always has been lights out at home, but has consistently struggled on the road.  He will need to deliver in his first road start after the All-Star Break to cement his status as Milwaukee’s #5 starter.

Goat of the Game: FSN North

Why was this game not on TV?  I understand the team does not have a contract to televise every game, but a game like this should never be only shown on tape delay.  Mark Attanasio should get a deal to televise all 162 games in the works.

On Tap

LHP Manny Parra will look to get the Brewers on a winning streak before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers will go up against RHP Josh Fogg, which is slightly concerning.  Yes, Josh Fogg is terrible, but he also went five innings and only gave up one earned run earlier in 2008 against the Brewers.  As Aaron said, the Crew has a way of making soft-tossing control pitchers look like aces.  Let’s hope the Brewers are patient at the plate and take their walks.  The game will start at 7:05pm CT.


Round ’em Up: Thursday

10 07 2008

UPDATE 07-10-08 1:55pm – Ned Yost says Milwaukee has no interest in releasing Guillermo Mota.  Oh good.


Well, ladies and gentlemen. The Milwaukee Brewers pretended Glendon Rusch was the second coming of CC Sabathia last night. All the Brewers hitters (perhaps with the exception of Bill Hall) looked utterly lost against the left-hander. It’s not like he had an ERA of over 6 and a half coming into the game…

  • Last night, Pete from Brewers Fanatics ran the first installment of The Brewers Blog Roundtable. Jared from Right Field Bleachers and myself took most of the questions, and we have a podcast for you all to listen to. As of right now, the Roundtable is going to be a sort of question-and-answer format. We are very open to making it a live call-in show if the audience is big enough. Until then, I will simply post the podcasts here for you to listen to.

    The first installment is a little rough, as Pete is getting used to the software. It was also our first run at the program, so it will get smoother down the line. It’s a pretty good product for the first try though. Enjoy.

    Brewers Blog Roundtable

  • Tom Haudricourt says enough is enough with Guillermo Mota. He fully expects Mota to be designated for assignment today. I completely agree that he will be DFA’d, but it will probably not come until after today’s game. What if the Crew needs someone to handle mop-up time? Might as well get a few more innings out of Mota before cutting him loose.

    TH thinks Luis Pena will get the call to the big leagues. He struggled with his stuff to start the season, but has really turned it on as of late. Nashville’s closer has a 1.78 ERA in his last 30 1/3 innings. Not bad at all.

    I think that Doug Melvin and Ned Yost will go with big league experience at this point in the season, however. He may not have much, but Tim Dillard showed that he’s capable of handling himself on a big stage. It’s true that he lost his command a bit, but has been throwing the ball much better with the Sounds lately.

  • In-Between Hops believes it may only take a trip to the DL to get Mota back on track. If only things were just that simple…
  • The Brew Town Beat is absolutely ecstatic that Haudricourt is calling for Guillermo Mota’s head. Mota has been exceptionally awful over the past month and a half, and it is about time for Milwaukee to cut their losses and DFA the big guy.

    I also notice that Brew Town mentions me in their post when they criticize people for saying Mota has thrown good pitches like the pitch against Joe Mauer. I don’t shy away from criticism. That was a good pitch, and Mauer simply beat him. The problem is that Mota has not thrown many good pitches since that point. I did not defend him in the least bit against Arizona or last night. It was one game, and I stick by it. With that said, Mota’s time in Milwaukee has drawn to a close.

  • Brew Crew Pub says something is missing from the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers. It is patience and a high on-base percentage. Agreed. I’m not sure Kenny Lofton is the best choice here. I would much rather send Rickie Weeks away from a high OBP second baseman like you’re suggesting. To my knowledge, Huntsville has not tried Alcides Escobar at second base.

    What would I suggest? This is clearly me in a dreamworld, but how about a package that sends Rickie Weeks, Brad Nelson, and Zach Braddock for Brian Roberts and George Sherrill? Both Roberts and Sherrill will be under Milwaukee’s control past the 2008 season, and it would provide the Brewers with a very solid arm in the bullpen and a bona fide lead-off hitter. The package would probably need another prospect though. Perhaps someone like a Alexandre Periard.

  • Ned Yost does not want Ryan Braun to participate in the Home Run Derby. Milwaukee’s manager does not want Braun messing up his swing for the second half. I’m more worried about his sore hand at this point…
  • Between the Green Pillars takes an excellent look at the Manny Parra situation. He is on pace to throw more innings than the Brewers organization originally wanted him to. History has shown that pitchers are at a higher risk for injury if they make a big jump in innings pitched like Parra is on pace to do. The author believes Milwaukee will not hold him back, as the CC Sabathia trade signifies that the team is all in for this season.

    I would agree with that, but I also do not fall in the camp that believes Parra’s innings should be limited this season. Younger pitchers coming out of high school do need to watch their innings, but Parra does not have a young arm. He has been slowed by injuries, yes, but he is not new to throwing on the mound. Older relievers that have never thrown many innings do just fine when stretching out their arms. In my opinion, Parra is certainly capable of going more than 163 innings. If he starts to experience a bit of “dead arm,” then Ned Yost should worry about it.

  • Something tells me that Jason Kendall was a good pick-up this off-season.
  • The Junkball Blues takes a look at what Chicago gave up to get Rich Harden compared to what Milwaukee gave up to get CC Sabathia. He concludes that Harden did cost a bit more than Sabathia, as he should.

    People keep overlooking the fact that Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and Eric Patterson have all spent time in the big leagues. The Cleveland Indians did not get that from a single player from Milwaukee. Matt LaPorta may fizzle out before getting to the big leagues. After all, Nelson Cruz is still raking in Triple-A…

  • The Cub Reporter says that Rich Harden may not be under Chicago’s control through the 2009 season like everyone believes. That would certainly change the dynamics of the trade completely. (Tip of the cap to Right Field Bleachers for this one.)
  • Dugout Central says that Billy Beane is a dangerous GM to be making a deal with. He never loses a big trade. Most of the pitchers he loses end up fizzling out due to some sort of injury (Mark Mulder) or ineffectiveness (Barry Zito). I don’t know if I agree with the article when it says Tim Hudson has been mostly ineffective for two seasons. I definitely wouldn’t want that 3.16 ERA from this season or that 3.33 ERA from 2007. What a poor performance…

Glendon Rusch? Really?

10 07 2008

The Rockies have heard all about the Milwaukee Brewers the past three days, and they must be sick of it.  They decided to put together a little fireworks show of their own tonight.  8-3 Rockies.

This wasn’t supposed to happen tonight.  Glendon Rusch took the mound for the Rox, a slow-throwing left-hander.  The Brewers trotted out ace #2 tonight, Ben Sheets.  On paper, the Brewers should have run away with this game.

Sheets did his part, fanning a season-high 11 Rockies.  He looked to have his ‘A’-stuff tonight.  The first seven outs of the game for Sheets were via the strike out.  From early on, fans thought they were going to see something special tonight from Big Ben.  Ben did pitch fantastically, but the Rockies took advantage of every mistake he made – even if they were few and far between.

In the sixth inning, Ben walked Matt Holiday after a long at-bat.  The right-hander was visibly upset with himself, talking and muttering intently on the mound.  At this point in the contest, it was 1-1.  Benny looked to get out of the inning with a ground ball, but served up a home run to Garrett Atkins.  The pitch count reached 110 pitches after the inning ended – fittingly on a strike out – and the bullpen took over.

The bullpen imploded and gave away any chance for the Crew to get back in the game.  Mitch Stetter, after my singing his praises this afternoon, struggled with his command and gave up an RBI bloop single to Scott Podsednik.  Colorado led 4-1 going into the bottom of the seventh.

Offensively, the Brewers came alive against Manuel Corpas.  The suddenly red-hot Bill Hall continued his fine swinging against a right-handed pitcher with a one-out double to jump start the Crew.  Mike Cameron followed with an RBI single, who later scored on an infield single by Russell Branyan.  Yes, Russell had a base hit that was not a home run.

In a 4-3 game, who is the last person Ned Yost should have called on at this point?  Guillermo Mota.  The veteran right-hander has struggled mightily over the past month and a half, and the Crew needed someone to come in and preserve the one-run deficit.  Instead, Guillermo gave up four runs on four hits, and the Brewers were suddenly down 8-3.  The Crew never got any closer.

Guillermo will not be seeing any meaningful playing time in the near future.  At least, he should not see any meaningful playing time.  Ned Yost is notorious for having too long of a leash, but the Brewers manager has been much better about that this season (see Derrick Turnbow and Julian Tavarez).  Do you want to know the most maddening part of his outing?  All four base hits came with two outs.  You have got to put a team away with two outs in an inning.  You simply cannot give up four straight hits, two of them being home runs, with two outs.  That will give you a lot of time on the bench to think about it.

I know I have harped on this for the past month now, but what is wrong with throwing a change-up?  Guillermo Mota threw it three times in the eighth inning.  He got Joe Koshansky – who later homered – to swing over the top of it, he got Matt Holiday to ground out weakly to the pitcher, and he got Omar Quintanilla to line out to Corey Hart.  That is three pitches and no hits.  Something tells me Mota should throw that a little more often.  What do I know though, right?

Overall, this is a devastating loss for the Brewers.  The Cardinals lost, but the Cubs won.  The Crew had a match-up that practically handed them a win.  Even after going six innings and giving up only one run, Rusch still has a 6.25 ERA.  He looked like an ace tonight.  Good grief.

Records: Brewers (50-41); Rockies (39-53)

Hero of the Game: Bill Hall

It’s nice to see Billy swinging a hot stick again.  It is even against righties and lefties this time around, which is huge for the Brewers third baseman.  In last night’s game, Billy hit a clutch two-run single against a right-hander, and he started off the mini-rally tonight in the seventh inning with a double off righty Manuel Corpas.  In the meantime, Hall is still raking against southpaws.  He provided the only offense against Glendon Rusch with his mammoth home run in the bottom of the second.

Goat of the Game: Guillermo Mota

Unfortunately, Mota’s $3.2M contract will be almost impossible to move before the trade deadline.  The big salary will almost certainly keep him on the roster.  Either Ned Yost will pitch Mota in some mop-up situations for right now and let him work out his issues, or Milwaukee will DFA the veteran right-hander and send him to the minors.  No one will pick-up Mota at this point, and he would likely accept a demotion to Nashville.  Even if he didn’t accept the move, he would forfeit his contract and become a free agent.  That sounds quite appealing, doesn’t it?

On Tap

RHP Dave Bush will look to help the Brewers split the series against LHP Jorge De la Rosa and the Colorado Rockies.  This is a huge game for the Crew, as they cannot afford to lose a 4-game series at home.  That would be devastating before the All-Star Break.  The game is not televised, but it will be on WTMJ at 1:05pm CT.

Did that just happen? Bullpen implodes in Arizona heat

3 07 2008

So much for a winning road trip.

The Brewers seemed to be on cruise control going into the ninth inning against Arizona.  They led the game 5-0.  The bottom of the D’Backs order was coming up.  There was one problem though…

Ned Yost called on Guillermo Mota to finish out the game.  Mota has struggled quite a bit in the last month, and that trend didn’t end today.  After an infield single to Robbie Hammock, a walk to Chris Burke, and another infield single to Augie Ojeda, Yost pulled the right-hander in favor of Brian Shouse.

Mota threw almost exclusively fastballs again today.  His location was awful, as most of his pitches were up in the zone.  With that said, he didn’t deserve the fate he left with.  Two infield singles is not his fault.  He even threw a change-up this afternoon.  It was an awful, hanging change-up, but at least he threw it.

Enter Shouse.  Before the game, everyone sang his praises – and rightfully so.  Not tonight, however.  On the first pitch he threw, Chad Tracy shot a 3 RBI double to the right-center field gap.  3-5 Brewers.

Enter Salomon Torres.  I actually felt very comfortable with Salomon on the mound.  He has been perfect since taking over the closers role.  I guess I shouldn’t have felt so comfortable.  Torres gave up three straight base hits, and the Brewers lost the game.

Seven batters came to the plate and not one out was recorded.  The Brewers blew a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning.  That takes any momentum Milwaukee gained over the past week out of the sails.  Sometimes you can make yourself feel better by saying, “These things happen.”  Not today.  You should never blow a 5 run lead in the ninth inning.  Pathetic.

The horrendous ninth inning did overshadow some good things that happened today though.

  • J.J. Hardy now has a 15-game hitting streak.  He looks fantastic at the plate, driving the ball to all fields with power.  The Brewers shortstop went 4-5 today with 2 doubles, a broken-bat home run, and a single to right field.  What’s more impressive is that he’s upped his batting average 32 points this road trip.  That’s hard to do in July.
  • The home run Mike Cameron hit in the sixth inning truly was a home run.  When they originally showed the replay, I thought it the ball clearly went foul.  Then I found out the third base umpire said it hit the foul poll.  After looking at the replay again, you can see the ball switch directions in midair.  The ball could not have moved like it did without hitting something.  Home run.

    Cam also showcased his Gold Glove defense in center field today.  He made many difficult plays look routine in the field.  Manny Parra actually should dedicate his shutout outing to Cam, as Milwaukee’s center fielder saved him a couple runs.  To top it off, Cam has been looking much more comfortable at the plate.  When he’s right, that short stroke is a joy to watch.

  • Manny Parra may have gone six innings of shutout ball, but he did not have his best stuff.  On one hand, it shows how much Manny has grown as a pitcher in the past couple months.  He is learning to limit the damage and keep the team in the game.  On the other hand, I would caution anyone from getting too excited about today’s outing.  The southpaw’s control was not there, and he started off too many innings with runners on base.  That will eventually come back to bite him.
  • MLB Trade Rumors says the Brewers are willing to shop either J.J. Hardy or Rickie Weeks before the trade deadline.  It suggests that the Crew could go after A.J. Burnett, as Toronto is yearning for a talented shortstop.  J.J.’s trade value is incredibly high at this point in the season.  It also shows how strongly the team feels about Alcides Escobar down in Huntsville.  It wouldn’t even be an option for the team if Alcides was not major league ready.
  • This may be a knee-jerk reaction on my part, but today’s game highlights the team’s need for pitching in the bullpen.  A top-flight starter would be nice, but Milwaukee needs someone to pitch the eighth inning.  Guillermo Mota certainly isn’t the answer at this point.  Eric Gagne pitched a 1-2-3 inning, but his velocity was down and looked uncomfortable on the mound.  I’m not ready to hand the ball to him.  David Riske should be the option down the road, but he’s still getting comfortable on the mound.

    Milwaukee need a quality arm in the back-end of the ‘pen that they can control for the next couple years.  The latest rumor is that Milwaukee has a trade in the works with Arizona.  That could be for someone like Tony Pena or Juan Cruz.  Either would be upgrades for the ‘pen.

Records: Brewers (46-39); Diamondbacks (43-43)

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy

Wow.  J.J. is scorching hot at the plate.  He was an over-the-shoulder catch away from a 5-5 game with 3 doubles, a home run, and an opposite-field single.  Hardy is showing why Milwaukee’s coaches rave so much about him.  The defense is still stellar – did you see that diving play and flip to Weeks? – and the bat can still produce.  Milwaukee’s shortstop may be pushing for a bench role in the All-Star Game.  It is unlikely, but he’s playing like an All-Star right now.

Goat of the Game: The bottom of the ninth inning.

Read above.  I’m too upset to recap it again.

On Tap

The Milwaukee Brewers return home for a long homestand before the All-Star break.  Ben Sheets will face the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Tom Gorzelanny, who looked much better in his last outing.  The Brewers ace will try to help fans forget about what happened this afternoon.  It will be hard to accomplish, however.

Round ’em Up: Thursday

3 07 2008

Let’s get down to business and see what’s going on in the blogosphere.

  • The site had been predicting Ryan Braun’s day off for a couple days now.  Yost seems to think it could be his hand, but his plate discipline has been especially terrible lately.  Taking a few pitches wouldn’t hurt him.  I think he may be sitting this afternoon as well, as Yost hopes a little time off will help Braun clear his head a bit.
  • Brew Crew Pub has a game wrap from yesterday’s game.  Aaron does make a great point about Brian Shouse.  The veteran southpaw came in the game in a tight spot last night in the seventh, but he once again helped the Brewers escape unscathed.  In a tough spot, there is no one else – besides Salomon Torres – that I would like to see on the mound.
  • TheJay from Brew Crew Ball analyzes the road/home split of the Brewers offense against relief pitchers.  Milwaukee is not especially stellar against relievers as a whole, but they struggle mightily on the road.  I don’t have any stats to back this up, as I have not analyzed this thoroughly, but it seems that Milwaukee hitters are incredibly impatient against relievers.  Even more so than against starters, if that is possible.  Needless to say, that may have to change.
  • Al’s Ramblings notes that Peter Gammons said on the air that Milwaukee will not trade two of the Huntsville 5.  That means a trade package will not include two of Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel, Angel Salome, Michael Brantley, and Alcides Escobar.  What’s crazy is that Huntsville still has Cole Gillespie and Chris Errecart in the starting lineup.  Double-A is stacked.
  • Some are starting to think that Guillermo Mota is tipping his pitches.  I personally think that is a lame excuse.  Every time a pitcher struggles, he does not have to be tipping his pitches.  I do think Eric Gagne was doing so, but not Guillermo.  Perhaps he could actually throw his change-up, so hitters are able to sit on the fastball.  He does not throw his slider for strikes.  Therefore, hitters sit on the fastball.  He’s not tipping his pitches…
  • Indians GM Mark Shapiro says that the Indians are clearly sellers at this point in the season.  That means the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes are about to begin.
  • Speaking of C.C. Sabathia, ESPN’s Buster Olney says that the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are not going to be serious players in acquiring last year’s Cy Young winner.  That means the front-runners will be Milwaukee and Philadelphia.  Some say that the Angels will be players, but I believe they are looking for offense.  Apparently, they covet Matt Holliday.
  • Eli’s MLB Rumors says the St. Louis Cardinals are also after Matt Holliday.  Eli did not provide a link, however, so I am unsure if there is any truth to that.
  • SportsBubbler has this week’s Prospect of the Week, OF Caleb Gindl.  The young outfielder has really turned it on over the past month in West Virginia.  Add Caleb to the glut of quality outfield prospects in Milwaukee’s system.
  • Mound Talk has a new ranking of the Top 50 Prospects.  The Brewers have four players that make the list: Matt LaPorta (who is #2), Mat Gamel, Angel Salome, and Jeremy Jeffress.  Not bad at all.
  • Fan Graphs says Jeremy Jeffress is something special.  Tell us something we don’t know already.
  • Do you remember Grant Balfour?  He made a brief appearance for Milwaukee last season before being traded for Seth McClung.  Last night, Balfour pitched the ninth against the Boston Red Sox for a save.  Balfour has always had great stuff, but he hasn’t been able to harness it.  Hopefully this is the beginning to a great career for Grant.

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.

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.


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.