Round ’em Up: Saturday

5 07 2008

Thank goodness the Crew came back with a nice win yesterday.  Milwaukee could not afford a hangover after the horrendous collapse on Thursday.  Dave Bush looks to build a little winning streak tonight against Paul Maholm and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • Tom Haudricourt says that the Brewers are still actively pursuing C.C. Sabathia.  The latest rumor is that Doug Melvin is offering Matt LaPorta/Taylor Green/Lorenzo Cain as a package to try to get last year’s AL Cy Young award winner to Milwaukee by Tuesday.  This is quite a bit to be giving up for a 2 or 3 month rental, but it could very well push the Brewers over the top.
  • The Brew Town Beat fully expects Sabathia to be in Milwaukee by Tuesday.  I’m not totally sure that will happen, but Doug Melvin could perhaps get it done if he so chooses.  Brew Town also says that Melvin should also trade for Brian Fuentes.  I do agree that the bullpen needs another quality arm, but it needs to be one that can be controlled past the 2008 season.  That is not Fuentes.  Besides, Fuentes has not been pitching well at all the past couple weeks.  I’ve read that scouts have not seen an “out pitch” from Fuentes lately.  None of his pitches are moving much.  That is not who I want to trade a valuable prospect for this season.
  • Between the Green Pillars says that Ned Yost managed scared yesterday afternoon.  Because he used Carlos Villanueva for 3.1 innings, which makes him unavailable for the next three or four days.  The article argues that Yost should have used a different pitcher in the eighth and ninth, but he was too scared to do so because of Thursday’s collapse.  I do agree with his point that Milwaukee is now without a long man in the ‘pen because of yesterday.  You want to know what is interesting?  If C.C. Sabathia makes it into Milwaukee’s rotation, either Dave Bush or Seth McClung becomes the long man.  That would work out pretty nicely.
  • The Baseball Analysts continued their All-Star team from Triple-A.  Brad Nelson makes it in the outfield for the Brewers.  Nelson could be a nice addition to the team in September.
  • The Yost Infection asks Milwaukee’s play-by-play announcers to please stop celebrating J.J. Hardy’s defense.  It is not more than average because of his terrible zone rating.  I personally think the zone rating stuff is a little overrated.  J.J. is a rock at shortstop.  He doesn’t make plays?  In the last road trip, he flipped a ball with his glove to Rickie to start a double play, he made a diving stop in the hole, and his throws are always perfect.  Doesn’t make plays, huh?
  • Florida Today has an article about how difficult it is to hit home runs down in Brevard County because of this winds.  That is why you have to take the low power numbers from the likes of Lorenzo Cain and Taylor Green with a grain of salt.
  • The Charleston Daily Mail says that Milwaukee Brewers most likely will not renew their contract with the West Virginia Power next season.  Rumor has it that the Crew wants to sign the local Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton, WI to their Class-A affiliate.  I would absolutely love that, as I currently live in Appleton.  I would be a regular at the games, if that would happen.
  • Huntsville infielder Michael Garciaparra does not regret his move to play professional baseball over taking his scholarship to Tennessee.




Power Propells Players

12 06 2008

A few days ago a commentator on this blog wrote that he was concerned about right fielder Corey Hart’s lack of power so far this season.  Hopefully all of those concerns have been eliminated because it was the power bat of Hart that lead the Crew to a 10-6 win over the Houston Astros.

For as punchless as Milwaukee was last night, the opposite was true for the Crew against a far less capable Brandon Backe.  He tried to locate the same inside pitches that Roy Oswalt was throwing (with great success) the night before, but he was off all night.  The result was hit after hit for the Crew (12 in all) that found the 3rd base line or the stands.  The Brewers ended a five game losing streak at Houston’s “Juice Box.”

Hart, of course, wasn’t the only hero for the Brew Crew. His 3-for-5 night, with two home runs, a double, and four RBIs makes him our “hero,” but more on that later.  Manager Ned Yost‘s line up moves, looking pretty poor in the opening game of the Houston series, played out with much more success.  JJ Hardy got on in the first inning with a double only to be replaced immediately by Ryan Braun with his RBI double.  It would set the tone for the evening.

Pitcher Manny Parra was looking strong through four innings before getting roughed up in the fifth, but his teammates bates were available to bail him out. After three consecutive wins and going deeper into the games, this start was a bit disappointing for Parra.  The bullpen was rested, though, and Carlos Villanueva and Mota (rebounding strongly from a rough Rockies game) proved to be solid. Mike Cameron, Russell Branyan, and Jason Kendall all provided timely home runs to create some breathing room for the Crew.

The trouble spot of the evening happened in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Hardy appeared to re-injure his surgically repaired left shoulder and was replaced in the line up by Bill HallCraig Counsell (the starter at second in Yost’s “soft platoon”) took over at SS and Hall fit in at second.

Despite this dark spot, Yost’s line up-shake up, in the absence of Rickie Weeks, proved to be very effective last night.  Hart was electric in the lead off spot and Branyan was equally up to the task of protecting Prince Fielder, although he hardly needed any protection after another tough evening.

Records:Brewers (34-31); Astros (33-33)

Hero of the Game: Corey Hart

In a night full of solid hitting, Hart was the brightest star.  The Brewers’ most consistent hitter was again amazing.  Despite his lack of power hitting, he has been just mashing the ball.  I was never concerned about the few homers as long as he kept on making solid and consistent contact with the ball.  Now the home run ball caught up with his base hit ball.  His only blemish was the missed diving catch late in the game. 

Goat of the Game: Prince Fielder

Fielder had an “oh-fer” game on Tuesday night and a 1-for-5 night yesterday.  As on Prince was just a week or so ago, he has slipped.  Prince has looked very comfortable at home, but shaky on the road and one might be able to connect the Brewers subsequent road woes to those struggles.  For the Crew to compete consistently on the road, Fielder has to be available too.  His defense has been pretty solid this year and his play last night as the cut off man cut another runner down on the bases (last night’s victim… Carlos Lee, whose out and prevented RBI was the difference for a while in a tight game).

On Tap: The Brewers will try and secure road series win with their ace on the mound.  Ben Sheets(6-1, 2.62 ERA) works against Brian Moelher (3-2, 3.76 ERA) in a matinee game with first pitch at 1:05 CT.

By: Dan Wiersema





Round ’em Up: Saturday

7 06 2008

UPDATE 06-07-08 – The Brewers have their first official signing of the 2008 First Year Player Draft.  Their 7th round pick, RHP Trey Watten, has decided to turn pro this season.

The big right-hander had impressive numbers at Abiliene Christian University, posting a 2.56 ERA in a 10-win season.  Many apparently thought Trey had first-round talent, but he fell to the Brewers in the second round.

Hopefully this trend can become the norm.  The Crew needs some depth in the minor leagues in the pitching department.

————————————————————————–

The weekends have proven to be quite scarce on the Brewers news lately. There are the standard articles written by the Milwaukee JS and Brewers.com, but that’s been about it. Mid-season fatigue setting in for the bloggers already?

  • Ned Yost defends his pitching move in last night’s game. My girlfriend and I caught the end of last night’s game, and she asked me, “Why are they taking out a pitcher who pitched so well last inning?” Ummmm…I still don’t have a satisfactory answer for that. Ned says that it was a save opportunity, but it would strike me that you would leave a hot pitcher in the game if you wanted to preserve a close lead. What do I know though, right?
  • FireNedYost feels Yosted after last night’s game.
  • Do you remember the report that said the Los Angeles Dodgers were close to acquiring a veteran infielder? It came out simultaneously with the news that Bill Hall wanted a trade. Some speculated as to whether or not Bill was going to be moved to LA. That’s not the case. The Dodgers acquired Angel Berroa. Angel makes Billy look like an All-Star at the plate.
  • The Brewers have shown some real confidence in right-hander Tim Dillard. He looks forward to protecting close leads against the Colorado Rockies again this weekend.
  • Here are the college splits from all the Brewers draft picks from the past couple days. The high school players obviously do not have any stats on them, but it is interesting to look at. You have to take the numbers with a grain of salt, however. Make sure to look at who they play for and what division it is in before making a bold conclusion.
  • A Giants fan posted a note on Brew Crew Ball and wondered if Jonathan Sanchez and Bengie Molina would be enough to get Bill Hall and Matt LaPorta to San Francisco. No. The Brewers do not need or want Bengie Molina. Jonathan Sanchez has a great arm, but he walks far too many people and cannot pitch deep into games. Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Baseball Digest Daily wants to know what the big deal with left-handed pitching is in the draft. Why do so many lefties go so early? My guess is because quality pitching from the left side is difficult to find. Teams take a hand full of lefties hoping to hit on one. Or you could be like the Brewers this year and take 3,274,231 pitchers in the draft. I didn’t count how many pitchers they actually took, I must admit. That is a rough estimate.




Parra Perfect, Bats Bash in Sweep

4 06 2008

I’m working really hard on my alliteration so look out for more tongue-twisting headlines on the site. Moving on… the Brewers pulled out the brooms for the second consecutive home series and swept away the NL West leading Arizona Diamondback, 10-1. Manny Parra went seven innings (his longest outing of the season thus far) and the offense banged out 14 hits to cap what has been an amazing homestand for the Mil-town side.

Gabe Kapler started the game in centerfield and I can say that this was both a surprising move, yet totally appropriate. Mike Cameron, while solid defensively, has been a disaster at the plate. I saw the numbers before the game and he strikes out on average every 2.95 ABs (swear to God that it seems higher than that lately though). Manager Ned Yost, ever the loyal dog, usually sticks with his strugglers because he’s “not concerned with that,” but instead through us a welcome curve ball (which Cameron would have missed.. ha!) and put the ridiculously hot Kapler in the starting line-up.

Kapler started the scoring for the Brew Crew with a RBI double in the first and Parra would give up his only run in the third, but the scoring binge was reserved for the third and fourth innings when the Brewers smashed out nine hits and nine runs.

Corey Hart produced an in-the-park home run to score three (en route to a four RBI night)and Kapler was 4-for-5 (hit total tying a career high) on the evening. Parra was sharp as ever striking out eight, tying his career high. Oh, and Russell Branyan hit another homer run… big surprise there

Records: Brewers (32-28), Diamondbacks (32-28 )

Hero of the Game: Jim Skaalen

Let me paste the box score first, then I’ll comment.

Milwaukee AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Weeks, 2B 5 1 1 0 0 2 2 .209
Kapler, CF 5 2 4 1 0 0 0 .330
Braun, LF 4 2 2 2 1 0 2 .299
Fielder, 1B 3 2 1 1 1 2 2 .280
Hall, 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .228
Hart, C, RF 4 1 2 4 0 0 2 .290
Branyan, 3B-1B 4 1 2 1 0 1 0 .321
Kendall, C 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 .244
Counsell, SS 4 0 1 0 0 2 2 .236
Parra, P 3 1 1 0 0 1 1 .208
a-Dillon, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .286
Tavarez, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Villanueva, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143
Totals 36 10 14 10 2 8 11

If I were Skaalen I’d been pretty darn pleased with this. Every regular Brewer, with the exception of Jason Kendall dropped a hit on Arizona… even Parra got a double! This Brewers team has found something special recently, picking up 12 of their last 16 games winning five series and sweeping two since the disastrous Boston roadie.

Despite being near the top of the NL in strikeouts, looking like chumps at times to Randy Johnson last night, and registering 8 Ks this afternoon, the Brewers are benefiting from some awesome offensive production. Players like Hart and Ryan Braun have been on target for sometime, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy are now coming online. Add to the fact that guy like Kapler can pretty much produce automatically as a pinch hitter, sub fielder, or as a starting has to put a smile (or whatever he does) on Skaalen’s face.

Goat of the Game: Jason Kendall

Sorry, dude. You got the collar, you get the goat. Shhh…. I don’t want to hear anything about you getting that nice RBI sac fly to score Princey. Shhh… I don’t want to hear anything about your 42% caught-stealing percent. Shhh… no excuses that Cameron wasn’t in the line-up to strike out a lot and take the goat. It’s all yours tonight. Just don’t let it happen again.

On Tap: The Brewers hit ye ol’ dusty trail to Colorado where Ben Sheets (6-1, 2.71 ERA) will face off against the Rockies’ Ublado Jimenez (1-6. 5.37 ERA). Game time: 8.05 CT.

By: Dan Wiersema





Round ’em Up: Saturday

31 05 2008

It’s a beautiful day, and the Brewers won last night.  Therefore, I’m in a fantastic mood this morning.  Let’s take a look at what the blogosphere has to say today:

  • Backtracking a bit, Jim Powell has some reflections about the Brewers-Braves series.  He especially liked the sequence when Brian McCann got a strike called on him while he was out of the box arguing with the home plate umpire.  I loved that.  McCann had no reason to complain about that pitch, as the home plate ump gave him four chances to step in the batter’s box to hit.  He refused, so he lost his chance to swing.
  • In-Between Hops is still ranting about Prince Fielder and his lack of home runs in 2008.  At least he is no longer blaming it on the lack of meat.  Prince is not hitting home runs at the same rate this season because he is pulling off the ball a lot more.  Pitchers are busting him inside, and he’s not been able to extend his arms.  Hopefully, he’ll be able to adjust.
  • Ned Yost is holding true to his new rule for relievers – no more than three days in a row.  Since Eric Gagne and David Riske got injured presumably from pitching too often, Ned is trying to protect his bullpen.  Really Ned?  It took you three years to figure out that probably wasn’t a good idea?  And people say you should be fired…
  • Milwaukee’s young stud, Yovani Gallardo, is cautious about trying to pitch again in 2008.  As he should be.  Don’t try to rush yourself back, Yo.  Get yourself reading for 2009.  Brewers fans will patiently wait.
  • The Brewers strike out a lot.  That’s not surprising.  You know what else isn’t surprising?  Ned Yost isn’t concerned about it.  Of course he’s not.  Just like it’s still early.
  • A sports economist says that Mark Attanasio and the new Milwaukee Brewers are building their franchise in the correct way economically.  Bud Selig and his regime did not build it.  Well, Mark Attanasio cares more than Bud Selig did about the Brewers.  That usually makes a big difference in the outcome.
  • Al’s Ramblings notes that the Milwaukee Brewers have the 5th best bullpen ERA if you discount Derrick Turnbow’s numbers.  The starting rotation is actually 5th in innings pitched too, despite the short outings compiled by Manny Parra, Carlos Villanueva, and Seth McClungBen Sheets is probably a big part of that.
  • The Brew Town Beat writes a nice piece on Carlos Villanueva.  In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, Carlos has been flat-out nasty in the ‘pen.  He has yet to give up a run, and he’s striking out far more than he did in the starting rotation.  Perhaps there is something to this Carlos as closer talk.  Not that Salomon Torres should be replaced anytime soon.  He’s been great.
  • Minor League Ball has a 2008 mock draft going on right now.  In the first round, the Brewers selected RHP Shooter Hunt from Tulane.  He’s a very raw prospect, especially for a collegiate pitcher, and he’s an injury concern right now.  I wouldn’t choose him with the #16 pick, but that’s just me.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals have sent OF Chris Duncan to Triple-A to get his swing figured out.  With his power, I thought the Cardinals would give him a little more time to sort things out before dumping him to the minors.  The team called up OF Joe Mather, who has been tearing up Triple-A.
  • RHP Franklyn German refused an outright assignment to the minors after being DFA’d by the Texas Rangers.  With a 2.08 ERA, the Brewers might be wise to give him a look.  He would be a huge risk for Milwaukee, however.  His ERA is stellar, but his WHIP is 1.431.  The right-hander walks far too many batters, but he is definitely worth a look at only 28-years old.  With that said, I don’t think the Brewers do anything with Franklyn.  The bullpen has been solid lately.




Round ’em Up: Monday

26 05 2008

Wow.  Apparently, everyone has taken off from blogging on this beautiful Memorial Day.  Not me.  I will be off after posting this for you this morning, but I cannot leave everyone hanging this morning.  Plus, there is actually some news to report.

  • The Milwaukee Brewers are about to sign RHP Julian Tavarez to work out of the bullpen.  The injuries to David Riske and Eric Gagne have proven too much for the pen to handle.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tavarez has had time as a starter.  With Jeff Weaver most likely departing for another team in a couple weeks, Melvin needed a replacement.  Tavarez is just that.  He’s not impressive, but he can be solid.  Perhaps a change of venue will do him some good.
  • Tom Haudricourt is reporting that former first-round pick RHP Mark Rogers is progressing extremely slowly down in extended Spring Training.  They are hoping something turns around in the coming weeks, otherwise another trip to the doctor will be in order.  I feel bad for the young man.  He simply cannot get healthy enough to prove anything to anyone.
  • Jim Powell has a new post, and he says that Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, and Mark Attanasio will be at today’s game.  It could be that it’s the holiday weekend, so they all have time off.  Or…it could be that Ned Yost could be on his way out if the Brewers struggle again.

That’s literally all I have for you today.  It was boring scouring the internet.  Enjoy your Memorial Day.  I know I will!





Round ’em Up: Wednesday

21 05 2008

Brewers fans went to bed happy last night after beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-2.  We will have to see if they can make it two in a row tonight.  Ben Sheets is on the mound, so I think the Crew has a good shot.  Benny might feel like he has a little something to prove after last week’s debacle in the seventh against the Dodgers.

BrewersNation reader BJ noted an article on the possibility of Randy Wolf being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.  I originally was going to include the article in the Round ’em Up, but after BJ’s question…I thought I would give it its own post.  I’ll write on that later tonight.

  • So…Ned Yost is not happy about the false report of his being fired yesterday.  I mean really displeased.  The Brewers manager let a bunch of four-letter words fly as he went through a tirade on the blog posting.  I think he has a right to be upset about the way the post was handled…especially by Tom Haudricourt and the Milwaukee JS.  For more on that…go here.

    While Ned got rightfully upset about the situation on Monday, his comments simply left me a little empty and quite upset.  Why have Brewers fans never seen Yost get this riled up before?  Why does he play this stoic, confident manager that is certain everything will turn out alright if he has this mean-streak in him?  Why not try to spur on his players by getting upset and admitting that maybe…just maybe…it isn’t early and things aren’t “okay”?  The stoic facade that Yost has been putting up the past couple months has obviously not been working, and yesterday’s comments gave Brewers fans a glimpse of what could be.

    After getting upset about the blog reports, Ned reverted back to his old self.  He’s not worried about the comments made by Ryan Braun because all teams lose confidence when they are losing.  Great, Ned…just act like everything is fine and nothing is wrong.  Perhaps Brewers fans would feel better if you treated your job and the team’s success with the same passion.  You may feel as passionately inwardly, but it certainly does not show in the media and in the dugout.

  • The other big development yesterday was Seth McClung transitioning to the starting rotation, while Carlos Villanueva will search for more consistency and success in the bullpen.  In last night’s telecast, Brain Anderson raved about McClung’s mechanical adjustment and the development of his change-up.  It’s nice to hear those things, but I will have to see it before I believe it.
  • Remember when Salomon Torres thought about retiring because of his dysfunctional relationship with the Pittsburgh organization.  He tries not to talk about it to the media, but his disrespect for the management is clearly still there.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers struggle at PNC Park.  It is not a secret.  No Brewers fan has been able to understand how the team can have a losing record against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC, but it has been the overwhelming trend.  Jim Powell takes a look at the struggles.  Yesterday’s win is not a signifier that the curse is gone, but it is a start.
  • The Brew Town Beat reacts to Eric Gagne‘s struggles yesterday before being removed because of shoulder “stiffness.”  They believe that most or all of his success can be attributed to steriods of HGH.  I enjoy much of the writing that happens over at that site, but I believe that is a cop-out answer and a gross oversimplification.  HGH may have helped Gagne get a few miles per hour on his fastball.  I will grant them that.  HGH does not, however, improve your mentality on the mound.  It does not improve your release point and improve your control.  Sure, you can argue that HGH improves your stuff, so you trust it more.  That’s a valid point.  I would just hesitate to believe that Gagne got his reputation as “Game Over” because he had a few more mphs on his fastball.  His change-up was also better, and he had a better curveball when he was with Los Angeles.  HGH doesn’t help that.
  • Beyond the Boxscore analyzes the strength of schedule for the NL Central.  The Brewers have had by far the most difficult schedule in the Central to this point.  Through the rest of the season, the Crew will have about 50% of their games against opponents with a sub-.500 record.  The moral of the post: Do not count out the Brewers yet.
  • SportsBubbler names SS Alcides Escobar the Prospect of the Week.  Alcides has improved his plate discipline and power numbers in the past couple weeks, which greatly augments his status as an elite prospect.  The other name to look at is RHP Luis Pena.  Could he be a Brewer in the near future?
  • LHP Sam Narron recently got called up to Triple-A Nashville, and he has continued rolling through hitters.  Sam went six innings, only giving up two earned runs.  His manager said that Sam didn’t have his best stuff, which is extremely encouraging for the young man.  The southpaw has increased his strikeout total a bit, but his value lies in his ability to induce the groundball.  Keep an eye on Sam.
  • Here’s a nice article on RHP Patrick Ryan.  He’s quietly been having a productive season as a reliever in Double-A Huntsville.  The right-hander is being overshadowed by Omar Aguilar, but a call to Triple-A is not out of the question later in the season.