Round ’em Up: OPENING DAY!

31 03 2008

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

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

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

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

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

18 03 2008

Sorry this will be so short this morning, but I have to run.  Perhaps I’ll have time later today to get you a full-out Round ’em Up.  Here are some Journal Sentinel goodies for you:

  • The Brewers wiped the floor with Seattle yesterday, beating them 17-3Chris Capuano left the game in the fourth inning because of soreness in his elbow.  It’s beginning to look more and more like Cappy will either start the year in Triple-A or on the DL.  Either way, it seems clear that Chris Capuano will not be in the starting rotation on Opening Day.

    Brendan Katin had a huge day against the Mariners.  Katin, a former teammate of Ryan Braun at Miami, went 3-6 with a home run and six RBI.  Not a bad day for a player who had not played in a Spring Training game yet in ’08.  I wouldn’t get too excited about Katin though, he’s not played above Double-A and he’s 25 years old.  He has zero plate discipline and strikes out too much, even for a Brewer.

    Corey Hart seems to have found his stroke.  He finished the day 2-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.  Perhaps he’s finding his swing just in time for Opening Day.  Don’t even say “See? I told you so.”  Rickie Weeks is still struggling way too much and is on the shelf with hyper-extended fingers.

  • In the other game, Milwaukee tied the Chicago White Sox after 10 innings.  Neither team was able to break the 4-4 tie, so the game was just called.

    Mike Cameron and Gabe Gross supplied all the offense on a home run a piece.  Cameron hit a three-run shot that tied the game up in the 5th, and it was a pitcher’s duel after that.

    Carlos Villanueva got knocked around for the first time this spring.  He gave up four runs, only three earned, in five innings of work.  Guillermo Mota pitched two scoreless innings to follow that to continue his nice spring.

  • The last article I have for you is about Rickie Weeks and how he is pressing too much.  Surprised?  I didn’t think so.  The interesting information in the article is that Doug Melvin said that Milwaukee will most likely not make a trade this spring if things do not heat up.  He said that people are looking internally to fix their problems.  They don’t want to give up the prospects, which is always difficult to do.




Yost makes first cuts

15 03 2008

The first round of cuts happened late last night.  Hernan Iribarren, Zach Jackson, Brad Nelson, and Luis Pena are all being sent to Minor League camp to get some regular work in.  Adam McCalvy says that none of these are surprising.

I beg to differ a little bit.  Luis Pena had not given up a single run this spring.  Not one.  It’s been well chronicled on the site about how much Ned Yost likes Pena, as well.  I’m a little shocked that he’s not getting more of a look for the big league squad.  I suppose cuts like this happen when a team has as much pitching depth as the Brewers have.  It’s a good problem to have.  I would not be surprised to see Luis in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform sometime this season.

Again, this has nothing to do with the Brewers, but I was shocked enough that I had to post it.  Jason Schmidt of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been struggling through pain and fatigue stemming from his surgery he had last season.  Apparently, Jason is tired of waiting for the pain to leave because he’s decided to pitch through the pain this spring.

Way to be a martyr, Jason.  You’re really going to pitch through the pain?  The pain and fatigue that tells your body there is something wrong with your body?  The pain that is a signifier that you should take a break and give your body a chance to get better?  I understand trying to pitch through the pain because you’re sick of Dodgers fans hounding you because you haven’t pitched much since being signed, but even the oft-injured Ben Sheets knows you just shut it down when you get injured.

Part of me thinks that Jason has lost it and is giving himself an out if he pitches poorly this spring.  If he pitches well, he’s the greatest player on the team because he toughed it out.  If he pitches poorly, he can blame it on his injury.  Not a bad PR situation to be in if you’re Jason Schmidt.  Still, this is one of the stupidest things he could possibly do right now.  Unless you count punching a wall and injuring your hand like that Detroit Tigers reliever.  That was pretty stupid too.





Sheets shelled in loss to Giants

11 03 2008

The first place Milwaukee Brewers lost 8-4 to the lowly San Francisco Giants today.  It was a day to forget for Ben Sheets and most of the other Brewer regulars.

Records: Brewers (9-5); Giants (4-10)

Batting

Rickie Weeks started the game getting hit by a pitch and a stolen base.  Mike Cameron quickly followed it up with an RBI-triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder.  Besides that, nothing too interesting happened at the plate.  It was generally a yawner of a game.

Bill Hall struggled today, going 0-3 with three strikeouts.  Let’s hope he gets away from that trend quickly.

Pitching

Ben Sheets had not been scored upon yet this spring.  That changed today, however, in a big way.  The Brewers ace gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs in three innings of work.  Ben will likely try to forget this outing as quickly as possible.  It was not a good showing today by Sheets.

Zach Jackson did not fair much better.  He allowed 5 hits and 3 runs in three innings.  Zach continues to show that he is not quite ready for the big leagues.  He’s beginning to be known as a Quadruple-A player.  That is, one that performs well at Triple-A, but cannot transfer that success to the big leagues.

The one bright spot for the Brewers was the work done by the bullpen.  David Riske, Guillermo Mota, and Tim Dillard continued to show their fine work this spring by throwing a scoreless inning a piece.  The ‘pen has looked very good thus far in Spring Training, and Brewers fans across the nation hope that continues into the regular season.

On Tap

The Brewers will take on the Seattle Mariners again at 3:05pm CT.  Carlos Villanueva and Chris Capuano are slated to get their innings in tomorrow.  This looks to be an important outing for Capuano, as reports have surfaced that Doug Melvin is actively shopping the lefty.  He’s been very unimpressive this spring, surrendering 8 runs in four innings.





Brewers beat Cubs again

11 03 2008

In a rematch between the two front-runners for the NL Central, Milwaukee’s bats came out loud and strong against the Cubs’ Rich Hill.  The Brewers won the game 6-4 and were able to rack up 13 hits against their rival from the south to continue their win streak.

Records: Brewers (9-4); Cubs (5-8)

Batting

Tony Gwynn Jr., Eric Munson, and Corey Hart all went 2-3 on the day.  Munson collected two RBI, but Gwynn and Hart had no runs batted in to show for their efforts.  They both did score, however, as Tony crossed the plate twice, and Corey scored one run.

Gabe Kapler continued his hot streak at the plate, going 2-5 with an RBI.  He’s now hitting .333 this spring.  He and Gwynn are putting up a battle for starting time during the first 25 games of the season when Mike Cameron is out with his suspension.  Alcides Escobar also had a nice day, finishing 2-4.

Pitching

Ned Yost said he needed to see some big improvement from Dave Bush in the next couple outings if he expects to make the starting rotation.  Bush’s first inning did not impress anyone, as he gave up three runs to put the Brewers in an early hole.  He did settle down nicely after that, however.  Dave pitched three scoreless innings after that, while striking out four Cubs.  Perhaps that does show improvement, but it still lets me know that he cannot avoid the big inning.

Manny Parra, on the other hand, continued to impress today.  He pitched four scoreless innings and by all accounts, looked fabulous.  He only surrendered one hit and struck out four batters.  His ERA is now 1.00 in nine innings of work this spring.  He’s going to make it very difficult for Brewers coaches to keep him out of the rotation.

Brian Shouse was the only other Brewer to pitch today, and he gave up one run on two hits in the top of the ninth.  Things could have gotten much worse for the lefty, but he induced a slick double play ball that Escobar and Dillon quickly turned over.

On Tap

Ben Sheets looks to continue his fine spring tomorrow against the San Francisco Giants at 3:05pm CT.  He’ll be facing Matt Cain.





Brewers pitchers shine in wins

9 03 2008

Since Milwaukee had its first split squad games today, this will be the first time that I put both games into one post.  In case you didn’t see the scores, Milwaukee beat Seattle 2-0.  Milwaukee turned the tables on the Mariners from last week and only allowed them to put two hits on the scoreboard.  Oakland also fell to the Brewers, 5-2.

Records: Milwaukee (7-4); Seattle (4-6); Oakland (8-3)

Batting

There was generally no offense to speak of in the Seattle game.  J.J. Hardy recorded a two-RBI double in the third inning to score the only two runs of the day.  Rickie Weeks continued to struggle at the plate today.  He went 0-3 with a strike out.  He is now hitting only .130 this spring.  It looks like those “breakout” projections are going to be a little off unless he can pick it up sometime soon before Opening Day.

The Oakland game gave Brewers fans a little more offense, but most of it came from minor league players or reserves.  Tony Gwynn Jr. continued his fine play at the plate, going 2-4 at the plate.  Cole Gillespie played in his first Spring Training game of the year, and he started it off in a big way.  He went 1-1 with a three-run bomb in the 8th inning to put the Brewers up on Oakland for good.

Pitching

In the Seattle game, Claudio Vargas pitched brilliantly.  Claudio threw five scoreless and hitless innings, while only allowing one walk.  He had the best pitching performance by a Brewers starter so far this spring.  This certainly gives him a strong case for a starting rotation spot, or perhaps he simply increased his trade value.  We’ll have to see.

Also in the Seattle game, Derrick Turnbow seems to have found a nice groove, as he pitched another scoreless inning.  He struck one batter out and did not allow a batter to get on base.  Seattle’s first hit came against Eric Gagne in the seventh inning, but it didn’t much matter.  Eric shut the door on the rest of the batters he faced and also posted a scoreless inning.  It’s very nice to see those two have a couple nice outings in a row.  Minor leaguers Erasmo Ramirez and Tim Dillard also pitched scoreless innings to hold Seattle scoreless for the game.

Now to the Oakland game.  Non-roster invitee, Chris Narveson, also had a very successful outing for the Crew.  He pitched four scoreless innings with two strike outs, while giving up two hits and a walk.  The 26-year old used to be a prospect in the St. Louis organization before needing surgery on his arm.  It looks like he’s bounced back rather nicely and could provide some quality depth in Nashville this season.

Mitch Stetter worked one scoreless inning and struck out two A’s.  Luis Pena continued his fine spring by throwing another scoreless inning.  He may make a charge for a bullpen spot if he continues to pitch like this.  Everyone that’s seen him pitch this spring has said that he’s looked extremely good.  Seth McClung gave up one run on two hits, while striking out one.  That is certainly not a bad outing, but compared to all the scoreless frames Brewers pitchers put up, it does look that way.  Fantastic work by Brewers pitchers today.

On Tap

Dave Bush gets the start tomorrow against the Chicago Cubs at 3:05pm CT.  Dave looks to rebound from a couple rough starts.  Ned Yost called him out yesterday and said that Dave needs to show some major improvement to secure a spot in the starting rotation.





Cameron sparks Brewers win

8 03 2008

Batting

Mike Cameron hit his second home run for the Brewers this spring.  His homer came in the bottom of the first and sparked the rest of the scoring for the Crew.  Mike also walked later in the game, which is exactly what Yost wants to see from him.

Joe Dillon smacked a two-run bomb off Royals pitcher Chin-hui Tsao in the 8th inning.  He also added an RBI-single later in the game to finish 2-4 and a three-RBI night.  Not too bad at all.  Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to five games.  Alcides Escobar, Melvin’s prized prospect, had a nice day, going 1-2 with two-RBI double in the 8th.  He’s only hitting .167 this spring, but perhaps this will help him turn it around.  Corey Hart finally broke out of his little slump today.  He only went 1-2, but it’s a start.  He needed to get out of his little funk.

Pitching

Jeff Suppan had a shaky day at the office today.  He gave up three hits in the first inning, but managed to only surrender one run.  He finished the day with 5 hits and 2 runs against him, along with 2 walks and a strike out.  Not exactly what Brewers fans want to see out of their $40M man.

The bullpen, however, pitched brilliantly.  They went six innings and did not give up a run.  David Riske pitched well today, giving up one hit and striking out one batter in an inning of work.  Randy Choate and Guillermo Mota continued their fine pitching today, as they both pitched a scoreless inning.  Both are yet to surrender a run this spring.  Choate could be challenging for a spot in the bullpen if he keeps this up.  Steve Bray and Jason Shiell also worked scoreless innings today.

Records: Brewers (6-4); Royals (5-5)

On Tap

Claudio Vargas will take the mound for Milwaukee tomorrow.  The Brewers get a rematch with the Seattle Mariners tomorrow.  The M’s will trot out Miguel Batista out to start.  Here’s hoping that the Brewers manage more than two hits this time.  The game will start at 3:05pm CT.  Remember to set your clocks ahead an hour tonight!