Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

I've been meaning to post about the spectacular collapse the Brewers managed to manufacture this weekend, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it without being extremely bitter and sarcastic and I'm trying my best not to be a fair weather fan.

Let's face it, it's a young team. We weren't going to walk our way easily into the playoffs or the World Series.

There are two months of baseball yet and I haven't completely given up hope. Series like we played this past week are angering and heartbreaking, but you know, I'm still going to 3 Brewers games this week.

That being said, losing a 5-0 lead and 6-0 lead is so ridiculous that Little Leaguers would be forced to run sprints for such an incredible meltdown.

That being said, I guess it's time to fix some things and keep moving forward. Whether or not the Cubs overtake us is really of no consequence. We have two months of games to play and we need to focus on October. It really doesn't matter what happens between now and then in terms of who is in first and who is in second.

Today’s talk of the possibility of trading for Eric Gagne really left me wondering about the thoughts going through Doug Melvin’s head.

Should we have acquired Gagne, we would have then had 5 pitchers on our staff who collectively would be expected to notch 13 or so outs. We would have two set-up men (Derrick Turnbow and Scott Linebrink) and two closers (Francisco Cordero and Gagne) plus lefty specialist Brian Shouse, who often appears for one out a game. That’s a lot of roster room to use up on situational pitching.

Extra inning games have been common enough lately and whenever we go into bonus baseball the question comes up about pinch hitting and position switching and it’s often pointed out that there aren’t a lot of options – between the guys who’ve already pinched, not wanting to use the backup catcher and a stocked bullpen, there aren’t a lot of roster spots left to choose from.

Now the supposed reasoning behind stocking up on pitchers is to give our overworked bullpen a rest.

I have two issues with that statement.

#1 – it sounds like a too little, too late excuse for this weekend’s abysmal pitching performances. It smacks of the same hollow excuse that came out after Johnny Estrada performed so poorly in Cincy. These comments from Melvin and Yost sound like hollow excuses for their players sub-par performances.

#2 – it’s avoiding the actual issue. If the bullpen is overworked it is because our starters have been unable to provide quality starts. So the problem here is the starting 5, not the bullpen. They wouldn’t be overworked if we didn’t need them for 4 innings every game.

Of course, all of this is working upon the assumption that the bullpen would be performing better if they were rested. I’m not sure I accept that as fact. Every one of the guys coming out of the bullpen struggled at various points during the first half, long before the overworked excuse could really come into play.

The final problem with the whole bullpen and trade scenario is that we already brought in Scott Linebrink, supposedly to ease the overworked bullpen. Except that sources are saying Linebrink himself was already overworked before we acquired him. He didn’t ease our situation, he just added another tired arm to the bench.

I do see that they have a point about the tired bullpen. In 58 1/3 innings since the All-Star Break, Brewers relievers have issued 30 walks and starting pitchers have made it past the 6th inning just 5 times (3 by Capuano) (from jsonline.com)

Also from jsonline.com:

In large part because the starting rotation has forced manager Ned Yost to cover three and sometimes four innings per game out of the bullpen, his relief corps has shown signs of fraying since the all-star break. In 18 games over that span, the bullpen is 2-7 with a 6.02 ERA...

The last trip, in particular, was ugly for the bullpen. While the Brewers were going 2-6 in Cincinnati and St. Louis, the relievers were 0-4 with three blown saves and a 7.40 earned run average. In 20 2/3 innings, the bullpen allowed 30 hits, eight walks and 17 earned runs.

The Brewers lost four games on that trip in the opponents' final at-bat. Had they merely split those games, they wouldn't have frittered away all but a half-game of their lead over Chicago in the National League Central (the lead is back to one game after the Cubs' loss Monday to Philadelphia).

Including Linebrink, the Brewers have six relievers who have made at least 42 appearances. With the exception of Brian Shouse, a finesse pitcher who doesn't place a lot of stress on his arm, each of those relievers has a much higher ERA since the all-star break.

Carlos Villanueva, a 23-year-old right-hander pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time, has suffered the most dramatic downturn. He compiled a 2.83 ERA before the break but has a 9.58 ERA in eight outings since.

Turnbow, whose heavy workload (52 appearances) was a big reason for the Linebrink trade, has seen his ERA go from 3.40 before the break to 8.59 afterward. Inheriting a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning Sunday in St. Louis, Turnbow was charged with four runs in one-third of an inning, though Villanueva allowed three of those runs to cross the plate.

Jeff Suppan hasn’t had a quality start since June 12.

Some interesting factoids

These are a few days out of date as I wrote them down over the weekend, but they're worth reading so I'm passing them on.

N.L. Leaders in Extra Base Hits
1. Dan Uggla – 61
1. Chase Utley – 61 (now on D.L.)
3. Prince Fielder – 58

Most Holds since 2003

Scott Linebrink – 111
Scot Shields - 107
Scott Eyre – 95
Ray King – 87
Kyle Farnsworth – 86
Mike Timlin – 86

Teams with Top 4 hitters all under the age of 25

2007 Brewers
Fielder, Hardy, Braun & Hart

1979 & 1978 Expos
Carter, Dawson, Parrish & Valentine

1968 A’s
Bando, Jackson, Monday & Duncan

1942 Red Sox
DiMaggio, Williams, Tabor & Doerr

Ryan Braun since June 20 (with MLB ranks)
HR – 13 (T - 1st)
Hits – 49 (1st)
Avg. - .392 (1st)
Slug % .792 (1st)
RBI – 33 (2nd)

Through first 54 games of career:

Ryan Braun Albert Pujols
Avg. .352 .354
HR 17 16
RBI 45 51
OBP .399 .419

Francisco Cordero Derrick Turnbow
Home ERA .33 3.28
Road ERA 7.2 4.05

Monday, July 30, 2007

Former 49er coach Bill Walsh dies at 75

He apparently passed away from complications due to Leukemia.

Full story here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Some possible eerie history

Tuesday night at Miller Park Mets pitcher Tom Glavine will be going for his 300th career win.

Seventeen years ago to that same day, Nolan Ryan notched his 300th victory in Milwaukee, at County Stadium.

I always hate when we're on the bad side of history, so here's hoping we get our much needed win tonight, for more reasons than one!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brewers trade for Scott Linebrink

from MilwaukeeBrewers.com:

CINCINNATI -- They had to part with three valuable pitching prospects to do it, but the Brewers accomplished their primary trade deadline goal by acquiring reliever Scott Linebrink from the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

The Brewers had to give up prospects Will Inman and Steve Garrison plus left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher. The most striking name included in the deal was Inman, a 20-year-old right-hander who was rated the third-best prospect in Milwaukee's organization by Baseball America. Thatcher was rated 23rd and Garrison was rated 27th.

Linebrink is 30 and a free agent after the season. But the Brewers were looking to bolster a bullpen that already is relatively solid for the team's first legitimate run at the postseason in at least a decade, and they had their eye on Linebrink for the past year, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.

"The month of August is always a very tough month for bullpens, and we think we got one of the better guys out there," said Melvin.

Melvin stressed that the move does not indicate displeasure with their current relief corps, particularly setup man Derrick Turnbow. Following Wednesday night's game, the Brewers have a 56-45 record and a two-game lead over the second-place Cubs in the National League Central, and they're trying to hold on for what would be their first postseason appearance since the 1982 World Series.

With that in mind, it was a milestone trade for a team that typically has made deadline deals to add prospects or, in the case of last summer's Carlos Lee trade, has parted with impending free agents to avoid getting nothing but Draft picks when they sign elsewhere after the season.

"It's the first time that we've been serious about the postseason since I've been here," said Melvin, who took the job in September 2002, when the Brewers were finishing a 106-loss season.

In 44 games this season, Linebrink is 3-3 with one save, a 3.80 ERA and a .240 opponents batting average. He was much better at pitcher-friendly PETCO Park, posting a 2.10 ERA there versus 6.05 everywhere else. His strikeout numbers are way down, from better than eight per nine innings in each year from 2004-06 to five per nine innings this season.

Over parts of eight seasons with the Astros, Giants and Padres, he has a 3.19 ERA in 357 games. Linebrink spent the past five seasons with San Diego.

"I was kind of surprised," Linebrink said in Denver, where the Padres had just finished a series against the Rockies. "I knew we were getting close to the deadline and hadn't heard anything. I knew last year my name was thrown out there all over the place, and nothing ever happened. But I've been thinking about it the last couple of days."

But there was a silver lining.

"To go to a team that's playing for something to win is an exciting opportunity," Linebrink said.

"The fact that you're wanted there makes it all the better. I'm looking forward to it."

He has allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings over his past three outings, but prior to that had a 2.55 ERA and was holding opponents to a .228 average. The recent struggles prompted the Padres to remove Linebrink from the setup role that he had filled since the start of 2005 in favor of Heath Bell.

Brewers scout Chris Bourjos had been following Linebrink and "was not backing off" on his positive reports, Melvin said.

Linebrink has served for the past 2 1/2 seasons as the primary setup man for Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, and from 2004-06, he led the National League in holds. He fits the mold of the pitcher the Brewers were after: an experienced power arm to complement Turnbow. Padres ace Jake Peavy called the news of Linebrink's departure "devastating."

"He has a plus fastball in the 93-94-[mph] range, and he goes right at you," Melvin said. "He doesn't throw a lot of pitches. One of the things that impressed us is that he goes out there and usually has some pretty quick innings. ... He's a good power arm and he's durable. He'll fit in with our bullpen."

Linebrink was previously scheduled to spend Wednesday night in Austin, Texas, where his wife, Kelly, is due to give birth next week. The Padres begin a series against the Astros on Thursday, but instead Linebrink will travel to St. Louis on Friday to join the Brewers. The team will have to make a corresponding roster move at that time.

Linebrink and Brewers closer Francisco Cordero will both be free agents at season's end and will likely command significant multi-year contracts. Both are Type A free agents, meaning if either signs elsewhere, the Brewers would get two high Draft picks as compensation.

"That's the one thing," Melvin said. "We'll see. We're not going to get into contract negotiations with anybody this year. We'll wait until the year is over, and at that point, we will look at it. "

"We probably wouldn't do this if it wasn't for the [possible] Draft choices. It would have been tough to do, to give up three guys not knowing if you would get Draft choices back."

The Padres expected Thatcher, 25, to join their bullpen on Thursday in Houston. The Brewers signed him out of an independent league in 2005, and he briefly was invited to Spring Training camp this year. Thatcher had a 2.08 ERA in 24 appearances this season for Triple-A Nashville.

The key player from San Diego's perspective could be Inman, a third-round Draft pick in 2005 who entered the year 16-2 with a 1.77 ERA in his first two Minor League seasons. Inman has split this year between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville, going 5-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 21 starts. Garrison, also 20, has spent the entire season with Brevard County and was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 20 starts.

"We still have some top prospects," Melvin said, rattling off pitchers like Manny Parra, Yovani Gallardo, Luis Pena, Zach Jackson and Tim Dillard. "We have players. Will Inman is a top prospect and Garrison is a prospect. You have to give up something to get something. [Padres GM] Kevin [Towers] had a couple of clubs knocking on his door, and in the end, we stepped up and put a third pitcher [Garrison] in the deal to get the deal done."

Linebrink's stats

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good (and completely unjinxed) luck Ryan Braun!

The path to NL Rookie of the Year just became a whole lot clearer for Ryan Braun. His main competition, Houston's Hunter Pence, injured his wrist and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

In my completely biased opinion, Braun should have been in the lead anyway, as his numbers were better than Pence in all but RBIs (he was only 3 behind) and he's been in the majors a month less than Pence.

Over the weekend, Braun hit his 15th homerun - in his 50th game.

Full story on Pence's injury here

Monday, July 23, 2007

Brewers in high socks

I'm going to pretend tonight's debacle didn't happen. Instead, here's the Brewers in high socks and the commentary that accompanied.

So completely unacceptable

The Brewers are currently stuck in an extra innings game against the (bottom feeding) Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers had the bases loaded and no outs in the 11th when Johnny Estrada came up to bat. This is what happened:

I'm so pissed off at this that I barely have the words to type about it right now. I'll be ridiculously more upset if Estrada isn't fined for this by Yost. There is no excuse. This is a veteran ball player, his team is in a pennant race and it's extra innings.

I'd like to throw in that Estrada is the man that grounded out at the top of the 9th with two on to end the inning.

The socks are what did it...

Last weekend when I went to the Brewers block party I had a little chat with Corey Hart about his sometimes wearing of high socks/high pants. I told him that he needed to do it more often.

So it is with great pleasure that I take full credit for the fact that the whole team (minus pitcher Claudio Vargas and Rickie Weeks) was sporting some pretty fabulous hosiery yesterday.

And of course, the socks were just the touch the boys needed as they (finally) beat the San Francisco Giants yesterday 8-4

Ryan Braun put himself in some serious surroudings by hitting his 15th HR in his first 50 games. The last guy to do so? Albert Pujols in 2001.

Francisco Cordero continued his dominance in the closer role has he recorded his league best 31st save by retiring 3 straight to end the game.

The crew heads out to Cincinnati next. The Reds are the division team we've seen the least so far this year, having played them just twice.

Thirteen of our remaining 64 games will be against Cincy. That's more than 20% of the rest of our season. Now, this bodes well because Cincy is tied for last place in MLB. And the Brewers have the worst road record of all division leaders at19-26.

Chris Capuano is the tonight's pitcher and he's certainly looking for some of that sock magic to carry over into today.
From ESPN.com: "The left-hander was 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA after a 3-0 home win over Washington on May 7. In 10 outings since, Capuano has gone 0-6 with a 7.02 ERA, and Milwaukee has lost all of those games while providing him with just 15 runs of support. Capuano's numbers on the road over that stretch have been more dismal -- 0-4 with a 9.58 ERA in five starts."

More pictures to follow this evening, if Blogger is up to the challenge!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bonds in Milwaukee

I was at Saturday's game and though I really don't want to talk about the outcome, I will talk about Bonds' spectacular whiffs and complete lack of being useful in the game.

For the record, I don't hate Barry Bonds because of the pall of steroids that surrounds him. Certainly the whole thing is mighty suspicious, but nothing's been proven so I'm leaving that alone.
However, I do hate Barry Bonds for being ridiculously cocky, in possession of a crazy ego and for continuing his career merely to beat this record. No one who has ever been any sort of athlete can have respect for someone who is sticking around long after their prime. Barry is taking up a ton of salary money and a roster spot for his supposed place in history and that just really bothers me.

But who cares what I think about Barry. On with the pictures!

In that batting cage

Batting practice

I have lots more pics, but Blogger is very slow uploading and I've spent all day reading Harry Potter, so I don't have the patience. More pics tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a streak!

The Brewers have won 3 straight, each of them by only one run. The Cubs were kind enough to lose last night. We're back up to 4.5 games.

Starting pitcher Claudio Vargas had a hit, which is always a big deal, even if we could have used the hit the at-bat prior when he was up with the bases loaded and two outs, but it's ok, way to go Claudio.

Brian Shouse pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the 6th.

Carlos Villanueva came in in the 7th and pitched 2 fabulous innings, allowing Derrick Turnbow a much needed break. Villanueva struck out 5 in his 2IP and allowed 1 hit.

Tonight it's the DBacks again and hopefully the Giants will do it again against the Cubs.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Downside, upside

Dave Bush gave up a lead-off home run on the second pitch of the game to Chris Young.

Corey Hart hit a lead-off home run on the second pitch of our half of the inning.

Brewers block party part 1

To start of my birthday festivities this weekend, the Brewers threw me a block party!
Ok, not really, but this weekend happened to be the Brewers' second annual Cerveceros Latino celebration. Also, this season they're hosting three block parties throughout the season. The team combined the two and had many of the Spanish speaking Brewers and the party took place at a park in one of Milwaukee Latino neighborhoods.

The plan is pretty simple. The guys gather on stage and answer some questions, then split up and sit two per table and sign autographs. Unfortunately, the sign for less than an hour and you have to stand in each line separately. We split up and stood in different lines, made some friends to hold places and pushed our way to the front at the very end as the guys were leaving and ended up with 9 of 10 autographs.

Also, Sunday's game featured a Chorizo bobblehead which is absolutely awesome (as well as naked underneath!)

The man of the hour, CHORIZO!

Lefty reliever Brian Shouse was by far the Brewer who enjoyed himself the most. He was smiling and chatting. (And also, he's crazy more cute than I thought. He looks very mean and I guess kind of old when he's far away on the field and under a baseball cap.) He was a pleasant (and a co-freckler) surprise! Plus, he's only 30. Here you go ladies, a diamond in the rough.

And of course, no one can be happy without some pictures of J.J. Hardy, rockin' some stumble and lookin' good in his shades.

More J.J. goodness.

This is literally the only time I saw Dave Bush smile. And I totally dig the beard.

Corey Hart was having a good time.

I was trying to take a picture down the line of guys, but J.J. thought I wanted a picture of him. Well if you insist J.J. .....

Gabe Gross, your batting music is Jesus music. You're fairly dorky looking for a pro ball player. Please stop adding to the opinion by wearing a polo shirt underneath your bp jersey!

Brewers Block Party part 2

Not so in-focus or flattering close-up of Kevin Mench

When they arrived, they walked right past the line we were in.

The guys lined up on stage.

Yovani Gallardo

More stage shots

Another shot down the line.

Sheets on 15 Day DL, Spurling on Bereavement leave

Ben Sheets was placed on the 15 day DL today for a distal sprain to a right finger. The MRI today didn't show any further damage, but other tests are set for Tuesday. Yovani Gallardo stepped in during that game to "finish" Sheets' start and will just remain in that spot in the pitching rotation.

Reliever Chris Spurling has been placed on the bereavement list for an unspecified amount of time. Apparently we hope to have him back by Friday.

Ok, so that leaves the bullpen down two guys. Also, Carlos Villanueva put in a full games' pitching on Saturday when Chris Capuano was pulled early, so he's likely not available until weeks' end.

To help out, the crew has called up left-hander Manny Parra and right-hander Grant Balfour from AAA Nashville. You'll remember Parra from the no-hitter he threw in June.

From jsonline.com :
In four starts with Nashville, Parra was 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA.

Balfour, a reliever claimed off waivers from Cincinnati over the winter after undergoing shoulder and elbow surgeries, was pitching quite well for Nashville since being promoted from Class AA Huntsville.

In 24 relief outings, he was 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA and six saves, with 47 strikeouts in 32 innings.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's my berfday!

So I'm not posting. Had fun this morning at a Brewers block party and tomorrow we go to a game. More posting after the weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Possible trade confirmation

...in the most incomplete, secondhand, un-scientific way ever. Trade talks are swirling about a possible trade of Ken Griffey, Jr. to Milwaukee. Everyone who could possibly be involved has denied the rumors. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said tonight on the news that he just got off the phone with the Reds manager and Griffey's name was never mentioned. (Of course this begs the question, why were you on the phone with the Reds manager, Doug?)

Ok, I've promised not to name names. But what if I told you an acquaintance had a casual conversation with a baseball team's TV announcer on or about Tuesday evening and that announcer claimed to have spoken with Ken Griffey Jr. right before the All-Star break, since the Reds were in town?

What if I also said that the announcer in question claims to have had a discussion about trades with Griffey? And what if this discussion also mentioned how close Griffey and Prince Fielder are?

And what if, after this discussion, the announcer asked Griffey about Milwaukee and Griffey had on a big grin and said "you know I can't talk about that"?

Would that mean that Milwaukee's looking at an outfield of Hart, Hall and Griffey?


In non-innuendo, this would be a great look for the Brewers.

We could use a veteran that isn't Geoff Jenkins and who, I don't know, has actually had a career worth noting.

Secondly, Prince and Griffey are longtime friends. When he was a kid, Prince would go on road swings with his dad to Seattle and stay at Griffey's home. Griffey's all by Prince's mentor on how to grow up in the shadow and I'm sure he's something of a father figure, as Cecil isn't around.

Thirdly, Griffey's got 3 years left on his contract. So do Corey Hart and Ryan Braun. In three years those guys are going to want more money and in three years, we'll have it to give to them. Sure, Griffey's contract is huge, but we don't exactly have a huge payroll.

Griffey's not looking for a long-term deal. He's looking for a team that will win. He wants his ring. And he thinks he can get it here? Hell, I'll take his word on that!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mid-Season reports and the All-Star Game

So we just passed the mid-way point and thus far I think the Brewers season has been inconclusive. Sure, there have been absolutely brilliant spots and certainly the team is looking better than it has in decades.

However, if we weren’t where we are, people would be disappointed, so I say being 10 games above .500 and 4 ½ games in first is really just kind of average. I wrestled with using the word mediocre, but Ryan Braun alone lifts this team above that status.

The new has worn off and real Brewers fans have moved past just being happy that we don’t suck. There was novelty in those first few weeks and months in the pure fact that we were winning and we were in first place. But heading into the close of the season, I don’t think that’s enough anymore. There are expectations and high hopes and seven of ten to head into the All-Star break isn’t going to cut it.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the Brewers' performance in all the All-Star game festivities. That's not to say that they did bad, but rather that I think they didn't capitalize on the situation. The Crew still gets little to no respect and I think this would have been a good chance to make a splash on a national stage.

During the Home Run Derby during Prince's attempt, the (many) broadcasters had a discussion first, about A-Rod and then one of them piped up and said something along the lines of you, "You know, we just spent all the time focusing on A-Rod, who, since he's in New York gets all the attention. Here's Prince Fielder, who, because he's in Milwaukee, is off everybody's radar."

It was nice to hear that someone out there at least realized what kind of bias there is. Now, let's see him do something about it.

I was surprised by the rash of positive media coverage the Crew received in this off-week. I thoroughly expected there to be a lot of negative comments about the way the Brewers played in the closing week or so. Instead, the opposite happened. Nobody mentioned it.

Two separate SI writers, one in the magazine and one online, named their picks for the mid-season awards. On SI.com Jon Heyman named Prince Fielder his mid-season NL MVP saying “Budding superstar is the anchor of baseball’s best infield. The most obvious choice of all has one more home run than he hit all last year.”

SI the magazine’s Tom Verducci also put Prince at #1 for NL MVP, with the Rockies’ Matt Holliday in 2nd. “Here’s why: Milwaukee wouldn’t be in first place without the big-time power of Fielder, who leads the league in homers (29) and slugging (.622). Holliday’s road numbers are too pedestrian (.301 – 78 points lower than his home average – with five homers) for a team that hasn’t gotten more than 4 games over .500.”

Heyman names Houston’s Hunter Pence as NL Rookie of the Year. There are two sentences following that proclamation: “Very exciting combination of speed, power and hunger. But Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is coming on..”

Verducci gives the nod to Pence as well, with Braun at #2. “Here’s why: Pence, who spent more of the first month of the season in the minors, has only drawn 10 walks, but his .342 average can’t be overlooked. However, Braun, who wasn’t called up until May 24, already has as many homers as Pence (11) in 112 fewer at bats. He’s a good bet to pass the Astros outfielder on this ballot by season’s end.”

Heyman names Ned Yost NL Manager of the Year saying “Who else? The Brew Crew looks talented and hungry. See ya in October.”

Verducci’s got Yost #2 behind the Padres’ Bud Black.

So if this team continues to slide and ends up out of first place in the oh-so-pathetic NL Central, I think it will be a serious disappointment. I can't imagine the fans that have gotten Brewer fever over the past few weeks will stick around to see if we can catch-up.

Brewer's fans have had a lot of build up and a lot of let down over the years. We're used to disappointment and hangovers. Your average Milwaukeean doesn't believe this is the year. They think this year is going to be like many past, where things start off looking good and the big accomplishment of the year is ending the season AT .500. I'd hate to see that happen this year. I'd hate for the Brewers to lose their newfound popularity. I'd hate for all the bandwagoners and Homers to feel vindicated.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

So.... I haven't posted much lately...

because I've been real down on the Brewers this week and I didn't want to have a series of posts where all I do is bitch.

Sure, there have been some serious highlights in this road trip, but there have been far more lowlights.

In this most recent ten game road swing we were a measley 3 and 7 against teams that, as of Sunday night, are 120-143. Our lead over Chicago is down to 4.5 games and frankly, if we play this way coming out of the All-Star break, that won't take but a week to disappear.

I hate to be one of those fans that bitches about managers and bullpen management, but my anger with the way Ned Yost handles our pitchers reached a new high today. On an almost daily basis I feel that Yost leaves pitchers in the game WAY longer than he should. The prime example of this is Derrick Turnbow, but he is by no means the only one.

In today's game vs. the Nationals, Chris Capuano started to lose his stuff in the 4th inning. He hit a batter and came within inches of hitting the next batter.

In the 5th, Prince hits a 2 RBI double making the score 2-1 Milwaukee.

In the sixth inning, Cappy walked a man and then gave up a two run home run to the next batter. (And btw, the man he walked is hitting .045 on the season) He then walked a man, gave up a single, and walked another, to load the bases. And there are still no outs. But the game is still just a one run affair, with the Nationals up 3-4. AND THIS IS WHEN NED FINALLY MAKES THE CALL TO THE BULLPEN. We had to suffer through two more batters while we waited for Matt Wise to warmup. Another run scores. Wise does no better than Cappy and when the inning is finally and mercifully over, the score is 7-2 and completely out of reach.

Let me remind you that tomorrow starts the All-Star Break. Was Ned saving the bullpen? What possible explanation can there be for having left Cappy in that long? He was in for at least 3 too many batters because the bullpen was not warmed up. When your pitcher has shown signs of struggle, walks a man, gives up a home run and walks two more, it's time to pull him. Period. There should have been a man warming after the home run, just in case. The game went from withing striking distance to out of our reach and completely out of control in 5 batters.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse for this.

But enough on that, I'd also like to discuss how this team is incapable of putting runs on the board except for with the long ball. Sure, home runs are great. They're exciting. They make for a good highlight reel. But what happened to this team's ability to play small ball? On Saturday night we left 16 men on base. SIXTEEN! Against the Nationals. On Sunday, July 1, we left 20 men on against the Cubs.

In the three games against the Nationals, we left 33 men on base. In four games against the Pirates we left 50 men on base. In three games against the Cubs we left 45 men on base. That's a total of 128 runs left on base in a ten game road trip. (stats from espn.com's box scores)


On a slightly happier note, despite being beyond mediocre the past few weeks, we're still getting national attention. Today's New York Times featured an article about the Crew's infield. Pretty flattering stuff here. Nice to see a big city paper checking us out when we're not in town to play one of their own. Read it here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Holy Crap, Damian Miller!

Going into last Wednesday's game, Damian Miller had 0 HRs and 8 RBIs on the season.

On Wednesday, on LaCrosse Day (the city along the Mississippi River in northwest Wisconsin where he's from) Damian hit a walk-off home run to win the game. In that game he went 3-5 with 4 RBIs.

Tonight, Damian hit a grand slam to top off the 6-run 7th inning for the Brewers.
(though why the bases were loaded still baffles me, but we'll get back to that)

In tonight's game Damian was 4-5 with 7 RBIs. The 7 RBIs tied him for most in one game by a Brewer.

He came to bat in the 9th and Bill Hall should have been on 3rd and would have scored on Damian's single, giving Damian a franchise record. Slo-mo replays show that Billy was clearly safe at second base, not called out as the umpire did. Geoff Jenkins hit a fly to right center that would have put Bill on 3rd, ripe for Damian.

Instead, Damian gets a share of the record.

In two games, Damian went 7-10 and had 11 RBIs and has 3 HR's in the last 6 days (in just two games). He hit a two-run homer in the 4th tonight that was his 2nd HR in his last 3 at bats.

The Slam was Miller's 6th career. It was all the Brewers 6th on the season, giving them sole lead in the majors.

Damian has hit 86 HRs in his career with 6 grand slams. That's the 3rd highest ratio of all time.

In non-Damian news, as of Saturday morning, the crew was 12-3 since being no hit and were averaging 6.7 runs a game.

Corey Hart extended his hit streak to 18 games tonight. During that streak he is hitting .357 with 4 doubles, 7 HRs and 18 RBIs.

I was actually going to highlight Ryan Braun today, who in the month he's been in the majors has already made himself a major case for Rookie of the Year. But I'll leave that for another day and let Damian bask in the glory.

(Oh yeah, and about those bases loaded. Why, why, why do you walk Geoff Jenkins to load the bases to get to Damian Miller? At this point in the game Miller's 2-3 with a 2 run HR. Jenkins - well he's Geoff Jenkins. There's two guys on and two outs. Geoff's swinging for the fences and goes down in three pitches. He's as harmless as a baby here. But the manager decides to walk Jenkins, loading the bases for the Brewers' hottest hitter over the past week. I absolutely do not understand the logic here and I'd kill to have it explained to me. Get me a line to the Pirates' manager)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

100 things to look forward to this college football season

I found this via the MZone. This guy compiled a list of things to anticipate this fall. The Badgers notch four different times on the list and I'd like to go ahead and point out that I've already mentioned #97. I still don't understand how no one seems to worry about this.

1. Tulsa at La-Monroe on Thursday, August 30! (It's the first televised game of the season - 7pm ESPNU.)

2. Brent Musburger's first "You are looking live�" of the season.

3. Seeing the Gameday piece on Penn State football players cleaning Beaver Stadium and then having Desmond Howard sit down with select players and ask, "So, do you think you'll ever home-invade again?"

4. Nick Saban and Alabama hosting LSU on Saturday, November 3. There will be lawn chairs and styrofoam as far as the eye can see.

5. Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis running for his life, and knowing exactly what to do with the ball.

6. Illinois quarterback Juice Williams running for his life, but having no idea what to do with the ball�

7. �and then finding freshman receiver Arrelious Benn for a 60-yard touchdown.

8. Watching USC at Nebraska on Saturday, September 15. If you want to know how far Bill Callahan has brought the Nebraska program, pull up a chair and find out.

9. Virginia Tech at LSU on Saturday, September 8.

10. Antone Smith trying to become Florida State's first 1,000-yard running back since Warrick Dunn in 1996.

11. USC at Notre Dame on Saturday, October 20. It's the one day per year you can be a Notre Dame fan because you just don't know how many shots at losses USC is going to have--whereas that's never a concern about Notre Dame.

12. TCU at Texas on Saturday, September 8. This is likely the only loss on TCU's schedule. If they somehow get past Texas, they'll have a great shot at a BCS game.

13. Watching Pitt freshman running back LeSean McCoy. He was ranked right up there with Ohio State running back Chris Wells when they were high school seniors in 2005, but McCoy ran into some qualifying problems and has now re-surfaced at Pitt.

14. Seeing if Washington's freshman quarterback Jake Locker is half the player the fans are hoping he'll be.

15. The Bowden Bowl on Monday, September 3.

16. The Bubba Bowl (i.e. Alabama vs. Florida State in Jacksonville) on Saturday, September 29.

17. Finding out what menagerie of middling the Wolverines have in the secondary.

18. Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman proving many, many people wrong.

19. Seeing Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill bust through the line to find an unlucky member of the opposing secondary filling the hole. And the ensuing crumple.

20. Nick Saban's first Iron Bowl. (Alabama has lost five-straight.)

21. Florida sophomore quarterback/trench pummeler/jorted icon Tim Tebow actually dropping back and reading a defense for a change.

22. Michigan receiver Mario Manningham running down the sideline.

23. Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum running down the middle of the field.

24. Neither of them doing it against the Buckeyes.

25. Steve Spurrier.

26. Arkansas' quarterbacks basically ruining the usage of the two best running backs in the SEC.

27. Penn State football players making sure not to make a mess during their home games, as they're the ones that will have to clean it up.

28. Oklahoma redshirt freshman running back DeMarco Murray making the post-Adrian Peterson mourning period a short one. He will be a star.

29. Watching Virginia Tech running back Brandon Ore continue to pile up tough yards and continue to go unnoticed nationally.

30. Watching Notre Dame at Michigan on Saturday, September 15. It's the one day every year where you get to be a Michigan fan and you don't even have to worry about collecting enough tips to pay for the tank of gas you promised your mother if she just let you borrow the station wagon just this one time since the paint job on your car hadn't dried yet because that idiot Johnny Bench lied to you about Krylon's dry-time.

31. Seeing if any of Butch Davis' recruits contribute this season at North Carolina.

32. Seeing if any of Ron Zook's recruits contribute this season at Illinois.

33. Seeing if any of the SEC's recruits contribute this season at Fork Union Military Academy.

34. Watching the second-best running back tandem in the nation--Clemson's James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

35. Georgia sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford showing himself to be the future #1 overall pick that Mel Kiper Jr. claims him to be.

36. Seeing if Michigan quarterback Chad Henne is finally able to use the middle of the field effectively.

37. Florida at South Carolina on Saturday, November 10. Last season, South Carolina refused to beat Florida, even though the Gators were trying to give the game away. I'm expecting that that game last season and this game this season will be a focal point for the Gamecocks.

38. Having Spartan running back Javon Ringer on the field for an entire season.

39. Seeing what type of player Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham is. He was a high school All-American at linebacker, we'll see if it translates to the defensive line.

40. West Virginia at Maryland on Thursday, September 13. There's just something about West Virginia games on Thursday night.

41. Watching Boston College linebacker/goal-line plunger Brian Toal continue his excellence on both sides of the ball.

42. Seeing if Pete Carroll can split 40 carries between seven different USC running backs and keep them (and their parents) happy.

43. Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy continuing his precision attack via the dink, the dunk, and the occasional chuck.

44. Watching Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee take a beating and continue to get up. He's like the bionic version of Drew Stanton.

45. NBC's fantastically non-partisan college football coverage kicking off with Georgia Tech at Notre Dame on Saturday, September 1. The game will start at 3:30, but feel free to tune into the NBC Sports Desk prior to that in order to get a good rundown on the day's sports happenings! (Or, you can just watch the happenings on every other channel.)

46. Watching North Carolina State head coach Tom O'Brien go back to Boston College on Saturday, September 8. Nice way to open up the conference slate for O'Brien.

47. West Virginia's running game--especially if freshman running back Noel Devine can see the field.

48. Seeing how Rutgers running back Ray Rice fares without fullback Brian Leonard leading the way for him.

49. Iowa's workman-like front four getting worked like flaggers on a four-lane highway.

50. Michigan at Wisconsin on Saturday, November 10--one week before the Ohio State game. Not much room for looking ahead for the Wolverines.

51. LSU's Ryan Perrilloux as a backup once again--and the trouble Ryan Perrilloux'll cause.

52. Georgia at Tennessee on Saturday, October 6. For his career, Georgia head coach Mark Richt is 3-0 in Knoxville.

53. A healthy C.J. Bacher quarterbacking a Northwestern offense that actually puts a little bit of fear in their opponents.

54. A competent Spartan sideline�actually, anybody that is looking forward to that is a liar. Watching John L. Smith was akin to watching the Shriners drive their little go-karts along the parade path amidst lock-step marching bands and the 4-H float. (In this analogy, the other Big Ten schools are the marching bands, with Penn State being the 4-H float on account of their distance from city folk.)

55. Michigan at Illinois on Saturday, October 20. We will get to see exactly where the Illini program stands.

56. Seeing how long it takes Minnesota to run an effective spread offense.

57. Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell battling Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan for statistical supremacy.

58. The Sooners never-ending quest for a quarterback that doesn't a) play wide receiver; b) lack cartilage around the knee; or c) work 160 hours in a normal week.

59. Seeing how Hokie linebackers Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi end their college careers. Last season, the two of them combined for over 200 tackles.

60. Adequate quarterbacking from a Georgia Tech quarterback for the first time in over four years!

61. Seeing what it's like to have a non-self-destructive North Carolina State Wolfpack team for a change. Imagine the defense's surprise when they find out that not all penalties are fifteen-yarders. They'll probably feel like they're getting away with something. They'll be looking at each other wondering why the ref only penalized them five yards on that last play. Of course, this may then encourage them to play three times as idiotically.

62. Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall finally getting the 20 carries per game that he deserves.

63. Seeing how a mutiny-less Arizona State team performs when USC comes to town on Thursday, November 22.

64. Louisville at West Virginia on Thursday, November 8.

65. California receiver DeSean Jackson cutting a punt return back up the middle and finding the seam.

66. Boise State at Hawaii on Friday, November 23. This will probably be the Game of the Century in the WAC, and the winner will probably be undefeated and headed for the BCS.

67. Charlie Weis' third defense as head coach at Notre Dame. Eventually it has to stop being Tyrone Willingham's fault, right?

68. Michigan freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett getting some playing time this season and shattering some 3rd-string breastplates and bursting a spleen or two with his Mallett-like arm. (You know you've arrived when you're an analogy for yourself.)

69. New Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh annoying the heck out of USC and Pete Carroll--and getting a 40-pt beatdown in the process.

70. Watching Buckeye linebacker Larry Grant continue his great spring into the fall.

71. Watching Iowa's young receivers develop. They may no longer have Drew Tate at quarterback�wait, is that even a bad thing?

72. The Hoosiers playing Number 13.

73. Notre Dame at Purdue on Saturday, September 29. The Boilers have never beaten Charlie Weis, losing both prior meetings by an average score of 42-25. If the Boilers have it in them, don't expect Tiller to go easy on an Irish secondary that escorts more touchdowns than the Air Traffic Control at O'Hare.

74. Kansas State at Auburn on Saturday night, September 1. We'll see if KSU quarterback Josh Freeman can pick up where he left off after a strong finish last season.

75. Seeing if quarterback Sam Keller can succeed at Nebraska after sitting out a year due to transferring from Arizona State because his team hated him and had no faith in him that he could win or play well.

76. Georgia Tech running back Tashard Choice's continued run of unknown dominance.

77. Seeing if quarterback Josh Portis can win the Maryland job. If he can, Maryland will be fun to watch again.

78. Famed fire extinguisher shooter-offer and anti-vegite Willie Williams playing linebacker for Louisville.

79. Some contributions from Charlie Weis' recruits for once.

80. Watching Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart bouncing off tackler after tackler, then tweaking an ankle on a simple cut and being iffy for the next three games causing me to have to juggle my fantasy team. (I'm only looking forward to the first part of this.)

81. Watching Spartan safety Otis Wiley. He is a playmaker and a leader and Mark Dantonio will make him a star.

82. The Red River Shootout on Saturday, October 6.

83. Watching sophomore running back Mike Goodson become more of a point of focus for the Texas A&M running attack.

84. Having Buckeye safety Anderson Russell on the field for an entire season.

85. Penn State receiver Derrick Williams being used for more than just swing passes and scraping gum off of bleachers.

86. Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson perhaps getting Kentucky back to the salad days of Tim Couch and Jared Lorenzen. (Although "salad days" and Lorenzen probably don't go together.)

87. Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton again being able to run the ball with the benefit of a passing game.

88. Texas at Texas A&M on Friday, November 23. It very well could be the last thing standing between Texas and the BCS National Championship Game. Except, of course, for the Big XII Championship Game.

89. Mark Dantonio's first Michigan game as Michigan State's head coach--Saturday, November 3 at Spartan Stadium.

90. Drafting Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan #1 overall in my fantasy league. (And him not getting injured if I do land him, ala Louisville's Michael Bush last season.)

91. Seeing what Notre Dame has in freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

92. West Virginia at Rutgers on Saturday, October 27.

93. USC at Cal on Saturday, November 10.

94. Watching Myron Rolle continue his progression towards superstardom as he patrols the defensive backfield for the Florida State Seminoles.

95. Nebraska at Missouri on Saturday, October 6 for the Big XII North championship. Essentially.

96. Seeing if Penn State running back Austin Scott is a workhorse or a hobby-horse.

97. The Badgers breaking in a new quarterback. (It doesn't seem to bother anybody that Wisconsin will have a new guy taking snaps, yet it's somehow the big sticking point for the Buckeyes' hopes.)

98. Nittany Lion cornerback Justin King justifying the early pub he is receiving this season.

99. Watching USC linebacker Rey Maualuga plow though linemen, running backs, refs, the dude with the parabola-thing, the one lady that's always on the sideline that gets run over, Will Ferrell, Snoop Dogg, Erik Estrada, "Jeff" from Taxi and an oxidized Twiki.

100. Seeing USC safety Taylor Mays do the same thing as Maualuga, but keeping it on the field. (This being USC, however, Snoop Dogg would still be at risk.)

And this is why...

you can never argue that the Big Ten is as "big" as the SEC

We'll that's one way to celebrate a walk-off homerun

Yeah, I'm really, really bitter that the Brewers gave away Friday's game against the Cubs. Thankfully, there are things like this to make me feel better. (Make sure you have on your sound)

Prince is a starter and 3 other Brewers make the All-Star Team

Prince Fielder was named the starting 1st baseman for the NL All-Star team.

From jsonline.com:
Beyond his league-leading home run total, Fielder is tops with a .614 slugging percentage and second with 66 runs batted in, 186 total bases and 47 extra-base hits. At a position manned by the likes of Pujols, Ryan Howard and Derrek Lee, the 23-year-old Fielder had the right to be proud of being elected in his second year in the majors.

"It's an honor," Fielder said. "You've got the reigning MVP (Howard) and Albert is one of the best in the game. Hopefully, we'll all have fun and represent our team well."

Francisco Cordero and Ben Sheets were named pitchers for the NL and J.J. Hardy was named to the reserve roster.

Sheets recorded his 10th win on Saturday, tying for the most wins by a pitcher in the NL

With four representatives, the Brewers tied the New York Mets for most on the NL team.

from jsonline.com:
Cordero, who leads the league with 27 saves, received the most votes of any NL reliever in player balloting. Recalling how he was removed from the closer's role in Texas last season before being traded to the Brewers, the big right-hander was emotional after getting the news.

Sheets was one of five starting pitchers elected in the player vote, joining Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, Los Angeles' Brad Penny, San Diego's Jake Peavy and Atlanta's John Smoltz. He was the fifth-leading vote-getter of that group.

Hardy claimed his spot on the NL roster by getting the second-most votes in player balloting to New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes also won the fan balloting, and when the players overlap in the voting, their second choice goes.

"Coming into the season, I had no expectations other than staying healthy," said Hardy, who leads all NL shortstops with 18 home runs to go with a .284 batting average and 51 RBI. "To be voted in by the players is awesome.

"We're starting to get recognized nationally, and I think we should be. We've got a really good team."

The last time the Brewers had a started elected was Jeromy Burnitz in 1992. And he only made it due to an injury to someone else. The last time we had a guy make it on by balloting is Paul Molitor in 1988. And the last time we had four guys on the team was 1983, the year after we made the World Series.

Also, we tied the Mets for the most players on the team (for the N.L. anyway)