Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More looks at the management of the Brewers

Did you know that of the 17 managers who managed in the big leagues prior to 2006, only two have failed to take their team to the postseason: Ned Yost and John Gibbons. Gibbons has the excuse that he plays in the same league as the Yankees and Red Sox. What's Ned got? Tons of homegrown, young talent? Support and money from a new owner?

That detail about Yost was in a column in the Denver Post by Woody Paige where the local sports media is calling for the firing of Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. This in the season following a World Series appearance. It includes this line: "He has problems with in-game management, handling of pitchers and snippiness with those he believes are not as baseball-wise as he is. " Sound familiar?

Of course, those of us fed up with Ned are told to quiet down, it's not Ned's fault despite the fact that he's had 6 years to give us a playoff team.

While searching the Denver Post webiste for the link to that column, I came across this comment on another Rockies tidbit. Replace Hurdle's name with Ned's and the comment still resonates in Milwaukee - maybe more-so.

Clint Hurdle is a care-taker, not a MLB manager. He has no fire or passion and can't make adjustments when the team loses. His pitching staff is a joke and his team can't hit. When the Tigers started the season off bad, Jim Leyland was screaming and yelling at his players to improve. They did and now they win more games. Clint Hurdle shrugs his shoulders, smiles, and walks out of the locker room after the Rocks get pounded.. If the Rockies want to be a consistently good club, they need to hire people with fire and passion for the game.


Of course, it's becoming abundantly clear that Ned's not the only member of Brewer's management who warrants a good look. Have we moved past the point where we can blindly think that Ned's the only one responsible for the shape of the team?

I've been a pretty blind Melvin supporter, but we're in the third year of a serious pitching shortage. Why hasn't the front office realized the lack of sustainable starting pitching is going to be a detriment to our post-season hopes?

And isn't this on Melvin, not Ned? I mean, Ned's not out there with the ball and he's certainly not coaching the pitchers. He's working with what he's got, right? So why isn't what he's got a better core? In terms of starting pitching in the past three years, we've made one major move: acquiring Jeff Suppan.

Can we really argue that as a positive handling of the starting pitching situation? Sure, we had a dearth of starters at the beginning of the season, but that doesn't mean they were good, just that we had a lot of them. Should we really follow unquestionably a GM who is pushing this as the
"now-or-never" team when it rides on the shoulders of a injury-plagued ace, an aging #2 and #3-5 that have consistently underperformed?

Sure, the defense has improved, but I think we'll see that level off. Rickie will always be Rickie. Prince isn't suddenly going to become 6'3". There are limits to these guys and what they can do.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready for the media and fans around here to be as up in arms over the mediocrity of this ballclub.

I'm not sure what Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Mark Attanasio are waiting for. We're at the point where no one would accuse them of acting too hastily. They've shown patience in abundance.

I think fans want and deserve a change. They've been sold on a playoff team this year by management and that team simply hasn't been getting it done in spite of the talent level, just like last year.


Finally, a discussion of the game 9th inning on Sunday came up over at Brewerfan.net and the following argument was made:

It didn't end up figuring in the result due to Mota's wild pitch, but can someone please explain Yost's 9th inning defensive strategy to me?

1 out, men on the corners, tie game. And you bring the infield in? WHY?

The only way you gun down the runner at home is if someone hits a ball right at an infielder...if that happens, why would you not be playing for a double play?

Maybe I'm missing something here, someone please explain this. Many people defend Yost and say the players are responsbile...not here. It's overlooked because it didn't matter, but I don't get it at all.

Another thing about this strategy: The Brewers weren't holding the man on first, so as Mota delivered the fateful pitch, the runner on first broke for second and would have arrived easily.

After the first pitch, the Nats would have had 2nd and 3rd with one out. I would imagine that Yost would have walked the batter to load the bases to set up a force at every base. So, the pitch that Mota threw was a meaningless pitch. Nice call, Ned.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hall demoted to platooning

Hall falls into platoon at hot corner
Milwaukee (22-24) at Pittsburgh (21-25), Thursday, 6:05 p.m. CT

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

UEFA Champions League Final

I have this Tivoing at home and was going to try and avoid the score til I could get home and watch it, but I figured that's futile. Then I discovered I can watch the live feed on ESPN360.com, which is killer!

It's Manchester United vs Chelsea, an all-English final from Russia. We're in extra time right now, 1-1 and Chelsea has hit the woodwork twice since I started watching with about 15 minutes left in regulation.

Come on you Blues!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Elvis is in the building

Introducing the third (temporary) CuteSports puppy, Elvis! (Velvet) Elvis was rescued from a breeder who was mistreating his dogs. Elvis is so emaciated that he's not able to be neutered until he puts on more weight. He is clearly a slighter build than my Flash, but at 33 pounds, he's still entirely too small. But he's full of love and has done nothing but cuddle since we got him on Saturday. He's available for adoption from Basset Buddies. Check out their website here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blog reports through unconfirmed source that Ned is getting fired today

Source: Ned Yost to be relieved of his duties Monday

While BadgerBlogger can not independently confirm this, sources close to the Milwaukee Brewers organization tell BadgerBlogger late this evening, in the midst of another horrid road trip, and on the heels of a sweep by the Boston Red Sox, that Brewers manager Ned Yost will be relieved of his duties during the team’s off day Monday, and replaced on an “interim” basis by team bench coach Ted Simmons.

Many baseball insiders routinely refer to Simmons as one of the “best minds in baseball“; perhaps his new role will provide the direction and leadership this team has been so badly lacking.
Bruce J Redenz

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Braun signs 7 year extension worth $45 million

from MilwaukeeBrewers.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers announced a record contract extension for left fielder Ryan Braun on Thursday that sets the standard for players with zero to three years of Major League experience.

The contract is for eight years and $45 million, exceeding the six-year, $31 million contract signed by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who would have been eligible for salary arbitration one year earlier than Braun. Braun's deal blows away the six-year, $17.5 million guaranteed to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who like Braun falls into the "zero-plus" category of service time.

"It's a very good contract for both the ballclub and Ryan," general manager Doug Melvin said at a press conference at Miller Park.

Braun hit .324 with 34 home runs last season last season and edged Tulowitzki in a close National League Rookie of the Year vote. Because he was not promoted to the Majors until late May, Braun would not have been eligible for arbitration until the 2010-11 offseason and for free agency until 2013-14.

The deal is for 8 years because it includes this season and wraps Braun up for the first two years of his free agency.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a great step. Not only is it great to see Brewers management being free with money (Attanasio also said he's willing to spend for a new starting pitcher if the need arises this year) but I'd much rather be tied to Braun than Fielder at this point. It would be great if we could have both, but I don't think this is a franchise that can support two franchise players and I think between Prince's weight and the money his agent Scott Boras is going to want, Braun's the best option of the two.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It had to happen!

The Brewers drinking game! The past few games have been on the upswing, but before that, we all needed the liquor to get through the games! This version is from the Brew Town Beat blog:

It's early May and it's come to this, a legit Brewers drinking game. I'm hoping for some feedback on this one, but for now, while watching a game do the following, but first, prior to the the game, pick up a copy of a newspaper:

DRINK 1 for each quote in which a struggling player says "It's early" when questioned about their lack of production.
DRINK 3 for each quote in which Ned Yost refers to it "being early."
DRINK 10 (beers) for each time Ned Yost refers to a scuffling player as an All Star despite them being over a full year removed (at the least) from being in the All Star Game.

DRINK 1 for each time the Brewers bat a player batting less than .210 leadoff
DRINK 3 for each time the Brewers bat a player batting under the Mendoza Line leadoff.
DRINK 3 for each scoreless frame the Brewers offense produces.
DRINK 6 if the opposing team scores first.
DRINK 1 for each time a no-doubt bunting situation arises and Ned lets them swing away.
DRINK 1 for each Brewer that strikes out.
DRINK 2 for each Brewer that strikes out vs. a pitcher with an ERA higher than 5.00.
DRINK 6 each time the Brewers have a runner in scoring position with nobody out and fail to plate the run.
DRINK 3 each time the Brewers have a runner in scoring position with one out and fail to plate the run.
DRINK 1 for each walk a Brewers pitcher gives up.
DRINK 6 if the Brewers starting pitcher is chased before pitching 6 innings.
DRINK 6 each time Yost trots out to remove the starter immediately AFTER the heavy damage has been done.
DRINK 3 each time the Brewers have a runner on third with less than two outs and fail to score the run.
DRINK 1 for each dinger served up by a Brewers pitcher.
DRINK 4 for each time a Brewers pitcher cannot execute a bunt.
DRINK 1 for each inning pitched that the Brewers pitcher on the hill has an ERA over 5.00.
DRINK 6 for each blown save the Brewers, ah-hem, closer serves up.
DRINK 4 if the Brewers have to use more than three bullpen arms in a game.
DRINK 1 CASE if a Brewers pitcher has to a leave a game after 2.3 scoreless innings or less with a rather unusual injury.
DRINK 6 for each time the Brewers score less than five runs.
DRINK 5 each time the opposing pitcher sets a new career strikeout high.
DRINK 10 each time a former pathetic Brewers player comes through with a big hit vs. the current team.

And while Googling that, I found the Brewers Bob Uecker radio broadcast Drinking Game. Spectacular!

Bob Uecker Brewers Radio Broadcast Drinking Game:

  • Drink once every time he says, "Heeeeee struck him out!"
  • Drink once every time he says, "Change of pace, and a dandy"
  • Drink once every time he says, "He ... just ... walked ... another ..."
  • Drink twice every time he calls a player by the wrong name
  • 1 shot each time he starts his home run calls then the ball is caught
  • 1 shot every time Ueck makes Jim Powell laugh so hard he can't talk about baseball
  • 2 shots every time he tells a story in which he is clearly lying (i.e.,"planting cans," etc.)
  • 2 shots if he says, "No, I like him, I really do" when he clearly does not
  • Chug any time 20 or more consecutive seconds of dead air transpire during an inning
  • Chug while Ueck makes fun of a Brewers Radio Network sponsor
  • Chug while he makes fun of the Internet

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Gagne explanation?

Did Gagne blow all those games because he was tipping his pitches to the other team?

According to this article, in not so many words, Ned Yost says yes.

Yost said the Brewers noticed a flaw in Gagne's recent outings, particularly on Saturday, but the manager would not go into detail.

Had Gagne been tipping pitches?

"I'm not telling you guys what it was," Yost said. "It was very obvious. That's why I think he was totally upset."

Well hello, Ryan Braun

The Rookie of the Year is back after whiffing at pretty much anything thrown at him to start the season. I don't think there was a pitcher out there who didn't know that if they pitched it down and away, Ryan was swinging for the fences.

Luckily for us, Braun found his swing. Near the end of tonight's game Braun was 4-5 with a 4 home runs and a walk in his last six plate appearances.

The Brewers won tonight 8-3 on the shoulders of Braun's two homers and a 5-run third inning that featured Mike Cameron's first hit and RBI at home.

We had a 6-game losing streak heading into this series and looking at the schedule we had 4 against the division leading Cards, 3 at the Dodgers and 3 at Boston. It was looking grim.

Instead, we pulled out of our slump with Braun leading the way and took 3 of 4 from the Cardinals and are now back at .500. We're just 4 games back of the also-streaking Cubs who have won 4-in-a-row.

Me and the Brewers: Back on!

Last week, I was telling people that the Brewers and I were “on a break” as though we were dating and I needed some time off. The more I talked about it, the more I realized that being a fan of such a roller coaster team is a lot like being in an unhealthy relationship.

The Brewers are like that guy that you put up with while he yanks you around and just when you’re sick of putting up with his crap and break up with him, he does something like Friday night’s win 2-out 9th inning win against the Cardinals. And then you’re pulled in all over again, convinced this time it will be different.

I was way too involved in the first month of the series and I was taking every loss and every blown save too much to heart, so over the past two weeks I made a marked attempt to distance myself. Otherwise it would have been an awfully long season and no matter how the season ended, I think my fandom would have suffered from the stress of it all and I would have hated the entire team by the time September rolled around.

So last week I flipped the games on occasionally to see the scores, but I refused to get upset. I stayed away from game-threads on message boards and I generally allowed the week to happen without me. Certainly the team didn’t need me, as they kept playing. The world kept spinning and the Brewers spun further off their axis.

I teased mid-week that the team was making a feeble attempt to win my love back as many of the players wore high socks. But even that would not get be parked in front of a game.

My self-imposed exile ended Friday night when a relative of the CuteSports Boyfriend gave us tickets to the game. They were great seats right in front of Uecker and we couldn’t turn them down.

Boy, did the team reward me.

I can only think of two other times in my life that I had as good of a time at a sporting event as I did during the ninth inning of Friday’s Brewer game:

1. When I worked for the Milwaukee Wave and they won their first Championship
2. Being at the 2006 Frozen Four when Wisconsin won the semi-final at the Bradley Center (the final had little suspense)

But as the Brewers continued to get hits with two outs, you could feel the electricity in the crowd. We were all biting our knuckles, wishing and hoping, but not letting ourselves get our hopes too high, since this team has been so good at dashing them this year. It was such a crazy, united feeling of “what if” while all of us wondered if we were nuts for trying to have faith that this team could pull out the victory at the last minute. One moment you were thinking to yourself how a big win at the end could be a turning point for this team that’s floundering and the next you were cursing yourself for being idiot enough to think that they could.

It was spectacular and nerve-wracking and everything that is great about sports and it was for a middlin’ team in the second month of the season!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gagne out as closer - for now

This is what I get for not checking the news before I head to the ballpark.
CuteSports took Mama CuteSports (also known as Judy Buzzkill) to the game today and we had a great time. We were in the first row of the second deck in right field and we loved the seats. Add dollar hot dogs, some great defense and an offense that didn't just disappear after scoring two runs and it was a great day at the ballpark.

Imagine my surprise, however, when Salomon Torres is entering the game to start the 9th inning. So I called the CuteSportsBoyfriend and he informed me that before the game Ned Yost announced we were closing by committee.

On the plus side, it was Gagne himself who called it out and said he'd been horrible. Not, I'm sure, coincidentally, the day before, the Cardinals' closer, Jason Isringhausen pulled himself from the closer's role.

On the negative side, why was it necessary for Gagne to yank himself?

From The FanHouse:
Eric Gagne Does What Ned Yost Couldn't
Our NL Central man-about-town, Pat Lackey, has long voiced every baseball fan's collective wonder: Just how in the name of everything holy is Eric Gagne still closing baseball games? It's been clear for over a year that the man is not the Eric Gagne of old, but Brewers manager Ned Yost seems to be the only one not paying attention. Four or five blown saves later, and Yost still won't take the man out of the ninth inning spot.

So guess what? Eric Gagne did it himself:

"I don't sit here and make decisions five minutes after a tough loss," Yost said after watching Gagne saddle the Brewers with a defeat that never should have happened.

Minutes later, Gagne took his manager completely off the hook with a pronouncement that was evident to anybody who has watched his work of late. "I don't deserve that ninth inning right now. It's very simple," said Gagne, who surrendered two ninth-inning runs that allowed St. Louis to pull out a 5-3 victory at Miller Park. "It's embarrassing."

Ah, embarassing indeed, but who should be more embarassed? Gagne, whose tools are just clearly not there anymore? Or Yost, whose tools are supposed to involve proper decision-making and talent management? Who's done a worse job?

JSOnline.com coverage

ESPN.com article

Friday, May 09, 2008

Good lord...

In this article on MilwaukeeBrewers.com entertainingly titled "Brewers hitters aim to become All-Stars" there is tidbit:

"The upcoming homestand also features the return of the team's 'Spring Madness' campaign, which includes discounted tickets and $1 hot dogs and small sodas throughout the Cardinals series.

That means the stands will be packed all weekend, and maybe that's what it will take to spark the sluggish Brewers. Things hit something of a low point on Wednesday, when manager Ned Yost called a rare team meeting to clear the air.

Generally, Yost is not a fan of team meetings.

'I think you hold team meetings if guys aren't hustling, or guys aren't mentally focused and prepared to go out and compete," Yost said. "Our guys are never there. They always hustle. They always go out and compete. There's no need to hold a meeting.'"

There was another article about the lineup changes where Yost insists that his team doesn't need a "shakeup."

This was not a "shakeup," Brewers manager Ned Yost said on Thursday, when he rested his three regular players with the highest on-base percentages.

But the lineup will change if the current configuration continues to slump.

"A shakeup wasn't intended," Yost said. "If this continues, obviously, we're going to have to shake the lineup up a little bit. We're going to have to move some guys around. I'm not ready to do that yet."

He might be ready if things don't improve against the Cardinals this weekend. After his club lost its sixth straight game and manufactured just two runs with nine hits, Yost said he would re-examine the issue on Monday if the Brewers don't have a breakout game or two.

"Then, maybe," he said. "But not right now."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This better be a mistake - or have some sort of explanation

Trenni did a piece during tonight's game in which she said Ned keeps a calendar of the bullpen and writes down each guy he uses and how many innings he's pitched. She said that Ned highlights a guy after he's been used twice so that he knows that if he uses that guy today for a third day, he gives him a mandatory two day rest because Ned NEVER uses a reliever more than 3 days in a row.

Are we to assume that Ned implemented this system after he pitched Gagne 4 times in a row?

One week ago...

I wanted to post this earlier today, so it made a bit more sense, but I had a job interview at 11, so I'm way behind at work.

A week ago today we were contending for the division lead. We were playing the Cubs and we were on our way to winning the second series at Wrigley 2 games to 1. There were some struggles, but all in all, life in Brewerland was as it should be.

Today, just one short week later, it feels like the season has been flushed away. In some ways that seems like an overstatement and in others, like the understatement of the year.

In the past week we've lost our #2 pitcher.

Three times in the past week we have given up back-to-back homeruns. (One of those times was actually back-to-back-to-back.)

We are now closer to last place in the division than we are to second place.

We have scored 2 runs in the past 26 innings.

There is an 110-point differential between their batting average in wins (.294) and losses (.184)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ned Yost

I took this from the Fan Forum boards on BrewerFan.net a couple of days ago and have had it saved to post - now I don't remember who posted it. But it's really well written and I think makes some well thought-out arguments, so I'm passing it on.


Take away all the judgment calls, lineup tinkering, sending basebrunners, bullpen management, when to pinch-hit, and all general feel for the game type stuff that managers do and make your evaluation of Yost real simple...

Overall player performance is not improving. Yes, the talent level has definitely increased, but the same poor overall fundamental play is the same as when Ned arrived in Milwaukee. Every aspect of this team is either flat-lining or regressing. The still run the bases poorly. They still play poor defense. They still have no obvious approach at the plate. The pitchers still walk far too many hitters. They still don't know how to move a runner over. They still grossly lack in situation hitting. They still try and pull every outside pitch. They still strikeout way to much. That's all in spite of bringing in far more talented players, many of whom didn't carry these warts in the minors. New faces, same mistakes and same poor results. The one constant...Ned Yost.

Put it this way. In the business world, if every aspect of your business was either flat or worsening, would you sit back and not hold your managers accountable? Especially if this all took place over the span of 5+ years! The Brewers win totals have risen over the years, yes. Clearly because the talent level increased. And definitely not because they play more fundamentally sound. I'd venture that the Tyler Houston's and Eric Young's ran the bases no more poorly, or moved runners over with no less success.

You don't even have to agree that Yost makes tactical or in-game mistakes. All you have to do is take a moment and realize that no matter the personnel, he and his constantly reshaped staff are not overseeing any improvement in the fundamental aspects of the game. And in many aspects there is decline.

I can't comprehend how Mark A. can sit back and watch his investments take step after step backwards and do nothing about the man whose job it is to make them better ballplayers. It is a glaringly imperfect match to have a manager who shows no ability to develop young talent manage a team that will forever have to rely on young talent.

Even ESPN.com's Page 2 knows it stinks to be a Brewers fan. Are we the new hapless losers?

Woe is the Milwaukee Brewers

Page 2

Updated: May 6, 2008, 5:59 PM ET

We'd like to root for the Brewers. We still think their old logo was one of the coolest ever. Robin Yount was awesome in 1982. Gorman Thomas was like the anti-Tom Brady. Rob Deer was one of a kind. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and company bring some serious lumber to the park. The sausage race has become as classic as double-knits and beanballs.

But when we read news items like the one in which general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Eric Gagne will remain as the team's closer, our heads start spinning and we feel like removing the Pat Listach poster from our cubicle. It becomes very, very difficult to root for this team.

"There's no magic number," Melvin said of Gagne's five blown saves in 14 opportunities. "If they are consecutive, that's when you get worried. You stay with a closer as long as you can. If a hitter slumps for six weeks, you stay with him. Closers go in slumps, too. You give him the benefit of the doubt for now."

Gagne has allowed 26 baserunners in 14 2/3 innings, allowing four home runs. Only three of his nine saves have come in one-run games. The guy isn't in a slump; he's in a career crisis. But this is typical Milwaukee Brewers baseball: One bad decision that can derail an entire season. There is, after all, reasons why something has gone wrong every year since 1982, when Milwaukee last made the playoffs.

1983: Sluggers are supposed to play right field, correct? Charlie Moore starts 148 games in right despite hitting just two home runs. He does, however, rank second in the AL in sacrifice bunts.

1984: The Brewers rank last in runs scored. It doesn't help that DH Ted Simmons collects 532 plate appearances, hits .221/.269/.300 and grounds into 23 double plays. Can you imagine how many sausages must have been thrown at him that season?

1985: After hitting .229 and .248 the previous two seasons, the Brewers still give 219 at-bats to Rick Manning. He hits .218 with no power.

1986: Rob Deer hits 33 home runs. Cecil Cooper hits 12. Nobody else reaches double figures. Never a team to exactly learn from its mistakes, Moore and Manning are still around, sucking up over 200 ABs apiece.

1987: This was the year the Brewers started out 13-0 (and 17-1). They would finish with 91 wins, seven games behind first-place Detroit. If only they hadn't given 29 starts to Len Barker, Mike Birkbeck and Mark Knudson, who combined to give up 205 hits in 150 2/3 innings, maybe the entire future of the franchise would have been different. Or perhaps not.

1988: The Brewers finish second in the AL in ERA, but for some reason, playing a .212-hitting first baseman for 115 games (Greg Brock) doesn't win them a division title.

1989: A young Gary Sheffield plays 70 games at shortstop. Birkbeck is still floating around and fails to win any of his nine starts. Deer hits 26 home runs but drives in just 65 runs. It doesn't add up to a playoff berth.

1990: The Brewers do stick to their guns. Brock is still playing first base even though he hits just .248 with seven home runs in 367 at-bats. Sheffield moves to third base and later accuses the organization of racism by choosing to play Bill Spiers at shortstop over him. He would later say, "The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. … I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I'd say, 'OK, here's a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose."

1991: They finally attempt to solve the first-base problem, but Franklin Stubbs shockingly fails to deliver the promise he had also failed to deliver his previous seven years in the majors by hitting .213/.282/.359.

1992: In Phil Garner's first year as skipper, the team wins 92 games and finishes just four games behind Toronto. Proving 1991 wasn't a fluke, Stubbs hits .229/.297/.368 in 92 games.

1993: Closer Doug Henry finishes with a 5.56 ERA. Tom Brunansky hits .183 in 80 games. Other problems too numerous to list also exist.

1994: Ladies and gentleman, your 1994 Milwaukee Brewers All-Star representative … Ricky Bones!

1995: The team's pitching staff finishes with 603 walks and 699 strikeouts. That's not good. It's possible the team fielded the first rotation in which all starters threw under 90 mph.

1996: Catcher Mike Matheny plays stellar defense but hits .204/.243/.342. Oh, wait … Listach, who couldn't hit as a shortstop after his rookie year in 1992, is moved to center field … and hits .240/.317/.312.

1997: Ah, yes, the Gerald "Ice" Williams era. He played 155 games, hit .253/.282/.369 and drove in just 41 runs. Those are nice numbers for a shortstop. In 1968. For an outfielder in 1997? Kind of like seeing Pacino in "88 Minutes."

1998: Do you remember guys like Brad Woodall, Rafael Roque, Paul Wagner, Jose Mercedes and Bronswell Patrick? Nope, we don't either. (OK, actually we do, but that's because we're baseball nerds.)

1999: Despite six consecutive losing seasons, Garner is brought back for another year. He's fired after a 52-60 start; Bill Pulsipher (16 starts, 5.98 ERA), Jim Abbott (15 starts, 6.91 ERA) and Cal Eldred (15 starts, 7.79 ERA) stink like the inside of one those sausage costumes.

2000: The Brewers have long had an affinity for outfielders who don't get on base: Marquis Grissom gets 595 at-bats despite a stomach-churning .288 OBP. But at least his nickname wasn't "Ice."

2001: The Brewers dump Grissom, only to sign Jeffrey Hammonds to a three-year, $21 million contract. Hammonds, oft-injured and with mediocre OBPs outside of Colorado, plays 49 games with a .314 OBP.

2002: Davey Lopes, coming off 89- and 94-loss seasons, is brought back for a third season. For 15 games. He's gone after a 3-12 start. The team loses 100 games (106) for the only time in franchise history. Needless to say, there was a lot of badness to go around. Somehow, the Brewers ended up with two All-Stars. The game was played in Milwaukee. It ended in a tie. Bud Selig did this.

2003: Glendon Rusch starts 19 games. He wins once. Once. Let us repeat that: One win in 19 starts. One.

2004: The Brewers finished last in the NL with a .248 average. Pitcher Doug Davis went 1-for-64 (.016) to lead the way, but only Lyle Overbay hit above. 280. Pitchers Wes Obermueller (.385) and Brooks Kieschnick (.270) outhit nearly every position player.

2005: Seeking their first winning season since '92, the Brewers were 81-79 with two games left ... but lost 5-1 and 3-1 to the Pirates. Chad Moeller sucks up 199 at-bats by hitting .206/.257/.367.

2006: Derrick Turnbow goes 4-9 with 24 saves … and a 6.87 ERA. Note to Brewers fans: He remained the closer until blowing two games in early July.

2007: The Brewers finally crack .500 and finish just two games behind the Cubs. Oh, what if Chris Capuano hadn't gone his final 18 starts without winning a single one of them? Perhaps Brewers fans would still be dancing in fields of flowers and eating mounds of cheddar, with the retirement of Brett Favre but a blip of sadness in their World Series joy.

David Schoenfield and a cast of thousands contributed to this historical exposé.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

All-Star Voting

All-Star voting has begun and each email address can have up to 25 votes, so use every email at your disposal at vote for the Brewers fielders for the All-Star Game.

Go here and Click on Vote to get started.

(photo collage from MilwaukeeBrewers.com)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Yovani Gallardo out, likely for season

HOUSTON -- The Brewers believed they had dodged a bullet Thursday when right-hander Yovani Gallardo, arguably the organization's best young pitcher, walked away from what looked like a gruesome knee injury. And why shouldn't they have felt good? Gallardo not only stayed in the game, he recorded another five outs.

That apparent bit of good fortune made Friday's news all the more devastating. Gallardo, 22, recorded those final five outs with a fully torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He probably requires surgery and may have thrown his final pitch in 2008.

Manager Ned Yost was already at Minute Maid Park preparing for his club's series opener against the Astros when he got word just after noon CT.

"That news kind of catches you by surprise. You're not ready for that," Yost said. "It's kind of like getting punched between the eyes. You stagger back two or three steps and you try to figure out what just happened."

Because he is a pitcher and the injury is to Gallardo's push-off leg, the odds of surgery are high. Club officials will wait for swelling in his knee to subside before considering the options.

The team placed Gallardo, who started the year on the disabled list after undergoing left knee surgery in Spring Training, on the 15-day DL. Right-hander Dave Bush was recalled from Triple-A Nashville and will take Gallardo's spot beginning Wednesday against the Marlins.

General manager Doug Melvin called it a "kick to the gut." He was already fielding calls Friday afternoon from general managers either offering sympathy or gauging Melvin's interest in acquiring additional pitching, and the GM had spoken with head pro scout Dick Groch about having Brewers scouts increase their focus on pitching.

"You spend so much time building a team," lamented Melvin, who called the news "pretty devastating, pretty tough."

Gallardo, who had a 1.80 ERA in three starts this season, was hurt in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game on Thursday, when Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson attempted to bunt for a hit up the first-base line. Prince Fielder scooped up the baseball and tagged Johnson for the out while Gallardo tried to get out of the way. Gallardo's ankle appeared to roll under a diving Johnson's body, and when Gallardo landed, his knee buckled.

He grimaced in pain, but after the initial shock and a visit from Yost and head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger, he remained in the game. Gallardo finished a scoreless fifth inning, went out for the sixth and got through the inning but surrendered two Cubs runs. Outfielder Ryan Braun thinks Gallardo's velocity was down 4-5 mph, but Yost didn't agree. Pitching coach Mike Maddux noticed that Gallardo was leaving more pitches up in the strike zone.

Yost thought he saw the pitcher limping during the sixth inning, so, for the second time, he and Caplinger visited the mound. Gallardo waved them off.

"He wanted to continue, his teammates wanted him to continue and we all wanted him to continue," Yost said. "We didn't see any reason for him not to. There were no indicators that said to us that he shouldn't."

Said Maddux: "I thought he was going to be sore, and six days from now, he's back on the bump."

That outlook changed after the game, when Caplinger had time for a more thorough examination. Trainers noticed what Yost called "looseness" in Gallardo's knee when it moved a certain way, and since the team was in Chicago, 90 miles south of Milwaukee and head team physician William Raasch, Gallardo headed north while the rest of the team boarded a flight for Houston.

An MRI exam on Friday morning confirmed the tear. By that time, Gallardo had experienced swelling.

"The doctor said no further damage could have happened by going back out to pitch," Melvin said. "Once it's torn, it's torn. Going out to pitch didn't cause any additional problems."

The Brewers wound up rallying for three runs in the ninth to stun the Cubs, and headed to Houston feeling good about the win and Gallardo's apparent good fortune. Two days earlier, ace Ben Sheets returned to the rotation after missing a start with a sore right triceps.

"The key is we never get Yovani and Ben together," a disappointed Melvin said.

Last year, Gallardo was called up from the Minors and spent much of the summer filling in for Sheets, who was on the DL with a finger injury. Gallardo went 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA in the big leagues.

His absence was certainly felt on Friday.

"It's a huge blow to us as a team," Braun said. "Nobody knows your body more than you do, and when he stayed in the game, I didn't think it was anything close to this type of severity. I was shocked when I found out."

The last Brewers player to sustain a torn ACL was infielder Tony Graffanino, who was injured in a game that Gallardo started last August. Graffanino had torn his before, and he continues to rehabilitate as a free agent.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Turnbow designated for assignment

FRIDAY, May 2, 2008, 9 a.m.
Brewers designate Turnbow for assignment

The Milwaukee Brewers today designated relief pitcher Derrick Turnbow for assignment.

In a corresponding move, Joe Dillon was recalled from Class AAA Nashville.

Dillon will be in uniform tonight when the Brewers play the Houston Astros.

Turnbow was an all-star closer for the Brewers in 2006 and pitched well for the most part last season in a set-up role, but has become increasingly unreliable this year. His low point came Wednesday night when Yost sent him to pitch the eighth inning with the Cubs leading, 13-5.

Turnbow was unable to get out of the inning, surrendering six runs on four hits and four walks, forcing Yost to use left-hander Mitch Stetter to get the third out in the 19-5 loss. That meltdown came on the heels of an outing Sunday against Florida in which Turnbow failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced (two walks, single).

The numbers tell the story of how awful Turnbow has been. In eight outings, he is 0-1 with a 15.63 earned run average, allowing 12 hits, 13 walks and 11 runs in 6 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .414 against him.