Friday, June 27, 2008

Brewers pitcher links

Lots of stories floating around out there about Brewers pitching

Gagne didn't fair very well in his second minor league start.

Manny Parra, "Captain Contusion"? His 6 wins started when he hit some bad luck and he's been hit several times since then--- but as long as he's winning....

On the heels of another Ben Sheets complete game, the Brewers are shaking up their pitching situation in the minor leagues. Relievers will start the game and the starter will come in in the 3rd or 4th inning so they can experience pitching in the 9th inning.

Brewers supplemental first round pick Jake Odorizzi from Illinois is the USA Today prep baseball player of the year

J-S article on Torres, saying he settled the closer situation

Bucks draft WVU's Joe Alexander

Once again, I know nothing, so if you want the dirt, this isn't the place to come for NBA info, but I did see this link (in the ticker of today's UniWatch entry) and thought it was funny:

Honestly, the plan was to take a break from Joe Alexander and it seemed entirely possible. Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much.

Then again, WVU hasn’t had an NBA first-round pick since 1968, a draft pick since 1997 and a player since … jeez, Lowes Moore in 1983?

Yeah, this is a big deal.

In addition, there isn’t a whole lot else going on and, to be quite honest, Alexander gives us way to much material. Take his typically entertaining chat at ESPN.com yesterday as an example.

Dave (Morgantown):What number do you plan on wearing in the NBA? Is there a reason you chose #11 at WVU?

Joe Alexander: I chose 11 because it was a number I wore in middle school. I’m going to wear 11 if I can. If not, I have some serious thinking to do about whether I really want to play in this league.

Well, Joe might have a problem.

Three NBA teams have already retired the number.

It’s highly unlikely he slips to Detroit at No. 29 and no matter what he did to the CBA and the New York Knicks, Isiah Thomas’ number isn’t coming down from the rafters.

Alexander probably won’t make it to the Wizards at No. 18, either, though he did work out there and, who know, perhaps there’s a trade a conflict with the retired 11 of Elvin Hayes.

The real issue is at No. 12 with the Sacramento Kings, for whom Alexander said he had his best workout. The retired 11 belongs to Bob Davies.

There remains a possibility Alexander would go as high as No. 6 to the Knicks, but guard Jamal Crawford has worn 11 for them the past four seasons. Even worse, he went to Michigan, though he always seems to be on the trading block.

The Clippers, who have seemingly no interest in Alexander, go next and have no 11 on their roster.

The Bucks, who seem most likely to draft Alexander at No, 8, have no one wearing 11.

Earl Boykins wears 11 for the Bobcats, which doesn’t seem like a very, um, big deal. Not because he’s 5-foot-5 but because he’s a free agent.

The Nets pick 10th and have no one wearing 11.

Following Sacramento are the Portland Trail Blazers, whose 11 is talented guard Sergio Rodriguez. If Alexander goes here, take a deep breath because the Blazers may very well trade whoever they take if they don’t trade the pick before making it.

Alexander’s agent, Doug Neustadt, assures everyone Alexander is a lottery pick, which means he won’t slip past 14. That’d be fine because that’s where the 11-less Golden State Warriors pick.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sonic Drive Ins in Milwaukee

There are unconfirmed reports on tonight's 9 pm news that there will be 20 Sonic restaurants opening in the Milwaukee area. A search of the interwebs reveals no details. The first Sonic opened in Minnesota last week and hopefully this is a harbinger of great things to come.

If anyone can confirm these reports, you will make CuteSportsCentral one very happy place!!!

As a former Southern girl, I can tell you the best part of my 16 hour drive from Milwaukee to New Orleans was the first Sonic of the trip for a ginormous Strawberry Limeade. To think that this tasty drink will once again be mine is like a dream come true!!!

Bucks trade Yi?

I know next to nothing about the NBA, so tonight's draft means nothing to me, but I just got the word from my friend Geoff that the Bucks are trading Yi to the Nets. The story comes from ESPN.com

I'll let Geoff be the CuteSports NBA guru since I'm useless.

He says it's a good move because the Bucks had to get rid of Bobby Simmons' contract. He said we have too many 3/4 players and Richard Jefferson is a true 3 who can really score.

That's all I got.

Sources: Nets agree to trade Jefferson to Bucks for Yi, Simmons

Updated: June 26, 2008, 3:21 PM ET



The New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of a trade that will send Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for forwards Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, according to NBA front-office sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the deal has been agreed to and submitted for league approval in advance of Thursday night's draft. No draft picks are involved in the trade, sources said.

Such a swap would create an estimated $10-plus million in long-term savings for the Nets as they continue to re-shape their team after trading another mainstay -- point guard Jason Kidd -- to Dallas in February.

The trade would also enable Yi to make a move to the larger media market he was hoping for this time last year, when Milwaukee drafted him out of China with the sixth overall pick. Kiki Vandeweghe, New Jersey's new general manager alongside team president Rod Thorn, is a longstanding Yi fan who has frequently likened the 7-footer's perimeter skills and potential to Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.

The Bucks, meanwhile, would be supplying new coach Scott Skiles with a veteran player coming off his best season to fill a problem position. Jefferson averaged 22.7 points per game last season and played all 82 games after an injury-plagued 2006-07 season.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shocking no one, Ben Sheets says he wants to test free agent market

I've been out of town all day, so sorry for the article dump. Considering he's having the season of his and (to some extent) our dreams, Ben Sheets must just be rubbing his hands together in glee imaging the money he'll make on the free agent market after this season. No one can blame the Brewers for being skittish about signing Ben to anything long term prior to this season, given his injury history, but boy has he made us look silly for not tying him up.

This is the first time Sheets has come out and said that he doesn't intend to sign back up without seeing what he's worth. Of course, the Brewers have been very vocal about the fact that they don't/didn't plan on offering anything during the course of this season.

We're not halfway yet, so anything can happen, but Ben has put up the kind of numbers to imply that Milwaukee's payroll will not be able to handle him next season.

Article here.


Also, buried at the bottom of this article is a tidbit saying Tavarez DID NOT except his DFA to Nashville.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Brewers national media attention

A few linkys to start your Monday morning:

From FoxSports: If there's a more surprising story in the NL right now than the emergence of right-hander Seth McClung as a viable starter in the Brewers rotation, it must be a good one.

....

Buster Olney over at ESPN ranks the Brewers first in the sweepstakes for C.C. Sabathia. Again, it's Insider, so I'll post the relevant text (Bolding mine):

I had one of those I-wish-I-had-said-that moments after posting the
rankings for the pre-C.C. Sabathia Sweepstakes the other day. So I'll
flush out the thought today. (And to reiterate -- this is all just
speculation and tea-leaf reading, and has all the value of college
basketball rankings on Sept. 15).

There are two factors in play, and the No. 1 factor is this: Who is
most motivated to make a deal for Sabathia, who has been excellent
since his slow start, posting a 2.16 ERA?

And No. 2: Who has the caliber of prospects needed to make a deal for Sabathia?

(To be clear, Sabathia is not yet out on the market, some rival GMs
say, but there may soon be a day when he will be. The Indians are 6½
games out of first, after dropping the final game of a series against
the Dodgers).

The Cubs would rank first in motivation, given the 100-year thing;
they'd love to have Sabathia, he would be perfect for them, and he and
a healthy Carlos Zambrano could match up against any duo from any
contender in the National League. The rest of the motivation rankings
might go something like this, given the current standings: Brewers,
Dodgers, Phillies, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, etc.

And the Cubs run into some serious problems, according to rival talent
evaluators, in the ranking of prospective offers; they don't have the
kind of high-end talent that might be needed to pry Sabathia away from
Cleveland, although they probably could go all-in with their best
pieces and fashion an acceptable offer.

All things being equal, this might be how the possible suitors line up
in this category: Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers, Yankees, Brewers, Rangers,
Phillies, Cubs, etc.

Boston, Tampa Bay and the Yankees could theoretically put together
some very sweet offers for Sabathia, but it really is unclear how
aggressive they will be; if they got aggressive, they'd probably have
an enormous advantage. The same goes for the Dodgers, even though
other teams view L.A. as the ultimate tease -- they often hint that
they'll talk about giving up their best prospects, but in the end,
they never do.

The Brewers are motivated to try to win now, because they're playing
great -- they're 18-7 over the last four weeks, they're clubbing
homers all over the place, they have a clear need in their rotation,
and owner Mark Attanasio wants to win now, according to some who work
for him. And at a time when the Indians need to bolster their cupboard
at the top levels of their farm system, Milwaukee has major-league
ready prospects playing for their exceptional Double-A team.

This is how I came up with the early Sabathia Sweepstakes rankings the
other day: 1. Milwaukee; 2. Cubs; 3. Dodgers; 4. Rangers; 5. Red Sox.

If Boston suffers any kind of a significant pitching injury to one of
its mainstays, of course, that could change everything.

The Rays' pitching help might come from within, given that No. 1 pick
David Price continues to climb the ladder, after dominating high
A-ball.

...

From the NYTimes Baseball blog: Branyan may be this year's Cust

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Can "The Muscle" keep it up? History says no.

This is from ESPN.com's Eric Karabell, who is their fantasy baseball writer. The article does talk a lot about fantasy team impact, but I think it's still worth posting because it's a whole article about my man, Russell "The Muscle." It's an ESPN Insider article, so I posted the whole text (thanks to Geoff). Don't skip the little tidbits at the end, there's lots of Brewers info down there, too. (Bolding mine.) There's also one on the possible slide of Carlos Marmol - Brewers fans pray and rejoice!
_________
Friday, June 20, 2008
Reality on homer-happy Branyan, Thames

So there's that Russell Branyan guy hitting yet another home run
Thursday, and I'm thinking, so what, been there, done that. I mean,
isn't that what everyone's thinking? This is typical, vintage Branyan.
Branyan has always had power, and whenever he goes to a new place, he
shows it off for a bit, then starts striking out a lot and slips back
into relative obscurity. That's his thing, in a way.
Of course, couldn't it be possible that Branyan is this season's Jack Cust?

I decided I'd do some research for this one, seeing if Branyan
actually does hit a bunch of homers every time he joins a new team,
then trails off so we can ignore him again. Even if it wasn't true, I
asked five random people in the office what they thought of Branyan,
and to a man -- there aren't, um, a whole lotta women in our office,
much to Matthew Berry's chagrin -- they all assumed, like I, that
Branyan was on another one of his hot streaks and soon he'd cool down,
Bill Hall would be happy and life would go back to normal.

The research does bear this out a bit, but then I thought, so what? It
gives us strong background on this all-or-nothing slugger, but didn't
Cust finally stick with Oakland last season? Cust had been around,
too, failing for a number of organizations before smacking 26 home
runs for Billy Beane's crew in 2007. Obviously, fantasy owners had
reason to question his great start, and maybe a lot of you either
didn't bother with Cust, or turned him into someone else before what
you thought would be the inevitable fall.

Branyan enters Friday with 20 games played for Milwaukee, and 10 home
runs. He's homered in three straight games, and four of five. He's
walking, striking out, knocking in runs, and while we do have a strong
sample size of Branyan's past, he's never really done it quite like
this, which makes me wonder …

• In 2000, Branyan came up with the Indians for the third straight
year, and got to stay. He homered twice on May 31 that season, the day
of his call-up, then didn't start until six games later, and he
homered again. In all, Branyan swatted six long balls in his first
five starts with the Tribe, then cooled down. He was mainly a regular
player that year once he came up, and he hit 16 homers in 67 games,
which is quite the pace. He also hit .238.

• In 2002, he was traded across Ohio to the Reds for Ben Broussard.
Branyan didn't homer in his final 20 games with the Indians, but in
his second and fourth games with Cincy, he did. Another fast start! He
cooled down faster this time, but remained a regular much of the time
for the Reds, and hit for power. On Aug. 4 at San Diego, he hit three
home runs, two off Bobby Jones (the right-hander who was a longtime
Met, not the tall, erratic lefty) and one off Mike Holtz. He ended up
with 16 homers in 84 games for the Reds, 24 for the season.

• In 2004, he joined the Brewers, and homered in his first start for
them, a solo shot off Greg Maddux. He hit six home runs in his first
11 starts, including a two-homer, five-RBI game against the Cubs (Matt
Clement, Mike Remlinger). Then, shockingly, he cooled down, finishing
with 11 homers in 51 games.
• In 2006, then with Tampa Bay, he was the starting right fielder much
of April, but hit only three home runs that month. In May he hit six.
By August, with 12 homers and a .201 batting average, he was dealt to
the Padres. In his second game, he hit two home runs, off Brandon Webb
and everyone's pal Jorge Julio. Fast start! Slow after that. He ended
up with six homers and nine RBIs in 27 games, and doubled and tripled
in 13 at-bats against the Cardinals in the playoffs.
• In 2007, Branyan played for three teams. He didn't do much for the
Padres as a part-time third baseman, then he got released. The Indians
signed him, and two days later sold him to the Phillies. Branyan hit a
huge, game-winning home run in his first at-bat, a two-run, pinch-hit
shot off Jon Rauch, and five games later he made his first start, and
hit a three-run homer! That was his only start. A week later he was
gone, victim of a numbers game really, and the Cardinals picked him
up. And again Branyan homered in his first start! He didn't hit
another for St. Louis.
So, to make a long story short, Branyan does indeed have a track
record of starting fast with new teams, but he's never started this
fast, with double-digit homers in a few weeks. This is new, uncharted
territory for the man. The Brewers seemed to plan for this, signing
Branyan back in February to a minor league deal, and then when they
just couldn't take Hall's struggles against right-handed pitching any
longer, brought him up on May 25. So far, so great!

So this is where I have to say the wise thing, right? I must discuss
how Branyan can't possibly keep this up, and how you should sign him,
enjoy the occasional dinger and swiftly move him to some dunderhead in
your league who thinks he'll hit 30. Am I not compelled to do this?
Why, at age 32, would Branyan all of a sudden be able to keep a hot
streak going? Aren't opposing scouts watching? They must be aware that
Branyan is a major strikeout guy. Bust him up and in or throw sliders
off the plate and he's putty. Yes, he can hit majestic home runs as
well. In fact, in the history of Miller Park, it's not Prince Fielder
or Ryan Braun or Corey Hart who has hit three of the four longest home
runs in stadium history, it's you know who. The stadium opened in
2001, by the way, or else I would have mentioned Gorman Thomas, Robin
Yount and Hank Aaron.

However, Branyan is not Cust, because he doesn't have the same kind of
plate discipline to take walks, but he is a classic "three true
outcomes" type player in that Branyan doesn't put the ball in play
very much and he does walk, fan and homer quite a bit. He's really
never been a full-time regular all season, and with Hall still around,
and his batting average a lock to drop at least 75 points from its
current mark, Branyan might not get that chance this season, either.
Or maybe the Brewers are 10 games behind the Cubs on July 31, and
Branyan gets moved to a contender or sold again.

Whatever the case, and no matter how good a story this appears, what
Cust did last year is different. He's far more patient, and showed
that ability all through the minors. And when he cooled down after a
hot start, the A's didn't pull the plug on him. Branyan isn't a bad
short-term pickup, and look, there he is on ESPN's most-added list
already. He should be. There's a chance this continues. History,
however, tells us otherwise, that the strikeouts or his defense are
just too much for a real team to take.

I've stated my case on one-dimensional power hitters plenty in the
past. I liked Cust a lot in a head-to-head league that used OPS, and
not batting average. I think Branyan will be a poor man's Cust.
However, in standard leagues with all the trappings -- shallow, 10
teams, plenty of free agents who are well-rounded and with more
upside, the typical five offensive stats -- eventually the batting
average will do more harm than the home runs will do good. I generally
don't own players like Cust or Branyan in standard leagues.

The same goes for Marcus Thames. Good for him for hitting home runs in
five consecutive games recently, and six of seven. Thames always had
power. He's not foolin' anyone, we know what he's capable of. I just
found it amazing that while Thames was hitting those home runs, his
batting average actually went down. He didn't hit any singles! All his
hits were home runs. Ten days ago, he was hitting .253. Seven home
runs and nine starts later, he's hitting .250. Hard to do, folks. Not
to go all Jayson Stark on you, but I can't believe this is a common
thing. Thames is a career .242 hitter, with a .505 slugging
percentage. He'll hit home runs, and that's it. Jim Leyland remembers
Dave Kingman, as do I. That's Thames.

I'll admit, I was hoping that after all my research on Branyan and
Thames, I'd make the determination their success was not fleeting, and
they could keep this up. I just can't. I am rooting for them, though,
and let's make it clear: Home runs and RBIs do count in fantasy
baseball, and these guys do have value in the deeper leagues. Heck,
they might have value to you, if you need power and lead the league in
batting average, in shallow leagues.

So let's turn our attention to happy thoughts on my mind this fine
Friday, as I'll be just a few feet away from Adam Eaton and Ervin
Santana later on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, watching these
teams' respective leaders in quality starts. Strange but true.

Happy thoughts time … wouldn't it be nice if …

… Evan Longoria ended up with shortstop eligibility? It sure would!
Longoria started at short on Thursday, while Jason Bartlett got the
night off against the Cubs.

… Carlos Zambrano missed only one start. To be honest, I gave up a
year ago on predicting doom for this abused right-hander. I wouldn't
panic, I do really think he avoids a DL stint.

… his previous appearance was not the start of wild times for dominant
Carlos Marmol. Hopefully, the two walks and two batters he hit are not
a sign of pending doom for arguably the top relief pitcher in the
game. He doesn't have the saves, but the numbers are crazy, at least
before Thursday. And he does have a history of command issues. I think
the Cubs would be in more trouble sans Marmol, rather than Big Z.

… Justin Upton goes off now that he had his first decent game of June.
The rookie has struggled. Yeah, yeah, he's 20, but imagine how that
destroys the psyche when you're 3-for-36 for the month! On Thursday,
he homered, doubled and walked.

… Travis Hafner comes back and takes walks, hits for power, is his old self?

… Salomon Torres really does remain the Milwaukee closer, no matter
how good Eric Gagne looks? Or maybe this section should read, it would
be nice if Brewers manager Ned Yost sticks by his word.

… Jamie Moyer pitched five more years?

… my ol' pal Dave Bush could keep this going? I was in my car
listening to a shocked Bob Uecker describe one of the most annoying,
hittable pitchers in the game take a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Dave Bush? You must be kidding. I feel compelled to point out his WHIP
is 1.27. Sure, his ERA is high, he allows homers, doesn't strike
people out and that was only his third win in 13 starts. But his WHIP
is 1.27. We've been through this many times before, but how can he not
be emerging, again? Think positive thoughts, he's emerging! And by the
way, the Blue Jays could be next to have their front office blown up.
Not only couldn't they hit Bush, but the war with Adam Dunn, being in
last place, it's ridiculous.

Adam Dunn got dealt to the Blue Jays.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Aaron Rodgers might not suck

ESPN.com's John Clayton says that Aaron Rodgers has crazy arm strength. He says is like Rodgers has Superman's right arm.

But the best quote comes from Packers' WR Greg Jennings:

"He has a cannon," wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "We call him the 'Human Jugs Machine.' He throws it like a Jugs machine every time.

"He can make every throw on the football field, and his deep ball is one of the prettiest. Brett had a great deep ball, but Aaron has a beautiful one."

---
Greg Jennings - wordsmith!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Holy Russell Branyan!

59 At-bats
18 hits
13 runs
14 RBI
9 HR

On-Base .400
Slugging .831
Batting Average .305

(Also, his middle name is Oles)

Jason Taylor to Packers?

Reports: Packers checking on Taylor's availability in trade


The Dolphins say they want Jason Taylor to play one final season in Miami, but that reportedly hasn't stopped the Green Bay Packers from continuing to check on his availability.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are reporting that the Packers have called the Dolphins to check if the team is willing to deal the star defensive end. The Packers also inquired about Taylor before April's NFL draft.

And a source in South Florida told the Journal Sentinel that, despite Taylor's insistence earlier this month that he's willing to play in Miami in 2008, he has only pushed harder for a trade from the only team he has ever played for.

According to the Journal Sentinel, the Packers would agree to a deal only if Taylor backs down on his desire to play just one more season. The Dolphins were seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Taylor before the draft, but a source told the Journal Sentinel that the Dolphins may be willing to deal the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year now for a second-round pick.

The Dolphins wouldn't comment on the reports.

"We don't comment on rumors," Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said, according to the Palm Beach Post.

In Taylor's Words

Jason Taylor discusses his future with the Dolphins and his role in the ABC hit series "Dancing With the Stars." Watch

Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders is familiar with Taylor from his time on former Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt's staff in Miami.

Defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn, who was also on Wannstedt's staff, is a big fan of Taylor.

"Anytime you can get a guy of that caliber, you'd want to try to get him," Nunn said, according to the Press-Gazette. "But I don't get involved in anything like that.

"All I know is that when I coached him, he was a great football player and a great person. I hope it works out for him because he's had such a great career, and I'd hate to see it end on a bad note in the public's eye. The guy is such an outstanding individual and a great football player, and I just hope for the best for Jason and hope it ends well, and he's able to compete for a Super Bowl."

The Journal Sentinel reported that general manager Ted Thompson recently discussed Taylor with both Sanders and Nunn.

Sanders wouldn't comment when asked if he thought Taylor would be a good fit with the Packers.

"Ted does a great job with that," Sanders said, according to the Press-Gazette. "I yield to him on all those situations."

The Packers have a need for another pass rusher as Corey Williams and his seven sacks were dealt to the Browns in the offseason. Also, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is returning from knee surgery.

Tavarez designated for assingment (thank goodness!)

Tavarez designed for assignment

By Tom Haudricourt
Thursday, Jun 19 2008, 10:29 AM

The Brewers made room on their roster today to activate reliever David Riske from the DL by designating reliever Julian Tavarez for assignment.

The Brewers signed Tavarez a few weeks ago to a minimum-salary contract after he was released by Boston but he did not impress club officials in his seven relief outings. Tavarez was 0-1 with a 8.59 ERA, allowing 13 hits, five walks and 10 runs (seven earned) in 7 1/3 innings.

The dumping of Tavarez shows that the Brewers have been impressed with the showing of rookie relieves Mark DiFelice and Tim Dillard.

Riske will be available to pitch in the game today against Toronto.


________

Also,

The Brewers didn't strand a baserunner in Tuesday's series opener for just the eighth time in the more than 6,500 games in club history, and the first time since June 14, 1998. They are 4-4 when they don't leave a single runner on base

Straight from Deadspin

I'm not even introducing this, since it's got it's own lead-in...

The Beery Nine Over The Siamese From The West


Slate's Robert Weintraub, like many of us, loves the old purple prose of early 1900s sportswriting, the Grantland Rices, the men who painted epic tales of warriors, grizzled combatants and lardywarks too manly to wear gloves. In an occasional series, Weintraub writes about the week's best baseball game in the style of the vaunted sportswriters of yesteryear. This week: The Brewers' win over the Twins on Saturday.

One of the Pastime’s great lures is the likelihood that all attendees, even a jaded regular like this reporter, will witness an occurrence he or she has never before seen. This temptation was on full display during the final game of a Deviant Series (stop bastardizing the game, people!) matchup between the Beery Nine from Milwaukee and the Siamese from the West, Minnesota.

Both sides were on the receiving end of Serling Style happenings involving strikeouts. But one was mere Chadwickian oddity, while the other was as a result of deliberate action by Blue, and as such, was met with outrage and brickbats rather than applause. Excepting the forty thousand or so Good Friends in the grandstand, of course, who were delighted by the incident, as it came in assistance of a 4-2 triumph for the Mixmasters.

Before describing the Prestige, however, a word or three about the Turn. Ahead by a tally courtesy of a Russ “3TO” Branyan safety in the opening innings, Milwaukee’s Finest came up for their third at bat against Twin City twirler Scott “Captain Shreve” Baker. Down they went, 1-2-3-4. And all via the 11th Letter. Unpossible, you declare? Not so, dear Reader. With The Hebrew Hammer, Ryan Braun, already retired after errant swings, the Porky Prince of Pop took his turn in the rectangle. Appropriately, given the holiday, Fielder failed to Honor Thy Father, and he too missed badly on a troika of swings. However, Mike “Smell Those RBI’s” Redmond, backstopping the Chang and Engs, failed to corral a wide one from his batterymate, and the pill bounded so far into the distance that even the Portly Prince was able to reach the Right Sack.

Officially, according to Sir Chadwick himself, that chain of events is recorded as a Whiff, giving the good Captain a brace in the innings. In short order, he regripped the wheel and caught 3TO and Mike “Black Cat” Cameron browsing. That gave Baker a quartet of K’s in the innings, despite the seeming numerically impossibility of the act. While not an event as rare as the Javan Spotted Rhino, it was sufficiently unusual to earn Baker his own bust in the North Star record book. No other Minnesotan in the long history of the franchise has accomplished a Fantastic Four (Flame On!)

Inspired by the Mound Mark, the Fraternals stuck their collective nostrils in front. Jason “The Beautiful Fork” Kubel stroked a Long Sock in the Middle Frame, and a Kamikaze Out by Alexi “Stomp The Yard” Casilla unWindsored the contest. But those feats of raptor-eyed batsmanship were immediately offset in the home half of the sixth innings, when The Black Cat reversed his curse, at least with a small ‘r’, and powered a drive into the left-center cheapies with 3TO watching from the Gilded Path. 3-2, Brew Crew.

The Big Fly turned an historic afternoon for Captain Shreve into a Day of Disappointment. "It came down to one pitch," Baker said. "It went from a great outing to an average one." Alas (and alack), Sir Shreve, that’s the very nature of base ball, and, as with your trip into history earlier in the day, a Shining Example of why we cannot live without the Game, despite repeated entreaties by the Better Half to kick the habit…

Meanwhile, FonzieTown hurler Seth “Joystick” McClung justified his skipper’s faith on this Sabbath Day. Field General Yost was tempted to remove the game gamer from his rotation, but stuck with him for another go against the Junior Circuiters, and was rewarded with six quality frames. Enter the Welfarers, who slammed the door on the Frigid State Nine. But not without a little aid from the Chief Adjudicator.

Guillermo “Sister Christian” Mota toed the slab in the eighth innings, and set down all three Twins who dared wave their ash in his direction by strikeout. It was the middle whiff that had tongues wagging afterward. Brandon “The Marquis” Harris was scoffing at Pentagon Solomon Brian Runge’s warnings to hurry up and hit, rather than dawdle with his foot outside the rectangle. When Harris didn’t respond with alacrity, Blue waved to the Night Ranger to stand and deliver, which he did for Strike Three.

The Hit and Run Hun, Skip Gardenhire, promptly aired his grievance of the ruling at great volume, and in extreme proximity to Runge’s grille. He was ordered from the premises, forthwith. Don’t blame Blue on this one. Indeed, the Blue Collective has been directed to take such steps in order to install an internal combustion engine to an often horse and buggy sport. The Marquis was gumming up the works, and didn’t like the taste of the Drano that came down the pipe.

Bernie’s Boys tacked on a Prudential Tally in their turn at bat, and salvaged a V from an otherwise emptyhanded set. But Rushing Runge was the day’s Takeaway Platter. “If he gets hit in the head, what are we going to do then? That's embarrassing. I don't get it at all. That's wrong," opined the Hun. "'Call the league,' that's what I was told." Far be it from me to question the Commish of Gilles Hot Dogs (duly noted—his Pride and Joy were beneficiaries of the Dubious Decision), but why bother trying to bring a hasty and unnatural end to these Glorious Afternoons at the Park? This reporter’s Typing Brethren are responsible for much of the barracking about length of play. Ticketholders are free to leave at any point. Those who stay are presumably sanguine with the proceedings. So why hurry them from the fresh air and glad tidings? Given the seldom seen action earlier in the day, the Drive ‘Em Out Directive was truly Irony Unbound.

VooDoo part deux

Remember last week I mentioned a co-worker who used his VooDoo on Soriano? Remember how I said he set his sights on Zambrano next?

Looks like lightening might have struck again.

Zambrano left tonight's game with tightness in his shoulder and is flying back to Chicago for an MRI

from MLB.com:
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano lasted longer than most pitchers would have Wednesday night, but he had to be pulled in the seventh inning because of discomfort in his right shoulder.

Zambrano will fly back to Chicago on Thursday to be examined by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Steven Gryzlo, and is expected to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. The team expects to have more details on the right-hander's status by Friday.

"He's got shoulder discomfort, and we don't know more than that," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

Four different players drove in a run in a four-run third inning to spark the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-4 Interleague victory over the Cubs and Zambrano. The Rays batted around in the key third, taking a 5-2 lead, and Zambrano had totaled 54 pitches by that point. But he stayed in the game.

In the seventh, Zambrano walked Carl Crawford and got B.J. Upton to ground into a double play. Zambrano threw one pitch to Eric Hinske, and catcher Geovany Soto signaled to the dugout. Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal and Piniella then went to the mound, and after some discussion, Zambrano finally exited.

"I wanted to finish the hitter," Zambrano said. "Lou told me, 'That's enough,' and I have to respect that."

"He was trying to talk me into staying," Piniella said of his animated chat with Zambrano. "He was convincing, but we did the right thing getting him out of there, obviously. We hope for the best, that's all we can do."

SI's recap here
Includes this:

Catcher Geovany Soto motioned for manager Lou Piniella to head out to the mound after Zambrano threw his last pitch.

''He threw a pitch funny. Like weird,'' Soto said. ''I went out there. It was like, 'Are you alright? What's going on?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm fine.' I just had to call somebody because I didn't think it was alright.''

__________

I'm not getting close to my co-worker tomorrow. He's starting to freak me out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Geaux Tigers - LSU Baseball wins in bottom of 9th at CWS

Yesterday's LSU CWS game seemed like it was over from almost the beginning. The Rice Owls took the lead early and continued to tack on runs throughout the game. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers were down 5-2.

Of course, ESPN's ticker had already told me the final score and knowing that, I was fast forwarding my DVR of the game - guess where the recording ended? We just returned from commercial break and poof, my recording was over. So I stayed up late to watch the replay on ESPNU and boy was it worth it.

LSU notched it's 30th come-from-behind win of the season. The game was also their third win in the final frame while in Omaha.

But best of all, the Tigers ended a five-game losing streak at the College World Series. Their last win was the one that won it all in 2000. They'd been blanked at every one of their appearances since then.

The ninth inning started with an out - then a single, a hit batsman (a pinch hitter) and another single loaded the bases. The next batter reached on an error when a Rice infielder misplayed a ball and instead of a possible game-ending double-play, LSU scored a run and had the bases loaded again.

DH Blake Dean came to the plate and sliced one into left field that smacked the wall and bounced back into the infield. The baserunners were all on the move and Jared Mitchell at first base used his quickness to almost lap the pinch runner who was on second. Mitchell was so speedy that all three baserunners were on the third base base-path at one time.

LSU will play North Carolina tomorrow night. Loser goes home.

Come-from-behind wins and beating the odds has been the name of the game for LSU this season, as this article points out:

Mainieri's club had the second-worst league record in the SEC, and time was definitely not on its side.

"Coach came in one day and sat us down in the locker room. We were kind of in a slump -- 6-11, I think -- and he just told us, 'I just want you guys to know that I believe in you. It's not over, let's go out there and go game by game.'" Dean recalled. "He kind of just spilled the beans to us what he thought and felt, kind of personal.

"That showed us how much he cared about us, and that just flipped the switch and it all went from there."

As sophomore catcher Sean Ochinko noted, where the Tigers are today defies logic.

LSU was held to just two hits and trailed Rice 5-0 entering the seventh inning. The sleepwalking Tigers, still down 5-2 with no one on base and one out in the ninth, watched Dean cap a four-run uprising with his three-run double off the left-field wall.

Instead of suffering their sixth straight loss in the Series and packing for Baton Rouge, La., the Tigers had their bead-wearing fans reliving the greatest tales from this season and beyond.

...

"We stay real positive because we always know we're going to get some sort of a push in the late innings," said Ochinko, who, in a pinch-hit appearance, got hit by a St. Clair delivery to give the Tigers runners at first and second. "I don't know whether it's magic or we bear down more, everyone starts believing in each other, but things happen."

But for all the genuineness behind Mainieri's April speech, which lit the fuse to a 23-game winning streak, LSU still found itself, on June 8, three outs from closing 70-year-old Alex Box Stadium as an NCAA super regional series sweep victim of UC Irvine.

Behind 7-4 entering the ninth inning of Game 2, the Tigers proceeded to put up a five-spot to stay alive, then blew out the Anteaters 21-7 the next day.

Before that contest, they heard a gripping tale from Warren Morris, who, with two outs in the ninth inning of the 1996 CWS championship game against Miami, provided the most dramatic moment in LSU baseball history by hitting a game-winning, two-run homer.

Four years later, the Tigers claimed another title with a ninth-inning rally against Stanford.

...

Excuse the Tigers, who had nobody taken higher than the ninth round of the major league draft, for being in the same frame of mind.

This one left them a mind-boggling 26-2 in their past 28 games. It marked only the second time in 43 games that Rice had lost when taking a lead into the ninth, and the first time the Owls had come up short in right-handed senior pitcher Chris Kelley's 12 starts.

Oh, then there's this little nugget: It was the Tigers' 30th come-from-behind win of the year -- 19 of which have occurred in the past 26 contests.



Leadoff spot

With Rickie Weeks on the DL, Ned Yost made the move to put Corey Hart in the leadoff spot starting last week Tuesday, June 10th.

That move didn't even last a week, as last night's leadoff batter was Craig Counsell.

Corey got exactly 5 games to test his mettle at leadoff, a spot he excelled in last season.

Corey was pretty awful at the plate against the Twins. He was rested in one game, but made a pinch hit appearance. In the two games and one plate appearance he was 0-11.

However, against Houston he was 5 for 14 including a 3 for 5 game.
For the 5 games, he hit .208 and because of that he was yanked from the starting spot last night in favor of Craig Counsell.

For the season, Corey's hitting .284 and Craig's hitting .235.

Of course, Rickie Weeks got the entire first 3 months of the season in the leadoff spot to hit .210 and if he weren't on the DL, he would still be hitting leadoff and Ned would be continuing to say that no changes will be made. (Here, here)

I have nothing pro-Corey or anti-Rickie, but I really wish there was a rhyme or reason to Ned's moves. How can Rickie get the whole season to hit a measly .210 and Corey got the yank after just give games hitting .208.

Where's this quick hook on relief pitchers?

IRS slugs Prince Fielder with lien

IRS slugs Prince Fielder with lien
Posted by Robert Snell on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 5:26 PM

IRS says Prince Fielder owes $409,149 in federal income taxes: The Milwaukee Brewers first baseman is a former favorite son of Detroit, who grew up roaming a Detroit Tigers clubhouse inhabited by his father, slugger Cecil Fielder, who currently manages the independent league Atlantic City Surf baseball team.

Father and son share good genes, home-run power and, according to public records, financial issues. Four years ago, The Detroit News reported about how Cecil lost $47 million in career earnings through gambling and bad business decisions.

The two reportedly have been estranged since Prince accused his father of keeping $200,000 of the son's $2.4 million signing bonus without permission.

Prince, 24, is making $670,000 this year but the famous vegetarian is primed for a fat contract after the season.

What's owed:

* The IRS filed a $409,149 lien against Prince on Oct. 6, 2005, for unpaid income taxes. According to the lien, which you can see here, Prince owes the money from 2003, the year after he signed his first contract and received the $2.4 million signing bonus.

His side: Prince could not be reached for comment. A Brewers spokesman forwarded an inquiry to the office of Prince's agent, Scott Boras, who did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

___

The article links to a copy of the lien here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Injury updates

According to JSOnline, David Riske will be in Nashville starting today to start his rehab assignment. He should be back with the team and ready to go by the weekend.

J.J. Hardy has a strained rotator cuff. The article's a few days old and said he "might" be held out of the Twins series, which he was, so hopefully the rest helped and he'll be back in the lineup tonight.

The JSOnline article about Riske included the line "Former closer Eric Gagne, on the DL with a shoulder problem, is not even close to returning." The Brewers website said that Gagne threw from a mound in the bullpen and that it was his first time on the mound since mid-May. Who do you trust?

____

In non-injury news, Bill Hall heard the boos and didn't like them, but now wants to have fun.

Brewers in extra innings Saturday night


This weekend the boyfriend and I were in the left field bleachers for Saturday night's extra inning heartbreaker.

That game was by far the most fun I've ever had at a loss. The crowd was a sellout, the visiting Minnesota fans were knowledgeable, friendly and well-behaved and there were two spectacular home runs. (and a third and fourth that "should" have been)

Ryan Braun hit a monster that hit off the railing on the landing of Bernie Brewers slide. This was about half a section over from us, above our heads. We were keeping score and actually didn't see it come off the bat, but it was in the air so long, we had time to catch up with it and see it bounce. Unbelievable home run.

My love of Russell Branyan has been well documented here on Cute Sports. When he came up to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, we were just giddy. (Russell has the nickname 3TO, referring to the 3 True Outcomes of an AB - meaning the 3 outcomes that do not involve anyone but the batter - a walk, a strikeout and a homerun. Russell tends to do one of the 3. No groundouts, no popouts - just walks, strikeouts and homeruns.) With the game on the line, I was fearing "The Muscle" would be swinging for the fences and we'd be looking at a 4 pitch strikeout. (I was giving him the benefit of the doubt for one foul off)

Instead, he cracked the hell out of the ball and tied the game. I could not stop laughing. I'm not sure I've ever hi-fived so many people.

While it meant the team lost, the boyfriend and I were very excited to have witnessed an inside-the-park homerun. Michael Cuddyer's pinch hit ITPHR, for that matter. (That's one of those things on the list of plays every fan wants to see in person before they die - The triple play, the no-hitter, the inside-the-park - you know, rare plays.)
Of course, it was officially scored as a triple and an error, but I think I'm keeping the ticket stub and marking it off the list, anyway!

The big mystery of this game was leaving Julian Tavarez on the mound for the 12th inning, especially when he couldn't seem to find the strike zone. He loaded the bases and every fan in Miller Park was calling for him to be pulled. Ned Yost, being Ned Yost, left him in and he promptly gave up the runs. THEN Ned pulls him. The JSOnline.com Brewers Blog says this was Ned's "excuse:"

Why Yost left Tavarez in the game
By Tom Haudricourt
Saturday, Jun 14 2008, 11:03 PM
With many Brewers fans in the sellout crowd at Miller Park screaming for manager Ned Yost to take reliever Julian Tavarez out of the game before he lost it in the 12th inning tonight, I'm sure you folks out there in cyberspace were doing likewise.

Why did Yost leave Tavarez in the game to load the bases, then surrender a two-run single in what eventually became a winning five-run rally by Minnesota?

Yost had three other options in the pen: rookies Tim Dillard and Mark DiFelice and veteran Guillermo Mota. Dillard and DiFelice had pitched Friday night and Yost didn't want to use them again, particularly with the game on the line.

Mota had pitched two innings in Houston on Wednesday and another on Thursday and Yost thought he needed another night off. Yost would have gone to Mota had the game made it to the 13th inning, but didn't want to use him beforehand.

"He was the last guy I was going to use," said Yostg. "I felt like he could use one more day off.

"I was trying to win this game. I don't think about tomorrow at all in that situation."

Tavarez had escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th and Yost hoped he'd get lucky again in the 12th. Because Tavarez is a sinkerballer, Yost hoped for some groundballs to get out of the inning. Delmon Young hit one to shortstop Craig Counsell, resulting in an out at the plate. But Brian Buscher -- whoever he is -- followed with a two-run single and the Brewers were done.

"What he does is he keeps the ball down. He has a nice sinker," Yost said of Tavarez. "We were playing the infield in, trying to get groundballs. He got one but he didn't get the second one."


Of course, the reason Mota was "unavailable" was because we brought him in on Thursday in a game we were losing by 5 runs despite the fact that he'd pitched the day before.
I understand the theory behind not pitching a guy three days in a row, but if ever there was a situation in which to blow that off, this was it. In addition, it's a matter of bullpen management. All the decisions made in the games leading up to that one are what left us light on Saturday night.

In addition, Tavarez has not pitched well since he got here. From his MLB.com player page:

Quick Splits:

vs. Left: .525 vs. Right: .213
Home: 8.68 Road: 5.91
Day: 2.84 Night: 9.22Grass: 8.82 Turf: 0.00
Current Month: 8.44Last 30 Days: 8.59

He's awful at night. He's mostly awful at home. For a guy who supposedly plays the numbers game, Ned Yost sure screwed up with this choice Saturday night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A reason to like every D1-A football team

Yes I know it's not called D-1A anymore. No, I don't care.

The Grand National Champions Blog has a list of one reason to watch each of the 119 D1-A teams here.

Who's desperate for football to begin!?!

Brewers have 19 picks signed

Less than a week after the First Year Players Draft, the Brewers have signed contracts with 19 of their 54 picks, including 2 of their top 5.

From MilwaukeeBrewers.com

HOUSTON -- Five days after the First-Year Player Draft, the Brewers already have come to terms with 19 of their 54 selections and one undrafted player. At least one more prominent pick reportedly is ready to add his name to the list.

The done deals announced on Tuesday included two of Milwaukee's first five picks. They were first-round supplemental selection Evan Frederickson, a left-handed pitcher selected 35th overall from the University of San Francisco, and outfielder Cutter Dykstra, son of former Major Leaguer Lenny Dykstra and a second-round pick (54th overall).

The Brewers also came to terms with two players active in the College World Series, who cannot officially sign until they finish their NCAA careers. University of North Carolina right-hander Robert Wooten (13th round) and Rice University left-hander Lucas Luetge (21st round) will travel with their teams to Omaha for games beginning June 14.

The team also signed undrafted Westminster College utility man Brandon Drespling, a 23-year-old from New Castle, Pa. That's the same hometown as Brewers amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik.

According to the Marshall County (Tenn.) Tribune, second-round pick Seth Lintz, a prep right-hander, will sign later this week for $900,000 and a college education on the Brewers' tab.

Co-Worker VooDoo

Yesterday morning I was reading on Deadspin about how Albert Pujols was carried off the field Tuesday night and I shared the news with my co-worker, who was equally excited about what this meant for the Brewers. Sports fan that I am, I then said to him "Now, if someone would just go down on the Cubs, we'd be set."
He asked who and I said maybe D. Lee and he said "No, Soriano."

I'm officially very, very afraid of my co-worker.
Soriano is out at least six weeks with a broken hand.

Pujols looks to be out at least 3 weeks.

The co-worked has set his sights on Zambrano and Lance Berkman. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

(Time for the Brewers to make their move)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Trade rumors

Rumor has it that the Brewers had some brass in Baltimore over the weekend looking at Brian Roberts, the Orioles 2B. His player page is here.

From FoxSports.com's baseball writer Ken Rosenthal:

"Here's a deal that makes sense: Brian Roberts for Rickie Weeks. The Brewers, who recently had two scouts watching the Orioles, are interested in Roberts, but it remains to be seen whether they are ready to give up on Weeks.

Roberts, a more accomplished leadoff hitter and better defender than Weeks, is a more natural fit for a contender. The Orioles, meanwhile, could be patient with Weeks defensively, much as the Twins are being patient with the erratic Carlos Gomez. Weeks would be another young, athletic building block to go with Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.

A straight-up deal might be out of the question, considering that Roberts is a free agent after next season while Weeks is under club control through 2011. But the Orioles could add a young pitcher or even one of their veteran relievers while perhaps getting another piece back in return.

One thing is certain: The Orioles no longer can get the same deal for Roberts that the Cubs offered during the off-season. One reported package included right-hander Sean Gallagher, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Class AA left-hander Donald Veal and Class A righty Jose Ceda; another proposal substituted outfielder Matt Murton for Veal, according to a source.

Cedeno since has emerged as a valued utility man who can play three infield positions and help spell shortstop Ryan Theriot, who batted .202 last September. Gallagher, meanwhile, is showing progress in the Cubs' rotation and drawing raves from new teammate Jim Edmonds.

"He's the first guy I've seen in a while with Carpenter stuff," Edmonds says, referring to his former Cardinals teammate, Chris Carpenter."


Valid thoughts on this trade from Brewerfan.net:

"Roberts is a premier leadoff hitter while Weeks is still unfulfilled potential and you have to ask as he approaches 26, are we ever going to see it in a Brewer uniform?

What I like about it, is that it appears the Brewers have correctly identified one of the key problems plaguing this offense. They need more baserunners for Braun and Fielder."

Friday, June 06, 2008

More on Lawrie and the rest of the draftees

The Brewers drafted Cutter Dykstra, son of former leaguer Lenny Dykstra, with one of their supplemental picks. We also picked up quite a few pitchers.


Go here to listen to Jack Z's press conference after the first day of the draft and to listen to an interview with our top pick, Brett Lawrie.


Brewers knew Lawrie better than anybody

By Tom Haudricourt
Thursday, Jun 5 2008, 08:15 PM

No major league team had a better scouting report on Brett Lawrie than the Brewers.

As Lowrie toured Florida and the Dominican Republic with the Canadian junior national team, one of his coaches was Marty Lehn. The same Marty Lehn who happens to scout Western Canada for the Brewers.

"Marty called every day or sent an e-mail," said scouting director Jack Zduriencik, who used the 16th pick in the first round of the June draft to select Lawrie today. "He put a show on down there, quite frankly."

The reports Lehn passed along were almost too incredible to believe. Lawrie went 21-for-30 against minor-league extended spring training clubs and college teams, including 14 extra-base hits. He socked three homers against one Dominican Republic summer league team, and five in a doubleheader.

Making those hitting exploits even more eye-popping was that Lowrie, who just turned 18, was using wood bats. Teenagers in the United States use aluminum bats and often have trouble adjusting to wood.

"We've been on this kid a couple of years," said Zduriencik. "We all went in to watch him at different times. We all came back excited about what he can do."

Better yet, Lawrie - who has played various spots in the outfield and infield - wants to catch. And the Brewers aren't about to tell him otherwise.

"We're going to give him that opportunity," said Zduriencik. "He wants to catch. He's a very active player and he's very athletic. We're going to give him a shot to play there.

"Catcher's have a certain mentality. If you draft a kid with that has a catcher's mentality, that's pretty positive."

Beyond the athleticism of the 5-11, 200-pound Lawrie, the live bat and budding power, his aggressive nature on the field, there's his unbridled confidence. In a conference call with members of the Milwaukee media, Lawrie announced he hopes to get to the big leagues "in about a year and a half."

"We had someone else who has that kind of confidence a few years back," said Zduriencik, referring to 2005 first-round pick Ryan Braun, who went on to become the 2007 National League rookie of the year and sign an eight-year, $45 million contract this season.

"He's an aggressive player. He gets after it. He doesn't lack for confidence and when you see this kid physically, you'll understand what I'm talking about. He has reason to be confident."

Zduriencik noted how impressive it was to watch Lawrie drive the ball to all fields with wood bats. Lawrie said he knew that factor worked in his favor with professional scouts.

"I've been using wood bats since I was 14," said Lawrie, a native of Langley, British Columbia, who became the highest-drafted position player ever out of Canada.

"Showing power with a wood bat, I think is a pretty big accomplishment."

As for making the commitment to catch full-time, Lawrie said, "I'm looking forward to competing. Hopefully, I'll be up to the big leagues as quick as possible and it'll be behind the dish."

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Lawrie wants to play in the Junior World Cup in Edmonton, Alberta, Calgary in late July. But that won't stop him from signing with the Brewers and beginning his minor-league career before that tournament.

"We'll let him go for a week and play there," said Melvin. "It's something he really wanted to play in."

Melvin wasn't sure if Lawrie, at his age, would be asked to play in the Olympics for Team Canada in August in Beijing, China.

As for Lawrie's self-assuredness, Melvin said, "That's the kind of confidence hitters have. People who can hit know they can hit.

"He looks like a big-league player now, at 18. This isn't some one that physically, you're waiting to mature. One of the reports said he could step in one of our hitting groups at the big-league level and you wouldn't know he's an 18-year-old player."

Lawrie was the first of six picks the Brewers had among the first 62 in the draft, thanks to compensation for losing free-agent pitchers Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink last winter. Zduriencik and his staff used that bonanza to restock the pitching in the system.

The Brewers used their supplemental picks after the first round to select prep right-hander Jake Odorizzi (No. 32 overall) and University of San Francisco left-hander Evan Frederickson. With their two extra picks in the second round, they chose prep right-hander Seth Lintz (No. 53) and infielder/outfielder Cutter Dykstra (No. 54), son of former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra.

With their own second-round pick (No. 62), the Brewers took Southern Illinois right-hander Cody Adams.

Odorizzi, 18, is a superb athlete who has a football scholarship at Louisville as a wide receiver. He was 11-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Highland (Ill.) High School, with only 18 hits allowed and five walks in 69 innings, and 116 strikeouts.

"He has a terrific delivery with nice arm action," said Zduriencik. "We thought he was a nice selection there with that pick."

Frederickson, a 6-6, 230-pounder, zoomed up the Brewers' draft board after participating in a workout at Miller Park last Saturday. His fastball was clocked in the mid to high 90s (mph), causing Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux to pause and take notice.

"He opened our eyes in the workout the other day," said Melvin. "He made a smart decision flying in here to work out for us."

Frederickson, 21, struck out 98 hitters in 68 innings this spring but also had command issues, walking 57 hitters.

"This isn't a finished product by any means," said Zduriencik. "When you look at the progress this kid made since the fall, when we watched him, to what we saw at the very end, he's got a good body and nice delivery. He's a large kid with a power arm.

"When he gets there with our instructors, one thing I hope you can do is refine this kid. There's something real good to work with here."

Dykstra switched from the middle infield to his father's position, center field, during his senior season at Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif. He is an above-average runner (6.58 in the 60) but must shoPublish Postw he can handle his new position defensively.

The 6-2 Lintz was 9-0 with a 0.85 ERA in 11 starts for Marshall County High School in Lewisburg, Tenn., with a whopping 143 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More on Lawrie

MLB.com/Milwaukee Brewers article on Lawrie here

Brewers draft

With the 16th pick in the draft, the Brewers selected a catcher from Canada, Brett Lawrie.

He's spent time playing with the Canadian National Team and therefore has experience with a wood bat. One ESPN analyst said Lawrie had one of the best pure bats available in the draft.

Edit: Lawrie went 21-for-30 against minor-league extended spring training clubs and college teams, including 14 extra-base hits. He socked three homers against one Dominican Republic summer league team, and five in a doubleheader.

Some info on Lawrie from the Web:

2008 Draft Day Spotlight: Brett Lawrie
By Marc Hulet
Canadian high school hitter Brett Lawrie has been on fire as the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft approaches on June 5. He recently hit .486 (17-for-35) on Team Canada's national junior team's spring tour in the Dominican Republic, while playing against Major League Baseball Dominican Summer League teams. Lawrie had eight homers and 24 RBIs in total and was the talk of the baseball draft world after hitting five home runs in one day during a doubleheader last week. He sprayed the homers from foul pole to foul pole.

Thanks to the timely hitting, Lawrie may be selected within the first 15 picks of the draft, and is easily considered the top draft-eligible amateur in Canada. According to Baseball America, Lawrie possesses one of the most pro-ready bats amongst the prep ranks in North America.

Lawrie returned to North America from the Dominican Republic on Friday night. He took time out of his increasingly busy schedule to speak with Baseball Analysts from a hotel suite in Minnesota.
...
MH: Now, you’re committed to Arizona State, right?

Lawrie: Yup, Arizona State University.

MH: What attracted you to that college program?

Lawrie: Well, I’ve been to Arizona a number of times with my Langley Blaze team that I play with back home. I’ve had a chance to see the campus and I’ve gotten a tour. I’ve been all around and seen the campus, the field and the facilities. I’ve trained there in the off-season. It just felt right; you get that sort of feeling in your stomach that it’s right. In my mind, and in my family’s... we made a decision that it worked for me. So I signed the [letter of intent] and away we go.

MH: Do you have a preference right now, whether to go pro or go to college?

Lawrie: Yeah, my preference right now, obviously, is to go in the draft… but if something doesn’t go right college is a good back-up plan. But as of right now, I am 100 percent on the draft.

MH: What is the most attractive reason, for you, to go pro now?

Lawrie: I know I can hit over .400 against those guys when I’m 15, so who says I’m not going to do it when I’m 20, you know? I can play with those guys; I know I can. On almost every trip I’ve hit over .400 against them. Not much is going to change. I’m just playing and trying not to do too much… I’m just having fun.
...

MH: I’ve read a lot of scouts' opinions about your ability. Everyone is enamored with your bat, obviously. But there are questions about your defensive abilities and lack of a position. Do you have a preference where you would like to play?

Lawrie: Yeah, I can play the infield… I’ve played it with Team Canada. I can play second base, I can play the outfield; I can play anywhere and I’m really versatile. I can play third base real well. I’ve challenged myself in the last little bit with catching. As of right now I’m a catcher and I want to always have the ball in my hand. It’s been great. I’ve been able to control the pitchers and have a good relationship with them on Team Canada. I’m having fun and I want to catch.

MH: Do you have any specific career goals at this point, aside from playing professional baseball?

Lawrie: I really don’t. All I want to do is play in the big leagues and I want to get there as quick as I can. I don’t plan on staying in the minors for five years. I plan on doing it in a year-and-a-half.

MH: Wow
...

MH: Let’s write a scouting report on Brett Lawrie. What do you think are your strengths as a baseball player?

Lawrie: I have the ability to be the spark on a team, whether it’s a line drive into the gap, a home run or something like that. I think I have a really good feel for the clubhouse and I like to mess around with the guys… I’m a good teammate and I can pick guys up when they’re down. I know when it’s time to get serious. My bat, though, is obviously going to carry me.

MH: What part of your game needs the most work to get to that next level and to make it to the major leagues?

Lawrie: I guess consistency. It’s important to have the right mind set and attitude day-in-and-day-out…

...

MH: I have one more question for you… and it might be a tough one so take your time. Why should a Major League Baseball club use its No. 1 pick on Brett Lawrie?

Lawrie: A team should use its No. 1 pick on me because I think I have that spark. I look at Dustin Pedroia as an example. He is the clubhouse. From what I’ve heard from all the other big league guys, he’s the spark in that clubhouse. I can see myself being that guy too. I know I can get it done and I have the tools, the abilities and the right mindset. I have a good head on my shoulders and I think I can help a ball team win. In the end it is about winning and good team chemistry helps you win a ring.


__________________

From Yahoo Canada Sports

Brett Lawrie's stock is soaring as the baseball draft approaches, to the point where he's now virtually assured of becoming just the sixth Canadian ever selected in the first round.

The hard-hitting 18-year-old from Langley, B.C., was projected to be a third-rounder before the season started, maybe even a second-rounder. But by demolishing professional pitching all spring with wood bats, including eight homers in eight games on the national junior team's recent tour of the Dominican Republic, Lawrie might even crack the top-10 when teams get down to business Thursday afternoon.

"I'm getting relatively antsy," Lawrie said in an interview in New York after a final day of private workouts for interested clubs. "Basically the past five months have been crazy with Team Canada, playing in Florida and the trip to the Dominican. Who knows where I'd be if I didn't do good in the Dominican right now.

"It's just been a wild ride and it's been real fun."

The highest a Canadian position player has ever gone in the draft was 27th, when the San Diego Padres took shortstop Kevin Nicholson in 1997. The Atlanta Braves used the 30th pick in 2000 to select infielder Scott Thorman.

More recently, Canadian pitchers have been feeling the love, especially in the 2002 draft, when the Baltimore Orioles selected Adam Loewen fourth overall and the Colorado Rockies snagged Jeff Francis at No. 9.

Last year, Phillipe Aumont was chosen 11th overall by the Seattle Mariners, and if Lawrie goes in the first round, it would mark the first time Canadians have been picked in the first round two years in a row.

"It's been real crazy," Lawrie said of his meteoric rise. "It's been fun, I've soaked everything up and it's been a wild ride and a great opportunity to represent Canada and represent myself."

Lawrie is by far the class the Canadian crop this season, although there's a solid group of players projected to go somewhere between Rounds 5-20. They include outfielders Marcus Knecht of Toronto, Mike Crouse of Port Moody, B.C., and Lionel Morill of Edmonton, plus pitchers Jordan Meaker of Burlington, Ont., Stosh Wawrzasek of Langley, J.R. Robinson of Burnaby, B.C., and Andrew Albers of North Battleford, Sask.

"This is a different draft for Canada," said a Canadian-based scout. "Normally it's pitcher dominated, this year there are a lot of strong position players, which is rare. They're harder to find."

Especially a talent like Lawrie.

Scouts rave about his raw power and some believe he may be the most advanced hitter at age 18 in the country's history. But it's the intangibles that really seem to set him apart, what one described as "the ridiculous fearlessness" he shows on the field and a relentless competitive drive to dominate.

"You could put this kid in a stadium with 50,000 people and tell him he's facing Josh Beckett tomorrow and he'd smile and think, 'I'm going to get Josh Beckett,"' said one executive who has watched Lawrie play extensively. "At this point he probably won't but he'll go up there, not be intimidated, take his swings and look good doing it. He's got no fear. Period."

Added another scout from a team thinking of drafting Lawrie: "He's consistently hit at a high level the past three years. He's definitely got good raw power and the ability to make consistent contact. His bat is very advanced."

So advanced, in fact, that he's being considered for Canada's Olympic roster.

Teams believed to have shown a significant interest in drafting him include: Cincinnati (seventh), Oakland (12th), Minnesota (14th), Milwaukee (16th), Toronto (17th) and the Cubs (19th). A mock draft on MLB.com suggests the Brewers will snag him at 16th, but there's usually a surprise or two on draft day.

Perhaps the only significant question about Lawrie is what position he'll end up playing, something likely to be determined by organizational need. He's been focused this season on catching, which puts his meal-ticket bat at a premium defensive position, but can also play second, third and left field.

The six-foot-one, 180-pounder is hoping to follow in the footsteps of all-star Canadian catcher Russ Martin of the L.A. Dodgers, who also started out at third base before moving behind the plate.

"I like to model my game around him," said Lawrie. "He didn't start catching until he was coming right out of junior college and I've challenged myself. I can play a number of positions, third base real well, I can play second, the outfield, and I didn't want to limit myself to one position.

"I felt that if I could go behind the plate and really challenge myself, I may have higher stock in the draft and I love it back there, just being in control, you're the guy in command back there.

"(Martin) is not a big guy and he goes after it hard, just like me."

The scout from the team considering taking Lawrie believes he can play "anywhere he wants," but the Canadian-based scout isn't sure catcher is where his future lies.

"His bat is what's going to carry him to the big leagues," he said. "I don't know if the risk-reward of him catching, what it could cost him in offence and speed, is worth it. He can be an all-star at second or third or left field."

While catching is Lawrie's preference right now, it's not the be-all, end-all for him. He's got home runs to hit in the big leagues, after all.

"I do want to end up catching, hopefully the team gives me a chance," he said. "But whatever's the quickest way to the big leagues, I just want to get there and stick and live my life. If catching is the route it's destined to be, it'll be a fun ride."

MLB Draft: Brewers have a big opportunity

The amateur baseball draft starts today and the Brewers are in the best position we've been in in a long time, with 6 of the first 62 picks.

Imagine, we've drafted Braun, Fielder, Hart, Weeks, Hardy, Gallardo, Parra and Gwynn, Jr while we WEREN'T in a great draft situation. If that's the case, I can't wait to see what Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik has up his sleeve this time around.

Of course, that's a bittersweet thought, because it's only a matter of time before Jack Z becomes a GM somewhere and another spectacular draft when he's actually got room to maneuver could be the final piece.

Here's an article from JSOnline.com about Jack Z.

Below I'm posting the full text of an article from ESPN.com that basically says we have a chance to set ourselves up for the next decade or so. Imagine that, a national news service article on a small-market team that includes no condescension! In fact, it's a very flattering article.

Brewers could fortify franchise for decade with strong draft

By Gerry Fraley
Special to ESPN.com

For years, it was easy to pick out the Milwaukee representative among a group of scouts checking out a potential top-100 player for the amateur draft.

The Brewers' scout had the hangdog look because he knew his work was a waste of time.

With few early-round picks, the Brewers had no chance at many top-shelf players. They would make a first-round choice, then watch as many as 90 players go off the board before their next pick.

The Brewers, operating with a small margin of error, drafted well. But the scouting operation always wondered what it could accomplish with a few more swings.

"You want to see everybody, but you knew what would happen," said Jack Zduriencik, Milwaukee's vice president for player personnel. "There were some guys we couldn't focus on because we knew we had no chance at them."

That changed this year.

For the first time since 1993, the Brewers have extra picks in the June draft. With six of the first 62 picks overall, the Brewers could have a blockbuster draft.

The Brewers have the freedom to make at least one risky, high-upside selection. Given their recent success with the draft, it is reasonable to expect the Brewers to find enough talent to fortify the franchise for a decade.

Given the Brewers' reliance on the draft, June 5 will be the biggest day for the franchise since Bernie Brewer discovered his slide.

"The guys in the scouting department are a major part of what goes on here," Zduriencik said. "For the Milwaukee Brewers to be successful, we have to draft well. That's the way it is.

"This draft means a lot to those guys in the field. They want to get their guys to the big leagues."
From 2000, when Zduriencik began running the Brewers' draft, through last year, the Brewers had only 21 picks among the top 100. That tied them for the fifth-fewest number of picks. Atlanta had the most top-100 picks in that span with 39, one more than Oakland.

The Brewers lost three second-round picks as compensation for free-agent signings. That included a choice in 2000 that Atlanta used to select second baseman Kelly Johnson in return for losing strikeout machine Jose Hernandez to the Brewers.

The lack of early picks put Zduriencik in a tough spot. He worked without a safety net. If his first pick was not good, the draft could turn into a disaster.

"Jack and his staff have done a great job without the extra picks," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "This is a chance we've never had, to retool the system. Everyone is excited about it."

Milwaukee kept its picks this year and picked up four choices as compensation for not keeping free-agent relievers Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink. The Brewers received choices Nos. 32 and 52 in return for losing Cordero, Milwaukee's closer last season, to Cincinnati. Melvin had tried to keep Cordero but was outbid by the Reds.

Milwaukee essentially traded for picks Nos. 35 and 53, their return for Linebrink's move to the Chicago White Sox. The Brewers obtained Linebrink from San Diego last summer with the full knowledge that he would leave as a free agent after the season, bringing draft-choice compensation.

"We hated to give up the players we did," Melvin said. "But with these picks, we can still benefit."

Zduriencik leans toward playing it straight with each of the first six picks rather than taking a flier on even one choice. There is enough talent in this draft, Zduriencik said, that the Brewers can get a high-quality talent with choice No. 62.

"You have to do your due diligence and make sure your guys understand what we're doing," Zduriencik said. "This is a little bit of unfamiliar territory for us, but we're going to do with what we've always done."

That way has worked.

During Zduriencik's tenure, the Brewers have drafted first baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Rickie Weeks, shortstop J.J. Hardy, outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., Corey Hart and Ryan Braun and starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra.

Others have noticed. Scouting directors Tom Allison of Arizona and Bobby Heck of Houston were plucked from Zduriencik's staff in the past two years.
Zduriencik straddles both sides of baseball's cultural war that wages between clubs that want high school players with big upsides and clubs that want polished collegians.

Zduriencik looks for the best player and will take a prep player as quickly as he'll take a collegian.

Weeks and Braun were drafted out of college. Parra came from a junior college. The others were high schoolers.

"You can define what makes the best player a lot of ways," Zduriencik said. "Each philosophy fits differently with each club. With us, if it's a college kid, great. If it's a high-ceiling high school kid, great.

"The only thing is that you can get into trouble if you start thinking about drafting for needs at the big league level."

Zduriencik's approach has allowed the Brewers to have a steady flow of talent in the system rather than the gaps that come with having too many players from a similar age group.

The guys in the scouting department are a major part of what goes on here. For the Milwaukee Brewers to be successful, we have to draft well. That's the way it is.

--Brewers' VP for player personnel Jack Zduriencik

With the major league club stocked with young and homegrown talent, the Brewers could be more inclined toward high school players in this draft. In that scenario, the Brewers could take a high school outfielder such as Destin Hood or Anthony Hewitt with their first pick, No. 16 overall.

The bounty of draft picks does present a problem: money.

The players taken in Milwaukee's spots last year received a combined $4.91 million in signing bonuses. The price never comes down. The small-market Brewers likely will have to pay at least $5 million to sign their first six picks. A year ago, Milwaukee gave out $3.77 million to the nine players it selected in the first 10 rounds.

Melvin and Zduriencik both said the club has the financial resources to sign the picks. Years ago, legendary Boston scout George Digby taught Zduriencik a valuable lesson about letting contract demands shape player evaluations.

"George always said, 'The kids who want to get started playing, those are the kids you want,'" Zduriencik said. "I don't think there's anybody in the big leagues who regrets what he signed for."

That's what the Brewers offer most of all: a realistic chance to get to the big leagues.

A player who signs with Milwaukee likely won't find his progress blocked by an expensive free-agent acquisition. The Brewers have drafted well. This time, they must draft well and often. Gerry Fraley is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Moises Alou: possibly a little on the crazy side

A few months ago it was reported that Moises Alou said he wouldn't have caught the Steve Bartman ball and therefor Bartman should be off the hook and not blamed anymore for Cubs loss in the 2003 NLCS.

The story was widely reported and the whole incident was dredged up all over again.

Yesterday, it was reported that Alou is claiming never to have said that it wasn't Bartman's fault.

From ESPN.com:

Moises Alou wants to set the record straight -- again.

Months after being quoted as saying he would not have caught the foul ball that Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for in the eighth inning of the 2003 National League Championship Series, Alou said he would have indeed caught the ball had it not been for fan interference, the Palm Beach Post reported on Tuesday.

In March, Alou was quoted by Associated Press columnist Jim Litke as saying that he would not have caught the foul ball that Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS. The Florida Marlins rallied for the lead in that inning and went on to win the game and the series.


"Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman! Bartman!' I feel really bad," Litke quoted Alou as saying in March. "You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn't have caught it anyway."

Litke wrote that Alou, now with the New York Mets, told him this when he ran into him last summer at a department store. But Alou said last week that he did not recall telling Litke that.

"I don't remember that,'' he said, according to the Post. "If I said that, I was probably joking to make [Bartman] feel better. But I don't remember saying that.''

Another thing Alou wants to make clear is that Bartman -- whose life was turned upside down from that infamous moment -- should be forgiven and left alone.

"It's time to forgive the guy and move on. I said that the night it happened,'' Alou said, according to the Post.


So let's get this straight. A story broke 63 days ago that Alou said one thing. Now, 63 days later, he's finally "setting the record straight" because he thinks he was not quoted correctly and didn't say those things?

Really?


Plus, something just doesn't ring true about the whole thing. Alou wants everyone to forgive Bartman and move on, so he dredged the story back up again more than two months later? Wouldn't it be best to let sleeping dogs lie? If you really, honestly feel that Bartman should be exonerated, why would you bring the whole thing into the spotlight again, 5 years after in happened - twice?!

More on Bill Hall

In last night's game, Bill Hall was booed when he was at-bat and the questioned is begged - Is it right to boo him?

I think I fall on the side of feeling the booing is legitimate. The guy is hitting horribly and rightfully got benched because of it. I feel this is akin to when Braun got say earlier in the season when he was swinging at anything thrown his way. He was pissed about it and took it to the media, which many feel is unprofessional.

I feel like Hall's handling of the situation is similar to a kid on the playground getting mad and saying "I'm taking my ball and going home." It's so petty and childish to get mad and then have your agent go to the media and ask for a trade.

I find the situation sad because Bill has been nothing but class with this organization and I feel this move is beneath him.

It seems the organization isn't a big fan of this move either, though they are talking a bit around it.
From JSonline.com:

Bross said if Hall had to platoon, it would be best for him and the team if Hall was dealt to another club.

But general manager Doug Melvin is nowhere near ready to make a deal.

"I'm not really motivated to do that," Melvin said. "I'm motivated to make this club the best club I can; to make the postseason, and right now he's a part of that."

...

"Everybody wants to play every single day," Yost said. "The way you do that is you get out there and you produce and get the job done. If it doesn't (happen), we have to find ways to insert people that will do it.

"Does that mean I don't think Billy can get the job done? Absolutely (not), but it doesn't matter what I think until he starts producing against right-handed pitching."