January 2010

What a busy week…

I first must tell you all that I have finally gotten a new computer. Therefore, I am blogging from bed, iTunes and Twitter are running simultaneously and should I need to do any last minute research while posting, it will not be a problem. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve been able to run more than one program at a time? No? Well, let me just say it’s been a long *** time. This is sooooo nice!

But on to baseball…

Did you all hear that the Brewers were moving to Orlando? Some dude running for Congress down there wants a Major League team to move, thus some reporter took that to include the Crew, thus we all think he’s an idiot. It would’ve taken 2 minutes to find out that wasn’t true.

A few guys settled before arbitration hearings are to get underway. Dave Bush agreed to terms with Milwaukee, signing for a year and earning $4.215 million. But, there are a lot of possibilities out there for Bush. He may not make the cut when it comes to the starting rotation. Hell, he may not even make the bullpen with the other guys competing out there. Bush also stands to make up to $110,000 in bonuses but if that’s to happen, he’s gotta shrink that 6.38 ERA.

Also signing this week was starter-***-reliever-***-starter-***-reliever Carlos Villanueva. Villa asked for just over a mill, but signed on for 2010 for $950,000.

The only player yet to sign is right fielder Corey Hart. Hart seems to think he deserves $4.8 million coming off a, well, let’s face it, bad year. And 2009 was only made worse by a missed month with an emergency appendectomy. If Hart and the Brewers don’t come to an agreement, Corey could be on his way out and, I’m gonna just say it: that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Milwaukee claimed utility man Joe Inglett off of waivers on Wednesday. This gives the Brewers another left handed bat and an another extremely versatile player should he make the roster out of Spring Traning. His addition meant clearing room on the 40-man, thus designating reliever Chris Smith for assignment. Since Inglett has experience in both the infield and outfield, he’s got increased odds of making the team since the Crew is still in need of bench players that can do either.

In a move that had little to no rumblings in us fans’ heads, the Brewers signed near-40-year-old Jim Edmunds to a minor league contract yesterday. Just last week Edmunds made it clear that he wanted back in the Bigs and GM Doug Melvin was quick to make a move. Should Edmunds make the squad come April, he’s got a chance to hit some career milestones before officially calling it quits. He’s got the goods should he make it to Miller Park, including a career .284 BA, 4 trips to All-Star games and 8 Gold Gloves. Plus, he’s another lefty that can play any spot in the outfield. It’s been reported that Edmunds stands to make as much as $2-2.5 million if he makes the 25-man roster and reaches certain achievements, such as playing a full season.

So, the Brewers have been busy this week but still have a few things to be addressed before the end of February. If the club can’t come to terms with Hart, there’s right field, for starters. And speaking of starters, Melvin still has his eye on Mark Mulder. It may seem like there’s still a lot of time before the start of Spring Traning, but January’s almost over. I do have to say that I’m quite happy with what’s happened this winter, though. This team is really shaping up to be a contender. So…yay!

 

Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy…Lefty, lefty, lefty

With the recent addition of Doug Davis, the Brewers now have 6 pitchers contending for spots in the starting rotation.

The Crew’s wishy-washy starting brood managed to muster a 5.37 ERA last year, the highest in the National League. The Brewers snuck in a few bullpen guys like Seth McClung, Chris Narveson and Mike Burns in there at times to try and help out the slumping rotation, but they did little to remedy the situation.

GM Doug Melvin made it clear that Milwaukee was in the market to shed payroll and use the cash for 1 or 2 useful arms to bolster the starting rotation and the new remedies of Davis and fellow lefty Randy Wolf will hopefully prove successful.

Let’s take a look at last year’s numbers, shall we?

 

Wimpy: Jeff Suppan

7-12     30 Games     5.29 ERA     161.2 IP     80 SO

 

Wimpy: Dave Bush

5-9       22 Games     6.38 ERA     114.1 IP     89 SO

 

Wimpy: Manny Parra

11-11   27 Games     6.36 ERA     140.0 IP     116 SO

 

Lefty: Randy Wolf (LA Dodgers)

11-7    34 Games     3.23 ERA     214. 1 IP     160 SO

 

Lefty: Doug Davis (Arizona Diamondbacks)

9-14    34 Games     4.12 ERA      146.0 IP     146 SO

 

Lefty: Manny Parra

(See above.)

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were worse things happening on the mound for the Brewers last year than Manny Parra. Braden Looper gave up 39 homeruns, just as an example. (However, Looper won 14 games.) Parra just needs to get out of his own head. He gets too caught up in one bad performance, hence the stint in Triple-A last season and the trip to the bullpen in ’08. If Manny can calm down and stop psyching himself out, 2010 should be his breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for.

Doug Davis didn’t have the best year in ’09, either, but compared to Milwaukee’s usual suspects, he’s a godsend. Many fans are welcoming him back with open arms and rightfully so. With all the talk about Mark Mulder, I kind of forgot Davis was still on Melvin’s radar. So I’m happy to have seen this deal work out.

What remains to be seen is how the final rotation will shake out for the start of 2010. The Brewers now have 6 established arms competing for 5 spots. I’m not convinced that Jeff Suppan still has what it takes to be a respectable starting pitcher, but he did manage to squeeze out 2 more wins that Dave Bush. Bush, however, pitched in 8 less games than Suppan (and also took a Hanley Ramirez liner off the elbow). Either way, Soup’s still got a year on his contract. Ick.

 

But in other Brewers news, the Crew has reached agreements with second baseman Rickie Weeks, center fielder Carlos Gomez, outfielder Jody Gerut (I’d rather see Frankie C, but whatev) and pitcher Todd Coffey. Locking up these 4 players for 2010 only leaves Bush, right fielder Corey Hart and reliever Carlos Villanueva. Since the Brewers have a notorious track record of avoiding arbitration hearings, it should only be a matter of days before they’re locked up, too.

 

 

Musings from the wonderful world of baseball

Ugh.

This entry is, like, weeks in the making. My computer and I have a very volatile relationship and lately, it’s been getting worse. So since we’ve been on bad terms and posting from my phone is not an option, I’ve been forced to actually write. Like, with pen and paper. So, anyway, there’s just a couple of things I’d like to touch on in the goings on of baseball lately. 
Brad Nelson

Watch out, Mariners. You may think you’ve got a good player on your hands. You may think his minor league stats from last year warrant a Spring Training invite. I mean, I’ve been fooled by this guy, too. I was happy, even close to excited, to see his name on the Brewers roster come Opening Day last year. It faded into extreme shame and disappointment soon thereafter. He was awful. He did nothing. He fell way short of expectations. But, really, why do I care? He’s your problem now. Good luck.
Ned Yost

Yost was hired as a special advisor to baseball relations for the Royals. His duties will, of course, include making sure the people of Kansas City know that “everything’s fine.” I mean, he can’t hurt anything. Because you can’t get any worse than last place.
Ben Sheets

The Cubs are looking at possibly bringing Sheets to Chicago. I’ve already heard some people likening this to Brett Favre and the Vikings. I mean, whoa. Really? Seriously? Brett Favre is a legend. Ben Sheets is a crybaby. Seeing Favre in purple and gold is horrendous (and I hope the Cowboys take him down this weekend) but seeing Sheets in red and blue? B effing D. He’ll be good to go right off the bat, then will whine about a paper cut and push back a start or two. Then the paper cut will get infected and he’ll need an extra 3 days rest. Not to worry, Cubs fans, he’ll have a complete game shutout but not before falling victim to what he thinks is H1N1, but in actuality, it’s just a runny nose. But he’ll still miss 2 weeks. Now, he won’t actually be on the DL, but this cycle will continue for both contractual seasons that he’s looking to tap you for. So, have fun with that, Lou!
Jason Bay

Hehe!





Aroldis Chapman

As expected, the Red Sox outbid the Reds for Cuban hotshot pitcher, Chapman. They offered an astounding $30.25 million to beat out the Reds puny offer of $15.5 million. Oh, wait… Sorry. Temporary dyslexia. Reverse everything I just said. Yes. That’s right. The Reds made that deal. Yes, of Cincinnati. Those Reds.
Mark McGwire

Honestly, was anyone shocked by McGwire’s admission? Anyone? No? Yeah, me neither. Looks like it’s just another asterisk in the record books. Hey, Mark, when you called Roger Maris’ family to apologize what exactly did you say? Did you feed them all the same BS you fed all of us? I hope you have more respect than that. Seriously, no matter the reason, no matter what he did for the game (because you have to remember that he and Sammy Sosa saved baseball. With horse steroids and corked bats, let’s not forget.), his reputation is forever tarnished. Put him right up there with Canseco, Bonds and Clemens. Using steroids to help your game is like me using a Wonderbra to help mine– it puts on a good show, but in the end, it’s just a big disappointment. 
 

Baseball, the cure for the common hangover

Whilst I was recovering from New Year’s Eve Friday afternoon, my dad read me Tom Haudricourt’s Top 10 Brewers Highlights of 2009 from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Before he began the short but sweet countdown, I tried guessing what might be on the list. I was way off base, considering Mr. Haudricourt’s and my definition of “highlight” were a little different. 

See, Tom had things like signing Trevor Hoffman as a highlight, whereas I would’ve just put Hoffman’s save streak or how many scoreless innings he had pitched, because it goes without saying that he was signed. Duh. He also put drawing 3 million fans. I wouldn’t have included that, either, since the club did that in 2008, too. Whoopideedoo.
At any rate I got to thinking about his list, what with all the time I had spent lying on the couch that day-turned-into-night, and, well, he left some good stuff off of it.  
Here’s Tom’s Top 10 (with comments, of course), followed by a couple additions that must be worthy, since 2009 was really a season not worth bragging about.

Here is My (Tom’s) list of Top 10 Highlights for 2009:

1. First baseman Prince Fielder shatters Cecil Cooper’s 26-year club record (126) with 141 RBI, tying Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard for the major league lead. Fielder, who also set a club record with 110 walks, became the first Brewer to lead the majors in RBI since Cooper tied Boston’ Jim Rice in 1983.

**Alright, yes, agreed. Prince Fielder had an amazing year, I’ll give you that. And we fans did wait with baited breath for, like, 7 games for him to finally break that RBI record. And that Cecil Cooper was in town when he did was pretty exciting.

2. Closer Trevor Hoffman signs a free-agent deal, then pitches scoreless ball for his first 18 games and converts 37 of 41 save opportunities, with a 1.83 ERA in 55 games.

**Was signing the All-Time Saves Leader a big deal? Hell yeah. A highlight of the season? Well, let’s just say by the time the season begins and the good stuff (like actually getting to watch and/or go to games) starts, the off-season is a mere distant memory. Let’s just focus of what Hoffman did for us. Those are the real highlights.

3. Leftfielder Ryan Braun leads the National League with 203 hits, the club’s first 200-hit season since Paul Molitor in 1991 (216).

** Again, here’s where the definition differs. There are any number of Ryan Braun ‘highlights’ that contributed to his league-leading 203 hits. He had numerous multi-home run games, a grand slam, a near cycle. Either way, I agree this was a big deal for the club.

4. The Brewers draw 3 million fans (3,037,451) for the second consecutive season with their second-best attendance in club history. Considering the market size, it is an astounding feat.

**Not a highlight. They did it last year, the year prior and they’ll more than likely do it again this year, even coming off a losing season. I m
ean, let’s get real. I individually contributed to at least 135, 294 of those tickets. It won’t be a problem in 2010.

5. On July 29 against Washington at Miller Park, 2-year-old Mackail McGehee, suffering from cerebral palsy, throws out the ceremonial first pitch with the help of Prince Fielder. His father, Casey, later socks a pinch-hit two-run homer that provides the difference in a 7-5 victory. McGehee finishes his rookie season with a .301 batting average, 16 HRs and 66 RBI in 116 games.

**Fo’ sho’ agreed. It was a pretty exciting game.

6. On Sept. 6 against San Francisco at Miller Park, the Brewers turn a triple play, then win on a walk-off homer by Prince Fielder in the 12th inning, with teammates greeting him by sprawling backward at the plate and tumbling to the ground in a “boom goes the dynamite” celebration that drew some criticism around the game.

**Yes. This is a true highlight. A walk-off home run after 12 innings and the greatest ‘new school’ celebration I’ve ever seen. Don’t hate. The Brewers had already lost that series, were all but out of contention and, if you really think about it, were probably just happy they won a damn game

7. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo becomes the fifth pitcher in team history to record 200 strikeouts in a season when he reaches 204 in his final start Sept. 20 against Houston.

**For an ace in the making, this is a big accomplishment. My favorite Yovani highlight will be in the Haudricourt addendum. 

8. Prince Fielder wins the All-Star Home Run Derby on July 13 in St. Louis, socking a 503-footer in the process and topping Texas’ Nelson Cruz in the finals.

**This has no outcome on the team, therefore I do not count it as a Brewers highlight, but merely a Prince Fielder career highlight. 

9. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder lead all major league teammates with a combined 255 RBI.

**Impressive, no doubt. Again, doesn’t fit in my definition of ‘highlight.’ But, then again, there isn’t a whole lot to be proud of from 2009, so I’ll take it.

10. Right-hander Dave Bush pitches no-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings in Philadelphia on April 23 before pinch-hitter Matt Stairs smacks a home run off the right-field foul pole to end his bid for a no-hitter.

**Since Dave Bush didn’t have much else to be proud of last season, yes, this works as a highlight.

As for the addendum, I have 2 highlights by my definition and 1 by Tom’s. Where any of these fall on the list is up for interpretation.

First, it was the Yovani Gallardo Show when the Pirates came to town back on April 29. Yo went 8 scoreless innings, striking out 11. And the only run scored in the 1-0 Brewers win? Yep. Gallardo’s solo shot in the bottom of the 7th. Nice. 

Second, was the roller-coaster game in Cleveland that ended in an eventual 14-12 win for the Crew. The Brewers managed to blow up after the Indians blew not one, but two, 5-run leads. In this game, Ryan Braun was one hit shy of the cycle and managed to contribute 5 RBIs while Prince Fielder had a career-high 6 RBIs of his own and also smacked his first career grand slam. Not too shabby.

For the Haudricourt-esque highlight, let’s talk about 2 outstanding pitchers. It’s important to remember that, aside from Gallardo and Hoffman, the Brewers did have other bright spots in their pitching staff. Albeit teeny, tiny bright spots. Todd Coffey pitched 83.2 innings in 78 games with an ERA just shy of 3.0 and a WHIP of 1.16. His hiccups in the relief role were minute compared to others’ and he provided the team a much-needed, reliable arm out of the bullpen. Another reliever to be mentioned was lefty-specialist Mitch Stetter, who set an MLB record of 15 straight outs via the strikeout  between June 9-25. This record came amid a streak of 17 straight appearances without allowing a run from May 27- July 8. 

So, alright. Tom had some things right, but I like my choices, too. True, 2009 could mostly go down as forgotten, but the Brewers did some pretty great things in there. While I’m completely looking forward for the new season to get underway, I had a good time reminiscing about last year. It helped me forget my massive hangover. (For a little while, anyway.) 

Oh, and Happy New Year. Is it time for baseball yet?

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