Results tagged ‘ Claudio Vargas ’

A Minne trip sort of worth remembering

Please pardon the absence. I’ve been on vacation all week and there was no way I was gonna sit down and post when I had every opportunity to go out during the week, be lazy during the days and watch my Boys start to turn it around.

Finally, a week later, here’s the Minnesoooooota recap.

 

The weekend began by taking a short jaunt to Madison Thursday night so we could cut off an hour and leave later for Minneapolis the next morning. After making spicy jalapeno mac and cheese and chili lime chicken burgers, we settled in to watch my Hubby, the Narv Dog, lead the Crew to it’s first win in their last 10 games. Not an amazing win by a long shot, but it was nice to go to bed knowing the Brewers weren’t total losers.

So, smoothies in hand, we set out for Minnesota in the pouring rain and Madge, our GPS, was leading the way to The Nook in St. Paul. Three starving ladies just wanted burgers and beer (and in Nik’s case, a malt) to kick off our mini-vacay and let me tell you, this thing was worth the wait.

 

Behold, The Molitor. Two burger patties filled with pepperjack cheese goodness, paired with the best fries I’ve ever had the pleasure of stuffing my face with. It should be an actual crime for all restaurants to NOT soak their handcut fries in vinegar before frying them. I will forever be disappointed with anything else.

If you’re heading to the Twin Cities anytime soon, it is an absolute MUST that you stop at The Nook.

 

From there, we drove the arduous 15 minutes to Minneapolis and once we arrived, it was really hard not to notice the one eyesore of an otherwise gorgeous city: The Metrodome. And, naturally, since Mol and I were wearing Packers shirts (because why wouldn’t you wear Packers shirts when in Viqueens State?), we got out to find Mr. Arnold himself…

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…to take some pics of our disdain for him.

The only mean Minnesotans we encountered all weekend was a drive-by insult at this point, telling us to go back to Wisconsin. I mean, gladly. We have Aaron Rodgers there.

 

Anyway, after that quick stop, we got to our super-cute downtown hotel and got ready for the quick walk to beautiful Target Field. We put on our best Brewers gear and, of course, prepped with a couple Sausage Shots…

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…and the Triplets were off. We made a quick stop at Brothers for Happy Hour in the adorable alley bar…

 

 

…then joined the droves of fellow Brewers fans (and super, super attractive Twins fans) and went to the field.

 

So the game…

First of all, gorgeous, gorgeous stadium. Thank god the Twins don’t have to play at the Eyesore anymore, is all I have to say. Look at this view!

 

Soooo, top of the 1st, eh, who cares? No runs, NBD. Bottom? Holy eff.

Normally, you know, I’m all about Dave Bush. Love the high socks, love the sometimes beard. But on this particular night, I wanted to punch him in the throat. Six runs in 1/3 of an inning and who does Manager of the Year Ken Macha send out to replace DB? Oh, of course. Logical choice. Jeff freaking Suppan. Cue the Triplets leaving their seats and finding the nearest bar (thankfully, Target Field has LOTS of full bars scattered throughout).

Luckily for us, Twins fans are super nice and no one gloated when their score kept climbing and the Crew’s sat at zero. Although, you have to enjoy Carlos Gomez hitting a 3-run bomb and toooootally rubbing it in his former team’s face.

After the game, the ladies and I went back to Brothers to drink away our sorrows, play a bit of darts (of course, me and a dude in a Denard Span jersey won in a total beat-down) and dance our little Brewers-loving booties off.

 

The next day, Nik and I took to the skywalks while Mol slept off her headache. It was pouring yet again, and as nothing was open in the buildings, we had to hoof it on the actual cold, wet streets if we wanted to find food. By the time we were done eating, the skies had cleared and it was getting warmer by the minute so we walked towards the field to check out how unreasonably priced tickets were for that afternoon’s game. Too rich for our blood, so we wandered around a bit longer, went back to the hotel to pick up Mol and go to Brit’s Pub…

 

…to catch the rest of what turned out to be a 12-inning debacle of a game. Not surprising, the Brewers were now down 0-2 in interleague play.

After that, we got all dolled up and headed out for a night on the town, which is a totally different beast at night. We don’t like clubs, we don’t like covers and we most definitely don’t like girls that wear underwear as clothes. Needless to say, we called it an early night and went back to the hotel to finish our bottle of reisling in bed.

 

Sunday rolls around and we pack and get ready to hit the road. It was only after we crossed the border back into Wisconsin and finish our KFC Buffet that we finally stumble upon a radio station that carries the game. And only after we are comfortably finished with our Norske’s Nook pies do the Brewers induce near-heart attacks and actually pull off a series finale win. Halle-effing-luja.

 

 

And, since it’s been so long, just a quick few things about the Brewers lately. First off, Narv Dog, no longer my hubby. From now on, ‘hubby’ will refer to George Kottaras. Second, Chris Capuano is back with the club and will likely be inserted into the starting rotation and as a result of his addition, Claudio Vargas was DFA’d. Thirdly, Macha’s been playing with the line-up and as of right now, it’s been paying off. (Although, Braun bats second today. Weird) Fourth, and probably most important, Yovani Gallardo outdueled Johan Santana Friday night. He went to distance with a complete game shutout. Fifth, Corey Hart is the talk of the town, walking off Yo’s insane game with a 2-run homer Friday, grand slamming in the 1st last night and 2-run homering in the 3rd, accouting for 6 of the Brewers 8 runs.

 

Go Brewers!

 

 

No WAY the bullpen can mess that up!

It’s been a pretty good 3 days here in the Girl’s View household. My nails are growing back, my fantasy team is barrelling towards the top of the standings and My Boys are coming back to Milwaukee with their heads held as high as they can possibly hold them. Life is indeed good.

Not only did the Crew boast outstanding starting pitching in this Pittsburgh series, but their offense came alive, got hot and then sizzled for the series finale. These three games marked the first sweep for the Brewers, as well as the first opening game win, which proved to be all-important in keeping the momentum going.

I won’t go into all the details of the brutal beating the Pirates took this week, but I will throw out some numbers because I still am just in shock as to how this possibly happened. Although, as I Tweeted last night, the Brewers were due and clearly, the Pirates early success was just a fluke.

Total Runs Scored:

Brewers – 36

Pirates – 1

 

Brewers Hits Totals:

1B – 22

2B – 12

3B – 4*

HR – 8**

*Alcides Escobar hit both triples in Wednesday night’s game

**Prince Fielder finally got the monkey off his back. (And got me 4 points!)

 

Ryan Braun:

Raised his AVG from .367 to .381 during the series

Went 3-4 with  HR, 2B, 3 R, 5 RBI, BB, SB – in Thursday’s game alone

 

Thursday’s Pitchers:

Brewers starter: Randy Wolf

Used 3 relievers, most pitches thrown in relief: Claudio Vargas, 20

Pirates starter: Daniel McCutchen

Used 5 relievers, least pitches thrown in relief: Brendan Donnelly, 20

 

Soooooo anyways, the Brewers are back in Milwaukee to face the Cubs over the weekend. Tomorrow the girls and I will be in attendance and, even with the successes in Pittsburgh, all I can think about is how the last time I saw Jeff Suppan pitch against the Cubs, it was like the worst game I’ve ever witnessed. Buuuuut, at the same time, I can’t let that get me down because, Hello???? Look at those numbers! It’s improbable the Crew can keep going to this extent, but keeping pitching and offense in sync is their best bet for continuing on this winning path.

So, keep it up!

Go Brewers!

Cubs still suck!

 

 

Go ahead. Stop and stare.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Two posts in two days? Where does she find the time?”

Well, I was just too excited about this to let it go.

Two days of blistering hard work (somewhat). Custom-made vinyl. My very own Ryan Braun on a baseball pedestal (sort of).  I even loaned my own pennants to the store for the season.

So, without further ado, here it is, my 2010 Milwaukee Brewers Display. And, since I don’t want any crazy stalkers (because who wouldn’t want to stalk me?), I’m gonna forego telling you where it actually is. But if you do come across it in your Milwaukee travels, just keep me in the back of your mind and know that yes, with me, everything really is all about the Brewers.

 


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I hope you enjoyed. I know I did.

 

Oh, PS, Suppan’s starting the season on the DL. Sounds like somebody doesn’t want to be stuck in the bullpen…

 

PPS, The Narv Dog  continued to hold on to his 0.00 ERA today (3 innings, 5 Ks, 3 hits). And Manny Parra, LaTroy Hawkins and Claudio Vargas have so far kept the Angels at nada. Currently 1-0, bottom of 7th. Nice.

 

6 days.

 

Go Brewers!

 

 

 

Great things happen when the TV is turned off

It’s that time of year again. I no longer have to plant myself in front of the television for nearly 3 straight hours on Thursdays to catch all the zany action in Pawnee, Scranton, New York and Philadelphia. The Top Chef has been chosen, Dexter killed his last victim until next year and I still don’t know how Ted met his kids’ mother. The freetime I have is astounding. I mean, just check out what I did last night in the same amount of time I would’ve spent on my couch with some of my favorite fictional friends.

 

Cute, huh?

I seriously don’t understand why I give so much of my life to television when I see what I’m able to do instead. I still can’t manage to turn away from The Jersey Shore or Tough Love, though. Ah, well. We all have our weaknesses.

 

But moving on to baseball.

The Brewers finalized their deals with new pitchers Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and also worked out a 1-year deal to bring Craig Counsell back next season. (Yay!) The Crew is also only a physical away from having Claudio Vargas back in their bullpen even though they probably could’ve had Seth McClung instead. Sorry, Big Red. I’ll miss you! In addition to McClung, the Brewers non-tendered catcher Mike Rivera and pitcher Mark DiFelice, though DiFelice later signed a minor-league contract with the club.

A couple of Milwaukee’s free agents have found homes this week, as well. Mike Cameron is heading to Boston, while Jason Kendall will be the Royals new backstop and Corey Patterson will be sucking in the Mariners minor league system. But the biggest news this week was undoubtedly the 4-team deal involving Toronto, Oakland, Seattle and Philly. The deal sent post-season superstar Cliff Lee to the Mariners and Roy Halladay can finally breath easy, having landed in Philadelphia after much trade speculation for the last six or seven months. Halladay wanted be part of a contending team in 2010, the Phillies seemed like the perfect team for him and he finally approved the trade.

And the TYIB winners were announced today. My picks didn’t fare so well. Obviously, Joe Mauer was winning Hitter. I just had high hopes for Prince Fielder. I was right on with Zach Greinke for Starter, was waaaaay off the mark picking Casey McGehee for ROY, but got back on track by choosing Jim Tracy for Manager. Stupid Yankee Mariano Rivera got closer. Again. I did pick Jeremy Affeldt for Set-Up, so way to go me, but Torii Hunter wasn’t even close to Jacoby Ellsbury for Defense. Mark Burhle, blah, blah, blah. Really? Dewayne Wise? The best play of the year? Sure, he kept perfection in order, but it was just robbing a homerun. It happens pretty much every game. Over it. How the Angels celebrating the post season in honor of Nick Adenhart didn’t beat out everything else for Moment is beyond me. Phillies Dad got his 15 minutes. Over that, too. Ruben Amaro, Jr. was pretty deserving for Executive. I tooooootally picked the Unsung Star in Jayson Werth and, yes, I’m a Yankee hater so their post season anything didn’t deserve to win. But anyway, congrats to all the winners. These awards mean nothing, so way to go.

And, lastly, since Christmas is only a week away and I work in retail, don’t expect any new posts for a bit. I mean, unless the Brewers manage to do something astounding in the next 7 days. Which is pretty unlikely.

 

Fiiiiinally Doug Melvin does the right thing

The offseason is starting to finally produce some newsworthy content and I’m happy to report (even though I’m a little behind) that the Brewers organization is actually doing some useful things this winter. 

Doug Melvin promised us all that he would do his best and be aggressive in getting at least one new arm to the starting rotation and he has done exactly that in signing lefty Randy Wolf to a 3-year contract. Wolf is coming off his best season in years after posting a 3.23 ERA with the Dodgers in 2009, going 11-7 in 34 starts. He stands to make $29.75 million and has a 4th year club option. Wolf is excited to come to Milwaukee, where he’ll fit into a young(er) rotation of Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra for sure, and possibly Dave Bush (who is arbitration-eligible) and Jeff Suppan, who unfortunately still has a year left on his contract. Although, nowhere in Suppan’s contract does it stipulate he must hold a spot in the starting rotation, all of us fans will just have to hold our breath and hope that, come spring, he will not. 
With the Brewers team ERA being the lowest in the Majors last year (5.37), Melvin and Co. are not only looking for improved arms in the starting rotation, but are looking for stability and health in the bullpen as well. Last year, the pitching staff was oft-injured, the bullpen was tapped for spot-starters and therefore was stretched very thin and there were some problems with, um, mental health? The addition of Wolf will be nothing but an improvement and the Brewers have begun to add to the bullpen, too.
LaTroy Hawkins was signed to a 2-year, $7.5 million contract after the Houston Astros couldn’t guarantee him a multi-year deal. Last season, Hawkins was nothing short of outstanding, posting a 2.13 ERA in 65 appearances, including 11 saves. With Mark DiFelice out for 2010 (and possibly off the team), Hawkins is a much-needed lefty out of the bullpen and should work well as a set-up man for closer Trevor Hoffman. 
The Crew is close to finalizing a deal with RHP Claudio Vargas (although I’m not sure why…) and have 3 other arbitration-eligible right-handers awaiting offers in Todd Coffey (highly likely), Carlos Villanueva (pretty likely) and Seth McClung (unfortunately, not likely). Also on the 40-man roster are lefties Mitch Stetter and Chris Narveson, as well as RHP Chris Smith. David Riske is recovering from Tommy John surgery but could rejoin the club at some point in 2010 and there are a lot of pitchers in the farm system that could fit well with the team after Spring Training wraps up. 
The Brewers also picked up 23-year-old lefty Chuck Lofgren in the Rule 5 Draft from the Indians. Lofgren would likely come out of the bullpen, but worked well as a starter in the Indians Double- and Triple-A affiliates. 
Although it seems right now there is no shortage of pitching in Milwaukee’s bullpen, it seems Dougie isn’t quite done with his search. However, I hope he remembers that he’s got one more thin spot that should be addressed: the outfield. 
The JJ Hardy trade brought Carlos Gomez to centerfield to accompany team stud and Top 10 Hottie Ryan Braun in left. Everyday right fielder Corey Hart is eligible for arbitration this year and unless Melvin has some big deal planned, I don’t see him leaving Milwaukee any time soon. Back-up outfielder Jody Gerut also has to wait until tomorrow’s arbitration deadline to see if a deal will come his way. I can be on board with the Braun-Gomez-Hart combo, but it wasn’t until later last season that Gerut really stepped up and I’d almost rather have more power coming off the bench than what Gerut can provide. But beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. 
It also seems that the Brewers have more infielders than they know what to do with. The Crew picked up 2 catchers in Gregg Zaun and George Kottaras, thus leaving little room for arbitration-eligible Mike Rivera. They added Adam Heether to the 40-man roster, picked up Luis Cruz and are continuing to negotiate Craig Counsell’s return.
But so far, it seems like the team is really taking shape. The additional pitching will only be helpful, provided all the pieces can fall into place after the arbitration deadline. If the Brewers can get one more discounted starter after tomorrow, the could really be in business for 2010. With the majority of the power hitters still in place, Milwaukee may finally have that 1-2 punch of pitching and offense they’ve been lacking. I know we fans say it every season, but this really could be their year. 

The start to the new Brewers?

I’m not dwelling on JJ Hardy’s departure. Sure, the Brewers lost a true hottie, a Top 10 Hottie no less, but here’s to hoping they gain much more. Much more by way of speedy, young center fielder Carlos Gomez.

2009 had been a horrible year for Hardy offensively. His career-low .229 AVG helped earn him an extended stay at Triple-A Nashville and it’s no surprise that with the way Alcides Escobar stepped up at shortstop that Hardy was on his way out of a Brewers uniform before the 2010 season could get underway. The move came quite quickly after the end of the World Series, sending Hardy to Minnesota in exchange for Gomez. 
So what the H do I know about Gomez? Not much other than what all the articles are telling me. He’d been spotty offensively for the Twins, losing his leadoff role and receding his time in the field. Although he’ll likely be the everyday center fielder for the Crew, as the Brewers have chosen not to pursue Mike Cameron, Gomez will have to be content with another spot in the lineup. Milwaukee recently reinstated second baseman Rickie Weeks and believe that with the way he started out last season, the leadoff spot will belong to him once again. I’ve read Gomez is quite fast, both on the base paths and in the field, so hopefully he’ll be a sufficient replacement for Cameron.
I am a bit sad to see, that because of this move, Mike Cameron will no longer be a part of the team. Although he never actually won any of his Gold Gloves with the Brewers, he sure showed us all why he’s earned them. I do not mind, however, him taking his strikeouts elsewhere. When Cam hits, he hits hard, but when he doesn’t, well… We’ve all seen the strikeouts. There have been far too many. I will miss his ginormous, infectious smile and the great attitude he brought to the team, though. I wish him nothing but the best wherever he ends up.
Infielder extraordinaire Craig Counsell filed for free agency yesterday. I would like to see the Brewers make him an offer for 2010. At 39, he had arguably his best season to date (even though he does have that 2001 World Series under his belt) and was seemingly able to come through in the clutch every time his team needed him. As a Wisconsin native and resident of Whitefish Bay, I’d like to see Counsell round out his career with the Brewers. That’s not to say he’s anywhere near done, but if he continues to play the way he did last season, Milwaukee should be sure to hang on to him as long as they can. He’s just an excellent utility man.
Now, I don’t really know who Adam Heether is, but he’s been added to the 40-man roster. Heether is another all-around infielder (who’s also played a bit of left field) that batted .293 last year in Nashville with 16 HRs and 59 RBIs. We’ll see what he can do come Spring Training, I suppose.
Now on to the rest of Milwaukee’s free agents… 
Aside from Cameron and Counsell, right-handed relievers David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have officially filed, although Weathers’ filing was simply a formality, as the club has already declined his 2010 option. As far as Vargas goes, if anyone in the Brewers organization listens to what I have to say, stay away. He’s been on this team twice now and both times I feel like he’s just been mediocre. If the team wants to get back to that winning record and another shot at the playoffs, dumping sub-par pitching needs to be done.
Corey Patterson, you suck. Good luck out there. You’re now free to strikeout anywhere other than in Milwaukee.
Frankie C, I’m gonna miss laughing at your name not fitting on the scoreboard if the Brewers don’t pursue you. Although, Catalanotto did do a relatively good job filling in for Corey Hart in right field last season and also did a fair job when called upon to pinch hit. I suppose I wouldn’t mind seeing him back next year.
Felipe Lopez did great while filling the hole left by the injured Rickie Weeks. But since Weeks will be back in 2010, it’s highly unlikely the Crew will be able to find an everyday job for Lopez. Weeks is set to take over at 2B and as leadoff, thus Lopez’s services probably won’t be needed. Awe. It’s really too bad. I’ve been pretty much in love ever since his 4-4 first game in a Brewers uni. 
Jason Kendall is still one that I’m up in the air over. Kendall really likes Milwaukee and has said he would like to continue playing with the team. And I don’t necessarily disagree with keeping him here. I think he brings experience and has the ability to call a great game. On the other hand, what would losing him mean? I don’t know if Mike Rivera is an everyday catcher and I really have no idea what Angel Salome is capable of. I do really like Kendall. I think the Crew should definitely keep that door open.
So, the Brewers have a lot of decisions to make before Spring Training. (Duh.) The most daunting task will be to find quality starting pitching. But since the 15-day deadline to file for free agency has really just begun, a bevy of pitching should become available in the coming days. I dare not make any big predictions here, but Milwaukee is in desperate need of at least one starting pitcher (ahem, John Lackey??) and should definitely make that their primary focus. As if it weren’t already…

Chris Narveson! Who knew!?

When I found out Narveson would be starting one my final games at Miller Park this season, let alone against the Cubs, I had to just grin and bear it. The Brewers season was over, afterall, but I don’t ever like to go into a game with the anticipation of a loss. Even though Narveson won his previous start, Milwaukee had very little to show for so far in the series, amassing a measly 4 runs in 2 games, while giving up 17 to Chicago.

As it turned out, I had absolutely no reason to be worried.

After Nik, Mol and I settled in to our seats, we looked around at the poor showing for a marquee game. Attendance was just over 31,000 for the night and we girls pretty much just got to chatting about anything other than the game.

All of the sudden, it’s the top of the 3rd and my most hated Cub, Reed Johnson, leads off the inning with a double. As I groaned the obligatory, “I hate Reed Johnson,” I glanced at the scoreboard to see that his hit was the first allowed in the game and Narveson had already recored 3 strikeouts. And then Johnson was unable to score. Darn!

The Brewers walked away with a 3-2 win last night, all 3 runs coming via the longball. Prince Fielder smacked a 2-run dinger, his 42nd of the year, in the 4th and also coasted above Poo Holes in the RBI column once more, now with 131, while Jody Gerut added that 3rd insurance run in the 6th.

The obvious hero of the game was Chris Narveson, though, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings, only allowing 4 hits. The only mistake he made was a first-pitch fastball to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija to start off the 6th. That mistake didn’t end up costing the game, but it was Samardzija’s first major league hit, so I’m sure he felt pretty good about it. After that, Narveson padded the already impressive strikeout total by fanning Tyler Colvin and Derrek Lee before being pulled after throwing only 70 pitches.

Todd Coffey made his amusing sprint to the mound in record time to then finish out the 6th and the only other Chicago run allowed came from a small string of hits put together while Police Academy’s Tackleberry look-a-like David Weathers was on the hill in the 7th. No biggie though, as Felipe Lopez, second baseman extraordinaire, was able to pull off a very close play at first, then had an amazing line-drive catch to end the inning. If it wasn’t a WebGem, it certainly deserved to be. Claudio Vargas pitched a scoreless 8th, proving me wrong in my wavering trust in his abilities, then before we knew it, it was Trevor Time. Hoffman recorded his 35th save of the season and added to his All-Time lead, now standing at 589.

Chris Narveson looks to get at least one more start this season, but with Monday’s scheduled off-day, it could turn into 2. I’m pretty much sold on him to get as many in as the powers that be deem worthy. I know last night could be a fluke, but it could also be a window into what this guy’s capable of. I’d like to think of it as the latter. Narveson deserves to be seen and deserves to be put into consideration to stay with the team for 2010. I realize the Brewers have other, far more pressing pitching issues to take care of in the off-season, but throw Narveson in the mix. I’m pretty much all over that guy.

So tonight the Phillies look to close in on the post-season, sending J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 ERA) to the mound to face Jeff Suppan (7-10, 4.76 ERA).

The Phillies lead the NL East by 6.5 games over Atlanta, whose elimination number is 5. It’s a possibility during this 4-game series that Philadelphia, unless Milwaukee can hold them off, could be celebrating once again at Miller Park. Last season, of course, we all remember Philly winning the Division Series and the champagne being uncorked in the visitor’s clubhouse. The Brewers need to embrace the spoiler role and do everything they can to not let that happen again this year.

Go Brewers!

 

Yes, I’m still here and yes, I’m still a Brewers fan

Okay, okay. It’s been quite some time. Let’s talk about last night, shall we?

I started my night with a very promising Facebook status: “Brewers game. Looking forward to awesome seats (thanks, MC!), Ryan’s 100th and untucked shirts.”

Welllllll, here’s a rundown of how the night really went.

My parents and I, for whatever reason, bought tickets to last night’s game against the Cardinals, like, 3 months ago. Terrace Box seats, nothing special. My dad’s BFF Mark (the MC from the FB status) called to say he had tickets behind the plate. Needless to say, we ditched the crappy seats in favor of his. Nice.

So now, we’ve got some extra tickets to rid ourselves of. We’re standing outside Miller Park when Mark spots this guy.

 

That’s right. Douglas C. Neidermeyer. Bob “The Maestro” Cobb. Well, alright. Mark Metcalf. Whatever you’d like to call him, we chatted a bit (because he and Mark are such good buddies) and as it turned out, his tickets had been lost in transit somehow and he was stuck outside. Good thing we had some to spare!

The night had started out well. Celeb sighting, 4th row seats, perfect view of Ryan Braun’s butt–excellent so far.

Even better was Prince Fielder’s 2-run shot in the bottom of the first, the Cards not being able to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities and a bullpen that wouldn’t quit. Scheduled starter Manny Parra left after a scoreless first due to neck spasms, but the ‘pen was getting out of jams left and right. My only concerns of the night? Would I be seen on TV attempting to eat a massive caramel apple and why wasn’t Top 10 Hottie Skip Schumaker in the lineup?

Well, Skip eventually entered the game and, as far as I know, no one saw me eating because no one saw me on TV.

My favorite part of the night, besides RB’s bum, and Prince’s homer and Skip being 40 feet in front of me? Claudio Vargas getting himself out of a whole lot of potential run-scoring trouble in the bottom of the 8th after St. Louis had battled to within a run. What that meant was it would soon be Trevor Time.

Now, I’d had to pee since probably mid-7th. I didn’t want to miss Ryan’s 100th homerun (I was pretty sure I’d be in attendance for it. He knows how important that is to me) so I stuck it out. Then the top of the 8th was so nail-bitingly unnerving that I didn’t want to miss anything. Then Hell’s Bells came on, so I couldn’t get up for that….right?

Ugh. Twice now. Twice, I’ve witnessed Hoffman blow a save. First, he walks Poo Holes then he has to face Matt Holliday. Along with Ryan and Prince, they’re a pretty intimidating 3-4 combo. And what does Holliday do? But of course! Hits the ball to deep center for a 2-run bomb and the lead. Oops.

Okay, so it was only a 1-run lead. The Brewers can handle this, right? Wellllllll, the bottom of the order is up, and while I hadn’t quite given up yet, I wasn’t exactly feeling as confident for a win as I was when the night began. Lo and behold, the Cardinals came out on top. No shirts were untucked. RBs 100th remains in his bat. And the Brewers continue their slide. (After today’s loss, the Crew is 17 games out and 7 under .500. Ouch.)

Was I disappointed in the outcome? Of course. All in all, still a good night? Yep. Have I asked and answered a lot of my own questions in this post? Yeah, just noticed that.

So, since it’s been so long, I shall grace you all with a few choice pictures from last night’s game.

 

Look! Corey’s back!

 

 

Mark and my dad, with Ryan Ludwick striking out. Ha.

 

Ah, Skip.

 

Hehe!

 

And, just because it’s been so long since my last post and I have yet to even mention it, let’s talk a little bit about Prince and the Boys’ celebration Sunday afternoon.

I disagree that it was offensive, unsportsmanlike and over the top. The Brewers, as we all know, have been on a downward spiral since well before the All-Star break and it’s seeming like there’s no stopping it. That game was OC (outta control). Spectacular defense (including that amaaaaaazing triple play!) and crazy good pitching made for a really long game, all tied up at a 1 apiece. The Giants already had the series in the bag and the Brewers had been struggling for any sort of offensive outburst. I mean, seriously, how long has it been since the Brewers had a walk-off win? I honestly don’t even remember. I say, celebrate all you want. The Cardinals started all the whining with the untucked shirts. Offensive? Get real, LaRussa. Now the Giants have something to complain about with the choreographed routine at the plate. Okay, so maybe a bit over the top, but hilarious! My guess is, that’s something they’d been planning out for such a long time, but never had the opportunity to do. And you know what else? It was at home, it was the final game of yet another lost series and, let’s face it, the Brewers don’t have much to play for this season other than to go out there and have fun everyday. And it’s really hard to have fun when you’re losing pretty damn consistently. So I say do it up, Boys! And do it as big as you want.

 

Go Brewers!

 

There are leaders and there are followers…

As I checked the MLB leaderboards this afternoon on my lunchbreak, the Brewers players (or lack thereof) listed got me thinking about a lot of things. Take a look at some of these numbers and you’ll see what I mean.

MLB Batting Leaders

Homeruns

Prince Fielder – 31 (4th)

Ryan Braun – 26 (Tied, 13th)

RBIs

Prince Fielder – 107 (1st)

Ryan Braun – 86 (Tied, 6th)

Batting Average

Ryan Braun – .314 (Tied, 15th)

Felipe Lopez – .313 (Tied, 18th)

On Base Percentage

Prince Fielder – .420 (4th)

Slugging Percentage

Prince Fielder – .600 (4th)

Ryan Braun – .568 (9th)

Hits

Ryan Braun – 143 (11th)

Felipe Lopez – 140 (Tied, 13th)

Runs

Ryan Braun – 85 (6th)

 

Pitching Leaders

ERA

N/A

Wins

Yovani Gallardo – 11 (Tied, 17th)

Strikeouts

Yovani Gallardo – 165 (6th)

Saves

Trevor Hoffman – 26 (Tied, 10th)

WHIP

N/A

Winning Percentage

N/A

Games

Mitch Stetter – 57 (Tied, 11th)

Todd Coffey – 56 (Tied, 12th)

Innings Pitched

N/A

 

I’d say it’s pretty apparent what the problems are here. It’s a major, major issue when only 2 players show up consistently on the batting leaderboards. Admittedly, it’s nice when players hit hot streaks, like Fielder’s current tear. And, of course, not every position player on a team will get hot at the same time. And true, the Brewers have logged double digits in the hits column for what? The last 7 games? But when the one pitcher you see on the boards only takes the mound once every 5 games, things aren’t going to sync up as often as they need to. And even when Gallardo does pitch, the Brewers have trouble giving him ample run support.

It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s pitching staff has taken a perpetual beating this season. Currently, the starting rotation has given up both Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the DL, Braden Looper gives up homerun after homerun (to be fair, the entire staff has given up 159 longballs – the most in the majors. Ouch.), Manny Parra spent a few weeks in the minors only to come back and be crazy-consistent, Gallardo is the ace in the making and then there’s Mike Burns, reliever on loan. Even when the starters manage to go the distance, the distance is generally somewhere around 6 innings – definitely not enough.

Which leads me to the bullpen. It’s no wonder the Brewers have 2 relievers showing up as having pitched in the most games. The bullpen works far too often because the rotation can’t get it done. Adding a few new arms out there have so far not paid off. The only thing Jesus Colome, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have in common with the rest of Milwaukee’s pitching staff? The ability to give up runs in great numbers.

There are only 44 games left for the Brewers this season. If the pitching doesn’t match up with the offense soon, the team will be in serious jeopardy of falling further out of contention. (Despite what it may sound like so far, I do still have faith in my boys.) It’s just really hard to fathom a big comback in either the NL Central or Wildcard races if batting and pitching coming together is about as rare an occurence as a solar eclipse.

Including wrapping up this current series in Pittsburgh, there are 14 match-ups left in 2009. Only 6 of those series will the Brewers face teams lower in the standings than they are. Also looming for Milwaukee are 3 series against the Cardinals, 2 versus the Cubs and 1 against the Wildcard-leading Rockies. If the Brewers are hoping to take any or all of those series, they had better start by winning more against the teams that, on paper, they’re capable of beating.

And at the risk of sounding selfish, I have at least 6 more games to attend this year, including 2 in St. Louis at the end of the season. I’d like very much to see a major turnaround from my team by then. Well, in addition, I’d like to see the Cubs and Cards take a nosedive, but beggars can’t be choosers. And don’t get me wrong, I know enough about baseball to understand it’s full of ups and downs and I can’t expect the world all the time. But come on, Brewers. I’m really sick of the downs.

 

Okay, so in other news, Bill Hall’s future will be decided by Friday. It’s entirely possible that Doug Melvin will use Hall as a trading chip. Quite honestly, I hope that he does. Obviously, Hall’s career is far from over and there’s got to be at least a few teams interested in picking him up. The Brewers, if I haven’t made it clear enough yet, need another starter. I’ve been reading the Reds are interested in Billy and, well, they’ve got a couple arms they’re willing to part ways with. And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bronson Arroyo or Aaran Harang put on a Brewers uni. But the decision on Hall still has a few more days to be made, so don’t worry – I won’t hold my breath.

 

Anyway, the Crew is at PNC Park again tonight to try and restore some dignity and stop the downward spiral. Manny Parra (8-8, 6.44 ERA) matches up with Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA). Parra’s been nothing short of spectacular since returning from Triple-A just a few weeks ago and since the last time the Brewers saw the Pirates, they’ve gotten rid of the majority of their team. Hopefully, this will bode well for Parra and he’ll be on point again tonight. Hopefully.

Go Brewers!

 

Will all this be enough?

Obviously, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I was waiting for something really super-awesomely spectacular to happen before I wrote anything else, but since the Brewers have failed to do anything super, awesome or spectacular for quite some time, I suppose I have to comment on today’s actions within the ballclub.

First, dismissing pitching coach Bill Castro isn’t going to change the fact that the rotation is struggling and the bullpen can’t seem to salvage the myriad of situations they’ve been put into. Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush are out– let’s not forget that’s still a factor. Carlos Villanueva is par, at best, as a starter, Braden Looper can’t seem to work 2 quality starts in a row and Yovani Gallardo pitches well, but the offense rarely supports him. Since coming back from his latest stint in the minors, Manny Parra has been the only pitcher to garner both quality starts and wins. The marred rotation, coupled with the wishy-washy bullpen (including the recent acquisitions of Jesus Colome and 2 former Brewers, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas) are never going to be enough to consistently win games.

Castro’s replacement, Chris Boscio, has big league experience both as a pitcher (with Milwaukee and Seattle) and as a coach (with the Tampa Bay Rays). The Triple-A Nashville Sounds, whom Boscio is leaving behind for this interim position, have a team ERA of 4.05, which is good enough for 2nd in the league. Hopefully whatever he’s doing with the Sounds will translate to the Brewers and he can help whip the pitching staff into shape.

The second move Doug Melvin and Co. made today was to send shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A for the first time in over 2 seasons. Alcides Escobar has yo-yo’d between Nashville and Milwaukee over the past season and a half as has gotten the call as Hardy’s replacement. Escobar is batting .298 in the minors while Hardy has been struggling to make it out of the .220 range all season. The plan for JJ is similar to the one Manny Parra had– regroup, start producing and get his head on straight. Hopefully, it’ll work to his advantage the way it worked for Manny.

Lastly, Bill Hall, the oft-slumping infielder turned outfielder turned infielder turned outfielder, was designated for assignment. Hall was sent to Nashville just a few weeks ago but was quickly recalled after Corey Hart had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. Nevermind that he hit a 2-run homer last night, Hall has been platooned for the past 2 seasons and has been unable to match or exceed career-high numbers in the past 3 seasons. Hall’s replacement is a virtually unknown Jason Bourgeois, who missed most of the year so far due to a thumb injury. The Brewers now have 10 days to decide Bill Hall’s future with the team.

So what do I think about all this? I think the shake-ups are good. I think the majority of the players on this team will look at what was decided today and will realize their fates may not be secure if the team can’t turn it around. However, I don’t think this is going to be enough to pull out of the middle of the NL Central.

The Brewers are in desperate need of consistent, quality starts, something the rotation has been lacking in all season. The addition of 3 pitchers to the bullpen is like putting a bandage on a bullet wound. Milwaukee’s starting rotation is suffering and will continue to suffer if a new arm isn’t added soon. And the bullpen is exhausted because they’re constantly expected to clean up the mess. A number of pitchers have recently cleared waivers that are worth taking a long, hard look at, despite what it may cost to finish out the season with them. Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang of the Reds are options. So is John Smoltz, despite a poor showing in 8 starts with the Red Sox. All I’m saying, is anyone is better than what the Brewers have going on right now. The rotation has been in constant flux since April and I think consistency will be key, if the organization decides to add an arm and once everyone is healthy and back with the club.

One can only hope these moves are just minor stepping stones to something bigger. But until then, the Brewers need to figure out how to turn themselves around and start winning again. I will not be looking forward to St. Louis in October if those last 3 games mean nothing.

Tonight, the Crew looks for some sweet redemption from last night’s embarassing showing against the Padres. Carlos Villanueva (2-9, 6.05 ERA) is on the mound against Kevin Correia (7-9, 4.51 ERA).

Go Brewers!

 

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