Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

Why I’m Rooting For the American League

Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.

Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.

Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.

I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”

And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.

So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.

As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.

I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.

So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?

Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.

Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.

So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.

I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).

Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.

Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.

Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.

Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.

I think I’ve made my point.

Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.

2011 Brewers:

  • Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
  • Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
    • (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)

2014 Royals:

  • Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
  • Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
  • “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)

Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.

I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.

Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.

But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…

I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.

The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.

But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.

And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.

MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now Heading Into 2013

top100rightnow

As I did last year, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.

They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Tuesday, February 26th. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.

As before I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. Last year there were six Brewers on the list. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9.

Based on what has been revealed, it would appear a safe bet that Rickie Weeks has fallen off of the list. And how about John Axford? Could he really be in the Top 40 or did he fall off too? I’m guessing he fell off despite his fantastic 2011 season.

Looks like the Brewers will only have three this year.

The criteria for the list remains the same:

  • Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
  • Projected 2013 performance
  • Defensive position
  • Accolades
  • Intangibles

Here now are the Top 100 Players as listed by MLB Network.

100. Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies

99. Sergio Romo – CL – San Francisco Giants

98. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers

97. Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers

96. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies

95. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

94. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – Boston Red Sox

93. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers

92. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals

91. Michael Bourn – CF – Cleveland Indians

90. Aroldis Chapman – P – Cincinnati Reds

89. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals

88. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox

87. Mike Moustakas – 3B – Kansas City Royals

86. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays

85. Michael Morse – 1B/LF – Seattle Mariners

84. Allen Craig – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals

83. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers

82. Carlos Beltran – RF – St. Louis Cardinals

81. Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia Phillies

80. Brian McCann – C – Atlanta Braves

79. Miguel Montero – C- Arizona Diamondbacks

78. Curtis Granderson – CF – New York Yankees

77. Jim Johnson – CL – Baltimore Orioles

76. Jason Motte – CL – St. Louis Cardinals

75. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals

74. Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego Padres

73. Adam LaRoche – 1B – Washington Nationals

72. Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers

71. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants

70. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals

69. B.J. Upton – CF – Atlanta Braves

68. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals

67. David Freese – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals

66. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles

65. Kyle Lohse – SP – (FREE AGENT)

64. Wade Miley – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks

63. Johnny Cueto – SP – Cincinnati Reds

62. Jonathan Papelbon – CL – Philadelphia Phillies

61. Mariano Rivera – CL – New York Yankees

60. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox

59. Jason Heyward – RF – Atlanta Braves

58. Austin Jackson – CF – Detroit Tigers

57. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

56. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox

55. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals

54. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals

53. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees

52. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs

51. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies

50. R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays

49. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals

48. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles

47. A.J. Pierzynski – C- Texas Rangers

46. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

45. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants

44. Pablo Sandoval – 3B – San Francisco Giants

43. Josh Willingham – LF – Minnesota Twins

42. Yoenis Cespedes – LF – Oakland Athletics

41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals

40. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers

39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays

38. Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins

37. Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds

35. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves

34. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox

33. Paul Konerko – 1B – Chicago White Sox

32. Aramis Ramirez – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers

31. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds

30. Carlos Gonzalez – LF – Colorado Rockies

29. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals

28. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays

27. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves

26. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals

25. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays

24. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals

23. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles

22. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets

21. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants

20. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

19. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies

18. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees

17. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates

16. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays

15. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins

14. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

13. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers

12. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays

11. Prince Fielder – 1B – Detroit Tigers

10. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

9. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds

8. Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Yankees

7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners

6. Ryan Braun – LF – Milwaukee Brewers

5. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B – Detroit Tigers

2. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers

1. Mike Trout – LF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Totals by team:

  • Philadelphia Phillies – 7
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 7
  • Washington Nationals – 7
  • Detroit Tigers – 6
  • Atlanta Braves – 5
  • Cincinnati Reds – 5
  • New York Yankees – 5
  • San Francisco Giants – 5
  • Texas Rangers – 5
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 5
  • Baltimore Orioles – 4
  • Boston Red Sox – 4
  • Kansas City Royals – 4
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 4
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 4
  • Milwaukee Brewers – 3
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
  • Chicago White Sox – 2
  • Colorado Rockies – 2
  • Minnesota Twins – 2
  • Seattle Mariners – 2
  • Tampa Bay Rays – 2
  • Cleveland Indians – 1
  • New York Mets – 1
  • Chicago Cubs – 1
  • Oakland Athletics – 1
  • Miami Marlins – 1
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
  • San Diego Padres – 1
  • Kyle Lohse – 1

mlbnetwork

Milwaukee Brewers Uniform Number History: #52

Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?

The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.

#52

Bill Parsons (’71-’73)
Mike Boddicker (’93)
Kevin Wickander (’95-’96)
Mike Misuraca (’97)
Travis Smith (’98)
Bobby Chouinard (’98)
Rafael Roque (’98-’00)
Mac Suzuki (’01)
Nelson Figueroa (’02)
Matt Ford (’03)
Ricky Bottalico
Jose Capellan (’05-’06)
Seth McClung (’07)
Mel Stocker (’07)
CC Sabathia (’08)
Chris Smith (’09-’10)
Sergio Mitre (’11)
Jimmy Nelson (’13)

What Has Happened to This Team?

By: Big Rygg

It has been a while since I’ve written anything in this space. The reason for that is two-fold.

First, I am the proud parent to a new baby boy (he’s a month old today, as a matter of fact)! Second, the team hasn’t exactly given me much in the way of motivation to sit down and really put forth any concerted effort.

To be fair, in all reality it is the former that has kept me away more than the latter. I can write about my favorite team in the dead of winter when they’re not even playing with no issue. Certainly I have had plenty on my mind during these recent lean days but diapers/bottles/baths/bonding/etc. really chew up my “free” time.

I was going to sit down and write a free-form rant (I even advertised it on my blog’s Twitter account – twitter.com/BrewerNation) but I got busy and calmed down while caring for my little boy that can’t care for himself yet.

That’s kind of a metaphor for the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers so far this year.

I know that the team will tell you that they are maturing and how they don’t want to be seen as the team that other teams love to beat, but if you ask me all they’ve accomplished by toning down their youthful exuberance is rip their own heart out.

They no longer seem to be having fun while playing a fun game. They no longer seem to be enjoying their days at the ballpark which is an enjoyable place. They no longer seem to have that swagger that carried them to a 90-72 record and a post-season playoff berth WAY back in 2008.

Yeah…2008. Remember when CC Sabathia couldn’t be stopped and this team was having fun all summer long? It doesn’t seem that long ago when you think about it outside of sports, but in Major League Baseball so much can change in two short years.

I could list things like that they’ve had three managers since then, or that they’ve burned through four pitching coaches but the main thing that’s changed from 2008 to 2010 isn’t tangible like that.

It’s the fun.

Let me break it down to you this way. They say that a group takes on the personality and characteristics of its leader. But has there ever been a seemingly more mismatched pairing than Ken Macha and the majority of this Brewers roster?

Macha is admittedly old school. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot about old school baseball. I like (most of) the unwritten rules. I like drilling a guy for showing up the game. I like a good old-fashioned bench-clearing brawl.

The players, and perhaps it’s mostly as a by-product of their median age, is decidedly new school in a lot a ways. The earthquake celebration against San Francisco, Braun and Fielder’s boxing celebration after home runs, the untucking of their jerseys after victories…it all is about having fun.

They never were trying to show anybody up. They were simply trying to enjoy each other and each other’s successes on the field.

But apparently somebody got in the ears of the clubhouse leaders over the off-season and planted a distinctive “knock it off” somewhere in there.

Sure, Braun and Fielder still celebrate home runs and now Fielder and McGehee have even developed a little foot shake routine. And yes, if they were still untucking their jerseys with a 16-26 record, it might seem a touch out of place.

My argument, though, is that once this team stopped having fun this team stopped playing loose. They’ve been uptight, trying to be to too perfect (I’m looking at you, pitching staff) and generally almost seem to be playing scared.

Not that they’re afraid of the ball or anything, but they’ve got “What’s going to go wrong tonight?” syndrome.

When you arrive at the ballpark and expect to lose, you generally lose. I’m not saying that any players have told me that they feel this way, or that I’ve heard any of them say it or even imply it. It’s just my feeling as a very interested observer.

Maybe getting Trevor Hoffman fixed will be the spark that this team needs. It can’t be easy when the innings are getting late and you don’t have at least a four-run lead. Hoffman was so maddeningly inconsistent that you almost had to assume failure and be pleasantly surprised if he came through.

Maybe getting healthy will provide the boost that this team needs. When your Opening Day centerfielder and rightfielder have missed time and 40% of your starting rotation has replaced due to injury or ineffectiveness and your setup man is on the DL and now your starting catcher will miss at least two weeks…

Then again, maybe simply getting a few wins will be the ointment that heals the wounds of so many losses.

If you win, maybe you loosen up. If you loosen up, maybe you win some more. If you win some more, maybe you stay loose and go on a run.

So the question becomes: How do you win to start that chain of probabilities?

My answer to that question sounds simple. In fact, it sounds so simple that one might wonder why it isn’t already happening. It sounds so simple that one might question why it was ever abandoned in the first place.

That answer to the Milwaukee Brewers? Find a way to enjoy the game again.

Untuck those jerseys, watch a few home runs a little too long, pump your fist when you strike out a guy in a key situation on defense, hoot and holler and get the other guy’s dander up, put a target on your back again if you must.

In short…just relax and be yourselves.

You might find out that it’s what’s been missing this whole time.

All- Decade Roster

By: Big Rygg

Here is my 25-man roster (complete with starters, batting order, rotation and bullpen assignments). We will be recording a podcast in the semi-near future to no doubt dissect this (and surely Cary will disagree with a few choices).

This roster was constructed with an eye on best players at positions, but also with an eye on making what could be a legitimate 25-man roster with capable bench players and not all closers in the bullpen, etc.

First will be the roster listed alphabetically by position with starters marked with an asterisk.

SP (5) – Jeff D’Amico, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets
RP (7) – Todd Coffey, Francisco Cordero, Chad Fox, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Leskanic, Brian Shouse, Bob Wickman
C (2) – Henry Blanco, Damian Miller*
INF (6) – Ryan Braun*, Russell Branyan, Craig Counsell, Prince Fielder*, Bill Hall*, Jose Hernandez*
OF (5) – Corey Hart, Geoff Jenkins*, Gabe Kapler, Carlos Lee*, Scott Podsednik*

My rotation shakes out as follows:

1 – Ben Sheets (as a nod to his longevity with the team)
2 – CC Sabathia (he was that dominant in his short stint)
3 – Yovani Gallardo (future ace would make an amazing #3 on this team)
4 – Doug Davis (long tenure, LHP, consistent numbers)
5 – Jeff D’Amico (very solid statistics despite only 33 starts with the Brewers)

The bullpen stacks up like this:

Closer – Trevor Hoffman (yes, only one season but an amazing season as closer)
Set up – Francisco Cordero (flame-thrower, closing experience in the 8th inning)
LOOGy – Brian Shouse (of top three including Mitch Stetter and Ray King, Shouse was best and most consistent)
Others in the bullpen would share back-up 8th inning and the short work

And for my batting order…

CF – Scott Podsednik
SS – Jose Hernandez
3B – Ryan Braun
1B – Prince Fielder
LF – Carlos Lee
RF – Geoff Jenkins
2B – Bill Hall
C – Damian Miller
PITCHER

I am more than happy to explain my selections for this roster and I will…on the podcast. Be sure to download it when you see the post telling you that it’s there.

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade.

How about a couple or several division championships this decade?

All Decade By the Numbers

By: Big Rygg

I know that this idea is a bit corny and overdone already, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t taken a fair amount of time to compile the information that that led me to the decisions that I have made regarding my (and since I’ve been the entirety of the written Brewer Nation for quite some time now) and the Brewer Nation’s….

ALL-DECADE 25-MAN ROSTER!!! (which will come in the next post)

But first, some interesting tidbits for you all to digest followed by some high and low statistical totals for the decade of 2000-2009. A lot of these numbers helped me figure out my all-decade roster.

  • There have been 111 non-pitchers that have have at least one plate appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers this decade.
  • There have been 131 individuals that have pitched at least one-third of an inning for the Milwaukee Brewers this decade, including two position players (Trent Durrington and Mark Loretta).
  • The most common first name amongst Brewers in this decade is “Chris” (11 players). Second place goes to “Mike” (10 players).
  • Most seasons (or parts of seasons) played with the Brewers in the 2000s was 8, a record held by Geoff Jenkins, Bill Hall and Ben Sheets

Hitting Mosts (you might notice some themes here):

Games Played: 1015 – Geoff Jenkins
Plate Appearances: 4154 – Geoff Jenkins
At-Bats: 3698 – Geoff Jenkins
Runs: 558 – Geoff Jenkins
Hits: 1021 – Geoff Jenkins
Doubles: 232 – Geoff Jenkins
Triples: 21 – Corey Hart
Home Runs: 182 – Geoff Jenkins
Total Bases: 1835 – Geoff Jenkins
Runs Batted In: 594 – Geoff Jenkins
Stolen Bases: 113 – Scott Podsednik
Times Caught Stealing: 35 – Bill Hall
Walks: 345 – Prince Fielder
Intentional Walks: 66 – Fielder (Five more than Jenkins, but more than triple third place)
Strike Outs: 970 – Geoff Jenkins
Times Grounding into a Double Play: 90 – Geoff Jenkins
Times Hit By a Pitch: 86 – Geoff Jenkins
Sacrifice Hits: 21 – Mark Loretta
Sacrifice Flies: 32 – Prince Fielder (One more than Jenkins in far fewer PAs)

Hitting Highests (minimum 100 plate appearances):

Batting Average: .320 – Felipe Lopez
On-Base Percentage: .407 – Felipe Lopez
Slugging Percentage: .574 – Ryan Braun
On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage: .931 – Ryan Braun

Hitting Worsts:

Games Played: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
Plate Appearances: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
At-Bats: 1 (Tie – Carlos Corporan & Julio Mosquera)
Runs: 0 (8 players never scored but Pete Zoccolillo was on base the most times without scoring – 6 times)
Hits: 0 (4 players, Robert Perez had most Plate Appearances without a hit – 5)
Doubles: 0 (10 players with at least one hit had no doubles. Tony Fernandez had 18 hits without a double)
Triples: 0 (48 players with at least one hit had no triples. Carlos Lee had 275 hits without a triple)
Home Runs: 0 (20 player with at least one hit had no home runs. Tony Gwynn had by far the most without a home run with 60. Next closest? Nine.)
Total Bases: 0 (4 players. Robert Perez had 5 plate appearances without a base.)
Runs Batted In: 0 (11 players had at least one plate appearance without an RBI. Brad Nelson had 31 for the most.)
Stolen Bases: 0 (Since you can’t steal if you don’t try, 12 players had at least one attempt without a stolen base. Wes Helms and Felipe Lopez tied for the most with 3.)
Times Caught Stealing: 0 (16 players with at least one stolen base were never caught. Santiago Perez and Mel Stocker each stole 4 bases without getting caught.)
Walks: 0 (9 players never walked. Israel Alcantara had the most plate appearances without drawing a walk with 32.)
Intentional Walks: 0 (49 players never were intentionally given first base including Alex Sanchez who had 684 plate apperances without one.)
Strike Outs: 0 (5 players never struck out as a Brewers this decade. Nelson Cruz had the most PAs as a Brewers with 7. The fewest Ks with at least 100 PAs? Lenny Harris who only struck out 17 times in 215 PAs.)
Times Grounding into a Double Play: 0 (17 players never grounded into one this decade. Alcides Escobar had the most plate appearances without a GIDP with 138.)
Times Hit By a Pitch: 0 (36 players were never hit by a pitch. Marquis Grissom had the most plate appearances without ever getting plunked as a Brewer this decade with 640.)
Sacrifice Hits: 0 (58 players had none with Geoff Jenkins topping the list by having 4154 plate appearances.)
Sacrifice Flies: 0 (41 players never hit a sac fly this decade. John Vander Wal had 374 plate appearances without even a single sac fly.)

Hitting Lowests (4 players had zeroes in all categories, Robert Perez having the most plate appearances (5) without any stats, so the following is the lowest among players with at least one hit):

Batting Average: .067 – Chris Barnwell (2 Hits in 30 at-bats)
On-Base Percentage: .071 – Corey Patterson (1 Hit in 15 plate appearances)
Slugging Percentage: .067 – Chris Barnwell (2 singles in those 30 at-bats)
On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage: .143 – Corey Patterson

Pitching Mosts:

Wins: 86 – Ben Sheets
Losses: 83 – Ben Sheets
Games Played: 224 – Luis Vizcaino
Games Started: 221 – Ben Sheets
Games Finished: 129 – Derrick Turnbow
Complete Games: 18 – Ben Sheets (Sabathia had 2nd most in the decade in one-half season: 7)
Shutouts: 4 – Ben Sheets (Sabathia had 2nd most in the decade in one-half season: 3)
Saves: 65 – Derrick Turnbow
Innings PItched: 1428 – Ben Sheets
Hits Allowed: 1402 – Ben Sheets
Runs Allowed: 650 – Ben Sheets
Earned Runs Allowed: 591 – Ben Sheets
Home Runs Allowed: 160 – Ben Sheets
Walks Issued: 313 – Ben Sheets
Intentional Walks Issued: 25 Tie (Ben Sheets & Jeff Suppan though Suppan did it in far fewer innings – 1428.0 IP to 546.0 IP)
Strikeouts: 1206 – Ben Sheets
Batters Hit: 54 – Dave Bush
Balks: 5 – Chris Capuano
Wild Pitches: 49 – Ben Sheets

Pitching Bests:

Earned Run Average: 0.00 – 6 players (Chris Saenz pitched the most innings: 6.0)
Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitches: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Best by an actual pitcher? Mike Crudale with 0.75)
Hits Allowed Per 9 Innngs: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Best by an actual pitcher? Mike Crudale with 0.96)
Home Runs Allowed Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – 11 players (Mike Crudale pitched most innings without allowing a home run: 9.1 IP)
Walks Issued Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – 3 players (Jesus Colome pitched most innings without issuing one: 6.1 IP)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings: 18.00 – Mark Loretta (Best by an actual pitcher? Allan Simpson with 16.88)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 5.12 – CC Sabathia (of pitchers that issues at least one walk)

Pitching Leasts:

Wins: 0 – 42 Players (Chris Smith pitched most games without a win: 35)
Losses: 0 – 29 Players (Chris Smith pitched most games without a loss as well)
Games Played: 1 – 4 Players (Trent Durrington, Mark Loretta, Chris Saenz, Chris Mabeus)
Games Finished: 0 – 5 Players (of players who relieved at least once – Chris Mabeus, Josh Butler, Mike Matthews, Kyle Peterson, Jimmy Haynes)
Complete Games: 0 – 42 Players (of players who started at least once – Jimmy Haynes started most games without a complete game: 62)
Shutouts: 0 – Jeff Suppan (Most games started without a shutout: 95)
Saves: 0 – 82 Players (of players with at least one relief appearance – Jose Capellan had most relief appearances without a save: 85)
Innings PItched: 0.1 – Trent Durrington (Actual pitcher with least? Chris Mabeus – 1.2 IP)
Hits Allowed: 0 – Trent Durrington
Runs Allowed: 0 – 3 Players (Chris Saenz pitched most innings without allowing a run: 6.0 IP)
Earned Runs Allowed: 0 – 3 Players (Chris Saenz pitched most innings without allowing a run: 6.0 IP)
Home Runs Allowed: 0 – 11 Players (Mike Crudale pitched most innings without allowing a home run: 9.1 IP)
Walks Issued: 0 – 3 Players (Jesus Colome pitched most innings without issuing a walk: 6.1 IP)
Intentional Walks Issued: 0 – 37 Players (CC Sabathia pitched most innings without issuing an intentional pass: 130.2 IP)
Strikeouts: 0 – Trent Durrington (Two pitchers only had 1 K but Jared Fernandez threw most innings with fewest strikeouts: 6.1 IP)
Batters Hit: 0 – 34 Players (Nick Neugebauer pitched most innings without hitting a batter: 61.1 IP)
Balks: 0 – 102 Players (Carlos Villanueva pitched the most innings without balking: 372.1 IP)
Wild Pitches: 0 – 27 Players (David Weathers pitched most innings by far without a wild pitch: 158.0 IP)

Pitching Worsts:

Earned Run Average: 27.00 – Bob Scanlan (5 Earned Runs in 1.2 IP)
Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitches: 4.20 – Chris Mabeus (4 hits, 3 walks in 1.2 IP)
Hits Allowed Per 9 Innngs: 32.40 – Bob Scanlan (6 hits in 1.2 IP)
Home Runs Allowed Per 9 Innings: 5.59 – Brandon Kolb (6 HR in 9.2 IP)
Walks Issued Per 9 Innings: 16.20 – Chris Mabeus (3 walks in 1.2 IP)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings: 0.00 – Trent Durrington (Worst by Actual pitcher was Jared Fernandez who had 1 K in 6.1 IP for a 1.42 ratio)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 0.25 – David Manning (2 Ks to 8 walks)

Milwaukee Brewers Sign Five, Including C Zaun

By: Big Rygg

The Hot Stove season in baseball can be a very exciting time. It’s the first real baseball-heavy stretch of time in the sports media since the end of the World Series and, chance are, the first time you’ve really heard much about your team since the end of the regular season.

The big event during the off-season in baseball are the four days collectively known as the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings are a gathering of all of Major League Baseball’s General Managers (amongst other MLB officials). A ton of agents and even usually a handful of players make the trip as well. It is a chance for everybody to meet face to face and, thusly, to get a LOT accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. Groundwork is laid, dialogue is begun, negotiations get underway and, when all the stars align, players get signed to contracts.

In 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers were a part of the big storyline of the Winter Meetings, that of course being the CC Sabathia sweepstakes (congratulations to CC for winning a World Series Championship, by the way). That didn’t work out in Milwaukee’s favor, but it certainly was fun to have all the national media focused on the Brewers for a couple of days.

Last year, Doug Melvin was focused pretty much solely on Sabathia during the Winter Meetings and didn’t really accomplish anything. This year, however, Melvin is casting a much wider net into the free agent waters, specifically into the Sea of Starting Pitching. It has been said that the Brewers are basically looking into every available free agent pitcher. Having signed two arms already (the rehabbing Chris Capuano along with John Halama), the Brewers have gotten started fairly quickly this year. The Winter Meetings don’t even start until this coming Monday, for what it’s worth.

But, two pitchers that are questionable at best if one were to rely on them to start 20 games in 2010 (and for Capuano that games-started number could be one) is not enough for this team. Fortunately, Melvin, assitant GM Gord Ash and the rest of the front office realize this fact.

And, since pitching isn’t the only need for this organization, the Brewers have been active in areas other than pitching too. The Brewers made a trade in acquiring a new center fielder, Carlos Gomez, from the Minnesota Twins for SS J.J. Hardy. They signed a 16-year-old (pending age verification) shortstop, a young OF prospect who had a taste of the big leagues last year in Trent Oeltjen and a new starting (more on that later) catcher in the tastefully-named Gregg Zaun.

Allow me to focus on the new backstop in Milwaukee for a bit. There has been much discussion amongst fans already as to what exactly the Brewers are gaining by signing Zaun as opposed to simply retaining the services of two-year starter Jason Kendall instead.

First and foremost to this off-season’s agenda of acquiring as much starting pitching help as possible, this move saves the Brewers money. Kendall earned $5 million last year. With so many servicable options available on the upcoming market, Melvin made the decision that the team couldn’t afford to pay $5 million for a catcher again. There was never a report on whether Kendall flat out told Melvin to take a hike or whether he would’ve considered resigning at a reduced rate. Kendall was said to have greatly enjoyed his time as a Brewer, so it’s nice to think that he would’ve at least considered it.

To focus on what actually happened, though, is to realized that Gregg Zaun was approached by as many as six teams in this first week of free agency. He has said that the Brewers separated themselves pretty quickly from the pack. It helped that Milwaukee could offer a chance to be the primary starter. nearly-40-year-old catchers (or ballplayers of any position at that age) seldom hear those words. Now, Manager Ken Macha has seemed to be a no nonsense guy in his first year. That would seem to indicate that if Zaun isn’t performing at an acceptable level, then he would lose a start or two per week as whomever the backup winds up being will gain that playing time. Zaun is veteran enough in this league to know that performance is what hangs onto a job.

Should Zaun falter and his backup be called on…well, I don’t know what to tell you at this point because there is no certainty who that backup will be. Rumors flew (and continue to fly) since the end of the season about giving highly-touted prospect Jonathan Lucroy a shot to make the leap from AA to the big leagues. Then again, had prospect Angel Salome not missed so much combined time in 2009 due to injuries, might it be his name that would’ve been getting ballihooed about? There’s also the realization that Mike Rivera has been a decent backup the last few seasons as well at the big league level, thereby making him the devil they know, so to speak. Backup catcher is a much more important decision this year because Gregg Zaun will not be starting 130+ games.

Enough sidebarring. What else is the team gaining with Gregg Zaun behind the dish? How about more power, a higher batting average and, since Zaun is a switch-hitter, a second left-handed bat against right-handed pitchers. A little more balance can make a big difference.

As for the things Kendall excelled at (blocking the plate, blocking up pitches in the dirt, calling a game), Zaun is good at all of those things too. Let me put it this way, without going to find defensive statistical numbers… When you’re 38 years old and still playing in the big leagues, it’s usually not because of your stick anymore, especially behind the dish. Why do you think Henry Blanco is still playing? A cannon arm is among the top reasons why.

So when you add it all up, is there really any debate as to whether or not the Brewers made the right call? Of course there is. That’s the beauty of baseball and of all sports. Until the games are played on the field/court/rink/etc, you never know. But at least in baseball, statistical analysis provides a pretty darn good idea.

Despite all of this, though, the team needs more help. Formally offering a contract to Craig Counsell is a good start (depending on the value of said contract), but it’s hardly enough. The Winter Meetings begin in Indianapolis, Indiana in three days. With Doug Melvin and company being able to spread their focus around in 2009, let’s all hope that more irons in the fire yield better results in the long run.

CC to Sign with Yankees

By: Big Rygg

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman is reporting that CC Sabathia has told New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, in a meeting at Sabathia’s home, that he would accept the Yankees’ record offer of $140 million over 6 years.

If true, this marks a sad day for Brewer Nation, but not a day that the majority of us didn’t truly believe wasn’t coming. Sabathia reportedly had been waiting for a west coast team to step up and offer a competitive deal but with the Angels focusing on Mark Teixeira, the Dodgers focusing on Manny Ramirez and not preferring to give pitchers contracts over 3 years anyway, and the Giants still paying Barry Zito…well, suffice it to say that nobody was exactly testing the water with their big toe let alone jumping in with both feet.

There are also reports that the Yankees have offered Ben Sheets a two-year contract worth $30 million.

In other Winter Meetings news, Doug Melvin apparently met with the representatives of Kerry Wood, Trevor Hoffman and Brian Fuentes. Wood is rumored to be nearing a deal with the Cleveland Indians, but that deal isn’t done yet. The newsworthy thing here, of course, if that Melvin is touching base with the other big-name free agent closers now that Francisco Rodriguez has agreed to terms with the New York Mets. Perhaps we’ll be able to focus in on other starting pitching options as well.

Well, Milwaukee, we’ve still got plenty of talent on this team and while Sabathia was the ultimate reason that this team made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, it’s not like we’re going to vanish into the night and never contend again.

The Hot Stove sesaon will finally get kicked into gear, at least on the pitching side of things, with the two biggest chips reportedly having agreed to contract terms.

The next couple of days should be very exciting regardless of Jake Peavy’s apparent desire to continue guaranteed losing. All he’s doing is trading guaranteed regular season failure for guaranteed post-season failure. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The latest reports say that CC initially declined the 6/$140 offer and ultimately accepted a deal of 7 years/$161million, thereby making it have an average annual value slightly higher than Johan Santana’s contract which was the previous record for a pitcher. This blogger has also learned that the Brewers final proposal was going to be 5 years, $115 million with a mutual option for a sixth year at $17 million. That would’ve brought the full value of that contract to 6 years/$132 million, plenty close enough to the Yankees offer for Sabathia to accept if he wanted to, which may have been why he reportedly declined the Yankees’ initial deal.

Torres to Hang Up Spikes?

By: Big Rygg

Let me precede what I’m about to post with the following statement:

I know that the Brewer Nation is just a weblog (and a MySpace page with plenty of friends and a Facebook entity that you can become a fan of) and that a lot of the media out there consider blogs to be places where any Tom, Dick or Harry can come to spout off on whatever they want without official recourse for bogus “news” or postings.
Now, having said that, someone mentioned something to me that makes a lot of sense.
Salomon Torres supposedly told the Brewers as early as July that 2008 would be his last season in baseball before retiring again.
Let’s break that down.
First, we all know that when Doug Melvin traded for Torres prior to the 2008 season that Torres was seriously contemplating retiring so as to avoid uprooting his family after so many years in Pittsburgh. He decided to pitch and we all know how well he filled in as closer before his amount of work seemed to catch up to him.
Second, the Brewers hold a club option on Torres’ contract at a reported $3.75MM. That is quite inexpensive for a pitcher of Torres’ skill and track-record given today’s contracts. The Brewers have until November 15th to exercise that option to bring Torres back at that cost. So why would they wait unless they didn’t exactly want to pay a guaranteed $3.75MM to a retired player?
I believe my source to be not only credible (they most definitely could/would have knowledge of this situation) but also there is no real reason to believe that they would lie about the issue since Torres’ situation doesn’t necessarily affect any of their situations directly.
Now, if Torres had said that 2008 would be his last season for sure as early as July, the only reason I can see as to why he hasn’t already announced that decision is because 2008’s success and playoff appearance is making Torres at least think about reconsidering his position.
Bottom line is that if Torres wants to play in 2009 and the Brewers don’t exercise his option, I’ll question the decision all year. That being said, there is a deadline on Torres to make up his mind whether or not he wants to play next year if he continues to be the professional that he has shown himself to be. In other words, it’d be pretty shady for him to say he wants to retire so the Brewers don’t pick up his option only to turn around and sign with someone else for more money. I wouldn’t expect Salomon Torres to do something like that.
Time will ultimately tell on this situation as with all other off-season happenings, but this twist needed to be mentioned just in case it happens that way.
In other news, CC Sabathia has reportedly talked to Yankee Captain Derek Jeter about what it’s like to play in New York City for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees, bankrolled by oodles of revenue from their new stadium along with so much money coming off of their payroll from last year, are expected to make an enormous contract offer to Sabathia as early as Friday (when the moratorium on exclusive free agent negotiating rights is lifted). Sabathia will have quite the decision to make, and is covering his proverbial bases like any smart man would.
I’m still hopeful, though I know how unlikely it is, that CC will decide to help Milwaukee keep their window open a little wider for a little longer. We’ll all find out what the Brew Crew is up against as far as dollars and cents in a few days.

The Off-Season Cometh

By: Big Rygg

With the World Series having finished (finally), it’s officially the off-season for all of Major League Baseball. That brings a lot of things, but most notably for Milwaukee it brings the impending free agency of several members of the 2008 playoff team.

Let’s review those players and discuss them a bit both in how their 2008 season went and whether or not I think they will (or should) come back to the Brewers for 2009.

3B/OF Russell Branyan – .250/.342/.583, 33/132, 24 R, 8 2B, 12 HR, 20 RBI, 19 BB, 42 K, 1/1 SB
Branyan even being a part of the Brewers’ system was a matter of fortunate coincidence. He didn’t have a job coming into 2008 and because he lived in the same city as his former big league club’s AAA affiliate and said affiliate needed a third baseman…well, it worked out.

It was another matter of good fortune when The Muscle returned to Milwaukee. He had been tearing up the league at AAA Nashville and the Brewers needed a left-handed bat to platoon with Bill Hall at third base because of Hall’s propensity to suck so hard at hitting right-handed pitching this year, Branyan’s bread and butter by the by.

Branyan hit home runs at a near record pace for the Crew for a fair chunk of the year. Eventually, however, Branyan’s numbers began to tail off before he finally wound up on the disabled list for almost the balance of the season after hurting himself during an at-bat.

It was almost poetic the way that Branyan rode to the rescue for a stretch, but at the same time it was just as much happenstance. That being said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Crew could decide to open the year with Hall in the starting infield at 3B with Branyan sitting on the flight deck as the “Ready 5″ player. (Note: That’s a reference from Top Gun…I really hope you knew that without me having to tell you.) The bottom line on bringing Branyan back would be how much left-handed hitting they end up with on the roster after the Winter Meetings. Either way, I don’t expect Branyan’s lack of contract situation to be resolved any time soon. Fortunately for The Muscle, the off-season is plenty long enough.

CF Mike Cameron – .243/.331/.477, 108/444, 69 R, 25 2B, 2 3B, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 54 BB, 142 K, 17/22 SB
So here’s the truly mind-boggling thing about Mike Cameron’s 2008 season: He missed nearly an entire month of games (25) due to a suspension but still managed to finish with respectable numbers in several categories. Unfortunately, Cameron also lead the team in strikeouts, beating guys that had at least 140 more at-bats than he did.

The former Gold Glove Award winner, Cameron’s defense was mostly solid this year. There were a few plays that he screwed up, but everybody has a few in a given year. I can’t remember how many times Cameron would go 0-2 in a count and then immediately take that same count to 2-2. Sure, he struck out thereafter an awful lot, but it’s still an interesting quirk of his season.

The issue with Cameron returning to Milwaukee next year is the price of the team option on his contract which stands at $10MM for one year. Yes, we’d have Cameron for 150+ games instead of a maximum of 137, but having already struck out 142 times in just 120 games, it doesn’t bode well for 2009. Cameron, like I’ll explain about Counsell next, might just come down to other roster moves. $750K is a whole lost easier to pay than $10MM, after all. What’s more, General Manager Doug Melvin has made it known that he wants to get more left-handed bats in the lineup to create better balance. The “holes”, so to speak, that we have to fill that we could fill with lefties are at 3B and CF (and possibly 2B depending on your viewpoint). For whatever reason, the Brewers don’t seem willing to give Tony Gwynn a shot despite the fact that he hits lefty, plays solid defense and is more of a prototypical leadoff hitter than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. That could help Cameron come back as a one-year bridge to another propsect being ready (Lorenzo Cain, perhaps, now that Michael Brantley was sent to Cleveland to finalize the CC Sabathia trade).

Time will tell on this one as teams have a deadline to announce whether or not they are picking up options on players.

INF Craig Counsell – .226/.355/.302, 56/248, 31 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 46 BB, 42 K, 3/4 SB
The Craigger (as I call him) or The Schnozz (as my wife does) is a local boy with a flair for coming up big in clutch situations. There’s always some great anticipation when he steps into the batter’s box when the bases are loaded, but quite frankly for the 38-year-old, those situations don’t happen nearly often enough.

He’s got one helluva glove and I routinely find myself assuming an out when the ball gets hit toward him…but the bottom line is that .226 overall isn’t going to get the job done anymore. I’m a big Craig Counsell fan, but realistically can the Brewers afford to carry a $3.5MM (or so) utility infielder? Depending on some of the other rosters moves the team is able to make or chooses to make…it’s probably not feasible. Besides, if things go according to my master plan, we’ll already have an expensive utility infielder in Bill Hall.

2B Ray Durham – .280/.369/.477, 30/107, 21 R, 12 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 15 BB, 23 K, 2/4 SB (with Milwaukee)
Brought it just before the non-waiver trade deadline, Ray Durham added a needed spark to Rickie Weeks at first, but ultimately the two fell into a platoon at 2B. one that doesn’t figure to be repeated in 2009 one way or another. Either the Brewers will recommit to Weeks or they’ll trade for a different double-play partner for J.J. Hardy (or possibly Alcides Escobar depending on how that situation pans out).

Durham missed several games down the stretch which could be contributed to either fatigue, age, bad luck or possibly a bit of all three. Durham is a switch-hitter, which is a nice thing, but the fact that he hits lefties about as well as Weeks hits righties (.238 overall this year vs lefties for Durham). His defense is more solid than Weeks’ too, but the fact is Durham is no spring chicken, or autumn chicken for that matter.

Bottom line on Durham is tha the was brought it to provide some veteran leadership for the stretch run and he delivered just that. If the price is right, he could be a fine bench player whether the Brewers retain Weeks or not.

RP Eric Gagne – 4-3, 5.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 50 G, 10/17 SV/SVO, 38 K, 1.47 WHIP
Fewer financial committments were worse in 2008 than the $10MM, one-year contract that Doug Melvin signed Eric Gagne to. Signed to be the closer after Francisco Cordero skipped town, Gagne struggled right out of the gate, blowing a 3-run lead on Opening Day in Chicago. The Brewers ended up winning that game, but it was the season for Gagne in a nutshell. Struggles, inconsistency, expectations…all in all Gagne just simply didn’t measure up despite falling into a setup role fairly comfortably late in the year after a stint on the DL.

As for next year? I wouldn’t even mind having Gagne back in Milwaukee, but at a much more believable price. I have a feeling that Gagne will listen to offers for a bit before deciding what he wants to do. If he has the chance to be a closer somewhere for closer-type money, perhaps he takes that offer. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Melvin extends Gagne an opportunity to return to Milwaukee.

OF Gabe Kapler – .301/.340/.498, 69/229, 36 R, 17 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 3/4 SB
What a story Gabe Kapler turned out to be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The guy retires, manages for two years, get the itch again, lets people know he’s available, signs a contract with the Brewers that the majority of fans (thank you, I am NOT included in that group) did not understand or agree with. All he did was capably fill in at all three OF positions, hit over .300 and was our best bat off the bench as well. Unfortunately, for many reasons, Kapler’s season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. He could have been extremely useful to spell both Ryan Braun (rib cage) and Corey Hart (mental fatigue perhaps?) down the stretch.

Kapler will be 33 for a little over half the season in 2009, turning 34 on July 31st. That’s definitely not too old, especially for a guy who keeps himself in as good of shape as Kapler does. He is a free agent, and given the state of the league, could probably find a starting job on a few teams. Hopefully, though, the fans and clubhouse here in Milwaukee impressed him enough that he would want to come back. Hopefully, also, Doug Melvin was impressed enough with Kapler’s play that he would want him back. I think it’s a great fit here and if I were on Melvin’s staff, I’d push for a deal to get done quickly.

3B Mike Lamb – .273/.273/.273, 3/11, 2 R, 1 K
Lamb has the option to become a free agent after this year. Based on his lack of starts while he was with the club, along with how they only picked him up off waivers, and there’s very little chance of Lamb not exercising that option.

*UPDATE* Lamb filed for free agency on the first day, as expected.

RP Guillermo Mota – 5/6, 5.11 ERA, 58 G, 57.0 IP, 1/4 SV/SVO, 50 K, 1.40 WHIP
Mota came to the Brewers in what was probably the best trade of Milwaukee’s off-season. Doug Melvin contacted the GM of the New York Mets, Omar Minaya, and struck a deal. He offered Johnny Estrada against a list of players he’d be willing to take back in a one-for-one deal. Minaya picked a guy that the fans in New York booed when he was warming up in the bullpen for crying out loud.

Mota pitched well in chunks for the Brewers, a couple of times falling into old habits in New York that got him into trouble. Pitching Coach Mike Maddux corrected Mota multiple times and made him serviceable. If he’s able to continue pitching like he does when he’s right, he’ll help out whatever team he winds up with.

Now, whether or not that’s the Brewers remains to be seen. I think that Melvin would probably be willing to bring him back for a reasonable price, as he did finish the season as our most consistent bullpen arm and you just can’t overhaul as drastically as they did in 2008..can you?

SP CC Sabathia – 11-2, 1.65 ERA, 17 GS, 130.2 IP, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 128 K, 1.00 WHIP
Um…what would I be able to say here that could possibly come close to stating how incredible CC Sabathia was for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008? The man was flat out amazing nearly every time he took the hill. He won his first 9 decisions in a Brewer uniform and, quite frankly, carried the entire team into the playoffs on his large back.

To say that the Brewers want him back is the understatement of the off-season. But, with CC comes a lot of $$. In fact, there is talk that the Yankees are prepared to offer him 7 years for a total of $175MM (that’s an average of $25MM per year, math majors). The Brewers supposedly are preparing to offer (if they haven’t already) a contract of comparable annual amount though not the years. Some talk has said 4/$100MM another I read said 6/$120MM. Either way, if the Brewers are fortunate enough to sign the unquestioned #1 arm on the free agent market…well…it’ll be a glorious day in the history of the Brewer franchise.

SP Ben Sheets – 13-9, 3.09 ERA, 31 GS, 198.1 IP, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 158 K, 1.15 WHIP
After finally confessing and repenting (if you don’t understand that point, you need to look at our September archive), Ben Sheets won a 13th game for the first time in his career and nearly pitched 200 innings for the first time in a few years. However, Sheets also fell prey to the injury bug yet again.

I personally feel that if this wasn’t a contract year for Sheets, he would’ve allowed himself to get shelved if not more often, certainly earlier in the year than late September. It’s unfortunate, but the guy is hamstrung like very few other players in the game. While Sheets hasn’t missed as much time, a decent comparison could be a Carl Pavano. Loads of talent, seemingly always unavailable when their teams need them most.

Doug Melvin has gone on record as saying that he has spoken to Casey Close (Sheets’ agent) and is going to making an offer to possibly bring Sheets back to the Brewers. Having endured the ups and downs of Sheets’ last few years, it’d sure be nice to have a healthy pitcher with his kind of talent. But the bottom line is that Sheets is NOT that pitcher anymore. Yes, a lot of his injuries are weird and random, but when they keep happening, I’m sorry; that’s a trend. And the bottom line that Melvin has to ask himself is whether or not the Brewers can afford the starts. They can afford the money that Sheets can/will get on the open market, but can they afford to carry six starters so that there is a guy ready to pitch when Sheets inevitably (yes, inevitably) misses a start?

The only way I’m comfortable bringing Sheets back to our mid-range payroll team is for Melvin to sign him to a slightly-below-market-value deal that protects our payroll figure from becoming over-bloated to the point where owner Mark Attanasio doesn’t give Melvin any flexibility to pull off deadline deals like he did this year.

RP Brian Shouse – 5-1, 2.81 ERA, 69 G, 51.1 IP, 2/5 SV/SVO, 33 K, 1.17 WHIP
Our left-handed specialist for the past couple of seasons, Brian Shouse is 41 years old but continues to get the job done coming out of the bullpen. Ned Yost used Shouse in some odd ways at times, but he is simply best utilized by bringing him in to face a lefty in a key situation.

Shouse is looking for a two-year deal which would be impossible to come by given his age if it weren’t for his continued success on the bump. Shouse has said that he would like to return to Milwaukee, but feels that he owes it to himself and his family to see what kinds of offers he’s able to field on the open market just to gauge his “value”.

The Brewers are grooming a replacement for Shouse in fellow lefty Mitch Stetter, but I’d still like to see Shouse return to the Crew for at least one more year. Left-handed relievers never seem to flame out so as long as he’s not given up homer after homer, Shouse will be worth the phone call to the bullpen.

CL Salomon Torres – 7-5, 3.49 ERA, 71 G, 80.0 IP, 28/35 SV/SVO, 51 K, 1.35 WHIP
Torres was traded for in the off-season to be a setup man but also provide more veteran leadership to a group that was sorely lacking in that department in 2007. When Eric Gagne was patently ineffective to begin the year and spent some time on the DL, Torres was handed the reins at the back end up the bullpen and did a stellar job until, quite frankly, he wore out by the end of the year. They say sinkerballers prefer to not be overly rested, but 80 innings over 71 games…that’s a LOT of work, fellow Brewer fans.

The team holds on option to bring Torres back, and I believe that they’ll exercise that option. It’s a reasonable cost at just $3.75MM and he pitched very well. He may not come into the year as the closer, but all that will be hashed out in spring training of course.

***NOTE: Joe Dillon was designated for assignment when the Brewers claimed 3B Casey McGehee off of waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Dillon was claimed by the Oakland Athletics so he is no longer a part of the Brewers’ organization.

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