Results tagged ‘ Guest Commentary ’

Latest on Suppan

GUEST COMMENTARY by Adam Rygg

Okay, so the latest on the ESPN.com MLB Rumor Central is that the Brewers and Pirates are making the strongest pushes for Suppan, with Suppan’s agent having already received one offer and expecting a second offer soon.

There is also talk that the several teams that don’t win the Barry Zito sweepstakes would be interested in Suppan after Zito chooses to sign somewhere.

Two quick hits here:

1. First, the reported salary range for Suppan talk has reached 4 yrs, $40+ million. I don’t think that the Brewers would want to spend that kind of money on a Jeff Suppan. *Note, I didn’t say "on Jeff Suppan" because, honestly, he isn’t a superbly spectacular pitcher. He is a good pitcher, but not an ace.

2. If there are many other teams that are willing to spend the money on Zito (which in this market is probably going to be $13-15 million per), then I think if we don’t get Suppan signed before Zito signs, then we aren’t going to sign him at all.

So, what would you all like to see the Crew do on this one?

As always, any/all thoughts and comments are appreciated.

Ironic turn of events

GUEST COMMENTARY by Adam Rygg

In an ironic twist, unless something else changes, I’ll have an inordinate amount of free time over the next several weeks to post to my little heart’s content.

Look for several new posts from me, ADAM RYGG, over the next stretch of time.

I will be back with a venegeance…and at all times of the day, because there isn’t anybody who can do anything about it anymore.

2nd to last game of my year…

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

I attended Monday night’s game and meant to write this up after the game, but I had a bit of a problem of keeping my eyes open long enough to even listen to the entire WSSP post game show (on which I was a caller, by the by).

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience with you all a bit and tell you the things that I noticed live. Things that I haven’t really had a chance to pay attention to lately on TV and especially not on the radio (no matter how good a job Uecker does at calling the games).

Dscn0017 This is something that I have to comment on. This was the view of the 400 level (Terrace Level) concourse 10 minutes prior to game time.

Do you see anybody? I’ll give you a cookie if you do.

This wasn’t in the corner, my friends…this was pretty much right behind home plate.

The announced attendance for the game was 19,000+ (I have the exact figure in another picture, by the way which I’ll post later), but there was no way in he|| that there could have been that many people in attendance.

Dscn0019_1 We finally did make it through the massive crowd of people to our seats, and here was the view from my seat at the game last night. We were in section 424.

There wasn’t a section of the stadium that we lost due to obstruction or anything else.

Yes, my picture doesn’t have the left field corner in it, but trust me…I could see the thing.

This was in the middle of a Chris Capuano delivery to Cardinals’ back up catcher (and former Brewer) Gary Bennett during the top of the 2nd inning.

Anyway, moving along…

The things I saw first-hand during this game included actual team speed! It’s something that we haven’t seen since Rickie Weeks went down, but now we’ve got three (3!!) guys that can run.

I saw Corey Hart and Tony Gwynn (yes, neither actually caught the ball this time) converge on a shot hit to the absolute middle of the gap between them and they both got there! It was absolutely nuts. It’s one of those shots that none of us expected anyone to get to, and I GUARANTEE that if that had been Kevin Mench in left and Brady Clark in center, or Gabe Gross in either field, or even the great Carlos Lee himself, that balls drops, rolls to the wall and possibly could’ve been a triple. It was straight up refreshing to see those kinds of wheels.

Another illustration of the wheels? Check out these two pics…

Dscn0033 Dscn0039

The first pic is Tony Gwynn standing on 3rd after the triple he hit. And the 2nd? Corey Hart standing on third after his RBI triple.

That kind of effort, baserunning and flat out burn-ability is something that has been sorely lacking.

Remember who won the World Series last year? It was the Chicago White Sox. Remember how they did it? By playing station-to-station ball and having guys run all over the place once they got on base. They imported Jim Thome this past offseason, and along with Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko, the ChiSox have been hitting many homeruns this year. Where do they currently sit in the standings? Not even leading the wild card, and in fact in third place in their own division. Yes, pitching had a LOT to do with their run last year, but it’s interesting to see the correllation between offensive style and win totals too.

Can you imagine the kind of speed we are capable of having on the team next season? Weeks, Hart and Gwynn can all fly. In a situation where you have them all in the lineup, you won’t have to have guys like Bill Hall and Brady Clark trying to steal second when they’re even getting thrown out by Mike Piazza’s dead arm for example.

You let your hitters hit, your runners run and you RBI guys BI R’s.

Moving along…let’s talk a bit about the old guard of this team. First up, I’d like to discuss Geoff Jenkins.

What is this guy’s deal? Not only does he have more home runs and hits this month than all of May – July combined (okay, not really, but it does seem like it, doesn’t it?), but he just keeps on playing good baseball. He went 3/4 on Monday night, including scoring the Brewers’ first run leading off the 2nd inning with a solo shot and rivaled Pujols’ three-run blast for how fast it got out of the park. (Pujols’ homer, by the way, was a full pull job that bounced off of
Friday’s Front Row in left field. Jenks’ blast was pulled slightly, but
bounced off of the ivy just below the lower right corner of the
scoreboard.)

Dscn0022

This is Jenkins after having crossed home plate on his home run trot.

Jenkins’ average is up, his power is back, and he’s been playing clutch all month. I went to the game against the Marlins back on Robin Yount bobblehead night (September 2nd) and Jenkins was Mr. Clutch in that game too, hitting a two-out, two-run homerun to temporarily tie it up in the bottom of the ninth off of the Marlins’ closer. Jenkins has been lights out.

This begs the following questions: Why can’t Geoff play like this all year? If he can, why doesn’t he? Can he not handle the pressure of a penant (or even wild card) race? Why does he thrive at the end of the dog days? Is it because the pitchers are finally getting tired so their pitches aren’t breaking like they did back in early summer months?

Geoff Jenkins is the ultimate question mark heading into the offseason. Do we trade him now (meaning when the year is over) while he is showing that he really can hit this well? Or do we keep him as our everyday rightfielder when camp breaks and pray he doesn’t hit the wall as hard next year?

I honestly believe that Geoff Jenkins is NOT a #3 or #4 hitter. Period. He struggled at the 3 hole and only responded when there wasn’t as much pressure on him because he had been dropped in the batting order. I can’t call him a poor man’s A-Rod because he’s just not that talented, but in the pressure-handling department, the label seems to have merit. Now that the Brewers are all but mathematically eliminated from the post season once again, Jenkins starts to hit.

Provacative, no?

Finally, I want to discuss what I saw out of Bill Hall on Monday night.

Here…

Dscn0036

…is a picture of the aftermath of Hall’s 3rd at-bat of the ball game. As you can/will see, it is Bill Hall walking back to the dugout, bat in hand, just like he had done the previous two trips to the plate. That’s right, 3 strikeouts in the game. In Hall’s defense, he did pop out weakly in his fourth AB.

I’m all for his 30+ homeruns. In fact, I love them. And I’m not naive enough to think that you can have all the homeruns and none of the strikeouts. But Billy, would it kill you to at least try to drive the ball the other way when a single or even a sacrifice fly would help out the team?

RANDOM PICS FROM THE GAME:
Dscn0018_1

Dscn0034

Dscn0048

The above pics are, in order, the lineup card exchanges between Tony "I had to beat the umpires to the plate because I’m too awesome for words" LaRussa and Robin Yount; Tony Gwynn scoring his first major league run on a sacrifice fly by Tony Graffanino after Gwynn tripled; the team mobbing Graffer after his game-winning walkoff single that scored Drew Anderson from 2nd in the bottom of the ninth.

For now, I must digress. I promise to have the rest of the pictures uploaded later on. I will leave you with the following questions for discussion:

1.) Should the Brewers hold onto Jenkins for next season? If so, should he start? If not, what would be okay in your opinion to get back in trade?

2.) If J.J. Hardy comes back 100% healthy and plays like he was playing before he got injured this year, what do you do as head coach with the Shortstop position? Please include information like: who starts? if there is a platoon, how much does each guy get? etc.

Thanks all!

We’ve clinched it!

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

Hello faithful readers and faithful Brewers fans…

We’ve officially clinched it!

We can’t lose 100 games this year.

Let’s celebrate…….

Hey, small victories are still victories.

Season low…in a few ways

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg
(for the record, this is being started at 10:37am on Sunday, September 3rd)

Ladies and gentlemen of the Brewer Nation, you’ve been had! Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Run amok! We didn’t land on inconsistency…inconsistency landed on us!

Let’s get this out of the way…….season low 11 games below .500 at 62-73….season long losing streak now standing at 9 games (and counting?)

I know that it’s been a LONG time since I have posted to this weblog. For that, I shouldn’t be the one apologizing, but I will. Kind of a long story behind it all.

Regardless, I attended last night’s Brewers/Marlins game and felt compelled to post again. It’s the first game that I’ve attended since late July (against the Reds…the one where Turnbow actually saved the game), and I’ve got to tell you that the Brewer faithful is beginning to get restless.

They were quick to boo those that deserved it (Jose Capellan for example) but still showed love and support to anybody until they proved they deserved otherwise. While not nearly as loud as it used to be, the fans even still cheered when Turnbow came out to pitch.

What I didn’t understand, however, were some of the moves that Yost made in this game. For instance, he brought in Francisco Cordero when the game was tied in the 8th inning….the 8TH!! I understand the desire to keep it tied if at all possible, but why not save him in case we get ahead in the bottom of the 8th, and/or to pitch the ninth to keep the Marlins in check at that point?

And what I also don’t get is Yost’s managerial style the past few games. Bringing in your best bullpen pitcher early is one thing, but pulling a pitcher mid-AB because he went 2-0 on a guy? Makes sense if you’re trying to win ballgames, but we were 10 under (now 11). Where was this type of urgency out of Yost 50 games ago? 15 games ago? Even 8 games ago when we were 3 games under .500 at 62-65 and only 4.5 out of the wild card?

Do you all realize that had we swept the Marlins in Florida that long weekend, that we would have been right at the top of the wild card standings by the end of that series? The Reds got swept by San Francisco that same weekend.

For too long, it has felt like Yost is only trying not to lose ballgames and hope something happens by accident that allows for the win. That kind of attitude isn’t going to accomplish what should be his goal of reaching the post season.

Anybody got thoughts on that one?

Here’s another thing for you all to leave your opinions about….here’s what would be my opening day lineup next season (assuming everybody gets healthy during the off season which begins for the Brewers promptly on October 2nd):

1. Tony Gwynn Jr. – CF
2. J.J. Hardy – SS
3. Rickie Weeks – 2B
4. Prince Fielder – 1B
5. Bill Hall – 3B
6. Corey Hart – RF
7. PREFERABLY A FREE AGENT PICKUP – LF – But if not, then Gabe Gross
8. C (I don’t know if Damian has another productive year in him…I sure hope so, but I’m being realistic. I think Rivera could be our main catcher next year and that would be okay)
9. Ben Sheets – P

My bench is: Laynce Nix, Jeff Cirillo , Corey Koskie, a backup non-Moeller catcher, Vinny Rottino

Starting rotation: Sheets, Chris Capuano, Carlos Villanueva, Tomo Ohka (if they can resign him for reasonable money), a non-Davis pitcher who steps it up (Zach Jackson? Dave Bush?)

Bullpen: Francisco Cordero, Jose Capellan, Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise, which ever starter doesn’t make the rotation to pitch long relief and spot start, new face, new face

Anybody else have ideas? I’ll post again toward the end of the season about this (when I have time to do proper research) about upcoming free agents and who I’d like to see the Brewers persue.

As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

A Review (and a…preview??)

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

Now that this stretch run has come to an end, it’s time to review where the Brewers ended up in my little measuring stick criteria that I laid out a couple of weeks back.

I had stated that for the Brewers to really make a move, they needed to win eight of their most recent 12 games. It’s a move that would’ve made the team two games under .500 with a record of 59-61. It would’ve been a statement! It would’ve shown the Reds, the Cardinals and anybody else in the NL that the Brewers mean business. It would’ve told the world that the Crew was ready to make a move.

Instead? We finished that stretch run 6-6, we’re still six game under .500 at 57-63, and now sit 5.0 GB of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds record over that same time period? 7-5. Had we gone 8-4, we gain ground instead of losing ground.

There are 42 games left for both the Brewers and the Reds. That’s an average of 14 3-game series (obviously, they aren’t all 3 game series, but I’m talking straight #’s here only). If we were to average a series win (impossible for this club) for the rest of the year, we amass a stretch run of 28-14, and finish 85-77. Over that same stretch, the Reds would need to accrue 22 wins or less, meaning that the best they can do is 22-20 (with our going unconscious) for us to win the wild card…assuming that nobody else in the national league does better.

And therein lies the problem even when facing a deficit of "only" 5 games in the Wild Card standings…not only do you have to play better than you’ve played up until that point (because honestly, had you been playing well enough, you wouldn’t be behind to begin with), but the teams in front of you also have to play poorly enough for you to be able to pass them up.

The Brewers "Elimination #" in the division is down to 37. An Elimination # is the combined number of wins by the team leading a division and losses by the team with the number that are needed to eliminate the lower team from winning the division. Our Elimination # for the Wild Card is 38.

For what it’s worth, nobody has technically been eliminated yet. Not even the Kansas City Royals from winning the AL Central instead of the best team in baseball (by record), the Detroit Tigers. The Royals still have an impossible number of 7. And that’s combined. That means, for them to not get eliminated, they’d have to go undefeated while Detroit finished the year 6-36. You think that’s a bit unlikely to happen? Me too. At worst, the Royals could finish 35-6…if the Tigers didn’t win another game.

But then again, by that point, somebody else would have overtaken the Tigers in the Central, and the Elimination # becomes based on somebody else. It can be a bit confusing to say the least.

The point is, the Brewers aren’t out of it by the numbers, but overcoming being 5 games back isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are a lot of factors that have to align.

It all begins tonight as we take a look at a…

SERIES PREVIEW

Astros

@ Brewers_5

        (57-63)                            (57-63)

Houston Astros @ Milwaukee Brewers
(8/17/06 – 8/20/06)

I know that you are all going to say "No!!! Adam, what in the he11 are you doing????? Not a series preview!"

In my defense, I realized that the only series that I had done full previews for were on the road. And what do the Brewers do a lot more often on the road than they do at home? That’s right kids, LOSE!

So, on with the Road Dogg Jesse James rip off…

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages: Major League Baseball..proudly brings to you..its soon to be..61 and 63…

Oh nevermind….the next line would have to be about becoming champions of something. While I am the eternal optimist, my timeline (as stated a few times prior) doesn’t haven’t us winning anything until next year at the earliest, and I still think it’d be a lot of luck if we were to win the Wild Card next year.

But…

That’s not to say that we are incapable of sweeping the Astros right out of Miller Park. That would put us at 61-63, and a whole helluva lot closer to those pesky Reds (assuming that don’t also go 4/4 over the weekend).

So, onto tonight’s game:

Hirsh_jasonJason Hirsh (0-1, 9.00)

Jason Hirsh made his Major League debut in his only appearance of the season just 5 days ago against the San Diego Padres. Hirsh took the loss in that start, only going 4.0 innings while giving up four earned runs on seven hits (three of which were home runs). He also walked two and struck out four. He threw 87 pitches in that game, only 54 of which found the strike zone.

Hirsh could be good for what ails the Milwaukee Brewers at times lately…scoring runs. Not only does he have quite the propensity for giving up gopher balls in the EXTREMELY small sample size of data we have on his Major League career, but we should have all of our guns in the lineup considering that Hirsh is a righty. There will be no day off for Prince Fielder tonight, and hopefully no off day either.

That’s not to say that Hirsh doesn’t have the best of the best to learn from. Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt (whom the Brewers face in Games 4 & 3 of this series respectively) are pretty good right-handed pitchers. They have no doubt gone over the problems Hirsh had in his first start. We could see a sharp performance from the prospect. Afterall, he was 13-2 this year in AAA with 118 K in 137.1 IP and an ERA of 2.10. Opposing hitters only had a .193 average with an insignificant 5 home runs all year.

Really, this one could go either way. I’m hoping for a little nervousness still and that maybe a little bit of doubt has crept into the back of his mind. An early couple of runs, or better yet a dinger or two could be just what the doctor ordered. Let’s "Zambrano" this kid back to Round Rock. The last thing we need is for the offensively challenged Astros to get going right out of the gates and give the kid his confidence back.

vs.

Sheets_benBen Sheets (3-4, 4.98)

But that’s where Ben Sheets comes in. Not only do the Astros tend to have bigger problems scoring runs than the Brewers do most times, but our ace is on the hill and looking to build on a strong-enough outing against the Atlanta Braves also from August 12th.

When Sheets is on, he’s one of the best in baseball. After a lengthy stint on the disabled list, Sheets came back with a venegeance on July 25th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He threw 7.0 innings of 1 run baseball, scattering 6 hits and striking out 5. In his very next start, against the wild card leading Cincinnati Reds, Sheets picked up the win pitching 8 shut out innings before giving up a 2-run homer to Ken Griffery Jr in the top of the 9th. The bullpen locked it down for him after Yost didn’t want to further stress Sheets’ arm. His 101st pitch of that game was the home run.

Sheets had a touch of stiffness in his chest after the first inning of his third start back against St. Louis. He was pulled after having thrown 27 pitches in the first inning. He was given a couple of extra days off before throwing against Atlanta in the game I mentioned first.

Now, Sheets will be making only his 9th start of the year. He is looking to pull to an even 4-4 record while dominating a team that he, historically, has handled fairly well. His lifetime numbers against the Houston Astros include a W-L record of 9-7 including 3 complete games. He has struck out Houston batters 109 times, trailing only the Chicago Cubs on Sheets’ personal record book. He has walked a measly 22 hitters in 116.1 IP. His career WHIP is 1.15.

All of those numbers do include Sheets’ one start against Houston this season; a start where Sheets reinjured himself and went on the DL for the 2nd time this season (he had started the year on the DL as well, if you recall). In that game, Sheets only lasted 2.1 IP, getting absolutely destroyed for 7 ER on 9 hits. Houston hitters touched him up for a .643 batting average that day versus a career number of only .248.

Sheeter is primed for a rebound game.

Lineup Analysis

Obviously, none of our hitters have faced Hirsh in the Majors because, like I mentioned, his debut was just this past Saturday.

I can tell you this, though. Left-handed hitters beat Hirsh up in his only other start. They hit .500 off of him with a .600 OBP. OPS is over 1.400!! Righties didn’t fare too poorly either, having hit two of the three home runs Hirsh allowed.

But back to lefties for a minute. We do happen to have one of the hottest left-handed hitters in all of baseball right now…who just had a day off…who is rested…who hits the Astros (in 5 games this season) at a .438 clip with a 1.375 OPS of his own…who has 13 of his Brewer rookie record 22 home runs against right-handed pitchers.

Yeah, that Prince Fielder guy. I hear he’s going to be pretty good.

Final Analysis

Game 1 has all signs pointing to a Brewer ‘W’. That usually spells disaster for Los Cerveceros, but I think that tonight will be different.

Sheets should be solid, and even if the rookie Hirsh is razor sharp…..you still have to score at least one run to win. Houston, many times over, has proven that they can’t always handle that proposition this season…or last season…or the year before that.

In fact, the Astros have been held to 2 runs or fewer 33 times this year with an incredulous 10 shutouts, including two in their last series against the Cubs. They were swept out of Houston, and have lost five games in a row.

The Brewers need to score early, and just in case (as evidenced by Houston’s 6-8 loss to the Cubs two nights ago in 18 innings and by our own 13-12 loss to them early in the season) we need to score often as well.

Jason Hirsh should give us every opportunity to get off to a good start. Let’s sweep the Astros out of Milwaukee, out of the Wild Card race and motivate them to hopefully sweept the Reds the three games after they’re done losing to us. We have another three game series with the Astros that closes out the month of August, and I’d like them to be looking up at us in the standings by a few games by that point.

Ideal situation? We sweep them, they sweep the Reds, they get swept by the Pirates and we go into Houston facing a team that’s 10 games below .500 and wondering what went wrong so that we can sweep them again.

Stupid? Naive? Fool-hearty? Well, I prefer optimistic, but whatever works for you.

Why do we ever take our foot off the throttle? (AKA: Series Review)

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

Morris_1

Morris tries to stop the onset of a migraine caused by three homeruns flying over his head. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Look closely at this picture. What do you see? Do you see a starting pitcher that gave up 6 ER on 3 homeruns within 3 innings on a game yesterday? Do you see a pitcher who looks to be wiping a tear from his eye for how bad he was throwing? Do you see a pitcher who threw the game away for his teammates and wound up with a loss?

I see all of those things…except all of them didn’t happen. That’s Giants starting pitcher Matt Morris. He did pitch poorly. He did give up 3 homeruns of varying RBI-production within three innings of work. He did pitch badly enough to cost his team the game and to take a loss…a loss that would’ve ended a 5-decision winning streak.

But he didn’t wind up with that loss.

Instead, he "settled down" and didn’t allow another baserunner until he hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch in what…the 7th inning?? It is ridiculous to believe that after just plain dominating Morris for a third of the game that he’d be able to fool us so badly from then on out.

And don’t even get me started on Doug Davis and his I’ve-been-staked-to-a-six-to-one-lead-so-now-I-can-nibble-to-my-little-heart’s-content bull. Another three walks to go with eight hits. That’s an 11 in the numerator of our little WHIP calculation. In the demoninator is a 6.1 IP. That works out to a 1.74 WHIP. That’s not going to get the job done when you’re a soft-throwing left-hander that needs to be in control and hit the corners to succeed.

I think our offense got complacent in yesterday’s game. They all probably figured: "He we go again, baby. Yesterday was a let down, but today we’ve already got six runs through two and a half. Let’s put this bi+ch on cruise control and get ready to leave for Cincinnati." News flash! There was still a game to play. I know everybody wants to have confidence in whoever is on the mound, but that doesn’t mean that you can stop trying…especially given what happened the night before.

Hey, Brewers! THE GIANTS CAME BACK TO BEAT YOU YESTERDAY!! YOU DON’T WANT THAT HAPPENING AGAIN, DO YOU?!?

Speaking of yesterday, allow me to make my three comments on that game.

A: Geremi Gonzalez needs to officially be our "long man for when the game’s already been lost". No more running him into games where you have a chance to win. There’s a reason the Mets let him go. He wasn’t helping them win. It’s time that he stops trying to help us win too. We’ve seen the results of those efforts.

2: This hits both yesterday’s game and Tuesday’s game….Bill Hall needs a stint on the DL. I know we can’t afford that right now, but he needs to rehab his injury. What’s that you say, Hall isn’t injured? How else can you possible explain his base-"running" mistakes? I figured he’s got cataracts or a scratched retina or maybe a blood clot on the brain that’s swelling and causing lapses in motorskills and intelligence. If he’s healthy, maybe a good swift kick in the @$$ would help. The guy’s got SO much talent, and for whatever reason he’s just not doing enough with it. I love the 19 HRs, but I hate the 95 Ks. His strikeout percentage is a successful batting average!!!!!! It can’t continue. We don’t have any other options, but that doesn’t mean that Yount or Yost or Sveum can’t remind him that the opposite field is his friend, and that it’s okay if you get a single with the bases loaded and drive in two instead of wanting the grand slam but grounding out to third base.

D: My hitter for Game 2…Cirillo again…1/4, 1 K. Nothing to write home about. He didn’t produce, we lost. I’d like to think that I had the right guy that we needed to produce, and since he didn’t, we didn’t score more and ultimately lost.

Anyway, back to Game 3 and the series as a whole.

TurnbowwipebrowI haven’t yet watched the ninth inning of yesterday’s game because it wasn’t on TV here (I’ll have to check it out on MLB.TV later today), but I hear that Turnbow’s latest blown save (that makes 4 in a row) was due to bad luck rather than bad pitching. It sounds like that’s the case with a 1-out single off of his glove that allowed two runs to score. For what it’s worth, in his non-save situation outing in Arizona on Sunday, he looked like the D-Bow of old. Hopefully that carries through to his next chance.

Come on, no matter how frustrated you may be, you know he’s going to get another chance. Here’s a question for everyone to comment on…who else curerntly on the roster (I don’t want to hear about going to get Bob Wickmann, but feel free to use our farm system if you know a name) would you have close?

Okay fine, one more comment relating to Tuesday’s game…

I know we did the opposite of what I suggested might happen in Monday’s game by tattooing Jason Schmidt. The problem was, we still had the hangover that I predicted could happen in Tuesday’s game, just for the other reason. We had the "we beat Jason Schmidt so we can take it easy today because Jamey Wright out performs my Hoover XL" hangover. Lot of good that did us.

I mention that while San Francisco hadn’t scored more that four runs on us this season (our two games in May were a 0-2 loss and a 7-4 win), it was no reason to think that our six run outburst would stand up. That takes be back to the title of this blog post.

Why do we ever take our foot off the throttle?

We should know enough about come-from-behind victories to realize that it can happen to us too. Always keep going and always keep trying to score runs. I don’t care if it’s the top of the 9th and we’re up by 10. If you can add another run, you do it. The New York Mets recently dropped an 11-spot on the Cubs in the 6th inning of their game on July 16th. The Rockies/Diamondbacks game from just before the break on July 8th saw 13 runs scored between the two teams in just the 9th inning. The Rangers were up on the Yankees by a score of 9-0  in their game on May 16th and then still by 10-1. They lost 13-14…in regulation. Maybe they remembered that game when they kept pouring it on the Baltimore Orioles on July 13th.

This is baseball. This kind of thing happens. But that’s just my point. Everybody knows it happens, so why would you think it couldn’t happen to you any day, any time, any game, any opponent.

As Rob said in the previous post, or maybe in a comment to the post before that, this team has the offense to contend. They just need to utilize that offense, that talent, that ability.

And for the love of all things holy, PLEASE don’t stop hitting when you start hitting. Just let it carry the team all the way through a game.

Find a cinder block, put it on the accelerator, and just steer.

Series Review

Brewers drop first two games, rally to avoid sweep

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

Okay, allow me to first start off by defending Derrick Turnbow. He is human. Last year, we Brewer fans believed that he was something else entirely. He can struggle, he can slump, he can blow saves…but he is still our closer. And he should be.

I’ve heard all the talk about how if Turnbow was perfect this year that we’d be a half game out of first and leading the wild card by a couple of games. That’s all well and good, but losses happen. If our offense would’ve scored a couple more runs in those games, then Turnbow wouldn’t have been blowing saves. It’s a chicken or egg situation somewhat.

Granted, he needs to get more consistent and refind his slider (which he appeared to do last night while striking out the only two batters he faced to end the game and preserve the win), but he’s got the talent to succeed.

That being said, we should have taken two of three in this series just as we did earlier in the year. Yes, Brandon Webb shut us down and shut us out. Through seven innings of his start, 10 K & 0 R. That’s why he’s an All-Star and why his name is beginning to be talked about in the upper echelon of starters around the league.

But, we had Batista beat. It’s a shame that Turnbow couldn’t lock it down (although in my opinion that was Damian’s fault as much as it was Turnbow’s), but we still should have found a way to put more on the board before it got to the ninth…

I need to say one more thing about Saturday’s game against Webb. Why in the blue **** are we starting Barnwell at second?!? You don’t like that Rickie Weeks is 0-9 with 5 Ks against Webb? Fine. Sit him. By why don’t we play ‘Rillo at 2nd and start Corey Hart at 3rd? Hart played 3rd quite a bit in the minors, and is a much better option than Barnwell. I was so mad when I saw that lineup. It made zero sense. The only benefit Barnwell has at the Major League level for us is to spell Bill Hall and play decent enough defense at short. He doesn’t play second all that well, as evidenced by his play on Saturday. You’ve still got both Clark and Gwynn to back up the OF, and can bring Barnwell in late as a defensive replacement if need be. But his "bat", if you can even call it that, might as well have been securely placed in the dugout bin.

I digress. It was a hard-fought series (except for Game 2 where the Crew laid down their bats in the on-deck circle for 7 innings with the exception of Carlos Lee), but we just couldn’t pull out a series victory.

We live to fight another day! We head into San Francisco for some Rice-A-Roni, some trolley car rides, and hopefully a sweep of the pesky Giants (but I’d take 2 of 3).

Hopefully I’ll have time to get a series preview up today yet…God knows we have a late enough local start time since we’re out west…but if not, I’ll be sure to come back with some analysis after the series is done.

GUEST COMMENTARY WRITTEN BY: Adam Rygg

Series Preview (Brewers @ Diamondbacks 7/14/06-7/16/06)

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

Brewers

@ Diamondbacks

Tonight’s matchup:

Introducing first…

Davis_dougDoug Davis
5-6, 4.95 ERA

In his last outing (July 9th), Davis got roughed up by the Chicago Cubs. He allowed 7 ER in just 5.1 IP, raising his ERA from 4.60 to 4.95. The troubles came early and often for Davis, shoved forward by 6 walks and 7 hits. The Cubs have had problems hitting left-handed pitching all season, but I guess "they were due" or some B.S. excuse like that. The bottom line, is Davis got beat…and beat hard.

Why Ned Yost didn’t yank him early makes no sense at all. He was obviously laboring on the hill (91 pitches in that 5.1 IP), and with four off-days coming in a row for the All-Star Break, who cares how many innings your bullpen ends up throwing?

Davis had a fantastic outing just prior to that one in which he allowed only 2 ER in 8.2 IP to the Cincinnati Reds. Just before that one, however, he was flame-broiled by the Kansas City Royals for 6 R (only 3 earned) in just 3.0 IP (again, 91 pitches). He had thrown four quality starts in a row prior to the KC game, so hopefully the two rough outings were the exceptions.

Davis has been good for one horrible outing a month, so let’s just hope he got his piece of garbage for July out of the way and can kick @$$ for the rest of the month.

And his opponent…

Batista_miguelMiguel Batista
8-5, 5.01 ERA

Batista’s last start came July 7th at Colorado. He pitched only 4 innings, allowing 3 ER on 5 H, striking out one. A rain delay prevented him from continuing in the game. Arizona ended up winning that game thanks to shoddy defense by Colorado, but Batista took a no-decision.

Batista threw a complete game, 3 hitter against the Oakland Athletics in his previous start, and had won two in a row since losing 3 straight. Hopefully for the crew, his short start coupled with the break will have him over-rested and sloppy on the hill.

The rest of the combatants…
 
The big question mark for the Brewers is whether or not Corey Koskie’s phantom concussion will allow him back on the field finally. I’m not saying he didn’t knock something around. I’m just saying he didn’t hit his head on the ground during that play.

The Brewers haven’t faced Miguel Batista this season, but some of the Crew have faced him a few times in the past. Carlos Lee is a pedestrian 2-11 against him. Geoff Jenkins is 2-8 with a solo home run and actually no strikeouts. If Koskie plays, he is 2-5 with 2 BB and 1 K. His probable replacement, Jeff Cirillo hasn’t had a single at-bat against Arizona pitching this season…and that might be a good thing to continue tonight. He is 0-11 against Batista lifetime, with 3 K. Damian Miller has had the most success against Batista in his career, going 3-6, with a double and 2 RBI.

Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall and Gabe Gross have never seen Batista. Should Brady Clark get the start, it won’t be with much more experience than Gross. Clark has only seen him once, going 0-1.

Final analysis…

What this adds up to is quite simple. If Davis did have what will be his only poor July start, then the Brewer lineup should have enough pop to cause some damage and secure the victory for Milwaukee.

The fact is, we took 2 of 3 at the beginning of the season from this team, and I think we can do at least that again. We face Brandon Webb tomorrow, who started when the D’Backs beat the Brewers back in April, but Capuano goes for us, so I like our chances. The third game is slated to be Claudio Vargas, he of the 7-5 record and the 4.91 ERA, taking on Dave Bush (5-7, 4.34).

There will hopefully be another preview tomorrow for Game 2 of the series, and we’ll see what we can do about getting Game 3 analyzed as well.

Here’s to starting things back off on the right foot, boys.

The Best Laid Plans…

GUEST COMMENTARY BY: Adam Rygg

I was going to come at you all today with a review of Brewer Organization participation and performance in the AAA All-Star Game from last night. I was out when it was airing, so I recorded the game on my DVR. Cheating a bit, I checked the box score when I got home and saw that after Gwynn Jr went 0-4, (w/ 1 K) and Cruz Jr went 0-3 and Hendrickson took the loss after giving up three (albeit unearned) runs….well, I just wasn’t in the mood to watch the game.

If I get around to it some time soon, then I’ll throw up a late review. Maybe the hitters were robbed and Hendrickson’s runs were purely due to errors. I don’t know yet, so I can’t comment on it all.

Having said that, it is now time for me to bust out…….

The First "Half" Analysis (complete w/second "half" projections, dreams and prayers) of our Milwaukee Brewers!

Brewersbanner_1

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

CappybioChris Capuano has been better than any benchmark that anybody could have honestly established for him at the beginning of the season. He currently sits tied for 3rd most Wins with 10. His ERA of 3.21 (46 ERs, 129.0 IP) is good enough for 13th place. Speaking of innings pitched, he has the 5th highest total there. He is 7th in strikeouts with 112. His K/BB ratio is also good for 7th place at 4.48, so he’s had good control all year. He even has had the first two complete game shutouts of his big league career this season.

And then, in what might be the biggest sign of his effectiveness, he has had a "quality start" in all but two starts on the year. 19 starts, 17 "quality starts". Amazing. Nobody else has that many.

Oh, and did I mention that all of the rankings two paragraphs ago where not just his position in the National League, but in all of Major League Baseball!

Our offense has looked good at times, and it has struggled at times. Same with the majority of our pitchers. Sometimes right on the money, other times getting lit up a bit. The problem comes when you pair the negatives are involved.

For example, the 3-0 game we lost to the Reds in Cincinnati, on June 14th, when Carlos Villanueva made his first start and held the explosive Reds scoreless. FANTASTIC pitching performance, coupled with no hitting.

Example #2, May 20th. Against the Minnesota Twins, the Crew put up 10 runs (one of our precious few double digit outbursts this season) on 13 hits, but we allowed 16 on 15!! FANTASTIC run production and hitting production but coupled with absolutely pathetic pitching performance. Not one of the seven (!) different pitchers used that night went without giving up at least one earned run.

Example #3 and #4 are from the same weekend series as each other. First, in an example of the good that can come from getting both fantastic offense and defense in the same game, the Brewers tied a Major League record for home runs in one inning en route for a 11-0 shelacking of the Reds. In the next night’s game, we got it turned right around on us and lost 11-0 only getting 5 hits and also committing 3(!!!) errors.

What we need is more consistently above average play. With the talent level of this club, we don’t need complete game shutouts from Cappy every other day, and we also don’t need to tie home run records during games. The pitching staff is good enough to hold opponents down when they’re on, and our offense is good enough to exploit poor pitching performances and even to cause a few pitchers to have poor pitching performances on their own.

Instead of having one or the other, like most of the season (which is partly why we have so many come from behind victories and walk-off situations), or God forbid not having either (like during our 8 game losing streak), what we need is to have a little bit of both all the time.

Yes, your offense is going to slump sometimes and your pitching staff is going to struggle once in a while. Each side helps pick the other up when they’re down. That’s what a team sport is all about. But what this team needs to make a push into Wild Card (and possibly Divisional) contention is probably a 41-31 or so 2nd "half" to the season. Our record would wind up at 85 and 77. Houston won the NL Wild Card last year at 89-73. They’ll have to go on an even better run than they did last year to get to that kind of a record again this season. They edged out Philadelphia who finished at 88-74 (which they won’t be coming close to at this rate).

85-77, consequently, would’ve have finished us ahead of every single team in the National League last year except for the division winners (even though it’s a better record than San Diego wound up with), and the aforementioned Astros and Phillies.

And here’s the thing…it’s doable.

If what MilwaukeeBrewers.com is reporting is true, then it looks like we are going to keep Carlos Lee and make a push. Let’s make that push, boys! Keep hope alive and get out there and perform like we all know that you can (because we’ve seen indications so many times). Sweeping the Reds and winning the first game from the Cubs just before the break was good…almost as good as it was pathetic to then drop the next three to the Cubs.

.500 should NOT be your goal. Don’t get there, and feel so relieved or satisfied to be there that you immediately get too loose, lose focus and slip right back down below it again.

I was 2 years old when the Brewers went to their lone World Series. I don’t remember a whole lot from that year, but I do remember growing up as a Brewers’ fan, period. My favorite all time player, which has "Blog about me" written all over him, is Robin Yount. I have learned the history and lore of this franchise, and am so stricken with this "on the cusp" situation we seem to be in.

I’ll admit, I projected the Brewers to make the playoffs in 2008, actually being within a few games of the Wild Card by the end of 2007. A lot of naysayers have said that I’ve got my head in the clouds and that I’ll see how wrong I am once 2008 comes and goes with another playoff miss.

I’d love to be proven wrong…in the other direction.

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