Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tonight made me miss Seth McClung

“You can change the channel now if you want to,” I said.

“Oh, is the game over?” Seth asked.

“Umm… I think we both know it’s been over for quite a while now,” I said with a sigh.

I got nothing tonight. Tonight’s game has left me so uninspired that I can’t even figure out what to write. I watched the whole game—that should be worth something. Milwaukee was never really out of it but really never in it either, losing 5-0 to the Houston Astros. The Brewers made two great defensive plays. The Brewer bats, however, were completely silenced by newly acquired J.A. Happ. He made Philadelphia look like the loser in its trade with Houston. Roy Oswalt got roughed up by the Nationals, giving up seven hits and five runs (four earned runs) over six innings. 

It was so bad, I started thinking about Seth McClung. I don’t know why. I wondered what he was up to. (Free agency; coaching the Pinellas Park girls’ high school basketball team.)  I tried to find a McClung Like a Horse t-shirt on clearance. Ohhh, Big Red, why didn’t you kung fu Ken Macha when you had the chance? Just one kick to the mid-section …  Apparently, I get violent when I get frustrated. Chucky reminds me of better times. Tonight, I miss being good. 

Astros 5, Brewers 0
Game played 7-30-10

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bad day at the office

We’ve all had bad days at work.* We’ve all wanted to tell someone how we really feel about that TPS report. We might have wanted to throw our three-hole punch at a co-worker. But we don’t. We keep quiet, take the abuse and solider on.

Today, Prince Fielder had a bad day at work. After seeing his team go from leading 2-0 through five innings to being down 2-10, after being called out on strikes to end the eighth, Prince had seen enough.  So he dropped an F bomb on the ump and threw his helmet. For this display, he got sent to the showers.

Now, I know that baseball players do not get the luxury, as I do, of sitting in an office all day with no one watching. No one taunts me while I review legal documents.  I don’t get sent down to the minors if my drafting skills slip for a few weeks. But once—just once—I’d like to let someone know how I really feel. And after I’ve dropped my F bomb, I’d like to be sent home. And the next day, I’d like to come back like nothing happened. Just once.

With just days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, things are eerily quiet. I'm not sure if that's bad or good. 

Reds 10, Brewers 2
Game played 7-28-10

* I had a bad day at work today. But I’m going to come back strong tomorrow. Good lord willing, things will work out. I am going to read that survey with vigor.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cheap foamy beer night ... the best thing to happen to our pitching until Joe Inglett

Tonight was cheap foamy beer night at my house.  Unfortunately, it nearly turned out to be the highlight of my game watching experience.

It was one of those nights where the announcers earn their money--cause there's nothing to say. When Rock starts to talk about the moon's phases, you know that the Brewers' chances left with the setting sun. It's the eighth inning, and BA is waxing poetic about Prince's beard and how he couldn't stop staring at it when he interviewed him before the game.

Oh wait, they just showed sombrero guy and he did appear to be swaying and hiccuping. That's a win for me. All is not lost.

I take that back. Joe Inglett, utility IF/OF, who started in RF in place of Corey Hart, is now pitching the ninth. Wait, he isn't sucking. He's doing really well. WHAT? Inglett threw six pitches total, five for strikes. Three up and three down.

Joe Inglett, this can of the High Life is for you! Go get 'em tomorrow--2 out of 3 would not be bad.

Reds 12, Brewers 4
Game played 7-27-10

Mea Culpa

From my blog after the June 19th loss to the Rockies:  “The Brewers need better defense. When you watch other teams like the Rockies or the Angels, you can see that our defense is not as good. I’m talking to you, Rickie Weeks.

This was during the height of Weeks’ defensive troubles. Remember when he couldn’t hold onto a throw from the catcher at second base? Weeks seemed to get to ground balls but then, agonizingly, be unable to pick them cleanly and make the throw to first. Furthermore, on June 19th, Weeks was batting .254, with a .773 OPS (.352 OBP + .421 SLG) and 82 strikeouts. He had 10 home runs at that time. I wondered whether they should move him to the outfield or possibly the bench.

I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Oh, so very wrong. Forgive me, Rickie. I will never lose faith in you again. 

Currently, Weeks is batting .275 with a .964 OPS (.382 OBP + .582 SLG). He’s hit six home runs in his last nine games for a total of 21. Monday night’s shot off of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo was crushed to deep centerfield and traveled an estimated 447 feet.  More importantly, it tied the game at 2-2.

In a season that has seen Doug Melvin come under fire for some of his off-season acquisitions [Should I even bother to say Doug Davis? You all know I’m thinking it], I want to give him credit for signing veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds. Without Edmonds, Corey Hart may have never taken extra batting practice and had the year he is having. Without Edmonds, we’d have Carlos Gomez as an everyday player. I don’t think any of us are ready for that yet. Oh, and Edmonds can still play a little bit. Despite being hobbled by sore Achilles, he’s been on fire at the plate and made some amazing plays in centerfield. His pinch hit home run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday night was the difference in the ball game. Edmonds has collected nine hits and four homeruns in his last 16 ABs.

I’m not afraid to admit it when I am wrong or give credit when credit is due. [Seth, this does not apply to our marriage.] I’ll trade my pride for a win any day.

Brewers 3, Reds 2
Game played July 26, 2010

*Special shout-out to Chris G. Thanks for helping me with the stats. “What player am I thinking about right now?”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gluttony -- derived from the Latin word gluttire meaning over-consumption of food, drink or intoxicants

When I finally rolled out of bed this morning, I wanted to see the Sports Center highlights. I wanted to see Ryan Braun’s walk-off home run. Whoooo! I had watched the last two innings in a bar in my hometown, Bloomer, Wisconsin. It was great to be around other Brewer fans. Other bar patrons stood up and cheered after Braun’s home run. It was a blast.

“Mom,” I said, “The bottom line said walk-off single. What do you mean walk-off single? I clearly saw the hit. It had to be a home run.”

“It wasn’t a home run,” my Mom said, looking at me suspiciously, “he hit it to the wall and it scored Weeks.”

Wait. Let me think back to last night. Oh man, did I really do a shot of tequila? Why does this happen every time I go home? Bloomer drunk had struck again.

Thinking back, it is possible that I made some poor choices with alcohol.  And it is these choices that led me to incorrectly conclude that the ball went over the wall rather than noticing that it hit the base of the wall. Regardless, the outcome was the same. The Brewers scored in the bottom of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie and take their second game in a row from the Nationals. And I got to celebrate the win with a bunch of other Brewers fans—to whom I may or may not be related. (Gotta love small town Wisconsin!)

Brewers 4, Nationals 3
Game played 7-24-10

The other thing that you have to know about Bloomer is that it is impossible for me to leave without overeating. And I don’t mean just feeling a little uncomfortable. No, I mean eating so much that you feel sort of ill. The kind of full you get when you order a donut as an appetizer for your breakfast. The kind of full you get when you eat a 6-egg omelet with a side of bacon plus oatmeal pancakes and cinnamon swirl French toast. And then decide that you need lunch a few hours later because you’re starting to feel a little less gross. Overdoing and Bloomer go hand in hand for me.

Fortunately on Sunday the Brewers continued to gorge—on home runs. Casey McGehee and Rickie Weeks both homered to lead the Brewers to an 8-3 victory and a sweep of the Washington Nationals. Milwaukee has now hit home runs in 14 consecutive games and 25 total during the streak.

I need a nap and to not eat (or drink) again for a few days. OK, I promise I'll stop AFTER I eat this apple fritter.

Brewers 8, Nationals 3
Game played 7-25-10

Saturday, July 24, 2010

You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball

“You just got lesson number one: don’t think, it can only hurt the ball club.”  --Crash Davis

The longer I’m alive, the more I know that Bull Durham was right about everything.

The Brewers were down 5-1 in Friday night’s ball game entering the fifth inning. To make matters worse, Corey Hart had to leave the game in the third inning after crashing into the right field wall while chasing down a fly ball. Hart had scored the Brewers only run after hitting a triple and scoring on a Ryan Braun sac fly.

Enter replacement Jim Edmonds.

“I didn’t do anything. I didn’t take a swing until I got in the batter’s box. I didn’t run. I didn’t throw. I didn’t do anything. I tried to take it easy today. I was about to get ready to get loose there when Corey got hurt but I didn’t even have a chance to do that but it worked out,” said Edmonds.

Worked out, indeed. Edmonds went 2-3, with 3 RBI, including a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning that put the Brewers on top for good.

After the game, Edmonds said that he had decided to stop thinking about hitting home runs last week. And once he stopped thinking about it, it “just started happening.” Edmonds is now 12 homers shy of 400 for his career.  

Brewers 7, Nationals 5
Game played 7-23-10

Ken Macha on Corey Hart: “He’s day-to-day, as we all are.”  Macha has a sense of humor? Who knew?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The small things

I saw Paul tonight. I made a point to get into his check-out line. He's awesome.

I've gone to the same grocery store since college. My absolute favorite check-out, cash register running man is Paul. Even though I've never asked, I am sure that Paul lives in his mother's basement and plays World of Warcraft when he's not rockin' his black polo shirt at Kowalski's. He probably heads down to The Source to play a little D'N' D on Friday nights. He has this quiet, I'm-afraid-to-make-eye-contact-with-a-girl sort of voice. But he always asks me if I found everything OK. And that's good customer service.

Paul has greasy chin length hair, and, recently, he's put on some weight. I'd say deuce, deuce and a half but that wouldn't really do his protruding belly justice. To say that I love him would be an understatement. I get mad at my husband if he gets in anyone else's lane. "OK," Seth will say, "I'm doing this for you" as he pushes our cart into Paul's lane even if it doesn't have the shortest line.

So, tonight when I stopped by the store on my way home to pick up mushrooms, salad, chicken broth and croutons, I was relieved when I saw Paul at a register. Paul makes shopping better. Yes, I did find everything OK. Thanks for asking.

I was overcome with the same feeling when I remembered that Yovani Gallardo was going to pitch tonight. Gallardo makes the Brewers better. Gallardo has been on the DL since the July 4th Cardinals game where he strained his oblique muscle. While he's been on the DL, the Brewers pitching has been horrendous. Manny Parra, Dave Bush and Randy Wolf all gave up 10+ runs in the span of four games.

Sometimes in life, it's the small things.

Brewers 3, Pirates 2 (Gallardo scattered 5 hits over six innings and allowed ZERO runs to pick up the win)
Game played 7-22-10          

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A new lower low? (I alread used 'A new low?')

Three words. God ... freaking ... awful.

Pirates 15, Brewers 3
Game played 7-21-10

All in

I have to make a confession. I’ve become obsessed with the trade deadline. On Tuesday at 3:15 p.m., I felt a cold chill go up my spine. So sure was I that Prince had been dealt to the White Sox that I had to check ESPN, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Brewers websites before I could stop holding my breath.

You have a lot of choices as a baseball fan as to what sort of fan you want to be. You can go to a few games a year and wear your team’s cap and call it good. You can follow your team in the paper. You can watch a few games and check the standings every once in a while. I’ve been that sort of fan at times during my life. But since 2008, my first year with Extra Innings, I’ve been all in. And this year I’ve taken it to an entirely new level with the blog. I don’t say “they” anymore. I say “we”, as in we didn’t pitch very well last night. The more invested you are, the more it hurts when things don’t go your way. Or in this case, the more it hurts when one of your favorites won’t be a Brewer anymore (even if trading him makes a ton of sense).

I watched Tuesday night’s game in one hour because I didn’t get home until late.  Basically, the Pirates scored a lot of runs in the beginning of the game and the Brewers tried hard to come back but fell just short. Depending on the speed at which you fast forward with TiVo, it is usually best to stay focused on the little score box.  The score box thingee went crazy in the bottom of the first. It kept moving, while Casey McGehee seemed frozen after committing two errors. A total of three errors and Dave Bush’s ineffectiveness led to NINE Pittsburgh runs in the first inning. Is this payback for me calling them “light hitting” yesterday?  I guess Ken Macha didn’t want to use the bullpen because he left Bush in for four innings and he gave up one more run. (4 IP, 9H, 10R, 5ER, 2BB, 2SO, 2HR)

Things that may or may not surprise you about this game:  
  1. Dave Bush pitched longer than the Pirates starter, Brad Lincoln, who had a nine-run lead at one point (2.1 IP, 9H, 7R, 7ER, OBB, 1SO, 1HR);  
  2. The Brewers got within a run at 10-9 after the top of the sixth inning;
  3. The bottom of the Brewers order did most of the damage, with Jim Edmonds going 4-5 with a HR;
  4. Carols “I’m in the doghouse” Villanueva made his first appearance since July 8; and 
  5. Prince Fielder is still a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pirates 11, Brewers 9
Game played 7-21-10

Monday, July 19, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest ...

Question:  If a baseball game is played and no one cares about it, does it count in the standings?
Answer: Yes.

Ahhhh yes, it's Monday night. It's Brewers-Pirates. It's a 50-minute rain delay in the middle of the second inning. It just doesn't get any better than this, fans. (Picture me with a can of Old Milwaukee.) The Yankees and Red Sox got nothin' on this match-up.

This one was magical. Jeff Karstens (2-5; 4.84 ERA; 1.41 WHIP) and Chris Capuano (1-1) (hasn't started a game since June 3; 13-game losing streak; returning from second Tommy John surgery) locked up in a pitcher's duel. Milwaukee collected its first hit off of Karstens in the fifth inning ... but at least that hit really rocked. Prince Fielder hit an opposite field missile down the left field line to break-up the no-hitter and put Milwaukee up 1-0. It was one of three hits for the Brewers. The other was a 2-run home run by Rickie Weeks in the sixth inning. It was still too much for the light-hitting Bucs, who managed just one run. The Brewers bullpen was tough. John Axford picked up his 12th save with a little drama in the ninth. Capuano picked up the win!

Have no fear Hang with 'em readers, I'm still standing in the forest. It didn't even occur to me that other baseball fans might not care about this game until I made a crack about no one caring about the Pittsburgh-Houston series. And then I thought: Well heck, that's not much different than Pittsburgh-Milwaukee. Cue inferiority complex.

Rachel notes: As Fox Sports Wisconsin cut away for commercial at the beginning of the rain delay, Brain Anderson uttered the following: "“We’re gonna gather our nuts, and find out what the squirrels… we’ll be right back.” .... Jonny Venters was suspended for four games and Bobby Cox one for the plunking of Prince Fielder.  "I think it's in everybody's best interests that the physical well-being of the players should be foremost," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "My point of view is that it behooves everybody that Prince is able to go out and play all 162 and not have a broken wrist or dislocated back." Dislocated back?

Brewers 3, Pirates 1
Game played 7-19-10

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plunker in chief

It's been said many times but is no less true today. Some days you win and some days you lose. Today was our day to lose. In sort of a big way. Largly because of a grand slam by Brian McCann. It was a pretty unremarkable game if you're a Milwaukee fan. It started off well enough--a Rickie Weeks leadoff homerun--but then went to hell as bad Manny Parra showed up (5.1 IP, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO).

Two things of note about this game. First, Lorenzo Cain collected his first major league hit. He actually went 2-2, with a double. (He was robbed of his first hit by Matt Diaz on Friday night.) He was called up when Doug Davis went back on the DL this week. He is a promising outfield prospect. In a game that saw Carlos Gomez hit into two double plays, it's hard not to think about Cain getting some more playing time.

Second, the whole plunking issue isn't going to die. Apparently Bobby Cox made a point to seek out Ken Macha before the game on Sunday to reinterate that none of the beanballs were intentional. The Brewers did hit two Braves on Sunday. Parra hit Jason Heyward in the knee area and David Riske hit Troy Glaus in the mid-section. The umps warned both teams after Heyward was hit but Riske was not ejected. Neither looked particularly intentional. After the game came news that Macha had complained to a MLB official. The Brewers lead the majors with 47 HBPs and Macha says that they need to be protected.

Note to Ken Macha: This is the only reason to bring Doug Davis off the DL--Plunker in chief. Although, with the way that he pitches, who knows if he could successfully bean someone.

Braves 11, Brewers 6
Game played 7-18-10

Brewhaha in Atlanta

Milwaukee (42-50) took its second game in a row from Atlanta on Saturday night behind Corey Hart’s three-run double in the seventh inning. Chris Narveson pitched six strong innings, giving up just two runs on six hits. The Brewers did most of their damage in the seventh inning as they erased a one-run deficit with a homerun by Prince Fielder and a bases clearing double by Hart. John Axford picked up a four-out save to preserve the win. Axford is now 11 for 11 in save opportunities. This is pretty remarkable for a guy who wasn’t even the team closer in Triple A. Plus it is super fun to yell, “Ax!” and he has that awesome mustache. 

This was a rather remarkable win for the Brewers. They beat All-Star Tim Hudson (9-5 with a 2.60 ERA) as the Braves lost consecutive home games for just the first time since late April. The Braves continue to boast the best home record in the majors at 31-12. Narveson was coming off a horrible outing against the Giants—a 3.1 inning, nine earned run debacle.

The real fireworks took place in the eighth inning, however. The first pitch to Fielder following his homerun sailed above his head, which earned the pitcher and both benches a warning. The next pitch from Jonny Venters drilled Prince in the back.* This coming after Prince was nailed in the thigh by Tommy Hanson following Ryan Braun’s homerun on Friday night and Hanson’s drilling of Braun in May. The May beaning knocked Braun out of the line-up for a few days.

There was some discussion that the plunking was the result of Prince showing up the Braves with his “elaborate” follow-through on his swing. Subsequent reviews of Fielder’s follow-through showed that there was nothing different about this swing (other than the fact that he smoked the ball) but that it is somewhat unorthodox and could be perceived as a show-up. Whatever. Of course, the Braves denied that any of the plunks were intentional, while Prince stayed silent (although his actions made his feelings obvious—he untucked after the game) and Macha questioned the intent behind the pitches and asked for an investigation. Really, Ken, an investigation?

How you feel about this is going to depend on your point of view. (Cannon ball, anyone?)

The Atlanta perspective: The Brewers need to get over themselves. Why the hell would Jonny Venters throw at Prince Fielder to lead off the 8th in a game that actually matters to us? There's no reason for Prince to freak out and then take a dirty slide into 2nd base to potentially end Alex Gonzalez's season. That's not a part of baseball. Wild pitches happen. Get over it. 

The Milwaukee perspective: I realize Jonny Venters wasn't throwing full speed when his first pitch went over Prince Fielder's head. And I don't care. That 84 mph pitch could still do very serious damage if it had made contact. And the pitch that hit Fielder in the back was a 94 mph fastball. When you're throwing that hard above the waist, you're not retaliating anymore. You're headhunting. 

Rachel’s perspective: I think Venters probably threw at Prince. I have no problem with that as long as he keeps the pitch away from his head. I don’t think Prince did anything too egregious but maybe hitting a homerun is egregious enough. What I am sort of surprised by is how touchy these “baseball establishment”, so-called-old-school-keepers-of-the-game types react to the Brewers. Why does Tony LaRussa get to decide whether untucking your shirt after a game is classless? Why does he get to set the parameters on the “right way” to play baseball? I know, he's old and been around for a long time. He's a good manager. Blah, blah, blah. 

To me there is a difference between being excited about your success and “showing up” your opponent because of his failure. It seems silly to me that Ryan Braun can’t be excited about hitting a homerun because his woofing and fist pump might make Tommy Hanson feel bad. Whether he celebrates or not, it’s still a homerun. I think people vilify the victor so they don’t have to take responsibility for sucking. If you don’t want the other team to celebrate, then don’t give up a homerun. It may make you feel better to say Prince is a classless asshole douche bag as he’s hitting a home run, but, in the end, he still hit a home run.

I don’t think the line between celebrating your success and taunting your opponent’s failure is too blurry so as to justify an outlawing of emotion or celebrations in the game. I think there’s room for emotion in baseball. I think that baseball needs more excitement. It needs more colorful characters. That’s not disrespectful. It’s just more fun that way. It gives you someone to cheer for and someone to hate.

Brewers 6, Braves 3
Game played 7-17-10

* Plunkeveryone reported: “Prince Fielder got plunked for the 2nd consecutive game, bringing his total up to 14 this year.  He and Rickie Weeks continue to make a strong push to become the first teammates since 1911 to both break the 20 HBP threshold.”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Am I secretly married to Ryan Braun? A reader poll

Yesterday’s post was far too serious—all that stuff about numbers and personnel decisions hurt my brain. Time to dumb it down with some girly stuff.  Ryan Braun’s 2-run homer to dead centerfield in the third inning sparked the Brewers to a 9-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. My Dad thinks that my husband, Seth, looks like Ryan Braun.

Hang with ‘em Brewers! poll—let me know what you think. Am I secretly married to Ryan Braun?

Consider the following.

  1. Ryan likes to date extremely attractive super model type women. Seth would like to date extremely attractive super model type women.  
  1. Ryan attended the University of Miami. Seth hates Miami and makes fun of its basketball team.
  1. Ryan is an investor in and frequent promoter of a T-shirt line, Remetee. Seth would rather be man-scaped in front of thousands than wear a Remetee.
  1. Speaking of man-scaping. Ryan, obviously. Seth, never. 
  1. Ryan has drawn the ire of the likes of Tony LaRussa, Bob Howry and Bob Brenly—and the baseball establishment—with some of his emotional celebrations. Seth is Swedish and Norwegian.
  1. Ryan has hit 117 major league homeruns and boasts a .305 lifetime BA and a .918 lifetime OPS. Seth displays above average power in our slow-pitch softball league. 
  1. Ryan’s nickname is Braunie. (I’ve never seen any proof that anyone in the dugout actually calls him the Hebrew Hammer.) Sometimes I call Seth, Honey Bunny, but in a totally sarcastic way.   
  1. Ryan’s got restaurants, a clothing line, and endorses a protein drink and an airline. Seth is an heir to the Bohemian Ovens (my parents’ restaurant) fortune. 
  1. Ryan has an eight-year deal with Milwaukee that goes through the 2015 season. Seth inked a long-term deal with me, a Brewers fan, in 2004 for the long haul. SMA ∞ REH

(Seth, below, sponsored by Nike. Ryan, right, pleading with God for some pitching.) 

Brewers 9, Braves 3
Game played 7-16-10

Friday, July 16, 2010

And the second half begins

Welcome back!

I hope that you had a nice All-Star break.  I TiVoed the All-Star game and fast forwarded through most of it. I watched Ryan and Corey’s at-bats and Ryan’s catch a few times. I highly recommend this method of watching the All-Star game—all the action with only a fraction of the absurd hype falling out the announcers’ mouths. I have to be honest. I was ecstatic that the NL won. If I hear that the NL is the Quadruple A league again I will vomit. But it is hard to argue with the numbers—like the AL winning all of the All-Star games since 1996.
I meant to write some sort of first half wrap up or analysis or something but I drank beer instead. did a nice analysis using a grading system

The Journal Sentinel had an article called How the Brewers Can Turn Things Around  that didn’t really say how the Brewers could actually turn anything around (at least during this season).  The article pointed out why the Brewers are losing (inconsistency in every category and an inability to put pitching, hitting and defense together in the same game) and then discussed the personnel decisions that will need to be made before the trade deadline and over the off-season.  I have to admit, these personnel decisions are going to be hard for me. I can be as analytical as the next person—I’m a real estate attorney after all—but when the numbers show that there is no way that the Brewers can keep Prince I start to think with my heart. It sucks ~~~throwing temper tantrum now. I blame Jeff Suppan.

I can’t really blame Jeff Suppan, though. I mean, I can blame him for not performing but the blame for his signing and contract falls on Doug Melvin. Which begs the question: are the bad deals that Melvin entered into the reason we can’t re-sign Prince (or possibly Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks)? Obviously, signing players that underperform to large contracts is bad and is absolutely the fault of the GM. But how much of the blame for the 2010 season and impending personnel decisions should be placed on Melvin? I ask this because there is an abundance of criticism for Doug Melvin right now and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link with the subject line “ouch”. Graph of percentage of total payroll paid to players no longer with the team.

The Brewers pay nearly one-quarter of their total payroll to players who are no longer on the team. The site concludes: “Teams like the Blue Jays, Brewers and Tigers have limited their options due to the millions of dollars being spent on players not on the team.” One commenter suggested that this wasn’t a completely bad situation. “At first I was relieved to see that the Giants were at zero. Then it occurred to me that being high on this list isn’t necessarily all bad – the teams near the top may have inked bad contracts, but their presence means that they identified the sunk costs and made appropriate changes. Teams like the Giants just keep running Aaron Rowand out there nearly every day.”

The Brewers have an $85.3 million payroll. (I think that this number includes all of the former players’ salaries.) That means that roughly $19.6 million is tied up by players not on the team. Ryan Howard’s deal will pay him $20-$25 million per year for five years. Prince is looking for this sort of contract. Of the $85.3 million, Prince makes $10.5 million. So that’s about $30 million between Prince’s current contact and the former player money. With that said, the Brewers have tied up a lot of future money in large contracts to Ryan Braun and Yovanni Garrado.

I need to crunch more numbers and think about this some more. Lots more analysis is needed. Unfortunately, I have a day job and it is calling.

The Brewers dropped their first game after the break to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, holders of the NL’s best record, scored on two solo homeruns. Milwaukee’s only run came on a Corey Hart homer. Another hang with ‘em for Dave Bush. Not a terrible outing for the Brewers but you can see that the Braves have superior pitching and defense.

Braves 2, Brewers 1
Game played 7-15-10 

Monday, July 12, 2010

I heart the Pirates

Did I mention that I Y  the Pirates? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Pittsburgh for always finding a way to lose (to Milwaukee). I realize that at some point your generosity will end, but, until it does, thank you for giving up a home run to Ryan Braun and thank you for giving up a 2-run walk-off home run to Corey Hart in the bottom of the ninth inning. Oh, and you brought your own broom? Awesome.

Do you have a sister?

Brewers  6, Pirates 5
Game played 7-11-10

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Felicidades! Happy Cerveceros Day!*

This just in—the Pirates are bad. With Saturday night’s victory, the Brewers are 7-3 against the Pirates this year. In 2008, Milwaukee posted a 14-1 record against the Bucs, with a 9-5 record in 2009. At Miller Park, the Brewers have won 26 of their last 29 against the Pirates.

This just in—Dave Bush is putting together a quality season. This one sorta snuck up on me. Over his last five starts, Bush is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA. Overall he is 4-6 with a 4.14 ERA. (If you eliminate his two worst outings against Chicago and Minnesota, his ERA is 2.96.) He does have a 1.495 WHIP, which is the highest of his career, but who the hell knows what WHIP is anyway.

This just in—Ryan Braun can hit AGAIN. Braun scored three of the Brewers four runs as he went 2 for 4 at the plate with a walk. In the third inning Braun and Prince Fielder hit back-to-back homeruns. Big sigh of relief.

This just in—I am oddly obsessed with Cerveceros Day. Saturday marked the fifth annual Cerveceros Day at Miller Park. If you know me, you will realize that I am full of strange obsessions. Being obsessed with Ryan Braun is expected. Being obsessed with the fact that one day a year the Brewers wear jerseys with the Spanish word for Brewers on their jerseys is odd. Then again, I also got super excited for Jersey Shore. GTL, baby.

Brewers 4, Pirates 3
Game played 7-10-10

*Thanks to my sister Megan, who can actually speak Spanish. She texted me this message and I shamelessly ripped it off for my blog. Gracias, Megan. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Pirates—good for what ails you!

Speaking of ale … OK, we weren’t but maybe we should. I had my first beer since my surgery tonight over a couple of games of poker. It felt good to feel sort of normal again-- losing money with a Leinies in my hand.

I’m sure that it felt good for Ryan Braun to feel sort of normal again, too.  Since being called up in late May of 2007, Braun has been one of the best hitters in the National League.

2007-- .324 BA; 34 HR; 1.5 WAR
2008 -- .285 BA; 37 HR; 2.0 WAR
2009-- .320 BA; 32 HR; 6.2 WAR; (led the NL with 203 hits)

More stats here.

The last month or so have been tough for Braun, who is (was?!) in one of his longest and most pronounced slumps of his career. Simply put, he hasn’t looked good at the plate, waving at breaking balls in the dirt or grounding out weakly. Usually, Braun’s slumps are comprised of hang with ‘ems, hard hit balls right at someone. For the past month, he hasn’t picked up the ball well or made particularly good contact. We’ve never seen a slumping Braun. It’s been cause for concern and some speculation as to whether he’s hurt, going through some personal problems or distraught that he signed a long-term contact with this team.

Doug Davis returned from the DL (pericarditis) on Friday night to pitch in his first game since May 10. If you’re a blog regular, you might have reached the conclusion that I do not like Doug Davis. You would be right. To me he symbolizes everything that is wrong with this team: an aging mediocre pitcher that Milwaukee signed for $5.25 million (for 2010 with a mutual option for 2011). Before returning to the Brewers this year, Davis was 90-97 in 11 big league seasons and led the NL in walks last season. He went 12-12, 11-11 and 11-11 from 2004 to 2006 in his previous stint with the Brewers. He is best known as a “durable” pitcher. Good pick-up, Milwaukee.

On the mound for Pittsburgh was Paul Maholm. (It seems like the Brewers face him about 5 times each year.) The Brewers got off to a good start as Corey Hart delivered his 20th homerun of the season to stake Davis to a 2-0 lead. Davis had no problem slowly giving that lead back as Pittsburgh scored runs in the third and fourth innings and two in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.

At moments like this, it is important to take a deep breath and remember that you are playing the Pirates (30-55). Fortunately, the Brewers remembered. Prince homered in the eighth to cut the deficit to one. In the ninth, Carlos Gomez got the bunt down (for once), stole second and went to third on a throwing error. George Kottaras tripled to even the score. (Kottaras was tagged out trying to score on a wild pitch.)

All of this set the table for Braun to bust out of his slump. John Axford pitched around a lead-off single (and a runner on third with one out) for a scoreless tenth. Jim Edmonds singled to lead off the tenth. Weeks hit into a fielder’s choice. Weeks stole second and Prince was intentionally walked to get to Braun. (Just typing that makes me cringe.)  Braun took the first pitch that he saw, a slider that stayed up, to the wall in right and Weeks scored easily. Hugs all around. Braun went 2-5.

“My confidence has never been the issue,” Braun said after the game. “My swing’s been the issue.”

Brewers 5, Pirates 4
Game played 7-9-10

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Till death do us part

This could be a new low. The Brewers left 17 runners on base and went 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position to help the Giants pick up a four-game sweep of the scuffling Crew.

The best part of the game was when the camera crew showed a bride and groom and wedding party going to their seats. The bride had a beer in each hand. Rock said, “He is a lucky man. Yes, he is.”

I guess if you get married at Miller Park and go to a game as your reception, the outcome seems beside the point. This may still be the best day of your life.

Sorry, Milwaukee. It will take more than a five-game losing streak to get me to leave you.

The good news: the Pirates are coming to town.
The bad news: Doug Davis is pitching.

Giants 9, Brewers 3
Game played 7-8-10

This sucks but we're with you

This whole knee thing is getting old. I tried to go back to work on Wednesday. I had a feeling that it wouldn't go well when I had to lay down and rest after showering and dressing. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time my coworker stopped by to pick me up. When I got to work I had a hard time concentrating and could not get comfortable at my desk. I'm not sure why I didn't think about the fact that I needed to keep my leg straight and bring a pillow or something. Instead, I tried to prop up my leg on a paper box, which helped to maximize my discomfort. I couldn't decide which project to start and/how to prioritize my work. I expected to have knee pain but I wasn't prepared for the exhaustion and my inability to power through my work.

I am used to being able to will my way through most situations. I can't will my way through this injury and I haven't been able to will my way back to "normal" following the surgery. A control freak's worst nightmare.

Wednesday night's game was almost unwatchable. You can tell yourself that a 0-4 first inning deficit isn't so bad only so many times. When you go on to give up SEVEN additional runs a couple of innings later, you should probably just give up. When Tim Lincecum is pitching for the other team, you might as well take some more pain medication and head to bed. For some reason, I didn't pack it in. I watched until the bitter end. When the Brewers played a little small ball in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to 13, the Brewers fans rose to their feet and gave the Brewers a standing ovation. I don't think it was sarcastic. I think it said, this sucks but we're with you.

Giants 15, Brewers 2
Game played 7-7-10

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reality bites

In reflecting on last night’s game, I had to ask myself: What were you expecting?

Honestly, what did I think was going to happen this season?

After 2008, I had certain expectations. When Sports Illustrated picked Milwaukee to finish third in the NL Central this year I was surprised. Really, only third? SI doesn’t know anything. This was based more on hope than any sort of analysis.

But with 84 games now played, I need to be realistic. The Brewers are not going to make the playoffs and they are going to have a hell of a time getting to .500.  Wow. It is sort of difficult to admit to that in writing even though it was probably evident from the minute they signed Doug Davis. Don’t get me wrong, I still want Milwaukee to win every game and I feel a certain level of disappointment every time they lose, but that expectation is probably just wrong. In other words, don’t trade for Cliff Lee.

After a couple of weeks of good baseball, the Brewers have dropped three in a row—the last two to the Giants who had won one of their previous nine games. The three losses can be attributed to poor defense and hitting. A botched double play ball by Craig Counsell in the sixth inning Tuesday night led to four unearned runs for San Francisco and an ultimate 6-1 loss. The Brewers have now allowed 12 unearned runs in the three losses. Meanwhile the Brewers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, after going 0 for 12 on Monday and  0 for 2 on Sunday.  I cannot remember the last time Summer Boyfriend got a hit. His batting average is now down to .287.

So, what are my expectations? I expect major league baseball players to field their positions. (Yes, Alcides Escobar is a rookie so he isn’t going to make every play. I noticed he spent most of Tuesday’s game with Willie Randolph draped all over him. This is a good start. Rickie Weeks should be fighting Escobar for Willie’s love.) I expect Ryan Braun to pretend that he likes playing in Milwaukee and to put this slump to bed. Now. (He’s back to batting third in the order. I hate to think that the move from third to fourth has been the reason for the slump because we all know it’s just a matter of time until Fielder is gone …) The pitching has been better (although Gallardo was placed on the DL) so I want consistency. And I expect the Brewers to finish ahead of the Cubs in third place in the NL Central.

You know, if they could just win 10 in a row, they'd be right back in this thing. Seriously. The Cardinals and Reds aren't that good. 

Giants 6, Brewers 1
Game played 7-6-10

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My contractual obligation

Tuesday's game was another one of those games that caused me to curse out loud--and this time it had nothing to do with Hunter Pence. Dave Bush pitched six strong innings, giving up only 1 run. Milwaukee had numerous chances to knock Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez out of  the game but was downright pathetic (0-12) with runners in scoring position. Nonetheless, the Brewers led 1-0 until the sixth. With the score tied at one, Kam Loe and Zach Braddock combined to give up four runs in the seventh inning, leading to a 6-1 San Francisco victory.
As I fast forwarded through the last several innings of the game, I reminded myself that I am under no contractual obligation to watch the game. So I fast forwarded right on through to the end. I didn't even stop for Ryan Braun's at bats. There is something very freeing about remembering that watching the games--and even caring about the outcome--is a choice. That got me wondering what other people do when I am watching, reading and writing about baseball. I don't have kids. I know that that is a big part of it but I don't think a poor fielding day by Alcides Escobar is any reason to get pregnant. And if having knee surgery has taught me anything it's that I don't do well with a lot of free time. The Housewives of Orange County marathon is proof of that.

I'll be back for Wednesday's game.

Giants 6, Brewers 1
Game played 7-5-10

Monday, July 5, 2010

Six runs; one earned run

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s game can be explained with Gallardo’s line:

Yovani Gallardo
2.2 IP (left game with strained left side muscle)
5 H
6 R (Alcides Escobar had some serious problems)
1 ER
2 BB
2 SO

This game should have been a pitchers duel. Instead, it was a Cardinals blowout—and it could turn out to be something much worse if Gallardo did anything other than mildly sprain his oblique muscle. My fingers are crossed. Doug Davis is no Yovani Gallardo. In fact, Doug Davis struggles to be Chris Narveson.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 1
Game played 7-4-10

On Sunday, the 2010 All-Star teams were announced. The fans vote on the starting eight position players, while the players, coaches and managers select eight pitchers and one back-up player for each position. The team manager then selects the remainder of the 33-player roster. Finally, the fans select one remaining player (from five selected by the team manager) through on-line voting. Replacement players are also selected by the manager. There are a few rule changes for the All-Star game this year. The rosters have expanded from 33 to 34 players; the DH will be used every year, even in national league parks; there is a re-entry rule, and pitchers who start the Sunday before the All-Star break will not be replaced on the roster but will still be recognized as All-Stars.

Got that? Pretty soon you’ll need a degree in abstract algebra to figure this out. Remember that the winner of the midsummer classic gets home field advantage in the World Series. The irony of this fact was not lost on me as I voted 25 times per e-mail account. Why use something like overall record, when you can rely on internet-based fan voting? I’ll rant more about this when my pain meds wear off.  

Ryan Braun was voted to start in his third straight All-Star game, while Corey Hart was voted in by the players as a reserve. Yovani Gallardo was selected by manager Charlie Manuel. Braun collected 2,972,525 votes. I like to think I am somewhat responsible for about 500 of Braun’s votes. Where would he be without me? 

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I'm trying to blog through the pain. I do not want to go on the 15-day disabled list. It's been tough, though. I can't remember watching the games. I sleep through large portions of them. The pain meds stifle my sharp wit. I find myself staring at the computer screen trying to remember what I was going to type. I read the same sentence over and over but cannot comprehend what I am reading.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. The game.

Manny Parra took the mound for the Brewers against Chris Carpenter on Saturday night. St. Louis has an outstanding pitching staff and Carpenter is one of its aces. Before Saturday Carpenter had been 15-1 with a 1.97 ERA against the NL Central the last two seasons. Parra has been fighting to keep his spot in the starting rotation as Doug Davis gets set to come off of the DL. I have no idea why Davis is stepping right back into the starting rotation. He was 1-3 with a 7.52 ERA before going on the DL with inflammation around his heart. Plus his nickname is Double D, which makes me want to vomit. I digress...

With a set-up like this, you can probably guess what happened. Rickie Weeks led off with a home run, Carpenter hit two batters and the Cardinals played defense like they were on my pain meds. Milwaukee staked Parra to an eleven-run lead, which Parra seemed uncomfortable with. He gave up a few just to feel normal.

Brewers 12, Cardinals 5
Game played 7-3-10

Saturday, July 3, 2010

If I watched the game, why can't I remember anything about it?

I know I watched Friday night's Brewers-Cardinals game but I can't remember anything that happened in it. A review of the game on indicates that the Brewers lost. Hmmm ....  My doctor warned me that the day after the surgery would be worse than the day of surgery--it was--so I guess I took considerably more pain meds. I feel sort of dizzy.

My brother Nick and his girlfriend Karen went to St. Louis for the weekend to see the Brewers.

St. Louis truism #1 (compliments of Nick):

That Jaime Garcia kid, he can pitch.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 0
Game played 7-2-10

A good start and a new start

On Thursday I had knee surgery to release my IT band. I've been in quite a bit of pain for the last two years. I had given up the idea of ever running again. Surgery was my only remaining option as I have seen three specialists (knee, back and hip), four physical therapists and two chiropractors. There have been numerous days where I wanted to give up. I was so sick of getting referrals, fighting with my evil insurance company, making appointments, missing work to go to the appointments, etc... I have done every physical therapy exercise known to man. I felt like the injury had taken over my life. I know Seth was sick of hearing about it. I was sick of talking about it.

I had never had surgery before and I was sort of freaked out. So, when I started to panic on Thursday, I pictured myself running along one of my favorite routes or I pictured myself doing a triathlon. It helped.

My doctor said the surgery went well and sent me home with several different kinds of pain meds, muscle relaxers and Tylenol. I was able to put weight on my bad leg right away. It was through the haze of pain meds that I watched the first of four St. Louis-Milwaukee games.

Randy Wolf went 6 1/3 innings, giving up just one run, a homer to Albert Pujols. The Brewers scored all four of their runs on home runs, as well. Prince, Casey McGehee and George Kottaras all went long to get the series off to a good start for the Crew. The Brewers have now won 8 of their last 11.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 1
Game played 7-1-10

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wandy is a funny name

There was a time that Wandy Rodriguez wasn't really Wandy at all. He was Eny Cabreja. Acording to Wikipedia, when Rodriguez was scouted by the Astros in 1998, Rodriguez pretended his name was Eny Cabreja and that he was 17 years old. He had convinced a friend to let him borrow his identity. The real Cabreja was born on August 18, 1981 while Wandy was born on August 18, 1979. Wandy lived under the name Eny Cabreja until 2002, when he admitted to the Astros that he was really Wandy Fulton Rodriguez and that he wasn't really 21 but 23.

A common practice amongst Dominican ball players, MLB has attempted to put safeguards in place to stop the players from using other's identities. Check out the movie, Sugar for an interesting behind the scenes look at Latin American ballplayers.  

On Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers had a similarly dificult time identifying Wandy's pitches. Rodriguez gave up one run over seven innings to stake the Astros to a 5-1 victory. With the win, the Astros took two of three games from the Brewers. The Brewers went 6-3 for the homestand.

Astros 5, Brewers 1
Game played 6-30-10 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Princeless in Milwaukee?

That slow start—it’s a thing of the past. Prince Fielder hit two homeruns on Tuesday night and suddenly has 17 total, just one behind the NL league leaders.

Prince’s two homeruns helped Milwaukee collect another W against the Houston Astros. On a night when Yovani Gallardo didn’t have his best stuff, the offense picked him up. And Yo’s homer helped, too. Gallardo went six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks. He also hit the first pitch he saw in the third inning into the left field stands to get the offense started. Jonathan Lucroy* smashed another homerun in the sixth. John Axford pitched a less than stellar ninth inning to pick up his eighth save.

With the “resurgence” of Prince Fielder, talks of his contract have also heated up. (Ten of Fielders 17 homeruns have come in June.) Prince will earn $10.5 million this year and will be eligible for arbitration for the last time in 2011. Apparently contract negotiations between the Brewers and Fielder (and Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras) have come to a complete halt after Fielder and Boras rejected the Brewers’ initial offer. Baseball insiders feel that the Brewers have two options: trade Fielder now or keep him and try to re-sign him after the 2011 season. Before the season began, Fielder and Boras made it known that they want “Alex Rodriguez money”—something in the neighborhood of $200 million over the next eight years. It is unlikely that the Brewers will be able to keep him and remain competitive. The question is whether the Brewers try to trade him or take their chances after next season.

I foresee a CC Sabathia situation all over again. And I only had half of a season to become attached to CC. Prince has been a full-time Brewer since 2006. It happens all the time, I know. Players follow the money. I don’t blame them but it still hurts when they leave. You cheer for the player’s success even though you know that that success will mean they won’t play for your team in a few years. (Maybe Prince can bat .165 in 2011?)  A Prince-less Milwaukee sounds pretty bad to me right now. I think I’ll have a beer and stop thinking about it.  

Brewers 7, Astros 5
Game played 6-29-10

* Over the weekend, I selected Jonathan Lucroy as my Mom’s summer boyfriend because he is one of the youngest players on the team. He just turned 24 on June 13. When I started referring to Lucroy as her boyfriend, my Mom said, “Yah, right.” I think that she is secretly pleased.