Posted by Steve
Heckuva game tonight! That picture just about says it all. When Mike Burns defeats Johan Santana, it’s safe to describe that as stealing a win. After a rough stretch, the Brewers have rattled off four wins in five games and are back atop the NL Central. There are plenty of things to talk about lately, and it’s been awhile since we’ve had a Cornucopia of Thoughts, so let’s get this party started quickly.
We’ll start with the bad news. Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers’ top pitching prospect entering the year and a first round pick from a few years ago, has been suspended 100 games for testing positive for a “substance of abuse.” If you’re wondering why it’s such a harsh punishment, it’s because this is actually the third time Jeffress has tested positive. He actually served a 50-game suspension two years ago for the same problem, and if he manages to test positive one more time, he faces a lifetime ban from minor league baseball.
Jeffress has admitted to testing positive for marijuana in the past, and it’s being assumed that this latest positive test is also from marijuana. A lifetime ban might seem harsh, but regardless of your views on the the legalization issue, it’s pretty much impossible to defend Jeffress at this point. His value is just about nil now, and he’s dangerously close to throwing away his baseball career. This is a tough blow for an organization that’s already short on impact pitching.
I’ve become pretty annoyed by the Brewers’ treatment of Mat Gamel. There’s no reason he should be sitting on the bench as much as he has. I understand that Casey McGehee is playing great, but there’s no reason Craig Counsell should be playing over Gamel as much as he has. Ken Macha is obviously not crazy about having Gamel’s defense in the lineup, but how is Gamel supposed to improve his defense if he isn’t playing?
The bottom line is that if Gamel isn’t going to get regular playing time in Milwaukee, he needs to be back in AAA so he can continue to work on his defense. The argument may be that the Brewers are in “win now” mode, and that Gamel should be up because he makes the big league club better, but that’s not even necessarily the case. The Brewers have an infielder in the minors, Adam Heether, who is lighting up AAA to the tune of a .991 OPS. They could easily swap out Gamel for Heether and not miss a beat from what they’ve had since Gamel’s been up. Heether is 27, so there’s not the same need to get him playing time that there is with Gamel.
I hate to see Gamel burning up service time if he’s not even going to get semi-regular playing time.
For whatever reason, Mark DiFelice hasn’t been placed in the high leverage role that he was before having the sore arm. He’s pitched in non-close situations frequently since returning to the team, and I can’t figure out why. What’s troubling to me is that Macha has deferred to Todd Coffey over DiFelice is close situations lately. Any way you slice it, DiFelice is the superior pitcher.
We saw an example of this in tonight’s game. With David Wright set to hit, DiFelice was pulled from the game in favor of Coffey. Can someone please give Macha a copy of DiFelice’s splits? Right handed hitters are OPSing .390(!) against DiFelice. That doesn’t scream ‘Take him out of the game’ when the opposing team’s best right-handed hitter is at the plate.
With Stetter against lefites and DiFelice against righties, Macha has some great weapons to bridge the gap to Trevor Hoffman. He needs to start using DiFelice the way he should be used, which is as a righty neutralizer.
Alright, I have to make one positive point, right? Prince Fielder is having an absolute monster year.
Twenty home runs is great, as is the .306 batting average, but what’s really made the difference for Prince is his patience. Fielder has always been a fairly patient hitter, but his eye this year has been outstanding. His OBP before last night’s game was .424, which is uncharted territory for him (career high of .395). Barring something very bad, Fielder will shatter the team record for walks in a season.
Time for some tidbits.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this job, it’s that nobody enjoys being a Major League baseball player more than Cincinnati Reds infielder Adam Rosales. This guy is literally always happy when on the baseball field. At first I couldn’t tell if it bugged me, but now I love when I get a Reds game and he’s in the lineup so I can see what he’ll do next. Check out his sprint around the bases for his first career home run. Other great clips that I wasn’t able to find: Rosales leaping into the air with a jumpkick after a Reds walkoff win, and a post-game interview in which he yells, “It’s like a dream come true!” through maniacal laughter.
Check him out the next time you see a Reds game, but do it soon. Rosales has plummeted to a .561 OPS, so he might not be in the big leagues much longer.
I’m starting to feel like a GM at work, but not because of the job itself. We’re allowed to switch games, and there are at least four Yankee fans in the office. This means that whenever I get a Yankee game, I’ll have at least two people ask me to switch.
As the only Brewer fan in the office, this works heavily in my favor. Yankee fans regularly try to trade me Brewer games for Yankee games. I even talk like a GM to up the trade value. “I’m not motivated to move my Yankee game at this time, but I’m willing to listen to offers.”
I had a Yankee game today, and it had more value than normal because Joba Chamberlain was starting (Yankee fans love them some Joba). I actually had a guy say to me today, “I have some Brewer games next month that I could offer for that game today, but I’d rather acquire Tim’s Brewer game tonight to use and keep those games as bargaining chips down the line.” Awesome.