Category Archives: Cornucopia of thoughts

Catching Up

Posted by Steve

After a hiatus, there are a number of things to write about. To cover some of what we’ve  missed, let’s roll out a Pitchers and Catchers Report Cornucopia of Thoughts (#ThoughtCornucopia).

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I might as well address the Ryan Braun thing first, even though I’m already tired of it. All I know is that we don’t know if Braun has used anything, and I’m plenty annoyed by people acting like they do (either way). All I know is the only “evidence” to prove him guilty is two pieces of handwritten notes. Additionally, articles like this exist.

It’s my personal opinion that a sizeable percentage of MLB players are using some sort of PED, and it’s become hard for me to care too much. My problem is the double standard that exists. Todd Helton and Tony La Russa get DUIs, something that literally endangers the lives of others, and they can still be seen as “great baseball guys” or better yet, “great guys.” Just watch Todd Helton this season. He won’t be booed at opposing parks, yet Ryan Braun will be skewered. And I’m not saying Todd Helton necessarily deserves to be booed—just trying to illustrate this strange hatred of PEDs.

A quick Google search reveals several writers mentioning Braun and Helton in the same article, and even a Baseball Nation article titled “Todd Helton’s arrest and Ryan Braun’s involvement with Biogenesis.” Might as well have been “Poker tips and the mating rituals of lemurs.” They’re just as similar, and I’m equally uninterested in reading both articles.

Same thing with the BBWA voting nobody into the HOF despite many deserving candidates. Will Tony La Russa have any trouble whatsoever getting into the HOF? Of course not, even though what he did was more harmful, dangerous, and reckless than using PEDs.

The same goes for the crazy double standard that victimizes baseball. The NFL has incredibly lenient testing, while baseball uses freaking blood tests. Yet which sport is seen as having a substance abuse problem?

Anyway, this ended up being less about Braun and more about baseball in general. Hopefully he can avoid a suspension.

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The news of the day is the re-tear of Mat Gamel’s surgically repaired ACL. You have to feel awful for Gamel, but to be honest, it’s likely that this is not a huge loss. The two options that might seem the most obvious are to either let Taylor Green, Hunter Morris, or Khris Davis have the first base job while Corey Hart is out. I have supported letting Taylor Green play third and moving Aramis Ramirez to first base in the past, but I don’t see that happening for two reasons: One, Corey Hart should be back by mid-May (don’t see them moving Ramirez for just six weeks), and two, the Brewers just don’t seem to like Taylor Green that much.

I think it’s more likely that we see Alex Gonzalez play first, which is not a pretty thought. Gonzalez as a shortstop is just fine and dandy, but certainly not as a first baseman.

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Meanwhile, the Brewers ended up not signing a starting pitcher. While I am a bit surprised, I am not disappointed. If the choice came to either no free agent SPs or three years for Ryan Dempster, I’m fine with no free agents.

The Brewers did make a couple nice, low-risk signings in lefty relievers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez, but relievers are not the difference makers that starters are.

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This all goes to my last post, which still holds true a couple months later. The Brewers are very likely not making the playoffs this year. The fact that they are now down to their third string first basemen (and we aren’t even sure who that is yet) doesn’t make me feel any better than I did a couple months ago. PECOTA projects the Brewers for a 79-83 record and an 18.3% chance of making the playoffs. That sounds about right to me, and in fact, I’d say they have a greater chance of finishing last than first. The awful Houston Astros added a few wins to the Brewers’ record last year, but without them in the division there shouldn’t be a truly awful team in the NL Central (I actually kind of like the Cubs’ starting rotation).

Just because I do not have the same optimism that I had the last couple years at this time doesn’t mean there isn’t much to look forward to this season. I am anxious to see how some of the young starting pitchers do, I am excited for Jean Segura, and I have hope that Carlos Gomez can build on a career year. And if they are struggling, the trade deadline should be an exciting time. Gomez, Nori Aoki, Ramirez, Corey Hart, and a number of others would all be candidates to be traded.

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And finally, just because I don’t want this to seem entirely negative, I’m a big fan of the fan-designed uniforms the Brewers will be wearing in Spring Training. The hats are okay, but the uniforms are pretty slick in my opinion. I really like the idea of combining the old logos with the more current colors, which is what I was hoping the Brewers would do a few years ago when they introduced the current retro unis instead.

Aoki, K-Rod, and others

Posted by Steve

It’s been quite a while since the last post, but that’s really because there has been virtually no Brewers news to discuss. Then all of a sudden, today we were hit with rapid-fire Brewers news.

How about an off-season Cornucopia of Thoughts?

K-Rod
I was pleasantly surprised that he agreed to a base salary of $8 million. I was expecting at least 11. At 8 mil, the Brewers no longer need to trade him. Or if they want to he’ll be easier to trade. My guess is they end up keeping him, because their bullpen is fairly weak without him. I can’t say I’m excited to watch him pitch, though.

Aoki
A possible fallout of the K-Rod deal might very well have been that the Brewers could now afford to sign Norichika Aoki, although I’m guessing this would have happened anyway. Since I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that Braun will be out 50 games, I’m happy about this signing (with the caveat that the yet-to-be-revealed salary isn’t insane). Hopefully he will be a competent fill-in for Braun for those 50 games. If nothing else, he will be a nice improvement on defense. In fact, when Hart is playing first on occasion (as Melvin recent admitted he’s planning for), an outfield of Aoki-Gomez-Morgan will be fantastic defensively. Even though two of those guys can’t throw, that outfield will rival Arizona’s or any other as one of the best in baseball because of all the ground they’ll cover. When you consider the Brewers have Alex Gonzalez over Yuni and Aoki over Kotsay, you might come to the conclusion that the defense this year could be much improved.

Mainly though, I’m just hoping Aoki can get on base at a pretty nice clip. The Brewers sorely need some OBP guys with Gomez/Morgan, Gonzalez, and Jonathan Lucroy in the everyday lineup.

Other signings
The Brewers have agreed to terms with Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Carlos Gomez, and Nyjer Morgan on one year deals to avoid arbitration in recent days. When I was projecting the budget, I thought guys like Parra and Loe might be non-tendered. It sure seems like the Brewers will have a larger payroll than I expected; they’ll be pushing $100 million. Pretty crazy considering they were around $40 mil when Mark Attanasio took over the team.

Ryan Braun
This thing is sure dragging out. As I said earlier, I am fully expecting Braun to be out for the first 50 games. I have no idea whether he’s innocent (nobody really does), but my guess is he might be able to save some face in the public eye, but will fall short of overturning his suspension. MLB doesn’t care about intent, so whether there was intent to use a drug as a performance enhancer or not doesn’t really matter.

Craig Counsell
Craig Counsell is joining the Brewers’ front office as a special assistant to the GM. Most everyone seems excited that Counsell is staying in the organization. That’s fine, I guess, but wow is this one of those things that justifies my decision to abandon my pursuit of a job in baseball. Some of my friends have been in Baseball Ops for over five years, are really good at what they do, and are still going year-to-year on low-paying internships. Meanwhile, Craiggers waltzes into a nice cushy job with no front office experience. I’d be much more annoyed if I was still trying to make it, I suppose.

Cool off-season, Brewers. Not.

Posted by Steve

When the Alex Gonzalez signing broke Friday, I figured I could wait til Monday to post about it. What was going to happen over the weekend, anyway?

So basically, we have the good (Alex Gonzalez signing), the bad (Aramis Ramirez signing), and the ugly (Braun).

It seems silly to talk in depth about Alex Gonzalez, which is what I would have done a few days ago. So for now, I’ll just say that the fact I’m excited about his signing goes to show how truly awful Betancourt was. Gonzalez isn’t a great shortstop by any means. He’s an awful hitter with just as poor OBP skills as Betancourt, or at least almost as poor. The reason I’m excited is because no matter what metric you consult, the consensus is that he’s a good fielding shortstop. That means he’s a fairly significant upgrade, and he was cheap and only for one year. Not bad, all things considered.

Really, this has to be about Braun…. But what is there to even say at this point? Other than this seems like a bizarre case, not too much. At the risk of sounding like a Giants fan defending Barry Bonds, the few details we do have seem so fishy that it sounds like he could be innocent, so I’m fully willing to reserve judgment until more information comes out. Even if he does end up looking to be clean, I am fully expecting him to be suspended. MLB is trying to look tough with their new PED program, and what better way to do that than by making an example of a superstar? Short of proof that some guy spiked Braun’s sample for banging his girlfriend or something, I don’t think MLB will accept his appeal.

One thing that seems hopeful are the reports that it was not a PED, but simply a “banned substance,” whatever that means. That could mean his suspension would be only 25 games, and might save Braun’s public image a bit.

I know I haven’t really said much, but I don’t know that there is much to say about it at this point.

So, let’s talk about Aramis Ramirez. You know, the guy who threw his helmet at my favorite player of all time. The guy who hit a crippling walk-off homer against the Brewers years ago. The guy who has been criticized for laziness, can’t field anymore, and is 34 years old.

The guy who now plays third base for the Brewers. Ugh.

Even putting aside the fact that I don’t like him at all, I hate this signing. I detailed why a couple posts ago, and Ramirez ended up getting even more money that I would have figured. I hate the fact that there’s a third year. Who was Doug Melvin bidding against? Nobody else was even reported to be interested in him. Why a third year? He can’t even play third base right now; I cringe to think of three years from now.

Really, the Brewers acquired yet another first baseman. Their overall disregard for defense is really getting old, as Ramirez is  worse than McGehee at third.

If the Brewers had $36 million or whatever burning a hole in their pocket, I wish they’d have spent it in a place where they didn’t have a viable replacement already. Edwin Jackson to replace Chris Narveson would have been a better use of that money, for example.

So now Taylor Green remains a backup for the next three years. To be honest, they might as well just trade him now. They’d get more value out of him that way.

For what it’s worth, and I’m just rambling now, if Braun is out I’d like to see Ramirez at first, Green at third and Gamel in left during that time.

But anyway. Some good news: as I was typing this, the Brewers traded Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. I’m shocked they got something in return, but I’m glad they won’t be paying 3 million bucks or whatever for McGehee.

So I guess we’re looking at an infield of Ramirez, Gonzalez, Weeks, and Gamel. Probably about average offensively, while still below average defensively. I’d love the infield if it was only going to look like that for a year, but like I said, I don’t want Ramirez for three years.

So, I guess there isn’t too much left for the Brewers. They need to sign a utility infielder–I wouldn’t mind Nick Punto as a good defensive utility player, since Green is an offensive player. They also probably need to trade K-Rod, as their payroll is now over $100 million.

The Brewers, depending on Braun’s status, should still be good next year. My problem is that they could have still been good without overpaying for an aging Aramis Ramirez.

 

Playoff Cornucopia

Posted by Steve

I had hoped to post an extensive series preview, but I just haven’t had the time. I figure a few random thoughts are better than nothing.

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The Brewers are considering starting Zack Greinke for Game 2. This would be the second time in a row he’d start on three days’ rest. I can’t say I’m crazy about that idea. It would be different if they hadn’t thrown him for six innings on Wednesday. Carlos Gomez’s three-run homer came in the bottom of the fourth. I wanted them to take out Greinke as soon as that happened; a 5-1 lead on the Pirates should have been plenty at that point. Instead, they kept him in for two more innings. If they had taken him out after the fourth, I’d feel much better about throwing him on Sunday. As it is, I’d just hold Greinke back until Game 3. It’s frustrating to wait until the third game to start your best pitcher, but it’s better than starting him when he’s less that 100% rested. Gallardo-Marcum-Greinke-Wolf is just fine for the first four games.

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Yovani Gallardo vs. Ian Kennedy is a great matchup. Kennedy is getting some play for Cy Young, which is mainly because of his win-loss record and not because he’s been one of the three or four best pitchers in the league. Still, he’s been one of the ten or 12 best in the NL, much like Gallardo.

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Overall, these teams are quite similar in their makeup.

They are both above-average offensive teams with no clear edge to one over the other. They are within ten runs scored of each other on the entire season, and within six points of wOBA.

Judging by defensive metrics and staff ERAs compared to xFIPs, Arizona has the stronger team defense (the eye test also tells us it shouldn’t be surprising that someone is better defensively than the Brewers).

The Brewers have a slight edge in the starting rotation, although once again, both teams are above average. Both teams’ 1 and 2 starters are just about a wash, but the DBacks don’t have a third starter on the level of Shaun Marcum.

The bullpen is where the Brewers pull away a bit. Brewers relievers had an ERA of 3.32 and an xFIP of 3.43. Diamondbacks relievers have an ERA of 3.71 and an xFIP of 3.92. That’s a fairly large difference. The DBacks have a good closer who is comparable to John Axford (J.J. Putz), but the Brewers have better depth after the closer. The bullpen has been such an asset all year, and I expect them to continue that against Arizona.

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The Brewers are a very slightly better team than Arizona overall, and they have homefield advantage, so they should win the series. Of course, anything can happen in the playoffs, especially in five-game series, so I’d only favor the Brewers at maybe a 55-60% chance to win. Seven of ESPN’s eight “experts” pick the Brewers to win, and Sportsnation says 73% of American expects the Brewers to win, for whatever any of that is worth. Again, the Brewers are a little better, so that makes sense, but the better team often loses a playoff series.

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As far as from my personal perspective, I think it’s similar to most Brewer fans. In 2008 I was just overjoyed to have made the playoffs. The Brewers were expected to lose to Philly, so I wasn’t overly crushed when they did. This year, though, the Brewers have a much better team than in ’08. They’re one of the two best teams in the NL, so if they don’t win their first series, I will be extremely disappointed.

***DISCLAIMER***
I’ll say one thing about the playoffs. I HATE hearing things like, “You have to play small ball in the playoffs” or “Teams manufacture runs in the playoffs.” It’s baloney. Why would you play any differently than the way that won you games throughout the course of the season? The Brewers have a dynamic offense. I’m going to be very upset if I see an excessive amount of bunting, hit-and-running, or steal attempts from players other than Ryan Braun or Carlos Gomez. Don’t give up outs; play for the big inning. You have an offense that certainly can get you one. I will say this: From what I’ve seen of Arizona this year, we’re going to love facing a team managed by Kirk Gibson. He sure seems to love the small ball. He’s made a few questionable bunting calls already just this week. Here’s hoping that works in the Brewers favor.

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I’m going to the game on Saturday. Let’s just say I have better hopes for this one than for the last playoff game I attended. It was started by Jeff Suppan and capped off by a mammoth Pat Burrell homer. With the way Yo has been pitching, I like their chances to grab Game 1 and give themselves a big advantage in the series.

B!B!K.T.U.T.H!

… And continue to roll

Posted by Steve

The Brewers seemingly cannot lose.

It’s easy to think back to the terrible teams, or even the teams under Ned Yost, and remember how they used to seem to find ways to lose. This team is finding ways to win.

The only aspect of the team that has been great over this incredible run is the pitching. The defense has been just as bad as it has all year, and the offense is up and down. Over their last two games and 19 innings, they’ve scored three runs… And still managed to win both!

They are 19 games over .500 and have a 5-game lead. They have won 16 of 18 games. This is so surreal that I cannot express my many thoughts in one standard post. We’re going to need a cornucopia of thoughts.

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This has gotten me in trouble before, but I’m addicted to Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report. As of Sunday morning, the Brewers had an 87.6% chance to make the playoffs, and it will be even higher after they won Sunday. That’s a big number. We’re approaching the point where if they don’t win the division, it would have to be considered a choke. Maybe it’s not quite there yet, but anything over 90% and then missing is a choke in my book.

It’s worth noting that this streak has pulled them even with the Braves, who lead the wildcard. They’re now tied for the second-best record in the NL. Soon the secondary goal of finishing ahead of the NL West team (and avoiding the Phillies in the first round) will come into play. 

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The starting pitching has been the story all year, and it has been very good lately. However, it’s not like any one starter has been completely dominant–it’s more like they’ve been consistently good, something to the tune of 6-7 innings, 1-3 runs allowed on most nights.

The area that has been dominant, however, is the bullpen. The bullpen has been number 1 in xFIP in the NL in August, and in the last 30 days, it’s 3.28.

John Axford is simply overpowering–he is the best Brewer reliever I can remember. The most important part of the K-Rod trade wasn’t adding K-Rod himself (more on this in a moment); it was bumping down guys like LaTroy Hawkins and Kameron Loe. When you have those guys pitching the sixth and seventh instead of the eighth, your bullpen is going to be in better shape. It’s the deepest pen they’ve had in years, and the haven’t even acquired a lefty reliever yet (fingers crossed). I think the bullpen is the biggest reason for their incredible run the last three weeks.

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K-Rod is a pretty good reliever. That said, I hate watching him pitch. He’s like Claudio Vargas–guys are always on base. You always feel like he’s teetering on the edge of blowing the game. His walk rate is too high, and his strikeout rate isn’t enough to make up for it. 

This isn’t to say he sucks. He’s just not what he was in his early/mid-twenties, and I would love it if Ron Roenicke would stop automatically using him in the eighth inning. In fact, K-Rod is third or fourth on my list of relievers I’d like to see in a high-leverage situation. Takashi Saito has been great lately, and he’s been a superior pitcher to K-Rod the last few seasons–he just doesn’t have the big name. LaTroy Hawkins has done a very good job as well, and when Kameron Loe is used correctly, he’s an asset.

So basically, I just want to see K-Rod utilized for what he is instead of what he was. He was a dominant closer; he is a solid but not great reliever.

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It’s time for the Felipe Lopez experiment to end. It was worth a shot when Rickie Weeks went down, but Flip just doesn’t have the 2009 magic in him. His bat speed is gone, so his laziness on the field isn’t worth it anymore. It’s time to get Taylor Green up. For the love of God, it is time to get Taylor Green up. To be eligible for the playoff roster, he needs to be called up before September. DFA Lopez and call up Green.

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Speaking of Weeks, that studmuffin is already taking ground balls, not even three weeks after that hideous ankle injury. It sound like he may be back ahead of the six-week timetable, which would obviously be a huge lift. It’s incredible that the Brewers have been able to win so much without him, so getting him back ahead of time just seems like a cherry on top of the sundae.

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If I had a nickel for every time someone has said something along the lines of , “Hey Steve, how about your boy Yuni now! You have to eat some crow!” I’d have, like, six nickels. Still, there is sentiment that Yuni is somewhat making up for his abysmal first half.

He isn’t. Hitting for a few weeks won’t make up for the fact that he was one of the five worst regulars in baseball for three months. Secondly, while I’ve never been a fan of his offensive game, that’s always been my secondary concern. To anyone who gives me a little crap about Betancourt, I just point to his defense. It’s still terrible and hurting the team.

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I want more Jerry Hairston! Okay, it’s not like he’s a world-beater, but he’s being used like he’s a right-handed Craig Counsell. He’s currently a better option than what the Brewers have at second base, shortstop, and third when you factor in both offense and defense. Yet, he really only starts against lefties. He also hasn’t played an inning at shortstop, which is incidentally where he should be spending most of his time.

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Tomorrow is a huge day for the Brewers, and it has nothing to do with starting a series against the Dodgers. It is the deadline to sign draft picks. Both of their first round picks, Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, remain unsigned. All indications are that they will be signed, but it’s still a little unsettling–particularly when you think back to just last year, when they were all set to sign Dylan Covey.

Jed Bradley is the one who is particularly concerning, because the Brewers used the comp pick from Covey to select him. If they don’t sign Bradley, they don’t get another comp pick next year–that pick is lost. No doubt Bradley is using that as leverage, and it’s likely the Brewers will have to pay him more than they’d like because of it.

Still, it will be inexcusable if they don’t sign both of these pitchers. They realize the need to get impact arms in the organization, though, and I’d be very surprised if both do not sign tomorrow.

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Back to the big league team. There is no reason to expect the hot streak to end. Their next four series are against teams under .500, so they should keep rolling. They’ll need to, because the Cardinals also have their next four series against losing teams too.

Cornucopia of Vents

Posted by Steve

There is so much to say about the Brewers right now, and none of it is good.

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Braun’s calf strain really has Roenicke in a bind, so I won’t complain too much about the lineups the last couple games. But the ineptitude of the bench has been highlighted, and that is certainly something open to fair criticism. Craig Counsell, Josh Wilson, and Mark Kotsay each have no business on an MLB roster–Counsell and Kotsay because age has caught up with them, and Wilson because he just isn’t good. Kotsay in particular needs to hit the road, as there are multiple options in AAA who would be an improvement.

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Casey McGehee is absolutely killing the team. He followed up a very bad May (.593 OPS) with a woeful June (.422(!) OPS). According to WAR, he’s been the seventh-most damaging player in baseball to this point. At the very least, he needs to be platooned for a while with Taylor Green (or I guess Mat Gamel, but Green’s the better defender). Preferably, though, I’d like to see McGehee sent to AAA for a few weeks to see if he can figure anything out. He can’t be allowed to hurt the team like this any longer.

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Zack Greinke is having the most baffling, bizarre, frustrating season of any pitcher in baseball. That isn’t hyperbole. He’s inspired three fangraphs articles already this season, and the most recent one is fascinating.

To summarize, his xFIP is 3.51 runs lower than his ERA! Since 2002, The biggest gap between xFIP and ERA since 2002 is 1.88! Greinke has been about twice as unlucky as the most unlucky pitcher in the last nine years! Just unbelievable.

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Want to hear an infuriating stat?

This season, Kameron Loe has faced 87 right-handers and 86 left-handers.

For someone whose splits clearly prove he’s a right-handed specialist, Loe is being used terribly.

Roenicke is just as inept as Ned Yost when it comes to bullpen management. The “eight inning guy” thing is moronic. He has four solid pitchers who can effectively bridge the gap to Axford when used correctly, but Runnin’ Ron has shown no ability to do that. Braddock, Saito, and Hawkins can all be high-leverage guys, as can Loe when it’s against right-handers. RRR needs to look at Loe’s splits and chuck out his eighth inning guy theory.

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Yuniesky Betancourt has been on a bit of a run here the last handful of games. He has raised his OBP to .261, which is sort of like saying you upgraded from Roundy’s brand toilet paper to Scott’s single-ply.

What hasn’t upgraded is his defense. Fangraphs has Betancourt as the worst qualified shortstop defensively.

Q: What do you get when you combine the second-worst OBP at shortstop with the worst defense at shortstop?

A: The worst full time player in Brewers history!

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Really, the only good thing to discuss is that the Brewers have three All-Star starters, but there is even some frustration there. John Axford was a pretty bad snub from the All-Star Game. Bruce Bochy chose Brian Wilson over Axford. While awesome, Wilson has been pretty bad this season. And you know Bochy will use him as a closer. Can’t wait to see him walk a couple guys and blow a save in the game.

And then there’s Rickie Weeks. I’m thrilled to finally see him get the recognition he’s deserved for a couple years now. It’s cool that he’ll get the exposure of the home run derby. It’s just unfortunate that it’s coinciding with a terrible (yet under-the-radar) slump. Weeks is really struggling, and his numbers have plummeted over the last 3-4 weeks.

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It seems the All-Star Break can’t come soon enough for the Crew. Hopefully at that point, Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke will realize both the bench and bullpen management need a major overhaul.

500th Post

Posted by Steve

Well, how about that one, folks! B!B!K.T.U.T.H! has reached its 500th post.

I got things started in January of 2007, when I was nothing more than a young baseball wannabe. Four years later, and…. Well I suppose I’m still a baseball wannabe. I’m less young, though.

Going back and looking at some of my first posts has been a little entertaining and a little embarrassing. Embarrassing–partly for my level of writing, and partly for the state of the Brewers in 2007. Reading complaints about Ned Yost and Kevin Mench sure brings me back and helps put current frustrations in perspective. Also, it seems the “Cornucopia of Thoughts” was first attributed to a Michael Hunt column! Who knew? That was also around the time I called a looming Bill Hall extension “potentially great news.” Oof.

On April 20, 2007, I added Dan as an author and changed the URL to danandsteve.com. In return for listing his name first, Dan wrote 44 of the next 475 posts.

I kid. I always like Dan’s posts, and it’s a pleasant surprise when he decides to drop in.

Anywho. I’ve experienced some pretty cool moments along the way.

My recap of the 2007 draft ballooned my total hits, which helped me realize that draft day is payday (if I actually got paid for visits).

My post in 2008 against Ryan Braun making the All-Star Team was picked up by a Journal-Sentinel blog. This led to a bunch of “Douchebag!”-type comments and emails, which was pretty awesome–any press is good press! The best part is my premise in that post is still backed up today, as Braun has developed the plate discipline since then that has turned him into a truly great hitter.

In 2009, I worked a dream job for a year at Baseball Info Solutions. I learned a ton, which improved the blog, and I met some awesome people–some of whom now read and comment here.

I’ve also enjoyed writing some of my stupid posts, particularly the recurring ones. Beefcake Kapler pictures were funny, especially as they spiraled out of control into a place that was uncomfortable for everyone. Bill’s Scouting Report of the Week was wildly fun to do.  Dan’s “What in tarnation!?” series was entertaining, just because we tried to see how many times in a row we could use it.

I have a few favorite posts that come to mind. 2009 Zack Greinke vs. 2004 Ben Sheets (fitting now that Greinke’s a Brewer) pretty much hammers on two things I love talking about: Ben Sheets and the idiocy of the win-loss stat. Dan’s Fire Ken Macha! is an amusing look at how pointless it usually is to fire a manager. And Defense Loses Games chronicled the Brewers’ horrendous defense in 2010.

I don’t really get anything out of this other than the fact that I really enjoy doing it. It’s awesome when a post gets a lot of hits, or when a stranger leaves a comment, but I’m not doing it with any delusions of building some big readership. It’s just a dorky thing I do for fun.

Thanks so much for those of you who do visit regularly. Dan, along with All-Star commenters like Dave, Shawn, Adam, all of The Andys, Jake, BBFan, Steen, Glenn, and plenty more have been awesome. Thanks to the guys at BrewCrewBall, both for their awesome content and for repeatedly linking here and sending plenty of new readers in the process. Thanks to brewerfan.net for teaching me all I know about the game. Thanks to the whole BIS Crew for a ridiculously fun year. And thanks to Ken Tremendous and FireJoeMorgan for existing.

I now sign off with a segment I’ve chosen to call:

Fun with Keyword Searches!

The following are some of my favorite keyword searches that have led people to this blog over the years. These are all real.

Most Popular

The most popular search terms, not including some variation of “Brewers Keep Turnin Up the Heat”

  • “Manny Parra”
  • “Nicole Oswalt” (Here’s why)
  • “Seinfeld” (Here’s why)
  • “Fire Ken Macha”
  • “J.J. Hardy”
  • “Matt LaPorta” (Because of that draft post that got a ton of hits)
  • “Russell Branyan”
  • “Mat Gamel”
Of course none of these, including searching for the actual title of this blog, are as popular of a keyword search as…
“Gabe Kapler.” That’s right. The most commonly searched term that points to this blog is freakin’ Gabe Kapler.
If that doesn’t convince me that everything I’ve done here has been a complete waste of my time, I don’t know what would.
Here are less popular ones, but ones that are just way more fun. Again, these are real.
  • “Beefcake”
  • “Schlong”
  • “Metal and Brawn”
  • “Yoda teaching Luke”
  • “Chris Spurling Family Blog”
  • “Other words for balls”
  • “What is wrong with the brewers”
  • “Todd Wellemeyer scouting report”
  • “stfu”
  • “Gabe Kapler naked”
  • “Ann Carroll FSN”
  • “Chris Collinsworth Olympics”
  • “the ring creepy”
  • “f*cking brewers” (4 searches)
  • “rickie weeks hit in face”
  • “slave statistics”
  • “hey i’m walking here”
  • “yi jianlin bucks”
  • “naked beefcake”
  • “manager man”
  • “wham a homa”
  • “ben sheets vertigo” :-(
  • “suck cardinals”
Alright, so I’ll bite. As the search stats show, you’re clearly wanting this. Who am I to deprive the people of what they ask for?
Thanks again, everybody.

 

Slump-busting Cornucopia

Posted by Steve

Yikes.

Not too much is going well right now. The offense and defense have been terrible, and the starting pitching hasn’t kept up its great pace from early in the season. Few things I want to touch on:

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Casey McGehee. Ugh. I really do not want Casy McGehee on the Brewers. He has value, but it’s limited, and he is not a good fit on a team that already has some all-bat no-glove players. He’s just as no-glove as Fielder, Braun, and Hart, but he’s not the same caliber of hitter. His range this season is just as awful as ever, except his offense hasn’t picked up yet. I’m sure they won’t do anything in-season, and McGehee has plenty of time to turn this thing around, but I can at least say I hope the Brewers have a different player at third base by next season.

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Roenicke. The only thing I’ve seen so far from him that I’ve really liked is all the shifts the Brewers employ on defense. Really, that’s it. They sac bunt too much. Playing Kotsay as much as he has this season is inexcusable, and now he’s talking about using Kotsay in center field for God’s sake. He hit Gomez second far too long, he uses “seventh and eighth inning relievers” instead of lefty-righty matchups far too often, and, for the love of Ned Yost, can we stop with all the “contact” plays with a runner on third base? How many outs have they made at the plate this season?

Roenicke’s honeymoon period is over. All you heard in Spring was how much the players like him, and how much better he’d be than Ken Macha. Well, we’re seeing how much a good clubhouse atmosphere gets you right now. Macha was the better in-game manager (to this point), and that’s what directly impacts games.

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I’m officially starting the Mark DiFelice watch, to the point that I’ve re-upped our sponsorship of his Baseball Reference page. In 9 innings, he has 13 ks, 3 walks, and has yet to allow a home run. At least Sean Green is gone, but DiFelice should be the next guy called up when a reliever goes down.

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The Brewers need to turn this thing around right now, because the schedule gets very tough in a few weeks. For now, they can just chalk it up to a bad road trip. If they don’t go on a run here in the next couple weeks, they may bury themselves in the standings.

I’m going to the game tonight for what may be the goofiest rally-towel giveaway in MLB history. It’s cool that they’re welcoming Greinke, but it doesn’t fit. First of all, he’s obviously a low-key guy, so I can’t imagine he’s thrilled with it. Secondly, they’re in the middle of a terrible stretch, so celebrating with towels seems out of place. Either way, I’ll be happy if they just get a win.

Remember when the Brewers got Greinke and Marcum? Because that’s still on.

Posted by Steve

Nobody is paying much attention to the Brewers right about now. Admittedly, I’ve even been a little caught up in Packer Fever myself. Still, it’s time to remind myself I’m a Brewer fan first. After the fairly lengthy layoff, I think it’s Cornucopia Time.

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The Brewers have clearly made great strides this off-season, but I don’t understand one key thing: it seems they are really going to go into the season with Yuniesky Betancourt as their starting shortstop. This is most likely a horrible idea. I touched on why it’s a horrible idea in an earlier post, and you don’t need to search far and wide to find evidence of him being an all-around bad player.

It’s not like there weren’t better options available. Edgar Renteria would have been worth a flier before he signed with Cincinnati for a reasonable $2.1 million. Even Nick Punto would have been a better option, as he can take a walk and play good defense. Plus, Bill Schroeder’s head would explode due to Counsell/Punto, the scrappiest shortstop platoon of all time.

It won’t surprise me to see Luis Cruz in Milwaukee this season. Cruz isn’t likely to be any better offensively than Betancourt–he put up a .281/.309/.414 line in AAA last year–but he’s a strong defensive shortstop. Still, shortstop looks to be a big problem this season.

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Here’s something kind of funny to think about: the best hitter in the bottom of the Brewers’ lineup on most days will be the pitcher. Think about it. On many days, the Brewers will probably trot out something like Lucroy-Gomez-Betancourt as their 6-7-8 hitters. Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo won the Silver Slugger last year, Randy Wolf can hold his own offensively, Greinke apparently considered giving up pitching to become a position player a few years ago, and Marcum is supposed to be a good hitter. As good as the top five in the lineup should be, it could get ugly after that.

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If you’ve been wrapped up in football, you may have missed the most mind-boggling trade in some time. This has to be the worst personnel decision since Ryan Howard’s crippling contract extension. The Angels traded for 32-year-old Vernon Wells and the $86 million left on his contract. The response to this deal is hilarious. Fangraphs has three posts on the trade. They are titled, “The Most Inexplicable Trade Ever?” “How Could Wells Earn His Contract?” and “Death Match: The Wells Trade Versus the Zito Contract.” And then there’s my favorite reaction piece: The Orange County Register did a Word Cloud from both a Blue Jays and Angels message board on the deal. It’s simply outstanding. Highlights include “Pearl Harbor” and “Naked Pictures” from the Angels board and “Wowwwww,” “Jedi-like” and “Kiss” from the Blue Jays board.

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I’m getting very nervous about the future of Rickie Weeks. First we hear that long-term extension talks have been temporarily tabled, then we hear the sides are $2.3 million apart in arbitration. The Brewers just made Prince Fielder the highest arbitration-salaried player in MLB history, but Weeks not signing is more noteworthy in my eyes. There’s still plenty of time, but the Brewers need to realize that the time to get a bargain extension on Weeks was before last season. They won’t be able to lowball him now that he’s had a full season and is just a year way from free agency. He’d get a huge contract on the open market, so the Brewers are going to have to give him a big chunk of change if they want him to sign.

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Because I like to end things on a good note whenever possible, here’s a tidbit to warm your heart: Braden “Grimace” Looper is now a Chicago Cub.

Deadline Week Cornucopia

Posted by Steve

A few things worth covering as we enter the last few days before the trade deadline.

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Suddenly, the Brewers are on a hot streak. Monday’s win over the Reds was their fifth in a row and 11th in 15  games. The Brewers can’t even seem to lose correctly. This is the worst time of the season to be putting together a stretch like this. Sadly, it’s too little too late. Yet, the worrier in me is afraid it will convince the front office not to sell.

Even after this stretch, PECOTA has the Brewers with a 0.78% chance of making the playoffs. It’s nice to see them finally playing well, but a five game win streak over mostly the Pirates and Nationals in no way should convince them to pass on a good offer.

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While we’re on the topic of things happening at the worst possible time, Corey Hart injured his wrist a few days ago. Thankfully it ended up not being serious, but I’m afraid he won’t get back on the field before Saturday’s deadline. That could kill what had been considerable interest in Hart around the league.

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I naturally have been wrapped up with trade rumors in the last couple weeks, but I have to talk about my guy Rickie Weeks. My years of fanboydom have finally, FINALLY paid off. He is having a phenomenal offensive season. Factoring in position, Weeks has been the Brewers’ best player and one of the 10-15 most valuable players in the National League. I’m hoping the  Brewers are able to extend Weeks, but to this point we haven’t really heard anything either way about his interest in signing an extension. Plus, his price is going up just about every day. Not only for his hitting, but because he has to be the first player in MLB history to stay in a game after getting hit by a pitch in the head/face two years in a row.

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It had been awhile, but my Brewer-related dreaming made a comeback. This one is easily traced back to the fact I was reading about trade rumors right before going to bed the other night. Here’s the scenario:

The Brewers had just pulled off a huge trade right before the deadline, but here’s the twist. I was the player who was traded! I had more or less taken the place of Prince Fielder. I was the big name player that teams had competed for to make a playoff push. I found out about the trade and headed to the airport, but I didn’t know where I was headed. A flight attendant came up to me with a giant gold envelope and said, “Sir, would you like to know where you’ve been traded to? You’re heading to… Colorado!”

My immediate response: “Okay… But who did the Brewers get in return?”

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That’s pretty much everything I wanted to touch on. Enjoy the last few days of wild rumors.