Posted by Steve
Time for a ‘Beat the Cubs’ Cornucopia of Thoughts. Despite the great stretch since the break, many things have bothered me, so this may be a bit negative.
- Why has Ned let three game-winning hits trick him into thinking Bill Hall is better hitting righties than Russell Branyan? Hall had a nice start to July, and Branyan hasn’t done much at all lately (probably hard when you’re never playing), but Hall has quickly reverted back to being bad against righties… Shocking! I’ve never liked the idea of playing the hot hand, because that generally means a few things: if a player is only playing because he has a ‘hot hand,’ that probably means that he isn’t good enough to be a full-time starter anyway. The hot hand phenomenon leads to the player playing more than he should, and likely wears out his hot streak because he’s playing more in unfavorable match-ups. Ned has managed to doubly mess this up, because he went from a platoon that was producing very well to one that isn’t producing at all: Branyan because he hasn’t received regular playing time for a few weeks, and Hall because he’s playing so much against righties. The numbers on Hall remain astonishingly clear: Hall’s OPS against lefties is 1.057; Hall’s OPS against righties is .560. Bring back the platoon!
- As far as the other platoon of McClung on the road/Bush at home, I’m ready to scrap it already. What is the benefit of keeping two pitchers on a whacked out routine?
- Everyone is talking about Ned keeping Suppan in too long yesterday, but that isn’t even the decision that bothered me the most this weekend. Down two runs with two outs in the ninth against Jose Valverde on Friday, Ned kept Jason Kendall in to hit rather than using a pinch hitter. Kendall has been great defensively, but he is not a good hitter. I don’t get Ned’s refusal to pinch hit for his light hitting catcher with the game on the line. He hasn’t pinch hit for Kendall one time this season.
- It’s surprising that it took this long, but the polish has finally worn off Gabe Kapler. He’s 0 for his last 11 and 2 for his last 17. Gabe Gross is no world beater, but it still bugs me that the Brewers kept Kapler over Gross. Why ship out the superior hitter who is also left-handed on a righty-dominated team?
- Eric Gagne is looking good, which probably has to do with him being rested, but I don’t like Ned pronouncing him ‘the eighth inning guy.’ The bullpen should be strictly about using the best pitcher in each situation. If three out of the first four batters of the eighth inning are left-handed, Brian Shouse should be used. Additionally, naming Gagne the eighth-inning pitcher could lead to the overuse that derailed him in the first half. Keeping Gagne fresh should be a top priority, especially since it’s beginning to appear that the Brewers won’t be trading for a reliever (which is a mistake, but I’ll leave that for another post if no deal occurs).
- I doubt there’s been a more hyped series for the Brewers in my lifetime, but unless either team sweeps, there won’t be much ground gained. If the Cubs win three out of four they’ll have a three-game lead; if the Brewers take three of four they’ll have a one-game lead. Nothing too earth-shattering. I’m still most concerned with the Cardinals/Mets/Phillies/Marlins, because those are the teams that can beat the Brewers out for the wildcard.
On to Bill’s Scouting Report of the Week. It goes to Ben Sheets in his start against the Cardinals.
I have to say, these are my favorite type of reports. Most are good, but the ones with points that are impossible to decode without an explanation from Bill are a whole different animal.
5-14. Bill’s Birthday? Ben Sheets’ birthday? A specific rule in the MLB handbook? Turns out it’s Ben’s W-L record in his career against the Cardinals. Gee, Bill… Who cares? Are you trying to say that Ben’s struggled against the Cardinals in his career based on those numbers? Because his career ERA against the Cards is 4.20, which isn’t nearly as bad as “5-14” would indicate.
6-1. Take a guess. Today’s date? The final score of the last game he pitched? Bill’s mustache hairs per square centimeter of upper lip? Nope. If you guessed ‘Ben Sheets’ road record’ you’re the lucky winner.
Velocity Early. It’s important for Ben to have his velocity early. Not a scouting report. Also, this applies to just about any pitcher.
Finally, a little anti-Cubs mojo for the series.