Posted by Steve
Due to my schedule, I have not been able to catch all the Brewer games from the beginning. The ones that I have, however, have left me quite concerned.
I’m not talking about struggling pitching, and after the last few games, I’m certainly not talking about slow offensive starts. In fact, I’m not referring to anything happening on the field.
I’m referring to the lack of the Piggly Wiggly Scouting Report.
Like I said, I haven’t seen too many FS Wisconsin games from the beginning yet, but…. I haven’t seen Bill do one Scouting Report! Can anyone else confirm this? Or more preferably, correct me and tell me there in fact are still Scouting Reports? Bill’s Scouting Report of the Week was my favorite (only?) recurring theme of KTUTH. If it’s truly gone, I’ll won’t know what to do with myself.
While it wouldn’t come close to replacing BSROTW, there is a new feature on the FS Wisconsin broadcast that I have found very enjoyable: the Fox Trax strike zone. I don’t remember for sure if they had Fox Trax last year, but I’ve seen it in every game this season. TBS has something called Pitch Trax, and I think ESPN’s is K Zone, but they’re all similar. They use a series of cameras trained on home plate, and a computer spits out the image of where the ball crossed the zone. Having this in pretty much every baseball game is a big step towards the electronic strike zone I’ve been clamoring for. Charting games last year made me realize home plate umps miss around 10 ball/strike calls on average each game. Fox Trax/Pitch Trax/K Zone will help all fans realize how often umps miss calls.
Baseball, more than any other sport, is stuck in its old ways. This is due to the same people who are still so obsessed with “retaliation” after a player gets hit (I felt soooo vindicated after Todd Coffey hit Ryan Doumit last night!!!) or with “not showing up a team.” These old-timers are slowly but surely losing their grasp. Home run replay has been instituted. Some protested the implementation of that vehemently because they knew once that worked, people would just want more–and they should.
Every other major U.S. sport uses a fairly extensive replay system. Home plate umpires were the best we could do for over a century, but that’s no longer the case. We have the technology to be more accurate than humans, so let’s use it!
On a slightly different note, another reason I love Fox Trax is because Bill is completely flustered by it. Not only is it obvious that Bill is one of the old guard and probably hates Pitch Trax, but it ruins his favorite Bill-ism! What’s Bill’s favorite thing to say? Of course it’s, “Boy, that’s a tough pitch to take with two strikes.”
Bill said that the other day right before Fox Trax showed the ball was eight inches outside. High comedy.
Additionally, there have already been two occasions in which Bill has simply disagreed with Fox Trax, opting to trust his own eye instead. In a Gallardo start the other day, he said (paraphrasing) “Fox Trax had that off the plate, but that looked like a pretty good pitch by Yo.”
I suggest if you haven’t noticed this yet that you look for it from now on. It only adds to the enjoyment of watching a Brewer game.
I was perusing Fangraphs today (because that’s what super cool people do), and naturally, one of the people I looked up was Rickie Weeks. You don’t need a new age stat to tell you that Rickie Weeks is all that and a bag of chips, but here’s one anyway. Wins Above Replacement is a stat that rates one’s offensive output based on the position he plays. For example, the same offensive output by a second baseman is more valuable than if it comes from a first baseman, because second base is a more difficult position to play.
Anywho, I sorted by the MLB leaders in WAR, and lo and behold: Rickie Weeks is tied for fourth in all of baseball in WAR. What a stud. He’s a great offensive player, and it’s that much more valuable because he plays one of the more challenging positions on the field. I look forward to his first All-Star appearance this season.
Some shocking news ended up being hardly noticeable. Joe Morgan was hired by the Reds as a “special advisor to baseball operations.” I’m sure your first thought, as was mine, was “Is he leaving ESPN? Sweet Mother of God, is Joe Morgan leaving ESPN?”
As it turns out, nope. This is a ceremonial position, probably little more than marketing. It’s still funny to imagine Joe working in a baseball front office when I personally know several people trying to break into the business who are infinitely more knowledgeable. Did I say funny? I think I meant horrific.
Finally, I just have one more thing: A big deal has been made of the pitching woes to start the season, as just a few days ago, the Brewers’ team ERA was above 6. I’d like to go on record saying the starting rotation will be fine. Of course, this prediction won’t seem so bold after giving up one run in the last two games, but you can choose whether to believe I felt this way three days ago.
The main reason I’m saying this is because of Randy Wolf. He’s the one starter at this point you could single out as falling short of expectations. His 4.91 ERA, on the surface, is not what the Brewers paid him to do. A closer look shows that Wolf has actually pitched better than his ERA indicates. His xFIP is 4.01. I like watching Wolf pitch. He pounds the strike zone, trusts his stuff, and doesn’t nibble–exactly what you’d like to see from Gallardo, who incidentally has better stuff than Wolf. I have a feeling Wolf has a nice start today as the Brewers sweep away the Pirates.