At 2-11 and its worst start in Franchise History, the Brewers are pretty bad….. and I am kind of happy they are

You probably read that and scratch your head. What?? Aren’t you a Brewers fan? Why would you be happy at how bad they are playing. Well here are several points as to why I am happy:

  • For those of you who are still upset at Ron Roenicke, he may not make it to June. Heck, he might even resign as it looks like already he is running out of ideas on how to fix this anemic offense. Do not be fooled by the 1 year extension they gave Roenicke before the season. That was all PR so that he was not a lame duck coach going into this season.
  • Doug Melvin is in the last year of his contract. At this point if this keeps going the same path, he will not be in the same role. There is talk he may retire from the GM job. This poor start might accelerate that talk or give management a reason to part ways with him.
  • Carlos Gomez injured his hamstring last week in St. Louis, Scooter Gennett hurt his hand in some freak shower accident Sunday in Pittsburgh, and Jonathon Lucroy got hurt in a freak broken toe injury Monday night in Milwaukee. All are on the DL. Is that bad? Yes. However how can you get upset when none of these players mentioned were setting the earth on fire offensively? It is not like they were hitting right now. The entire team can’t hit minus two or three players. And even so, the entire team including those two players can’t hit with RISP (Runners in scoring position). The team is last in many offensive categories where that is supposed to be the strength. The players on the DL forces you to bring up players from AAA to not only spark this pathetic offense, but you can now see what you have for pieces next year and beyond. This leads me to:

The Brewers have $54 million coming off the books after this season. Why I liked the status quo in the off-season despite many fans being angered by it, is that you have the same pieces to be competitive in a tough NL Central. Now that it looks like early you are not going anywhere, you get a great head start trading all these players in the last year of their contract for prospects on other teams. This includes Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, Gerardo Parra, Jonathon Broxton, and Neal Cotts (43 million right there). And if nobody wants say Aramis Ramirez, you can plan his retirement party early by releasing him.

(If you can’t tell already I never ever really like the signing of him coming here. Leadership was a major issue last year and not once did I think he offered any when the team was scuffling even though he has that experience).

Source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19_X7mxIemDFBYNQ-FW7-5TwC12AFZTNZzZh07XiJ6Ao/pub?output=html

You see some people who do not watch a ton of baseball will react and say the team sucks, I am done, and will never go to another game. However if you watch as much baseball as I do, you realize that EVERY franchise has a year(s) where nothing works out as planned. The Cardinals did in the late 90s and the Yankees (who are a favorite to finish last in the AL East) are possibly going through that now. Brewers actually look like they will be quickly eliminated due to bad offense and major injuries if they do not start turning this around immediately in the next 2-4 weeks. Heck, they may be double digits games back in their own division before April 30 due to a early heavy all NL Central schedule!

In these cases, it is essential for the long term success of the franchise to blow it up and start over. You see, the Brewers are in a better position than say the Philadelphia Phillies or New York Yankees. Those franchises are kind of stuck. Bad contracts and aging players that nobody wants.

The Braves are more like the Brewers. While they sort of threw in the towel before the season started, they realized they had players to make them competitive but not enough talent to make the playoffs this season. So they decided to trade some of their talent who was expendable and will build around prospects they got in return and franchise players.

The Brewers have aging players but all their aging players are at the end of their contract. So it is more likely for a team in the playoff hunt to call you for a rent a player come June or July. In turn, the Brewers will most likely get prospects. That is a weakness in the franchise currently.

Now these prospects may not turn out but it looks like long term if Jean Segura’s last season was not a trend, they got a good return for Zack Greinke in 2012. Ironically that was the last time the Brewers were buried by a poor 1st half start. And while I heard the same comments in 2012, the Brewers played much better after these trades to finish above .500 that year.

Young guys were brought up with something to prove and once the pressure of winning was relaxed, they played much better as an entire unit. Right now you can read the pressure on most of the team that they have to play perfect baseball in order to have a chance to win. Don’t let the post game comments fool you, The team is playing with no confidence.

Additionally the Brewers are the smallest franchise in baseball market size. Ryan Braun’s 105 million extension does not even kick in until next year and looks like a terrible contract now. The Brewers will be able to sign a major free agent or two next year, but they have to balance their team with team friendly contracts. So to be bad now, you get to audition players you get via trades and move minor players up to audition them for next year. The Brewers did that in 2012 and 2013 which set them up for a much better 2014.

The past several years from 2007 to 2014 was a great run. The core players of Braun, Hardy, Fielder, Hart, Gallardo, and others that came up provided two playoff appearances, a year where the franchise went all in winning 96 games, and appeared to have tons of fun taking the fans on an incredible ride. However it almost seemed with the Gallardo trade that era of Brewers baseball has now come to an end. Now would be the time to start over, make some popcorn, and enjoy the prospect call up war that your rivals the Cubs and Cardinals appear to be starting.

Plus there is always the joy of hearing Bob Uecker call games in the summer!

Milwaukee-Brewers-Retro-Logo

Bucky the Wildcat Slayer: Wisconsin beats undefeated Kentucky to play in the National Championship

Typically around this time of year, I am excited for one of my favorite sports I love, Opening Day in baseball. This year for the first time in probably my life before I found out what baseball is, it will have to take a back seat to what may be one of the best days in Wisconsin sports history.

Kentucky-Wildcats-vs-Wisconsin-Badgers-2015-NCAA-Final-Four-Wallpaper-800x500

Man what a game… As I write this, the replay is currently on CBS Sports Network. It may be one of the best Final Four games since Duke beat UNLV in 1991 considering the circumstances. Wisconsin playing for respect vs Kentucky playing for undefeated history.

This game had everything: Great plays, poor officiating, clutch shots, momentum swings, answer shot after answer, and even poor sportsmanship. I will get to that later.

I went through so many emotions in this game: Excitement, concern, happiness, and even anger (the slap at the end of the shot clock violation that the referees blew even though they reviewed the play).

In the end, Wisconsin is playing Duke on Monday after slaying Arizona last Saturday and Kentucky this Saturday on 4/4 which would be #44 Frank Kaminsky’s (National Player of the year) 22nd Birthday. He was solid as always with 20 points on 7-11 shooting with 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

NCAA Kentucky Wiscons_Schu(1)

How about that Sam Dekker? The pride of Sheboygan put the Badgers on his back with 16 points including taking over the last two minutes of the game.

A star is born on the national stage and his shot that gave the Badgers the lead was “cold blooded.” What many won’t say about what happened before is give credit to the Badgers for having lock down defense where Kentucky had back to back to back shot clot violations in the closing moments.

Sam Dekker’s clutch three switched the momentum from Kentucky up four to the Badgers up three. By the way, the shot that took the lead both in 2015 and 2014 look eerily similar. Wow.

635637862994076650-USP-NCAA-BASKETBALL-FINAL-FOUR-WISCONSIN-VS-KENTU-72110644  NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Wisconsin vs Kentucky

I have been in the minority and getting ripped in social media by my friends but I said all tournament long two things:

1) Kentucky instead of dominating like a undefeated team should, plays down to their competition.

2) They really run a bad offense for a team that has been #1 most of the year.

When your offensive sets rely on bricking shots, grabbing rebounds, and getting to the free throw line without actually running a sound offense, a good defensive team like Wisconsin is not going to let you get to the lane or foul you.

Instead, you will have to make shots to win the game. And the back to back to back (3 in total) shot clock violations late in the game proved me right. A couple times they did not even get a quality shot up during that stretch. Up four to down three in about 2 and a half minutes. Look at tapes of the Badgers in the second half of their wins or just ask Michigan State, North Carolina or Arizona if you don’t believe me. From controlling the game to down in a flash.

Notre Dame exposed Kentucky as a fraud offensively last week but just stopped running their offense late and they lost the game more than Kentucky won it. Wisconsin just finished the job because they are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the country and you have to flat out hit almost everything you throw up to beat them or they have to beat themselves. Duke earlier in the year shooting lights out and the hiccup @ Rutgers with many players out or hurt are two good examples.

Now you can argue that Kentucky shot better than Wisconsin (48 % vs 47 %). Here is the thing:

Wisconsin beat Kentucky on offensive rebounds 9-6, rebounding 30-22. Basically they out Kentucky’d Kentucky at what they like to do offensively. Also Wisconsin got to line 22 times vs Kentucky’s 10.

Here is the other stat of note: William Cauley-Stein no showed with 2 points and 5 rebounds. His only FG? A showtime dunk in the first minute of the game…After that he pretty much called it a night. The plan to make the guards on Kentucky make shots to beat Wisconsin over the big guys getting offensive rebounds worked brilliantly. Maybe that is why he walked off the court showing poor sportsmanship as the game ended.

CBzFOKDUkAEesk9

Some Kentucky Players don’t shake hands after game, get ripped on social media

Also shame on Andrew Harrison for this:

Andrew Harrison’s offensive comment after game

Harrison has since made a public apology about his comments which I give him credit for being an adult and admitting wrong.

At least Ashley Judd took the loss more gracious than some of the players.

Ashley Judd comments after game

All in all Kentucky fans be proud. You were 38-1, you ended up in the Final Four. But as many times as March Madness can prove every year, on this night and on this court, Wisconsin was the better team and deserves to play for a national championship Monday.

Can you believe we have rematch #3 in a row to avenge the loss vs Duke at home early in the year? A win cements Coach K as arguably the best coach ever and a win cements Bo Ryan as getting the credit he finally deserves; a soon to be hall of fame coach and just as much of a big name in college basketball as the other top coaches in his profession.

coach-k-bo-ryan-e1418670126439

On Wisconsin!!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 560 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thoughts on Bears Black Monday

Fire-Everyone

 

So it was done. Honestly it had to be and I am glad the ownership listened to its fanbase.

As a Bears fan who grew up in Wisconsin, this was one of the worst seasons I can remember ever following this team.

I went from feeling annoyed earlier in the year with the tweets the players had with the fans and the talk of fighting in the locker room after games.

I went to feeling upset seeing the same dumb idiotic issues over and over again along with the same lame responses from Trestman that the team “had a good practices”

(And let’s not forget Lamarr Houston tearing his ACL after celebrating a sack to New England’s backup QB down 28 points. I could tell then the players did not respect the coaches).

I went to feeling embarrassed after the Green Bay massacre on national Sunday night TV.

I went to laughing when the team showed another poor performance on national TV Thursday night against the Cowboys and some Cowboys fans actually thought they might have trouble winning that game. The team actually got an offside penalty punting on 4th down and got a PAT (Point after touchdown) blocked in that game.

And I went to not caring as I did not watch much of the Saints debacle this time on Monday National TV.

Lastly, I did not even care to watch one minute of the Lions game or the Vikings game to end the season. I can’t remember a time of that ever happening.

Today ownership did a step forward in saying that this season was beyond unacceptable. And hearing Virginia McCaskey being quoted as saying “she’s pissed off” made me clap at today’s press conference. Now the thing that worries me is can the owners and people in charge make the right GM and coaching hire that will begin to pick up the pieces of what is now a mess of a franchise.

Notice I did not say anything about Jay Cutler. Even if the Bears traded Cutler to someone and pay his salary to them would you want this guy on your team? NO!!

Unfortunately, Cutler is here to stay for another couple of seasons unless some team is really stupid enough to want him. This video says it all right here!!

 

Let’s hope the Bears get it right this time. This is the biggest and most important off season in recent memory.

P.S. How does Mel Tucker still have a job??!?

NBC Sports Article

A Thank You Letter to the Royals and Giants

KC RoyalsNLCS - St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants - Game Five

 

Dear Royals and Dear Giants;

Thank you.

Thank you for going to Game 7. Thank you for reminding me that baseball is my favorite sport that I love. A 3-2 win with the best current October pitcher on the planet Madison Bumgarner doing relief work on 3 days rest.  He just pitched one of the best clinching games in our lifetime, in the best World Series pitching performance of all-time.

Thank you for not giving up. The Royals could have packed it in and they did not. When Alex Gordan got a hit with 2 outs, the improbable happened. Gregor Blanco misplayed the ball to the end of the wall. Was it shades of that AL Wild Card play in game where the unthinkable happened time and time again? (See 2014 OAK-KC Wild Card Game for summary). We all wondered and many hearts like mine stopped beating for a second as the next batter, (the walk off winner of the 2014 AL Wild Card game) Salvador Perez came up. Could he be a hero again?

You see for those that will say baseball is boring and complain that the ratings for some games this year are not as good like this poorly timed article http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2014/10/29/record-low-tv-ratings-for-a-world-series-game-6/18140489/ on the eve of game 7 , I ask you this….

Did you know/understand the strategy that Ned Yost later said Alcedes Escobar decided to do on his own without any signs from the dugout in the bottom of the 5th?

He bunted the runner over and gave himself out instead of trying to get a hit and keep the inning going with nobody out. That was simply put the difference between the Giants winning and the Royals losing as nobody scored. The line between that is as razor thin as you can get. These teams played as even as you can, just one team had to lose.

I am guessing you did not realize that strategy if you do not follow much baseball. Maybe it would be a good idea to find a friend who watches the sport next season, ask them to explain the game situations to you, and you will realize knowing some of the strategy, baseball begins to show a different dimension to the game you never knew existed.

Baseball strategy is much like a chess match where you could play by the percentages every time and still be proven wrong. It makes baseball so emotional, so lovable, and oh so much fun sometimes defying logic like the 2014 season and playoffs have shown.

You see for those that say baseball is boring in person and boring on TV, I would present the 2014 Game 7 of the World Series as my argument. Simply take the 3+ hours and watch it. If you could not get into that game and see how it was one of the best endings to a winner take all World Series Game 7, LIVING up to all the hype that many clinching games in sports fall short (ahem the 2014 Super Bowl), then my friend, you will NEVER like baseball and there is no reason trying to prove otherwise for you.

 

For me and many baseball fans like me, Game 7 reminded me of the day I began to try to figure out this game as a kid. Why a relative (in this case my Grandfather) showed me what this game is all about. Since leaning the game my summers have never been the same.

Today as an adult I still love the game. After tonight’s game and when the final out was made, I felt like the same kid that realized the day baseball became my favorite sport, creating a bond with my Grandfather that I will never forget, God rest his soul.

For this experience in 2014: Giants and Royals I thank you wholeheartedly for reminding me why I love this game.

Sincerely,

Brian

 

world_series

What a start to the 2014 MLB playoffs

KC Royals2014-10-01T052027Z_1017941112_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_MLB-AL-WILD-CARD-OAKLAND-ATHLETICS-AT-KANSAS-CITY-ROYALS

What a game!!! I know there are words that describe all sports after a great game: Instant Classic, Drama, and a story similar to a movie are just a few of them. However in this game all these words are deserved.

If you retired early Tuesday night, you missed one of the best playoff games in recent MLB memory. It was the Oakland A’s vs the Kansas City Royals.

As a MLB fan who loves this sport, it was like being a kid again reliving once again why you love this game. As a sports fan, you may not like to watch baseball cause you say it is too long and boring, but you had to appreciate both teams leaving it all on the field like that not knowing who was going to win the game.

And as someone who is not a sports fan, the best story was not what happened on the networks in prime time last night, it was this game. It was like watching a movie.

Here is all the story lines that transpired last night that I can think of off the top of my head:

Oakland Athletics:

Joining the Milwaukee Brewers for the biggest collapse of 2014. Theirs may be more devestating

Going for an “all in” approach at the trade deadline to try to make the World Series

Having an early exit for the 3rd time in three years

GM Billy Beane going from talk about being a genius in July to talk about he should be fired

Brandon Moss single handily trying to carry the A’s (2 HR, 5 RBI’s)

Adam Dunn’s first playoff game and he never enters it (He officially will retire today)

 

Kansas City Royals

First playoff game in 29 years

Billy Butler’s base running gaff that stopped the 1st rally

James Shields’ early exit for a pitcher who never pitched relief ball

Ned Yost’s over managing

Eric Hosmer’s coming out party to the entire nation (5 for 5 and nothing bigger than that triple in the 12th)

Record 7 steals in one game

Royals down 2-0, 7-3, and 8-7 in order to win the game

Salvador Perez going from the goat (0-5) to the hero (game winning walk-off) in 1 hit

 

And these may not fully be all of the story lines!! If these videos below are just a preview of what the 2014 playoffs will be, well time to buckle up and enjoy the ride!!

While the NFL is still the most popular sport in the country, their issues this season have been well documented and it continues to get worse. They better be careful. Cause baseball is quickly returning with their title as the National Pastime if games continue like this! Proof is in this recent article:

2014 7th best MLB attendance ever

Enjoy these highlights and articles.

Kansas City Star Game Report

CBS Sports.com Quick Hits

Recap

 

 

12th inning magic

 

Entire Condensed Game

 

 

Rant Time

It’s been a long time. Very long time if ever that I have been angry at a Brewers team like I was last night.

1987 I was not angry. They started out 13-0 and I saw on TV (Super 18 with Mike Hegan and Jim Paschke on the call) the first ever Brewers no hitter as Robin Yount dove to make one of the best catches ever to end a no hitter. The team then tanked and went up and down never building onto their amazing start.

 

2007 I was not angry. The Brewers were neck and neck with the Cubs and if you are used to a team not making the playoffs since you were 3 years old and not old enough to remember the details, then you have a very optimistic outlook when the team is close but falls short.

2011 I was not angry. The Brewers instead broke my heart and I did not want to see their slow playoff death in Game 6. The Braves ironically had to have a monumental collapse in order for the Cardinals to get in the Wild Card and a team we thought we buried in the division weeks ago now faced us again for the NL Pennant.

Tonight. I am mad. I am mad because this happened after a gem by one of your veterans Kyle Lohse against his old team.

 

Are you kidding me!?!! I have played softball for the last 16 weeks this spring and summer. For six weeks, I played 3 times a week. EVERY TEAM I was on we would ALWAYS tell each other how many outs we have before EVERY at-bat!!! I make a point to remind everyone so that everyone is prepared for what play to make. And not doing the little things right is why this team deserves to be where they are right now!!

Thanks Mark Reynolds. While his brain freeze was not the sole reason why the Brewers lost the game, it was a main contributor to the Cardinals coming back down 2-0 when you had 5 outs to go in order to get to win what was an unbelievably intense series between what is now becoming a big rival.

If these players don’t care enough to constantly say to each other how many outs you have in a inning, then maybe I should not give a s#*t what you do the rest of the year. Looks like the Athletics and Brewers are neck and neck for one of the biggest 2nd half collapses in recent MLB history.

Well since Atlanta did it back in 2011.

P.S. Rant #2

Jonathon Lucroy. Before you talk and run your mouth to the media about being the better team, maybe you need to tell  your teammates to focus on how many outs you have. Cardinals teams NEVER look that stupid!

Jonathon Lucroy’s stupid comments 9-7-14

Rant over…..

 

 

September 2014: I declare “war” in the NL Central

Hank

 

Happy Labor Day!

This is the last sprint of the marathon called the baseball season. I write this ironically as I am leaving the comforts of home in Milwaukee back to Chicago where the Brewers are about to play again in a little over an hour.

Now the wannabe ultra critical sports fans that don’t watch the league as much as a die-hard like me can watch NFL football and that “Cheese team” while the most emotional part of the year is upon us.

Before I get into anything else, this has been a great Brewers season! The media and some glass half empty fans make it sound otherwise, but back in March, NOBODY ever thought we would be where we are at right now. If you told me in January that we would be 73-63 tied for first with the St. Louis Cardinals, I one would have thought you were crazy and two would have said I loved if that happened.

Here is some articles that gave us not chance back in March:

MLB.com 2014 Staff Precitions

ESPN Predictions

CBS Sports.com Brewers Preview

So here we are. The Brewers proved so many people wrong and their talent is developing faster than expected while the Cardinals best young talent in many ways never materialized to their potential this season. This highly touted starting pitching they had needed to get Justin Masterson and John Lackey in July in order to tie with us on September 1st.

Personally, I am happy that we are tied with the Cardinals for 1st. In order for the Brewers to ever exorcise that yellow Cardinal beak that has been hovering over this franchise like a vulture since 1982, we need to prove that we can beat them. Personally I think the Cardinals and some of their fans have assumed that at any point they will take over first and win the division that we have been keeping warm since April 5th. It’s time for the Brewers to pick themselves up off the infield dirt, dig down and finish these last games on a high note.

 

Here are my grades on my trends from August:

1) Schedule C+

If this was mid August I would have given the team an A+. To go to LA and sweep that team after playing Kershaw and Greinke back to back was the most proud moment of the season. It sent a statement that this team is for real and here to stay.

Then the disaster in San Diego and San Francisco happened.

I am kind of glad it happened. Sometimes having a team beat you left and right like the Giants did will show what type of team you really are. It’s why today’s game at the Cubs may be one of the defining moments of the year. How will this team bounce back?

2) Wily Peralta Future ACE B-

Wily is struggling as we head into September. However 15 wins for the season and competing with the likes of Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw for most NL wins shows how far he has come. He is still only in his 2nd full year. He will get better. The best thing about how he loses is his demeanor. He used to get upset when he did not have his stuff last year. This year he has learned to take it with a grain of salt.

3) Waiver Claims A

Baseball is one of the few sports where people that don’t follow the game stick out like sore thumbs. I heard everyone blame Doug Melvin for not getting Justin Morneau when they don’t even know the waiver process. The Rockies probably were never really serious about dealing Morneau and wanted to see if a team would be stupid enough to give away too much.

Then Doug Melvin under the radar gets another bullpen guy in Jonathon Braxton.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Melvin does not get enough credit. Here is the 8th inning guy who not only is reliable but could even close if needed. He also has a contract through next season should K-Rod leave. Brilliant waiver deal!! Mevlin is smart enough not to mortgage the farm for this season and then get pieces that help now and will benefit later.

4) Injuries B

Matt Garza went on the DL and Mike Fiers pitched better than anyone ever expected. Carlos Gomez it was revealed has been bothered by a sore wrist (day-to-day) and Gerrardo Parra can instantly fill in. Another under the radar move by Melvin.

For the most part injuries have not hurt this team. Let’s hope it stays this way.

5) West Coast Woes D

I knew when the Brewers had to travel to California two times in the last two weeks and have to be in Chicago also two times in the last three weeks that might have been trouble.

The Padres are playing better lately and gave the Brewers fits and then the Giants decided they know how to hit again. The only reason why this is not an F is because of the Dodgers sweep in LA.

 

So now why did I call this a war? Because it is more PC than a blood bath.

Here is the Brewers schedule in September

1-3 @ Chicago

4-7 vs St. Louis

8-11 vs Miami

12-14 vs Cincy

16-18 @ St Louis

19-21 @ Pittsburgh

23-25 @ Cincy

26-28 vs Chicago

Only 4 games vs a non NL Central team

Cardinals

1-3 vs Pittsburgh

4-7 @ Milwaukee

8-11 @ Cincy

12-14 vs Colorado

16-18 vs Milwaukee

19-21 vs Cincy

22-24 @ Chicago

26-28 @ Arizona

6 games vs a non NL Central team

Pirates

1-3 @ St Louis

5-7 @ Chicago

8-11 @ Philadephia

12-14 vs Chicago

16-18 vs Boston

19-21 vs Milwaukee

22-25 @ Atlanta

26-28 @ Cincy

11 games vs a non NL Central team

And while I think the Reds playoff hopes are dwindling, I will put their schedule down for sake of argument.

2-4 @ Baltimore

5-7 vs New York Mets

8-11 vs St. Louis

12-14 @ Milwaukee

15-17 @ Chicago

18-21 @ St Louis

23-25 vs Milwaukee

27-28 vs Pittsburgh

6 games vs a non NL Central team

The math is simple for the Brewers. For them to win the NL Central, they have to beat their rivals. Pittsburgh might have the edge there or it might be a curse. They have the least chance to control their own destiny since they play 11 games vs non NL Central teams, the most out of the competing teams.

Also, the Chicago Cubs who have nothing to play for and have players who are out to prove they can be major league talent, will have plenty of say in this NL Central.

Additionally, don’t believe for a second they are not licking their chops trying to bypass the Reds for 4th place which would be considered a major success.

September 4-7 is probably the biggest challenge of the year for the Brewers to start this month. They can prove they belong and are better than the Cardinals this year, or they can be down for the first time looking up. The Red birds have that circled on the calendar. Expect a war. Heck I even expect a bench clearing incident to occur. However this is what as a fan we live for. Let me quote the great wrestler Ric Flair as saying:

“In order to be the man, you have to beat the man”

And let me add for everyone that wants to rip this franchise for not getting David Price or Jon Lester.

September 1st the Tigers after acquiring David Price are in 2nd place chasing the Royals and have the 2nd wild card.

How about the Athletics going for it this year? They are 5 games out of first and have the first wild card.

It is not even guaranteed one or both teams may keep that as Seattle and Cleveland are hot on their trail.

To make a July blockbuster move can backfire.

It is time to let the chips fall where they may and just the enjoy the ride that this season has given Brewers fans! Can they make it to the end of the road celebrating what would be the best division title since that 1982 season?

We will find out soon. Until then, I declare war!

Berniefred birdPirate birdReds famCubs mascot

 

 

 

 

 

The Pennant Race has just now begun: Parra makes an impact.

Happy August Brewers fans!!

Writing this on a beautiful Saturday as we enter mid-August. One of the best perfect weather days of the summer where you wish you could bottle it up when we deal with a awful winter day 6 months from now.

It is now August. We have plus or minus 6 weeks left of the season.

The Brewers have been tied or in first now EVERY day since April 5th. And for all those who were ready to jump the ledge a few weeks ago, they as of Saturday August 9th have won 6 of their last 9 vs a Red Hot Rays team, and possible playoff NL teams the Cardinals, Giants, and Dodgers.

Further more, this man has already made an impact in two Brewers wins: A GW HR on Tuesday night and a crucial hit on Friday that rallied the Brewers to a huge win vs the Dodgers.

gerardo-parra-mlb-san-francisco-giants-milwaukee-brewers-850x560

Sometimes the small move at the deadline are much more valuable to a team than the big name trade.

Also can I add during this stretch the  Brewers beat David Price and Adam Wainwright back to back?? An additional FACT: Saturday the 9th they also beat Zack Greinke as recent call up Mike Fiers out pitched him!

Let’s review July:

1) Jimmy Nelson B

Since coming up in the rotation right before the All-Star break, Jimmy Nelson has pitched ok baseball. I will eliminate his game back on July 12 vs St. Louis because I don’t think anyone could have pitched well on this team given the unfortunate news about Jean Segura’s son.

2-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 5 starts. Most of that is higher due to his first game. In his last game he pitched very well vs the Giants giving up 3 runs on 6 hits. On a team where pitching is good, all Nelson has to do is pitch quality starts.

2) Jean Segura C+

Segura still is struggling at the plate, however his glove and defense at short are so valuable to this team. I know he has dealt with much this season, however I think him being around great chemistry players is really helpful.

3) Trade Deadline A-

So the Brewers did not get Jon Lester and David Price. Talk was any trade the Brewers wanted to make the other team wanted Jimmy Nelson. NO WAY.

Sometimes the better trade is no trade at the deadline. Gerardo Parra was an under the radar trade that has immediately helped this team. A veteran gold glove outfielder than also has some pop in the bat and can work the count is what this team needs when the offense disappears. Also he is a left handed bat. Parra immediately makes the Brewers bench better!

Look at the Cardinals: Justin Masterson they traded for makes no sense to me. And by the fact he only pitched 2 innings on Friday night, proves my point. He got rocked. He had an over 5.00 ERA in Cleveland. I know the Cardinals are short on SP, but their main problem is offense that disappears more than the Brewers. This smelled like making a trade for the sake of a trade. My prediction is that it will backfire.

4) Platoons C

Hard to grade this more or less than a C. With Scooter Gennett nursing a quad injury, Rickie Weeks has been given more time. Also Reynolds and Overbay are still doing the platoon. Additionally Jonathon Lucroy gets an occasional day at first to keep his bat in the lineup.

5) Fans and Media D

As a Brewers fan I really get frustrated with the casual fans and the media that continues to ultra criticize this team after every loss. It is to the point that I don’t read message boards or listen to post game shows after a loss.

For the last time: All the sports experts thought that this Brewers team would at best finish 4th and in some cases finish last behind the Cubs. This team since April 5th has shown time and time again to be resilient. They have held onto first place the entire year. Even if they fall out or don’t make the playoffs, this has been a great season. I am happy they have taken me through this journey. Take the ride and have no regrets. This season is turning out to be more fun than 2011 cause the 2011 team had more talent and more national media backing them up as being great. This team has proven it belongs and because it was unexpected I have enjoyed this season even more.

Here are my trends for August to keep a look on:

1) Schedule

This month the Brewers have played the Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers. They will play the Blue Jays and Pirates the rest of the month. This is a good test for them and a preview of what to expect should the team make the playoffs. So far in the month, so good.

2) Wily Peralta: Future ACE

14 wins among the lead in the majors. What a season he is having and he will only get better. Love this guy! I said the Garza signing instantly will make him not try to overdue things like last year and I was right.

We might be talking 20 wins. He has a shot. Amazing! And his best game in my opinion: How he out pitched Adam Wainwright on August 1st with not his best stuff!

1407449789000-8-8-peralta

3) Waiver Claims

It is obvious that the late inning bullpen of the Brewers are scuffling right now. Will Smith and Zach Duke are not as effective as they once were.

The Brewers need to be looking and hopefully can get a reliable bullpen arm through waivers as a backup to bridge to K-Rod. Let’s hope they do that.

4) Injuries

The Brewers so far have not been hurt by the injury bug much like St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Let’s hope it stays that way. Losing Garza with the way he has been lights out early hurts. Let’s hope it is limited and Mike Fiers can hold the fort until Garza returns for the stretch run.

5) West Coast Woes

In the past the West coast has been a problem for the Brewers. Let’s hope it is not this year for the Road Warriors. 2 trips out west in about a 2 week span. Take it a day at a time.

Important Dates:

August 1-3 @ St. Louis Lost 2 out of 3

August 5-7 vs San Francisco Won 2 out of 3

August 8-10 vs Los Angeles (Won Friday)

August 15-17 @ Los Angeles

August 19-20 vs Toronto

August 22-24 vs Pittsburgh

August 29-31 @ San Francisco

 

 

A perspective on the Brewers July struggles

Before I get into the Brewers July, let me recap June:

1) MLB Draft/Kendrys Morales (A for the draft: B for eventually not getting Morales)

The Brewers according to several of the media covering the draft did pretty well for themselves. All top 3 players are officially signed and into the system. The potential is high for all three players.

http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140614&content_id=79745550&vkey=pr_mil&c_id=mil

This is important because while Morales for reasons only he knows signed with Minnesota after the draft, an already good farm system may become even better. The Brewers are in a unique situation where they are competing quicker than many realized while still building up the farm system. Win-win strategy.

2) Pitching Depth: A

Brewers have shown their pitching depth by being one of the only teams in baseball to use the fewest starters. Minus Jimmy Nelson start back in May, all five starters in the rotation did not miss any starts. Also until Wily Peralta’s bad outing earlier in the week, all starters have pitched more than 5 innings each start minus the Matt Garza injury. Pretty good.

Even better? You have the ability to call up Jimmy Nelson while moving Marco Estrada to the bullpen. That is almost as good as an in season trade. It will be interesting to see how Nelson does vs Cy Young potential candidate Adam Wainwright.

Nelson is known for being a bulldog so I don’t have any concerns with him being nervous. I kind of get goosebumps with him and Peralta back to back in the rotation potentially.

3) Jonathon Lucroy A+

First of all, congrats to Lucroy on making his first all-star team. He due to Yadier Molina’s injury is going to start for the NL and if voting for the All-Star game was not treated as a king and queen homecoming contest, he should have started the game anyway. He is stats wise having the best season among top catchers in the major leagues and should be in conversation for NL MVP. Let’s start up the MVP talk for this guy as he deserves any and all accolades this year. It’s great to see.

4) Lineup B

Minus the last 10-15 games or so, the Brewers lineup was hitting on all cylinders. I will get to their struggles recently, but I can’t solely base that on the offense.

5) Kyle Lohse A

Lohse has been everything the Brewers had hope. A calming vet who has influence on the entire pitching staff. Most games when Lohse takes the mound, you have confidence that the Brewers will at least be in the game. Kyle has had a wonderful season and let me throw this out there. Perhaps you could talk extension in the off season as he will be in the final year of his contract.

IMPORTANT Dates/Series

Since I started my July blog late, I will mention all series up to this point with the results:

July 1-2 @ Toronto (Both losses)
July 4-6 @ Cincinnati (lost 2 out of 3)
July 11-13 vs St Louis (lost Friday night)
July 18-20 @ Washington
July 21-23 vs Reds

July 31st Trade Deadline

Now that my review of June out of the way, let’s talk about July.

Let me take a moment to talk to the segment of Brewers fans who are saying the following:

“Brewers suck”
“I knew this was going to happen”
“The sky is falling”
“I told you they are not good”

Calm down……

Is the last 10-15 games the Brewers have played this season concerning? Yes. Absolutely. Does it mean they are not a good team? No.

The Brewers as of Saturday morning July 12th are currently 52-42. 10 games above .500, 94 games into the season and still in 1st place.

Baseball is 162 game marathon. ALL teams will have times when they struggle. Let me repeat that, ALL teams will have times when they struggle.

This was always a three team race between St. Louis, Cincy, and Pittsburgh going into this season. The Brewers being better than anyone including I expected have now made this a 4 team race. For reference here is a previous blog that talks about it.

http://brianthab.mlblogs.com/2014/01/29/matt-garza-is-more-than-just-a-big-signing-for-2014/

Go back to March/April. Most baseball analyst had this Brewers team finishing 4th at best while some even had them predicted to finish last behind the Cubs!

If you are saying you knew this Brewers team on July 12th would be 10 games over .500 back in March, you are lying. I watch a ton of baseball and I never thought that would ever happen!!! On that statement alone, this has been a successful Brewers season!

The Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates all made the playoffs last year in the NL Central. They had their troubles and their slumps earlier in the season for various reasons while the Brewers went off to a hot start.

Now those teams are getting hot and playing better and the baseball law of averages appear that the Brewers were due to have this.

Remember the talk about the Giants and how hot they were back in June? 9.5 game lead over the Dodgers at one point.

They as of Saturday morning are deadlock with the Dodgers in the NL West at 51-42. At one point before the Brewers slide, they lost 9 out of 10 (June 9-15) after being 42-21. Yes the Giants have only won 9 out of 30 games from June 9-July 12 (.300 winning pct)!! That includes a Tim Lincecum No hitter during that stretch.

How about the Atlanta Braves who looked good earlier in the season and was poised to run away with the NL East. Well they had a slump too and are in battle with the Nationals for first place.

It’s July. This baseball season  races are just getting started. If I had a choice for the Brewers to struggle now or struggle in September, I would want it to happen now.

Remember: The Braves slide in September of 2011 is how the Cardinals took the Wild Card and we know how that turned out.

Let me explain:

Baseball is a strange game if you only casually watch it. For diehards like me, this type of stuff happens all the time!

It’s unexplainable how the Brewers are losing some of these games with 4 run leads or more early on. Thursday July 10th’s meltdown vs the Phillies defies reality. A potential no hitter turned to a blowout by the team that was being no hit for several innings? Crazy!

The Brewers also were not going to run away with this division because their competition is too good and too talented to play the way they have been playing.

To add some perspective, I will detail the current and final standings the last two years the Brewers have not made the postseason:

July 12, 2012

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/?tcid=mm_mlb_standings#20120712

 

The Yankees, White Sox, and Rangers were leading the AL with the Angels and Orioles for the Wild Card.

The Nationals, Pirates, and Dodgers were NL Division leaders with the Reds and Braves as the Wild Card.

Final playoff teams were:

AL: Yankees, Tigers, A’s Wild Card: Orioles and Rangers
NL: Nationals, Reds, Giants Wild Card: Braves and Cardinals

The White Sox, Angels, Pirates, and Dodgers did not make it from July to September (40%)

 

July 12, 2013

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/?tcid=mm_mlb_standings#20130712

The Red Sox, Tigers and A’s were AL division with the Rays and Rangers as Wild Cards

The Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks were NL division leaders with the Pirates and Reds as Wild Cards

Final Playoff teams were:

AL: Red Sox, Tigers, A’s Wild Card: Rays and Indians
NL: Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers Wild Card: Pirates, Reds

The Rangers and Diamondbacks did not make it from July to September (20%)

I know this is just quick numbers,  however based on the last two seasons the Brewers have a 60-80% chance of making the postseason.

This is still a good team. They are having a great season. For those who may not be huge baseball fans like myself, this is advice I always remind myself going into every season.

When a team is playing terrific, never get too high. When a team is slumping, never get too low.

Baseball is one of the hardest sports to follow because it can be an emotional roller coaster. It is also why I feel it is the best sport out of all the professional sports. You can’t get too emotionally wrapped in the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in a 162 game season.

Hopefully I have taken you off the ledge and given you some tips on how to cope with this division race. I do think this is going to go down to the wire. The NL Central top to bottom has some of the best talent in all of baseball!

Here are my trends for July:

1) Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson

So many Brewers fans were asking for him to be called up again and you now have your wish. Personally, I still would go with the people that got you to this point giving him a little more time to develop, however I do agree that it got tiring watching Marco Estrada throw batting HR practice against opposing batters. At least the Brewers appear to have a pulse on the fan base.

Nelson I do believe is here to stay barring major struggles. The Brewers had this move planned since they went past the 90 days Rule 5 rules to keep Wei Chung Wang on the major league roster. He is suddenly on the DL with “left shoulder tightness.” I am sure the Pirates are amused.

2) Jean Segura

jean-segura-batting

We really need to get Jean Segura going at some point. He is in a huge slump. They tried putting him towards the top of the lineup and that did not work as it affected the entire lineup. I believe he is a good hitter just struggling right now. Judging by his sample size in the bigs, he should get out of it. I think he is too good of a hitter not to.

3) Trade deadline

Some people are saying the Brewers should get pitching. I would like to see them get another bat. The pitching re-enforcements of Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg will hopefully come off the DL soon. I would like to see the Brewers acquire someone who is a utility guy that can play anywhere in the field and get on base. I truly believe the Brewers will get someone like this if not by July 31st, in August through waivers. Doug Melvin has been on the record saying nothing is cooking at the moment, however, he is the same GM that surprised everyone by signing Matt Garza and who shocked the baseball world acquiring CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke. He NEVER plays his cards.

4) Platoons

I get that you want to platoon guys due to pitching match ups, however can we stop the 2B and 1B platoon!!

I am not saying it is the sole reason why the Brewers are struggling but could be one of the factors. At this point in the season, you put you best players on the field.

Scooter Gennett has proven that he can play 2B and hit. He should be playing the majority of time there no matter how the pitcher throws. Weeks is Weeks and he is on his way out whether the Brewers can sucker someone for a trade, put him on waivers or if he cleans out his locker when the season ends.

Also Mark Reynolds is your better overall player option at first over Lyle Overbay. I like Overbay however I just don’t have the confidence that he can hit or get on base as much as I do in Reynolds.

5) Fans/Media

Please see above. I know Brewers fans are not used to what a division race is like every year but you are in one. Have faith. This team is good. As much fun as this season has been, they still have not played their best baseball yet and are 52-42.

I have dealt with some adversity personally this year and unfortunately by last night’s sad news the team is facing adversity that makes baseball not seem so important.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_07_11_slnmlb_milmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=mil

This team has great chemistry and will get through the funk that they are in.

Brewers Rappers

Keep the faith Brewers fans!!

Update: 7/12/14 12:20 pm. Condolences to Jean Segura and his family on hearing the unfortunate news the team found out last night.

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24617678/jean-segura-leaves-brewers-after-nine-month-old-son-passes-away

 

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