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

 

Bucks new owners don’t take long to create a PR disaster

It’s July. The city of Milwaukee should be talking and celebrating about the Brewers and how great their season is having currently the most wins in all of baseball.

It also should be celebrating how Jabari Parker has NBA ready talent and looks like he genuinely wants to be here.

Parker news conference

Notice who is sitting next to Parker in the picture above last Friday June 27th. Larry Drew (now former Bucks coach) and John Hammond current GM or alleged “lame duck GM walking.”

 

As I spend time this week at home in Milwaukee, the talk is not even about the Brewers or Parker right now. It is about the new Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens and how they created a PR disaster not by hiring Jason Kidd but the way they went about it. This should be another shot in the arm for a franchise that really needs it. Instead it created much controversy and some concern for the long time future of this team in Milwaukee. Here is why from each perspective of the people involved in the deal:

Lasry/Edens

investors

This press conference today was a complete joke! You can see it here:

http://www.nba.com/bucks/release/bucks-complete-trade-nets-reach-agreement-kidd-become-head-coach

 

To basically admit that you contacted Jason Kidd’s agent and interviewed him for a coaching job that you did not have a vacancy for, before formally firing Larry Drew is not good “business” but shows how poor you go about doing your “business.”

These owners I know just became in charge of a professional sports franchise for the first time, however I would hope they would know how to handle decision making. The process was poor. This was briefly admitted in the news conference but not enough in my opinion. It basically was said as “my bad.”

A few days later Lasry was interviewing the coach of the Brooklyn Nets about coaching the Bucks. Never told current Bucks coach Larry Drew what he was doing. Never let GM John Hammond know what the plan is. A couple of days after that, the Bucks have a new coach.

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24601953/report-bucks-ownership-for-totally-botching-drew-firing-kidd-hiring

My question to the new owners is this. The honeymoon is over apparently. Sure when you came onto the scene you created a buzz, said the right things, and gave a dying franchise some new life.

But how do you allow yourself to have Larry Drew and John Hammond introduce your new franchise player Jabari Parker while you are behind their backs, interviewing Jason Kidd?

Note: According to an interview on FSN Wisconsin Lasry said they met with Kidd as soon as last Thursday while the NBA Draft was happening!

The NBA basically says you have 3 years to have the finances and planning in place for a new arena.

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24536014/nba-can-buy-back-bucks-if-no-new-arena-construction-by-2017

 

You do not have time to create this PR disaster. You have to possibly ask the citizens of Milwaukee to spend taxes to help create revenue for a new arena. You also have to possibly lean on business leaders in the community to get funding to finance a new arena. Now with how you stabbed Larry Drew in the back, how do you gain the trust back of an already leery public about a new arena? Good Luck as I feel you damaged much of what you started building.

John Hammond

JHammond

So out of the press conference, we find out the new owners felt/were told the interview with Jason Kidd is “confidential” and then when you don’t know how to go about the business of negotiating a contract with Jason Kidd, you bring Hammond in.

I could feel the awkwardness John felt having to introduce a coach that he had no voice in choosing. (Notice how John in his talk in the beginning NEVER mentions Jason Kidd).

If I am John Hammond, I would quit. Anyone who thinks he is not a lame duck GM is fooling themselves. The question was asked if Jason Kidd wanted any part of a upper management or GM role and he did not directly respond.

John in this situation and in my opinion was set up to be the fall guy. He was forced to fire a coach he hired and forced to put the finishing touches on a deal for a coach he was not even informed was being interviewed until the last moment. How these new owners do “business” I guess.

Jason Kidd

dm_140630_nba_kidd_bucks_done

Kidd really said nothing in this press conference. It was scripted, not genuine, and left many with more questions than answers.

I think Kidd almost knew his days were numbered in Brooklyn so that he could be given a coaching job in Milwaukee cause he knows the new owners.

Kidd said the cliche things like trying to do a good job and getting good players and all. He also mentioned the words “business” several times. The most concerning thing is that he had nothing to say about the situation at hand.

Others feel the same way:

http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11168553/jason-kidd-milwaukee-bucks-puts-brooklyn-nets-rear-view

http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/7/2/5865001/jason-kidds-introductory-press-conference-was-strange

For the Bucks to remain in Milwaukee and possibly get a new arena before 2017, Kidd better hope he is a good coach and in a situation to bring a winner to the floor almost in the next 2 years. Sure winning cures all, but when this entire process was handled poorly from the start, you start out one step backwards before Kidd even has an opportunity to prove otherwise.

Maybe Kidd does not care and cares more that he got a better contract. Maybe the owners don’t care and this was their way of telling Milwaukee its our way or the highway. Maybe this is the plan all along to eventually get so many fans and potential tax payers for the new arena up in arms so that they/NBA do have reason to move the team….

Many what ifs which is not good. Lasry and Edens are only few months into the job of trying to create goodwill and rebuild a franchise lost between the Packers, Brewers, Badgers, and Golden Eagles….

I used to be a huge Bucks and NBA fan. The league to a degree and the team (and its former owner Herb Kohl) made me turn sour on what was once my 2nd favorite sport to follow besides baseball.

After this PR fiasco, instead of the optimism of building blocks in hopes for a new arena, there is more pessimism that it might be time to begin backing up the truck preparing the team to move. This all is debatable but judging by sports talk  some have the same feelings I do which includes die hard Bucks fans, casual Bucks fans, Wisconsin fans, and the media.

In either case, we shall find out soon enough…. For good or bad, whether you agree with me or not, NBA basketball is interesting again in Milwaukee. I just think it is for many of the wrong reasons.

 

Will it be a Kendrys Morales June to Remember??

So, we have now hit June Brewers fans. The team is still in first and has not let it go since the 20-8 start. We are slightly over 1/3 of the season and for all the complaints, the Brewers did an average month of May. Here are my grades from my 5 trends in the month of May:

1) Injuries/health. Can’t really grade this. For the most part the Brewers pitching has stayed relatively healthy outside of Jim Henderson. Since he was struggling we now know why. His shoulder injury is a concern, however the bullpen is so good that it has not really showed.

As for the offense, we have yet to see the full healthy Brewers lineup most of May and a tweak to the lineup has worked wonders. Once Aramis Ramirez returns, can you believe the Brewers have a problem of where they place him? He might bat 5th or 6th which is a great problem to have. Keep this lineup please Ron Roenicke!

Segura

Bruan

Lucroy

Gomez

Davis/Ramirez (once he returns)

Ramirez/Davis

Gennett

Reynolds

Pitcher

 

2) Matt Garza  Grade: C

Garza actually has not pitched really bad and has been better as of late. His problem now is that he is rolling and then ends up hitting a wall around the 6th or 7th inning. This is going to have to change if the Brewers continue to contend. However with other pitchers pitching very well, it is a concern but not hurting the team. As I still believe, Garza in the end will be fine. He has shown signs of coming around.

3) Losing Streaks: Grade B-

The reason why the Brewers have been successful this year is simple. They limit the amount of losing streaks. So far the teams behind them including 2nd place St. Louis can’t do that. Currently the Cardinals after heating up have lost 5 of the last 7 at home! They are also under .500 on the road. The Brewers have only lost 4 in a row once, and their worst stretch was May 17-24 losing 6 out of 8. They followed that up by finishing the month going 5-2, negating that week and as of June 2nd are 11 games over .500 (34-23). They ended April 12 games over .500. Can’t complain. Good teams figure out how to negate times when they struggle.

4) Short Term memory loss: Grade A

I wanted the Brewers to forget about May 2013. The fans certainly did not and when they started struggling and losing series to last place teams like the Cubs and D-Backs, some fans were talking like the sky is falling and that will be the start of their downfall.

I am not naive to think that some fans that follow the Brewers are not true die-hard baseball fans like myself. Let me say this to some Brewers fans. Please stop using NFL (football) logic and apply it to baseball. If the Brewers lose 3-4 games in a row, it is not the end of the world or the beginning of them tanking. 3-4 game losing streaks have much more of an impact to a NFL team that plays 16 games. 2 months should be a good sample that this team will be in the race all season.

ALL MLB teams struggle. It is part of the highs and lows of a long 162 game season. Look at the Red Sox. In the month of May they lost 10 in a row and have followed that by currently (June 2) being the hottest team in baseball winning 7 in a row. Now that may not be the best example but you get my point.

5) WCWW  (Wei-Chung Wang Wednesdays) Grade: F

What started out as a great side note to the Brewers season became a major concern as the Brewers started losing some games. Especially after the May 19th meltdown in Atlanta.

This is one of the issues that the Brewers will eventually have to face. Wei-Chung Wang is holding a roster spot and I get that he has great 90+ mph stuff and is a southpaw which is valuable in baseball. I think he will be good, however when the Brewers took him in the Rule 5 draft in December, the priorities then were different. Now to many people’s surprise including myself, the team has gone from the conversation of just being competitive to the conversation of actually winning the NL Central. The problem is you have to keep Wang on your MLB roster even though he never pitched above Rookie baseball. I really hope the Brewers eventually don’t sacrifice making a trade or getting a more reliable proven arm for the sake of keeping Wang. You might have to return him back to the Pirates and worry about if it will hurt you later.

Now here are my trends for June to keep an eye on:

1) MLB Draft/Kendrys Morales

Image

The first week of June will be interesting for Brewers fans. We get to keep our great and high draft pick because the team did not sign Kendrys Morales (who has the same contract status as Kyle Lohse last year where you lose a draft pick if you sign him). Actually this is why nobody has signed Morales yet. I don’t think that type of contract is fair to the players by I digress.

Once the draft is over, many people will be asking what is the likely hood of a Morales signing. Lyle Overbay is doing a serviceable job at 1st base in the meantime, however the major weakness of the team is the Brewers bench. Also Overbay is not hitting as well in the twilight of his career and the Brewers at times have even moved Jonathon Lucroy to first on days he does not catch since he is among the best hitters in baseball.

Signing the switch hitting power hitter Morales to play 1st base immediately makes the lineup scary (they are currently warming up) and instantly makes the bench better. The question will be who is expendable. I am sure the Brewers would love to shop around Rickie Weeks however his terrible contract might have the Brewers release him rather then get him traded. This will be the top story as we head into the summer for this team. Stay tuned…..

2) Pitching depth

Jimmy Nelson

If you remember my blog on Matt Garza, I said he adds depth to a growing area of pitching.

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

When Gallardo had to miss a start the Brewers sent up Jimmy Nelson who went 5 2/3 gave up 5 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 6 K’s. Not too shabby for a guy who had at most a couple day’s notice that he was needed to help the big league team.

http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_05_25_milmlb_miamlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=mia

It is great to see to how much pitching depth we have. I do admit I just get giddy that in the next few years we could have a top of the rotation of Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson, two guys that bring it every time they are on the mound!

3) Jonathon Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy

Carlos Gomez is definitely the Brewers MVP. MLB Network interviewed him last week and it was a great interview. They mentioned he is definitely an MVP candidate this year and debated if he is on the verge of being a superstar. Here is the interview below:

Jonathon Lucroy is quickly becoming one of the most underrated catchers in the game. He is currently 6th in the league with a .317 average and has been so good that he was moved to 3rd in the lineup while Braun who was a mainstay there moved to 2nd. It has made the offense much more potent.

Now Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are two of the best catchers in the NL however I hope Lucroy gets some love. I wish Brewers fans vote to get him in the starting lineup for the All-Star game. He deserves it as one of those solid players that may get overlooked.

P.S. It’s a travesty that he is 4th in the voting for catcher!

4) Lineup

I mentioned this earlier. Ron Roenicke please don’t completely change this lineup once Ramirez returns. If he has to bat 5th or even 6th for the betterment of the team, then so be it!

Here is a quote from Jeff Sarmardzija (one of this year’s best pitchers) after he had his worst outing of the year against the recently improved Brewers lineup.

“When you face a team that has a plan, you can definitely tell,” Samardzija said. “They’re not only feeling good but going up with a lineup plan. They jumped on my fastballs, and that was their plan today.”

Signs of respect from a pitcher that has not had the best of luck this season getting wins.

5) Kyle Lohse

Kyle Lohse

To say he is not a major part of the Brewers resurgence would be plain wrong! Another brilliant signing by Mark A. and Doug Melvin! He is as of June 1st, 7-1 in 12 starts with a 2.60 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Gallardo may be the defacto ace of the Brewers, however Lohse is the true ace. He is pitching like a veteran does and when the team is struggling, you are beginning to have the confidence that he can get you a W. While the Brewers were struggling on their 10 game road trip, the highlight was his strong outing shutting down the Braves.

Yes, Adam Wainwright will most likely be the Cy Young for the NL, however Kyle Lohse is on pace to be a 20 game winner and after this gem, perhaps he begins entering the conversation of Cy Young. He also is not a bad hitter for a pitcher either. Let’s hope he keeps it up!

Bonus: Mark Reynolds

For a vet that was signed for a minor league contract (with the agreement he would make the team) his defense has been much better than advertised. He has played great defense while Ramirez has been on the DL. He is what he is on offense. Will give you the occassional HR but will strikeout alot. Still, if the Brewers are looking for a 3rd basemen bridge to developing a player in the minors, if Ramirez does not resign, Reynolds is your guy and will probably be a bargain to resign.

Important Series

June 2-5  vs Twins (Home/Away border battle that is always exciting)

June 6-8 @ Pirates (Big Series if the Pirates want to still contend. Teams won’t play again til late August)

June 13-15 vs Reds

June 23-25 vs Nationals

Side note: I really love the way Interleague has been woven into the season instead of happening over 3 weeks. All the games the Brewers have played vs the AL East reminds me of their old AL days and have all been very competitive on both sides.

It looks to be a great summer of Brewers baseball and as the weather warms up, so will the talk about how this could be a great season!

 

Best team in baseball shifts their focus to May

Let me just say that again Brewers fans. THE best team in baseball begins play as the calendar turns to May.

Currently a 21-9 and a .700 winning percentage (as of Friday May 2nd) the Brewers have a 6 game lead over 2nd place St. Louis who is inconsistent offensively. Now I want every Brewers fan to enjoy this, however please note that they can’t keep up this pace forever.

There will be a rough patch and a bump along the way this season.

Let’s review April for this team. Here were my 5 trends to watch for in April and my letter grades with how successful the Brewers were:

1) Schedule. A+  

I admit I would have been happy with a .500 record after April 20th playing the likes of Atlanta, @ Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and @ Pittsburgh. Through that date they ended up with a 14-5 record. And the brawl (that in my opinion Pittsburgh started perhaps because they are 1-6 currently vs Milwaukee) totally backfired. They are currently 9.5 games back fighting with the Chicago Cubs for 4th place.

The Brewers also had a 9 game winning streak during that tough schedule. It is why this team is for real. You don’t do well against last year’s playoff teams and call it a fluke. They earned it. And how about 12-3 on the road!? Nobody else in the NL Central has even a .500 record on the road!! I am going to start calling this team “The Road Warriors” They sure have the swagger that this former wrestling tag team had!

Image

2) Pitching A

Minus Matt Garza, all four starters in the rotation are pitching well. The Brewers starters throw quality starts like they are having their own competition.

Here is the ERA of the starters:

Gallardo 1.91

Lohse 2.70

Garza 5.00

Estrada 3.13

Peralta 2.04

And once it gets to the bullpen you might as well give up. The Brewers bullpen has been lights out. K-Rod is pitching like he is having a flashback to his Angel days and Will Smith was worth every bit for trading Nori Aoki to Kansas City. Here is a fun fact:

When K-Rod got his 13th save on Tuesday April 29, he had more saves than 13 teams have TOTAL WINS!??! Crazy.

Another great fact: Martin Maldonado is the first position player ever to hit the cover off the ball and record a scoreless inning in the same month!

3) Ryan Braun B

When in the lineup, Ryan Braun is putting up great numbers. He is playing like he has a chip on his shoulder. He already has a hand in a few of the Brewers wins. His injuries are concerning which I will get to later.

4) Segura and Gomez B- for Segura and A- for Gomez

Jean Segura is struggling at the plate which the Brewers decided to move him down to #8 in order to get him going. As of Friday May 2, there is too little of a sample size to see if this has helped due to him getting hurt in that freak dugout accident a week ago.

Carlos Gomez only gets a minus because he needs to be smart not to get baited into another fight this season. Stay focused on playing your game and if people don’t like it, they can do like you said, “strike you out.”

He is slowing becoming dare I say an potential MVP player. His offensive numbers are good and if you thought he lost a step on defense, think again. Can’t believe he robbed Joey Votto yet again. Votto’s reaction was priceless. He is a player that gets it unlike Gerrit Cole.

 

And for those that hate Gomez, I hope it is a sign of respect. He is a great player and there are moments like below where I feel like as he gets a little older the antics are slowly subsiding. Perhaps the national media likes to portray him as a man with a short temper, however seeing this hopefully gives you the full portrayal of Gomez. He is a player that plays with passion, plays all out, and leaves everything on the field. He should be celebrated not trashed.

 

 

5) Lineup B

The Brewers lineup is playing good. There are still guys who are not hitting yet to their potential, which the outstanding pitching is masking. Also it is a little concerning that the team has not scored enough runs to have a “laugher” so that the bullpen can rest. I would be worried if they still have trouble scoring as the calendar turns to June.

Here is the current usual lineup with comments:

Gomez. Thought he would not work in the lead-off position, but he has done fine. Still would rather have him in the middle of the lineup.

Scooter Gennett. Like everyone suspected, he is outplaying Ricky Weeks to the point where he is playing everyday. The man is showing he can hit and also can play quality defense. His first name is a cool baseball name too :)

Ryan Braun. When in the lineup, playing well, but they need to figure out if he should just bite the bullet and go on the DL. Remember last year I noted, that the Brewers were learning how to play without Braun and did well. This year surprises everyone except hardcore Brewers fans who already saw this. That suspension while bad from a team and PR standpoint did have a plus. It showed that the team can win without their best player.

Aramis Ramirez. After a hot start, he is in a 0-28 slump similar to his career cold starts. As much as I don’t like him as a baseball player, you have to give him credit for playing with a sore elbow cause he knows his team needs him. Ramirez was hit twice by St. Louis pitching on Monday April 28th.

Jonathan Lucroy. Offensively and defensively Lucroy is the most underrated catcher in baseball. Nice to see other team broadcasters are stating this as well. On Thursday the Reds broadcasters of Thom Brenneman and Chris Welch mentioned that. Lucroy is being Lucroy.

Khris Davis. Aside from being “Mr. Klutch” in extra innings, he is struggling in certain at-bats. At times he seems lost at the plate and overpowered by pitchers. Remember though. This is a man that has yet to play a full season in the majors.

Mark Reynolds/Lyle Overbay. While they are not shocking the world, they are proving to be some good veteran quality leadership either in the lineup or on the bench. That is all the Brewers ask for them to do which is much better than the first base disaster last year.

Jean Segura. He moved down from #2 to #8. While struggling at #2, Segura was moved to try to get him some confidence back. It remains to be seen if it works and if it works, will he move back to #2 and Scooter goes back to #8? My guess is Segura is 2 and Scooter becomes #1 moving Gomez down (6th?) to protect the middle of the lineup.

 

Here are some trends you need to keep an eye on for May:

1) Injuries/Health.

The Brewers are battling some injuries which has led to a short bench. While it did not hurt and they beat St. Louis April 28-29 with 3-4 of their stars out, I would not bet that happens all the time. A decision needs to come soon on Ryan Braun. I would say DL him so he can rest his rib cage injury. Then you can have a even bench.

Update: Braun has officially gone on the DL today May 3rd, retroactive to Sunday April 27th.

2) Matt Garza

Currently Matt Garza is 1-3 with a 5.00 ERA. He admittedly was quoted that he is not holding his weight and I admire him for saying that. The man is historically a gamer and career 3 ERA pitcher so he will figure things out. What is great about this rotation is that it is good enough to afford one pitcher to struggle at a time. How Garza pitches on May 5th will be important to see if he can turn things around.

3) Losing streaks.

Currently, the Brewers have yet to lose 3 in a row. This starting rotation is good and has proven to be very good. Since you came out of the gate with a great record, you have to go with the mindset of: avoiding sweeps and limiting the losing streaks. If the Brewers can do that, they will be able to maintain their lead.

4)  Short term memory loss

The Brewers need to have short term memory loss, forgetting that 6 win May that buried any chances of a playoff hope in 2013. This is a new year and a different team. While I don’t think history will repeat itself, the chance at a 3-4 game or more losing streak will get the media and fans talking about that again. Hopefully it will never come to that.

5) WCWW     Wei-Chung Wang Wednesdays.

Brewers Bullpen

 

I admit I love the Brewers bullpen. They really look like they truly like each other and have unbelievable chemistry. Chemistry as I get older is one of the most underrated non-stats in sports that is important for any team to succeed.

I do worry that the Brewers could be holding onto Wang too long because he is a Rule 5 draft pick who has pitched nothing above rookie ball and is not ready for pressure situations yet. Rule 5 player means he either has to stay with the Major League team the entire year or head back to Pittsburgh, his former team.

Right now it is ok to hold onto him cause he has unbelievable stuff as a left handed pitcher, but if it comes to overworking your bullpen just for the sake of keeping Wang, your priorities have changed from March to now and you might need to let him go in order to have a better reliever in place. Until that point, the Brewers are showing guts, playing with a chip on their shoulder, adding some character which good teams do.

Here is the first two installments of Wei-Chung Wang Wednesday.

 

 

Important Series

May 1-4 @ Reds

May 9-11 vs Yankees

May 13-15 vs Pirates (First time teams play since the Easter Brawl).

May 19-22 @ Braves

May 26-28 vs Orioles

Keep ‘em coming guys. Brewers fans across the nation are loving this!!

Dear Milwaukee Brewers: Embrace being hated.

Dear Milwaukee Brewers,

On this Easter Sunday back in 1987, you blessed us with one of the most incredible comebacks in team history by continuing your winning streak to 12-0.

 

 

You also during that season had completed our only no hitter in team history!

 

 

It was one of the best Aprils ever for me as a Brewers fan. This season may be the first since 87 that I have been pleasantly surprised by the Brewers start. If someone told me after one of the toughest starting schedules this year of any major league team, the Brewers would have the best record in baseball, be in first place, or look very good doing it, I would have thought you were lying to me. Don’t believe me, here is my previous blog to prove it.

The Shift focuses to Baseball

I would have been thrilled with a .500 record by this time. Now 14-5. Ecstatic is an understatement.

 

Eyes were raised when they took the air out of the World Champion Red Sox and swept them at home during their ring ceremony opening weekend.

Red Sox sweep

They next went to Philly and swept the Phillies in a park that gives them all sorts of trouble historically.

Then they swept a good Pirates team to win 9 in a row (which I think already you are in their heads after what happened today).

Bench Clearing Brawl

Brawl

Now I am not going to defend Gomez here because he is very stupid for basically being baited (possibly on purpose) into a fight. If Cole wants to be a baby because you slightly admired a home run, just tell him and his Pirates team to shut up and beat them on the field. It is clearly obvious they are upset that the Brewers as of Easter Sunday are 6-1 vs the Pirates this season.

Whatever Gerrit Cole’s motivation for doing this obviously backfired cause he ends up with a no decision as Jason Grilli blows his 2nd save in 2 days.

Ryan Braun is currently the most hated player actively playing in baseball for reasons I don’t want to rehash. However like I told someone recently, as a Brewers fan, what am I supposed to do? Hate the man? He has already made a statement in at least 3 games this year that we won. I to a degree have to root for him to do well in order for our team to do well overall. And anyone that does not like it will just have to deal with it.

Now Carlos Gomez may rival Braun in being one of the most hated players in the game. All the talent in the world and while I was his harshest critic, and still support the man, seriously stop. Opponents will now do this just to see you crack under the pressure, or be baited to brawl again.

Matt Snyder provides a great analysis on why I made a point to say Cole as a pitcher needs to learn to not open his mouth and beat the Brewers if he does not like what Gomez did.

Matt Snyder brawl analysis

This is why I am now saying this.

 

Brewers. Please embrace all the hate that will come your way after today and the rest this year. You are currently the BEST team in baseball record wise. It’s April and much can change, but the quicker you embrace being hated, the easier it will be when more hatred comes you way. And you might actually relish in it as it serves for motivation to prove everyone wrong.

And after the shenanigans on Sunday, Ryan Braun shuts the Pirates up by hitting a 9th inning game tying home run, I admit I roared and was pumped specifically cause of what the Pirates did to initiate this brawl. As a fan, you want to win Sunday’s game now more than any game so far this year and they do it in 14 innings. It felt good knowing the Pirates shenanigans blew up in their face and one of the most hated players had a part in doing it.

 

Enjoy it Brewers. It is a sign of respect. And you have thousands of Brewers fans like me who will embrace it and put their arms around you too. This team is quickly becoming a true Wisconsin underdog with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove something. And whatever happens this point forward, I know many fans like me are excited for Brewers baseball again after a horrendous season last year. Yes they won 9 in a row last April, but something feels different about this team this year.

And it makes for a awesome start to the sport I love.

Sincerely,

Brian

P.S. Keep pitching the way you are and continuing to knock the cover off the ball…. literally.

Ball_q0oh52xe_4k56tpn0

 

Update: 6:48 PM. Word is coming out that Carlos Gomez did tell Cole to shut up after Cole was barking at him. That ended things and Travis Snider (not even playing today) was one of the guys who attacked Gomez.

There is also talk that the Pirates were “admiring” many of their hits Saturday.

If this is all true, I have lost quite a bit of respect for the Pirates. I will continue to update this with links as the news about this comes in. What an Easter game.

Update: 9:21 PM

Here is a link to the Pittsburgh newspaper. I like how it was written objectively. Was Gomez wrong? Yes. However he should not fully take the blame for all of this. And what really irks me is how the Pirates bench handled this situation.

 

Benches cleared in the third inning. Gomez hit a two-out triple that bounced off the top of the wall. Gomez thought it was gone, so he flipped his bat and jogged to first base before taking off at a dead sprint when it stayed in.

Cole said something to Gomez when he went to third base to retrieve the ball from Josh Harrison, and Gomez took exception. He shouted back, and third-base umpire Jim Reynolds restrained him.

At that point, benches cleared. Snider came off the bench and got in Gomez’s face, causing Gomez to fight against Reynolds in an attempt to reach Snider. Snider, Russell Martin and Gaby Sanchez went after Gomez, shoving him to the ground. They threw punches, but not many landed. One did: Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado punched Snider in the head. Maldonado was the same player who slid into Jordy Mercer’s ankle during Friday’s game.

Carlos Gomez and other Pirates quotes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“That (Atlanta) game I know I go over (the line). But today I’m not,” Gomez said. “First of all, I hit a triple – it’s not a double – I’m not flipping my bat because I think it’s a home run. I thought it was an out. I thought it was a fly-ball out, line-drive center field. And I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, I had good contact but I don’t think it’s going out.’

“It’s not like I’m pimping a home run. Then I get to third base and somebody’s screaming at me – ‘It’s not your job.’ But everything’s over and Snider comes real angry and talks to me that way, so I responded back, he tried to punch me and everything started there. I don’t know why they’re mad for something like that.

“(Jose) Tabata hit a double, pimped it, we don’t do nothing. (Andrew) McCutchen do it yesterday. Russell Martin did it. We didn’t do nothing. We respect that – ‘You win, OK, enjoy it.’ We hit a double, we hit a triple, they get mad. I don’t think it’s fair.

“I’m not apologizing for nothing I did today. This is my job, I’ve been doing it for eight years like that. They know I play like that. It’s not to disrespect nobody. So if they take it like that, they don’t like it, that’s fine, and I’m fine with it. It’s not a big deal.”

In the Pirates’ clubhouse, Cole didn’t deny giving Gomez a piece of his mind in the aftermath of his triple.

“I grabbed the ball from (Harrison) and I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’” said Cole. “I didn’t curse at him, I didn’t try to provoke a fight. I was frustrated and I let my emotions get the better of me and I ended up getting one of my teammates hurt.

“Not too thrilled about it.”

Snider had left the Pittsburgh clubhouse before reporters were allowed in, but Martin made it clear that the Pirates weren’t happy with Maldonado’s role in the incident.

The fair thing would be to have our team hold down Maldonado so that Travis can go back and sucker-punch him right in the face,” Martin said. “That would be the fair thing to do. I don’t know if we ask the Brewers if they’re going to be down for that.”

Said Maldonado: “I saw Snider and Martin over Gomez. I could tell it wasn’t fair, so I had to protect my teammate. I don’t worry about (a suspension). That’s part of baseball. Whatever happens.”

As for the looming punishment for Gomez, the Brewers’ centerfielder said he’ll appeal whatever Major League Baseball hands down. Last season he was given a one-game suspension the day after the Braves game and accepted it.

“I’m going to appeal because I’m not the one who started it,” he said. “I’m not the one who started it. It’s the way I flip my bat every time. I think honestly, seriously, they think I flip the bat because it’s a home run. I flip the bat because I think it’s going to be a hard out and I say, ‘Good contact and I walk and I see the ball go, go, go, so I’m going to start running.’

“I’m not apologizing for nothing I did today. I do the stuff I’ve been doing for eight years. Why do people get mad and pissed off for something I do every time? And when they do it nobody get mad, nobody get pissed off? I don’t understand.”

Gomez, whose history of outbursts doesn’t figure to help him in the eyes of MLB, was asked if he felt the ensuing suspension would be longer this time around.

“I’m not expecting that,” he said. “I’m not the one who makes the decision. Whatever they say, I’m going to appeal it because I’m not the one that started nothing. I hit, I run and somebody’s screaming at me. That’s it. I’m not starting nothing.

“When they strike me out, I no say nothing. I walk to the dugout with my mouth shut and I don’t say nothing. They get hit, they’re screaming, I don’t think it’s fair. You want to do something? Strike me out and enjoy it. I’m not going to be pissed off for you to strike me out.

“I’ve struck out a lot of times and nothing’s happened.”

 

The focus shifts to Baseball

Now that one of the most chaotic and memorable NCAA March Madness tournaments is officially in the books we can turn the page in my favorite sport, Baseball.

Congrats on UCONN winning the title. I said during March, don’t trust anyone who was in the Top 25 because it does not matter this season. All that matters is who was playing hot at the right time and how they played in the tournament. The key to doing well in the bracket was picking the right upsets.

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Still UCONN winning defies even that logic. By the way, there is still a small part of me that is still recovering from one of the toughest Badgers losses in the history of the program. The thought is if everyone returns next year, they could be a immediate pick to return to the Final Four with possibly the deepest Wisconsin lineup ever.

 

Onto baseball. If you are a casual fan, I have to explain to you about how the baseball season works. In April, you should not look at the W-L record cause it is not as important until about late/May early June. Last year’s Brewers team proves that as they buried themselves in 6 weeks after a great April.

What is more important is watching trends and how the team is competing.

My thought was that this year’s Brewers team is going to surprise some people. They don’t have a household name minus Ryan Braun. And we know he will be scrutinized to the nth degree especially now that he is still dealing with nerve issues with his throwing hand thumb.

However, many people fail to see that this is a solid Brewers team. They have 3 solid position players in the essential spots in Jonathon Lucroy (C), Jean Segura (SS), and Carlos Gomez (CF). It is no fluke that this trio had a great season last year and IMO they are the new “faces” of the franchise.

Brewers Trio

Here are 5 important trends that you need to focus on about the Brewers for the month of April:

1) Schedule.

This schedule in April is brutal. Show me another team that has to play the Braves, Red Sox, Pirates, Cardinals all before April 17th!!! I challenge Brewers fans not to look at the Win-Loss total in April. If the Brewers can float around the .500 mark, I call this a great month. If they are slightly below, not terrible. If they are way below, cause for concern. However if they end up above .500, then this could be the beginning of a special season.

(As of April 8, the team is 4-2). I know it’s early but that sweep of the World Champion Red Sox on their home field during their opening weekend and their ring ceremony is a BIG DEAL. The Red Sox were NEVER swept last season. Sure Saturday’s game was ugly and the team is still having trouble getting in RISP (Runners in Scoring Position), however I don’t care. They swept the World Champs and that Sunday game where they shut them out 4-0 helped the entire state of Wisconsin cope with that Badgers loss. Statement Game.

Red Sox sweep

By the way did you see this last Friday? At least they played the opposite of Peralta falling everywhere. Pretty hilarious

Peralta falls during Red Sox Ring Ceremony

 

2) Pitching.

Pitching is the most important thing in baseball. If you don’t have quality pitching, you are not going to go far.

How about this rotation in the first week?

All 5 starters had quality starts. Garza had a no hitter into the 7th in his Brewer debut, and Gallardo has a 0.00 ERA in his two starts.

Couple of things here:

  • I love Wily Peralta 5th in the rotation. He has “ace” stuff and can now develop at his pace. Our 5th starter is better than your 5th starter!
  • We will soon look at Matt Garza as one of the best signings of the season, and possibly one of the best bargains a team has signed in recent history. He looked like a man with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. He will excel pitching 3rd in the rotation.
  • Gallardo will pitch as good if not better than 2011. Gallardo is an ace but not the type of ace that you are accustomed to. He does not do well with pressure. Now that he has Lohse and Garza to take some of the pressure off of him to overcompensate, he will just focus on pitching his game. If you shut out the Braves and Red Sox in your first two starts, it is cause for notice as this article shows.

Gallardo’s Hot Start

  • Marco Estrada. If he averages giving up 2 runs per game and is the 4th starter, I will take that EVERY time
  • Will Smith. He will be the unsung hero of the bullpen. A southpaw that throws hard and can pitch multiple innings.
  • Tyler Thornburg. He should be in the rotation, but it may be a blessing in disguise he is in the bullpen due to the Garza signing. Can pitch multiple innings and has lights out stuff. It also shows how much depth we have this year.
  • K-Rod. Nobody wanted him so Doug Melvin re-signed him for his 3rd go around. If the issues with Jim Henderson’s velocity continue, this was a brilliant re-signing to have a backup closer. After the Lohse, Garza and K-Rod signing, people need to lay off Doug Melvin. He knows what he is doing.

 

3) Ryan Braun.

So Ryan Braun continues to have an odd nerve issue with his throwing thumb. Is it cause for concern? Yes. It is a possible distraction from the PED talk? Perhaps. Yes the Brewers probably need Braun to be healthy in order for them to have a real shot at the playoffs, however his suspension was a blessing in disguise last season since he was hurt anyway.

It showed to the other players in a down year that they can compete without their star player. Khris Davis who will be solid may have never gotten an opportunity this fast to show what he has if Braun was playing. Logan Shafer may not be the defensive and quality bench player he is today without last season happening.

Here is my personal opinion

And to the national media who are angry about the Brewers fans giving Braun a standing ovation. Do you for once perhaps maybe think that Brewers fans did that on purpose just to piss you off? Guess what, it worked based on this article.

Media has it out for Brewers fans who cheer Braun Opening Day

How is this different from Yankees fans cheering A-Rod last year, or Giants fans cheering Bonds in the past? Big difference. Milwaukee is a small market.

Growing up in Wisconsin, we can’t stand the national media because you never really give or write articles to support Wisconsin teams when they have a chance to succeed. The Badgers were the #2 seed but most national media did not think they would win or ever get to the final four. The same is said about the 2011 Brewers.

That was less about Ryan Braun and more about the fans giving the national media the finger. Most people in Wisconsin could care less what major media like ESPN think. Good for the fans to take advantage of this moment, and shame on the media to not figure that out that it was about them. They completely fell for it if you read the twitter comments.

Brewers fans know exactly what they have to deal with. However Braun is the longest signed player through 2020. People hate him so much, I almost myself want to purposely cheer for him to make people mad. All that happened, I just have more important things to do and won’t hold someone to a higher accountability cause he is a well known person. The quicker people move on, the better off you can focus on the how great other things in baseball is.

 

4) Segura and Gomez.

The 2013 All-Stars need to have a similar season as they did last year if the Brewers will compete. While Segura might still be struggling due to his lingering shoulder issue, I do like the way Carlos Gomez is playing. I think he is continuing to develop as a player everyone thought he would be. There is a saying that as you get older, you tend to mature and put childish things away. I think last season Gomez has begun to mature. He still gets intense which is part of his personality, however he visibly shows signs that he does not let it fester.

P.S. Thank you Angels. First you give us your top prospect in Segura and he just becomes an All-Star in his first full season, and because you were impatient with Garza, he said screw you and the Brewers swooped in to sign them. I wonder if the media is mad because they never saw the Brewers-Garza interest?

5) Lineup.

There has been some talk that the lineup is really top heavy and weak 6-8. The daily lineup is Gomez, Segura, Braun, Ramirez, Lucroy, Davis, Reynolds/Overbay, and Gennett/Weeks (last four guys interchangeable batting 7/8 based on matchups).

It’s too early to say one way or another if it will work. Let’s just wait awhile before making adjustments. With having to use the DH this past weekend, I don’t think it is enough of a sample size, however it is something to keep an eye on if they continue to struggle to score runs.

It’s great to have baseball back!

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