It’s been a busy couple weeks since I have posted last, with the Brewers lead in the Central dipping all the way down to two games.
Even though the Crew has been playing well since the All-Star break the Cubs have been playing better, which in my mind benefits us. Think about this, the Cubs have been playing their best ball of the year and are currently the hottest team in baseball yet they are still two games behind us. The Cubs have won 21 of their last 28 games. Think about that for one second. There is no way that the Cubs will keep this pace up yet they are still trailing us by 2 games. As we continue to play barely above .500 ball we still are able to keep our lead in the division. The big concern is that after we finish today with the Reds we will be heading to St. Louis followed by a series with the Mets.
Now these two series I believe will have significant impact on out season. If we can continue to play above .500 ball and get through these two series without losing our lead on the division to the Cubs I see this as being a big confidence booster. This team is still very young and we all saw what happened last year when the pressure of creeping back into the wild card and division did to us, we lost ten straight. This team is way to talented for us to do something like that this year but non the less we the pressures of being in a pennants race are already showing. I’m not sure what Yost was doing last night when he called a hit and run with a non contact hitter in Jenkins and a slow base running Fielder. It is decisions like these that make people in the city of Milwaukee call for Yost’s head. Besides not using his bench like he should in situations like this he is also still doing what Yost does best and that is leave his pitchers in to long. I understand that we shouldn’t over use or bullpen but Yost seems to try to let pitchers work their way out of things way to much and this usually results in they getting smacked around and then bringing in a reliever after two runs have already been put on the board as well as having base runners on.
There was an interesting question on sports radio 1250 wssp the other day; the question was has Yost won or lost more games with his decision making and consciences seems to be that he has lost more games. I could not agree more, and I know it’s weird that I am calling for the head of a first place manager but I just can not deal with his lack of intelligence. Well with the Brewers down 1-0 already in the third I’m going to finish watching the game and hope that our leader Yost doesn’t make another dumb decision that will ultimately cost this team another game.
After a rough series with the Cubs, the Crew bounced back to take the first game form the Pittsburgh Pirates, much in part to the home town guy Damien Miller.
As much as it pained me that we lost the Cubs series it will soon be forgotten. With three more games against the lowly Pirates and followed by the Nationals the Crew looks like they could close out the first half of the year with two more series wins. Villanueva picked up his sixth win of the season as he relived Suppan who game up all three of the runs scored by the Pirates. While it looked like it was going to come down to the final inning, the Pirates pen got blown up in the seventh for 7 runs, four of those runs coming from a Damien Miller grand slam. Miller has been real hot as of late and like I mentioned in an earlier blog, he is a great back up catcher. This is why this team is becoming a legitimate title contending team in the NL, a different player can step up every night and it’s really not that big of a shock. In this instance yes, it was a shock cause as much as I love Miller since he is from my home town I can’t say I expected him to knock in 7 RBI’s and 2 HR’s. Our batting order has become very solid 1-8. When your 7th and 8th hitters are Geoff Jenkins and Rickie Weeks you know you are playing for a high powered offensive team. And when I say high powered I mean a team that is top three in runs, HR’s and top 5 in BA. With hitting like that its no surprise that we have two guys headed to the All-Star game, one of which is going to be a starter.
Prince will be getting the start at first base over Alber Pujols who is my mind is one of the top two players of my generation with A-Rod being the other. I consider Bonds to be before my generation only because I am taking about the Bonds that doesn’t look like a he should be on American Gladiators. I think Prince will be making many more All-Star teams but its going to be hard to be a continues starter with guys like Derek Lee and Pujols in the NL. I also have to throw out some congrats to JJ Hardy who will also be making his first All-Star team. Even though he has cooled down significantly since early tear, he is still putting up solid numbers and is playing some solid defense. Sheets and Cordero will also be making a trip to San Fransicso to represent the Brewers. Like I have said in my last four or five posts Sheets has become one of the best pitchers in the league and has gotten himself back to the Sheets we all knew when we signed him to the fat contract. Now even though Cordero has not been as lights out as he was earlier in the season he is still shutting the door on a regular basis when he comes in to close. My only beef is that our pen and Cordero have blown up twice now when Gallardo is pitching. This kid should be 3-0 right now but instead is 1-0 with 3 quality starts. My only reason for being made about that is that if Gallardo is sitting at 3-0 right now his confidence would be through the roof. I’m sure he isn’t suffering right now but looking at a 3-0 record is always more encouraging then 1-0. I think it is safe to say that he will be staying up in the rotation now that Cappy is back.
Which brings me to the questions who goes to the pen and who goes down to Triple A. First of all there is no question in my mind that Bush gets put in the pen and Vargas becomes the number five starter. Vargas in my mind is just a better pitcher and gets the job done. It is really exciting to think of a starting rotation of Sheets, Cappy, Suppan, Gallardo and Vargas. I look at those five and think we could easily put together winning streaks of six or seven games. I just have not felt comfortable with Bush pitching all season long and would feel a lot better with him in the pen. I look at the final six games before the All-Star break and think we should win at least five of these games. Of course I would like to win out and go into the All-Star break on a seven game winning streak but I figure we will have on game were we go through the motions and get beat by around four or five runs.
Cappy will take the mound tomorrow for his first game back from the DL and I like that he is coming back against a team like the Pirates. This team by no means is an offensive powerhouse and I think he should be able to get to them earlier and pick up a win. Lets go Brewers!
The Brewers have been on quit a tear since my last post, taking two of three from the Royals and sweeping the Astros. But now we head to Wrigley for a much anticipated series with the Cubs.
There is no love loss between these two teams and especially their fans. Cubs fans are still talking about how they are going to win the division and the Brewers are about to hit their usual slide and fall apart. The problem with that statement is that these are not the Brewers of old. These Brewers are bringing it all together now. Everybody is hitting, our pitching is really picking up and the bullpen is holding it down. Last nights series sweeping game against the Astros proved all of this. Suppan doesn’t get the win but he pitched a great game and then our pen came up big and got it done, with Bush holding on for the win. I really feel this is where Bush shines the most (in the pen) and his performance tonight showed why he should be our long reliever and why we should keep Vargas in the rotation once Cappy returns from the DL.
And how about my hometown boy Damian Miller? No big deal I only grew up 20 min away from where he grew up lol. Miller has been a real solid back up and I’m really glad we have been able to hold onto him. I know he isn’t amazing but it’s still nice knowing that our backup catcher can also produce. Since Rickie has come back our offense has been really up and only looks to get better. With no Zambrano this weekend look for the Crew to score a lot of runs. I really feel that the Brewers could burry the division with the next two series if they are able to continue this run. If we sweep the Cubs and the Pirates or even take three of four from the Pirates I feel we might put ourselves out of reach. The big key is winning the Cubs series. As everybody knows they are in second in the Central and 7.5 games back, the thing with this series is that every game we win we put more distance between us and them. The record I’m predicting by the All-Star break is a record of 54-34. I know it’s a tall task to ask them to take eight of the next ten, but with three series with three under .500 teams, this are the runs championship teams go on. Could anybody say they thought the Brewers would be 20 games over .500 by the All-Star break? If they did they were either on drugs are just joking with their buddies.
So, we got Gallardo kicking things of against Hill in a game that I see us winning. This young kid has lived up to all the expectations and beyond thus far. I had a feeling this kid was going to be good but he has looked like he has been in the league for years. With two solid starts and almost two wins had our pen not blown his lead this guy looks like he could be the real deal. With him and Sheets both pitching this weekend I think we got two wins for sure. Sheets has become on of the dominate pitchers in the league winning five of his last six games and bring an ERA of 3.09 with him. Gallardo could someday be that pitcher and I feel sooner rather than later. This is a big series and one that could if things don’t go our way, could really make things interesting in the Central again. So let’s put together another solid series and finish this division and crush the hopes that the Cubs fans have that they can catch us.
With the Brewers series sweep over the Giants the Crew finally look like they have gotten themselves back on track. Of course the Giants are in last place in the NL west and are slumping but a sweep is a sweep. With the debut of Yovani Gallardo, a complete game by Sheets and two grand slams in one game this series was defiantly worth watching.
We’ll jump to the second game since I already covered the first game in my last post. Sheets pitched a gem of a game and went the distance to get his second complete game of the year. Going the distance was huge for our bullpen as then they are able to take a night off and rest up, especially with the way that Vargas and Bush seem to only be able to make it til the sixth inning lately. Sheets is really proving his dominance as of late. In his last four starts he is 3-0, and should be 4-0 had Cordero not blown that save in Texas. You can tell by how he conducts himself on the mound that his confidence is back and that he knows he is really hitting his spots. With 24 K’s and an ERA of 1.63 over the month of June, Sheets could be making his way to another ALL-Star Game.
On to game three, Claudio Vargas gets his sixth win with a 7-5 victory. Vargas was lights out once again through the first five innings and then blows up in the sixth. Does nobody else see the trend here? Vargas gets himself to the sixth inning every start and then usually gives up a couple runs. I don’t know what it is but once he gets into the sixth he just seems to really run out of gas. In the fifth he threw 9 pitches and looked to be on a roll but then the wheels fell off in the sixth. He was a different pitcher when he came out for the sixth. He was missing his spots and walked two of the four batters he faced. I am a big fan of Vargas and feel he should get the fifth spot over Bush but he needs to start making it to through the sixth to take some pressure off of our bullpen. I can’t be too critical though since he does have a 6-1 record and the Crew has won 11 of his 14 starts.
Billy Hall welcome to the 2007 season! After a slow start to the year, Hall is starting to come around. After a horrible month of April and a decent month of May, June has been Halls coming out party. Almost all of his numbers are up with month with the most important ones being a .315 Avg, .405 OBP and 12 RBI’s. He is starting to take a lot of walks as well as put some good wood on the ball. I think this guy is really going to be a key to our success. At the beginning of the year Hall was supposed to be our go to guy, and even though he had his struggles I still feel like he somebody I would want up at the plate with the tying run on third in the ninth. The grand slam in game three I think is really going to be a turning point in his season and will propel him back to where he was last year. Can you imagine our lineup with the Billy Hall of last year?
With a weekend series with the Royals coming up I look for the Crew to continue to roll and sweep the Royals or at worst take two of three. Suppan will kick things off on Friday against former Brewers pitcher Jorge De La Rosa. Suppan will try to get himself back on track after three straight losses and put some more room between the Brewers and the second place Cardinals that trail by 7.5 games. Another exciting weekend of Brewers baseball. Lets go Crew!
Yovani Gallardo the Brewers top pitching prospect showed that he was worth the wait last night, pitching a solid 6 1/3 while only giving up four hits and only three earned runs.
While it looked like Gallardo was on his way to an easy win after finishing the sixth he struggled through the seventh and the Giants scored three more runs to cut the lead to one. Villy did a very nice job coming in and getting out of the inning with out letting the Giants tie the game and the Turnbow pitched a solid inning to set up Cordero for his league leading 26 save. Even though Cordero struggled and scared the **** out of a sold out Miller Park Stadium, he got himself out of a bases loaded with one out jam to preserve the win. Over all I thought it was a great performance by the entire Brewer pitching staff. Gallardo showed why he has been looked at as the top pitching prospect in Triple A. He showed no fear out on the mound and went after every batter. Even when facing Bonds he still went after and didn’t look scared to pitch to him. This kid is only going to get better as he gets more Major League experience. He threw his pitches with confidence and did an amazing job painting the edges. I’m already getting excited for his new game!
Once again the offense is coming through. I know I’ve been beating this like a dead horse but Corey Hart is straight up balling right now. I believed that he was going to be a solid player and possibly something special but he is blowing my expectations away. I understand that he probably will cool off a bit but I really like what I’m seeing out of this kid. He has a solid glove in RF and has the best arm in the outfield and now his offense is blooming. We have to have one of the best 1-5 batting orders in the League. Braun continues to show why he was pegged as the top offensive prospect with another solid game. And even more impressive, he is really making some great plays on defense. That throw to first on the bunt was not an easy play. He is really starting to step it up on the defensive side. Yeah he is still going to make mistakes and does have five errors on the year but everybody knew coming in that he wasn’t a gold glove third baseman. I think he will turn into a great defensive player but he will make some mistakes along the way. Going back to the offensive side Prince continues to prove he is one of the best offensive players in the game by blasting another HR. I don’t even know what to say about him anymore, everything has been said over and over. There are no more people saying he has the potential to be this or that, he has become a legitimate All-Star. It was also nice to get Rickie back in the lineup and make some solid contact and get a couple hits. I think that he is hitting in a good spot and that this might be the best place for him because he has the speed to be bunted over by the pitcher, where guys like Estrada will probably be thrown out. Overall this was another solid game by the Crew.
Sheets hits the mound tonight looking to give us our third straight series win. I’m feeling pretty good about this game. Like I said earlier, I think Sheets has gotten himself back to top form and is going to be looking at a 17 maybe 20 win season. He’ll be taking on the youngster Tim Lincecum who has shown that he has good stuff. Looks like it could turn out to be a pitchers duel. Lets go Crew!!
In a game that was disappointing, exciting and then heart breaking all at the same time I’m not sure how I should be feeling. Should I be happy that we made such a great comeback and showed great heart? Or should I be upset that besides Suppan getting worked all game long, we had the bases loaded in the 9th with 0 outs and could only get one run out of it?
I understand we can’t win every game but it would have been huge to get a sweep and bring a nice 5 game winning streak to Miller Park. The thing that upsets me is once we did load the bases I knew that we had Graffy and then Counsel coming up to the plate. Thank god Counsel was able to get the tying run in but I defiantly didn’t feel confident with those two coming up. I understand that in a situation like this when we are able to have Prince play DH to give him a bit of a break and have Graffy play first, but these two should not be in the lineup at the same time. On a more positive note, how about our ability to put runs on the board over the last 5 games. We have been able put some good wood on the ball and notch 34 runs over the last 5 games!
A big part of that has been the play of Hall, Hart and Jenkins. Hall seems like he is starting to get back to his old self, and by old self I mean prior to the 2006 season. This was back when Hall didn’t think of himself as a power hitter and would just make good contact and would have good solid plate appearances. I think Hall is finally starting to come out of his slump and he is doing it by having a good eye and making the pitchers come to him. Hall has 8 walks and 9 hits over his last 6 games. Another player that I have always like since I first saw him playing last year is Corey Hart. I know my last post is about him but this kid is just on a tear as of late. With another huge game yesterday I would think he has solidified his spot at leadoff. To correct myself, in my last post I had mentioned possibly packaging Jenkins in a deal to get another pitcher. I do agree that he is needed because he is one of the few veterans, but I also feel that he is one of the few expendable players that are worth something in the market. Now after his recent tear I still feel like if we could get another solid pitcher we pull the trigger, but I would not be upset at all if we kept him. Like I’ve been saying all season its kind of weird being in the position to be making deals to strengthen our team instead of trying to get anything for a player because he is going to leave us at the end of the season.
On another positive note we are going to be witnessing the debut of Yovani Gallardo tonight. I will hopefully be in attendance, but I will have to see if all the scalpers bought up all the $12 tickets assuming Bonds would be near the record. Either way I am really excited to see what this kid can bring to our club and to our rotation. Hopefully I’ll see ya at the game tonight, let’s go Crew!!
Ladies and gentlemen I believe we have found our new leadoff man. As much as I like Rickie Weeks, I always felt he was a decent leadoff man but would not be a good to great leadoff man. Now I’m not claiming Hart to be the next great leadoff man, but I got a feeling he is going to be able to keep up similar numbers to he recent ones at the #1 spot. You may be saying to yourself, I know he has been pretty good but his numbers aren’t that great are they?
Well let me break them down for ya; .353 Avg, .463 OBP, .612 SLG, with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 7 BB in 34 plate appearances. Now I know this is only a small sample but none the less these are some pretty solid numbers. The only number that I actually care about is .463 OBP. This screams leadoff hitter. What is a leadoff hitter supposed to do? Get on base and that is exactly what this kid is doing. It makes no sense to me why Yost took him out of the leadoff spot for a couple games after he showed that he blossomed there. (Check my last post for more on Yost’s excellent managing)
Then what do you do with Rickie when he comes back from the DL? By putting him in the 6th spot this benefits the team and Rickie. First we now have a very good hitter at the 6th spot that can get things at the bottom of the order. Secondly and more importantly is that being in the 6th spot Rickie doesn’t have as much pressure put on him right away and he can slowly make his way back as well as maybe puts a little chip on his shoulder about losing his leadoff spot. Nothing wrong with a little competition for a spot in the lineup, this will make both players only play harder and don’t forget about Gwynn.
There have been many fans calling for Gwynn to be the leadoff hitter. The problem with Gwynn is that he doesn’t know how to take a walk and that he hasn’t become an everyday player yet. As much as I have liked Jenkins over the years, I think that the platooning should end and that they should do everything thing they can to package Jenkins or Gross maybe even both with a couple prospects and get some more help in the pen. This would firm up our outfield with Hart RF, Gwynn CF, and Hall at LF. We all know that Gwynn is more comfortable in CF and by moving Hall over to LF we now have a great outfield defensively and offensively (once Hall gets it going again). So what does my lineup look like with these players in the field?
Hart RF, Hardy SS, Braun 3rd, Prince 1st, Hall LF, Weeks 2nd, Gwynn CF, Estrada C, pitcher 9th. If I am correct, I’m pretty sure a manager’s job is put the best players out there that give us the best chance to win. This isn’t little league where everybody has to get equal playing time. Forget all the lefty righty lefty ****, just put out best players in the lineup and let’s win some ball games. It doesn’t matter where you bat in the order you still step into the box and see the same pitches as everybody else. Yes, the first couple of batters are going to see about 1 more at bat per game but if Weeks and Gwynn feel like they should be leading off then show everybody it doesn’t matter where you hit and still get on from the 6th and 7th spot.
Like I said in my last post, Yost needs to quit over thinking and just put the best players out there and leave the lineup the same for more than two games. With the lineup I have listed we have great OBP guys at the lead off as well as the 6th and 7th spot. This is going to make for long innings for pitchers and there are no easy outs in this lineup like Counsell and Graffy. Time to get it together Yost or your head is going to be on the chopping block. Taking 2 of 3 from the Tigers defiantly helped take the pressure off but its going to take a couple more series wins to get back to your good graces you had at the beginning of the year.
June 15, 2007