Archive for the ‘Brewers’ Category

About Those “Entertaining” Brewers….

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Yeah, well, maybe not so much.

There has already been some attrition to the Brewers’ lineup, with Aramis Ramirez re-straining his knee and going to the D. Then on Sunday, making matters more dire, young shortstop Jean Segura was involved in a collision at second base on a double-play turn, and he left the game with a bruised quadricep. He is being listed as day-to-day with that injury.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel glumly reviews the opening week of the 2013 baseball season, saying

[I]t’s almost unbelievable to think that six games into the season, the Milwaukee Brewers are already in scramble mode.

Their starting pitching has struggled as a whole. The bullpen, even with an extra arm, is being overworked. Ryan Braun has missed time with a neck injury. Aramis Ramirez is already on the disabled list. The bench is short and inexperienced.

The end of yesterday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks proved shocking and dismaying.

First, we have John Axford losing his job as closer by, well, blowing another save failing to prevent the Diamondbacks from scoring in extra innings in spectacular fashion. Analysis of his highly combustible start to the season points towards a change in his release point.

Next, there was a Ryan Braun holding a bat sighting in the bottom half of the inning in which Axford ignited the Diamondbacks’ offense. Rickie Weeks was at the plate with two men on base and Heath Bell laboring on the mound. The Brewers had already rallied against Diamondbacks closer J. J. Putz, and with Weeks and apparently Braun set to come to the plate with only one out and the winning run on base, it looked as if they might show real “grit,” real fight, real heart and pull out a victory despite their terrible bullpen and incredibly shallow bench.

But Weeks watched three strikes sail by him, and then Braun was withdrawn back into the dugout and pitcher Kyle Lohse (?!?) was sent to the plate, lumber in hand, game on the line. I guess Braun’s neck is really hurting. Predictably, Lohse had a poor plate appearance, striking out, ending the game, and sending Brewers fans home sad.

Ron Roenicke spoke with the Journal Sentinel about Braun’s non-plate appearance, saying,

“He (Braun) couldn’t hit,” Roenicke said. “He was up there so if it came down to it, they had to figure out if he could hit or not and make a decision whether to maybe walk Rickie or not. So, just send him up there and see what happens.

“But he couldn’t swing.”

On the other hand, despite the loss, the game saw lots of scoring, there were comebacks and a near-comeback, and the game proved pretty entertaining in the abstract. But for fans of baseball in Milwaukee, this game does not portend and enjoyable future, at least in the short-term.

Braun returned to the lineup for Monday’s game against the Cubs, and, as of this writing, he is 2 for 2 with a double, and RBI, and a run scored. So, despite their troubles, the Brewers are proving capable of clubbing the Cubs, which should light up some smiles in the Brewers dugout, clubhouse, and the whole city of Milwaukee.


Written by jjvedamuthu

April 8, 2013 at 12:31

Two Injuries, Two Instances of Questionable Thinking

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I have mentioned before that I thought the Brewers might prove to be enormously entertaining this season. The exciting mix would be a potent offense with some problems with run prevention. While the starting pitching looks pretty generally competent, the Brew Crew’s run prevention woes center more on some defensive issues and some serious questions regarding their bullpen’s ability to (1) keep runners from reaching base, (2) prevent batters from making good contact, (3) ensuring that batters don’t hit the balls with which they make contact beyond the outfield fences. Despite these problems, however, I thought the Brewers’ offense would provide a nice balance resulting in high-scoring and thus “entertaining” ballgames.

Well, the interesting nature of Brewers baseball took a hit last night, with both Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez missing either the whole ballgame or a significant portion of it due to injury. In Braun’s case, it was neck spasms that kept him out of the lineup and the entire ballgame. Though it is not regarded as serious, what few glimpses we caught of Braun during the game broadcast revealed he had to turn his torso to look from side to side, and he never turned his neck once. Ramirez, however, will be absent from run-producing activity for some time, for he was placed on the Disabled List today. With Corey Hart’s absence, this makes for at least two key offensive pieces missing at least the next two weeks of play. And given how tricky neck/back issues, when can Braun be counted on to be, well, Ryan Freakin’ Braun, masher of baseballs and run-producing madman?

And the bullpen issues I anticipated have manifested themselves. The club itself appears concerned enough about bullpen quality to have made the decision to carry 13 pitchers on their current roster, leaving them an extremely thin bench. Now, with both the starting first baseman and third baseman out of ht lineup, the Brewers may have to do something they resisted in the spring, promoting Hunter Morris. But they want him to succeed at Triple-A. But these injuries will likely leave the Brewers trapped in a dilemma between the conflicting interests of major-league competitiveness and player development.

On another injury-related note, Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey will be returning to the Disabled List. While making his first start since returning from missing all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery, Lackey left in the fifth inning, suffering a strained right bicep. The only good news was that it was the bicep rather than the elbow.

In much funnier news, I read that the Phillies are finding their corner outfield defense to be a concern. Heck, Delmon Young hasn’t even played an inning in the field for them! Just wait until they get a load of that travesty. (As a Twins fan, I feel well-qualified to note that Delmon Young might as well be using a frying pan when attempting to field his position.) This again points out how foolish it is for the Phillies to continue eschewing the use of advanced statistical metrics, particularly newer fielding metrics like FRAA or UZR; old-school notions like fielding percentage are easily fooled by terrible-glove guys like Dominic Brown and Delmon Young since a guy can’t make an error that would reduce his fielding percentage if he never gets to the batted ball in the first place. Brown didn’t make an error yesterday, after all, he just played a single into a triple.

Hilariously, we also have the instance of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire blaming a reliever for what happened in the Twins’ loss to Baltimore. Yes, the guy did serve up a grand slam, but Gardenhire himself made at least two bad decisions at the end of that game. First of all, Gardenhire ordered an intentional walk which loaded the bases before bringing in the lefty to face the monstrously hot Chris “The Krusher” Davis. When he brought in said left-handed relief pitcher, he didn’t bring his best lefty to face The Krusher, Glenn Perkins, but rather brought in the marginal guy out of the bullpen, Tyler Robertson. He didn’t use Perkins because it wasn’t the ninth inning. Perkins is, after all, the Twins’ “closer,” and conventional wisdom holds that a manager must use his closer in the ninth inning when he can get the “save.” In this way a statistic of dubious value, the save, determined Gardenhire’s bullpen usage. Which is about the most idiotic thing conceivable. Bases loaded in the eight with the game on the line, why use the second-best left-handed pitcher you have? Gardenhire then compounded his already multiple errors in judgment by shifting blame for the result onto the pitcher he used. Look, if the guy’s fastball can’t beat Davis’ swing, then you use someone else on Davis; the best pitch there is, after all, is the located fastball. The only thing worse than Gardenhire’s behavior has been the complicity in the media in transmitting Gardenhire’s “reasoning” rather than asking him why he is managing “by the numbers” rather than thinking through his decisions. Oh well, I guess the larger point to observe is that the baseball media and the conventional wisdom remain inextricably interlinked.