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Posted on: May 2, 2008 4:58 pm
 

With Gallardo out...

I think we all realize that this is bad, bad news for the Brewers. To replace Gallardo in the rotation the answer is simple; we have a major league starter in Dave Bush that has already been recalled from AAA Nashville. But what if (when) Ben Sheets goes down? Jeff Weaver? Zach Jackson? That also leaves us with Jeff Suppan as our de facto ace. A guy with a career 4.62 average as our #1 starter? We are in big trouble.

But let's just say that Sheets stays healthy the whole season. As I am continually reminded, it's a contract year, maybe he'll push through injuries that might have resulted in a DL stint in other years. Either way, the rest of the guys need to step it up. From everything that Carlos Villanueva and Manny Parra have shown in the past, both in the majors and minors, they are better than what they've given us so far this year. Very few players are at their best right out of spring training, so I'm not worried yet. Dave Bush, on the other hand, has rarely shown us anything very good. But he's a guy that you can always count on to go out there every 5 days, and he did lead the Brewers in wins the last two years. How, I'm not sure, but I guess it's the results that matter.

But as I continue to tell myself, Gallardo is young and you know it is killing him to not be out there pitching. I'm hoping this will speed up his recovery process and he could possibly be back for a September playoff push. I just hope this injury doesn't kill the Brewers morale as the injury to Ben Sheets last year seemed to do. I hope the whole team is actually motivated by this. They all need to step it up, both the hitters and the pitchers, if they want to have a chance to beat the Cubbies and the Cardinals and still be in this come September.

Go Brewers, and long live Ben Sheets' shoulder, back, ear, and fingers!

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 7, 2008 8:42 pm
 

Brewers: Week 1

In 2007 the Brewers got off to a fabulous 24-10 start, only to finish two games shy of the division title. This year, after one week, the Brewers are off to a 5-1 start. Will this be a repeat of last season or are the Brewers for real this time?

In April there were several Brewers playing over their heads (*ahem* J.J. Hardy), leading to a record that they just couldn't maintain all season long. So this is my assessment of the guys so far (excluding starting pitchers, as all but Sheets have only made one start) Some of them won't maintain this pace, some need to pick it up.

Playing over his head:

Jason Kendall- I'm not quite expecting him to be hitting .467 all season long. But the way he's handled our pitchers I would be happy with a .267 average. I expect his play behind the dish to stay about the same throughout the season, but I'm certainly not counting on getting as much production out of our #9 hitter as we have so far.

Gabe Kapler- Come on. Nobody expected this out of Kapler. Two homers already in only sixteen ABs. If he kept playing like he is now, we wouldn't even want Mike Cameron back. Nevertheless, I expect him to remain a solid bench player when Cameron returns.

Let's get it going:

Eric Gagne- I'm not expecting a 45 save season from Gagne. I know, I know, he's past his prime, no more HGH, blah blah blah. But HGH doesn't create ability that wasn't there in the first place. Barry Bonds would still have been a great player even without "help." Gagne is better than what he's shown us so far, although he has only shown us 2 innings.

Prince Fielder- Don't let the .364 average through week 1 fool you. He's gotten really lucky with dribblers sneaking through the infield. Prince has put together some less than fabulous at bats over this week, and he clearly has yet to find his power stroke. Prince isn't locked in yet. He'll be better over the course of the season, even though the average will obviously go down.

J.J. Hardy- Okay, the "I've been sick" excuse will only fly for so long. He slugged a fabulous .158 over week 1. At this rate, Ben Sheets will have more RBIs at season's end than J.J. will. He just looks lost at the plate. I'm not expecting the start he had last season or even the final numbers he had, but this is not the J.J. Hardy that Brewers fans expect.

Right where they should be:

Ryan J. Braun- Picked up right where he left off last season. Still waiting for the steals to come, though.

Corey C. Hart- I continue to maintain that he should be hitting in the 5 spot. Still excelling with runners in scoring position (limited ABs, I know), very aggressive on the base paths and great instincts.

Who knows?

Bill Hall- Was 2006 a fluke, or was 2007? Personally, I think he should be somewhere in the middle. He struggled last year because of his switch to the outfield, where he was clearly not comfortable. Now that he's back in the infield, I think it's definitely possible for him to put up numbers similar to his '06 season.

Rickie Weeks- Yeah yeah, potential potential. Still waiting for that to actually show up. I know Rickie can be great. I just want to see him show it for an extended period of time. So far he's been doing a pretty good job getting on base, he just needs to bring that average up to be a leadoff hitter. Way way up.

 

Gallardo is supposed to come back mid-late April, Cameron the end of the month. My prediction: with Gallardo's return, Mota is gone, Bush to the bullpen. With Cameron's return, Gabe Gross is outta here.

Posted on: March 25, 2008 9:38 pm
 

Why Carlos Villanueva is better than Manny Parra

Okay, I admit I've been a little biased when I say I prefer Carlos Villanueva over Manny Parra for the last pitcher roster spot. Now, with the recent release of Claudio Vargas, it appears as though both of these guys will make the rotation. However, with Yovani Gallardo due to return in mid-April, one of these guys is likely to get bumped out of the rotation, probably to AAA. Here's why it's Carlos that we should keep (although I kind of hope we keep them both and get rid of Bush).

  1. "Experience"

While Villanueva can hardly be called a veteran with his 12 career starts, he trumps Parra who is still a big league baby with 2 starts. Not to mention Villanueva started several tough games in the latter part of our pennant race.

      2. Versatility

Parra was pretty successful in his limited appearances out of the bullpen (17.1 IP, 0-1, 3.63 ERA in 7 games), but Villanueva was referred to as the MVP of the bullpen earlier in the 07 season. For whatever reason he was less successful in August and ended up with a 4.76 ERA and 6-3 record as a reliever, but you can't deny that he was invaluable out of the pen in the first half (6-0, 2.83). Add to that his 57 career relief appearances and I would rather have him than Parra coming out of the 'pen anyday.

      3. Durability

Parra had to leave a game against the Cubs last season because he broke his thumb trying to bunt. Seriously. This guy is more of an injury-prone pansy than Ben Sheets.

    4. Intestinal fortitude

Guts, balls, moxie, whatever you want to call it. Parra had a meltdown in spring training, for God's sake. He was fighting for a spot on the big league roster, and his last two chances to make a good impression on Ned and the team he completely blew it. In his last two ST starts he pitched 6.2 innings and gave up 12 runs for a plump ERA of 16.20. Ouch. Villanueva, on the other hand, has handled tough situations. When Chris Capuano was scratched from his start against the Tigers 15 minutes before the game, Villa stepped up. He pitched 5 innings and gave up a measly 1 run (against the Tigers!).

   5. He's just flat-out better.

As a starter in '07: Manny Parra-0-0, 4.00 ERA, .265 BAA, 1.56 WHIP

                        Carlos Villanueva-2-2, 2.06 ERA, .232 BAA, 1.31 WHIP

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 17, 2008 4:33 pm
 

Baseball Fever

I think this offseason I did a really good job of keeping distracted. Winter is always the most painful time of year (both for the lack of baseball and the freezing temperatures). Aside from the mid-December Brewers video watching (I think I watched every highlight from the 2007 season several times in desperation) I handled it pretty well. And now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I drafted all my crappy fantasy teams, spring training is winding to a close, and opening day for the Brewers and Cubs is just 13 days away.

I made a trip out to Milwaukee the other day, and as I saw Miller Park in the distance I just stared at it until it was out of sight (don't worry, I wasn't driving). I pretty much miss everything about baseball. Sure, I'll be looking forward to heated arguments with other fans on the CBS boards once we get started up, and watching the scoreboards hoping the Cubs lose.  But mostly, I just miss the ballpark. I miss the sound of vendors and fans shouting and the crack of the bats, the smell of honey roasted almonds (mmmm), the sight of Bernie sliding down that awesome slide and the fireworks that go off right before the bottom of the first that scare me every time, even the stifling heat of the park when they have the roof closed. I just flat out miss baseball.

Now I must go to ebay and get ripped off buying tickets for the home opener. I may not eat for a couple weeks next year because of this, but it'll be worth it.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 27, 2008 3:23 am
Edited on: January 27, 2008 3:27 am
 

2008 Starting Rotation

The Brewers have 8 pitchers to fill 5 spots in the starting rotation. I've seen a lot of different opinions on what people think the rotation should look like, so here's my opinion on all the candidates.

1. Ben Sheets-- 2007 stats: (24 GS, 141.1 IP)  12-5, 3.82 ERA, 106 K, 1.24 WHIP

Obviously one of the few locks for the rotation. As much as I hate it, we depend on him. If it's possible for him to make it a complete season, I think the Brewers undoubtedly win the division. However, we all know that's highly unlikely. He was tied for the most wins on the staff despite not making as many starts. He doesn't walk a lot of guys and when he's not getting hurt by the 3rd inning he usually makes it pretty deep into the game (Opening Day 2007: complete game 2 hitter. Awesome.) As the longest tenured Brewer and a very loud and goofy guy, he affects the mentality of the whole team. When he is on the DL, his mood carries to the rest of the team. When he's feeling good, the whole team is feeling good. I would sell my soul for a complete healthy season from Ben Sheets. Remember 2004? 2.70 ERA, 264 K/ 32 BB, 10.03 K/9, 0.98 WHIP.... How do you not win the Cy Young with that? Oh yeah, he was 12-14. How sad that his best year was for the 66-93 Brewers.

2. Yovani Gallardo--(17 GS, 110.1 IP) 9-5, 3.67 ERA, 101 K, 1.27 WHIP

What's not to like about this kid? He can pitch AND he can hit. I really can't think of any obvious flaws besides his inexperience. He's obviously not proven, but if he can live up to his potential he will have a huge impact on this team. But you wouldn't guess his age watching him pitch. He's very poised and confident, and he doesn't let big situations phase him (first couple innings of his major league debut notwithstanding). When he made his debut someone on Baseball Tonight (maybe it was Kruk?) called him "a poor man's Ben Sheets." I like to think of him as "a healthy version of Ben Sheets." Similar stuff, lots of strikeouts, not a lot of walks.  I think his biggest flaw is that the bullpen seems to hate him. They cost him several wins last season. Wait a minute, the bullpen cost a lot of pitchers a lot of wins last year. Never mind....

 

I don't have this kind of attention span. I'll finish this later.

 

Category: General
Tags: Brewers
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com