Friday, October 21, 2011

How did I do on my 2011 predictions?

As typical everyear I post my preseason predictions.  Typically, I have been pretty damn good in years past.  I called that the SF Giants would make it to the World Series, which they won. 

Well, I once again called the NLCS right.  I had picked Milwaukee to make it to the series and lose to the Phillies.  Well, I was half-right, seeing that St Louis came through big down the stretch.  Take a look at how I did.....

World Series 2011

RED SOX win it all
Boston defeats Milwaukee
Well, I'm wrong all-together. 
Milwaukee defeats Philly: NLCS
Boston defeats Minnesota: ALCS
I had one correct team in the CS, Milwaukee
Milwaukee defeats Atlanta: NLDS
Philly defeats Colorado: NLDS
Boston defeats LA: NLDS
Minnesota defeats Tampa Bay: NLDS
Despite the spelling error, I did have Tampa Bay in the ALCS
Likewise with Philly and Milwaukee; So I had 3 out of the 8 teams rightAL East
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays *
NY Yankees
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
I picked Tampa to win the Wild Card, which they did
AL Central
Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
KC Royals
Cleveland Indians

AL West
LA Angels
Texas Rangers
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners

NL East
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves *
Washington DC Nationals
Florida Marlins
NY Mets

NL Central
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds
St Louis Cardinals
Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates
I picked the Central Division winner right
NL West
Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
LA Dodgers
Arizona DBacks
The biggest failure...picking the DBacks last when they actually won it.

Here I wrote a few paragraps about my predictions.  I will highlight the areas where I was right:::

Boston is destined to rebound big time this season with the addition of Gonzo and Carl Crawford as well as a healthy rotation. Tampa will have the 2nd best rotation in the league, but their offense will struggle as they try to form as one with out Pena & Crawford. Baltimore could be the biggest surprise and even bump NY from 3rd place.

Minnesota is the best team in a poor division. They are the first to get bounced in the playoffs, but this season should be different. They have Kirk Gibson that can step up and fill the void if Francisco Loriano doesn't pan out. Detroit is always a threat, but can't compete with the Twins.

The Rangers will prove to be a fluke, even with the addition of Beltre and Brandon Webb. I wonder how their lockeroom will be with a newly appointed GM (Nolan Ryan), letting Feliz get his way in the starting rotation, and their treatment of Michael Young fresh on their minds. Meanwhile, never count out Mike Scosia and his club. They are sleepers and should be able to take the division, although it will come down to the wire.

The Rockies have the youth and the leadership to win the NL West. I truly feel that San Fran will falter down the stretch. They have the risky Barry Zito and a young hurler who could stumble in his 2nd full season (Madison Bumgarner), while Tim Linsecum has shown that he can be sketchy at times. Having a solid bullpen will help though.

Milwaukee and Cincinnati will battle back and forth this season. But Milwaukee pitching depth (yes, you read that correctly) will surpass the Reds. Both teams will run the stat board when it comes to offense, but Prince Fielder is destined to have a career season and Ryan Braun is showing no signs of slowing down. Milwaukee's pitching will be better than Cincy's, bullpens included.

The NL East will have the a repeat of 2010 on their hands when Atlanta and Philly battle it out. Don't count the Nationals out early....they are destined to make a significant jump this season, while the Marlins and Mets drop off.

Obviously, I picked the AL CY Young winner wrong (will go to Verlander), but Halladay has a shot
Long shot, but I could also get the Prince Fielder MVP prediction right.  If he doesn't win, he'll finish 3rd or 4th.
NL ROY will go to what's-hit-nuts from the Braves (the closer) while the AL ROY is unknown.Far-fetched individual awards:
AL Cy Young: David Price
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Prince Fielder
AL ROY: Kyle Drabek
NL ROY: Freddie Freeman

Monday, October 17, 2011

All good things must come to an end

Now that the Brewers have closed out their 2011 season it's time to look ahead.  How do they capatilize off what they accomplished this season?  How does a small market team compete next year with out their star first baseman?  How do they upgrade this offseason at the corner-left infield?  Who will man RF next season?  Will Corey Hart take over 1B?  Is Taylor Green the answer at 3B?  Can the Crew lure Jose Reyes this off-season? 

So many questions--with no easy answers.

Here's what we know, Milwaukee will probably have the same starting rotation in 2012.  The bullpen will look the same as well, except for KRod and a few other names not worth mentioning (I don't have their contract info in front of me). 

The offense may still have Carlos Gomez manning CF and possibly even Nyjer Morgan, if he can be signed at a reasonable price.  The biggest question mark is in RF, with Corey Hart being either dealt this offseason or moving over to 1B.  That of course is pending the Prince Fielder question, which is pretty much accepted that he will be moving on to waters. 

The infield will also probably have some new faces.  SS will be vacant and 3B will probably have Taylor Green manning it next season.  Green of course was a mid-season call-up and then apart of the playoff roster.  Ideally, Milwaukee will like it if they can some how move the 29 year-old Casey McGehee to a new club in return for some prospects.  Most likely, McGehee will stay-put however, as he is only 1 season removed from having 100 RBI in 2010.  But his knees aren't getting any more durable. 

Jose Reyes will be the most sought after free agent (who's names aren't Prince & Albert) this offseason.  Reyes would be a welcomed addition, when Prince bounces town.  He would be cheaper and he still has plently of ball left in him (29 years-old).  My only concern with him is his weak-ass hamstrings and the idea of him spending at least 2 stints on the 15 day DL.  He did so for the Mets this season, in the midst of earning his batting title and his career season.  Other options at SS would be Jamey Carrol (old as dirt) and Hairston Jr, who plays 3B far better. 

So barring any freak injuries or big roster moves, the Brew Crew will look the same except for the #4 spot in the line-up, as well #6. 

Will Milwaukee try to add 1 more arm to their rotation?  It's doubtfull, considering all 5 of the starters will be back in 2012.  However, if Melvin can score a CJ Wilson or CC Sabathia, you can imagine that either Marcum, Wolf, or Narveson will be dealt for a SS or 1B.  My guess is that Marcum would be moved to an American League team in return for some infield help, since he has 1 season left and is up for his final arbitration. 

Season Over, Prince heading out of town (?).

Well,  as soon as Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin heard that RR was going to start Marcum in game 6, we all pretty much knew it was going to be over....and it was.

St Louis defeated Milwaukee 12-6 in the deciding game 6 and they will be representing the National League in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

Prince went 0-4 in the game and 1 for 14 in games 3 thru 6.  He made a couple of decent defensive plays, but otherwise, was quiet the rest of the series. 

All in all, it was disappointing to see the Brewers lose this series.  I'll type more later. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Milwaukee ties NLCS up 2-2 with St Louis

  After dropping 2 in a row to St. Louis, Milwaukee rebounded last night in a 4-2 win at Busch Stadium.  Thanks impart to some small ball, the Brewers were able to claw their way back from being down 2 runs.  The Cardinals got off to a quick start with solo jacks by Allen Craig and Matt Holliday off of the shaky Randy Wolf.  Lucky for the Crew, Randy Wolf shook it off and pieced together one of the best postseason outing in franchise history.  Albeit he has some fierce competition for that nod, but given the circumstances of the game (down 2 games to 1) I feel this is worthy of that make believe award.

Randall Wolfster (1-0) went 7 complete, giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits.  He tallied 6 k's and 1 free pass.  Wolf even contributed at the plate with a line drive double. 
The bullpen did the rest.  KRod pitched the 8th and gave up a hit and struck out 1 while John Axford collected his 2nd save of the postseason; giving up 1 hit to Lance Berkman (PH). 

At the plate, Jerry Hairston Jr has been unreal!  He went 2-4 with a double and a RBI last night and made some key defensive plays. 

Jerry Hairston has been the unsung hero this offseason; heck even the month of September he has been on point.  Doug Melvin knew exactly what he was getting when he made the mid-season move to bring in Hairston Jr.   This veteran infielder can play anywhere on the field, most importantly, he was the fill-in for Rickie Weeks while he was on the mend for his twisted ankle.  Felipe Lopez was brought in from Tampa's AAA team/affiliate as soon as Rickie's news broke that he would miss 4-6 weeks.  Lopez got off to decent start with a 2 hit game in his first stint back at Miller Park, but it was obvious that Milwaukee needed somone larger than that.  Hairston has World Series experience, although not much, but he did have 6 AB's with a hit back in 2009 with the Yankees.  He also went 1 for 2 in the ALCS that year against the Angels. 

Hairston Jr. brought his cornerstone defensive play to 2B and now he's the sure shot at 3B, in place of the struggling Casey McGehee.  The 35 year-old is a leader in the club house and plays with raw emotions in the batter box.  He makes contact with the ball and has been relied on a couple of times this postseason to deliver. 
Thus far,Jerry has gone....
 6 for 16 against the DBacks in the NLDS; with 2 key doubles, 2 walks, and 3 runs batted in. Against the Cardinals, his 6 for 16 with 3 doubles and 1 RBI line has been a reliable crutch in this offense.  Especially over the past couple of games where Milwaukee's Braun & Fielder have failed to homer.

 Tonight, it's Zack Greinke vs Jamie Garcia (LHP).  Corey Hart and Carlos Gomez are starting in the outfield.  Hopefully Hart will start to come around.  He's been absolutely horrible so far.

Cordell Hart is hitting a piss poor .196 in the postseason play (2008 & 2011).  Even worse, the Kentucky redneck is down to a .83 at the plate: 1 for 12, 3 strike outs, 2 walks in the NLCS.

Meanwhile, Nyjer Morgan (who is no stranger to hitting pitches in the dirt) is racking up a stellar average this October.  Dude is hitting .310 at the plate and has driven in 3 runs.  He's the spark that ignites this team.  Nyjer is a must start in game 6 & 7.

Granted, Morgan can be way too much to handle at times (most of the times)....he's the missing piece in this Brewers puzzle of an outfield.  He's much needed.

It's fun to read some of these looks from the nation's media outlets.  Here are some that are worth reading....

New York Times looks in to the rivalry between St Louis and Milwaukee with an emphasis on beer making.

Wall Street Journal also touches on the suds series.... Did you know it costs $8 to buy a rice beer at Busch Stadium?!?! It's only 5.50 for a barley/hops brewed Miller at Miller Park.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Milwaukee's offense does the talking

What a game yesterday.  It was a game of highs and lows, having Milwaukee coming back twice in the game.  At one time they were down by 3 runs.  But with this offense and power in the middle of the order, the Milwaukee Brewers are hard to keep down.  The Crew won game 1 by a score of 9-6.  

  Both Prince & Braun smacked home runs yesterday, with the latter also hitting a 2-run double.  All together, Milwaukee collected 5 double by five different players.  Rickie Weeks, who was struggling at the plate this post season added to that mix.

  Most impressive has been the play of Yuni B.  The man has flat out been raking in the playoffs.  Yesterday Yuni went 2 for 4 with a double and a HR.  He gets my nod for player of the game (slight edge over Braun and Saito).

Zack Greinke earned the win, but was far from perfect in his 6 innings of work.  He allowed 6 earned runs on 8 hits.  But he did tally 6 SO's and walked 2.  Saito was the star of the pitching game, holding the Cards with runners on the corner.  Sait had Alberta Pujols hit in to a double play (typical Alberta fashion).

John Axford recorded the save yesterday.  In order to collect the last out of the game, he had to take a liner off his throwing arm.  But he was still able to throw the runner out and he says he's OK.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The NLCS....the no love championship series

How ironic, the last time Milwaukee won a playoff series was in 1982 when they came back from being down 2-0 and beat the California Angels.  They would later lose to the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series in a closely contested series.  Now it's time for revenge.  Revenge from those days when the '82 boys couldn't seal the deal, revenge from 2007 when Milwaukee and St Louis got in a beam ball battle in September, and this season when tensions flared from both sides.

The Cardinals fell to the Brewers hard in the early season series' but then came storming back in August and September to even it up, 9-9.  Both sides have similar ERA, batting averages, and other statistical areas.  Granted, they're not as close of a team as the Diamondbacks were.  But this will be a series that will be played and won with some small ball, some power, and most importantly--its pitchig.

Jamie Garcia takes to the mound against Zack Greinke in todays Game 1 at 3:00pm. 

Let the trash talking BEGIN.
It's obvious both sides respect each other's game, but they hate each other personally.  From Carp's distasteful tactics of yelling at batters and mad dogging them, to Tony Plushs' habit of cocking of pitchers with his (I hate using this word) swagger. 
Tony Larussa hates the Brewers, that's a no-brainer really.  I think he fuels a lot of this,dating back to 2007.  When Zack Greinke told the press Friday night that the Crew doesn't like Carp, we all knew that.  I mean, Milwaukee doesn't like Carp.  So when Greinke said that, what's the big deal?  Well, Tony Laruss didn't seem to care for it.  

Nice summary of the upcoming series by NY Times.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marcum flops / D-backs take Brewers to game 4

Arizona 8, Milwaukee 1
For whatever reason, Shaun Marcum has been horse shit over the past 5 starts.  Thinking that Roenicke was on to something, he pitched Greinke on short rest and took his chances on sending Marcum to the mound on the road.  Since Marcum has been better than damn good on the road this season, it all made sense.  However, in Randy Wolf-type fashion....there was a communication break down between Marcum and Lucroy that resulted in Paul Goldschmidt hitting a grand slam HR with 2 outs in the 5th.  Only this whole incident happened after Ron Roenicke decided to intentionally walk Miguel Monterro (clean-up hitter) in order to try their luck on Goldshit (.387 average with bases loaded).  Wrong choice.  But hey, Roenicke hasn't made too many blatent mistakes this season.  Granted, you don't want to see him start now in the NLDS. 

Josh Collmentor was lights out, stifling the Crew over 7 complete innings, giving up 1 earned run (a mistake to Corey Hart ended up as HR).  He struck out 6 while only issuing 2 free passes.  That makes 20 total innings in 2011 (14 scoreless innings in the reg season), and dude only gives up 1 run.  His over-the-top approach would have hopefully been figured out by the 3rd inning, hell, even Sampson or his sidekick (TBS analyst) said Josh was tipping his pitches.  But that clearly didn't help.  It's like he's Braveheart throwing a gosh damn battle hatchet.

So, on to game 4 we go.  Randy Wolf takes to the mound in a couple of hours and George Kottarus will hopefully provide that usual spark from the plate. 

It's decision time!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brewers aiming for NLCS; D-Back's face possible elimination

What a time to be sick....right when the Brewers are on the cusp of earning their first ever trip to the National League Championship Series!  I have been out of commission for almost a week due to the cold.  But am ready to stay awake to watch game 3 tonight.

Milwaukee is on all cylinders right now and taking their show on the road to Arizona where they will try to sweep the D-backs right out of the playoffs. 

Here is a look at the storylines leading in to tonight's game:

Shaun Marcum is at ease as he will take to the mound tonight.  Having come over from the AL East, Marcum feels ready and willing to do work in Arizona.  His NL best road era of 2.21 will go up against Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38).  Collmenter blanked the Crew earlier in the season, but that was when the Crew was resting Ryan Braun, Nyjer Morgan was on the DL and Jerry Hairston Jr was still playing in DC. 

Speaking of Hairston, he's probably one of the biggest acquisition during the 2011 season--which was all but under the radar.

Nice story on Saito by the Phily Daily News.  This 41 year-old reliever had to go through a lot this season; from the earthquake that rocked his home country to the many injuries that had set him back through out the first half of the season. He's a big piece to the bull pen though! 

Prince is ready for the Chase Field boo's.