Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Training Update

Now that Spring Training is in full swing it's time to take a look at what's going on...

Finally, Milwaukee opens live play in 2011 with split squad games against SF Giants & Cubs. Shawn Marcum will start against the Giants.

Most concerning is the news that 2nd year starting Catcher Jonath Lucroy broke his pinkie last week during some throwing drills. It happend to his throwing hand, so he will be a bit rust when he comes back in 4-5 weeks. I would imagine seeing either Will Nieves or George Kottarus splitting time during the first week of April. Mike Rivera could also be a fill-in, but my guess is that he's the odd-man out here.

To make matters worse Corey Hart strained his oblique and he will be sidelined for up to 2 weeks.

The Brewers front office sold 98,000 tickets during the first day of individual games. That's insane...Tied for the 2nd most!

Nice story by Sporting News regarding the solid rotation that is in place to finally help Milwaukee over that dreaded hump.

Ken Macha resonds to Ryan Braun's negative comments about the atmosphere in the Brewers clubhouse the last 2 seasons. Look, I know it probably sucked playing for ol' man Kenny...but put it in the past. No sense in throwing your old manager under the bus. It's done....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let the training begin....

Milwaukee's spring training is now in full-swing.

All eyes are on Zack Greinke; something he doesn't really like. He apparently increased his medication to deal with on-going anxiety disorder and this can cause fatigue, which will hopefully be worked on and corrected over the next month. Not exactly the news I was hoping for coming out of Phoenix. As a result of all the attention, he has become a bit "reclusive" and directing his attention to pitching (where else would it be?). This could be a reoccuring problem for the ex-CY Young winner. It's been an issue in the past while in Kansas City, most likely last season with his lack-luster season. Hopefully the other hurlers will step up and try to steal the spotlight from him.

DO NOT be suprised if Yovanni is announced as the Opening Day starter for Milwaukee and Greinke is moved to the #2 spot in the rotation.

Is this small little newsbit enough to get worked-up over? No, but it's something to certainly monitor. There is far too much at stake this season for it not be taken seriously.

* Nice story on Corey Hart in yesterday's paper. I used to really hate this man when he sucked, but like Rickie Weeks...I'm now eating crow because of it.

*Edison Volquez was already named the Opening Day starter for Cincy. He will take to the mound against a potent offense from Milwaukee.

*Fox Sports Wisconsin will televise all of their 132 games in HD, similar to last year's claim. I must argue however, that there were many times when I would notice that the games were in standard def. Perhaps it was just in North Central Wisconsin region, but a remember a number of times when the game wasn't in HD.

*Nice to see Logan Schafer and Mark DeFilice in camp. You might remember last season when Logan reported to camp, but was quickly knocked out after a pretty severe groin tear (cringe). A crazy twist to his story; this injury than turned in to a sports hernia . Once he recovered from that, the putz fouled a ball of his right foot and broke it. Holy balls, does this kid have bad luck.
Mark was out the entire 2010 season with a shoulder injury, but was a stand-out in the pen during the 2009 campaign (despite the team's record).

*Alcides Escobar, last years SS for the Crew, is now reuniting with Ned Yost. The two last worked together during Spring Training in 2008. Ned would use Escobar as a fill-in. Ned knows Escobar well and is aware of how dangerous he can be on the base path. I still think Odorizzi will be the most missed in that winter trade, but Escobar could be a player that collects 30 stolen bases this year....IF....he improves his OBP.

*Finally, for the 2nd year in a row I "won" the right to purchase Opening Day tickets.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brewers extend Rickie Weeks

I, myself, along with many others wrote Rickie Weeks off this winter. Surely this breakout secondbaseman was going to move on after this season and get a huge payout for a different club. But I was wrong, I will eat crow as I type this.

The news hit today that Rickie and the Brewers agreed on a 4-year deal (5th year optional) worth up to 50MM. It's being reported that Milwaukee could opt out after 4 seasons if Rickie isn't an "everyday player" in 2013 & 2014. Sounds like a unique deal but a wise move, considering the fact that Weeks is prone to injuries and slumps. But all indications point to a great signing; right at the time when Rickie is about to hit his prime.

One only needs to look at his numbers last season and even the shortened 2009 year. Rickie was THE best lead-off hitter in 2010. Hands-down.

Weeks was second only to Prince Fielder in the lead-off spot (16 for Weeks, 17 for Fielder).
He led all other lead-off hitters in RBI's (16, dah), and Runs (17) to name a few.

In 2010, Weeks was the hottest hitting 2B in the league as well. He led the league in Runs with 112. Rickie finished 3rd in the league for RBI's with 83 (2nd in the NL) and tied for 2nd in HR's with Robinson Cano (29).

Imagine what he could've done with a full-season played in 2009!

MORE on what Rickie was thinking when signing his new contract.

Good News All Around!

There's been a bout of good news lately for the Crew....Pitchers & Catchers report today. I lied the other day, I thought they were supposed to on Monday.

First off, it's likely that the Brewers and Rickie Weeks are going to agree on a contract extension prior to tomorrows arb hearing. The deal is rumored to be a 3-year deal. Again, the deal is only in the rumor stage but Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) was the first to report (tweet) it and now all the media outlets are picking up on it. If they do go to arbitration hearing, Arizona's Kelly Johnson will probably be used as part of the argument. He just signed a 1- year deal worth 5.85MM. Johnson filed for 6.5MM and the club offerred 4.7MM.

In other good news, the spoiled brats to the south of Milwaukee (no, besides the Cubs) are belly-aching over the liklihood of not being able to lock up their start 1B. Albert Pujols and the Cardinals have until 12-noon today to lock up a deal, otherwises all talks will be put on hold during the season; thus making it likely that Albert will playing for the Cubs next year (my hunch). Think about it, the Cubbies signed Carlos Pena to a little 1-year deal in order to free up some money to make a big run next season. This is GOOD NEWS for Brewers fans because it means that Prince will most likely be playing for SF, Texas, or elsewhere....NOT in the NL Central. I feel that this is good news because what ever happens to Albert, will have a direct effect on Prince. Then again, is this good news? Would you rather have to face Prince of Albert? Long shot here, but could Prince defy odds and remain a Brewer this off-season? It's tough to say right now (and unlikely), but if the Crew makes a run at it....ah....nevermind, his agent is Scott BorAss.
*Not Brewers news, but CC Sabathia is flirting with opting out of his contract. Wouldn't it be swell if he came back to Milwaukee. Never going to happen though.

*Milwaukee is NOT on FOX tv's Saturday afternoon lineup for games this season. Granted, the schedule can be changed through out the season based on performance/ratings. I personally think this is great news! I hate trying to watch/listen to the game on a Saturday afternoon when it's hot as snot outside. I would rather wait till it gets dark and the backyard fire is flaring....Miller Lite(s) in hand.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spring Training opens up on Monday!

How can the state of Wisconsin not be excited right now. There seems to be a grin on everyone's face that I pass. Afterall, the Brewers are days away from opening Spring Training (Monday: Pitchers/Cathers report), the UW Football team made a Rose Bowl appearence, Packers won the Super Bowl last Sunday, and the UW Basketball team is ranked 14th in the nation.

Zach Greinke will be reporting to a new spring training site come Monday; as will Shawn Marcum and Takashi Saito. LaTroy Hawkins will begin his path back to being the set-up man and Manny Parra will learn to adjust to being a long reliever for the 2011 season. It's an exciting time, if you ask me. When was the last time Milwaukee had anything to boast about when it came to pitching? We have a closer in 2nd year hurler John Axford, a number of options for a set-up man, and stocked bullpen. In years past, the pen was the highlight of Spring Training...high ambition.

Now the Crew has a highly competitive (on paper) starting rotation. Will Yovanni remain the ace; or will Greinke take over the helm (I think the former)? Will Randy Wolf continue his 2nd half dominance that he had in 2010 and parlay it in to 2011? Is Narveson for real? Or will he falter? Who will fill in if he does or if someone else is injured? For some reason, these questions excite me because there are finally options. Not to mention, Milwaukee could make another move before the trade deadline if Narveson and Co. struggle. Attanasio has already said that he lets the players' talent dictate the team's payroll. So with that being said, Milwaukee probably won't hesitate to make another move before late July is here.

-Marcum and the Brewers avoided arbitration last night by agreeing on a 1-year deal worth almost 4MM + incentives.

-A piece by the JS on how the Brewers barely missed out on Mike Trout, the upcoming prospect for the Angels.

-Miller Park had that competition between fans (hopefull chefs) on what to add to the menu. Kabobs are one of them. I love Miller Park food. Compared to a number of other parks I have been too, Miller Park is near or at the top. Although Dodger stadium had some good eats.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spring near

FACT...Packers play the Steelers on Sunday....Super Bowl.....

The Brewers added a solid veteran to their roster by signing Mark Kotsay. The 1B/OF will make $800,000 in 2011 and provide some depth at 1B and in CF & RF. For a while now I have been saying that Milwaukee needs to add a solid, veteran OF in order to provide support for the (soon-to-fail) Gomez-Dickerson tandem in CF. Kotsay should do nicely, despite playing most of the time in RF. He's a left-handed hitter that can pinch hit for Hart & Gomez if needed. Haudricourt feels that he won't be utilized in CF, but I would disagree with that. Otherwise the Crew probably wouldn't have picked him up.

Kotsay hit .239 for the White Sox last year and socked 8 HR's. Not bad. He was also a teammate of Trevor Hoffman's while playing in San Diego. The two were scheduled to go on a join-family vacation, but Kotsay had to cancel in order to ready himself for Spring Training.

It should also be noted that he has a knack for being a clubhouse leader that has post-season experience (14 games). Kotsay and Counsell should hopefully be the leaders of this team off the bench and in the locker room.

Roque Mercedes (RHP) was designated for assignment in order to make room to the roster.

Kotsay is excited about joining the Brewers.

-Weeks wants to set a deadline for contract talks....

-John Axford is ready to take on the closer role this season for the Crew.