Thursday, March 31, 2011

0-0: Opening Day is Finally Here!

What a long, exhausting wait to the start of the season. This afternoon the Milwaukee Brewers will take to the field in Cincinnati to take on the NL Central champs. The weather is supposed to cooperate too, with temps between 45-49 degrees and only a 10% chance of precipitation. LET'S PLAY BALL!

The Crew will have Yovani Gallardo make his 3rd straight Opening Day start. With the latest news that Zack Greinke may be out for 3 (maybe 4) starts now, Gallardo is the man in charge. I had him penned as the Opening Day starter even when Greinke was set to debut last month in Arizona (albeit, I did start to think he would be OD starter). This is Gallardo's team, not the other way around.

I think we all knew that Greinke wouldn't miss the predicted 2 starts. In fact, I can see him missing 4 starts and still being limited in innings in the first half of May. The biggest challenge for Milwaukee is to finish April with a winning record. If they can do that, some how, they will position themselves to "adapt and overcome" for the rest of the season. Think about it, you lose your (arguably) best ACE and your All Star RF'er in Corey Hart; not to mention that Hawkins & Para are starting out on the DL. You win the month of April, you can put your most challenging times behind you of the season (fingers crossed).

Mark Kotsay is Milwaukee's starting Rightfielder to begin the season. He will make his 11th Opening Day start and only his 6th career start in RF.'s Eric Mack has Gallardo as his NL CY Young sleeper pick. I like this idea, not just because he's a Brewer either. Look at how much weight the young hurler carried on his shoulders last season. My god, the only good thing in the starting rotation was the fact that Gallardo was able to pitch once every 5th game. The other 4 pitchers were garbage, aside from Randy Wolf in the latter part of the season (when shit didn't matter anyways, yea).

Most publications have the Brewers winning 85-90 games, but not having enough to make it as the Wild Card. A few writers have them coined to win the NL Central, but many more have the Cardinals taking it. I personally feel that the Cubs will be a lot better than what they're being credited for. Carlos Zambrano is going to have a bounce back year and Garza could be a nice addition. Regardless, it's obvious that Milwaukee is not getting the respect from the critics around the country....should they? I'm happy with them flying under the radar. All the stars have to align this season. If they don't make it to the playoffs and even to the NLCS, this year will be a failure. All the pieces are there to make a run....although their defense is their most questionable part. The centerfield is horrid, with Rickie Weeks being the only (semi-decent) bright spot in the middle of the field.

The key to Milwaukee's post season quest?

1. Health: it sounds generic, but it's already a problem for the Crew. With Greinke and Hart out, not to mention 2-3's hard not to think about it.

2. Defense: Bentacourt is horrible at SS and I wouldn't be surprised if JJ Hardy somehow finds his way back to Milwaukee. If Baltimore finds themselves in familiar territory (the cellar), I could see him becoming expendable by the trade deadline. Say what you want about him, but it's obvious that he was a better fit at SS then Alcides and our current wiz.

3. Coaching: Hopefully Roenicke will play some small ball this season and allow some freedom on the base paths. I remember preaching about it last season with all the blazers that Milwaukee had in their lineup.

Braun can easily get 25-30 steals, Gomez 20, Hart 20, and Morgan 25. Those numbers can easily add-up and help Prince Fielder's at-bats.

Blast from the past (pictured above)...Milwaukee opened their 1970 campaign at County Stadium with a 12-0 loss to the Angels. Hopefully the Crew will fare better today. Interesting story in the Journal Sentinel about that day...

So from everyone here at TeamWisconsin (me), hoist your pint (or coffee) and let's all hope for a 92 win season and a division title!

Update: Nice story on Erick Almonte (IF) of the Brewers; today is his first time making the roster for Opening Day. He started with the Yankees back in 1996 and was called up to replace Derek Jeter in 2003 for the 2nd game of the season.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2012 Predictions

It's that time of the year again for my predictions. Just so you know, they tend to be pretty good. Last season I predicted that the San Francisco Giants would win the NL Pennant. I had them facing the Yankees, who ended up losing to the Rangers (which I picked to finish 3rd in the AL West).

Other misses: I picked Detroit to win the AL Central and Minnesota to finish 2nd. Not too shocking, but I had the Reds finishing 4th in the NL Central and the Crew as the wild card winner. Most embarrassing were my far-fetched individual awards.

HERE are my 2010 predictions.

Well, let's get started...

World Series 2011
RED SOX win it all
Boston defeats Milwaukee

Milwaukee defeats Philly: NLCS
Boston defeats Minnesota: ALCS

Milwaukee defeats Atlanta: NLDS
Philly defeats Colorado: NLDS

Boston defeats LA: NLDS
Minnesota defeats Tampa Bay: NLDS

AL East
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays *
NY Yankees
Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays
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
NL West
Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
LA Dodgers
Arizona DBacks
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.
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

Opening Day is near...Injuries Mount

Spring Training can't end soon enough for this over-weight guy.
Holy Balls, it's one thing after another with this team of fragile players. It is what it is. Like I said before, you don't really know how serious these injuries are because players really don't feel like they need to play a full month of exhibition games or practise. I mean, it's practise we're talking about....practise.
That being said....

Shawn Marcum exited the game early yesterday when he experienced shoulder tightness in his throwing arm. He went 3 scoreless innings before he shut it down. We also found out that he's been experiencing 'tightness' all of spring training. It is what it is. He says he's fine and that if this was real game in the season, he would've battled through it. I believe him, why risk anything in pick-up ball?
-Manny Parra had a set-back while throwing a bullpen session. He won't be ready for the season opener on March 31st in Cincy.
-Carlos Gomez is coming back from back tightness; he missed 3 spring games.
-LaTroy Hawkins is ALWAYS questionable...
-John Axford has been impressive as of late, bouncing back from his 13.50 era in the beginning of spring.
-Zach Braddock is looking awful this spring.
The Crew defeated Seattle Tuesday night 5-4. Milton Bradley was tossed out of the game in the 3rd. Hilarious....although he was hitting .381 coming in to the game. Yovanni threw well again going 4.2 innings giving up 1 run on 3 hits. Rickie Weeks is RAKING in Spring! Dude-guy is hitting .448, thanks to his 3 doubles in Tuesday's win.
Milwaukee's offense is playing extremely well this spring. Thank goodness, hopefully they can hang in there while Greinke recovers and Marcum works through his shoulder stiffness.
Did anyone catch the "30 Clubs in 30 Days" special on the Brewers? Dan Pleasac had his typical kind words to say about Milwaukee and that he's "Once a Brewer...always a Brewer". He scores big points with me. All 3 of the hosts had glowing words to say about Milwaukee. Defense is a concern as is their batting order. They tossed around the idea of Carlos Gomez & Corey Hart flip-flopping.
Mark it down in the books...Yovanni Gallardo will have a better season than Zack Greinke. Random prediction of the day for me. This is Yo's team.
Mark Rogers was sent down to Minor League for a "tune-up". I find this odd because Parra is battling through his back pains, one would think Rogers would be the guy. Instead, Willis Peralta looks like he may get the nod. He is making his first start of the spring today. Willy is quickly climbing the prospect ranks for Milwaukee. The 21 year-old has yet to make a big league, pitching as high AA. This sounds a bit far-fetched for me, considering Rogers had some success last season in a spot start and relief work.
"He's at one inning and our starters are going to five innings," Roenicke said. "I don't think he's able to catch up, especially coming off the tightness in his shoulder. We can't push him to that point to get to the sixth (inning), which is what we need a starter to do."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Opening Day is 2.5 weeks away....hurry please

The Honky Tonk man made a visit to Maryvale yesterday afternoon. Oddly enough, he looked better than Jeff Suppan ever did...

Milwaukee continues to hobble through Spring Training; the start of the season can't come soon enough. One never knows if 'Training injuries are serious or not. More times than not, they are. But I have a feeling that Ryan Braun's latest intercostal strain (Saturday) will sideline him for 2 weeks, leaving him with only a couple of at-bats the last remaining days of training. Ryan seems to be OK with that however....
" It's nothing at all," Braun said. "I could have played (Saturday) but there's no sense in it. Honestly, I feel better than I've ever felt in my life, so I don't really need at-bats right now "
This makes me smile because it tells me Braun is ready to go and excited about the up-coming season.

Greinke's injury seems to be legit. Adam McCalvy was just talking about it on AM1250 (Fox) out of Milwaukee. Interestingly enough, McCalvy also said that Greinke's personality isn't meshing well with the Brewers clubhouse. However, this can be expected of Zack. He went on to say that he's all about himself and doesn't really socialize with the rest of the team. We all pretty much knew this of him. Let Greinke do his thing, he'll be fine. It's just too bad that he has to miss 2-3 starts right out of the gate. As for Braun, don't fret over it. He'll be fine and ready to go Opening Day. The same goes with Jonathon Lucroy (broken pinkie). HERE is the rest of the medical round-up.

Odd day for short stops during the KC-Milwaukee spring game. Yuniesky Bentacourt exited the game with quadricep tightness (go figure) while Alcides Escobar hit an in-the-park homerun.
Minor League prospect Caleb Gindl (OF) sprained his knee during Escobar's freak-play in yesterday's game. Escobar hit a double and Gindl tried to make a play on it, instead he ran ended up running to the chain linked fence in order to stop him...only bad thing; that part of the fence was an unlocked gate. He ended up twisting his knee funny and he was out the rest of the game. He claims to be doing fine, but sounds freakishly weird, considering that Escobar was the guy who hit it.

Yovani Gallardo will be the Opening Day starter while Chris Narveson will be the home opening start.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rough Spring Training

There's no other way to put it....this Spring Training has been complete crap.

With yesterdays news of Zack Greinke starting the season on the DL...can it get any worse for the Crew? Oh that's right, Corey Hart is out indenfinately and Jonathon Lucroy is going to miss the first month of play with a broken pinkie. Throw in the butt load of minor injuries going on in the bullpen and you have a recipee for a very nervous manager.
No reason to completely freak out. Some think that Milwaukee will have the needed depth to cover such a loss. Furthermore, Zack is only missing a couple of starts. I would guess that Manny Parra would fill in nicely, or, they could go with Rogers (pending his return). Either way, it's nice to have this dilemma now rather than in September, right? Bull shit, I am still uneasy about this. The start of the season is vital and it sets the tone. What the hell was he thinking?
To some extent, I feel bad for the guy. You can expect him to stop playing leisure games of basketball. Evidentally he's been worried about getting injured for some time now. He even mentioned that during one of his interviews yesterday; mentioning that it finally caught up with him. But now? Come on now son.
John Axford is quite active with his facebook page, launching a poll to see what song he should come out to. Pretty cool. It's nice to see players connect with fans like that. Not bad for a former bartender and cell phone salesman!
Milwaukee and LA (Dodgers) got in a brief 'dust up' resulting in Prince charging the out of the dugout to back-up Casey McGehee. Roman Colan (nickname Roman Coke?) struck McGehee with bases loaded. He celebrated upon doing so and Casey barked at him. Fielder stormed out and had to be held back. All I can envision is him going after Mota a few years ago in LA. Remember that? He stood outside their clubhouse banging on the door while Braun and someone else tried to hold him back. Hilarious. He's a hot head, that's for sure. Milwaukee lost 7-1.
Corey Hart is expecting to return to the field in 2 weeks, seems like a long shot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Greinke likely to get Opening Day nod

Zach Greinke will most likely be the Opening Day starter for Milwaukee when they open up against the Reds. I was hoping that Yovani Gallardo would be coined, but I'm thinking that will not happen. Greinke obviously wants it and he has made that known. Ron Roenicke has a tough decision to make, that's for sure. Any time a team has three 2010 Opening Day Starters in their rotation you know you have a good dilemma!

"I imagine it'll come pretty soon," he said. "There will be some (bruised feelings), but that's good. If guys are upset about not pitching the opener, that's good. You want guys who want to pitch."

I am of the thought that Roenicke should pen Gallardo in hopes that this lifts his confidence. Let's face it, Gallardo fell-off last season during the 2nd half. This is his team, I still truly believe that....and the kid just turned 25. He will be here when Greinke (and possibly Marcum) move on in 2013. Lets do him right and keep the team in his hands. I still think Gallardo is going to be a winner, probably not a Cy Young winner, but a pitcher that will be a TRUE ace in the coming couple of seasons.

Don't get me wrong, I think Greinke is going to bring Milwaukee back to the play-offs. But he certainly comes off as being overly-confident.

But when I read this, it makes me wonder how Gallardo and the other core nucleus of the team's clubhouse will react to someone who is vocal....

As for the rotation alignment, Greinke noted that starting the two lefties, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson, behind the three right-handers wouldn't be ideal. Roenicke already has said he plans to split his southpaws, meaning Wolf probably will pitch the third game in Cincinnati.
Greinke also noted that he and Gallardo have similar styles and maybe shouldn't pitch back-to-back. Should Roenicke agree with that thinking, the rotation would be Greinke, Marcum, Wolf, Gallardo and Narveson, with Gallardo drawing the home opener against Atlanta.
"Everyone wants to pitch on opening day," said Greinke. "But whatever is decided, it's not like anyone's going to cry if they don't get it."

The Crew beat the White Sox yesterday when Greinke tossed 39 pitches (against Mark Buerhle) lasting 1 1/3 inings and working out of some bases loaded jams. He was high in his zone, according to Roenicke. Greinke seemed confident however and chalked it up to getting in his routine.

Here's a link to the Kansas City Star's video-interview with Greinke regarding his new team and his time in KC.

Doug Melvin is looking at extending Casey McGahee's contract. His performance certainly warrants consideration. After all, he made 430,000.00 in 2010 and he led the team in RBI's with 104 with a .284 batting average in 157 games. Not too shabby for a guy who had off-season knee surgery last year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Crew splits during first day of live play

Milwaukee lost to SF 10-9 and beat Chicago 5-3 yesterday in their first spring training game of the season.

Shawn Marcum started against the Giants; throwing only fastballs and changeups while trying to target the inside of left-handed hitters. He lasted 2 innings giving up 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 3.

Prince Fielder and Barry Zito exchanged words yesterday when Zito pitched what he thought was a strike. The ump called a ball and so Zito walked towards the ump to ask him for a second opinion. Fielder chimed in and the two had a nice chat. I remember Fielder getting in an argument last years during a spring traning game...wasn't it against the Giants as well? Of course we all remember 2009 when the Giants got all pissed-off because Fielder and the Crew did the grenade explosion celebration after he blasted a HR.

The Giants have good reason to be happy about their up-coming star Brandon Belt (1B). This kid is going to be lights-out for San Fran this season and in to the future. He had a couple of doubles after going 0-2 the day before. Barry Zito got roughed up; he walked 5 of 13 batters.

Zach Greinke will get the nod today against Chicago's (White Sox) Mark Burhle. Greinke will throw no more than 35 pitches. If you remember, he had a slow start last week due to food poisoning.

Ryan Braun went 1-2 in the win over Chicago, with a run-scoring double. Chicago's Kerry Wood had his return ruined by a Caleb Gindl and then (wait for it.....wait for it) ZELOUS Wheeler notched a single. What a great name, Zelous.