Monday, September 29, 2008

The Playoff Baseball HOTD, Monday, September 29, 2008

A few weeks ago our Monday post ignored baseball to focus on football. That’s how painful the Brewers had become. Today, they get their due respect, as the Brewers biggest gun in the rotation pitched one of his greatest games, and the Brewers biggest gun in the lineup decided, for one at-bat in the bottom of the 8th, that his oblique didn’t hurt so much.

I’ve actually been to a Brewer playoff game, I believe when I was 4 years old. I really don’t remember it. Hell, I’m not even 100% sure I remember my parents telling me that they took me. 26 years is far too long for any fan base to miss out on the postseason, and 27 with the prospect of 28, 29, 30, etc., was too much to bear.

CC Sabathia, once again on short rest, threw a complete game, and if not for Prince Bucknerising a ball in the first, would have thrown a complete game shut out. Fortunately Craig Counsel did what he does best with the bases loaded, and Ryan Braun managed to do what Ryan Church couldn’t quite manage in New York.

It’s still sinking in for me, and probably won’t completely hit until Wednesday, but playoff baseball is the best. I’ve cared about it for as long as I’ve liked baseball, just for the drama of every pitch actually counting. Every pitching change, every defensive sub, and every Tim McCarver malapropism takes on added significance. I’ve never really been sentient for a truly important Brewer game until this year. It’s about time.

Meanwhile, back in New York…

Every Brewer fan should give a special shout-out to one of our former, worst ever regular players, Wes Helms. Helms has been holding down the “worst third baseman in MLB” title for some time, and it was pretty sweet to see the former Brewer (and Phillie, who was replaced by the also-bad Pedro Feliz) deal the death blow to the New York Mets.

Thanks Wes. I take back every bad thing I ever said about you.

Looking ahead…

Let me throw some numbers at you:

.224/.295/.451

That’s what probable MVP Ryan Howard hits against lefties this year. His slugging percentage falls by 150 points against lefties. His OBP falls by 72 points. Instead of hitting a HR every 12th PA like he does against righties, he hits one per 19 PAs against southpaws. The Phillies fare far worse against southpaws in general, falling from a .271/.342/.424 line to a .240/.307/.385.

For this reason alone, the Brewers should bring back CC on short rest for game 2 to allow for the possibility of two Sabathia starts in the series. Moreover, they may want to look at dusting off Manny Parra for one of the in-between starts.

Schedule

The Brewers will begin play with a day game on Wednesday at 2:00 central time, ensuring that I will be going out for a late lunch that day. They will play game 2 in Philly at 5:00, and then head to Milwaukee for the weekend for a 5:30 start on Saturday. They’ll play on Sunday and Tuesday if necessary, at times that are yet to be determined.

Go Brewers!

If you like playoff baseball, keep in mind that the White Sox are still fighting for their playoff lives at 1:05 today, and if they win, will play the Twins in a 1-game playoff tomorrow in Chicago.

Football News and Notes

Some guy separated his shoulder and some other guy threw 6 touchdown passes. And I hear some ranked college teams lost.

More Baseball

Josh Beckett hurt an oblique muscle, and may not be able to pitch for the Red Sox. At the very least his start has been pushed back.

Finally, how perfect was it that I, living outside of Milwaukee, was able to watch the Brewers on WGN, while simultaneously watching the Mets game on TBS, and flipping to some football game that we’re not going to talk about today at the same time, (and on a split-screen LCD TV no less)? In olden days of analog televisions and over the air broadcasts I would have had to make long-distance phone calls to friends or wait for the local news to tell me if the Mets won or lost, and I would have had to pick on thing to watch on a grainy, small television.

Instead, technology made for one of the most exciting afternoons of sports I’ve ever had.

Today’s HOTD is brought to you by champagne, of course. Whichever type sprays the best.

21 comments:

DannyNoonan said...

Besides CC, our starters are all 4 inning type guys. We should embrace that. Go with Yo/Parra in the first game and McClung/Bush in the 3rd. That'd be tough. Plan on most of them going 4 or fewer innings. Make the changes strategically. Use situational lefties between them if necessary (Is Stetter going to be on the playoff roster?).

PaulNoonan said...

Stetter should definitely be on the roster for this series. If he's not it's a mistake.

DannyNoonan said...

I guess I just don't know how the rules work for playoff rosters.

Anonymous said...

Go Brewers!

PaulNoonan said...

The get to pick 25 from the 40 for each series, and they can change between series. To be eligible you had to be on the team at September call-up date, I believe, or on IR at the time.

I could be wrong though, so people should feel free to correct me.

Anonymous said...

"Besides CC, our starters are all 4 inning type guys. We should embrace that. Go with Yo/Parra in the first game and McClung/Bush in the 3rd."

What about Suppan? I heard he gets superpowers during the playoffs.

Eric said...

How much of this is Dale Sveum?

PaulNoonan said...

Not much. But I do like his strict platoon lineup, even if hje should play Russ over Cousnel, it's not like Yost wasn't doing the same thing.

DannyNoonan said...

Can Coffey be on the playoff roster?

DannyNoonan said...

Or Mike Lamb?

PaulNoonan said...

Nope. They were added too late.

Fraley said...

Yost was right. You just need to give Helms some time...

:)

DannyNoonan said...

That blows. I'd like to have Coffey.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how WSB Chris feels about this?

PaulNoonan said...

I can assure you that Chris is quite happy.

Anonymous said...

I suppose he would be since the weather is fair.

Fraley said...

Chris, AB's and others' frustrations with the Brewers this year and last and well, the last 22 years has been well placed.

There is no doubt in my mind that had Neddy still been at the helm, the Brewers would have been eliminated by last weekend.

Fair weather fans are often the smartest fans. What gets my goat (cubs pun intended) are fans that let emotion cloud reasonable analysis. We're all guilty of that at times, but some always are driven by emotion, mostly despair.

Back to the Crew, Bush, Sabathia, Soupan, Gallardo, Sabathia? Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Being frustrated with your team doesn't make you a fairweather fan. Chris went further and actually turned on them. He expressed happiness when they were losing.

As for the rotation, I don't want to see Suppan anywhere near the mound in the playoffs. I think Yo should start the first game.

The Ghost of '82 said...

Careful,careful...Howard has hit over .400 on lefties for a little over a month now, and has hit over .300 w/RISP ALL YEAR LONG. Burrell, Utley, Feliz, and Werth(refering to the last couple of weeks for him) have all been hitting rather lacklusterly, lately. If any of these guys turn it around in the least, the Brewers will be dustpan material.

PaulNoonan said...

I like large sample sizes. Over his career Howard hits .304 against righties and .231 against lefties. His OBP is .412 against righties and .314 against lefties. He slugs .652 against righties and .471 against lefties. Against righties he hits a HR 1/12 PAs, whereas against lefties he hits them 1/17 PAs.

He is, as Joe Sheehan likes to say, a glorified platoon player. Howard does have a career high BA with RISP this year. Is that skill, or luck?

At any rate, Howard has never hit lefties well, and having lefties to throw against the Phillies is key.

DannyNoonan said...

The trick is to have the lefties actually pitch to Howard instead of walking him and then having them pitch to right handed hitters that kill lefties.