Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Game 1 line-up

No big surprises:

1. Mike Cameron CF
2. Bill Hall 3B
3. Ryan Braun LF
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. J.J. Hardy SS
6. Corey Hart RF
7. Rickie Weeks 2B
8. Jason Kendall C
9. Yovani Gallardo RHP

Sadly, nobody told Sveum that Hamels has reverse platoon splits.

On a lighter note...

With Rashard Mendenhall out for the year, the Steelers have reacquired everyones' favorite next-door neighbor, Najeh Davenport.

More Packer Injury News

The bad kind. Cullen Jenkins is out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle.

Don't Worry About Yo

There has been some blogospheric concern about the handling of Yovani Gallardo. Put your fears to rest:

Gallardo went 67 pitches last night, and if anyone saw a problem with his knee, I'd love to hear about it. I spoke with three people last night who I consider pitching "gurus" within the game, and every one of them asked me if this was normal, if ACL surgery has become so routine that this kind of recovery is now probable, and not merely plausible. The answer is simple as 'yes.' It's unusual in baseball, but even so there's the Milton Bradley situation to compare it to. Gallardo showed a normal motion, no real change in his mechanics, normal velocity in line with both his 2007 and 2008 averages on all his pitches, and certainly solid results for his first work in nearly a complete season. There's very little to say other than giving proper kudos to Gallardo and to the medical staff for what looks miraculous, but is actually the product of hard work. The interesting thing is that Gallardo now sets up to be the first game playoff pitcher, if necessary, and if they make it. How's that for a return?

Moreover, Gallardo should have a very fresh arm. He has not been taxed like Manny Parra and is well under the "safe" level for young pitchers. You never know how a player will react to an injury like this, especially when they feel that first "twinge" or bend funny the first time, but by all accounts the finest Brewer pitcher not named Carsten is ready to take the ball in game one of the playoffs, and most people don't even realize it.

I feel like Emperor Palpatine informing Luke that he was about to "witness the power of this fully armed and operational battlestation."

Adam Burrish is Rad

Chicago Blackhawk, Badger alum and Madison native Adam Burrish is starting a blog this year for the Sun Times.

Adam Burish of the Blackhawks here. I'm writing a blog called "Dropping the Gloves" exclusively for the the Sun-Times this season.

I'll be updating the blog regularly and will post a new entry every Friday. So make sure to bookmark this blog. That way you can easily check back here to send in questions and post comments.
Go check out the three minute (unembeddable..fuckers) video (also featuring former Badger Jake Dowell, who clearly wants to date Burrish). Funny stuff.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hair of the Dog, 9/30/08

Lets just enjoy this a little bit longer

Did anyone go to the rally yesterday? I couldn't make it, but apparently 14000 other people did. It sounds like it was a good time.

Gallardo was named pitcher for the first playoff game against the Phillies. I think Sveum's first move as a manager in the playoffs was a good one. Besides Sabathia, I think Gallardo gives us the best chance of winning against Hamels, although it is a bit of a gamble. Gallardo is 0-0 on the year with a 1.88ERA in 4 starts. In his short career he's 9-5 with a 3.35 ERA and 121K/45BB. The Phillies are sending left handed pitcher Cole Hamels, who is 14-10 on the year with a 3.09ERA and 196K/53BB. His career numbers are similar at 3.43 and 518K/144BB. Hamels is a lefty, but as ESK pointed out, his splits are the reverse of what they should be. He's better against righties (671 OPS) than he is against lefties (742OPS).
It's impossible to say for sure, but I have a hard time believing that Ned Yost would have made the move to start Yo in the first game. With Suppan's experience, he seems like he would have been the Yost choice, never mind that he's not nearly as good at pitching as Yo. I think Sveum's managerial decisions thus far have been mostly sound. He still puts stock in things like experience--adding Durham and Counsell to his standard rotation for example--but mostly when it is backed by numbers. By the way, Counsell's OBP in September is 450.

The rest of the pitching match-ups will be CC Sabathia vs. Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55ERA, 163K/65BB) and then whoever our third pitcher is against Jamie Moyers (16-7, 3.71ERA, 123K/62BB). Maybe I'm biased, but I feel pretty good about CC vs. Myers, and Moyers does have normal lefty splits. I think we can take this series.

Most pundits are picking the Phillies over the Brewers. Here's ESPN's game preview for tomorrow. All 10 of their "experts" pick the Phillies, but it's probably because they list Gallardo's record as 0-10 instead of 0-0. That's a big difference. I'd love to do a position by position comparison, but I'll leave that sort of thing to Paul, or E. But I will say that I think the Brewers and the Phillies are a lot closer than most people seem to think. They're 3rd in the NL in OPS (770), we're 6th (757). They're 1st in home runs (214) and we're 3rd (198). On the other side of the ball, we're actually a little better than them. We're 2nd in ERA (3.85) and they're 4th (3.88). In WHIP, we're 4th (1.33) and they're 6th (1.36). That's with Sheets, but it's without Gallardo and without Sabathia for the first half of the season. If it goes to 5 games, I think we'll take 'em.

Aaron Rodgers wants to play on Sunday. When Rodgers went down, after looking bad against the Bucs, many Packer fans were worried about the season. With a number of other injuries, and that old guy in New York having a huge game, it had a lot of people worried about the future of the franchise. Not that is should quell all of our fears, but Rodgers says he wants to play on Sunday against the Bears.

"Speaking with Aaron this morning, he has every intention on playing," McCarthy said Monday in Green Bay. "But I think Wednesday's practice will be a pretty good indicator for us. It's just something we'll have to continue to rehab and see where we are on Wednesday."

Rodgers has been tagged injury prone, and maybe he is, but I think the fact that he returned to last weeks game and seems genuinely intent on playing this weekend says something about the guy's toughness.

Just got home to Boston

I only have one thing to say:

Aaron Rodgers Update

From the Green Bay Press Gazette:

No major structural damage. Will rehab today and Tuesday. Wednesday's practice will be key -- how he throws, then how he recovers on Thursday morning. Coaches will get Matt Flynn ready regardless; reps will be split.

The Blown Call That No One Noticed

I would love to focus on the Brewers all day, but I can't find any reference to this so I have to mention it.

Last night in the Eagles-Bears game, on fourth down in the 4th quarter with 3:40 to go, Correll Buckhalter scored, but was incorrectly ruled down by the officials. You could see very clearly from the overhead shot that the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. The Bears should be 1-3, and I should have 6 more points in fantasy football.

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:


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.


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.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Game Times on TBS

Gm 1 MIL @ PHI Wed Oct. 1 3:00 PM TBS
Gm 2 MIL @ PHI Thu Oct. 2 6:00 PM TBS
Gm 3 PHI @ MIL Sat Oct. 4 6:30 PM TBS

All times EST


Cole Hamels

The Phillies are going with Cole Hamels. This means a few things:

1. Corey Hart should be on the bench. 1-13 with a single and 6 strikeouts. Combine that with how atrocious he has been and I put Joe Dillon (2-2) in right.

2. Bill Hall is terrible, especially so against Hamels (3-15 with 5 k's). I don't care if he is a lefty, he is a lefty who is tougher on righties than lefties. Counsell gets the start.

3. Same goes with Durham (1-7, 3 k's) and Weeks (.785 OPS).

You see the trend? To beat Hamels you start your lefties.



Update: METS LOSE!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brewers/Badgers/Marlins-Saturday Open Thread

First up today is the Marlins-Mets game at 12:10. The Marlins send Ricky Nolasco (15-7, 3.55ERA, 176K/41BB) against Johan Santana (15-7, 2.64ERA, 197K/60BB) on short rest.

At 2:30, the Badgers head to Michigan to take on the Wolverines.

At 2:55, the Brewers send Sheets (13-8, 2.98ERA, 157K/45BB) against the Cubs and Ted Lilly (16-9, 4.17ERA, 180K/63BB). Here's the line-up:

CF Mike Cameron
3B Bill Hall
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
C Jason Kendall
RHP Ben Sheets

Go Brewers! Go Badgers! Go Fish!

Keep Turning up the Heat

on those Mets!

Heading to the park in a few minutes. This is what sports are all about. This is why we bitch, moan, complain and argue during the regular season. The Brewers, the God damned Milwaukee Brewers, have a shot at clinching a playoff birth today. My boy Sheeter is on the mound, and I am hoping we see an absolutely epic performance.

A 162 game season boils down to 2 games. 2 games that we will remember, good or bad, for the rest of our lives.

Crank that heat Crew...

Hair of the Dog, Saturday 9/27/08

BREWERS WIN! Last night's game against the Cubs had a lot of us worried. With Suppan on the mound and having just finished a couple games that required us to use several relief pitchers, we had a questionable starter and a lot of tired arms in the pen. And we were playing one of the best teams in baseball. But the Crew picked a great night to show us they can play like a playoff team. Suppan threw 5 solid innings, giving up just one run--an Edmonds dinger. The Brewers then put the ball in the giant, red hands of Seth McClung, who finished the game, allowing just 1 hit and striking out 6. Thanks to both pitchers stepping up, the Brewers got a win, and their bullpen got a much needed day off. On the offensive side of the ball, Rickie Weeks (who, I think came in as a defensive substitution) went yard in the 7th with two on to put the game away.

Mets Lose! Meanwhile, the Mets dropped their game to the Florda Marlins 6 to 1 as the rain came down in New York. Thanks a lot Fish! Volstad threw 6 solid innings while Hanley Ramirez and Josh Willingham added some runs.

The Brewers now control their own destiny. The Crew is now 1 game up on the Mets in the wild card race. With 2 games to play, the Brewers' magic number is 2. Sheets is taking the mound tonight against Ted Lilly. Sheets says he's feeling fine. Let's hope so. Meanwhile, the Mets are throwing Santana on 3 days rest against Florida and the capable Ricky Nolasco. Let's hope we can wrap this thing up today so we can have Craig Counsell pitch tomorrow.

The Badgers head to the Big House this afternoon and are favored to win for the first time... ever? A lot of how that game turns out will hinge on whether Hill, Brown and Clay can run on Michigan's tough pass defense. I have a feeling that they can.

Today's hair of the dog is brought to you by Stella Artois, which they serve at a very underrated sports bar [stupidly] called Karma, on Ogden Ave. They have a ton of TVs, a layout that lets you see them, good food and good beer. And it's walking distance from my apartment. I'll be back.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Suppan in late September Open Thread

We've got about three games to go, so they're all important. Today's match-up is Jeff Suppan (10-10, 5.06ERA, 85K/66BB) against Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.99ERA, 183K/75BB). Hardy was rumored to have hurt his hand celebrating Braun's grand slam yesterday, but he's in the line-up, so hopefully it wasn't anything too serious. Those celebration-related injuries are brutal. Sadly, Counsell is still in the line-up at third, despite the rumor that 3TO was back. Maybe Sveum just thinks we won't need the offense today. Here's the line-up:

CF Mike Cameron
2B Ray Durham
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
3B Craig Counsell
C Jason Kendall
RHP Jeff Suppan

In New York, the Mets (Pelfrey 13-10, 3.70, 107K/64BB) are set to play the Marlins (Volstad, 5-4, 3.10ERA, 48K/33BB). Rain should prevent this game from happening tonight. The Phillies (Blanton, 8-12, 4.79ERA, 109K/65BB) play Washington (Balester, 3-6, 4.83ERA, 49K/27BB) as well. It's raining in Philly too, so that one may be rescheduled too.

Go Brewers! Go Marlins and Nationals too!

UPDATE - Breaking News:

Sheets is starting tomorrow after all.

How To Beat Ryan Dempster

The Cubs put the JV club out there last night, but I suspect we’ll see mostly starters until Sunday in order to keep everyone sharp. That said, pitchers require more protection than position players, and this is where the Milwaukee Brewers can do damage against the Ryan Dempster and the Chicago Cubs.

Dempster is slated to start game 1 as the NLDS for the Cubs, and while Dempster has been healthy all year, he has an injury-riddled past and the Cubs will likely take no chances with him. This means that Dempster will likely be on a strict pitch count, and taking pitches/fouling off pitches will be at a premium, as it will allow the Brewers to crack the Cub bullpen. And while normally getting into the Cub Bullpen isn’t very helpful, both Wood and Marmol will probably also be on short leashes as well.

This all assumes that Suppan does not get shelled; however he will probably be on a short leash too, as Seth McClung can step in at the first sign of danger.

This is clearly the worst matchup for the Brewers this weekend. Winning will require more than just slugging away. If the Brewers can be patient at the plate and make Dempster and the Cub pitchers work, they will have opportunities to score, and opportunities to win.

Brewers to watch

As was pointed out earlier in the comments section of a different post, Jason Kendall rocks Ryan Dempster for some reason, hitting .429/.545/.486 in 44 PAs. Crazy. (Mike Rivera, by the way, is 1-3 with a HR v. Dempster). Prince and Ray Durham have also beaten up on Ryan pretty good. J.J. Hardy’s .063/.118/.063 makes you wonder if they might not be better letting him rest his hand tonight. Other Brewers who should not go near a bat until Dempster departs include Bill Hall (.167/.167/.167, duh), and Corey Hart who’s 0-12 with 3 walks. If only Manny Parra could play. He’s 2-2 with a double and a triple.

You’re probably wondering how Jeff Suppan and his 86 ERA+ has fared against the Cubbies? Well, remember in Major League how Clu Haywood hit Ricky Vaughn? That’s what Derrek Lee does to Jeff Suppan (.476/.569/.929, 4 HRs and 7 doubles over 51 PAs). Ronny Cedeno, Big Z, and Geo Soto also destroy the guy. In fact, Soto is 2-5 with 2 HRs. That’s way more like Clu Haywood than Lee was.

On the positive front, Alfonso Soriano really struggles with Suppan (.194/.216/.250), but that’s about it.

Hair Of The Dog, Friday, September 26, 2008

Where did the term “Grand Salami” come from?

There is one announcer who, on the occasion of a Grand Slam, calls the event as follows (roughly):

“Grandma, get out the mustard and mayo, it’s Grand Salami!”

Or something like that. This is very strange. The words “slam” and “salami” do have certain superficial similarities (dig the consonance in that sentence), but salami isn’t exciting (not nearly so much as “slam”), and is not nearly as evocative. Moreover, the use of Grandma in the above quote further confuses the issue as he’s clearly trying to link the words Grandma and Grand. I think the whole thing is strange. Grand slams (especially walk-off Grand Slams) are exciting enough without bringing Grandma and her sandwich fixings into the picture.

Anyway, Johnny Wholestaff (headed by the triumphant return of Yovani Gallardo) pitched a dandy and Ryan Braun’s walk off, 2-out, 2-strike Grand Slam made it stand up, as the crew kept pace with the Mets who defeated the Cubs JV squad 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th, mainly because Koyie Hill and his bionic hand don’t know how to properly block home plate. Also, we may want to be careful with Micah Haoffpaiur this weekend, as the young Cubs was 5-5 with 2 bombs in a losing effort.

The Cubs will be visiting this weekend, and the Brewers do have the good fortune of avoiding both Zambrano (although the way he’s been pitching lately…) and Harden. The matchups look like this:

Friday – Suppan v. Demptser, Volstad v. Pelfrey, Joe Blanton v. Collin Balestar Galactica

Saturday – Lily v. Bush (Note: MLB.com still has this listed as Sheets, but all reports say it will be Bush), Lannan v. The Elderly Mr. Moyer, and the Mets-Marlins matchup TBD.

Sunday, for all of the marbles – Marquis v. Sabathia, Johan Santana v. Scott Olsen, and the Phillies-Nats matchup TBD.

I fully expect Sheets to see time at some point, but probably out of the pen. Tonight is the tough one. No one has been able to make any hay against Ryan Dempster this year, and he is, in fact, starting game one of the NLDS for the Cubs. Hopefully Suppan is getting the low strike from the umps tonight, because he’s been getting shelled lately. If nothing else, it should be exciting. Go Brewers!

Griese Grimey Gopher Guts

Jon Gruden’s Magical Mystery Quarterback Carousel lands on Brian Griese this week to face the depleted Packer secondary. Fortunately for the Pack, the Bucs will likely do so without aged speedster Joey Galloway. Normally I would tell you to expect plenty of Ernest Graham and Warrick Dunn, but Griese threw 67 passes last weekend against the Bears and since the Pack will be without Al Harris or Atari Bigby, don’t be surprised by more of the same.

The Tampa defense is as talented as ever, but they can be scored on and the McCarthy conservative game plan should actually play pretty well against this team.

Quick Hitters

Jordy Nelson passes the injured James Jones on the depth chart.

The Colt Run Defense had knee surgery.

Beavers Defeat Trojans. Who feels worse, the Trojans or the Buckeyes?

The Twins roar into first. Who has more of a home field advantage than these guys?

Today’s HOTD is still brought to you by Nyquil. This cold requires that I either speak in a whisper, or sound like Barry White. Neither of these are business appropriate.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open Thread: Duke v. Wholestaff

Yo will start tonight, but I assure you he will not finish. It will be interesting to see what Dale cobbles together in the later part of this one. And since Zach Duke is a shitty lefty, we've got the righty lineup making its triumphant second appearance in a row:

CF Mike Cameron
3B Bill Hall
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
C Jason Kendall
RHP Yovani Gallardo

And while I know we do our fair share of Bill Hall bashing around here, he has mashed him some lefties (although not lately) and he's really pounded Zach Duke. Going by the numbers, Billy definitely belongs out there tonight.

In other important news, the Cubs will send Rich Harden (probably on a strict, strict pitch count) to face the man once simply known as Pedro and now known as Pedro Martinez, while the Phillies have the day off.

It's Gallardo v. Duke in the series finale. Let's Rock.

Go Brewers!

Terrible News For The Brewers


Hopefully the Cubs can build up a big enough lead before they remember the Blazing Bat.

At least 5000 People won't be booing Gagne tonight

We hope.

He's giving away 5000 tickets to tonight's game. Cool.

I hate ESPN

I think E[S]PN is the biggest joke in the universe, whether it's "Titletown" or "Who's Next" or whether Jessica Simpson is distracting Romo or whatever MTV bullshit they're trotting out when they should be covering sports. Here's a nonsense puff-peice from their website in which the "analyze" some potential World Series Match-ups using the tired cliche of organizing under a mechanism they stole from the title of a Clint Eastwood movie.

TWINS-BREWERS: The Twins are a decent enough story, a young team that wasn't supposed to do anything this year after losing
Johan Santana to the Mets. The Brewers aren't bad, either, especially if they make the playoffs after firing their manager with just two weeks left in the season. Match them together, though, and you've got a dud of a World Series played out in small-market Midwestern cities that not even the super-sized presence of Prince Fielder can save.

Apparently, to E[S]PN, the quality of a baseball game is determined by the location and market size of the teams playing. E[S]PN, you are dumb.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

From Will Carroll:

Sheets won't start today due to continued pain in his arm, so instead it will be Gallardo. It's a bit of a surprise, but I tipped people to this on XM's Fantasy Focus earlier this week. The thing is, Gallardo won't be making a normal start; yes, he'll start the game, but he's essentially acting as a long reliever at the beginning of a "bullpen game." He'll be on a hard pitch limit, and is unlikely to throw more than 50 pitches. Sheets remains a possibility for a start or in relief, but only as part of the Brewers' kitchen-sink approach to pitching over the last week. Sunday will be Sabathia, again on short rest, after he won his Wednesday start (throwing 108 pitches). The Brewers are certainly getting their money's worth out of Sabathia during his stint in Milwaukee, but the move will leave them without the big man available to start in any of the possible tie-breaker scenarios.

Zack Greinke Available?

There was talk at the deadline that Zach Greinke may be available. A trade never made it out of gestation, but it lends credence to Sam Mellinger's post about the possibility of trading Soria and Greinke.

But our guy says the Royals should trade Soria.

And Zack Greinke.

"Those are their two biggest commodities," the man says. "You might
go three-for-one with each of those guys. Now you get six players back
and you're a better team."

Three guys? The Brewers can't afford that. One guy the width of three? The Brewers can certainly afford that.

Prince Fielder for Zack Greinke? I would do it in a heartbeat, without a moments hesitation, and with no worries of regret. The Royals would get a giant name and a giant bat to appease the fans. Let's be honest, people dig home runs more than WHIP. Swap some bloated salaries in the deal if necessary (fit Hall in the deal if possible) and boom...Brewers rotation is above average yet again.

Yeah...clearly I am anxious for the game tonight!

Hair of the Dog, 9/25/08

One night a man had a dream. He was walking along the beach with C.C. Sabathia, and across the sky flashed scenes from the 2008 baseball season. In each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one made by him, and the other made by C.C. Sabathia.

When the last scene of the 2008 baseball season flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of the 2008 baseball season, there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the worst times in the 2008 baseball season.

This bothered him very much, so he asked C.C. Sabathia about it. "Carsten, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I've noticed that during times of trouble, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why you left me when I needed you most."

C.C. Sabthia answered, "My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial, when you saw only one set of footprints, that's when I was carrying you."

The Brewers are tied with the Mets in the wild card race with 4 games left to play thanks to a win against he Pirates, and a Mets' extra innings loss to the Cubs. Sabathia pitched seven solid innings on short rest, allowing one run and striking out 11 bucs. That was enough for the still-struggling offense to squeak out a 4-2 win. I think it's safe to say that if we do make the playoffs, it's thanks to that big lefty. He's done everything we could have possibly asked of him and a whole lot more. Tom H. notes that he's cool with it.

At Shea Stadium, the Cubs tried their best to lose, especially Carlos Z, who walked in a run right before giving up a grand slam in the 3rd. But they pulled out an extra innings win thanks to a Derrek Lee double and an Aramis Ramirez dinger. The Phillies also lost in a game in which both benched cleared due to the shit-talking of former Brewer Julian Tavarez. The Phillies may still be important in the wild card race.

Yovani starts tonight. On top of last night's win, we also get the big news that Yovani Gallardo will start tonight, marking his first start since he tore his ACL in May. It's anyone's guess as to how productive Yo will be in his situation--being thrust into a must-win game after recovering from a season-ender in record time--but it speaks volumes of his work ethic and his talent that we're even talking about it. I hope he throws a bunch of perfect innings.

The Bucks are wearing red. In minor news that nobody gives a shit about yet, the Bucks unveiled their new road uniforms, and they're red. Like really red. But whatever, it's better than Christmas themed. Or purple.

Today's hair of the dog is brought to you by Harp lager, which I drank a few of at the biggest dive in northern California while I watched baseball last night. There's something awesome about watching a ball game at a dive bar.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tomorrows starting pitcher will be...


CC vs. the Bucs Open Thread

In another must-win, in another short rest start, CC Sabathia takes the mound against the Bucs and left-hander Paul Maholm (9-8, 3.68ERA, 137K/57BB). The line-up is.... shall we say.... weird:

CF Mike Cameron
3B Bill Hall
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
C Jason Kendall
LHP CC Sabathia

Bill Hall and Mike Cameron are the first two batters, but as Tom H notes, they're batting .609 and .667 against Maholm. That's in 23 and 15 at-bats too, so hopefully the trend will continue.

Meanwhile, the Cubs play the Mets at Shea. The match-up is Zambrano (14-6, 3.77, 128K/68BB) against Perez (10-7, 4.10ERA, 168K/97BB).

Go Brewers!

And go... Cubs... *shiver*.

Merry Early Christmas Lions Fans

Matt Millen's reign of terror has come to an end.

Hair Of The Dog, Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The Brewers came out on top of an intense back and forth affair when the red hot Prince Fielder crushed a 2-0 slider out of Miller Park for a walk-off 7-5 win to remain one back of the Mets, who had earlier dispatched an uninterested Cubs team.

The game was filled with clutch hit after clutch hit, a de facto inside the park Hr, and many blown leads. It was in many respects a great game, but had Prince failed to come through in the 9th, it would have just been another depressing missed opportunity. And while the pitching matchups favored the Mets last night, on this day they will face Carlos Zambrano, who will be looking to prove that he is post-season ready after following up his no-hitter with a clunker. Lefty Oliver Perez will take the hill for the Mets. The Cubs have generally pounded left-handed pitching (.291/.368/.445), but that’s if Lou Piniella goes with a credible lineup.

For the Brewers, CC Sabathia will take his turn on short rest against Pirates’ ace Paul Maholm. I like the move both to improve the Brewers’ chances against Pitt’s one credible starter, and to work an extra start out of the big man. Against lefties the Pirates are an unimpressive .251/.322/.395. Moreover, these Pirates as a group have had a terrible go of it against Sabathia, managing only a .194/.282/.281 line. The Brewers have actually tagged Maholm pretty well (.337/.392/.556)

Things are shaping up. Let’s take this one and square this race.

Go Brewers!

In Football Land…

I mean, I just don’t care about football right now, but if you’re interested, Plaxico Burress has been suspended by the Giants for missing practice.

Willie Parker will miss next Monday’s game with a knee injury, while Marc Bulger has been benched for Trent Green, until his inevitable concussion.

The Bears really suck at drafting offensive players.

Back to Baseball…

PECOTA rules again.

Today’s HOTD is brought to you by Nyquil. The good stuff, with Pseudophedrine.

Oh, and the Woot-Off continues.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Open Thread: Bush And Drunken Cubs

The Cubs wrapped up home field yesterday, and they face Johan Santana. I assume they're all in pretty bad shape, and I'm pretty sure Johan isn't losing to a bunch of rummies no matter what. This makes tonight's game super important, just like every other game from this point forward. It's Bush v. Karstens, have at it!

And while you're waiting, note that the City of Chicago is going to attempt to make taverns in Wrigleyville stop serving booze after the 7th inning during "clinching games" in the playoffs. This should really be known as the Redmond's-Blarney Stone-Underground-Purgatory-Risque Cafe-Sheffield's Subsidy Act.

Baseball Ethics

Over at Northsidebaseball.com, a Cubs fan started a thread called "Burying the Brewers." He states:

With the Brewers operating at a loss this season monetarily, we have an interesting opportunity to bury this franchise for years to come if we can dominate them in the next season. My understanding is that the Brewers are about 10m in the hole without playoff revenue. In Sabathia, Sheets, and Gagne, they have about 25 mil coming off the books. However, 10m to pay off this years shortfall plus another 10m off to return to a financially feasible payroll gives you a Brewers roster with ~5m to play with and Yovanni Gallardo instead of Sheets and Sabathia. This ignores the talk about picking up Cameron's option, as well. If we can hammer the Brew Crew from the playoffs this season, we may completely remove them from competitive consideration for several years to come. Its worth it to play 110% against them, isn't it?We will have an easier time making the postseason in the future if we can fight only the cards instead of both teams each year. Would you start all your horses to try and kill them off?

I'm not sure if he's completely right on his numbers, but it raises some interesting questions. Obviously, I see nothing wrong with the Cubs bringing out all of their big guns on us when they come up to Miller Park this weekend. But what if they forfeited, or "took a dive" in their series against the Mets? Is there anything preventing them from doing so? It wouldn't be for gambling reasons like the Black Sox, but it would be for financial reasons, as the poster notes. What do you guys think?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hair of the Dog, 9/22/08

It was a big day for the Brewers, even though they didn't play. The Cubs came through for us and beat the Mets 9 to 5, thanks in part to a grand slam by Jason Marquis. No, I'm serious. We are now just one game back on the Mets with 6 to play. If we're going to crawl into the playoffs, we need to win at least one more game than the Mets. Here are the relevant projected pitching match-ups:

Tuesday, 9/23: Cubs (Marshal 3-4, 3.62 ERA, 50K/19BB) at Mets (Santana 14-7, 2.65 ERA, 187K/58BB); Pirates (Karstens 2-6, 4.37 ERA, 17K/12BB) at Brewers (Bush 9-10, 4.22ERA, 106K/44BB)

Wednesday, 9/24: Cubs (Zambrano 14-6, 3.77, 128K/68BB) at Mets (Perez 10-7, 4.10ERA, 168K/97BB); Pirates (Maholm 9-8, 3.68ERA, 137K/57BB) at Brewers (???)

Thursday, 9/25: Cubs (Harden 10-2, 2.03ERA, 117K/56BB) at Mets (Martinez 5-6, 5.50ERA, 78K/40BB); Pirates (Duke 5-14, 4.96ERA, 85K/47BB) at Brewers (???)

Friday, 9/26: Marlins (Volstad 5-4, 3.10 ERA, 48K/33BB) at Mets (Pelfrey 13-10, 3.70ERA, 107K/64BB); Cubs (Dempster 17-6, 2.99ERA, 183K/75BB) at Brewers (Sheets 13-8, 2.98ERA, 157K/45BB).

Saturday, 9/27: Marlins (???) at Mets (???); Cubs (Lily 16-9, 4.17ERA, 180K/63BB) at Brewers (???)

Sunday, 9/28: Marlins (???) at Met (???); Cubs (???) at Brewers (???)

It's probably a safe bet that Wednesday and Thursday will be Suppan (10-10, 5.04ERA, 85K/66BB) and Sabathia (15-10, 2.85ERA, 233K/56BB). The only question is the order. If Sabathia goes first, on short rest, he could pitch the last game of the season if we needed him to. Otherwise, they'll both be pitching on regular rest and we probably wouldn't have CC for the last game, but may have him for a play-off. That's a tough call. Saturday will probably be Bush again. It's definately possible that the Brewers will be back in control of their own destiny by the time the Cubs come to town. Go Crew!

In Monday Night Football action, the New York Bretts took on the San Diego Chargers. And lost. He played a lot like Brett, complete with big plays and crucial picks. He was 30-42 with 271 yards and 3 TDs. He actually looked pretty solid in the 4th quarter when the passing game was really needed. Something to build on perhaps?

Just to add some unami to this post, here are some links:

Tyler Maas of Bugs and Cranks takes us through a day in the life of Craig Counsell. It had me in stitches.

Former Brewer Zack Jackson scored a win against Josh Becket and the Red Sox last night.

Fellas, with the Bucks season approaching, it's time to meet Energee!

There's a woot-off today.

Today's Hair of the Dog is brought to you by 21st Amendment Bitter American, because I leave for the Bay area today and will need to be watching some baseball over there.

One-Off Monday

No Brewers, No Pack, No Problem.

One of the Brewers most important games of the year will be played tonight between the Mets and Cubs, and you can flip to the Jets-Chargers game during commercials to see if Brett is improving the Packers' draft position.

It's sort of a strange day.

(And feel free to use this as an open thread for both, although I'm sort of OT'd out after this weekend. But hey, have at it.)

Brewers and Timber Rattlers reach agreement.

Apparently, the Brewers and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have reached a player development agreement, so Brewers' A-Ball will be played in the Fox Cities.

Al Harris Possibly Gone For The Year With A Ruptured Spleen

Get ready for the Tramon Williams show. Oh boy.

Hair of the Dog, Monday, September 22, 2008

The Worst Laid Plans Of Timid Little Mice

No one thought this would be an easy game for the Packers, and most people probably had this chalked up as a loss in their preseason predictions. I know I did. That said, the way that the Packers went about this game was infuriating.

Dallas has struggled mightily against the pass, and in particular, against the big play. And in fact when the Packers did go down the field they were often successful, as on the deep ball to Driver. This play was, unfortunately, the exception.

The Packers fell in love with the run on first down (generally for less than 4 yards) and the short pass. They were predictable to a fault, and played right into the Cowboys hands. The lack of offense allowed the Cowboys to stick with the run, and allowed Marion Barber to continue to gash away, continually putting the Cowboys in manageable third-and-short situations. The run also opened up the deep pass for Miles Austin as the game progressed.

Had the Packers capitalized on the early interception by Nick Collins and the bomb to driver rather than settling for field goals, the Cowboys likely would not have been able to stick with the run for so long, and with Woodson completely shutting down TO (and Kudos to the Packer coaching staff for going with the Woodson-Owens matchup over the Harris-Owens matchup) the Cowboys probably would have been manageable. The Cowboys, like all teams, have problems in third-and-long situations, and the few times they found themselves in such situations, they made mistakes.

Instead the Packers played from behind much of the night (from Felix Jones’ TD run), and played with almost no urgency. A few observations…

1. Ryan Grant was ineffective, especially compared to Brandon Jackson, who showed good explosiveness by pushing the pile on several occasions for big extra yards. Yet Jackson only had 4 touches all game (for 36 yards). Why?

2. James Jones had a bad game, with two drops.

3. One criticism of Rodgers that I’ve read repeatedly from scouts is that he holds the ball too long, and this was really on display last night. DeMarcus Ware is very good, but Rodgers did himself no favors by waiting and waiting and waiting. This secondary hasn’t exactly been blanketing receivers this year, and the lack of quick decision-making was troubling. I suspect this situation is exacerbated by Rodgers nimbleness in the pocket. He can escape much of the time, but this leads to bad habits.

4. Was Donald Drivers' “illegal forward pass” really forward? I’ll never know for sure because NBC refused to show a replay. To me it looked very much like the Music City Miracle. The “forwardness” of the pass was caused by Jordy Nelson being on one side of the ball while Driver was on the other. Maybe it was forward, but I wish I could have seen it. Even though it really didn’t matter.

5. Penalties are still a problem.

The Packers didn’t really make mistakes as much as they didn’t put themselves in a position where they could make mistakes. Against most of the league that strategy may work OK, but not against an offensive powerhouse like the Cowboys. That said, keep this in mind (from the Acme Packing Co.):

Like I read in the open thread comments, it didn't help Dallas in the playoffs that they had beaten the NY Giants twice in the regular season. It didn't help the Packers in the playoffs that they smoked the Giants in the regular season either. Just secure winning the division and get into the playoffs. The lesson that Mike McCarthy and the Packers have to learn is how did Dallas shut them down during that awful six drive sequence.

Here are the PFT one-liners.

Around the NFL

The entire Eagle offense except for DeSean Jackson will be shoved into an MRI machine today. (And taps gently plays for my fantasy football team.)

Matt Cassel isn’t as good a QB as Ronnie Brown.

How did the Giants require overtime to defeat the Bengals? Not enough Bradshaw!

There are some really terrible NFL teams this year. St. Louis was blown out by a Seattle team with no WRs. Cleveland gave up 28 points to a Baltimore team with a Baltimore offense. Detroit got absolutely smoked by San Francisco. I mean, these are bad teams getting annihilated by other bad-to-mediocre teams.

The Bears were defeated by their former QB in a game in which he threw 67 passes for over 400 yards.

Related Recurring Feature: Kyle Orton: Game Manager

Kyle Orton “managed the game” to the tune of 2 interceptions

They’re Not Quite Dead

The Brewers are 1.5 games in back of the Mets after an 8-1 win yesterday. That half game will cease to exist today, for good or ill, as the Mets take on the Cubs. It’s not looking good, but it could be worse.

Today’s HOTD is brought to you by the delicious Sawtooth Ale, which goes very well with the Led Zeppelin.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Packers-Cowboys open thread

The Brewers got an important win today, let's hope the Packers can do the same against the evil [but very very good] Cowboys at Lambeau Field tonight. The game starts at 7:15ish.

Go Packers!

Brewers-Reds Playing for Pride Open Thread

I think the more relevant discussions will revolve around football, but we still got a shot with the Crew!

CF Mike Cameron
3B Craig Counsell
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
C Jason Kendall
RHP Seth McClung

I really cannot wait until Mike Rivera is no longer a Brewer and can provide insight as to why the heck the Crew refused to play him.

Panthers - Vikings
Bucs - Bears

Both going on now, both hold interest for the Pack.  Go Crew!  Go Panthers!  Go Bucs!

Let's Talk Fantasy

Good Morning Everyone,

I have no idea why I'm awake this early on Sunday morning, especially since there is not a Packer game for another 10.5 hours, but we may as well use the time to make fantasy football recommendations. Let's Rock.

Fun To Watch:

Frank Gore - It is a misnomer that you must establish the rn to win football games. In fact, it 's more accurate to say that you do not run to win, but win to run. Most easy RB yards come after your team is trying to ice the game and waste clock. Frank Gore's biggest problem over the last year has been a team that is never ahead, and that can't pass anyway. Today he has the Lions. Expect him to have his best day of the year.

Greg Jennings - Did you see what DeSean Jackson did last week? Expect the same from Jennings. Well, except Jennings will actually score before celebrating.

Brandon Jacobs - He plays Cinci.

TO - He will be covered by Al Harris, and Al is no longer up to the task. Expect numbers similar to those Plaxico Burress put up in the NFC Championship Game.

Reggie Wayne
- Week 3 is likely to be the week that the Indy offense starts to click again, especially against the injury plagued division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. It's been a slow start, but it will get better.

Glued To The Pine:

Darren McFadden - The Buffalo Defense is excellent, and while McFadden's superficial numbers were good last week, he was very boom-and-bust. Expect fewer booms this week, especially as injury concerns loom large.

Ernest Graham - He splits carries and faces a very good Bear defense. If you have alternatives, explore them.

Braylon Edwards - It's risky to bench a guy that was probably one of the top receivers taken, but Braylon's case of the dropsies has reared it's ugly head, Derek Anderson has regressed, and the Browns face the excellent Raven defense. You'll probably start him anyways, but don't expect much.

Diamonds In The Rough:

Bernard Berrian - Gus Frerotte certainly isn't the second coming of Fran Tarkenton, or even Wade Wilson, but he is better than Tarvaris Jackson. This week he's likely to start paying dividends.

Ike Hilliard
- This is especially true in league's where receptions count. Hilliard isn't any good and plays a tough defense, but the Bucs are going to have to try to move down the field somehow, and Hilliard has been the security blanket for both Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese so far. Expect 5-6 or 6 catches for 50+ yards, and maybe a cheap TD.

Ahmad Bradshaw - The phenom of the New York Giant backfield is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Jacobs is still the primary carrier, but in a game against Cincinnati, Bradshaw is likely to see clock-killing duties, and probably pick up a cheap touchdown. A nice spot starter.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brewers-Reds MUST WIN Open Thread

It's been a brutal couple of days, and things certainly don't look good for us. If we're going to have any hope of playing in October, we have to take 4 or 5 of the next 5 games against the Reds and Pirates, and then take it to the Cubs to end the season. The Bullpen is tired, the starters are on short rest, and Ray Durham has joined Kapler and Branyan on the list of injured guys we could really use right now. If this were a Disney movie, this would be the time to dig deep and play above our heads and overcome the odds. The pitching match-up is CC Sabathia (15-9, 2.88) vs. Johnny Cueto (8-13, 4.68). The game starts at 2:55. Here's the line-up:

CF Mike Cameron
3B Craig Counsell
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
C Jason Kendall
LHP CC Sabathia

GO Brewers!

Other games of note include Mets (Pedro Martinez, 5-5 5.47 ERA) at Braves (Jorge Campillo, 7-7 3.79 ERA) at 6:00, and Phillies (Joe Blanton, 7=12 4.82 ERA) at Marlins (Annabell Sanchez, 2-4 5.87 ERA) at 6:10.

Go Braves and Marlins!

Brewers 2009 Schedule is Out

I finally got around to checking it out.

Fuck.  My wedding in on Opening Day weekend.


God damn it...why so late next year!?!??

Friday, September 19, 2008

Open Thread Of Much Wailing, And Gnashing Of Teeth

CC is pitching on short rest tomorrow, but for tonight it's Jeff Suppan pitching in the teeny-tiniest stadium out there. Jeff, for God's sake, keep the ball down. Oh, and don't walk anybody.

Bad as it looks right now, this thing is not over yet. The Mets still have their tough stretches, and they can be caught. Meet the new lineup, same as the old lineup:

CF Mike Cameron
2B Ray Durham
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS JJ Hardy
RF Corey Hart
3B Craig Counsell
C Jason Kendall
P Jeff Suppan

Yanks Covet the Sheeter

So sayeth Was Watching:

Coming back from the gym yesterday, I was in my car listening to The Michael Kay Show (on ESPN Radio in NYC) right around the five o’clock hour. And, I heard
Kay share that, according to all his ‘inside sources’ and ‘Yankees
connections,’ etc., the potential free agent starting pitcher (this
off-season) who the Yankees lust after the most is Ben Sheets.

Lebron James Loses At HORSE

To David Kalb, a warehouse worker from La Habra California.

The All Football Hair Of The Dog, Friday, September 19, 2008

Romo to TO, oh no!

So, can the Packers defeat the juggernaut that is the Dallas Cowboys? Can Aaron Rodgers continue to play this well in what is likely to be a shootout? Can we stop calling the Cowboys America’s team, as they exist in a state that was once an independent nation and probably wouldn’t mind going that way again? And Can Al Harris hold TO to under 300 yards?

The Cowboy defense has not looked very good to this point. In week one they did hold Cleveland to 10 points, but I suspect that this will be a recurring theme in Cleveland this year as long as they’re not facing the Bengals. (In week 2 Cleveland scored 6 points, giving them a total of 16 for the season, meaning they have scored fewer points this year than the Packers scored in the last 5 minutes (or so) of their game against the Lions.)

Last week the Cowboys lost Roy Williams (who is not actually very good, but does seriously hurt people fairly frequently) and gave up 37 points to the Philadelphia Eagles. On paper it looks like Brian Westbrook was largely responsible for all of those points, but he was mainly responsible for finishing drives, and not for marching them down the field. The Cowboys had trouble with rookie sensation (and sensational moron) DeSean Jackson, and I would expect them to have similar difficulty with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. In fact, the Packer’s receiving corps will probably cause Dallas fits all day.

That said, if Al Harris lines up across from TO as is planned, all of the offense in the world won’t save the Packers. TO is roughly 5 times better than Plaxico Burress (in my opinion), and everyone remembers what Plax did to Al last year. A repeat of that performance would be devastating.

Dallas is probably the best team in the NFC, and no one should be surprised if the Packers lose. That said, when Aaron Rodgers relieved Brett Favre in the game last year, we may have seen flashes of what was to come. The Dallas pass rush was unable to get to Rodgers because of his superior mobility, and his underneath passing exploited the poor tackling of the Dallas secondary, a problem which still persists.

I expect this to be a close, high-scoring game. I’d offer a prediction, but I suspect luck will ultimately determine the victor, and I am unable to foresee the future, and would merely offer the mindless platitude that the team with the fewest turnovers will probably win. If you’re looking for an edge, Mason Crosby’s booming kickoffs have resulted in 5 touchbacks and generally bad field position for Packer opponents. Nick Folk, on the other hand, has yet to put one in the end zone and averages about 7 yards less per kick than Mason. Perhaps the added special teams opportunities for the Packers will be the difference.

In Other News…

Mark Cuban is awesome.

Matt Millen is apparently now some kind of cartoonish, Ayn Randian super-villain.

Jason Witten is hurtin', but not that much.

Aaron, Be-Ware!

The Packers love the middle of the field.

Just a reminder that there is no Badger game this weekend. I wish there was some other sport we could watch instead. Oh well.

Finally, I don’t think the line could be high enough to get me to take the Bengals over the Giants.

Today's HOTD is brought to you by I Closed Wolski's Lager. Proof that at some point in your life you stayed up until 2 am. Those were the days...

Wolski's: not closed for 100 years.

I'm not sure I can bring myself to pay attention to, or talk about, baseball today. So, changing the subject, there's a pretty good article in the JS about Wolski's celebrating it's 100 year anniversary. That's an old bar.

If “I Closed Wolski’s” doesn’t ring a bell, you probably moved to Milwaukee in the past 20 minutes or so. Never has a bumper sticker brought so many people to one tavern and kept them there past 2 a.m. There probably isn’t a bar in town that doesn’t wish it had thought of it first.
on Sunday it’s throwing a birthday party too big to fit in the cozy neighborhood bar.
Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St., will host the bash from 2 to 9 p.m., with the festivities continuing after that back at Wolski’s.

A $5 donation — which goes to the St. Hedwig’s Church wheelchair accessibility fund — gets you a commemorative pint glass filled with “I Closed Wolski’s” lager brewed up by Lakefront. There’s food, live music and a nostalgic slide show. And check this out: Lakefront is also selling the limited-edition beer in a 22-ounce bottle with a label that peels off and becomes an “I Closed Wolski’s” bumper sticker. It’s an industry first, they say.

Cool. I'd assume that anyone that has made there way to this here rag has been to Wolski's. Or at least seen the bumper stickers. What about you, have you closed Wolski's?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Harden-Bush Rubbermatch Open Thread

We have a day game today. The Brewers send Dave Bush (9-10, 4.24 ERA, 42 BB/103 SO) against the Cubs' Rich Harden (10-2, 2.04 ERA, 50 BB/170 SO). Bushie and the Crew will have their work cut out for them today. I think it's safe to call this, "the biggest start of Dave Bush's Career." Hopefully it will go better for him than it did for Ben Sheets last night, and hopefully the bats will stay alive. No line up yet, but we'll update when it's available.

Update (from Paul): Your Lineup (Now With Handedness!):

CF Mike Cameron - R
2B Ray Durham - S
LF Ryan Braun - R
1B Prince Fielder - L
SS J.J. Hardy - R
RF Corey Hart - R
3B Craig Counsell - L
C Jason Kendall - R
RHP Dave Bush - R

How To Beat Rich Harden

The magic number for beating Rich Harden is 17. That's 17 pitches an inning. If you can force him to throw 17 pitches per inning or more, he will get through no more than 5 innings, as he is generally capped around 85 pitches.

Since it's very difficult to score runs off the the injury-prone Harden (who sometimes seems to be in some sort of sick game of injury one-upsmanship with our own Ben Sheets) getting him out of the game is very valuable. It is important to take pitches against him. It is important to shorten your swing with 2 strikes against you and foul off a few pitches. And it is important to get him out before the Cubs can simply rely on Marmol and (to a lesser extent) Wood.

Can Dave Bush beat Rich Harden? Maybe. If the wind is blowing in again and they knock Harden out early, then yes, Dave Bush can beat Rich Harden and the Cubs.

This is a game where tactics can make a huge difference. Let's see if they can be patient for once.

Stuck On Stupid

Al Harris will be assigned the task of defending TO this weekend. Al Harris would have been up to the task 3 years ago. Al Harris v.2008 is completely incapable of guarding a big, strong, #1 (possibly #1 in the league) WR. Charles Woodson is by far the Packer's best corner, and should be assigned the other team's best receiver. Not doing this is positively Yostian.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hair of the Dog, 9/18/08

Last night the Brewers FINALLY untucked their shirts for the first time in 5 games. The Crew started hot, scoring 3 runs in the first inning and never lost the lead, beating the Cubs 6-2. Fielder is clearly heating up--he was 3 for 4 with two doubles--which should give us all hope. Prince's resurgence over the last two days has me wondering whether there was some sort of problem between him and Yost. Was he mad at Ned for shooting all those elks and shit? Who knows? What we do know is that since Yost has left, Prince has started to revert back to the 2007 version. Hardy was also 3-5 with a double from his new spot behind Fielder.

The bad news is that Ben Sheets threw just two innings before leaving the game with some sort of booboo. Who gives a damn what it is at this point? Lets just hope he's back soon. Sheets bowing out of one of the most important games in his career, and right before he becomes a free agent has left Tyler Maas at Bugs & Cranks wondering whether Sheets is the worst great pitcher in contemporary baseball, or is he the best OK pitcher? The JS is also reporting that Sheets's injury has been lingering. He had an MRI on August 26th even. Gee, it's a good thing he threw 110 or more pitches in two of his next three starts. Somebody should be fired for that...

The good news is that the bullpen looked pretty awesome. 32-year-old career minor leaguer Mark DiFelice looked solid and picked up his first "W." Coffey, CV, Stetter, Gagne and Mota all threw scoreless innings or parts of innings as well. This was one of the prettiest games I've seen in which a team used 8 pitchers.

In other Brewers pitching action, Yovani Gallardo threw another simulated game in Arizona on Tuesday and is expected to join the team this weekend. I'm starting to think that Gallardo and Ben Sheets are the same person. Has anybody ever seen both of these guys healthy and playing in Brewers uniforms at the same time?

Sadly, not much changed in the WC race. Both the Phillies and the Mets won, so we're still a half-game back on the Mets in the wild card, and a whole game back on the Phillies in the hypothetical wild card. Houston lost though, dropping them to 3.5 games behind us.

In football news, the Minnesota Vikings made their team slightly better by putting Tavaris Jackson on the bench. Gus Frerotte is still in the NFL, and apparently on the Vikings, and will start.

Today's Hair of the Dog is brought to you by Sparks. A wonderful, caffeinated, alcoholic drink with lots of fun stimulants added to it. Sparks is having a little trouble with the law right now.

“MillerCoor’s decision to sell Sparks Red defies undeniable evidence from medical and public health professionals about the dangers of mixing alcohol with stimulants in energy drinks,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter Wednesday to W. Leo Kiely, chief executive of MillerCoors.

As former roomie Ben remarked when he sent me the news, "yeah, danger of having a good time."

Brewers-Cubs game 2 open thread.

The Brewers are playing the same line-up as yesterday. Let's hope the result is different.

CF Mike Cameron
2B Ray Durham
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS JJ Hardy
RF Corey Hart
3B Craig Counsell
C Jason Kendall
P Ben Sheets

The pitching match up is Ben Sheets (13-8, 2.97 ERA, 45 BB/155 SO) against Jason Marquis (10-8, 4.36 ERA, 60 BB/84 SO). This is a big chance for us to end this losing streak. I'll be at my kickball game for the first hour or so, so I hope you guys will be on your best behavior until I get back.

Go Brewers!

Other important games tonight include Phillies (Happ 0-0, 5.71ERA) vs. Braves (Jurrjens 13-9, 3.62 ERA), Mets (Knights 0-0 6.43 ERA) vs. Nats (Martis (0-2 2.70 ERA), and Houston (Backe 9-12, 5.440 vs. Marlins (Nolasco 14-7, 3.56 ERA). Go Braves, Nats and Marlins!

In Defense Of Ed Hochuli

I’ve written a great deal about instant replay in the NFL, and while I’m generally in favor of IR, it has had one major unintended consequence (covered in detail here). Refs will now suspend their immediate judgment on plays, and allow them to continue longer than they otherwise would, with the understanding that instant replay can only correct a mistake if they don’t blow the whistle. There is a big problem with this line of thinking:

“The first problem is that the burden of proof necessary to overturn a play in replay (indisputable visual evidence) is very high, and that the default is the "ruling on the field." When you let plays go longer than they are supposed to, the ruling on the field is often not only wrong, but catastrophically so. As a play goes on, the chances for a turnover increase greatly. Refs let plays continue out of fear of stopping a big play with a quick whistle, but by letting defensive players continually strip offensive players even when forward momentum has been stopped, or by letting defensive players pick up a "fumble" when a QB's arm was going forward, the refs actually create turnovers, and turnovers are perhaps the most important factor in who wins or loses a game.

Under the current policy, "indisputable visual evidence" is more often required to prove that a turnover didn't happen. The original intent of replay was to fix major mistakes during games. We now have a situation in which replay creates huge mistakes.”

Ed Hochuli made a bad call, and he’s apparently been getting all kinds of hate mail. He’s also owned up to it, apologized, and, in general, done everything that you’re supposed to do when you screw up. He’s been a stand-up guy. Most refs never own up to their botched calls; they either defend them or hide behind the league.

Moreover, keep in mind that if you’re one of the idiots bothering Hochuli, that instant replay has created dozens, maybe hundreds of bad, game-deciding calls that you’ve probably never noticed.

Hochuli has a reputation as a fair, old-school official, and while his whistle was quick in this instance, I’m glad to see an official not using replay as a crutch. When discussing this issue, talking heads (Mike & Mike, for instance) frequently mention that refs should not have a quick whistle and should instead let replay decide things. The problems from this policy may not be as obvious, but they are as large, and in fact they may be worse specifically because they are not noticed. Hochuli will learn and do better. Those with slow whistles will continue to make errors under the radar.

In fact, in the post I linked to above MDS pointed this out in the comments field:

Paul is absolutely right. (Ed: Thanks Mike.) However, there's one ref who doesn't let the rules stop him from enforcing the game how he wants: Jeff Triplette. Click the link, what happened in Ravens-Bengals is that a Bengals player fumbled and a Ravens player picked it up and ran it into the end zone, but an official thought he was down and blew the whistle. That means it's Bengals ball where they had it when the official blew the whistle, but Triplette inexplicably gave the Ravens the ball. He just disregarded the rule saying nothing happens after the whistle because he thought it would be more fair to give the Ravens the ball.

The link (from December of 2005) is, unfortunately, now defunct. Had Hochuli gone the Triplette route, he may very well have avoided much of this criticism, but he also would have been wrong.

Let Us Rejoice With A Celebratory Headbutt

Tarvaris Jackson has been benched in favor of Gus Frerotte.

Also, baseball players apparently love the movie Major League. But then again, who doesn't?

Cubs prefer "Wrigley North" to Wrigley South

According to this Chicago Tribune article. The article contains some great player quotes. They try to show appreciation for the "history" and "tradition" of Wrigley Field, but it's obvious they think it's a dump.

Hair of the Dog, Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Search For Parking

I did not see the game, although I heard it better than anyone. While the game was finishing up, I was in the unenviable position of attempting to park my car in the general area of Wrigley Field. As I turned right onto Sheffield from Cornelia I heard the boo birds as Carlos Villanueva drilled Mark DeRosa. As I almost found a spot on Fremont the crowd cheered wildly. Unfortunately, this was not directed at me, but at former Brewer catcher Hank White, who took advantage of Brewer lefty Brian Shouse to drive in what would prove to be the winning run. Also, the spot was too small. Some douchebag had parked his Jeep Liberty 6 feet in back of the car in front of him and ruined a perfectly good parking spot.

As Prince Fielder marched confidently to the plate in the 9th an eerie silence fell over Wrigleyville, except for the lone man in his car who was still cursing our new manager for allowing Kendall to hit and for putting Mike Lamb in a big spot (although he did come through), and swearing at Mike Cameron for not taking a pitch now and then. And finally, at Prince for not, at the very least, going down swinging. The explosion that followed, accompanied by the sickening horror that is “Go Cubs Go” signaled that the Brewers would see their Wild Card lead slip completely out of their hands for the first time in a long, long time, and signaled also that I would soon possess a coveted parking spot as the drunken mass of minivans started to migrate back to Naperville.

Such is life for a Brewer fan in Wrigleyville.


I’m going off of radio, but I actually think they played better. I would categorize this as a “normal loss.” Over the past week I’ve had a hard time imagining this team winning a game, but last night they played well enough. Prince came through twice (three times, really which is really all you can ask for) and maybe the middle of the lineup is starting to heat up. Would Braun have scored on Fielder’s double if Dale Sveum was still coaching third? We’ll never know.

Word on the street is that McClung is rejoining the rotation in place of Parra, a risky but necessary move, as Manny is burned out.

The Cubs are good. They beat hot teams and slumping teams alike, and it’s tough to tell which one you are when you play them. I saw some signs of life out there, and I’m cautiously optimistic. Besides, it’s not like they lost a 1-0 game to the Nats or something.

An E-mail from Danny

Also, did you know that ESPN has a show called "Baseball Tonight" that they abbreviate "BBTN." Like, as if "baseball" and "tonight" were two words each. What the fuck is wrong with those guys?

Do The Packers Play Poorly In Prime Time?

The Packers think so. I think they’re probably right, but I also think it’s entirely explainable by the fact that good teams usually play good teams in prime time, and every team will have trouble against good teams. League wide, every team probably has a worse record in prime time when compared to their overall record.

The Packers will miss Roy Williams. Will they also miss Bob Sanders?

The Packers play the Colts on October 19th, and it now appears that the Colts will not have their best defensive player Bob Sanders for the game. The Colts are generally terrible on defense without him.

Today’s HOTD is brought to you by…

A $4 22 oz. can of Old Style, proudly served “on special” everywhere in Wrigleyville on game days. What a deal!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Game of the Sveum Era Open Thread

In his first move as manager, Dale Sveum shook things up a bit with the line-up:

CF Mike Cameron
2B Ray Durham
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
SS JJ Hardy
RF Corey Hart
3B Craig Counsell
C Jason Kendall
P CC Sabathia

I think the biggest thing is that Weeks and Hall are on the bench. Cameron is at the top of the order, which is odd from an OBP standpoint, but may be good from an it-may-get-him-another-at-bat standpoint. Hardy also drops back to the 5 spot. Sveum seems to have been cognizant of keeping his lefties spaced out in the line-up, which is good. I think we'll get a better idea of whether yesterday's dugout personnel change will matter when Sveum is put into substitution situations. Will he pull Kendall for Rivera or Salome if we need some offense? Will he pull Counsell for Gamel or Escobar? Find out the answers to these questions and more at 7:05 tonight.

The pitching match-up is CC Sabathia (15-8, 2.81 ERA, 55 BB/225 SO) against Ryan Dempster (15-6, 3.02 ERA, 74 BB/173 SO).

Go Brewers!

Roy Williams To Miss Packer Game

Meaning that the Pack will not face back-to-back Roy Williamses or horse collar tackles.

Incidentally, when was the last time the Packers played the Cowboys in Green Bay?

Post Mortem; Fears About Sveum

Alan Trammel used to manage the Detroit Tigers. Trammel, also a short stop who played in the 80s, committed one of the greatest baseball sins I can imagine. With an (admittedly lousy) American League team filled with (admittedly lousy) power hitters, he had players bunt more frequently than any other team in baseball, AMERICAN LEAGUE OR NATIONAL LEAGUE. One of my biggest worries is that Dale will step in and go all old school on us, laying down bunts, moving runners from station to station, and doing all of the other crap that costs you valuable outs. However, even if he goes in for old school garbage, I think he'll still be an improvement. Why?

I've certainly not been a Ned defender, and have advocated for his departure many times, however, I've also maintained that things could most certainly be worse. While Ned was terrible, most Major League managers are terrible, however Ned committed 3 of the worst sins of a manager:

a. He played the wrong players at the wrong times.

b. He managed his bullpen poorly.

c. He was tactically incompetent.

Getting the right players on the field is the most important thing a manager can do. Starting Bill Hall against right-handed pitching was inexcusable. Starting Jason Kendall all the time was inexcusable. When Russell Branyan still had an attached oblique muscle, benching him because Hall "was hot" was inexcusable. Going back to Gagne over and over again (especially after the Turnbow experience) was inexcusable. Going back to Turnbow for like 12 blown saves a few years ago was inexcusable. His use of Francisco Cordero last year was inexcusable. Leaving Brian Shouse in to face righties was inexcusable. Not pinch-hitting for Jason Kendall late in games was inexcusable.

All of these errors share a common theme; Ned Yost would frequently not let his best players play in favorable situations. Tactics in baseball are probably overrated. (Tactics meaning bunting, stealing, etc.) Players ultimately determine whether you win or lose, and therefore, the most damaging managers are the ones who keep their good players off of the field. Sveum will probably be cognizant of these problems with Mark Attanasio looking over his shoulder. He'd better.

Ned was loyal to a fault. The captain is supposed to go down with the ship. On this ship, they had the good sense to throw him overboard before they hit the iceberg. Here's hoping it was in time.

On Yost

I was driving home from work yesterday afternoon when my phone exploded. Texts and calls alike. I figured some fun new firm had collapsed. I was wrong. It was good news! Ned had been Yosted.

It was an excellent and ballsy decision that seems to have come from Mark A. Melvin is an off-season kind of GM. He prefers to jettison major organizational figures in the winter, when possible. His complete lack of even a BS answer to the "why now" question pretty much makes it clear.

The timing was right. The team was terrible and Yost had no ideas. Hart leading off and Durham in the 3 hole was the last act of a desperate man. Walking Howard (as discussed earlier) just clearly shows how rattled Yost was. There is no question in my mind this was the correct move.

As far as Svuem, I don't think it really matters. As all involved have said, this was intended to shock the team out of complacency. Svuem isn't going to come in and with 12 games left turn Weeks into a major league hitter and make Gamel an every day three bagger. He will, however, be a constant reminder that this is more than a game. There are consequences for losing, there are consequences for failure. Yost didn't really believe in that, and he is gone.

Yost didn't make this team better. He wouldn't have helped the Brewers win these last 12. Svuem probably won't either, but sometimes any jolt is a positive jolt in the short term, and that is exactly what the Brewers are hoping.

The Brewers are suddenly a serious organization. They aren't messing around, happy to be here, glad to be winning. They want the playoffs. This is an incredibly positive step for the organization. They won't become the new lovable losers, because Attanasio apparently won't suffer a loser.

If the Brewers do complete the collapse, look for some overarching organizational upheaval that only Jack Zduriencik and Bob Uecker will survive.


I know there are still 12 games to be played and my boy Dale Svuem is the new manager for 2008 (I will address this issue sometime this morning) but Dale will almost certainly not be called on to manage in 09. I hope they can retain him at 3rd because I love Send-Em's attitude to the position. It's probably counter to what I should think, but until some other stat head does the work for me, I'm sticking with my homie.

Anyway, who do you want in 2009? I think the obvious name that we'll hear about is Bobby Valentine. He could sort of be like the Mike Keenan of baseball. Bring him in knowing he probably has 2-3 years of effectiveness until his act wears thin. A tough, hard nose sonofabitch may be just what a maturing-but-soft ball club needs. Add Larry Bowa to that mix.

I think it's too much to wish for an analytic mind who knows and plays the percentages at all/most times. Such a manager does not yet really exist.

My criteria:
1. Experience
2. Discipline
3. Honesty

Ned Yost failed on all fronts. He had no real experience other than fetching Cox's coffee. He and his team lacked discipline which diminished focus. And Yost was not honest. He wasn't honest with the fans, he wasn't honest with the media, he wasn't honest with the team and really, he wasn't honest with himself.

I think someone in the Bobby Valentine/Larry Bowa mold would be excellent. Now, I know Bowa HATES baseball new-think. Possibly to a stubborn fault. So, in addition to my above criteria, which are more demeanor/facade than anything, I add the following:

Of in-game import:
1. History of platooning (platooning a star gains brownie points)
2. Has shown a tactical use of bullpen (f' the closer, use your best pitcher and play the matchups)
3. Emphasis on OBP

I cannot think of anyone that fits these criteria, can you? More importantly, what do you want to see in a new manager, and do you have someone in mind?

Hair of the Dog, 9/16/08

Of course the obvious news from yesterday is the firing of Ned Yost. This topic, along with the closure of one of the local dive bars, gave us the lengthiest comment thread in Brewed Sports' short history. Thanks for your contributions fellas.

On the Yost Topic:

Braun made a diplomatic statement. Robin Yount will be back as bench coach for the rest of the season. Yost says he didn't see it coming, and gives a classy response. Fan House's Pat Lackey asks why, but then realizes that a better question is, why not sooner? Baseball Prospectus's Joe Sheehan breaks it all down here, and leave us with this quote:

No, the players didn't play well in Philadelphia, but Ned Yost gift-wrapped that first game, a game the Brewers could well have won with some better decisionmaking. He earned his firing, and short of replacing him with Dakota Fanning or something, the Brewers will be better off for his absence.

Oh, and our friends at firenedyost.com claim victory and ride off into the sunset. Godspeed Marty McSuperfly.

There's only one thing left to do now...

In other baseball news, the Mets lost to Washington. That puts the Brewers just a half game back on the Mets, should Philly overtake them and send them into the wild card race. The Astos lost to the Cubs again, and were almost no-hit by Ted F-ing Lily. That puts them 2.5 back on us. Not a bad off day for the Crew, all things considered.

Monday Night Football gave us a glimps of next week's competition, the Dallas Cowbays. It also gave us the opportunity to see DeSean Jackson throw away an Eagles' touchdown. What an idiot. Overall, the game was a shoot-out that consisted entirely of big plays and fuck-ups, and ended with monstrous scores (41 for the Cowboys and 37 for the Eagles). Romo put up solid numbers and threw for three touchdowns, but he also had a pick and a costly fumble in the end zone that led to an Eagles TD. T.O. had 2 TDs and a bunch of yards and Barber and Witten looked tough as well. The Cowboys will be a big test for the Packers, especially when it comes to pass defense. The good spin about a game like this is it's entirely possible that it was a battler of crappy defenses, rather than a battle of huge offenses. Isn't it?

COED Magazine has a list of the 25 Sexiest Sportscasters. FSN Wisconsin's Trenni Kusnierek smirks her way into the top 25.

Today's Hair of the Dog is brought to you by Great Dane Brewing Company's Ned's Red. In honor of Ned Yost, of course.