Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If I were Mike Skinner,*

The British rapper otherwise known as The Streets, this would be my Gary Sheffield rap:

Gary Sheffield

Failed to produce the effort to yield proper results afield

Saving the proper wielding of his bat post Wisco

Am I being Clear? Crystal.**

The Cream that made him cream of the crop.

Not trying is worse than any steroid; team over all; team til we drop dead,

Even his rookie card was an error, Topps prophetic.***

Tanking in Milwaukee and Detroit, pathetic.

Worse than Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe or Big Mac,

The Geez

A hack, a saboteur of pastimes held dear

His crimes are unforgivable.

Mr. Sheffield, meet the mirror.

As for Jeremy Jeffress, we'll go with this one:

*Yes, this may very well be the strangest thing I have ever written. It happens.

**If Mike Skinner is talking, crystal definitely rhymes with Wisco.

***Did anyone else have his Topps Future Star error card? Sheff's head was slightly higher and there was an extra white bar in the lower frame. Here is the non-error version:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jeremy Jeffress Is Stupid

Really? Really Jeremy? You couldn't wait like a year?

Did you know that in the minors, a "drug of abuse" will get you suspended, but in the majors it will only get you a series of progressively increasing fines? (See: Geovany Soto)

Jeffress has struggled for much of his career, but his triple digit velocity probably would have landed him in the bigs sometime in the next year (two years max), at which point he could have smoked up all he wanted (and he also could have afforded better stuff). Now I suspect that his Brewer career is probably over, we basically lose top prospect, he loses millions of dollars, and no one is happy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

JJ Hardy Facts of the Day

Something to read while your waiting for your Moonwalker ROM to download.

JJ’s Line Drive rate, by year

2005 – 20.2%
2006 – 19.0%
2007 – 17.2%
2008 – 15.5%
2009 – 15.2%

JJ’s HRs/Fly ball percentage

2006 – 13.7%
2007 – 12%
2008 – 14%
2009 – 7.3%

Bonus Jason Kendall Fact Of The Day

In BP’s PECOTA projections, the Twins’ Joe Mauer’s 3rd closest comp is the 2000 version of Jason Kendall, who hit .320/.412/.470 with 14 Hrs and 6 triples.
Our current incarnation of Jason Kendall’s closest comp is the 2004 version of Major League Baseball’s worst position player, Brad Ausmus, who hit .248/.306/.325 with 5 HRs.

The Twins should be more careful with that guy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Daytime Baseball Open Thread

Trial One in the "Replace Manny Parra/Dave Bush" experiment is Mike Burns. He'll get things going in about 30 minutes or so. He'll take on Scott Baker. Here's your lineup:

2B Craig Counsell
3B Casey McGehee
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
CF Mike Cameron
SS JJ Hardy
C Jason Kendall
RHP Mike Burns

Enjoy the game. Go Crew!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The US Soccer Team just defeated Spain, the #1 team in the world, 2-0 in the Confederations Cup.

I'm Keith Hernandez

This has nothing to do with the Brewers, but we could all use a laugh

I'm Keith Hernandez from water&power on Vimeo.

Kampman's HS Football Coach Murdered in Weight Room

Holy crap, this'll make him much more surly:
Mark Becker, 24, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder
in the shooting death of Ed Thomas, Aplington-Parkersburg's long-time
football coach.
Becker was arrested at a rural Parkersburg residence shortly after the
shooting, an official from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
said. A handgun was used in the shooting. Becker is a former
Aplington-Parkersburg player and student.

"Why would anyone want to do something like this?" said former Iowa
defensive coordinator Bob Elliott, who works in the athletic department
at San Diego State. "He's the best. He's the best of the best."

knew Thomas through recruiting of former Parkersburg stars Casey
Wiegmann, Jared DeVries and Aaron Kampman. Thomas also coached NFL
lineman Brad Meester.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Richard Jefferson Now A Spur

According to ESPN. The Bucks acquired a bunch of expiring deals in the persons of Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto.

My NBA knowledge is very low, but if memory serves, Bruce Bowen is a declining but still above average defender, Kurt Thomas is a declining but still above average post player, and Fabricio Oberto was once hit in the face by a seagull on a roller coaster. But I could be wrong.

Update: Had I read more carefully I would have learned that this deal was made primarily to free up space for Sessions or Charlie V, and that some or all of these players will probably never see the floor for the Bucks.

Fehr Out...thoughts?

Don Fehr has/is stepping down as MLBP union boss.  Personally I find the guy to be fairly detestable, but that probably stems from my general disgust with unions and him being the face of the 94-95 strike.  You steal baseball from a 13 year old kid, you're not coming back from that (hear that Sotomayor!)

On the other hand, he's also been roughly 100x better than Marvin Miller.  If a staunch Miller acolyte had been in charge in 94 I doubt the MLB would exist today.  Maybe the sport would have limped along after the strike, but his insane attitude to drug testing would surely have killed it this decade.  Thankfully, Fehr was willing to open the CBA on multiple occassions and did what was right for the sport.  Aside from those occassions (essentially forced by a Congress with way too much time on its hands) Fehr was a militant anti-tester but felt unable to stick to his guns.  Ol' Marvin would have martyred himself (more accurately would have martyred some willing player...what up Curt Flood!)

Some of you nutters probably will bitch about the salaries players make (he's presided over some insane salary inflation...$329,000 avg in 84 to $3.3m today) but the only way they make that money is if someone pays it, so I don't see that as a knock against Fehr.

Overall, I think he's been bad for baseball but not as bad as he could have been.  For that we can be thankful, I suppose.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I am at home...

But I am also apparently in the first base line at Comerica Park.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Outsourcing My FJMing

Oh, Harold Reynolds, what have you done?

1. Rejecting newfangled (kind of) statistic? Check.

2. Actual use of the words "clogging up the base paths"? Check.

3. Not making a lick of sense? Check.

First read this, and then read Joe Posnanski's well done response.


(H/T, BCB)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Have To Admit

I'm slightly tempted to get one of these.

Update: Apparently the link is busted and I'm having computer troubles, but this pic should take care of it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Maybe I Should Stop Making Fun Of Dusty Baker

The Brewer leadoff hitter this evening bats 239/.328/.297.

That's right. It's Jason Kendall!

C Jason Kendall
2B Craig Counsell
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
CF Mike Cameron
SS J.J. Hardy
DH Mat Gamel
3B Bill Hall

Suppan is on the mound, so they'll really need Kendall to spark the offense tonight. Oh boy.

Opposing him is a young lefty with a 7.39 ERA by the name of David Huff. don't get too cocky though, he was better in the minors.

NL Central Stat Of The Day

Dusty, Dusty, Dusty. Is there any excuse for this?

Dusty Baker's ability to fill out a lineup card is one of the real culprits in their woes, as the team's 1-2 hitters are hitting a combined .231/.291/.347. Hell, the leadoff hitters—the deathless Taveras, with a bit of Jerry Hairston Jr. and Chris Dickerson—are hitting a combined .231/.279/.302, which is only a few seeing-eye hits better than the number nine spot (.190/.261/.290)!

From BP.

Bill James and Joe Posnanski on Nolan Ryan and Pitch Counts

This article is excellent, and contains this quote from Bill James:

I think that what Ryan is doing CAN succeed, because he is doing battle with an empty suit. There's really no basis to the belief that a mature starting pitcher can't throw 150 or 160 pitches in a game -- when he's feeling good, when he's throwing freely and not fighting anything -- without negative consequences.

Rain Delay Strategy

Last night's game between the Cubs and White Sox was rained out. Boy was it rained out. I mean, it was really pouring for a very long time. This featured two unpleasant consequences:

1. It deposited a bunch of White Sox fans in my neighborhood who had already paid for parking, but had no game to go to.

2. It means that there will be another night game later on in the year, probably at an inopportune moment. When you live in Wrigleyville you really do plan around night baseball, and now there is this one, unscheduled night game out there, not on my schedule, just lingering…

Anyway, they didn’t call the game until 7:15, which was ridiculous because any idiot could tell there wasn’t going to be baseball last night by about 4:15. It also raised the specter of both teams warming up their starting pitcher, seeing the game cancelled, and consequently losing the services of said pitcher for a few days. So here’s a question. If a game might be rained out, shouldn’t you start the game with your relievers?

When a team plays 3-4 inning and then sees the game cancelled, that team always complains about losing their starter. Let’s say that your starter, in general, pitches 7 innings a game. Why not pitch the first 2-3 innings with your relief staff until the game is closer to being official? At that point, you can make a better determination as to whether the game will go at least 5 innings, and, if it looks ominous, decide to hold back the starter, or, if it clears up, throw him out there to finish up the game. This seems to make all kinds of sense.

Perhaps Ken Macha will keep this in mind, as rain is expected in Cleveland this evening.

Monday, June 15, 2009

S’up With J.J.?

While it’s never good to fall into an 0-28 slump, doesn’t J.J. Hardy do this basically every year? He’s always been streaky, and tends to have incredible hot streaks and terrible cold streaks as a matter of course.

A quick look at some of J.J.’s numbers makes luck seem like a potential contributor. His line drive rate is about the same as last year, and his BABIP should be about 50 points higher. This is driving his average down into Mendoza territory. His walks and strikeout are in line with historical norms (at least by my eyeball test). He will probably recover.

There’s some “strangeness,” for lack of a better term, in the numbers as well. Hardy’s groundball rate has dropped a bit from last year (though it’s still within historical norms), but his flyball data is simply odd. First, his home run percentage on flyballs is way down, from 14% last year to only 7% this year (Hardy is normally in the 12-14% range) but ironically, his infield fly percentage is way down as well, from between 14-16% to 9%. By the numbers, it looks like Hardy is consistently flying out to the outfield. That’s weird.
When I see a guy in a slump, I expect more strikeouts or fewer walks, more groundballs, etc. I do not expect him to be getting consistent loft into the outfield.

I’d be inclined to continue letting Hardy hit through this. It really does look like he’s been either unlucky, or just barely missing. Perhaps I’m missing something (and if I am, let me know), but my diagnosis on this is “normal J.J. Hardy.”

It’s All About Joe

I’m sure that no one will be surprised that Joe told a story on Sunday Night Baseball that wasn’t exactly…uhm…true. What I found surprising was the utter implausibility of the lie he told, and how much it reveals about Joe Morgan. Here’s the quote:

I guess I can tell this story now, one of my great experiences when I was a young player. Don Wilson was pitching a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. They had Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and Hank Aaron, of course. And they got to the ninth inning, he got two outs, no one on base, and Hank Aaron was the hitter. And in my infinite wisdom, I ran in to the mound. I said, "You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Hank Aaron walked right here. He said, "Get back to second base." I proceeded to go back to second base. He threw three fastballs right by Hank Aaron. No-hitter.

First off, this didn’t happen, as Deadspin points out. But even if it did happen, it’s still insane. First off, he told this story right after Cliff Lee lost his no-no on Sunday, that’s why Joe says “I guess I can tell this story now.” The idea behind stating “I guess I can tell this story now” is to indicate that he did not want to tell this story earlier for fear of jinxing Cliff Lee. As everyone knows, Joe Morgan believes in Voodoo, team chemistry, and the idea that if you look in a mirror and say “Dave Concepcion” 5 times he will appear in the Hall of Fame. What Joe Morgan does not believe, apparently, is the old baseball custom of not talking to your starting pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter, in the dugout, on the field, or anywhere else.

I’m not sure how much the traditional “silent treatment” plays into a pitchers’ ability to throw a no-hitter. Maybe it helps by keeping the pitcher in rhythm. Maybe it hurts by taking away emotional support. And maybe it does nothing. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this is standard baseball procedure. Moreover, I am quite certain that, having thrown 96% of a no-hitter, and facing Henry Aaron, the last thing that Don Wilson wanted was for his second baseman to walk over to the mound and advise him to walk Aaron. In fact, If I were throwing a no-hitter and had to get one more batter to complete the thing, and Joe Morgan walked over to the mound right before I was about to pitch to possibly the greatest hitter of all time, and gave me 1. bad baseball advice that 2. undercut my confidence, and 3. threw off my rhythm, I would punch Joe Morgan right in the face (with my non-throwing hand).

And, in keeping with Joe Morgan’s tradition of providing poor baseball analysis, walking Hank Aaron would have been a terrible idea. The Astros only led 2-0 at that point, and walking Aaron would have brought the tying run to the plate. No-hitters are nice, but the goal is still to win the game. So what did we learn?

1. Joe Morgan is still a liar.
2. Joe Morgan thinks that it’s more dangerous to “jinx” someone from the broadcast booth than it is to do so in person.
3. Joe Morgan didn’t even understand baseball when he played baseball.

Joe Morgan-land must be a strange and fascinating place.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Requiem for Parra

Enjoy what will hopefully be Manny Parra's last start. Brewers already down 3-0 as Parra continues to disappoint each and every time he takes the mound.

Manny Parra's career: time of death, 4:49 EST 6/13/2009

And...Manny Parra has been sent down. Narveson up.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good News

The White Sox will visit Miller Park this weekend for an interleague matchup. You know how the Brewers have had major trouble scoring for the past week or so? Well, if you take that week and extend it out for three and a half months of baseball, you have the Chicago White Sox season so far. How bad has it been for them? Consider the following:

1. The White Sox have been shut out 9 times so far this year. In other words, the White Sox have failed to score a single run in roughly 1/6th of their games.

2. Even though their ballpark, US Cellular Field, consistently ranks as one of the top 10 hitters parks in baseball, the White Sox have managed only 250 runs so far this year, 3rd worst in the American League behind only Kansas City and Seattle.

3. The White Sox have played more games than either Kansas City or Seattle.

4. Here are the names of some White Sox regulars: Brian Anderson, Chris Getz, Josh Fields, Scott Podsednik.

5. This weekend, the White Sox will play in a National League Park, which means they will probably have to sit their best offensive player, Jim Thome (.258/.402/.521). Carlos Quentin, their All-Star left fielder from a year ago is out with a fairly serious foot injury.

6. Their starting pitching isn't great either. Aside from Mark Buehrle, no White Sox starting pitcher has a WHIP under 1.390

7. While their bullpen is absolutely outstanding, it usually doesn't matter as they rarely score enough runs early enough to have a lead.

If you're going to break out of a slump, you couldn't ask for much more. Even if the bats don't wake up, this is a team you should still be able to handle.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary Dock Ellis

39 years ago Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Todd Snider immortalized this feat on his latest album:

Day Baseball Open Thread

It's the JV squad today against Aaron Cook. Here's the lineup:

SS Craig Counsell
RF Frank Catalonotto
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Mat Gamel
2B Casey McGehee
CF Jody Gerut
C Jason Kendall
RHP Yovani Gallardo

Go Brewers!

The NBA Overtime Spike

Overtime in NBA games is a frequent occurrence. A bit too frequent, as it turns out.

But overtime is almost 3 times more frequent than this: 6.26% of all NBA games are tied at the end of regulation play. And games decided by just a few points are surprisingly rare: It is more likely to have a tie than for the game to be decided by two points, and a tie is more than twice as likely as a one-point difference. These statistics are quite dramatic when you see them visually.

The reason for this is strategy. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cameron Suspended

For 2 games. Specifically for contact with an umpire.

This is complete garbage. It would be defensible (but extremely harsh) to suspend him for 1 game for arguing balls and strikes. Suspending him for contact with an umpire is asinine, as anyone who watched the play knows. The umpire bumped Cameron, and if anyone should be suspended, it is the umpire.

He will appeal.

(Via Brew Crew Ball)

No, not the NASCAR driver. The other one.

This is awesome. Jeff Gordon, apparent graduate of the “John Madden School of The Team That Scores More Points Will Win The Game” gives us this absolute gem. It’s truly outrageous. (Hat tip to Chuckie Hacks who already did an admirable job with this.)

The Brewers could have buried the Cardinals and Cubs this season. They have had every opportunity to seize control of the National League Central race.

The Brewers have won 58% of their games so far. Last year the World Series Champion Phillies won 57% of their games. All the Brewers would have had to do to bury the Cardinals, who they lead by 2.5 games, and the Cubs who they lead by 3.5 games is…

But they didn’t. So as tough as this season has been on old friends Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella, it could be much, much worse.

let’s see, what would it mean to bury a team by June 8th? How about a 10 game lead? I mean, you need a pretty big lead to bury someone this early. Think about all of Houston’s big comebacks in the past. Think about the Rockies during their World Series Run or the Phillies and Mets the last two years. You need a pretty big lead. To be 10 games better than the Cardinals at this point would have the Brewers at 41-16, or a 72% winning percentage. The best team in baseball so far, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have won 66% of their games, meaning that to have buried the Cardinals and Cubs would simply have required the Brewers to play substantially better than the best team in all of baseball.

The chokers!

The Brewers blew a late lead at Atlanta Sunday and lost 8-7, missing an opportunity to sweep the punchless Braves.

They only won 2/3 (66%) of the games in that series? What kind of yellow, rubbery, Van de Veldean style team are we dealing with here?

Milwaukee opened the season by losing eight of their first 11 games. In late May, they lost five of six games during a brief stretch.

Yes, the Brewers started slow. Some of that was luck, and some of it was a murderer’s row of great pitching as they faced Lincecum, Cain, Randy Johnson, Volquez, Cueto, Harang, and the Cubs best pitchers, and last but not least, Johan Santana who if memory serves, outdueled Yovanni 1-0. Most hot and cold streaks can be explained by the opposition, and random chance. I’m happy that the Brewers recovered so well. In late May they had their annual meltdown at the Metrodome. It happens.

More recently they lost three times in a four-game series at Florida. Had they avoided such downturns – the bane of every manager’s existence — the Brewers would own this division right now.

Yes, and if any baseball team wins every series it plays, it will run away with the division. It doesn’t happen. Even the worst team in baseball will win a series against the best team in baseball with some regularity. The team he is describing does not exist, plain and simple.

Instead, they are still searching for more consistency.

It’s spelled “cosistency.”

Like most contenders, the Brewers are a player or two short of completion.

The Brewers have some warts, sure, but just like you won’t win every game, you’re not going to put an All-Star team out there. I mean, the New York Yankees frequently start Melky Cabrera, and the Boston Red Sox start David Ortiz. Everyone has their own Jason Kendall.

But Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Michael Hunt advised the Brewers to stay out of the Tom Glavine Sweepstakes. He wrote:

“The final game Sunday in the Milwaukee-Atlanta series was a backdrop for the overriding Brewers issue for armchair general managers everywhere. After the beating Manny Parra took in his previous start at Florida, the reactionary response might have been to get him out of the rotation and take a look at the suddenly available Glavine.

“In a game desperate for pitching, someone might roll the dice on Glavine. But it shouldn’t be the Brewers. It’s hard to see where they would have a need for a 43-year-old soft-tosser who is essentially done. The Braves did the right thing, even if they went about it absolutely the wrong way.”

As we Brewer fans know, Michael Hunt is actually the Brewers secret GM and this means that there is no way the Brewers will look at Glavine or any other pitcher because Hunt runs the team and he told us so.


He sure knows how to motivate.

There seems to be a word missing from the sentences above, but aside from that I’m not sure who he’s referring to. Hunt? I suppose, but I don’t think that comment works seriously or sarcastically. It’s just odd. When I first read it I thought for sure that it was going to hyperlink to a picture of a dog wearing a Cardinals jersey or Tony Robbins or Homer Simpson wearing his Tom Landry hat. Instead it just sat there looking lonely.


Someone likes Peter King, methinks.

Questions to ponder while wondering if poor Ryan Ludwick is seeing his career flash before his eyes:

If by "like" you mean "plagiarizes", which I do. Perhaps he can join Mr. Gordon at the nearest Caribou for an Eg Nogg Cappuccino.

* Wouldn’t Pedro Martinez or Glavine change the look of the Cards rotation?

Yes. It would look older and more injury prone. It would also change the look of their bullpen by making them more tired, as in his last stint as a starter he averaged a mere 5.5 innings per start while posting a 1.569 WHIP.

* Wouldn’t he add a welcome Hall of Fame presence to the lagging clubhouse?

I would love to see Pedro Martinez’s Hall of Fame presence added to the Cardinal clubhouse as long as he brings his WHIP with him. Seriously though, it might help because there certainly aren’t any other Cardinals in the club house that could provide a Hall of Fame presence. Nope, I can’t think of a single one...

* And wouldn’t his arrival force the other Cards to quit blaming their trouble on Bill DeWitt’s spending habits?

I’ve always thought the Cardinal’s biggest problem was not throwing millions of dollars at washed up, injury prone former All-Stars.

* What’s more painful to watch, the Cards trying to score runs or Dwight Howard trying to operate against the swarming Lakers defense?

OK, there’s more, but this is now getting boring, and most of the rest of his rhetorical questions are like that lame Dwight Howard question. The next one is basically “so how much of a douche does Courtney Lee feel like right now” and “What’s with this Twitter thing? I’m Old!” Man, it must be rough in St. Louis. First they get stuck with the rice beer and now this guy.

Maybe Joe Morgan is Right? Statheads are BS??

How could you Joe Sheehan? Decades of number crunching, reasoned analysis and ridicule from the baseball fundamentalists all torn down with one paragraph in Baseball Prospectus on the next 300 game winner:
Oliver Perez: He's almost too easy, because of the surface comparisons to Johnson. Perez has an electric arm, but he's wildly inconsistent, especially with his command. The raw talent, however, is there for him to be of the game's best starting pitchers for a long time to come. Perez is vastly more accomplished than Johnson was at the same age, though his career has been more scattered than the Unit's was. With 56 wins under his belt at the age of 27, there is plenty of time for Perez to find himself and have a fantastic career.

If Oliver Perez pitches until he is 45 years old, he will need to win 13 games every season for the next 18 years. He has only ever won more than 13 games once in his life.


He says that Perez is "vastly more accomplished" at the age of 27 than Randy Johnson. I suppose that is correct, in-so-far as Perez has run the gamut of his entire career at this point. He's had 9 seasons as a starter, Johnson only had 4. The Unit was a late bloomer while Perez is already a has-been. In his first four 4 seasons as a starting pitcher Johnson racked up 44 wins. Ollie has 56 wins...in 9 seasons as a starting pitcher.

Ollie is averaging 5.67 innings per appearance (since you can get a win as a reliever, and Perez doesn't look to be seeing a rotation any time soon, I won't break it down by starts) while the Big Unit has been a workhorse his whole career. Over his 22 seasons he is averaging 6.75 innings per appearance. This gives Ollie a full inning less per appearance to get those 244 wins he needs to hit 300.

Even if Perez finds his mojo and becomes dominant, he would need to win 20 games per season for 12 seasons and win a couple games at 40 to hit 300. Really? This is the guy leading your list?

Oliver Perez will win 300 games around the same year Todd Van Poppel wins a Cy Young.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Regarding Bunting

Ken Macha is taking a lot of flak from the great unwashed mass of baseball fandom that enjoys pointless sacrifice. I would point them to Baseball Prospectus’s book, Baseball Between The Numbers, and specifically to James Click’s chapter, “When is One Run Worth More Than Two?” which begins on page 127. In that chapter you will find useful bits of info like this:

If the team sacrifices when behind by one run, then instead of increasing the chance of winning, it decreases the win expectation by 3.6%.

Now, some of you are probably saying things like “Yeah, but what about Jason Kendall? He sucks anyway.” Well, we have research on that too. With a runner on first and no one out, a bunt makes sense (meaning the team’s chance to score at least 1 run will increase) if the batter’s line is worse than .177/.192/.153.* Jason Kendall is bad, but his .216/.307/.265 still makes swinging away the correct strategy.

I recommend reading the whole chapter and the whole book.

*If you’re wondering how slugging can be lower than BA, the numbers were calculated independently.

"Respectable" Start: New Stat?

Be honest, you're going to be glad when this paper ceases to exist:

The final game Sunday in the Milwaukee-Atlanta series was a backdrop for the overriding Brewers issue for armchair general managers everywhere. After the beating Manny Parra took in his previous start at Florida, the reactionary response might have been to get him out of the rotation and take a look at the suddenly available Glavine.

In a game desperate for pitching, someone might roll the dice on Glavine. But it shouldn't be the Brewers. It's hard to see where they would have a need for a 43-year-old soft-tosser who is essentially done. The Braves did the right thing, even if they went about it absolutely the wrong way.

Meanwhile, Parra was respectable Sunday. He was hurt by one of the best switch-hitters baseball has seen, and one of the gopher balls he threw to Chipper Jones was a decent pitch. He didn't lose the game. Point is, Parra's stuff remains such that giving up on him too soon wouldn't be altogether advisable.

5.2 innings pitched, 5 earned runs. 2 home runs. 8 hits, 2 walks. Mike Hunt is the teacher that gives out an A for effort. Notice though, Parra didn't lose the game! All right! He was spared that meaningless stat by the offense, which of course renders the ineffective pitching meaningless.

Hell, Parra kept em in there. He was giving up a run an inning but for awhile there, the Brewers were scoring a run an inning. Makes perfect sense to me. Damn fine, respectable even Manny.

Tom Glavine 2008: 13 starts, 5.54 ERA 1.642 WHIP 77 ERA+

Manny Parra 2009: 11 starts, 6.75 ERA, 1.831 WHIP 63 ERA+

Manny Parra is really not very good. He does not belong in the rotation of a contender if it can be helped. If the Brewers can make an upgrade, they should. Is Glavine that upgrade? I don't know, how cheap is he? Is he worth a shot? Definitely. Hell, it's not easy to pitch worse than Parra at this point.

All in all though, Mike Hunt's column was definitely respectable by Mike Hunt's standards.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Open Thread: I Was Saying Boo-Urns

Here's your lineup:

1. Craig Counsell 2B
2. Frank Catalanotto RF
3. Ryan Braun LF
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. J.J. Hardy SS
6. Mat Gamel 3B
7. Jody Gerut CF
8 Jason Kendall C
9. Manny Parra LHP

No Corey this evening. As you've probably heard by now, Julio was sent packing and Mark DiFelice is experiencing elbow trouble (Note: This is a big deal), so the Brewers summoned Mike Burns, who has been excelling at AAA. The Marlins are starting a guy named Anibal. Heh.

Hopefully Manny can get the pen some rest. Go Crew!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why is Jorge Julio "pitching" In a MLB Game?

Cut him now

The Brewers, Apparently, Suck At Offense

Oh Nelly, what have we here? Why, I do believe it’s a call for the Brewers to play “small-ball”, the much-loved practice of getting out intentionally for very minor gains. Greg Giesen, of the Racine Journal Times wants more bunting from the Brewers, and decries the fact that they hit “too many home runs.” I’m sure he has good reasons. Let’s take a look.

Baseball fans dig the long ball.

Whereas smarmy baseball writers dig bunting, and grounding out (as long as you hustle), and spitting and beards.

Home runs are the reason fans flocked to watch Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire back in 1998.

Sure, that’s true, but it wasn’t just the fact that they hit home runs, it’s that they hit a record-breaking number of home runs. What fans really like are records. Remember when Cal Ripken was going to break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak? People showed up for that, and Cal wasn’t really hitting with much power by then as he was a broken-down old man who put selfish individual accomplishment ahead of the welfare of his team. Sosa and McGwire were big, record breaking freaks. I also think Greg is trying to make some point about steroids, but I’m not sure what point.

Home runs electrify crowds and can turn a game around with one swing of the bat.

Yes, home runs are exciting, and, more importantly, result in the scoring of runs, which can turn a game around by causing your team to have more runs than the other team.

But home runs are also a Siren’s call to baseball players and teams that can lead to disaster.

What? Oh No! I thought trying to hit home runs was a smart thing to do, but apparently some metaphorical monster lurks just off the map! What, pray tell, is this danger?

The Milwaukee Brewers are a perfect example of a team drawn to the allure of the home run only to find its promises of high-octane splendor empty.

I know. I’m pissed about their 30-20 first place record too. And they’ve had 4 NL teams (four!) score more runs than they have. Super lame. If they did more bunting they’d be right up there with the Phillies in runs scored (2nd in the NL at 267 runs). I hear those guys bunt all the time.

Entering Friday's game against Cincinnati, the Brewers have hit 53 home runs — second in the National League. Eighty-five of Milwaukee’s 218 runs scored have come via the home run. That’s 39 percent of the team’s offense. During the Brewers’ recent 28-game stretch during which they went 22-6, Milwaukee hit 35 home runs. During that span, the Brewers scored 155 runs and 56 — or 37 percent — came via the long ball.

I recently reread a book that I first read in high school. It’s called “A Mathematician Reads The Newspaper.” I thought I should read it again while we still have newspapers. Anyway, one of the lessons of the book is that writers often use numbers in an attempt to confer credibility, but if they fail to provide context for those numbers, then the numbers are meaningless. Here, Greg spouts off a bunch of numbers about the Brewers reliance on the home run, but to what end? Are teams that rely on HRs over 35% of the time typically bad teams? Do they miss the playoffs? What’s the league average? How do the “top teams” fair now and in the past? I mean, if I was a sports writer and my job was to have opinions about baseball, I might look this up.

As it is, it seems like he actually contradicts his own point. The Brewers hit a bunch of HRs (I think, I guess I don’t have any context to support that assertion either) and won a bunch of games. The obvious conclusion is that hitting home runs is a good thing. Right?

When Milwaukee isn’t hitting home runs, things don’t go so well. Since finishing a three-game sweep of St. Louis May 18, Milwaukee has hit three home runs accounting for four of its 22 runs. Milwaukee’s record during that period is 3-6. Going a step further, the Brewers are 22-9 in games in which they homer, but just 5-11 in games in which they don’t.

I would wager that most teams lose more frequently in games in which they do not hit a HR. Home runs are good things because they help you win games. If you do not hit home runs it will be harder to win games. Therefore, we would predict a worse record for any team in games in which they do not homer compared to games in which they do homer. It’s like the frequently stated football stat that teams that commit two or more turnover lose 80% of the time. Well duh.

"Hopefully, we’ll hit some more home runs," Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder said when asked about the team’s dependence on home runs.

That Prince, he’s a smart guy. On the radio yesterday I heard him say that “It would be nice to score 5 or more runs every day, but sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. That’s baseball.” I’d like to think he was focused on winning, but I’m pretty sure he was dreaming of a perpetual Webb’s Burger Run.

Thanks Prince, but that’s not going to solve Milwaukee’s problems. All baseball teams run hot and cold when it comes to offense and sometimes it’s due to a slump and other times it’s due to facing hot pitchers.

I’m still unsure about what Milwaukee’s problems are in the first place. I guess he’s concerned about a lack of offense, but that begs the question, “What lack of offense?” By the way, writers typically resort to foolish hokum when explaining slumps instead of quality of opposition, or injuries, or even just random statistical fluctuation. I love how, in the last sentence, he separates a “slump” from facing a “hot pitcher” as if they have nothing to do with each other.

But when those power outages arise, teams have to grind through the tough times and score enough runs to win. The St. Louis Cardinals did just that Wednesday in their 3-2 victory over Milwaukee at Miller Park.

You mean that game in which the Cardinals hit 4 doubles and drew 6 walks? I love walks by the way. Did you know that the Brewers are 4th in walks so far this year, trailing only the Dodgers, Nationals and Mets? The Brewers’ increased discipline at the plate has really helped them out this year. Oh, and I should mention that small-ball tends to look down on walks, and instead glorifies “putting the ball in play” and “sacrificing.” It's hard to walk if you try to put the ball in play every time. I just thought I would mention it.

Shortstop Brendan Ryan led off the game with a walk.

See? Walks are great for offense!

He moved to third on a single

By noted small-baller Chris Duncan...

and scored on a fielder’s choice.

I have the MLB package that allows you to watch every game on your computer, and watch highlights of old games. I just watched the highlight of this play, and I urge you to do so as well. Do you know who did not watch a highlight of this play? Greg Giesen did not watch this play. Had Greg watched this play, he would have seen Nick Stavinoha hit a sharp ground ball to Hardy who flipped to Counsell to get Duncan at second. Counsell then threw the relay wildly to Fielder at first which allowed Stavinoha to reach. Had the throw been accurate this would have been an inning-ending double play. No error was assessed because in baseball scoring, you “cannot assume a double play” and since they got the out anyway. It’s just a fielder’s choice.

We are now applauding Nick Stanivoha for basically grounding into a double play.

In the third, Ryan doubled and moved to third on left fielder Chris Duncan’s groundout to first.

Ah, one of those small-ball doubles. Apparently when you’re “not hitting home runs” the secret is to just hit balls that aren’t quite home runs instead. Brilliant. Chris Duncan is apparently the greatest small-ball player ever.

Ryan scored on a sacrifice fly.

Teams that rely on hitting home runs suck at hitting flyballs to the deep outfield, as we all know.

The Cardinals’ final run came in the sixth when right fielder Nick Stavinoha doubled, moved to third on a groundout to second and scored on catcher Jason LaRue’s single.

I like this one because the “productive out” wasn’t productive at all. Stavinoha has another one of those “small ball doubles” and eventually scored on a single. Moving to third made scoring more likely, but he probably would have scored from second anyway. And the "productive out" may have killed a big inning, as the Brewers walked two more batters in the inning, including an intentional pass to Albert Pujols.

In contrast, the Brewers got the lead-off hitter on three times. In the fourth, shortstop J.J. Hardy singled and two outs later moved to second on a walk before outfielder Frank Catalanotto tripled.

Got it. Double = small ball, but triple does not.

In the sixth, Fielder led off with a single. Mike Cameron struck out and Catalanotto flied out to center. After an error put runners at the corners, Jason Kendall flied out.

Should the red hot Mike Cameron have bunted the rather slow Fielder over to 2nd? Should he have “tried harder” not to strike out? What would you have done? Poor Frank’s mistake was hitting a flyball with no one on third, apparently.

In the ninth, third baseman Mat Gamel walked.

Yay walking!

Pinch hitter Jody Gerut popped out.

Popping out sucks, however, it’s worth noting that Jody Gerut isn’t very good, and was almost certainly trying to have a "productive out" in this situation. If you try to play small-ball and fail, should you play more small ball?

Catcher Mike Rivera couldn’t advance the runner, grounding into a fielder’s choice — shortstop to second.

Just like Stanivoha! Except he had a walk and a single in from of him.

After second baseman Craig Counsell singled, putting the tying run in scoring position, Hardy grounded out to short to end the game.

D’oh! If only Craig had hit that single earlier someone might have scored on Rivera’s groundout. Oh well.

There wasn’t a single home run, but St. Louis beat Milwaukee because the Cardinals got runners on base, hit to the left side for productive outs and scored the runner. They manufactured runs. That’s exactly how championship-caliber teams beat good pitching and grind through offensive slumps.

First of all, the Cardinals only scored 3 runs. Most of the time, when you score 3 runs, you will lose. Second, the Cardinals scored 2 of these runs on sequences involving doubles. The sequence that scored the third run involved a completely unnecessary “productive out” that may have killed a bigger rally. The Cardinals won the game because they hit doubles, walked a lot, and benefited from an error which was not called an error because of an anachronistic baseball scoring decision.

The Brewers need to focus on fundamental hitting.

I have no idea what this means, but it apparently does not involve hitting the ball very far.

Players like outfielder Corey Hart, third baseman Bill Hall and Hardy need to focus on putting down bunts, moving runners over and executing at the plate with fewer than two outs.

In the game that we just went over in meticulous detail, the Brewers recorded 8 hits. 3 of those hits came from Hardy, including a double. You want our fairly powerful short stop, who went 3/5 with a double in a game that you just discussed, to sacrifice and bunt? Corey Hart has slugged over .450 in his last 3 seasons. Bill Hall destroys lefties, and should concentrate more on not playing against righties.

All three have hit 20 home runs in a season and have that ability, but the team’s long-term success depends on them getting on base, moving runners over and driving them in by any means necessary.

This is meaningless drivel, and in no way supports creating a voluntary out to move a runner over rather than trying to hit a HR.

Milwaukee doesn’t do that. Instead, the Brewers get runners on base and wait for the big hit. On Wednesday, it was a two-run triple by Catalanotto. But that wasn’t enough. Against Minnesota Sunday, it was Fielder’s two-run homer in the ninth. But, that was too little and way too late.

Really? We should have played small-ball against the Twins? The same Twins who scored 11, 6, and 6 runs against the Brewers? (While out-homering the Brewers 7-2, I might add). The Cardinals, who you just held up a small-ball paragons, scored 3 runs against the Brewers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a small-ball team put up a 12-spot before.

Home runs are nice and fans love watching the ball fly out and Bernie Brewer go down his slide. But until Milwaukee puts together a multi-dimensional offense, the Brewers will struggle against good pitching and lose to fundamentally sound offensive baseball teams.

Everyone struggles against good pitching. That is why it is good pitching. The fact is that giving up outs is almost always a bad idea, and hitting home runs is almost always a good idea. Last year the teams that played in the World Series were 1st and 4th in their respective leagues in home runs. Over the past 5 years, here is how the World Series participants ranked in HRs in their league:

2008 – Rays (4th), Phillies (1st)
2007 – Red Sox (8th), Rockies (7th)
2006 – Cardinals (4th), Tigers (3rd)
2005 – White Sox (4th), Astros (9th)
2004 – Red Sox (4th) Cardinals (3rd)

You can obviously be successful without hitting a ton of HRs, but the World Series is littered with home run hitting juggernauts. The idea that small-ball somehow makes a champion is just silly. The worst example I can think of is the 2005 White Sox who were frequently referred to as the small-ball club, while their AL opponents, the Red Sox, were viewed as the home-run monsters. This label stuck even though the White Sox hit more HRs than the Red Sox, and even though their definitive “small ball” player, Scott Podsednik, was only valuable because he hit a walk-off HR (his only HR of the year) in the playoffs.

The Brewers could stand to take a few more walks, but bunting should not become a staple of the offense. Outs are bad, and they should be avoided if at all possible. This article is terrible.

(H/T, Brew Crew Ball)