Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cut Tony Gwynn Jr.


Tigers cut Sheffield

This is unexpected. The Detroit Tigers released slugger/asshole Gary Sheffield.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Gary Sheffield didn't make the team.

Not since his Major League career began, in 1988, has he had to ponder that. But given his unparalleled ability to make news over his career, it was fitting that he was the one left to deliver it.

"I just got released," Sheffield said.

Roster Essentially Set

One infielder and one ourfielder remain.  Looks like minor league options will factor in making the Brewers slightly worse than they could be.

Despite Casey McGehee outplaying pretty much everyone on the Crew he is likely to hit AAA.  He is in the unfortunate position of having options and playing behind a God awful player with a God awful contract.  He earned a spot, but he won't be getting it.

Unless, of course, Craig Counsell decides to have surgery and hit the DL for a few weeks.  That's looking like the only shot McGehee has of making the squad.

That leaves the outfield spot.  Chris Duffy has had a very good spring.  He his over .300 and he hit for power.  He played solid in the field.  Tony Gwynn Jr was injured half of spring and when healthy, looked like Tony Gwynn Jr. (atrocious) at the plate.  TGJ is out of options.  TGJ makes the team.

Haudricourt makes a lame attempt at justifying this Gwynn decision by saying he gives them depth in center.  That isn't true.  A warm body does not equal depth.  Hart in center and Duffy in right is depth.  Gwynn in center is 2 pitchers in your lineup.

The past two weeks have really started to warm me on the club (how could it not) and Villanueva seems to have come around.  I'm looking forward to the season but Jesus, losing Gwynn is a net benefit.  He is taking a roster spot away from a capable player when he is in Milwaukee and he is taking at bats away from legitimate prospects when he is in AAA.

Fun Fact

"Never before, [prior to the Dodgers 2008 sweep of the Cubs] in all the century-plus history of the modern National League, has a team gone to the postseason two years in a row and failed to win a game."


Sunday, March 29, 2009

iPhone Owners: At Bat 2009 Now Available! $10!!

The title says it all. The full version of MLB At Bat 2009 is now available on the iphone. Listen to every single game, home or away announcers, for the ludicrously low price of $10. I was fully prepared to drop $50 for the ap this year, thankfully Selig did us all a solid.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Grilling Beaver

Apparently opening day is also the Catholic holiday called Good Friday and some Catholics are upset about this. I'm not sure if they're upset because the game is being played that day in the first place or because they can't eat Italian sausages on opening day due to the overlap. Don't the Brewers always play games on religious holidays? I seem to remember an Easter game in 1987 being pretty special. And the Packers have even played on Christmas, no?

It's probably more likely that they're upset about the "no meat" thing. But fear not Catholics! I heard on Cash Cab this morning that Catholics classify beavers as fish. I wonder what a beaver burger tastes like.

Brett Lawrie has a blog

It's called "Laying down the Lawrie." It's written partly in "text speak" using the letter "r" in place of the word "are" and things like that. He also ends by telling us that he plans on keeping it real. Awesome stuff.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bill Hall: Bad at baseball, awesome at rumors

Let the Tony Gwynn Jr for Jake Peavy rumors commence on the Urinal's Brewers blog comments.

According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Brewers "are now said to be interested in Jake Peavy." Peavy's agent Barry Axelrod said, "I haven't been asked about the Brewers, although we've heard there was some interest before that didn't come to fruition."

It's possible that this rumor stems only from the speculation of Brewers third baseman Bill Hall. ESPN's Peter Gammons wrote on Sunday: "Hall believes the Brewers will be in on Peavy, when and if he goes on the market." I haven't seen any recent articles actually reporting talks between the two teams. Still, the speculation is logical.

My thoughts? Once it comes time to start shopping Peavy the Brewers will be ten games behind the Cubs and not interested in renting a player. Peavy in March makes sense for this club. Peavy in May will be a non-starter.

EDIT: Asok rightly points out Peavy is signed for 3 more years ($52 million), so this would not be a rental. It doesn't change where I stand on it. The Padres are fairly weak up the middle but I don't think JJ and/or Weeks net you Peavy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pitching staff.....worried yet?

Gallardo tossed another turd yesterday (5 innings, 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 walks and 2 k's...including 3 bombs) his second in two games.  Riske and Villanueva are pitching awful, Looper and Hoffman are out indefinitely, DiFelice is coming off a shelling that probably killed his roster chances, Jeff Suppan is pitching like Jeff Suppan, McClung has struggled in limited work and not a single bubble pitcher is making a strong case for deserving an open spot. 

It's bleak out there.

Dave Bush, Manny Parra and Mitch Stetter are really the lone bright spots.  I know it's Spring but the season starts in two weeks and 7 pitchers sure to make the team are either terrible or inactive.  I'll give Gallardo a pass as he's shown dominant stuff this spring, it's possible he's just trying things out and getting a feel for different pitchers.  The rest of these mopes?  Lost.

On that note, is anyone else a touch perturbed that after coaching these guys for a month Macha sees fit to call two pitchers out to the media?  Seems to me like that is a big f you to Villanueva and Riske. Considering that was one of the complaints about him, throwing players under the ol' media bus, I find it strange he'd be so candid.

Maybe we'll get lucky and everything will come together once they travel north but right now the Brewers pitching staff is looking incredibly sub-par and is inspiring anything but confidence.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Round 1 Open Thread

There are like 16 games today, including Marquette vs. Utah State at 11:30 and Wisconsin vs. Florida State at 8:55. Who do you guys have picked? Leave your comments here.

Friend of Brewed Sports Dave K is liveblogging the Marquette game here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Final Four Picks

I watched the least amount of college basketball I have watched in a long time this year.  I assume that means this will be my best bracket ever.  Some highlights:

Wisconsin and Marquette make it to the sweet sixteen where they lose to Pitt and Memphis respectively.

Louisville, UConn, Villanova and Syracuse are in the Final Four.  I so wanted to pick West Virginia to make is an all Big East four but I just couldn't.

UConn wins 77-72 over Villy.

What's the peanut gallery got for their picks?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NCAA Tourney Links

1. When is a game over? Bill James has the answer.

2. Josh Levin's tourney pet peeves.

3. Get your log5 probabilities here. (At least for the East and Midwest.)

4. Obama: Kind of a front-runner.

5. When is it better to be losing than it is to be winning?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Charlie V. isn't very articulate.

I love Charlie Villanueva. He's been the star of the Bucks since Redd and Bogut went down. He's been playing hard and producing, and by all accounts, he's a pretty good guy. I go to every Bucks game, and when you go to every game, all of the non-basketball parts of the game start to repeat themselves. One of my favorite repeating scoreboard promotions is when the Bucks show all of the fans celebrating their birthday at the game. It shows 5 or 6 players talking about their favorite birthday memory. When it gets to Charlie V., he says, "I don't have a favorite birthday, but if I did, it would definitely be going to a Milwaukee Buck game." I love that. No birthday memories for Charlie and he says "Buck" rather than "Bucks."

Anyway, now it's in the news that Charlie V. was updating his twitter account at half time in their game against the Celtics on Sunday. Here's what he said:

"In da locker room, snuck to post with my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.”

I'd like to note that Charlie did step up and the Bucks did win. Maybe he should "tweet" during every game.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wisconsin Is Set Up Well

In ACC play, Florida State outscored their opponents on the year by just .02 points per possession. In the Big 10, Wisconsin outscored their opponents by an average of .08 points per possession. In regular season games in the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Missouri Valley, Mountain West , Pac-10, and SEC, Wisconsin ranks 19th in this statistic (between West Virginia and Syracuse) while Florida State sits at 30th (between Cal and Texas A&M.

But that’s only part of the story. Florida State is an offensively challenged team, whereas Bucky is having a down year defensively. On the flip side, using tempo-neutral statistics Wisconsin actually had the best offense in the Big Ten this year. FSU is going to face what is basically the offensive juggernaut of a power conference without the horses to keep up. As previously mentioned Wisconsin has struggled on defense, but FSU is actually not set up well to take advantage of Wisconsin’s defensive problems.

Wisconsin has a few other things going for them. For teams seeded 11th through 13th, the top 5 indicators that they will pull the upset are as follows:

1. Consecutive trips to the tourney > 2
2. Points from guards = 25-40%
3. Member of a Big 6 conference
4. Coach’s trips to tourney = 5-7
5. Combined rebound/turnover margin > 4.0

The Badgers list several players as G/F, but just counting Jason Bohannon, Trevon Hughes, and Jordan Taylor, you have about 29% of their offense. As for number 5, I’m not sure how to find rebound margin, but the Badgers were tied for 6th in the Big Ten in rebounds per game, which seems quite good for a team that runs at a slow pace, and they were dead last in turnovers in the Big Ten.

For 5 seeds like FSU, the 5 most important indicators that they will outperform their seed are as follows:

1. Wins in their last 10 pre-tournament games = 8-9
2. Points from Guards = 25-40%
3. Coach’s tourney trips are > or = 15
4. Victory Margin > 13 ppg
5. Consecutive team bids > 4

FSU went 6-4 down the stretch, losing at Wake, at Boston College, and at Duke twice. My back-of-the-envelope calculations have their guard contributions at about 52% of their offense, due largely to guard Toney Douglas and his 21.3 PPG average. The coach of the Seminoles is Leonard Hamilton, and I do not believe he has put 15 teams into the tourney, though I can’t find the exact number. The ‘Noles average margin of victory is 8.52 points according to my calculations, and it appears that FSU has not made the tournament since 1998.

Applying overarching trends like this to one game is dangerous as match-ups will always be very important, and the Badgers are a bit odd in how they match up with people. Moreover, I haven’t seen FSU play enough to know if they will enjoy some strategic advantage. What I can say, superficially, is that I have seen the Badgers shut down guard-dominant teams before, and Toney Douglas dominates the scoring for FSU far more than, say Manny Harris or Evan Turner do for their respective teams.

I’ve heard FSU described by national pundits as a “dangerous team” that has gotten “hot at the right time.” I admittedly don’t know much about them other than what the stats show me, but on paper, this looks like a great matchup for Wisconsin, and I say this as a big Wisconsin pessimist. Look for FSU to go down early.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brewers vs. Royals open thread

I'm a little late getting started. Brewers are up 3-0. Prince his a bomb and Gallard has pitched 2 solid innins. Here's the lineup.

2B Rickie Weeks
3B Craig Counsell
SS J.J. Hardy
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
LF Trot Nixon
CF Chris Duffy
C Jason Kendall
RHP Yovani Gallardo

Rob Neyer on Bill James on Rickie Weeks


I really like Rickie Weeks, and I feel strongly that he has major league ability that just hasn't come out yet. One of the reasons it hasn't come out yet -- one of several -- is that they keep playing him at second base, and he really is not much of a second baseman. I would compare him to Don Buford, a player of three or four generations ago who came up as a highly touted second baseman for the White Sox, but never really could put it together as a second baseman. But Earl Weaver moved him to left field, and he was a very valuable player as a left fielder/leadoff man.

Why Can't I Ever Find The Badgers On Internet Radio?

Maybe someone can help me out.

When Marquette plays I can hear them online on the Milwaukee ESPN affiliate for free. When the Brewers play I can listen to them on MLB.com for a small fee. When the Packers play I can listen on NFL.com for a small fee if I want, or for free when a team is in the Red Zone. I haven't tried to listen to the Bucks online in a while, but I'll bet you can do so at NBA.com. THe NCAA tourney is all over CBS.com.

I can never find the Badgers online for basketball or football. What gives? Am I just not finding it? Do they not offer it? If I try to listen via a Badger Radio Network station it's either not on, or I get a message stating they cannot broadcast due to some contractual issues.

If it's actually unavailable, that's just ridiculous.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jeff Suppan isn't very good

3.0 IP, 6 Hits, 5 Runs, 5 Earned Runs, 2 Strike Outs, 2 Walks, 1 Home Run, 7.36 ERA. He gave up a dinger and 3 doubles.

Can we just add McClung to the rotation now?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The World Baseball Classic is Awesome

The Netherlands beat the Dominican powerhouse twice.  TWICE!!  There have been a ton of excellent games; US-Canada, every NET game, last nights Cuba-Australia game, Korea-Japan...this tournament is excellent.

The US team has a bunch of give-a-shit in em this time around and it's pretty obvious that every other team does as well (aside from DR...hahah Marmol!!)  This time the players care and you should too, because it is very good baseball.

Tonight's games look pretty great as well as rematches abound.  Netherlands takes on Puerto Rico at 4:30 and US against Venezuela at 6:30.  Neither is an elimination game, but seeding is pretty important with Cuba, Japan and Korea lurking.

If you can stay up for it, Australia takes on Mexico in an elimination game at 9 tonight.  Go Aussies!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Things: The Death Of The Hot Hand And Wagering

First, there is no such thing as a hot hand in basketball:

John Huizinga, who, when he's not teaching economics at the University of Chicago, serves as Yao Ming's agent, delivered a fairly ironclad analysis showing that the hot-hand phenomenon almost certainly doesn't exist, and that players who have just made a jumper are far more likely to take and miss a jumper on the next trip -- what might be called the Jamal Crawford phenomenon.

Huizinga studied high-volume shooters over the past five seasons and took note of players who had made a jump shot on the previous trip. On the subsequent trip, they shot about 16 percent more often and converted 3.5 percent less of those shots. The finding was statistically significant and pointed to a tendency by players to act as if they were hot after one made J … and a counterproductive tendency to feed the allegedly hot hand by both the player and his teammates.

Proving that something doesn't exist is always vastly more difficult than proving it does, but Huizinga's analysis hammered the hot-hand theory from so many angles that its proponents are reeling. And as luck would have it, the scenario played out at the end of the Boston-Orlando game: The Celtics ran a play to feed their hot hand, Ray Allen, and he missed a difficult 3-pointer after a strong contest by Dwight Howard that would have tied the game.

Interestingly, Huizinga's study showed this phenomenon was almost entirely confined to perimeter players -- most likely because it's far more difficult for post players to ignore the offense and call their own number. (Though I suspect Zach Randolph and Dirk Nowitzki may be exceptions).

Second, we occasionally make friendly wagers around here. (In fact, I believe I still owe E like 3 beers.) This site seems very well suited to keeping track of said wagers.

(H/T, MR)

Monday, March 9, 2009

I love the MLB Network

But this is just sad

Cactus League game thread: Brewers vs. Giants

It's Manny Parra vs. Barry Zito today.

Rickie Weeks 2B
Craig Counsell 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
Prince Fielder 1B
Mike Cameron CF
Lorenzo Cain RF
Chris Duffy LFJ
ason Kendall C
Manny Parra LHP

Annoying and nonsensical: Hardy won't move

I read this article on Escobar with a fair bit of annoyance. Specifically, Hardy's attitude:

That leaves Hardy as the man to move, either to third or second base. But there is no wavering by Hardy when he discusses the possibility. He wants to play short.

"If the Brewers want to use him, I feel like I'll still be playing shortstop somewhere," Hardy said. "Just not with Milwaukee. There's nothing I can do about it, so it's one of those things I don't worry about.

"But no, I don't see myself moving (positions) anytime soon."

Dude. I could see Hardy being a little hesitant to move to third, because he's more valuable as a SS with an excellent bat than a 3rd basemen, where his bat doesn't stand out as much. I can see that move possible affecting his bottom line (clearly where his head is at with the possibility). However, a move to second probably makes him more money. At 25 years old, Hardy's numbers look to be tracking pretty well with Chase, and that is the type of contract Hardy would be looking at as a second basemen. Double digit millions are in the future for JJ at second. While he may get the same at shortstop, he clearly won't be less valuable. Defensively it is an easier position to play as well. I don't get the refusal to even consider moving.

For all you folks that concern yourself with clubhouse atmosphere and good character guys, this sort of selfishness might be cause for concern.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Brewers v. Indians: Here's your lineup

1. Cain LF
2. Counsell SS
3. Cameron CF
4. Fielder 1B
5. McGehee 3B
6. Nixon RF
7. Lucroy C
8. Gamel DH
9. Iribarren 2B

Bush RHP

It's odd to think that even with Lawrie moving to second base, catching is now a position of strength in the Brewers' minor league system between Lucroy and Salome. I'm a Salome fan myself, and would like to see him get more time behind the plate in spring training rather than DHing or pinch hitting, but at the very least, the end of the Jason Kendall era is on the horizon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Brewers vs. Australia open thread.

Seth McClung gets the start for the Brewers in their exhibition game against Australia this afternoon. Here's the line-up:

2B Rickie Weeks
LF Chris Duffy
SS JJ Hardy
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
CF Mike Cameron
C Jason Kendall
3B Casey McGehee
DH Mat Gamel

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Big Ten: Where 16 Point Halves Happen

Oy vey, the Badgers are having one of those games that makes you wonder how they ever win. Fortunately, Minnesota is chipping in to the debacle, having missed about 35 dunks so far. The refs are calling everything tight when the Gophers have the ball, but Minnesota is free to knock over as many Badgers as they want on defense. Terrible, terrible officiating.

This is the kind of game that could set basketball back a few decades.

Building A Better Bracket

Read this. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring Training 2/3 Open Thread

Brewers - Rockies, Gallardo pitching.  Cannot wait!

Rickie Weeks                2B
Chris Duffy                     LF
J.J. Hardy                     SS
Prince Fielder                1B
Corey Hart                     RF
Mike Cameron               CF
Mike Rivera                   C
Casey McGehee            3B
Yovani Gallardo             RHP

According to McCalvy, Villanueva, Stetter, Aguilar and Wright will also pitch today.

In what may be the more interesting game, the Yankees play Team USA in Americas first tune up for the WBC.  That game is on MLB.TV.

Hair of the Dog 3/3/09: Multimedia Is Rad

First mock draft I've seen:

9th Pick - Green Bay Packers - DE/LB - Everette Brown - Florida State

Most people have the Packers addressing their needs in the secondary here. I agree its a position they need to take care of BUT there is a new defensive coordinator in town, Dom Capers. He’ll be changing things over to a 3-4 defense and this guy Brown is the best available in making that defense work.

The Badger women enter the WCHA tournament as the second seed. Kind of a stunner after dominating college hockey the first 3/4 of the year they stopped putting the puck in the net and Minnesota was able to squeak by em for the WCHA regular season title. The tournament starts on Saturday in Minneapolis where the women will face the hated MN-Duluth Bulldogs (that is a descriptor for their roster as well as a nickname).

Worst contracts in baseball? You guessed it:
  • Jeff Suppan, Brewers. Four years, $42MM ($10.5MM per year). Signed in December of 2006. Another heavily backloaded deal. This one was widely panned at the time. It was presumably signed based on Suppan's nice second half and playoff work.
  • Bill Hall, Brewers. Four years, $24MM ($6MM per year). Signed in February of 2007.
The Vikings missed out on Housh, which is a good thing. Rumor is they are now in the Jay Cutler sweepstakes, which is not a good thing. Sage Rosenfels? Fine, not a huge upgrade. Jay Cutler? Big, big upgrade.

The Red Reporter has a nice preview of Pool C of the WBC (that's the US's pool you xenophobe).
MLB's website is calling the US the team to beat, but I'm not totally sure I buy it. The starting pitching is good, but shallow, and I think the outfield doesn't look as good as it used to. (It would hardly even be a question if there were full participation: Sabathia, Webb, Lincecum, BJ Ryan, Hamels, Papelbon, Holiday, Longoria, Hamilton, Teixeira, and Mauer, are all names you could have seen on the roster – and you could make a WBC championship team just out of those.)

I'll be up in Toronto this weekend taking in some real baseball, but missing fake baseball. MLB 09: The Show comes out for PS3 this weekend, and is the greatest sports sim every created. If you have a PS3, pick this game up. If you don't but you like nerd games, it's reason enough to get a PS3. Do your part for this economy, spend your tax return (unless you're in CA...Best Buy doesn't take IOU's) on some family entertainment. Coolest thing about MLB09? They actually managed to get a life sized picture of Dustin Pedroia on the cover.

Jason Taylor is going to be released. Do you want him? The Journal certainly seems to, but that may just be sadness over missing out on their pet Canty. (Coverage of that whole thing was kind of loony).

Former Pirates team photog: "I hope Barry dies"
I kind of like wishes like that, because you know that no matter what happens your wish will come true.

Team USA plays the Yankees today at 1 oclock. The game will be on MLB.TV. I'll be watching. I'll probably throw up the game thread early since the Brauntosaurus will be playing.

MLB At Bat, the iPhone ap from Major League Baseball, is getting robust as all F this year. Live radio broadcasts, both home and away, of all games. I canceled XM the moment I read that. It's apparent to me that the iPhone is just the Borg precursor but I do not care.

I rip the Journal a lot, but they are actually pretty hip. The Packers and Brewers (and other sports/news departments) have Twitter feeds that are frequently updated. It's a pretty good way to catch the latest the moment they have it. So while your content is still God awful, I applaud your delivery.

Watch Eastbound & Down. It is tangentially about baseball, and it is awesome.

(First one is free HBO)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cactus League Open Thread 3/2/09 Brewers vs. Padres

The Brewers are sending an unusual outfield and Jeff Suppan against the Padres today. Here's the line-up, in order from oldest to youngest, I think:

C Jason Kendall
2B Craig Counsell
RF Corey Hart
1B Prince Fielder
DH Angel Salome
CF Trot Nixon
LF Brad Nelson
3B Casey McGehee
SS Alcides Escobar

Go Brewers!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring Training 3/1 LOLineup

(I'm totally using the headline again).

2B Rickie Weeks
LF Chris Duffy
SS J.J. Hardy
1B Scott Thorman
CF Mike Cameron
RF Trot Nixon
C Mike Rivera
3B Mike Lamb
RHP Dave Bush

Who writes the polls at the Urinal?

I have no idea why this irked me, but it does and it's stupid.

The Journal has an online poll going on the front page; "Who should play 3rd for the Brewers?"

The options:
Bill Hall
Craig Counsell
Mike Lamb
Mat Gamel
Casey McGhee

The urinal found it prudent to include Casey McGhee but didn't find the likely outcome of PLATOON necessary? What sense does that make? That's like putting a poll up of who should play 1st base and not making Prince Fielder and option.

In order to see the results I had to vote (I picked Gamel because if we're going to have a single person there I want some upside). Apparently stupid writing draws stupid readers, because Bill Hall is running away with the poll at 46%. Did the MLB banish right handed pitchers?