Monday, March 27, 2006

Opening Weekend

We are going April 7th - 9th. It's a shame we won't get to see Ben Sheets pitch, but I will be where my heart is always ... Miller Park. Also, there is discussion of going on the Miller Brewery tour. I went last year for my 22nd Bday when I went to a game ( awesome game vs the Nationals where Carlos tied the game with a moster smash to left and we won on a balk - July 15th).

I just figured we needed to crank up the Brewerblog again. So here is to the Brewers turning up the heat!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Outfield Report Cards

As we all know the season is over. I know my blogging was sporadic during the season and there is a rhyme behind my reason. I like things to play out over the whole season before I make a fool of myself. Things can change so much over the course of the season. Who was ready to dump Geoff Jenkins for a bag of balls around mid-June? Come on, don't hide, I know you are out there.

Now that the season is over I believe I can go through and evaluate all Brewers that spent time with the club this season regardless of whether they finished with the club. Evaluations may be inflated for some younger guys such as Dana Eveland, who I believe had what was coming to him when he started getting shelled in the bigs, but performed very well in the minors and remained a valuable piece in the future of this club.

Anyway, I'll explain rationale for each player. The stats listed in order are: (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS). If you want any more just go here.

Batters:

Outfield

Carlos Lee - .265/.327/.487/.814 : Lee was a tale of two halves with a first half OPS of .864 and a second half OPS of .746. His average only dropped six points but his on-base percentage was a pathetic .309 in the second half. This certainly does not overshadow his good first half where he hit 22 home runs. But if Lee is to be worth the $10-12 million price tag that some believe he is worth he would be best served to show a little more plate discipline. I cetainly have no qualms about trading Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino for Lee ( a steal if you ask me) and picking up his option is a lock, but I'd be hesitant to sign him to an extension for much more than he makes now.
Final Grade: B+

Brady Clark - .306/.372/.426/.798: Clark, to most people, was a big surprise this year. Looking back on his career it amazes me that Clark hasn't had an everyday job until he's into his thirties (32). This year is likely what the upper end of Clark's abilities are but I certainly would not expect a major dropoff next year. His defense was solid, if not spectacular, in center. He was caught stealing more than he successfully stole, which is never good, but that could be a function of the hit and run. Brady will never be a stolen base machine but he got on-base at a good clip and had some good pop for a leadoff hitter. At the very worst, Clark's performance means we don't have to get nervous about Dave Krynzel's struggles. I expect Clark back next season and starting in centerfield.

Final Grade: B

Geoff Jenkins - .292/.375/.513/.888: Jenkins had a slow first half with a .773 OPS. Only a strong finish to June made that OPS as high as it was. Regardless, when Jenkins caught fire in late June he never cooled off, posting OPS marks of 1.112, .946, and 1.018 in July, August and September respectively. Jenkins also made a smooth transition to rightfield to make way for Carlos Lee in leftfield. Some were calling for Jenkins' head early in the season and I wasn't sure he would ever get back to the form he showed in 2000 and 2003. Although his offensive output wasn't as impressive as those two years, Jenkins was a solid contributor to the team overall. He may not be worth his price tag, but I'd love for Jenkins to be a part of some successful Brewer teams in the coming years. I'd like to see him get more time off against lefties if righthanded hitting options like Corey Hart or Nelson Cruz can contribute. Looking at the numbers, Jenkins wasn't a complete liability against lefties with an .806 OPS.

Final Grade: B+


Chris Magruder - .203/.265/.312/.577: Magruder was the fourth and only backup outfielder for a good portion of the year. His overall numbers are pretty awful, even for a backup outfielder. He did deliver some key hits throughout the year, but that does not overshadow the fact that he was pretty awful overall. The problem in my mind is that Chris is a switch hitter. Chances are that being a switch hitter is what got Magruder to where he is. The plain facts show that he is ineffective as a left-handed hitter (.558 OPS). If Magruder was strictly used as a right-hander against left-handed pitching, he wouldn't be a poor choice as a fifth outfielder (.626 OPS vs. LHP). The point is moot now as Magruder was outrighted from the 40-man roster and will likely become a free agent. By all means he seems like a great guy that simply doesn't fit into the Brewers' plans.

Final Grade: D

Corey Hart - .193/.270/.368/.638: Those numbers look pretty awful but they were in limited time (57 AB's) for a 23 year old rookie. For a good part of the year, Hart put up excellent (.915 OPS) at AAA Nashville. He showed decent power (17 HR, .537 SLG) to go along with his .378 OBP. Hart can play all three outfield positions and depending on what happens in the Arizona Fall League, could play 3B and 1B. Hart did make some head-scratching errors in rightfield, but as somebody who has played all three outfield positions in organized ball, I'd say rightfield was the toughest. I look for Hart to break spring training with the Brewers next year. Assuming the outfield trio of Lee/Clark/Jenkins remains in tact, I'll pencil Hart in as the 4th outfielder and possible platoon partner for Prince Fielder at first base. Based on his whole year split between AAA and the big leagues, Hart's season was a success.

Final Grade: B

Nelson Cruz - .309/.387/.584/.971 (AA) .269/.361/.490/.852 (AAA): I give his AA numbers and AAA numbers because Cruz only had 8 AB's in the majors as a September call-up. Cruz was acquired in the Keith Ginter trade that also brought Justin Lehr to the Brewers from the Athletics last offseason. I didn't believe Cruz should have started the season in AA as a 24 year old (25 in July) and he proved he didn't belong with his strong performance which earned him a promotion to Nashville. Cruz showed good power in both AA and AAA, posting 27 home runs for the year. Given his age and track record in the minors, Cruz should not be in the minor leagues next season. Do the Brewers carry both Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz? If one of the starters from 2005 is traded, it is certain that both Cruz and Hart will break camp with the Brewers. Another possibility is packaging Cruz along with Lyle Overbay in a trade this offseason. I like Cruz a lot, but I like Corey Hart better.

Final Grade: B

Dave Krynzel - .256/.320/.416/.736 (AAA): Krynzel was another outfielder whose at-bats you can count on two hands with the big league club. After his nice spring training performance, I was hoping for a little more out of Krynzel this season in AAA. He has the tools to be a good ballplayer but he has not put together a solid season in all areas since he has been drafted. On the other hand, Dave is only going to be 24 years old next season and this past season was actually his first full season in AAA. Players with Krynzel's style are sometimes late bloomers and at the very least I expect Dave to be a solid backup outfielder someday. He still needs to show a little more.

Final Grade: C-

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Forthcoming On the Postseason Report

I'm compiling a few things on the Brewerblog that I'll call the Brewers' Postseason Report (callously stolen from Bob and Jim's Postgame Report).

First, I'll be grading all the players since the Journal-Sentinel's postseason grades were mindboggling at some points.

After that we'll see where the wind takes me. Probably some final thoughts on the season and a continuous look ahead at the offseason and beyond throughout the winter as I take my position next to a window and wait for spring to arrive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

On Rick Helling

Obviously, Helling has done a very nice job filling in the rotation after Sheets' injury and Santos' ineffectiveness. I witnessed him pitch once in his start against Atlanta and wasn't all that impressed as he was pretty lucky he didn't give up more runs.

In his last two starts spanning 12 innings, Helling has not given up a run and picked up the win against Houston.

What kind of future should Helling have with the organization? First off, it's really Rick's call as he is free to leave at the end of the season. But if he is willing to come back I'd be willing to give him a spot on the 40-man roster. If he would be willing to come back in a role similar to what Dave Burba had a few years back in the bullpen acting as a long reliever/mopup man and a mentor to the younger members of the staff.

I obviously don't know Rick personally and don't know whether he'd be a good mentor or not. My guess is that he has good character as he is a favorite of Doug Melvin spanning back to his days in Texas. It may also come down to whom the Brewers want to protect from the Rule V draft. If there is a spot available on the 40 man roster, there are worse ways to use it than Rick Helling.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Just A Hunch...

It's 12:31 and the Brewers play at 1:05. I'll go out on a limb today and say Doug Davis will get elusive win number 10 today.

Monday, August 29, 2005

An Idea for Ned....

Last week was a mixed bag for me when it came to Brewer games. I did witness a nice display of errors by the Marlins on Wednesday night only to be dissapointed by the pitching on Saturday night, a game which I decided to attend the day of.

I guess I can't really have too high of expectations when the starting matchup is John Smoltz versus Rick Helling. I guess what burned me was that we did get four runs off Smoltz. Kind of a tease if you ask me because I should've known Helling (although he wasn't dreadful) and Santos (who was dreadful and has been for a while) would have let me down in the end. Alas, it is over and I am once again back to the blogging.

So what is this idea that the title of this entry hints? First, as most of us know, Ben Sheets is likely done for the year. It does hurt to have Ben done for the year, but I am ever so grateful that this is not a torn labrum or a ligament problem in the elbow that requires Tommy John Surgery. The problem arises with filling Ben's spot.

One thing Ned has established is that Rick Helling has a spot secured, which coupled with Sheets' injury essentially makes him the fourth starter. So who fills the fifth spot? My answer is simple:

Johnny Wholestaff

Admittedly, if this were not September this would be a disastrous idea. But with September around the corner in a few days the active roster expands from 25 to 40. Expanded rosters make the Johnny Wholestaff idea feasible.

For those unfamiliar let me fill you in. Johnny Wholestaff is basically not having a starter at all. Sure, somebody starts the game. But that starter wouldn't go more than two or three innings and by default never earn the win. Then you follow with another guy and so on. There really isn't a set pattern and the only real guideline is that a lot of pitchers are used.

So basically, I'd bring up guys like Gary Glover, Wes Obermueller and Tommy Phelps and piggyback them through six innings. Phelps was a reliever in Milwaukee earlier this year but had a fine outing as a starter on Sunday. You could also throw a Jorge de la Rosa in the mix for the Johnny Wholestaff.

There really aren't any long term benefits to its use, but the only options I've heard mentioned to take the fifth spot are guys that never have been able to pitch deep into games on a consistent basis or a guy like de la Rosa that throws so many balls that his pitch count would be astronomical after a four innings anyway.

Just a crazy idea that popped into my head and I'd love to hear any thoughts on this idea.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Only #2? Stupid ESPN...

The chips fell in my corner tonight as I witnessed the Crew lay out a hell of a welcome mat for the Marlins. As I predicted we sat up in RF but got 2nd row seats, and the weather was nothing short of perfect.

Can't think of anything to say about the game that isn't obvious from the score to Cappy's line. Each Brewers hitter took a good approach at the plate, and Capuano went right after the strike zone from pitch one (I think he had 8 pitches after one and 28 after three). Also, I'd like to send my congrats to Capuano for becoming the first 14 game winner for the Brewers since 1993.

One last thing, I'm very thankful to have been eyewitness to Rickie Weeks and his supernatural play-making ability. On that note, I was listening to Sunday's game and Jim mentioned something like the Brewers get to 80% more balls due to their defensive alignments. That stat sounds a bit bloated now that I put it in writing and actually think about it, but in this game alone there were plays made that wouldn't have been possible with traditional defensive placement.

Here's to the Crew keeping the bats hot and the pitches down in the zone. Also, Happy (early?) Birthday to Jon... I used your ID for a whole summer, you'd think I'd remember what day your birthday is, haha. I'll just say I don't blame the drugs, but maybe I should.

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