Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jeff Turnbow

When the Brewers signed Jeff Suppan, shortly after Barry Zito signed a mammoth contract with the San Francisco Giants, I remember radio talking head Mark Belling praising the Brewers for getting a pitcher who was every bit as good as Zito for a fraction of the price. The irony of the observation of course is that Suppan in fact has turned out to be every bit as good as Barry Zito. And it's a very small bit.

In general, I don't know that I agree or disagree with Ned Yost anymore than I did any other manager in the Brewers' past, however it seems that there are three or four games a year that Yost manages with his head fully up his ass and gives the game away to the other team. Today was one of those games. In his post game press conference he defended his not taking out Suppan by saying that he pitched well except for one bad pitch (the 3-run homer) to Geoff Blum. I'm sorry, but you don't score seven runs ON ONE PITCH!!! By the time Blum hit his home run, Suppan had allowed six base runner in the inning. I kept thinking of the Miller High Life guy yelling, "Take him out! Take him out!" But Yost didn't. He just sat there as if he didn't know what was going on. Now we've lost a game to the Cubs. A game that could be very valuable come late September. OK. I'm done venting.

It would be an insult to David Bush and Seth McClung if Suppan is left in the rotation while they are forced to contend with some lame-brained home-road platoon.

OK. Now I promise I'm done.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Living Legends

I've always been a Yankees fan. I am more of a Brewers fan. I was born here and have lived here for most of my life. I'm a homer. But after the Brewers, the Yankees have always held a special place in my baseball heart. The team that I have admired from afar. There's a part of me that still wishes I had married Heather Locklear. It's kind of like that.

Anyway, at this year's All-Star game, during the pre-game part, which is the best part, when they traipse out all of the all-time greats, many of which my son has never heard of, I was struck by the fact that Yogi Berra was the highlight. The greatest living Yankee. I have nothing against Yogi Berra. He was a great player. Won some MVPs (in fact, did you know that he has 13 top 20's in MVP voting?) But when you start to rattle off the greatest Yankees of all time, Berra's name is a ways down the list. Nonetheless, he is the greatest living Yankee, and should have been the focal point of the event.

Next year the All-Star game will be in St. Louis. God willing, Stan The Man will be there for the festivities. He is the obvious choice as the greatest living Cardinal. The patriarch of the team. Perhaps he will finally receive his due, and no longer be the most underrated player in the history of the game.

All of that got me thinking. Who is the greatest living player for each of the current teams? Their patriarch? The player they would feature if the All-Star game were held at their stadium? I started a list.

ESPN's Baseball Tonight has started a poll of the greatest player ever for each team. What I am thinking of isn't exactly that. I could say that I thought of this first, but that would be completely pointless. Anyway, here is my list of the greatest living ballplayer for each current team. When I say 'current', I mean it literally. Current city, current franchise. For that reason, I have left the Washington Nationals off of the list.

Arizona Diamondbacks Randy Johnson
Atlanta Braves Hank Aaron
Baltimore Orioles Cal Ripken
Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski
Chicago Cubs Ernie Banks
Chicago White Sox Luis Apparicio
Cincinnati Reds Pete Rose
Cleveland Indians Bob Feller
Colorado Rockies Todd Helton
Detroit Tigers Al Kaline
Florida Marlins Dontrelle Willis
Houston Astros Craig Biggio
Kansas City Royals George Brett
Los Angeles Angels Nolan Ryan
Los Angeles Dodgers Sandy Koufax
Milwaukee Brewers Robin Yount
Minnesota Twins Harmon Killebrew
New York Mets Tom Seaver
New York Yankees Yogi Berra
Oakland A's Rickie Henderson
Philadelphia Phillies Mike Schmidt
Pittsburgh Pirates Bill Mazaeroski
San Diego Padres Tony Gwynn
San Francisco Giants Willie Mays
Seattle Mariners Edgar Martinez
St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial
Tampa Bay Rays Fred McGriff
Texas Rangers Buddy Bell
Toronto Blue Jays Dave Stieb

Monday, July 21, 2008

U.T. (Useless Trivia)

There are two current Brewers and one former Brewer on the All-Time Two Initials For a First Name team (or the T.I. team, if you will)

C - A.J. Pierzinski
1B - J.T. Snow
2B - F.P Santangelo
SS - J.J. Hardy
3B - B.J. Surhoff
LF - R.J. Reynolds
CF - B.J. Upton
RF - J.D. Drew

SP - CC Sabathia
SP - J.R. Richard
SP - A.J. Burnett
RP - B.J. Ryan
RP - J.J Putz

Ray of Light

I love the acquisition of Ray Durham.

Not because I give a hoot about Ray Durham - I don't. I don't really see where he's going to contribute much more to the win column than Joe Dillon would have were he given the opportunity. I love it because we will finally see what Rickie Weeks is made of. I can't tell whether Rickie Weeks is a very talented ballplayer who is extremely difficult to motivate, or if Rickie Weeks isn't all that good anyway.

Last year Weeks was sent down to the minors. He came back and played very well - when it was obvious that his job was on the line. This year he was the in-vogue pick to have a breakout season by many writers (myself included) and has played like crap. If Weeks is in fact a difficult to motivate player, the trade for Durham could light enough of a fire under him to turn him into what the Brewers had always hoped he would be. That would go a long way toward putting them over the top. If not...

Either way, the acquisition of Durham will shed invaluable light on Rickie Weeks' contract negotiations this off-season for the Brewers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mid-Summer Classic

Since 2003, when Bud Selig overreacted to his debacle tie game in Milwaukee, the home field advantage in the World Series has been awarded to the winner of the All-Star game. In those five years, the team with the home field advantage has won the World Series three times and lost twice. So it's not big deal, right? Well, in the 16 World Series leading up to that (1985-2001) the team with the home field advantage was an astonishing 14-2.

Since 1963 there have been 46 All-Star games; 45 if you don't count that one. In that stretch, the National League has had separate winning streaks of 11 games, 8 games, and 3 games. The American League is currently on a 11-game winning streak and had another streak of 6 games. That's 80% of the games which were part of winning streaks of 6 or more. That's wild.

I wonder what Bud Selig was thinking at the end of this one, and whether anything more will be done to alter the game as a result of this near-miss. If Corey Hart's throw would have been about 3 feet to the right, it would have nailed Morneau at the plate and they would have played on. Or would they?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Guillermo Turnbow 2

In the month of July, Guillermo Mota has faced 17 batters and given up 8 runs. He entered tonight's game with a July ERA of 18.00 and it went up to 24.00. He's getting some very bad breaks from the defense, but he's also throwing a lot of batting practice pitches right over the heart of the plate. The Brewers are going to need him down the stretch and it seems like he's totally out of gas right now. At his age, I wonder if a trip to the DL would do him good. If he went on tomorrow, he would be eligible to come back on his 35th birthday.

UPDATE: I see that someone is taking a little harder stance on the issue than I am.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home Run Derby Hangover

Ryan Braun is heading to the Home Run Derby. He will be the seventh player to represent the Brewers in the event.

"If I'm invited, I'll do it for sure," Braun said on Wednesday. "I think you owe it to the fans. If you're lucky enough to be invited, I think you should do it."
By contrast, Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez will sit out the Home Run Derby, despite being the Major League home run leader last year and despite the game being played in his home stadium. He prefers to protect his swing.

In 2005, Bobby Abreu hit a record 41 home runs in the Home Run Derby. The rest of the season he hit only 6 in 265 at bats. Last Year David Wright of the Mets hit 20 homers before participating in the Derby and only 6 after. Do we need to worry about Ryan Braun ruining his swing and jepordizing his second half production by participating in the Home Run Derby this year?

I compiled the pre- and post- All-Star Game stats of every player who has participated in the Home Run Derby in the last 5 years. In terms of raw numbers, yes there has been a drop off in home run production from those who participated:

1st half 839
2nd half 604
(Stats represent 40 players and over 25,000 plate appearances.)

However, those numbers don't tell the entire story. If you convert all of their stats to averages, a drop off is much less apparent:

1st half 0.301 0.570 0.066
2nd half 0.297 0.550 0.061

Consider a couple of things. The All-Star Game is played slightly after the mid-way point of the season. It stands to reason that there would be more of anything before the break than after. Also, the players selected to participate in the Home Run Derby are players who likely are having high power production first halfs - often way above their career norms. The Derby has featured such non-sluggers as Bret Boone (24 1st half homers), Hank Blaylock (23), and Hee-Seop Choi (13). It shouldn't be surprising if these players come back to earth after the All-Star Game and see lower home run numbers.

For every player who has had a drop off in home run production in the second half, there's another who clearly did not. Last year Matt Holiday hit 15 before the break and 21 after. Prince Fielder was 29 and 21. Ryan Howard had 21 before and 26 after.

I think the Home Run Derby hangover is a myth. Ryan Braun should participate and Brewers fans should have nothing to worry about when he does so. Alex Rodriguez should stop snubbing his fans and participate too. By all indications, his swing is just fine.

Cubs Dance With The Ugly Sister

Career Earned Run Averages:

Rich CC

Harden Sabathia
August 4.12 3.59
September 4.90 2.88

Mark of a Champion

My boss, who is only the most casual of Brewers fans, asked me yesterday to what I attribute the Brewers resurgence. "Is it because of that Attanasio guy?", she asked. I gave her some standard off-the-shelf answer, but then I pondered that question the rest of the day and the more I did, the more the answer became clear. Yes, it is because of that Attanasio guy.

For years under the Selig administration, Brewers fans were preached to about how it's impossible to put a winning product on the field because of the economic climate of the game. The Brewers were held up as the poster child for the plight of small market teams. They struggled to draw 10,000 fans to a game and the play on the field was so horrible that it was embarrassing to invite friends to a game.

Enter Mark Attanasio. Same small market, same fans, same stadium, basically the same economic landscape, but he has completely turned this organization around - not only with money, but with smart business decision making. The Brewers organization now exudes professionalism from top to bottom. They have one of the most respected front offices in the game, filled with people who understand how to win; a concept totally foriegn to the Seligs.

The trade for C.C. Sabathia was not only intellegent, but necessary in the formula for bringing a world championship to Milwaukee. These guys get it folks. The Seligs didn't, and they never would have swung this deal.

* * *
On my way home from the game last night I was behind a guy on the freeway who also doesn't get it. He had a big sign duct taped to the back and sides of his car that read:


(Coincidentally, the guys lives only blocks from my house.) I thought...

  1. This is a product of the years and years of hand wringing and pessimism of the Seligs.
  2. Future? Really? Just how long do you want to wait?
  3. Why would you duct tape anything to your car?

Sunday, July 6, 2008 is Believing

I like it.

Look, I don't like losing Matt LaPorta any more than the next guy, but this is how you win championships in Major League baseball. Remember last year when the Brewers drafted LaPorta who was a first baseman in college, and a lot of people shook their heads because they already had Prince? This is a perfect example of why you draft the best player available with your high draft picks rather than try to fill needs on your team. If the Brewers had drafted someone other than LaPorta, they may not have been in a position to make this trade.

If Ned Yost sets his rotation properly after the All-Star break, Ben Sheets, C.C. Sabathia, and Manny Parra will start 6 of the 8 games the Brewers play later this month against the Cards and Cubs. Needless to say, these are huge games in the pennant race. (Here's a cheat sheet, Ned, in case you need one:)

Fri 7/18 @ SF Sabathia
Sat 7/19 @ SF Sheets
Sun 7/20 @ SF Suppan
Mon 7/21 @ StL Parra
Tue 7/22 @ StL #5
Wed 7/23 @ StL Sabathia
Thu 7/24 @ StL Sheets
Fri 7/25 Hou Suppan
Sat 7/26 Hou Parra
Sun 7/27 Hou #5
Mon 7/28 ChC Sabathia
Tue 7/29 ChC Sheets
Wed 7/30 ChC Suppan
Thu 7/31 ChC Parra

C.C. Sabathia has pitched twice at Miller Park in his career. The Brewers beat him on June 16, 2006 in an inter-league game, and he beat the Anaheim Angels last April 10 in a game that was moved to Miller Park due to snow in Cleveland.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

I think - finally - my work schedule is easing up. I've got moved to a new registrar which will hopefully quit randomly changing my settings and cause the blog to crash. I've got a couple of new pieces of research I've been working on, which I'll post in the next few days. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season and hopefully the ability to post with a little more regularity. Enjoy the holiday.

Guillermo Turnbow

OK. That's kind of a low blow because he's only pitched 2 games in July, but jeez...

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