Wednesday, April 28, 2010

H-OFF

Wow.  I wrote a few days ago not to worry yet about Trevor Hoffman.  Now I'm worried.  This is unprecedented. Hoffman has given up 12 earned runs in 8 games including runs allowed two of his three saves.  He's never done that before in his career.  Since his rookie year in 1993, the most he's given up in a season was 24.  He's got half of that already.  When this happens to a 42-year old ballplayer, it should sound huge alarms in the organization.

I've said before that I think Carlos Villanueva would be an effective closer in the Majors.  If you gave his stats this year to Trevor Hoffman, the Brewers would have three more wins than they do.  If the Brewer find themselves in a save situation today, I would give the ball to Carlos.  We need another option.  I'm very worried that this is not going to get better.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A PRINCE'S RANSOM

A JSOnline poll yesterday asked:

Is Prince Fielder worth as much as the Phillies will pay Ryan Howard ($125 million over five years)?

60% of the people who responded to the poll said "no".  If that sample of representative of the readers of JSOnline, then 60% of their readers are nuts.

Prince Fielder is a better player right now than Ryan Howard.  He was a better player last year (1,014 OPS to Howard's .931).  He was as good of a player the year before last (.879/.881), and he was a better player the year before that (1.013/.976).  Prince Fielder is also 4 years younger than Ryan Howard.  Prince will hit 27, the theoretical peak for a player, next year.  Howard is already 3 years past that and this 5-year contract extension doesn't kick in for two more years.  All of baseball history tells us that Howard's production will be in steady decline over the next seven years.

I would love if the Brewers signed Prince fielder to a 5-year, $125 million contract right now.  The fact is though, that they probably can't get him for that.  If a 32-36 year old Ryan Howard is worth $125 million, a 26-30 year old Prince Fielder is worth much more.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

(Reuters) - People who are depressed eat more chocolate than people who are not, U.S. researchers said on Monday, in a study that puts numbers behind the link between mood and chocolate.
Another example of how, if you are a scientist, completely loosing grasp of the concept of cause and effect is an excellent way to get your name in the newspaper.

Sugar, trans fats, salt, this will be next.  The Chocolate Police - coming soon to a government near you.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SCATTERED

The Brewers scoring has been all over the board so far.  In the first 18 games, they have been shut out once, scored one run three times, scored two runs once, three runs twice, four runs once, five runs twice, six runs once, seven runs once, and eight runs four times.  Then throw in an 11 and a 20.

They have scored either 0, 1, or 8 or more in 10 of their 18 contests.

The margin of victory in Brewers games has been 4 runs or more 10 times, including each of the last 8.  They are 4-6 in those games.

The pitching staff has yet to allow either 2 or 3 runs in a game.  They had the two shutouts and the 1-run game against Pittsburgh.  In all of the rest, they've allowed 4 or more.

What does all of this mean?  Probably nothing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BIG MONEY

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers are one of only three team in the Majors to have never awarded a player a $50 million+ contract.  Washington and Tampa Bay are the other two.  The largest contract ever for the Brewers is Ryan Braun's current $45 million deal.  This ties the Brewers for 28th among the 30 teams in terms of top contracts.

The "talk" number for Prince Fielder is a $200 million deal.  If the Brewers signed him to that, or signed him to anything over $185 million, it would vault them all the way up to 3rd on the list behind the $275 million deal that ARod signed with the Yankees and the $252 million deal that ARod signed with the Rangers.  Yes - the same ARod.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

IT'S OVER

The streak of 22 consecutive games in which the Brewers pitching staff allowed 4 or more runs ended with tonight's 8-1 win.

So, what's the team record for most game in a row allowing 3 runs or fewer?  Only nine.  That was also a streak that spanned over two seasons and ended six games in to the Brewers 13-0 start to the 1987 season.

Let's go break that one too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

UNRANKED

In my fantasy league, we use a simple formula for starting pitchers that gives them 1 point for each 1/3 IP and K, and subtracts 1 for each H, R, ER, and BB.  A win is worth 3 points, a loss -2, and then there are small bonuses for complete games, shutouts and high strikeout totals.  Based on this formula's average points per game, the top five starters in the Majors right now, in order are:

Rank Pitcher Record ERA
1st Adam Wainwright 3-0 1.50
2nd Matt Garza 3-0 0.75
3rd Roy Halliday 3-0 1.12
4th Tim Lincecum 3-0 0.90
5th Livan Hernandez 2-0 0.00

So, the formula does a pretty good job of sorting things out.

Here are the rankings of the five Brewers starters right now:

Rank Pitcher Record ERA
75th Dave Bush 0-0 3.86
84th Randy Wolf 1-1 4.91
102nd Yovani Gallardo 0-2 5.50
111th Jeff Suppan 0-0 7.20
142nd Doug Davis 0-1 11.25

Sunday, April 18, 2010

THE STREAK CONTINUES

On Sunday, the Brewers extended their franchise record streak of consecutive games in which the pitching staff has given up four or more runs to 22 (including the last 10 games of last year).  It begs the question:  What is the Major League record for such a streak?

I have handy, a game log database of every Major League game back to 1960.  Since that time, here is the distribution of runs scored per team per game:

RUNS FREQUENCY
0 6%
1 11%
2 13%
3 14%
4 13%
5 11%
6 9%
7 7%
8 5%
9 3%
10 or more 7%

The most common number of runs a team scores in a game is three.  I didn't know that.

Based on these percentages, the probability that in a specific 22-game stretch a team would allow four or more runs every game just by chance is about 1 in 400,000.  The chance that it would happen at any point in a given season is about 1 in 2,500.  What this means in general terms is that it's very unlikely that this streak is happening just because of dumb luck.  It's far more likely that something is wrong with the Brewers pitching staff.  But you didn't need me to tell you that.  But I digress.

Back to my original question.  In 2006, the woeful Kansas City Royals had a 28-game streak in which their pitching staff allowed four runs or more.  From May 9th to June 8th - an entire month.  That's the longest streak since 1960.  The second longest was a 22-game streak - same as the Brewers current streak - by the Detroit Tigers in 1996.  The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays had 21-game streaks in 1993/94 and 1999 respectively.

The longest National League streaks in that time frame were a 19-game streak by the Cincinnati Reds in 2001, and an 18-game streak by the Brewers in 1999 - the old franchise 'record' that they broke last Thursday.

So, we've got another week.  If this run of futility persists, I'll go back and check years prior to 1960.  But let's hope it doesn't.  I've got plenty of things I'd rather do.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

NO YO

The Brewers are now 0-3 in games that Yovani Gallardo starts.  They have scored a total of 7 runs on those games for an average of 2.3 R/G.  In the games he doesn't start, the offense has scored 6.1 R/G and the team is 4-3.  Run support is supposed to even out over time.  But sometimes it's a long time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

THE STREAK

Here's an amazing fact.  (And I was much more meticulous about looking this one up than the last one I posted.)

The Brewers' pitching staff has allowed four or more runs in each of the team's nine games so far this season.  Last season, they finished the year by allowing four or more runs in each of the final ten games of the season.  The current 19-game streak of allowing at least four runs in each game, dating back to September 24th of last year, is their longest such streak ever in the history of the team!

Ever!

The previous longest was an 18-game streak from August 17, 1999 to September 3, 1999.

Wow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

EDMONDS IS IN THE LINEUP TODAY

This is just speculation on my part.

Jim Edmonds has now started more games in the outfield (6) than either Corey Hart (3) or Carlos Gomez (5).  And it's not like he's tearing it up and forcing Macha's hand.  After yesterday's game, Edmonds is hitting just .200 with one extra base hit - a double.

There was a good article written about Edmonds late in Spring Training (by Witrado to give credit where it is due) about his difficulty leaving his home life and coming back to baseball - not being there for the kids, blah, blah.  There was even speculation in the article that if at some point this wasn't working out for him that he would pack it up and go back home.  Then there were those few days at the end of camp where he left to attend to  "an urgent family matter."

I'm wondering if all of the playing time that Edmonds is getting early in the season is an effort by Macha to reacclimate him to the game - make him feel a part of the team.  I wonder if there's fear in Macha's mind that if Edmonds wasn't playing regularly, that he would start having second thoughts about being here at all.

UPDATE:  A couple of people have pointed out that Edmonds has started only 5 games in the outfield and not 6.  I stand corrected on that and thank them for reading.

Monday, April 12, 2010

HELLS BELLS

Trevor Hoffman has given up three home runs in his last two appearances.  That's more than he gave up all of last year (2).  I looked back through the past several seasons of his career to see if he's had similar runs bad suck luck.  He has.

In 2008, Hoffman had a stretch where he gave up 4 home runs in 3 consecutive appearances.  In 2006, he gave up two home runs in a game twice.  Did that again in 2004.

So every other year or so, Trevor Hoffman's dirty deeds make you think he's blowing up like T.N.T. and heading down the highway to hell, but then he quickly right's himself and gets back in black.

See.  I don't think there's much reason to worry.

Yet.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

GAME OF THE YEAR

There are no important games in April, right?

If the Brewers would manage to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend at Miller Park they would hold a 3-game lead over them and would increase their mathematical probability of finishing ahead of them in the regular season to 63% (based on a model where all games are 50/50).  If, on the other hand, the Brewers were to get swept by the Cardinals, that probability drops to 37%.  In fact, opportunity knocks all year long.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

GRANDPA FAVRE

Brett Favre is a grandfather.

I wondered to myself if he were to play again next year if he would be the first ever player-grandfather in the NFL.

But then I thought about it for a while...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

ARE WE TALKIN' PLAYOFFS?

I've been playing around with a Major League playoff schedule (I know - it's Opening Day - the timing of this is horribly out of place.  But Buster Olney chimed in a few days ago with a ridiculous proposal for no divisions and six teams in the playoffs from each league.  I just thought I'd take a crack myself.)

My proposal would basically keep the current format with three division winners and a wild card, but expand the opening series to best-of-seven, and severely compact the schedule:

Sunday, October 3 - Last day of regular season.

Tuesday, October 5th - Start of division series for one league.
Wednseday, October 6th - Start of division series for the other league.

The All-Star Game would determine which team start the playoffs first - on Tuesday (meaning they'd get an extra off day before the World Series) - rather than deciding home field in the World Series.  Home field would go to the team with the best record.  Yeah, I know - they play different schedules - tough.

Anyway, each of the four division series would take place on consecutive days, no matter now long the series go.  Seven straight days - no travel days.  Why not?  They do it all season like that, they can do it in the playoffs.  These series would also be scheduled 2-2-3 to reduce travel and enhance home field advantage.

The series that starts on October 5th would end by October 11th.  That league would start their League Championship Series on Wednesday, October 13th.  The other league would lag by one day, starting their LCS on Thusday, October 14th.

The two League Championship Series would each have a single day off after Game 4.  These days would fall on Sunday, October 17th and Monday, October 18th (so as not to compete with football.)  One league would conclude no later than October 20th and the other league would be a day later.

The World Series would then start on Saturday, October 23rd.  There would be off days on Monday the 25th and Friday the 29th, with Game 7 falling on Sunday October 31st.  No November baseball.

Here's how it looks laid out in a grid assuming the AL starts:

Sun 3-Oct End Reg Season
Mon 4-Oct

Tue 5-Oct ALDS
Wed 6-Oct ALDS NLDS
Thu 7-Oct ALDS NLDS
Fri 8-Oct ALDS NLDS
Sat 9-Oct ALDS NLDS
Sun 10-Oct ALDS NLDS
Mon 11-Oct ALDS NLDS
Tue 12-Oct
NLDS
Wed 13-Oct ALCS
Thu 14-Oct ALCS NLCS
Fri 15-Oct ALCS NLCS
Sat 16-Oct ALCS NLCS
Sun 17-Oct
NLCS
Mon 18-Oct ALCS
Tue 19-Oct ALCS NLCS
Wed 20-Oct ALCS NLCS
Thu 21-Oct
NLCS
Fri 22-Oct

Sat 23-Oct WS
Sun 24-Oct WS
Mon 25-Oct

Tue 26-Oct WS
Wed 27-Oct WS
Thu 28-Oct WS
Fri 29-Oct

Sat 30-Oct WS
Sun 31-Oct WS




Under this schedule, most likely no starting pitcher would pitch more than twice in a series.

If you had rain outs, you would obviously push everything back a day, but then eliminate the next scheduled off day to make up the time.

It could be done.

ON TARGET

From what I could tell on TV last night, the Twins new park in Minneapolis looks very, very impressive.  I think they are catching way too much heat for building an open air stadium.  Even in this climate, I would rather watch a game outdoors 90% of the time.  To me, retractable roof stadiums feel very confining.  At Miller Park (and Phoenix - the other one I've been in), I never really get the sense that I'm outdoors even on the nicest days.  It's like having a sunroof rather than a true convertible.  Cheers to the Twins.  I hope Mother Nature is kind to them and their new home serves them well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

GAME 7

Merry Christmas from snowy Minneapolis and Game 7 of the 2010 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and your Milwaukee Brewers. Well, at least it seems that way when you look outside.

Tonight's game of course has been moved indoors to the Twins former home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome due to the 23 inches of snow that has fallen on the Twin Cities over the past two days.  Forecasts for the next several days call for sub-freezing temperatures in the area.  After mulling it over the last three days, Commissioner Bud Selig has decided to move the game inside.

The Brewers, playing for their first ever World Championship, send ace Yovani Gallardo to the mound who finished the regular season 18-10 and topped 200 strikeouts for the second time in his young career.  Gallardo's stellar 3.35 ERA make him a leading candidate for this year's National League Cy Young Award.

The Brewers of course forced the deciding game tonight behind a 6-hit shutout by Ben Sheets in Game 6 who rejoined the Brewers in a late July trade with Oakland which sent lefty Manny Parra and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the A's.  Sheets' 5-0 record in the stretch drive was critical to the Brewers playoff run who clinched the NL Central on the final Saturday of the regular season, finishing 2-games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals at 93-69.

Sheets wasn't the only story in the Brewers second half resurgence.  Skipper Willie Randolph replaced Ken Macha on June 25th after the Brewers were swept in a 3-game series at Miller Park by these same Twins.  The struggling Crew, 32-40 at the time and fifth place in the NL Central, turned things around instantly under Randolph's watch, winning the next 14 games in a row - a club record streak.  The streak included a 4-game sweep of the first place Cardinals in St. Louis which vaulted the Brewers back into the pennant race.  The streak also earned Brewers fans a free hamburger courtesy of George Webb's restaurant.  One Brewer fan brought to the giveaway a bronzed Webb's hamburger he got in 1987, the last time the Brewers had such a streak.

Rickie Weeks will lead off for the Brewers tonight.  Weeks' up and down season included a 20-game hitting streak and a 20-game stint on the DL.  Despite that, Weeks played in a career high 132 games in 2010.  Rickie has reached base in each of the Brewers post-season games so far.

Alcides Escobar bats second.  The stellar Brewers Rookie of the Year candidate was moved up to the #2 spot in the order by Willie Randolph and responded well, batting .346 in the September stretch run.  Sure to be a strong candidate for the NL Gold Glove at shortstop, Escobar is the next budding superstar in the Brewers lineup.

Ryan Braun bats third.  Braun had another amazing season, belting a career high 39 home runs to go along with his .336 batting average, good for 3rd in the NL batting race.  His 128 RBI placed him in the top three in each of the NL Triple Crown categories.

In the clean-up spot, as usual is Prince Fielder.  Fielder inked a 6-year, $146 million contract extension three days before the All-Star break.  He also won his second consecutive Home Run Derby at the festivities in Anaheim.  Fielder struggled late in the year, but returned to form when the Brewers needed him most hitting a dramatic two out, ninth inning game winning 3-run homer in Game 6 of the NLCS off Atlanta Braves closer Billy Wagner, sending the Brewers to their second fall classic.

In the fifth spot will be right fielder Jim Edmonds.  Edmonds seems a lock for NL Comback player of the year after hitting 16 home runs and batting .288 in 120 games.  He was inserted as the everyday right fielder in April, replacing Corey Hart who struggled miserably in Spring Training and was traded to the San Diego Padres for third base prospect Edinson Rincon only three weeks into the regular season.

Mat Gamel bats sixth for the Brewers and plays at third base.  Gamel's five home runs in three days during the Brewers winning streak won him the everyday third base job from Casey McGehee who struggled to a .226 average on the year.  In the field, Gamel didn't far as well, leading the team with 18 errors.

The Brewers designated hitter for Game 7 will be Jody Gerut.  Gerut played well in a part time roll for the Brewers belting 9 home runs to go along with a .287 average.

Grizzled veteran Gregg Zaun will catch and bat eighth.  Zaun has been struggling mightily down the stretch after being asked to carry much of the workload behind the plate for the Brewers this season.  Still he managed to work through the year injury free and handled the pitching staff well.

Carlos Gomez is in center field and will bat ninth.  The young Gomez led the Brewers with 32 stolen bases.  His inconsistency in the field cost him some playing time to Jody Gerut in 2010, but he had a solid if unimpressive season and is batting .310 in this World Series against his former team.

Except for Ben Sheets, the whole Brewers pitching staff will be available to skipper Willie Randolph tonight.  That includes Randy Wolf and Doug Davis who each joined the Brewers as free agents before the 2010 campaign and turned in identical 14-10 records.  Wolf had the better ERA of the two at 3.96; second on the team to Gallardo.

Finally here is closer Trevor Hoffman making his final stroll out to the bullpen.  Hoffman has said that he will retire after the 2010 season after putting in a workman-like 26 save campaign.  Cooperstown will be the next stop for Hoffman and he would certainly love to go there with a World Series ring.

On the Twins side, shortstop J.J. Hardy returns to the lineup tonight after asking for Games 5 and 6 off due to fatigue.  Hardy says he feels refreshed and is ready to go against his former mates.

Well we're just about set to go at the Metrodome.  Rickie Weeks steps into the batter's box and home plate ump Tim McClelland yells, "Play Ball!"

 
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