Wednesday, December 14, 2011

J$Online

Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel, Inc. will soon begin charging a fee for its JSOnline site.  I am assuming that this will cover all content under the JSOnline banner including Tom Haudricourt's blog and the Bernie's Crew blog with Jim Breen and the bunch.

I am very fickle about paying for web content.  There is so much free content out there that I can usually find what I'm looking for without needing my PalPay password, but I think I would miss my daily stop at these two sites.  Haudricourt is obviously very connected with things inside the Brewers organization and in the volume of Bernie's Crew writings you almost always find something worth while.

[I should note that Tom Haudricourt did an outstanding job covering the Ryan Braun saga in its initial days.  For the first 24-48 hours he was the go-to source for breaking information.]

So will I pay the J$Online fee?  I guess I'll give it a shot and see what I get.  I am expecting (lilsten to this JSOnline!!!) to be inundated with way fewer ads if I'm paying for the site.  Especially the ones that fly up in my face over the top of what I am reading.

I am also hoping that some of the adolescent trolls that post in the comments section of articles will go away too.  I would put the average age of the people who post in there right now at about twelve.  Or should I describe them in terms of their average IQ?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Veras

Some quick stats on Jose Veras:

ERAGWHIPHR/9SO/BB
2008-094.331071.3981.31.81
2010-113.781271.2520.82.11

That should work nicely in the bullpen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Speak

As this whole thing starts to gel, it is striking me that we need to get an official statement from Major League Baseball. They are the ones we have not yet heard from in any way. They also need to expedite the resolution of the appeal. January isn’t good enough. Now that the story is out, this needs to be resolved one way or another by next week. Letting this play out in the court of public opinion is harming both parties.

Saturday, disbelief.

Yesterday, denial.

Today, anger...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Not Caught in the Act

ESPN REPORT: The positive result was triggered by elevated levels of testosterone in Braun's system...


OMG Facts, 10/11/2011: Men's testosterone levels rise by 45.7% after 7 days of not ejaculating!

That's got to be it.

Albert

Now that the Albert Pujols signing has had a chance to sink in a little there are a couple of snippets I found rather poignant.

"Pujols could have been Derek Jeter. He could have been Cal Ripken. He could have been Ernie Banks or Ryne Sandberg or, yes, Stan Musial. Instead he'll be Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez or Gary Sheffield, just another big-bopping mercenary playing out the string in a city he chose because it offered the biggest selection of his favorite color: green."
Gregg Doyle - CBS Sports
“You shouldn’t be surprised, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be disappointed.”
Bob Costas
As a Brewers fan, having Albert Pujols out of the division and out of the league will certainly help.  I also don't begrudge any player earning himself as big of a paycheck as he possible can.  I don't begrudge any professional that.

But I love the game of baseball.  I love it's history and it's heritage.  I find it sad when something like this happens.  Sad for the fans of baseball; the people who made Albert Pujols who he is.

I have been to St. Louis.  It is the home of some of the most loyal and devoted baseball fans on this planet.

I feel for you.

You didn't deserve this.

And to you Albert Pujols, as you take that last $20 million to the bank - that little extra that you earned by leaving for another town - know that there is a small child in St. Louis who won't earn as much money as you do in one hundred lifetimes.  But all the same, he idolizes you.  He wants to grow up and be just like you.  He wears red pajamas to bed and screams until he's hoarse when he comes to watch you play.  He has t-shirts with your name on the back, baseball cards with your picture, bobble-heads of you on his dresser, and a lifesize FatHead sticker of you on his bedroom wall.  He hits a whiffle ball over the fence in his back yard and throws his plastic bat aside like you do as he watches it fly out.  Then as he runs from the swing set to the lilac bush he hisses to himself, "H-h-h-h-h.  HOME RUN!  ALBERT PUJOLS!  H-h-h-h-h.  AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!"  After he touches the light pole, he runs back to his Frisbee laying in the grass and stomps on it with both feet and kisses his fingertips and points to the sky.

But these last couple of nights his red pajamas have been stained with tears.  You have broken his heart Albert Pujols.  His hero is gone.  And by the time another like you comes along he will have long outgrown those t-shirts.  The swing set will be gone, and he will be too old to play wiffle ball.

Nice job.

EDIT:  There's an fabulous piece by Tango that presents this from a different point of view.  Really well done and worth a read.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sweet Grapes

In support of my argument yesterday that the Brewers should be trying to shop John Axford, here are the Major League leaders in saves since 2005:

RkPlayerSV
1Francisco Rodriguez277
2Mariano Rivera267
3Francisco Cordero253
4Jose Valverde224
5Jonathan Papelbon219
6Joe Nathan216
7Trevor Hoffman208
8Brian Fuentes195
9Brad Lidge193
10Huston Street178
35John Axford71
39Derrick Turnbow65

For Rodriguez, that total of course includes the second half of last season when he got a grand total of zero.

Did you also know that Rodriguez is only one year older than John Axford?

What the Brewers have on their roster right now is one of the elite closers in the game and the league leader in saves last season.  And it's two different guys.  Given Axford's pre-arbitration contract status, it would seem that he would be the more valuable commodity on the open market.  If the Brewers could land a quality setup guy and a solid AAA prospect third baseman (which there happen to be a glut of at the moment), it would be foolish not to make the deal.  To think that Rodriguez should be nothing more than a setup guy is foolish also.  It's a waste of his talent.

So why the headline?  When you wind up not getting something that you really wanted and then after the fact claim that you didn't want it anyway, it's called 'sour grapes.'  So if you wind up getting something that you didn't really want but then after the fact realize how good it really is, it's called what?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Closer the Deal

The overnight consensus response to K-Rod accepting arbitration seems to be, "well, maybe we can trade him."  That's nuts.  The guy to try to trade now is John Axford.  He would land you much, much more in return.  Then maybe you can sign K-Rod to a two or three year deal before his arbitration hearing and your good.

While Axford's career is off to a very good start, you have much more of a known and reliable commodity in Rodriguez.  Axford's value may never be higher than it is right now and knowing that you have a closer who is as good in the fold, it would be insane not to shop him around.

Lest I remind you of a guy named Derrick Turnbow.  Enough said.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

$200 Million Man

So apparently three different teams have offered Albert Pujols a 10-year, $200+ million contract - the Cardinals, the Marlins, and one other unidentified team.  From the Brewers perspective, that means that either Pujols will no longer be playing for their toughest division rival - or - a big chunk of the Cardinals payroll will be tied up in one player for a very long time, perhaps handcuffing them from filling other holes.  I see that as a win-win.

One would assume then that at least one of the two losers in this bidding war will be in on Prince Fielder and he will likely get an offer or two not far from 10/200; or about double what the Brewers say they are able to offer him.  God forbid that the Cardinals would wind up signing him, hey?  Unless of course that other unidentified team in on Pujols is... Naw.

Monday, December 5, 2011

16-0

Just changing sports for a minute here...  I've been saying this all fall and I stand by it - going 16-0 in the regular season is a bigger deal than winning the Super Bowl.

Someone wins the Super Bowl every year.  But only two teams in the last 60 years have won every regular season game.

Try this little quiz...

Who was the only team to win every regular season game and go on to win the Super Bowl, completing a perfect season?

Who is the only other team to win every regular season game but then lose in the Super Bowl?

Which team beat them in the Super Bowl?

Which team won the Super Bowl the next year after that?

Or the year before that?

For the average fan, those questions get progressively harder.

Everyone remembers the perfect season.  It is much more rare and therefore a greater accomplishment than a Super Bowl win.  Even if the Packers clinch the #1 seed in the NFC, if they are in a position to play for a perfect regular season it would be a huge mistake to bench their starters and jeopardize that opportunity.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Very Bad Year

Joe Poznanski looked back over the last 80 years to find the best vintage year for baseball players being born.  In 1931, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews, Ken Boyer, and Jim Bunning were all born.  This he graded an A+; the best year ever.

My year, 1961, had Don Mattingly, Andres Galaraga, John Kruk, Jimmy Key, and Kevin Gross as its five best players.  Kevin Gross.  He graded this year an F+; tied with 1932 as the worst ever.

This is why I do marketing research, math, statistics, and write a blog instead of play baseball for a living.

Write a blog when I don't have a smashed thumb.

It's healing.  I'll be back soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Somewhat Amazing Fact

The American League has won Game 2 of the World Series in 14 of the last 16 years.  The exceptions are last year when the Rangers beat the Giants and in 2001 when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Batting Race Chart

Here is a chart that shows almost all of the possible combinations of at bats in tonight's game for Ryan Braun and Jose Reyes, and who would win the batting title in each outcome.

(Click for larger view)

UPDATE:  I suppose it's appropriate the the cells in this chart for Jose Reyes - who left this afternoon's game after going 1 for 1 on a bunt single - are all shaded in pink.

Braun needs 3 hits in his first 4 at bats.  Then he too can leave the game for the purpose of securing the batting title.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Re-streak

The Brewers have not lost back-to-back ballgames since July 23-24.  They are now on a streak of 31 consecutive games in which they have not lost back-to-back.  This ties the second longest such streak in the entire history of the franchise.  The longest streak ever - 34 games - was earlier this year, from May 7th through June 12th.

Do you remember that the Brewers started this season 0-4 and had a 7-game losing streak in early May?  Since then, over the last 103 games, they are 68-35; a .660 winning percentage.  That percentage over 162 games would net 107 wins.

In fact, the Brewers have never in their history won 68 out of 103 games.  Even if you've been following them since 1970 like I have, you have never seen them as hot as they are right now.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lefty

There's been a lot of wondering whether the Brewers should try to acquire a left handed reliever for the stretch run and playoffs.  First, every day that goes by makes the stretch run less and less relevant.   The math for winning the division is way in the Brewers favor right now.  And for the playoffs? - they've already got one - Chris Narveson.  Almost every team's 5th starter goes to the bullpen in the playoffs.  Even with fewer days off in the playoff schedule this year, it's highly unlikely that the Brewers would consider Narveson in a starting role when they could pitch Grienke, Gallardo, Marcum or Wolf on normal rest.  There - problem solved.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Subtraction by Addition

Rumor is that the Philadelphia Phillies may be trying to swing a deal for Jim Thome.  The current Twins slugger would serve in a pinching hitting role down the stretch and would DH in the World Series should the Phillies make it that far.

Umm... shouldn't Doug Melvin be all over that?  ...trying to swing that same deal for us?  Wouldn't it seem that the Brewers would match up much better in an NLCS against the Phillies if Jim Thome played for us rather than playing for them?

By any of the various calculations online, the Brewers chance of winning the NL Central are well over 90%.  It's time to start looking ahead.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making the Most of the Least

On Twitter:

ESPN Stats & Info

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Turn 3

Very nice graphic on JSOnline by Enrique Rodriguez on the Brewers triple play last night:


(I was going to get a rip in by saying that this was the hardest that anyone at the paper has worked this year on a Brewers feature.  But I won't.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Irrelevant Card

The third person this week has pointed out to me that the Brewers are starting  to catch the Braves in the Wild Card standings and that's significant because if the Cardinals get hot, the Brewers would have a good chance to make the playoffs anyway.  I think it started with the TV guys and somehow caught on.

Well it's not significant at all.  If the Brewers finish with a better record than the Braves, they will almost certainly win their division.  If they finish with a worse record than the Cardinals, they will also almost certainly finish with a worse record than the Braves and be out of the playoffs.  In other words, despite their current record and the fact that they are so close to the Braves in the standings, the Brewers chance of being the National League Wild Card is almost zero.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Idiot!

I think the people who are calling Chris Narveson an idiot for cutting his finger are themselves idiots.  Chris Narveson is an adult.  He was using a useful tool designed for adults. That tool broke and unfortunately he cut himself.  It sucks, but it was an accident.  That's it.

What other things is Chris Narveson not supposed to use?  Steak knives?  Razors? A lawnmower?  Is he supposed to not drive a car?  Ride a bike?  Walk across the street?  We need to grow up and quit coddling people.  If I'm going to call out players for bad things they do off the field, I'm not going to start with the guy who's trying to fix his ball glove with a pair of scissors.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Save a Closer

A discussion with myself...

ME:  Don't you think Ron Roenicke ought to avoid using Francisco Rodriguez in the 8th inning EVERY TIME there is a save situation?  He and Axford have now pitched three consecutive days.  If you he used someone else in the 8th inning one of those games, he'd have a fresh closer for today.

ME:  Yeah, but if he had used someone other than K-Rod in the 8th, they might have lost one of those games.  After all, isn't that why we got K-Rod - because we didn't have a reliable 8th inning setup guy who could get the games to Ax?  It's better to use a guy today when you ARE ahead, to maximize your chances of winning, than save him for tomorrow when you MIGHT be ahead, because you might not need him then.

ME:  Yeah, I guess you're right.

ME:  I usually am.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plush BABIP

(Yes, I'm still around.  Just been very, very busy with other stuff.)

Nyjer Morgan's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) right now is .391.  No other Major Leaguer with over 200 plate appearances has a higher BABIP.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Not Back to Back

Did you know that the Brewers have not lost back-to-back ballgames since snapping their 7-game losing streak on May 6th?  That's a string of 35 consecutive games in which they have not had a 2-game losing streak.

Do you also know that this is their longest such streak EVER?  In the team's entire history.

The previous longest streak was a 31-game streak starting with a win on April 8, 2007 and ending with a win on May 12.

Wow.

Update 6/15: Man, do I feel link a jinx.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One Less Fielder

According to "sources", Major League Baseball is considering realignment, moving one team from the National League to the American League to balance the two leagues at 15 teams each.  I have written previously that I think this is a good idea and much needed to right an inequity in that the teams in a 4-team division have an easier time making the playoffs than team in a 6-team division.  The inequity would be exagerated if a second wild card team was added.

The Houston Astros and Florida Marlins are mentioned as teams that could potentially move.  However many commenters are suggesting that the Brewers move back to the American League - from whereat they originally came.  Personally, I would welcome that move.

But the point I want to raise is this:  Suppose this idea gets some legs and Major League Baseball does decide to move an NL team to the AL.  And suppose the Brewers are chosen as the team to move.  Doesn't that shed an entirely different light on the attempt to resign Prince Fielder?  An American League Brewers team, needing a designated hitter, would have a much greater use for a slugger like Fielder than a National League team would.  In fact, having Fielder on the roster makes the Brewers perhaps better suited to the American League.  If the Brewers lose Fielder to an AL team through free agency, they are hurt more if they move than if they stay in the NL.

The Brewers would benefit from the realignment regardless because they will have one fewer teams in their division.  But should they not only support the move, but lobby to be the team that goes?  Maybe say to Major League Baseball in so many words, "Look, if we can sign Prince, we'll volunteer to move."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

S'rt ShO

David Pinto calls it a short shutout when a pitcher throws 6 or more innings while allowing no runs.  Chris Narveson threw his 4th short shutout of the season last night tying him with Clayton Kershaw for the Major League lead.

There are 21 Major League pitchers who currently have three short shutouts.  Among them are Shawn Marcum and Yovanni Gallardo.  Randy Wolf has thrown two short shutouts, bringing the team total 12 so far this season.  The Brewers had only 11 short shutouts ALL of last season.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Time Off

Oakland A's catcher Kurt Suzuki and Arizona Diamondback shortstop Ian Desmond each spent time on the MLB Paternity Leave List this week.  Last year's All-Star break, I figure.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happening Again

Heading into Thursday, the NL Central standings if you flip the result of all of the Brewers-Reds games...


TeamWLPctGB
Milwaukee1680.667--
St. Louis13110.5423
Pittsburgh11140.4405-1/2
Chicago10130.4355-1/2
Houston9150.3757
Cincinnati9160.3607-1/2

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In The Red

The Brewers are 11-7 when they don't play the Cincinnati Reds; a pace that would win 99 games over a  full season.  The Reds are 8-11 when they don't play the Brewers; a pace that would win only 68 games over a full season.  Yet this morning, the Brewers trail the Reds by 1/2 game in the standings.  So far, the only thing separating the Brewers from looking like a championship caliber club and the Reds looking like an also-ran are the games they've played against each other.  If the Brewers can't solve this puzzle, in the end neither team will be that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beating a Red Horse

I've written about this over and over and over, but it still needs to be said.  The Brewers will not make the playoffs this year if they can not figure out a way to beat the Cincinnati Reds.  They were 3-11 last year; 0-3 this year.  Their failure to beat the Reds in the opening series is the reason they are not in first place right now.  The only reason.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Eras

Just a quick thought on Ryan Braun's contract extension.  There are some decisions that a team makes that directly affect the quality of the team on the field and other decisions that affect the quality of the team as a business entity.  Trading for Zack Grienke is an example the former.  The building of Miller Park is an example of the later.  Extending Ryan Braun's contract through most of the rest of his career is much more an example of the later.

There have been basically three 'eras' in Milwaukee Brewers history:  the pre-Robin Yount era, the Robin Yount era, and the post-Robin Yount era.  Now, there may be a fourth.  It's hard to argue with that line of thinking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wilder Card

There's talk again about adding a second wild-card team to the playoffs.  There is a part of this that I love.  It gives meaning to winning the division again.  If you do you get a first round bye and a few days off.  That's huge. Last year it was a foregone conclusion for weeks that the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays were both going to make the playoffs.  Despite that they battled down to the last day of the season, it really didn't matter which team won the division because the other was going to win the wild card.  Under an expanded playoff structure it clearly would have mattered.

But there a part I don't like.  The part that exaggerates an injustice in how baseball teams are currently aligned.

There are six teams in the NL Central.  If all things are random, each team in the division has a 16.7% chance of winning each year.  By contrast, the AL West has only four teams.  Each of those teams has a 25% chance of winning.  To put it another way, a team in the AL West is half again as likely to win their division as a team in the NL Central.

Now add the current one wild card team.  A team that doesn't win its division in the National League has a 7.7% chance (1 in 13) of winning the wild card spot.  Over in the AL, the non-division winners have a 9.1% chance of winning the wild card (1 in 11).  Again, more teams in the NL; less chance of making the post-season.

Now add the two together.  All else being equal, a team in the AL West has a 34.1% chance of making the playoffs, while a team in the NL Central has only a 24.4% chance.  That's quite a gap - almost ten percentage points.  A team in the AL West will make the playoffs a little more than once every three years while a team in the NL Central will make it less than one in four.  One extra trip to the playoffs every ten years for an AL West team just because they have only four teams in the division.

Now add another wild card team.  The chances of winning the division remain the same, but the chance of winning the wild card in the AL increase to 18.2% while the chances in the NL increase to only 15.4%.  Add the two together again and an AL West team now has a 43.2% chance of making the playoffs while an NL Central team has only a 32.1% chance.  The gap has widened to over 11%.

I think Major League baseball ought to address this inequity.  A simple solution would be to move one team from the National League to the American League and have five teams in each division.  Of course there would then need to be at least one interleague series going on at all times, but I think that's OK.  Interleague play has been around long enough that we don't have to continue to treat it like the spectacle that we still do.  We could just incorporate it into the regular schedule - I'm sure that could be worked out.  A side benefit is that you could split up the NY-NY, CHI-CHI, and LA-LA series so they're not all happening on the same weekend.  Better for TV.

What team would I move to the American League?  Why, the one that's been there before of course.

Blue for Brew

Mark Attanasio's named has been mentioned as a possible new owner for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  On the same day, the Brewers extend Ryan Braun's contract until 2020.  Like Attanasio, Braun also lives in LA.  You don't suppose there's a movement afoot to move the Brewers to Los Angeles and the Dodgers to Milwaukee?  The Dodgers would still need a new owner of course - like perhaps the Selig's?

I don't know anything - I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Online

A few tidbits from my browsings today...

Buster Olney on Twitter drops Mark Attanasio's name as a possible owner for the Dodgers.  Say it ain't so.

Bleacher Report names Ben Oglivie as the second most underrated player in baseball ever.  Sal Bando, Don Money, and Larry Hisle also make the top 50.

John Dewan's Stat of the Week says the Brewers are tied with the Baltimore Orioles as the fifth best defensive team in baseball so far this year.  Either the new metrics for evaluating fielding are fatally flawed - or I've been watching a different team's games.

So now the Cubs may have thrown a World Series too?  Is there any part of the world more corrupt than Chicago.  And they just can't get ahead for it either.

Just Like Starting Over

Five of the six teams in the NL Central are within one game of .500 right now.  The season has been shortened to 145 games.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Un-Grand Theft

Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested for stealing $59.88 worth of shirts from a Macy's store.  What I find most incredible about that story is the word "shirts".  With an 's'.  Plural.  I'm amazed that someone could find two or more shirts in a Macy's store that when added together cost only $59.88.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Narvelous

At the moment, Chris Narveson has the most innings pitched in the Majors among pitchers who have yet to allow an earned run.  He's 0 for 13 IP.  This is the longest streak of consecutive scoreless innings in his career.

Yovani Gallardo enters today's game with a string of 11 consecutive scoreless innings.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Start of Something...

The Brewers have started the season 0-3 four other times in their history.  Here are their full-season Win-Loss records in those seasons:


SeasonFinal W-L Record
1970
65-97
1984
67-94
2001
68-94
2003
68-94

Does this mean that the Brewers are going to lose 94 games this year?  No.  But it doesn't mean that they're not.  The Brewers magic number to beat the Reds remains at 163.  The Reds have managed to trim 6 games off of theirs.  The season has gotten quite a bit more difficult than it was three days ago.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Pennant Race Starts Today

{You're nuts, Scott. It's Opening Day.  The season is 162 games long.  This is only one game.}

I pointed this out last season, but since I've been away for a while I'll open this season with it.  The Brewers finished 2010 with a record of 77-85 and were 14 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.  Their record against the Reds last year was 3-11.  If you flip those games against the Reds around - make every loss a win and every win a loss, leaving everything else the same - the Brewers would have finished the season only one game behind  the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.  The Reds would have finished two games back.

It is imperative to win games against your division rivals.  Ron Roenicke should manage these first three games like they are playoff games.  It's extremely unfortunate that Zack Grienke won't be pitching in one of them and that two other starters are hurt.  But today is the real deal.  The one game you win today could be the one game you finish ahead of the Reds in September.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yawn... Stretch...

Is winter over?  Is it baseball season?

One more day?

OK.

{snooze button}

Sunday, January 23, 2011

BEST INTEREST

Nobody seems to be all that interested in baseball right now, do they?

By the time Monday after the Super Bowl rolls around it will be only nine more days until pitchers and catchers report.  How's that for making winter go by quick?

Friday, January 7, 2011

WALK OF SHAME

For the third time in the last four years and fourth of the last six, the Brewers Walk of Fame voting committee failed to select a single person for induction.  This is a joke and an embarrassment.  The Walk of Fame, which could be a vibrant, interesting, and proud part of the Miller Park experience is becoming irrelevant.

I would change the rules so that the top vote getter gets in.  Every year.  No matter what percentage of the votes he gets.  That would allow for an annual, highly public ceremony on a warm summer night, honoring a player from Milwaukee's rich baseball history.  Isn't that what this is about anyway?  Time to wake up Milwaukee Brewers.

 
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