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Friday, October 21, 2011

Reflections on the Brewers Postseason

Yes, the Brewers season ended about as disappointingly as possible, limping through the NLCS and losing to the division rival St. Louis Cardinals in six games. Even worse, the games they lost, aside from Gallardo's start against Carpenter, weren't even close, with a run differential of 10-31. The Cardinals all but destroyed the Brewers' pitching and the Crew's hitters somehow never cracked Tony La Russa's bullpen.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do or Die For the Wolfman

The Brewers fell to the Cardinals two games to one yesterday after their bats couldn't quite overcome a deficit created by what can only be termed a horrible first inning. Moving on, the Brewers send Randy Wolf to the mound tonight versus Kyle Lohse for game four. Wolf comes off one of his worst starts of the year when he threw three innings of seven run ball in game four of the NLDS. Lohse, on the other hand, has not thrown since game one of the NLDS in which he allowed six runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Your National League MVP

The competition for the NL MVP seemingly comes down to two candidates, with two others receiving honorable mention. Prince Fielder and Justin Upton, in my view, don't quite make the cut. Fielder has the power and RBI numbers, but little else. Upton lags behind the front runners, slightly, in most of the important statistical categories. Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp have been the two most outstanding players in the league with regard to the completeness of their game. They hit for average, they hit for power, they steal bases. They're not the best defenders at their positions, but they hold their own. The question then arises, who most deserves the award?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rickie Returns

The Brewers enjoyed an incredible run during the month of August and have mostly limped into September with a record of 3-4 to start the month. They owe much of their success over the past month and a half to their pitching staff, who mostly pitched brilliantly over that stretch. It's a good thing they did, too, because the Brewers offense has certainly felt the absence of Rickie Weeks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Month to Remember

On July 25th the Brewers sat a half game out of first place, behind co-division leaders Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Needless to say, one month later the picture has changed. The Pirates, as many of us expected, fell completely out of contention in rather quick fashion, while the Cardinals went 13-15 over the next month. The Brewers, meanwhile, won 24 of their next 29 games. The Crew now leads the Cardinals by nine and a half games, and the Pirates have fallen even further, sitting behind the Reds in fourth place at 16 games back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Playoff Hopes Starting to Come into Focus

The Brewers still have 39 regular season games left, but after winning 18 of their last 20 games and opening a seven game lead in the NL Central, murmurings of the Crew making the playoffs are growing. Granted, of those 39 games they play the Cardinals six times. If the Cardinals sweep both series they would reduce the seven game lead to one. That's highly unlikely, considering how the Brewers have played as of late, along with this season's record between the two, but it's still possible. Indeed, there are still too many games left in the season for me to feel comfortable expecting the Brew Crew to make the postseason, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't started thinking about the distinct possibility, even probability, that they win the division.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Bad Time to Lose a Starter

On the heels of last night's extra innings win in St. Louis came news that Brewers' starting pitcher Chris Narveson sliced his hand while attempting to fix his glove with a pair of scissors. He will miss his next start and might land on the DL. Normally a missed start by a team's number five pitcher would not be of much concern because off days usually allow the other starters to move up spot and pitch on regular rest. Indeed, with Monday's off day, that is still possible if Narveson misses only one start.

However, this injury comes on the first day of a stretch where the Brewers play seventeen games in sixteen days, including a double header in Pittsburgh on August 22nd, requiring another starter to step up and fill in for Narveson if he ends up on the DL. With the double header at the end of this stretch the Crew may need to call up a minor league pitcher, such as Mark DiFelice or Mike McClendon, regardless of whether or not Narveson misses more than one start. Narveson's injury shouldn't affect the Brewers too much, but its timing is unfortunate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Most Important Series of the Year

Forty seven games remain in the Brewers' season. Although, in the end, every game plays into a team's record with just as much weight as any other, none are more important than the three that begin in St. Louis tonight. Beginning with last week's series vs the Cardinals in Milwaukee, games between the two rivals now take on a playoff atmosphere in what's become a two team race in the NL Central. Winning two games of this series will have a large impact on the fortunes of either team, both mentally and in the standings. The Brewers enter the series with a chance to improve their lead from three games to six, while the Cardinals could close the gap with a sweep. Last week's series became quite heated, and I expect nothing less from these next three games. Outside of the actual postseason, these games represent the beginning of the best baseball has to offer: two division rivals on hot streaks, high intensity and competition, battling it out for what could make the ultimate difference in their seasons at a point when the playoffs seem a real possibility. Let the pennant race continue.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tony La Russa Roots For the Brewers

Last week the Cardinals made a trade to bolster their starting rotation and bullpen. In doing so they certainly improved their pitching staff, though that improvement came at a large cost as they sent their young slugging center fielder, Colby Rasmus, to the Blue Jays. I have to wonder if the Cardinals couldn't have made similar improvements without losing someone who could have become a centerpiece of their lineup in seasons to come. Rasmus has had his ups and downs over his time in the majors, but most scouts believe he's the real deal and one (tweeted by Buster Olney) said: "I think Rasmus has a chance to be a star. I don't understand that deal at all." At center field, such a commodity should be kept at nearly any cost.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Axford Saves 25th Straight

When John Axford recorded the third out in the ninth inning last night against the Cubs he matched the club record for consecutive games saved. Axford's run seems all the more impressive considering how his season began. He lost a heart breaker on opening day, allowing a walk off home run to Ramon Hernandez. He then blew his second save within his first five opportunities, bringing back memories of 2010 and Trevor Hoffman's infamous implosion that opened the door for Axford in the first place. Since that second blown save, though, he's been nothing short of remarkable. True, he still puts a runner or two on base more often than we'd like, but you can't argue with the results.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Carlos Gomez Will Be Missed

Carlos Gomez broke his collar bone Wednesday on a typically exceptional diving catch that just might have saved the win for the Crew at that early stage of the game against the Diamondbacks. A tough break (literally and figuratively) for Gomez who always gives it his all. Gomez is likely out for the season and I, for one, will greatly miss his glove in center field, even if Nyjer Morgan has shown that he deserves to start there on a regular basis.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brewers Lineup Shakeup Paying Dividends

After losing their first two games in Colorado following the All Star break Ron Roenicke shuffled his lineup, moving Corey Hart into the leadoff spot and Rickie Weeks to bat fifth. Since then the Brewers, who have mostly struggled on the road this year, are 4-1. Weeks' and Hart's numbers haven't shown marked improvement over these past few games, and it certainly helps that Ryan Braun has returned to the starting lineup, but it's definitely possible that the lineup shakeup has played a role in the Crew's recent success. Sometimes a tweak like that is just what a team needs to get things going after a rough stretch. I still think Nyjer Morgan makes a better leadoff hitter than Hart, as Morgan is more of a pure on-base player, with speed and little power.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deal For K-Rod = Great Move For Brewers (So Long as He's Not Closing)

The Brewers acquired a high-quality bullpen arm last night in Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. K-Rod logged a Major League record 62 saves while pitching for the Angels in 2008. He will slot in nicely as Ron Roenicke's new "8th Inning Guy" in front of Brewers closer John Axford. The addition of Rodriguez strengthens the Brewers bullpen, which already consisted of several late inning, quality arms in Takashi Saito, Latroy Hawkins, Zach Braddock, and yes, Kameron Loe. The Brewers will eventually send two players to be named later to the Mets to complete the trade, which means they'll likely not give up exceptional talent. Indeed, the Mets most likely looked to dump payroll and protect themselves from K-Rod's 2012 vesting option (keep reading for details) by making this trade, given their financial woes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rickie Weeks is a Sleeper to Win the Home Run Derby

Many non-Brewers fans derided Prince Fielder for selecting teammate Rickie Weeks to participate in tonight's Home Run Derby. Most of those people cried favoritism without really knowing anything about how Weeks might fare in the contest. Those of us who have shared the privilege of watching Weeks grow into the player he is today know that he certainly has the skills and power to compete in the derby, and are excited to watch him share the limelight with household names like Fielder, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez. Granted, he's facing several people who have competed in the contest before and, along with home run machine Jose Bautista, are likely considered the favorites to win in 2011.

Friday, July 1, 2011

CC Sabathia is Still Awesome, and the Brewers Are Still in First Place

The Brewers were swept out of town Thursday at the hands of their old teammate, CC Sabathia (13 K, 7.2 IP), and the Yankees. As much as I really wish the Brewers had scored 8-10 runs and forced CC's exit in the second or third inning, Sabathia will always be one of my favorite pitchers for what he did for the Brewers in 2008 (plus he's just a standup guy).

It really would have been nice if the Crew had been able to win at least one game in New York, but they're now past the most difficult part of their schedule and they still share first place in the NL Central with the Cardinals. They now travel to Minnesota with an interleague record against non-Twins a paltry 2-7.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Greinke We've Been Waiting For

Zack Greinke turned in a strong performance last night vs the Rays, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on four hits with ten strikeouts. He now has 80 strikeouts this season vs nine walks, good for a whopping 8.89 K/BB ratio. To put that stat in perspective, Shaun Marcum, known for his control and low walk rate, has a 3.5 K/BB ratio. Greinke also sports an equally impressive 11.98 K per nine innings pitched (K/9) this season, which, if it holds, will beat the franchise record set by Ben Sheets in 2004 of 10.025 (thanks to the Brewers Bar).

If they hadn't already, Brewers fans now have an idea of just how well Greinke can pitch. He kept the Rays guessing all night, racking up the Ks both swinging and looking by commanding his fastball, changeup, and slider with authority. He didn't disappoint at the plate, either, flying out to centerfield and lining a base hit to right. In short, last night was the Zack Greinke show, with supporting roles by Ryan Braun (1-3, 2 RBI, BB), Prince Fielder (1-2, RBI, 2 BB), and Jonathan Lucroy (3-4, R, while enduring a rough night behind the dish, including a pretty nasty ball to the crotch).

The Brewers look for a series win today at 1:10, as Shaun Marcum takes the mound vs Rays ace David Price.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Things Could Be Worse...

The Brewers managed to win a game against the Red Sox this weekend, though they lost by wide margins Friday and Sunday. Sunday’s loss capped a mostly forgettable, 2-5 road trip through Chicago and Boston. Thankfully, the Cardinals suffered through an equally poor stretch, and the Brewers still share first place in the NL Central as they return home today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Right Where They Want To Be

Today is a good day in Brewer Nation. Led by solid pitching and freakish play by Prince Fielder, the hottest team in baseball swept the Cardinals this weekend and grabbed first place in the NL Central. The Brewers now head to Chicago for a four game series against the downtrodden Cubs with a chance to pad their meager half game division lead.

The Brew Crew now sit ten games above .500 with a record of 38-28. The last time that happened, and the last time they led the NL Central, was June of 2009. This serves as a reminder that a lot still needs to happen for the Brewers to win their division, since they ultimately finished the 2009 season 80-82, falling short of a winning record and playoff birth. Granted, this isn't 2009, and the Brewers pitching is much, much stronger than it was back then, but a strong position in June in no way guarantees success over a whole season.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Prince Fielder is in Beast Mode

The Brewers won what may be their most impressive game of the year last night against the Mets. A rough inning by Kameron Loe saw the Crew fall behind 2-6 after a five run eighth inning, but the Brewers wouldn't stay down for long. Ryan Braun plated Rickie Weeks and Nyjer Morgan with a one out double in the bottom of the eighth, followed by Prince Fielder's second two-run home run of the night. After a clean top of the ninth by new father John Axford, Nyjer Morgan unknowingly won the game by plating Craig Counsell on a walk-off double.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brewers Cap Strong Road Trip With Decisive Victory Over Marlins

A strong outing by Zack Greinke and a three-run bomb by Prince Fielder sealed a four game sweep of the Marlins in Florida. After dropping two of three in Cincinnati, the Brewers now return home to host the Mets having silenced any doubts about their ability to win on the road. If you're a Brewers fan, you're feeling pretty good about the team right now. They're still 1.5 games back of the Cardinals (who come to Milwaukee this weekend), but their 34-26 record places them alongside the best teams in the Majors. The Brew Crew has been on a tear lately, even with essentially no offensive contribution from the five spot in Casey McGehee, who has been killing rallies for what's starting to feel like forever.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Down, Three to Go

The Brewers pulled off a tough win last night at Sun Life Stadium against Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins. I was on the road in Wisconsin at the time and when I finally found decent reception of the game on the radio I heard that Yuniesky Betancourt was leading off the ninth inning while the Brewers trailed by one. When he reached base I thought, hey, maybe the bottom of the order might do something here. Through the still choppy signal, I barely made out that Ryan Braun had stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter, and I remembered that he wasn't in the lineup yesterday to give his shoulder some extra rest. My radio signal became stronger just in time, allowing me to enjoy Bob Ueker's signature "get up, get up, get outta here, gone!" as Braun quickly crushed what turned out to be a game-winning two-run home run. My wife and I shared a high five as we couldn't quite believe that Braunie came off the bench and again stepped up in the clutch.

John Axford hurriedly warmed up and entered the bottom of the ninth seeking his fourteenth save of the year. He certainly made it interesting, loading the bases on three walks (one intentional to Mike Stanton) before striking out Brett Hayes to end the game.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brewers Narrowly Miss Series Win in Cincinnati

Last night as Joey Votto came to the plate against Kameron Loe I thought to myself that the next two matchups (Loe vs Votto, Jay Bruce) would likely decide the game. If Loe can keep the ball away from those two bats the Brewers would probably win the game and the series. Unfortunately for the Brewers, Votto's success against Loe continued (4-7, 3 HR) as he blasted a game-winning two-run home run. All that stood between the Brewers and a hard-fought series win at Great American Ballpark were the bats of two of the hottest hitters in baseball in Votto and Bruce (Bruce hit a two-run homer in the seventh).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Now Comes a Real Test

The Brewers have been playing some great baseball lately, winning thirteen of sixteen games since returning from a lackluster road trip through Houston, Atlanta, and St. Louis. They've won eleven of twelve at home and have swept their past three home series. Tonight they host the San Francisco Giants before leaving town for trips to Cincinnati and Florida. They've played well against teams they need to beat if they want to contend in their division, but a better test begins tonight as Shaun Marcum takes the mound against Tim Lincecum and the World Champion Giants. Runs will likely be at a premium.

The Brewers can prove a lot over the next couple of weeks. Strong showings these next three series will position them well for a tough June that will feature the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays. The Giants will be no pushovers this weekend, in spite of losing Buster Posey to a broken leg, and the best home team in the National League needs to show that their success can transfer to the road, especially against the tough division rival Reds.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hart Makes History and the Crew Keeps on Rollin'

Corey Hart found his power stroke in dramatic fashion Monday night against the Nationals, hitting three home runs and adding another in his first at bat last night. His three home run night tied a franchise record, as did the seven RBI that came with it. The Brewers are firing on all cylinders right now and have won 12 of their last 15 games. They even managed to overcome a poor start by Chris Narveson (3.1 IP, 6 ER) by scoring two runs each in the seventh and eighth innings yesterday, the winning run coming from a two-run two-out single by Jonathan Lucroy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Success! (and thoughts on Carlos Gomez)

The Brewers are 2-1 on this short, poorly scheduled road trip after splitting with the Dodgers and taking the first of two from the Padres. Having entered this week with a 6-15 record on the road, a .500 road trip (however brief) is a great start to turning that stat around. The Crew now has a chance to sweep the Padres and return home with a 3-1 record, and after the Brewers bats finally made some clutch hits last night, it's possible they just might pull it off.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Headin' West on a High Note

Wednesday I asked if the Brewers could get back to .500 over the course of this homestand. They won five of six against the Padres and Pirates, improving their record to 19-21 and regaining third place in the NL Central. During that time the bats came around and all that stood between the Crew and a sweep of both teams were some tipped pitches by Randy Wolf and a heavy work load finally getting to Kameron Loe.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Climbing Back Toward .500?

The Brewers have won two in a row following a strong start by Zack Greinke in his home debut on Monday and an offensive breakout on Tuesday. They now hold a record of 16-20 as they look for a series sweep today against the Padres. Their recent road trip put them in a hole that won't be easy to climb out of quickly; to do so during this home stand would require them to beat the Padres again today and then sweep the Pirates this weekend. I may take the optimistic view, but some signs indicate they could pull it off, however unlikely that would be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Time to Start Winning Again

After a 2-8 road trip the Brewers sit in fifth place in the NL Central with a record of 14-20, 5.5 games behind the Cardinals. In order to win the division the Brewers will need to win roughly 72-75 games over their final 128 contests.  The rest of May will be important for the Crew. The Brewers are much better than they've shown lately, and they have an opportunity to turn things around this week at home against the Padres and Pirates. They need to position themselves well for a June schedule in which they play series against the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees. The winning needs to start tonight with Zack Greinke on the mound vs the Padres. It's still early, but as we were reminded in 2010, it's not too early to fall out of the race.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gallardo Ends Skid in True Ace Fashion

For the second time this season Yovani Gallardo took the mound and acted as a true ace. On a day when Justin Verlander threw the second no-hitter of his career, Gallardo took his own into the eighth inning vs the Cardinals and ended the Brewers losing streak at seven games. All told he threw 118 pitches over eight scoreless innings, allowing one hit and four walks with six strikeouts. Backed by strong performances by Casey McGehee (3-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI) and Carlos Gomez (2-3, 2B, 3B, BB, 2 RBI), Gallardo pitched brilliantly, his only hit a weak ground ball up the middle by Daniel Descalso (???) that barely slipped past a diving Craig Counsell.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Greinke Day, Brewers Fans!

As I'm sure you're all aware, today Zack Greinke makes his long-awaited Brewers debut in the second game of a double header in Atlanta. This is the day we've been waiting for since December and I am very excited to watch him pitch for the Brewers. The only question that remains is whether 2010 Greinke or 2009 Greinke shows up. It'd be great to see him in Cy Young-form right from the start, but it would be understandable if he's still a little rusty in his first start of the year. I might be asking too much for him to match a 2.16 ERA and 1.073 WHIP, but it sure would be awesome if he came close! Go Greinke, Go Brewers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Two of Four in Atlanta and Two of Three in St. Louis Would Salvage Road Trip

A seemingly tall order, especially after yesterday's loss, but it just might be possible. After a disappointing series in Houston in which miscues and a non-existent offense led to a series loss, strong performances in Atlanta and St. Louis might just lead to success on this road trip. The Braves have not been playing well, though they'll certainly put up a bigger fight than when the Brewers took three of four from them in the first home stand of the season. Indeed, they'll be looking to get back on track beginning with this series against the Brewers. From their perspective yesterday was a good start. Still, I like the Crew's chances to at least split the series. The offense will come around and Zack Greinke's long awaited debut, along with the return of Nyjer Morgan, could provide a needed boost on Wednesday and Tuesday, respectively. Let's face it, for the benefits Gomez brings to a game, and, yes, he does bring benefits, the Brewers need a better hitter in the two-spot and Morgan would be a great fit.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ryan Braun is Awesome

I fully intended to write about Gallardo's struggles today, only to find that at least two other bloggers had already done so by the time I woke up. So, seeing as how Ryan Braun successfully reached base yesterday for the 24th consecutive game, breaking Robin Yount's Brewers record for the longest streak to start a season, I thought I would instead write about the awesomeness of Ryan Braun. He just hasn't been in the news much lately and needs a bit more coverage. What a better place to provide some than my humble blog!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Estrada Shines as Brewers Beat Reds For First Time in 2011

Marco Estrada has been more than serviceable in the Brewers starting rotation while Zack Greinke remains on the DL. Yesterday he pitched seven strong innings against the Reds (2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), his only blemish being a solid changeup that Brandon Phillips golfed for a two-run home run. John Axford pitched a clean ninth, striking out Joey Votto before retiring Brandon Phillips and Edgar Renteria. Axford's fifth save of the year secured the win for Kameron Loe after solo home runs by Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Rickie Weeks. A much needed win, it gives the Crew a chance for a series victory against a team that has owned them for what is starting to feel like forever. Equally important, Corey Hart made his first appearance of the year last night as a pinch hitter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brewers Host Reds After Taking Two of Three From Astros

The Brewers won their series against the Astros yesterday led by another strong start by Randy Wolf (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 HR). It's a good thing they won, because many of us would have been pretty mad if they lost the series after bungling Saturday's game. I was at Saturday's game with a group of friends and family. It was actually a pretty exciting game, and we had a great time. Yes, the 8th inning was a circus act (much thanks to Jaymes Langrehr at the Brewers Bar for this awesome version of it). It was definitely a game of wasted opportunities, but I was sure excited when Braun scored off of Prince's double in the bottom of the ninth, and it was great to see Axford pitch a clean inning for the first time this year. (I snagged a picture of Prince swinging for that hit, included in this post. The ball hasn't reached him yet and can be seen just above the third base line.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brewers Secure Series Win in Philly, Move Into First Place

Brandon Kinztler earned his first Major League win on Monday
After dropping three straight to the Nationals this weekend the Brewers won the first two games of their series in Philadelphia against the NL East leading Phillies. Combined with a Reds loss to the Diamondbacks, the win puts the Brewers in first place for the first time this season (shared with Cincinnati). The Nationals entered this weekend's series with a record of 5-7 while the Phillies were sitting at 10-4 before Monday's contest. The assumption before the road trip began was that the Brewers should be able to win series against the Pirates (which they did) and the Nationals (needless to say, they didn't), and would probably only win one while facing the Phillies and dual-aces Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Baseball is an unpredictable sport, and one thing is certain about the 2011 Brewers: like any team, they're going to have their ups and downs, but when they play well, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brewers Season Already Over For the Second Time

After winning seven of the nine games vs the Braves, Cubs, and Pirates, the Brewers faltered this weekend in Washington vs the Nationals. Defensive miscues and a rough inning by Chris Narveson in which he handed Nats pitcher Tom Gorzelanny an RBI walk sealed the loss on Friday. Yovani Gallardo struggled in game one of the doubleheader on Sunday, giving up two three-run home runs, while Marco Estrada, meanwhile, pitched well in game two only to watch the bullpen lose the game. The offense just didn't get it done all weekend, hammering out eighteen singles of their twenty total hits on Sunday. All in all, the Brewers played poorly this weekend, pushing their record back below .500 (7-8).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marcum's Command Returns, Brewers Become First Team in Majors to Throw Three Shutouts

The Brewers beat the Pirates 6-0 yesterday at a nearly empty PNC Park. The Pirates announced the official tally at 8,755, but spectators insisted that much less actually attended. It's too bad, since Shaun Marcum and Pirates starter Kevin Correia matched no-hitters for the first half of the game. The Pirates broke Marcum's up in the fifth, while the Brewers ended Correia's bid in the sixth. Jonathan Lucroy, in his first Brewers start of 2011, led off the inning with a double. Marcum managed a bunt single, pushing Lucroy to third, and the Brewers scored on a Carlos Gomez sac fly. After a single by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder continued his April domination with an opposite field, three-run home run.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What a Difference a Week Can Make

I've been busy the last few days and haven't had time to post. I'm glad to be back at it today, but with everything that's gone on over the past week that also means that this will be a long one. Bear with me, though; there's a lot of good stuff in here that will make you feel great about the Brewers.

Last Tuesday Brewer fans found themselves lamenting an 0-4 start with their team facing the tough Atlanta Braves for three more games. Yovani Gallardo took the ball that day, put the team on his shoulders, and delivered a two-hit complete game shutout in which he also scored the Brewers' only run. That game started a stretch by the Brewers that left them 5-2 on the home stand and 5-5 overall, moving them back to .500 quicker than even the most optimistic Brewer fans likely hoped.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Prince Fielder Becomes First Player to Hit 100 Home Runs at Miller Park

Prince Fielder homered in his first at bat against Carlos Zambrano yesterday, making him the first player to hit 100 home runs at Miller Park. It's the 192nd of his young career and for the usually slow-starting Fielder, it hopefully means he's found his power stroke early this year. Kyle Lobner at Brew Crew Ball looked at Prince's home run numbers in his career thus far and concluded that he'll likely hit around 40 this year, having homered before playing his tenth game of the season.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's Official: I Love the Trade For Nyjer Morgan

I admit I was nervous when I first heard that Doug Melvin had shown interest in Nationals' center fielder Nyjer Morgan. I had heard the stories, had seen the clips, and feared that Doug might be sacrificing clubhouse chemistry in his attempt to go "all-in" in 2011. Melvin quickly shot down the rumor, only to acquire Morgan two days later for Cutter Dykstra. After the trade I wrote about Morgan, mainly focusing on his struggles last season and the problems that followed, while closing by mentioning his plus-defense and speed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Estrada Effective Through Six, Axford Notches First Save

Most Brewers fans probably didn't expect much from Marco Estrada yesterday, called up from the minor leagues to start in place of the injured Zack Greinke. Although Estrada fell short of a quality start thanks to a Jason Heyward three-run home run in the sixth, he made it through that inning with the lead intact. Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe, and John Axford combined for three scoreless innings to secure the win and Axford's first save of the season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yovani Gallardo Beats Braves

Brewers fans witnessed a classic performance by 25-year-old ace Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday vs the Braves. With the Brewers facing a potential 0-5 start to the season, Gallardo put his team on his shoulders and went the distance to end the streak at four. Pitching a complete game, two-hit shutout, Gallardo allowed two walks and faced only one batter over the minimum. No Brave reached second base safely, the closest being Dan Uggla, tagged out by Rickie Weeks after sliding past the bag while stealing second. Even more impressively, Gallardo gathered only two strikeouts in the game while inducing 16 groundouts, two of which led to double plays.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time For a Lineup Shuffle?

The Brewers lost again yesterday despite an excellent outing by Chris Narveson (6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K), pushing their record to a disappointing 0-4 to begin the season. Another tough loss for the Crew, who saw their 1-0 lead slip away in the eighth inning when Takashi Saito, a pitcher historically good at keeping the ball in the park, gave up two solo home runs to give Atlanta the lead. Surely most Brewers fans didn't expect their best performance by a starting pitcher to begin the season from Chris Narveson, and the Narve Dog indeed looked somewhat shaky in the first inning. He quickly overcame what I'm calling his "home opener nerves," settled in, and mostly made Braves' hitters look foolish for six innings.

Through those innings no Brave passed first base. Had the Narve Dog been more economical with his pitches he surely could have stayed in the game longer. Unfortunately, such performances sometimes go to waste, and Brewers' bats just couldn't provide enough offense for the bullpen to secure the win. It's far too early to start worrying, but it's probably time for Ron Roenicke to shuffle his lineup, if not only for the day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Few Positives in Series vs Reds

By the 6th inning of Sunday's game vs the Reds the Brewers must have thought the series couldn't end soon enough. After Opening Day's deflating ninth inning loss, the Brewers failed to compete in games two and three. Consequently, many more negatives than positives come to mind when thinking of the series. Brewers' pitchers threw for a combined 6.57 ERA, second only to the Houston Astros for last in the National League. Needless to say, Brewers fans didn't see that coming after this offseason's moves to improve the team's pitching. Yovani Gallardo stands as the only starter with a sub-five ERA (3.00) and the staff's numbers would have been worse without scoreless outings by Zach Braddock, Sergio Mitre, and Takashi Saito.

The team batted .223 after leaving the Cactus League with by far the highest team average. In large part this average owes itself to poor performances at the plate by Mark Kotsay and Yuniesky Betancourt, batting 0-18 collectively (Yun-E6 0-11, Kotsay 0-7). Many now hope (myself included) that Nyjer Morgan and even Craig Counsell see more playing time in weeks to come. Others fared better than Brewers' fans favorite whipping boys of 2011, and some positives can certainly be pulled from the series as the Brewers move on to host the Braves.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Erick Almonte Hits Second Career Home Run Exactly Eight Years After His First

There weren't too many positives to take from yesterday's loss to the Reds. Shaun Marcum struggled to find his location in the first two innings (with some help by an umpire who apparently thought Marcum's strike zone should be tighter than his opponent's). Perhaps that should have been expected after he missed one of his spring starts. He found his groove in the third and struck out seven over 4.2 innings. The biggest highlight of the day, however, had to be Erick Almonte's solo home run to lead off the fifth inning. The second of his career, he hit his first way back in 2003 with the Yankees while filling in at short stop for the injured Derek Jeter.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Longest 48 Hours of the Year

I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking that 6:10 tomorrow evening can't come soon enough. I'm equally sure that the Brewers can't wait to get another shot at the Reds after yesterday's tough loss. Things could be worse, though. The Cardinals, for instance, lost their home opener in extra innings to the Padres after losing the lead in the ninth inning. Albert Pujols ground into a double play a career high three times.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brewers Bats Begin Season With a Bang, Axford Blows Save With Walk-off Home Run

The Brewers began their season with a bang today as Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez led off with back-to-back home runs. Ryan Braun hit a solo shot in the fifth and went 2-3 with two walks for the day. Despite Yovani Gallardo's quality start (7 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 ER) the Brewers couldn't grab the win in the Reds' home opener.

Happy Opening Day 2011!

I don't have much to write today, except that I'm very excited that Opening Day is finally here!

Here are today's lineups:

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
RF Mark Kotsay
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Wil Nieves
RHP Yovani Gallardo

CF Drew Stubbs
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
3B Scott Rolen
RF Jay Bruce
LF Jonny Gomes
C Roberto Hernandez
SS Paul Janish
RHP Edinson Volquez


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Previewing the 2011 Season: Prince Fielder's Final Season With the Brewers

Prince made history this year by pulling in the highest single-season salary ever paid by the Brewers ($15.5 million). At the same time he became the highest paid, arbitration eligible position player, beating Mark Texeira's $12.5 million paid in 2008 by the Braves. At age 26, Prince has put up some historic numbers in his first five Major League seasons. Prince is a special player, and will be paid as such come next winter. As Brewers fans we have enjoyed the privilege of watching Prince come of age these past five seasons. Unfortunately, the Brewers would cripple their ability to field a competitive team if they gave him the years and dollars he will demand once he reaches free agency after 2011. So, here is a look back on what Prince has accomplished thus far, and a look ahead to what will undoubtedly be his final season in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brewers Starting Pitchers Coming Into Focus; Opening Day Roster Set

Some good news on the pitching front this week. Shaun Marcum pitched for the Brewers yesterday and experienced none of the shoulder tightness he felt his last time out. He threw 68 pitches, so he's slightly behind schedule, but he'll be able to start vs the Reds on Saturday, with a likely pitch limit of around 80-85.

She's a Beauty...

The Brewers held an event to unveil their new video board Monday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brewers Trade For Rabble-Rousing Center Fielder Nyjer Morgan

Doug Melvin surprised Brewer Nation this weekend by acquiring Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals a mere 48 hours after stating he had no interest in the troublemaking center fielder. A career .253 hitter in parts of four seasons with Pittsburgh and Washington, he lost his starting job last year and in the process let his struggles get to his head, to say the least.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Final Televised Spring Training Game Tomorrow

The last televised Spring Training game of the year will air tomorrow on WMLW41 at 3:05. The Brewers play split squad games that day. The game vs Kansas City will be aired, so we'll get one last chance this year to see former Brewers Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain in action.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Greinke Makes Progress

Adam McCalvy reported today that Zack Greinke took a significant step forward in rehabbing his cracked rib. He threw a baseball for the first time since being shutdown early in Spring Training. He's still a long way from debuting for the Brewers, but this certainly marks an important first step.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brewers Trade Chris Dickerson For Yankees RHP Sergio Mitre

In a surprise move, the Brewers traded backup outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Yankees for long reliever Sergio Mitre. Mitre essentially fills the spot currently vacated by the injured Manny Parra. He has starting experience, so can fill-in as Milwaukee's fifth starter if needed in April. The move suggests that both Brandon Boggs and Jeremy Reed will now make the club, since Corey Hart will start the season on the DL, and that Manny Parra's injury may be more serious than we've been told. By no means is Mitre certain to start for the Brewers on April 6. Marco Estrada still stands as a favorite for that honor, assuming he's not pounded in his next spring outing. The Brewers sent Rule 5 pick Pat Egan back to the Orioles earlier this week, making room on the 40-man roster for Estrada, if necessary.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Almost Here...

For much of 2011, even as Spring Training began, Opening Day seemed to be nothing more than a concept, a distant event that impatience ensured remained unbearably far-off. With one week until the Brewers open their season in Cincinnati vs the Reds, Opening Day finally seems real. It's almost here, folks. I, for one, can feel the excitement.