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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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Search For the Fifth Starter: Marco Estrada Steps Up

The Brewers perhaps gained some clarity in their search for the elusive fifth starter yesterday when Marco Estrada pitched 4.1 scoreless innings against the Padres. He allowed three base hits and one walk. By no means has he locked up the five spot, but he certainly fared better than Wily Peralta and earned a shot in another "A" game for his next spring start. If he again pitches well he may yet start for the Brewers in April.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yovani Gallardo Does Everything

Rain forced the cancelation of the Brewers vs Rangers game yesterday. With that outcome already probable in the morning, the Brewers shifted Yovani Gallardo into the am AAA game. According to Adam McCalvy he threw 92 pitches over seven innings and "scored from second base on a single, dropped a perfect sac bunt and almost hit a home run to left field." Gallardo has looked extremely sharp this spring, and this outing reminded me of the sheer awesomeness of our homegrown ace.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Brewers Lefties Show Improvement Saturday

It's only Spring Training, but the early struggles of Randy Wolf and Zach Braddock surely worried some of the Brewers faithful. Wolf signed a three year, $30-million deal with the Brewers prior to the 2010 season. He underperformed during the first half, the low point coming against the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates in which he pitched 5.2 innings with 13 H, 2 BB, and 12 ER. He put together a strong second half (3.71 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) after working on his tempo with then pitching coach Rick Peterson, bringing hope to Brewerland that he may yet live up to his contract.

With regard to Braddock, his 2011 performance thus far led me to wonder if he might lose his spot to Mitch Stetter. Braddock burst onto the scene last year as part of a retooled bullpen after the original 'pen fell apart rather quickly. A reliable, late-inning left-handed specialist also able to pitch against right-handers, he finished the year with a 2.94 ERA, 19 BB, and 41 K in 33.2 innings. Both pitchers showed improvement Saturday vs the Dodgers.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who Will Start For Brewers on April 6?

With Mark Rogers and Amaury Rivas both sent to the minors it seemed as though Wily Peralta stood as the logical choice to start for the Brewers on April 6. The twenty-one year old right hander started vs the Rockies on Friday and faired extremely poorly, recording only one out while walking two, giving up five hits and five earned runs. Tim Dillard relieved him, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings.

Given his performance it's hard to imagine Peralta filling in for the Brewers on April 6. I wonder if they might now consider a non-roster invitee such as Marco Estrada or Eulogio De La Cruz, or even Tim Dillard, previously left out by Roenicke in discussions about the April 6 start. Maybe they decide to sign a cheap veteran to provide some depth. Choosing any of those options would require removing someone from the 40-man roster. Maybe they call up Amaury Rivas. Mark Rogers seems to be the best option at this point, but he won't be stretched out by April 6. He could be, though, by April 16, the next time the Brewers will need a 5th starter. After Peralta's poor showing, questions remain to be answered. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brewers vs Dodgers Televised Today

FSN-HD and MLB Network will both air today's Brewers game vs the Dodgers. FSN will broadcast the game live at 3:05 CST while MLB Network will air it on tape delay starting at 4:00.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Time to Start Worrying?

This spring it seems like every other day news comes out from the Brewers of another injury to a key player. Yesterday they added Shaun Marcum to the list after he exited early vs the White Sox with shoulder tightness. In spite of all the previous injuries, this is the first time I've actually worried about the Brewers' 2011 season. When Greinke went down we realized how truly thin the Brewers' starting pitching is. If any of the five starters, especially Greinke, Gallardo, or Marcum, miss significant time this season, the Brewers might be in trouble.

Most of the injuries thus far have been minor. Players frequently play through minor injuries throughout the regular season but there's no reason to push it during Spring Training. Even Marcum said yesterday that he would play through his shoulder tightness if it arose during the regular season. Still, his injury history and troubling mechanics make him a more worrying case. All in all, this will be an exciting year for Brewers fans, but a lot of things need to go right for it to be as special as we think it can be.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Return of Mitch Stetter?

Why do you look so sad, Zach?
Brewers LHP Zach Braddock has struggled mightily this spring. Last night vs the Mariners he entered with a 4-1 lead. He proceeded to give up a base hit and hit the next batter, followed by a three-run home run. He pitched poorly on Monday, too, walking a batter and hitting another with two earned runs. He sports a 11.37 ERA and has only struck out three batters in 6.1 IP. His velocity has been down, too, causing some to wonder if he may be injured. After some less than supportive words by manger Ron Roenicke, Adam McCalvy wondered if his struggles might pave the way for a return of Mitch Stetter.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brewers Need Luis Cruz on Big League Roster

Much has been said about the 2011 Brewers' defensive liabilities. It seems to come up in nearly any discussion regarding their offseason pitching acquisitions, or in conversations about their chances of making the playoffs. The Brewers have a strong defensive center fielder in Carlos Gomez, but beyond that they're largely a team of defensive underachievers. Shortstop, manned by Yuniesky "Yun-E6" Betancourt, has been a topic of particular concern. Beyond the versatile Craig Counsell, still an upgrade at short from Betancourt, the team has little in the form of defensive strength. For these reasons the Brewers should give one of their final roster spots to Luis Cruz.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mark Rogers Debuts Monday, Demoted Tuesday

Mark Rogers gave up two runs vs the Giants yesterday in his first appearance of 2011 on a home run by Pablo Sandoval. He came away pleased with his outing, having experienced no discomfort in his twice surgically repaired shoulder. Ron Roenicke wasn't as excited, saying Rogers "just didn't look like he was comfortable. He worked really slow; a little too methodical." I'm sure Rogers was disappointed today when he was reassigned to AAA, having previously vowed to ready himself to fill in for injured ace Zack Greinke.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ryan Braun Oozes Confidence; That's Just Fine With Ron Roenicke

When asked about his tweaked intercostal muscle this weekend, Ryan Braun provided some classic Braunie-style quotes: "It's nothing at all. I could have played [Saturday] but there's no sense in it. Honestly, I feel better than I've ever felt in my life, so I don't really need at-bats right now." The three-time All-star and Silver Slugger recipient has never shied away from expressing confidence in his abilities, but his statements this weekend went even a bit further than usual.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ned Yost Whines About Time With Brewers

The Brewers play the Kansas City Royals today at 3:05 CST, reuniting Royals skipper Ned Yost with his former club. In an interview this week he took a swipe at the Brewers and some of its players while discussing his first Spring Training with the Royals. Said Yost: "I have no drama issues. None. I've got no issues with hot dogs, I've got no issues with guys not respecting their teammates ... no issues with selfish players. I've got no issues with lack of hustle. I've got zero issues. It's the way it's supposed to be."

Brewers 30 Clubs in 30 Days Airs Tonight at 7:00

MLB Network's 30 Clubs in 30 Days features the Brewers tonight. In case you miss it, they'll re-air it several more times.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Yuniesky Betancourt Works to Live Up to the Hype

Many Brewers fans decried the fact that the trade that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee also included shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt in exchange for Alcides Escobar. Since then Brewers officials have tried to argue that "Yuni" is not as bad as some would have you believe. Yuni certainly didn't help his cause on Thursday in the Brewers ten-inning loss to the Rockies, committing not one but two throwing errors to first base.

Friday, March 11, 2011

For One Brewer, Japanese Tsunami Hits Home

Brewers setup pitcher, Takashi Saito, left camp today in response to Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami. He's from an area north of Tokyo that was hit by the waves. He managed to reach his wife and three daughters on the phone, but as of now has not yet spoken to his parents. The Brewers have given him clearance to return to Japan if necessary. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan as they deal with the fallout of this disaster.

UPDATE: I just saw on twitter that all of Saito's family has been accounted for.

Gallardo to Start Opening Day in Cincinnati

Yesterday Ron Roenicke announced his plans to line up the Brewers starters (sans Zack Greinke) to open the season. For the second consecutive year Yovani Gallardo gets the nod on opening day. He'll face off against Reds ace Edinson Volquez in Cincinnati on March 31. Said Gallardo: "It's very exciting for me, and it just gives me that opportunity to go out there and show what I'm capable of doing."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Room on Brewers for Erick Almonte Despite Excellent Spring

First baseman and non-roster invitee Erick Almonte has so far put together an excellent spring for the Brewers with three home runs and a team-high eight RBI. A career minor leaguer, he's appeared in a total of 39 Major League games, back in 2001 and 2003 with the Yankees. The 33-year-old right-hander spent the last two seasons with the Brewers AAA affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, batting .291 and .320. These statistics, along with his strong showing this spring, might lead one to hope he grabs the Brewers final bench spot, if only as a late-inning, right-handed, power bat. Despite impressing Ron Roenicke with his approach at the plate, Almonte is unlikely to make the club.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Round Two of John Axford's Online Entrance Music Poll Has Begun!

Visit Axford's Facebook page to vote in round two! Our choice, Rush's "Working Man," made the cut into the second round but is currently not close to first place. Still, I know that Rush fans can make it happen! Either way, kudos to Axford for doing such a great job at fan interaction.

Greinke to DL; Will Miss 2-3 Regular Season Starts

The Brewers delayed Zack Greinke's first live BP session a couple weeks back due to soreness in his left ribs which he said he hurt slightly while doing "something stupid" off the field. We now know he was playing a pickup game of basketball and cracked a rib while falling to the ground after going for a rebound. This is certainly disappointing news for Brewers fans who expected Greinke to lead a much improved pitching staff that hopefully will help the Crew get to the playoffs in 2011.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Brewers vs Reds On FS Wisconsin Today at 2:05 CST

The Cincinnati Reds host the Brewers today in what will be the Brewers' first televised game of the year. Yovani Gallardo makes his second appearance of the spring, starting vs Homer Bailey. For those of you outside of Wisconsin, the game will be rebroadcast on MLB Network tonight at 8:30 CST.

Also, here's a fine piece by Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar on Shaun Marcum's cutter, including other thoughts on Marcum's pitches.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brewers 30 Clubs in 30 Days Airs Sunday, March 13

Every March MLB Network spends an hour previewing each ball club heading into the season. The Brewers installment airs next Sunday, March 13, at 7:00 PM CST. If you miss the first airing, they'll replay it 3/14 at 6:00 AM, 3/16 at midnight (night of 3/15), and 3/20 at 2:00 AM and again at 6:00 AM. Short clips of each episode are posted at MLB Network's website a few days after the initial airing.

Marcum Blanks Angels, Fielder Homers in 2-1 Win

Brewers fans got a glimpse of what the club traded Brett Lawrie for yesterday when Shaun Marcum threw three scoreless innings against the Angels. The changeup specialist threw his number one pitch especially well as he struck out three while giving up two hits and no walks. Said Craig Counsell of Marcum's outing: "That was impressive."

Meanwhile Prince Fielder, originally slated for a day off, batted fourth as designated hitter and provided the Brewers' sole runs with his first homer of the year, a two-run shot. Fielder asked manager Ron Roenicke if he could DH in order to get in a couple more at-bats. Roenicke was pleased with Prince's initiative and was happy to oblige the slugger.

Takashi Saito relieved Marcum, walked the first batter he faced and retired the next two on flyouts to right field. He then exited, having reached his pitch limit.

The Brewers play split squad road games today vs the Rangers and A's, both at 2:05 CST. Zack Greinke starts against the Rangers while Chris Narveson leads off against the Athletics.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Previewing the 2011 Season: Takashi Saito

The Brewers host the Los Angeles Angels today at 2:05 in a game that reunites manager Ron Roenicke with the club in which he spent the last 11 years. Newly acquired Brewers setup man, Takashi Saito, is scheduled to pitch after his first outing was delayed this week due to hamstring tightness. What a better time, I thought, to introduce Saito to my readers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

John Axford to Make His 2011 Debut Today vs San Francisco

The Brewers play the San Francisco Giants for the second time this spring today at 2:05 CST. Tim Dillard leads a pitching staff that will include appearances by some of the team's best bullpen arms of 2010, including closer John Axford, whose debut was delayed by a bout of food poisoning at the beginning of camp. Axford tweeted this morning that he's "SUPER PUMPED" for his first Cactus League appearance.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Casey McGehee Destroys Cubs Pitching After Failing to Reach Multi-Year Deal With Brewers

If there's one Brewer who seems to thrive with a chip on his shoulder, it's Casey McGehee (ok, he might not be the only one, but this post is about McGehee). While in the Cubs system he seemed doomed to AAA forever, his position blocked at the Major League level by Aramis Ramirez. Claimed off waivers by the Brewers in late 2008 he saw a window of opportunity that led to the big leagues. Determined to prove his doubters wrong (*Cubs*), he earned a spot with the Brewers in Spring Training '09, eventually became their starting third baseman, and proceeded to put together solid years at the plate in 2009 and 2010 (not to mention his first career grand slam in the same inning he dropped a routine pop fly). Yesterday, if only for the day, it seems the chip on McGehee's shoulder resurfaced.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who Will Be Milwaukee's Opening Day Starter?

Yovani Gallardo makes his 2011 debut today as the Brewers host the Cubs in Cactus League play. The question persists as to whether the Brewers' 2010 opening day starter will stand as such in 2011 after the arrival of Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. Shaun Marcum started on opening day for the Blue Jays last year but he's widely expected to start the Brewers home opener vs the Braves and he's said that he's ok with flying under the radar. Ron Roenicke remains mute on the subject, not yet wishing to tip his hand. So who, in the end, will be the opening day starter?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brewers Down White Sox 3-1

Brewers pitchers put together a solid day on the mound today in a Cactus League victory over the White Sox. The Brewers struck first in the top of the third when Rickie Weeks batted home catcher Wil Nieves after he singled and stole second.

Brewers Baseball Is Here!

The Brewers began Cactus League play on Monday, splitting their split squad games against the Cubs (W, 5-3) and Giants (L, 10-9). Shaun Marcum looked sharp starting vs the Giants, retiring the first four in a row while throwing only fastballs and changeups for the day. He threw 16 of his 17 pitches for strikes and said he "accomplished what [he] wanted to get accomplished."