Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blurb 11/1: Improving the Outfield Part 1: Current Situation

This is the first in a four part series covering the Brewers Outfield (Which is part 1 of a 4 or 5-part series covering each of the major position groups for the Brewers and ways to improve it. I will either do catcher during a busy week for me like thanksgiving, or combine it with another position group like starting pitching). Today I will be discussing the Brewers current outfield situation.

Later tonight, I will post the first Brewers Season-In-Review. They are essays on the 2011 season that I was previously planning on selling from this website, but I couldn't figure out how to work Blogspot to sell something. I will post one every day (Monday-Friday) for the next few weeks in addition to the Blurb. Now that this note is out of the way, lets begin.

First lets start with the player that will, barring some injury, be our left fielder for the next decade. Ryan Braun.

Ryan Braun: .332/.397/.597/.994, 33 HR, 33 SB.

Ryan Braun had an MVP calibar season. He set career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and had his second best slugging percentage and OPS. He also had his first ever 30+ steal season (In fact, it was his first season above 20 steals). Not much more needs to be said about Braun's offence that hasn't been said already so I will move on to his defence. His defence, while it is not worthy of the gold glove that Braun is a finalist for, is improving. Braun will probably never be thought of as a great fielder, or even an average defensive player. But with his offensive numbers as long as he doesn't reproduce the horrendous numbers his first year (Playing 3B). His bat should make him a worthwhile player, and a perennial all-star.

My take (On what Braun's role SHOULD be next year): Starter in LF
What will happen: Starter in LF

Nyjer Morgan: .304/.357/.421/.778, 4 HR, 13 SB

Everyone's favorite F-bomber had a breakout year in center field. Even though the stats show he had a better year in 2007 with the Pirates, he only played in 28 games and had a quarter of the plate appearances than he had in this season (Where he platooned and missed the month of April). The big question is will he be able to repeat these numbers next year. In September, I was encouraged to see him up his OBP by taking more walks (9) which was one less than he had in all of 2011. In addition to his good offensive numbers, Morgan had an above average year defensively, and between himself and Gomez, they anchored a very solid centerfield defence. Next year, I would like to see him increase his stolen base numbers as his SB's fell from 34 last year, and 42 the season before that.

My take: Platoon-CF (Hit vs. RH, Be available for Defensive sub/Pinch-run when a lefty starts)
What will happen: Platoon-CF (Same as above)

Corey Hart: .285/.356/.510/.866, 26 HR, 7 SB

Corey Hart had another above average year. Although, due to injury, Hart only had 14 AB's in April, he still had 26 HR's. Hart found a new home in the lead-off spot, where he has a OPS of .917. Corey Hart's defense has been getting worse every year, and he is already losing speed at only 29, a move to 1B should be strongly considered by the organization especially vs. lefties. Hart destroyed lefty pitchers with an OPS of 1.057. So, due to the lack of production vs. lefties by many of the likely contributors in the 2011 season for the Brewers, Corey Hart should be considered for a move to 1B vs. lefties to platoon with Mat Gamel, so that a better defender (Logan Schafer, Nyjer Morgan) can at least have an opportunity to contribute in RF to an otherwise subpar defense.

My Take: If the Brewers do not acquire another outfielder or first basemen,
vs. RHP: Start RF (If Mat Gamel is a bust, move Hart to 1B, move Hart to 1B late in games)
vs. LHP: Start 1B (Move a better defender like Nyjer Morgan, Logan Schafer to RF)

What will happen: Starting RF

Carlos Gomez:.225/.276/.403/.679, 8 HR, 16 SB

Unfortunately, the sad offensive line of 2011 for Carlos Gomez is not a mirage, but, most likely, a trend that will probably continue throughout his career. It is sad too because with his amazing defensive skills, if he even did anything at the plate he would easily be a starter for the Brewers, and many other teams. But he is what he is, a great defensive center fielder, but a below average hitter with a little power. He performed well under a platoon role for the Brewers this season. I was encouraged to see Gomez's improvement vs. lefties (from a .638 OPS in 2010 to a .857 OPS in 2011). Who knows, if he can improve at hitting lefties then maybe he can finally be an average hitter. While that probably won't happen, you can always hope.

My take: Platoon-CF (vs. LHP, late-innings pinch-runner, defensive replacement)
What will happen: Platoon-CF (Same as above)

Mark Kotsay: .270/.329/.373/.703, 3 HR, 3 SB

Mark Kotsay proved to be a good bat off the bench for Brewers. He is a decent option in the field if he is playing 1B, or maybe a little of RF, but under no circumstances should he be playing CF again in his career. If Kotsay is willing to come back another cheap one-year contract to be the #1 or #2 PH option and #2/#3 1B and #6 OF, the Brewers should take him back. They could certainly do worse than a .703 OPS Bench player.

My Take: Bench Player (Limited time at 1B, #1 or #2 pinch hit option)
What Will Happen: Bench Player (Time at OF, #1 or #2 pinch hit, a little at 1B)

That's all folks.

Come back tomorrow for a look at the top outfield prospects in the organization. Then on Thursday, I will look at possible free-agent outfielders available to the Brewers. On Friday, I will conclude the series on the Outfield.

Go Brewers and Please Comment

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I am back


I was planning on releasing the entire season-in-review essays to be avilable for purchase online, but I couldn't figure out how to sell stuff on Blogspot.

So, it will be released for free, one essay a day.

Also, the Blurb will review the various Brewers positions as well as options to improve.

This week, the Blurb will cover the Outfield.

Tuesday: Brewers Current Outfield Situation
Wednesday: Internal Options
Thursday: Player Spotlight (Either internal option or free agent)
Friday: Conclusions

Go Brewers

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blurb 10/19: It was fun while it lasted

Note: This was written late Sunday Night, but I was unable to post this until now due to computer issues.

It's over. The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers season is over. It was written in the stars, but for the Brewers it was a million miles away. No more Prince Fielder, no more World Series chances.

This season isn't a complete failure though.

Think about this. If I had told you this time last year that the Brewers would make the NLCS, would you take that?

Now obviously the trades for Grienke, and Marcum changes the expectations. but still even at Spring Training many fans would have taken an NLCS berth.

This postseason has been magical for the Brewers. Consider Yovanni's dominating Game 1 start. The tenth-inning walkoff hit and subsequent f-bomb blast from Nyjer Morgan to win the NLDS. Plus, the Brewers had an amazing come from behind victory in Game 1 of the NLCS!

Houston, San Diego, Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto, and Baltimore. What do all these teams have in common? They would love to be in our position. As Milwaukee Brewers fans, with our troubled history that only included (before this season) one postseason appearance in the previous 28 years, we should appreciate when these good years come around, and recognize this team for what it is not a complete success, but not a failure.

While I am not completely happy with all the decisions made, and the final result of the 2011 season. Let us remember the good moments, and not the bad ending. How about next year though, we win it all.

Go Brewers and Please Comment

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blurb 10/11: No More NLCS Starts for Marcum

Shaun Marcum right now is not himself, and he is costing the Brewers a chance to advance to the World Series. In his last six starts (four regular season, two postseason), he has given up 30 runs in 33 innings pitched for a 8.18 ERA. He has a had one great start in that time frame (8 IP, 1ER), but besides that, there has been many nightmarish starts for Marcum. He is a detriment to the Brewers, and their success right now. I love Shaun Marcum, he is a good pitcher, and I have loved watching him throughout the season, but that shouldn't change what needs to be done. The window for success in the playoffs is so small that everyone needs to be performing at the top of their game, if they are not, they need to be replaced.

Ok, you may be saying, hypothetically if the Brewers do replace Shaun Marcum, who is this pitcher who can produce better. Here are three options to make up for a Marcum-less rotation:

1. Pitch everyone on short rest, and make your playoff rotation a three-man rotation (Game 3 Gallardo, 4 Grienke, 5 Wolf, 6 Gallardo, 7 Grienke)
2. Marco Estrada (3 Gallardo, 4 Grienke, 5 Wolf, 6 Estrada, 7 Gallardo)
3. Chris Narveson (3 Gallardo, 4 Grienke, 5 Wolf, 6 Narveson, 7 Gallardo)

#1 shouldn't happen, and won't happen. The organization, I believe, doesn't feel comfortable pitching Grienke on short rest. End of story.

#2 is what I believe the Brewers should do even though it may cause a lot of second guessing especially if they are wrong. Also Marco Estrada should only start if the Brewers have a 3-2 game lead going into Game 6. Marco shouldn't be the pitcher trying to stave off elimination especially in his first postseason start. If that situation occurred, and it failed, Roenicke would never hear the end of it. But if Estrada does lose a start if the Brewers have the lead, they still have Gallardo at home to go to the World Series. I will take that ten out of ten times.

#3 is another decent option. Chris Narveson has proven to be an average starter throughout the year which is still an improvement over what the rotation has given us so far. But as a starter, Chris Narveson (4.54 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) has been inferior to Marco Estrada (3.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) especially at home (Chris Narveson home: 4.23 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, Marco Estrada as a starter at home: 2.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP).

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I believe that Marcum needs to take at least one start off to regain his composure. If Estrada does good, ride the hot hand. If Estrada struggles, replace him with Narveson, if Narveson struggles then you can go back to Marcum.

Marco Estrada should start in game 6, especially if the Brewers are leading 3-2. Even if Estrada can only pitch around 70 pitches, it will still be around what Marcum has pitched the last two games. Narveson can then come in until the 5th or 6th and set up Saxrod (SAito, AXford, k-ROD).

As we Brewers fans know all to well, playoff appearances don't come around to often. Loyalty to a player, in this case Shaun Marcum, should not trump what needs to be done in the playoffs to win the World Series.

Go Brewers and Please Comment.

Defensive Substitutions

For the second straight (and third overall playoff game), Ron Roenicke has removed Corey Hart for a defensive replacement. While I believe that Nyjer Morgan or Carlos Gomez is a clear defensive upgrade over Corey Hart, there is a player in left field that is a worse defender than Corey, and in the right situation should be removed from the outfield.

According to fangraphs.com, Carlos Gomez is the best defensive outfielder, than comes Nyjer Morgan, Corey Hart, and trudging in at last place is Ryan Braun. While Ryan Braun's bat is enough to warrant him an MVP award, his defensive isn't helping his case. In the right situation (like the game yesterday when the Brewers have a three-plus run lead), the extra offense provided by Braun's bat isn't worth enough to overlook his poor defense that may prove to be costly.

Most likely, the reason why Roenicke is removing Hart over Braun, is because it would cause a complete revolt in Brewer land. But statistically, the next time that Roenicke has a 9-6 lead in the 8th, the outfield should be: Corey Hart LF (If he is open to moving to Left, if not insert Nyjer Morgan here), Carlos Gomez CF, Nyjer Morgan RF. The Brewers need to maximize every opportunity avilable including optimizing its outfield defense late in games when they have the lead.

Please Comment and Go Brewers!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blurb Potential Pitching Rotation Part 4: Randy Wolf

Today is part four in a four part series highlighting Brewers pitchers. Sorry that this is so late.

Once again the stats I made up are the same, if you want to know what they are, look at previous Blurb's from this week.

Overall: Starts: 32, 13-10, 3.61 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, Short Starts: 2, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 21, Bad Starts: 8
Home: Starts: 15, 7-3, 3.40 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, Short Starts: 1, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 11, Bad Starts: 4
Road: Starts: 17, 6-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, Short Starts: 1, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 10, Bad Starts: 4

Wolf's is a good pitcher to have in your rotation because he has similar stats at home and on the road. Wolf has the second most quality starts (21, second to only Gallardo with 22) of the top four starters, but he also has the most bad starts (8).

Wolf will also be valuable to the Brewers because he has prior postseason experience. In two prior starts for the Dodgers, Wolf has had two no decisions where he pitched 9 IP, and gave up 5 ER, for an ERA of 5.00

If the Brewers play the Braves in the first round Wolf is a very valuable pitcher because of the Braves inability to hit lefties (.229 vs. .252 vs lefties). Good thing we have an abundance of lefties in the bullpen, oh wait...

Wolf would be a good #2 starter vs the Braves at home, but because of Gallardo and Grienke road troubles Wolf will have to be pushed down to #4. I would like to see him maybe being used in the bullpen for game 1 or 2, if the opportunity arises. The Braves struggle vs. lefties, and lefties are an endangered species in Milwaukee.

If the Brewers play the Diamondbacks with homefield advantage, I would consider pitching Grienke on 3 days rest if the Brewers are down 2-1. That would and move Wolf, and set up Gallardo pitching Game 5. Although the Diamondbacks aren't as bad hitting lefties as the Braves, another lefty in the pen wouldn't hurt.

The Blurb's Suggested Playoff Rotation:

vs. Braves Home
1. Grienke
2. Gallardo
3. Marcum
4. Wolf
5. Grienke

vs. Diamondbacks Home
1. Grienke
2. Gallardo
3. Marcum
4. Wolf (Unless Brewers down 2-1 then Grienke pitches)
5. Grienke (Unless Grienke pitches Game 4 then Gallardo would pitch)

vs. Diamondbacks Road
1. Marcum
2. Wolf
3. Grienke
4. Gallardo
5. Marcum

No Blurb tomorrow, but one will be up by Tuesday.

Please Comment and Go Brewers!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brewers Blurb 9/21 Potential Pitching Rotation Part 3: Yovani Gallardo

For Today's Blurb, we continue the comprehensive look at the starters who should be starting playoff games (Grienke, Marcum, Gallardo, and Wolf). First, lets look at Gallardo's stats.

Once again, the stats that I made up are the same: Short starts (Starts less than 5.0 IP), Bad Starts (Gives up more than 5 ER).

Overall: Starts: 32, 17-10, 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, Short Starts: 4, Complete Games: 1, Quality Starts: 22, Bad Starts: 6
Home: Starts: 15, 10-2, 3.13 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, Short Starts: 2, Complete Games: 1, Quality Starts: 10, Bad Starts: 2
Road: Starts: 17, 7-8, 4.05 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, Short Starts:2, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 12, Bad Stars: 4

Gallardo is a hit or miss starter, you never know what you will get from him. Although that is usually the case, he is on a hot streak lately, and almost unbeatable at home. In his last seven home starts, he has only given up more than two ER just once (8 ER vs . St. Louis). In his last twelve starts only once has he allowed more than 3 ER twice (Both vs. St. Louis).

Gallardo is one of two starters who has postseason experience (the other one being Wolf). In his two postseason appearances in 2008, he pitched 7.0 IP, gave up only four hits, and allowed 0 earned runs (3 unearned). Postseason experience is valuable on a team like the Brewers with little of it to go around.

I trust Gallardo enough to be a number 2 starter at home, and hopefully provide the playoff experience necessary to make a deep run in the playoffs. In a road series, I'd pencil him in Game 4. Keep the pitchers in their comfort zone, and Gallardo's is Miller Park.

The Blurb's Suggested Playoff Rotation

vs. Braves Home
1. Grienke
2. Gallardo
3. Marcum
5. Grienke

vs. Diamondbacks Home

1. Grienke
2. Gallardo
3. Marcum
5. Grienke

vs. Diamondbacks Road

1. Marcum
3. Grienke
4. Gallardo
5. Marcum


Yesterday's Prediction: Brewers 3, Cubs 2
Yesterday's Result: Brewers 5, Cubs 1
Record: 3-1

Great start by Marcum on the road. I wonder if they would have used K-Rod in a save situation last night.

Today's Prediction: Cubs 2, Brewers 1

Matt Garza is on fire right now. Randy Wolf still should put up a good outing.

That's all for the Blurb today, tomorrow will conclude the Potential Pitching Rotation series with Randy Wolf.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brewers Blurb 9/20 Potenital Playoff Rotation Part 2: Shaun Marcum

Disclaimer #1: Before I begin, just a quick note. From now on, I'm not going to be doing any game previews, or Rapid Response's, I will still try to do a full recap the next day, but I will focus on the Blurb as first priority, and if I have time do a recap. The reason for this is that the Blurb's enormous staff (of one person), is trying to juggle college, work, and the Blurb, and foolishly bit off more then he could chew. Another advantage to this, is that I can spend more time on the Blurbs. For example, yesterday's Blurb was lame. It was too short, and there was barely a paragraph of analysis. The reason for that was I trying to do to much. Now with the shortened load I can focus more of my time and energy on the Blurb, and maybe some recaps. Thanks for understanding and enjoy Today's Blurb!

Disclaimer #2: I use some "stats" that I made up in this blurb, here are their definitions.
Short Starts = Starts less than 5.0 IP
Bad Starts = Gives up 5 or more earned runs

And now without further ado... The Blurb.

For today's Blurb we continue the comprehensive look at each of the Brewers starters that would be pitching in the playoffs. Grienke (Monday), Marcum (Today), Gallardo (Wednesday), and Wolf (Thursday). Today we begin our look at Marcum with a quick glance at his stats.

Overall: Starts: 31, 12-7, 3.40 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, Short Starts: 3, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 19, Bad Starts: 5
Home: Starts: Starts: 16, 5-4, 4.39 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, Short Starts: 1 (1 due to injury), Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 8, Bad Starts: 5
Road: Starts: 15, 7-3, 2.31 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, Short Starts: 2 (1 due to injury), Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 11, Bad Starts: 0

Marucm's stats are the complete opposite of Greinke's. They are perfect rotation partners due to the fact that one is dominant at home, and the other is dominant on the road. That being said, while some of Greinke's and Marcum's numbers may be similar, they aren't all similar. Marcum actually has a lower BAA (.224 compared to Grienke's .237), and a lower HR/FB rate (8.4% compared to Grienke's 13.0%), probably the result of a slower fastball.

Now let's look at Marcum by himself. First get rid of two of his short starts, they were from when he was injured, and the start following that when he pitched only 3 IP. The other short start was from the first game of the year. Since then, he has zero short starts. Think about that, Marcum is giving you at least 5 IP every single time he goes out there. In a playoff game, if you can get your starter to give you at least 5 innings, then Roenicke can proceed to the four closers, Saito, Hawkins, K-Rod, and Axford, and hopefully win a game. Couple that with his dominant 2.31 ERA on the road (and the not so dominant 4.39 ERA at home) and the choice is clear. Marcum starts Game 3 if they are playing the Braves with homefield advantage (setting up a road start for Marucm). If the Brewers do not have homefield advantage, then Marcum should start Games 1 and 5 with Grienke pitching Game 3 .

The Blurb's Suggegested Playoff Rotation

vs. Braves Home
1. Grienke
3. Marcum
5. Grienke

vs. Diamondbacks Home
1. Grienke
3. Marcum
5. Grienke

vs. Diamondbacks Road
1. Marcum
3. Grienke
5. Marcum

Another advantage of this rotation, is that if the Brewers have a home series in the first round and it goes five games, they can still set up Marcum to pitch Game 1 of an away series in the next round.

That is all for the Blurb today, now on to the predictions (From now on Predictions will be included in the Blurb).



Prediction: Brewers 6 Cubs 4
Result: Cubs 5 Brewers 2
Record: 2-1

It was about time I got my first prediction wrong. Nice outing by Dillard, not so much by Estrada. (Check back next week for a Blurb post on Tim Dillard, and Marco Estrada). Hairston broke his hitless streak!

Today's Prediction: Brewers 3, Cubs 2

Please Comment and Go Brewers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs Series Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs today.

Player to watch:

Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun

Can Braun keep up his MLB leading batting average (.336)? Can he get a few home runs, and some RBI's and contend for the triple crown? Probably not going to happen, but you can't count him out.

Chicago Cubs: Bryan LaHair

This 30 year old first baseman only had one other stint in the major leagues, with Seattle, where he hit .250. This year he is hitting .424 for an OPS of 1.300 (But only in 33 AB's) Obviously, he isn't going to be a 1.300 OPS hitter the rest of his career, but he is on a tear right now.

Pitcher to Watch:

Milwaukee Brewers: Shaun Marcum

In his last two starts, Shaun Marcum has a 8.04 era. Both of those starts were at home.Marcum is a better pitcher on the road where he will get his start this week, so maybe this is just what he needs to bounce back.

Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza

Garza is on fire. In his last nine starts, he has a 2.54 era with a 4-2. He is a tough pitcher to hit right now, and should present the Brewers with their toughest challenge of the series.

Pitching Matchup's

Note: The Bold text isn't the game prediction, it is just showing the better pitcher right now.

Game 1: Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40 era) vs. Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 era)
Game 2: Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40 era) vs. Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93 era)
Game 3: Randy Wolf (13-9, 3.45 era) vs. Matt Garza (8-10, 3.51 era)

Prediction: Brewers win series 2-1

Chris Narveson should win the first game, although I am a little bit worried because this is his first start in a while. But I think that the Cubs will win one of the two other games. But still, winning a road series isn't to bad. Lets Go Brewers and get a 5-1 road series.

Sorry no preview today.

Prediction: Milwaukee 6 Cincinnati 4

Please Comment and Go Brewers

Blurb 9/19 Potential Playoff Rotation Part 1: Zack Grienke

Note: For the purposes of this argument, I am assuming that the Brewers will play the Braves in the NLDS with home-field advantage. If that is not the case, than I will adjust accordingly if that situatuion presents itself.

The 2011 playoffs are coming sooner than you think, but who should start where? Should it be Greinke, Marcum, Gallardo, Wolf? Or should we drop Wolf and put him in the bullpen? There are many questions regarding the playoff rotation, and in the Blurb this week, I will examine in a four-part series each of the starters that would be pitching for the Brewers in the postseason (Narveson is not included). Lets start with the number 1 starter in the rotation right now. Zack Grienke

First lets look at his stats.

Overall: 15-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, Short Starts (Starts less than 5.0 IP): 2, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 19, Bad starts (Gives up more than 5 ER): 4
Home: 10-0, 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, Short Starts: 0, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 11, Bad Starts: 1
Road: 5-6, 4.70 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, Short Starts: 2, Complete Games: 0, Quality Starts: 8, Bad Starts: 3

Grienke is a different pitcher at home than he is on the road. In the confines of Miller Park, he is an ace, but on the road he's a back of the rotation guy. Or is he? In his last 14 starts (since July 8th) , he has only given up more than 2 ER once (the one exception being the second game of the Pittsburgh doubleheader where he gave up 7 ER in 6.2 IP).

Greinke should start in Game 1 and Game 5 in the NLDS. That would set him up to have two home games, which should equal two victories.