Previewing the Milwaukee Brewers 2012 starting line-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last decade or so, the Milwaukee Brewers have been one of the best offensive teams in the MLB. With that said, they’ve also been a team on the rise which finally culminated with the squad capturing their division title for the first time in twenty five years last season.

Even though the team has lost slugger Prince Fielder, they remain in the hitter-friendly Miller Park and covet the NL’s reigning MVP in Ryan Braun.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the Brewers’ projected starting line-up in 2012.

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Minnesota Twins Season Preview

Last season, I know first hand what Target Field did for Minnesota Twins fans. Sure, it gave us one of, if not the league’s best stadium. But it gave us false hope. It made us Twins fans think that without an ace and a lineup filled with major holes, we still had a chance to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Well, if the AL Divisional Series was any indication, the Twins are nowhere close to where they need to be if they do in fact hope to make a run at the AL pennant this season.

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Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (3-28-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about Opening Day on March 31st and the Nyjer Morgan trade.

By: Nick Grays

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Minnesota Twins Offseason Has to be Considered a Failure

Ron Gardenhire

Fresh off a series loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins have to be staring into the mirror asking themselves some serious questions about the last nine months.   [Read more…]

Brewers & Twins Trade Talent in the Offseason

hardyflow1

By: Andy Weise & Melissa S. Wollering
 
On Thursday, MLB players eligible for free agency started shopping with the same exuberance as your wife, set loose in a Target at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. The very next day, Milwaukee and Minnesota made an Interleague border swap by trading Twins CF Carlos Gomez for Brewers SS JJ Hardy.

Apparently, Doug Melvin couldn’t drum up any decent pitching in exchange for Hardy.  This now frees up at least $10M potentially needed to keep CF Mike Cameron around, who can now consider himself a free agent. Gomez began last season as the starting CF but batted only .195 through the first month and was moved to a reserve role. Funny, JJ’s stint in AAA for the promotion of Alcides Escobar mirrors the Gomez implosion.
 
The Sportsbank.net is proud to bring you this fictional exchange exclusive, captured between the two men Friday afternoon.
 
JJ: Hey, congratulations Carlos.  I think you’re going to like it in Milwaukee. The retractable roof is really nice in April, May and September.
 
CG: Good! I am happy. It is cold in Minnesota. You will have fun. Great players, Mauer, Morneau, all of them. I miss the place but my head says go have fun with my new team. I am so excited to meet my new teammates and hope they will like me.

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Minnesota Twins Extraordinarily Mediocre

David Palmer

As we wrapped up the first month of the Major League season the Twins had to win their last two games to finish April at .500.  With an 11-11 record, they are the definition of average, mediocre, consistently inconsistent or whatever adjective you want to insert for a team that has more ups and downs than Lindsey Lohan.  I think it is safe to say that we have learned a few things from the month:

1. Francisco Liriano is not, and may never be, the same pitcher he was in 2006.  When he came back from his Tommy John Surgery last year, the Twins made it clear that they were going to baby him.  Part of this philosophy included changing his mechanics to put less torque on his throwing arm.  In turn, his once devastating slider has become much less effective.  His K/9 IP rate has gone from an exceptional 10.7 in 2006 to a pedestrian 6.4 this season.  That is only slightly better than Cincy’s Aaron Harang…yeah.  Hitters can now sit on his fastball, since his changeup never was that great to begin with.  He might have fewer arm problems than before, but at what price did the organization pay because they turned a future Cy Young winner into a middle of the rotation guy?

2. I have been saying this for a year and a half, but I guess why stop now.  NICK PUNTO SHOULD NOT BE AN EVERYDAY PLAYER!!  I hope the capital letters and multiple exclamation points express how I feel about this.  He has started in 19 of the 22 games so far, which is about 18 too many.  He is hitting a cool .228 with one extra base hit.  It would be one thing if he was our last option for a shortstop, but Brendan Harris is hitting .350 with double the slugging % as Little Nicky.  Yeah, we lose some defensive range, but I think it’s worth having the extra bat in the lineup. The fact that he thinks diving into first is faster than running through it really sums things up for Punto.  I don’t think Ussein Bolt dove through the finish line in the Olympics.  It’s science. 

3. The outfield platoon system that we have is clearly not working.  We have four outfielders for three spots: Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer.  Span is the only one who is in the lineup everyday, since he has turned himself into one of the best leadoff hitters in the AL.  After that, the other three are scuffling.  It is no surprise since none of them know whether or not they’ll be in the lineup from day-to-day.   I can’t ever remember a successful team that was platooning their entire outfield.  Michael Cuddyer is doing his best to prove that he had a total fluke season in 2006.  He is flailing wildly at everything thrown to him, and other than a couple nice catches in right field, he really hasn’t contributed anything thus far.  He needs to be traded, for a setup guy.  That way everybody has a defined role, which would lead to more confidence, more at-bats, and more production.

4. Alexi Casilla is already a legendary tobacco chewer.  Good God.  If you’ve watched any Twins games, you’ve noticed the egg of chew he has in his lower lip on a daily basis.  I think chew is disgusting, but I’m not saying I’ve never done it.  If I ever attempted to put that much in my mouth you’d have to peel me off the pool of vomit I made before passing out in it.  How can that guy hit a 90 mph fastball with that in his lip?

5. Our bullpen is shaky at best.  If anything keeps us out of playoff contention it will be the bullpen.  Before the recent call-up of Jose Mijares, we had the setup guy by committee going.  Not good times:  this committee has a combined ERA of 4.91.  That means over half the time they are giving up a run in the inning they pitch in.  For a team that doesn’t score a lot of runs, that is devastating.  Even Joe Nathan blew a save on Tuesday night.  Now that Mijares is back in the bigs, hopefully he can bring some consistency to the eighth inning role.  The problem is that Guerrier, Ayala, Crain and Breslow all feature pretty much the same repertoire of pitches, with not much difference in velocities.   Opposing teams feel pretty comfortable seeing any one of them.

I haven’t lost hope on the season, especially since we are only a game out of the loss column from KC, Detroit and Chicago.  Luckily we play in the AL Central Division. And on the bell curve of Major League talent, all the teams are located centrally.

Twins Pitchers, Catchers and Grounds Crew Reporting

By David Palmer

With pitchers and catcher officially reporting to spring training in the next couple of days, the Twins go to war with basically the same roster they had to finish last year.  The biggest acquisition we made was hiring a groundskeeper for Target Field.

Before Twins General Manager Bill Smith came around, Terry Ryan was widely known as one of the league’s best and smartest.  I have raked on the Twins front office quite a bit this off-season, but for good reason.  Trades and free agents continue to slip through our fingers for no particular reason.  We are like the Troy Williamson of professional franchises.  As Peter Christian has mentioned before, Bill Smith might possibly be the worst negotiator of all time.  I would love to hear the phone conversation between Bill Smith and Scott Boras in negotiations for Joe Crede.  It probably goes something like this:

Smith: Hey Satan, it’s Bill Smith.

Boras: Umm, Who?

Smith: You know, GM for the Minnesota Twins.  Any chance of coming down on the Crede price?

Boras: Minnesota has a baseball team?

Smith: How is his back doing?

Boras: He’ll be fine, and we’re only asking for $7 million for 1 year.

Smith: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa there Scotty, who do you think we are, the Yankees?

Boras: Sorry Bill, that’s the best we can do.  I’ve got to go, there are some orphanages that I have to burn down.

Smith: Okie dokie, before you go, do you have any free agent pitchers over the age of 40 that we could sign?

Boras: No, but I hear Scott Erickson wants to come out of retirement.

Smith: NICE! Do you have his number?

It might be the biggest negotiating mismatch since the US purchased Alaska from Russia for 2 cents an acre in 1867. 

You will be hearing a lot about the Twins bullpen over the next six weeks, and rightfully so- they sucked ass last year.  If Guerrier can’t regain his 2007 form and Mijares doesn’t pan out, we are in serious trouble.  No fear though, Luis Ayala brings his 5.71 ERA from the Mets to our ‘pen.  That should straighten things out.  Hopefully he can bring some of that great Met karma with him too.

On a lighter note, as I mentioned before, we just picked up our second groundskeeper in franchise history; the great Larry DiVito was hired to head the crew at Target Field in 2010.  For those who haven’t followed Larry’s career in depth, he was head groundskeeper for the Nationals the past three seasons.  He cut his teeth as a groundskeeper in Rhode Island for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.

This is where he first learned his craft under the tutelage of the legendary Dino Caparelli. Things didn’t come easy at first for Larry.  He struggled with the fortune and fame of groundskeeper apprentice.  Fast women, a faster buzz (from mixing Vicodin and laundry detergent), and high-stakes games of cribbage consumed his nights.  But, it all caught up to him on August 2nd 1999.  During a day game between Pawtucket and Scranton, DiVito ran naked onto the field with some sort of spray screaming, “the dung beetles are everywhere, we’ve got to get rid of the dung beetles!”   He was checked into rehab the next day.

This is where he became a born-again Christian and vowed to never touch laundry detergent again.   Ok, I obviously made that whole behind-the-music type of story up, but if Larry can keep the infield grass a little longer, Gomez might have 150 bunt hits in 2010.  Brett Butler, who had 41 bunt hits in 1992, holds the MLB record.  That is well within reach for Gomez.  He led the majors with 30 last year, on turf I might add.  The left side of the infield at Target Field should be a marshland.

This is one of the best times of year because this is when hope springs eternal for all major league squads; everyone thinks they have a chance, even the Brewers.  The weather is thawing a little bit, and baseball can seriously be discussed for the next 8 months.   I couldn’t be happier, World Series here we come.