Offseason Grading: The Kansas City Royals

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be going through the offseason moves in the AL and NL Central.  Day one (today), we’ll start with the easiest team to grade: The Kansas City Royals.

The best thing about grading the Royals? It doesn’t really matter what we give them, they will probably take last place in the AL Central. Let’s look at what they did:

Additions: Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, Jeff Francis, Lorenzo Cain.

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Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Cy Young Winner Zach Greinke

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What a coup this is for the Milwaukee Brewers. With a deal like this in place, the Brew Crew have to be considered right up there with the Cards and Reds as favorites in the NL Central. Tonight it was leaked that they acquired one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball.

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When Will the Houston Astros Selling Shoe Drop?

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Humor me for a hot stove moment. The Milwaukee Brewers have a ton of offensive issues. When the pitching is adequate (a rarity some weeks, yes) the bats don’t back it up. When the offense is on fire, the pitching might be as murky as the Menomonee River near the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

So if the Houston Astros start putting up the first signs advertising a summer garage sale in your neighborhood, is Milwaukee right to wheel and deal for a trade?  Would someone like Roy Oswalt make a significant difference or not? Should we look to our farm system instead? Is it too early for me to be asking any of these questions? [Read more…]

Brewers Racing Sausages Need Spring Training, Too

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Even the Klements’ Racing Sausages were working towards regular season perfection during Saturday’s first Brewers home game of Spring Training at Maryvale Ballpark. They need to train, too, you know.

After beating the Brewers in the Spring Training opener at Scottsdale and watching Zito nail Prince Fielder with a pitch to the back, a little pride was on the line facing the San Francisco Giants again so soon. Unfortunately, the hit-by-pitch fest continued, with Pucetas nailing Rickie Weeks immediately in the first and two more Giants’ pitchers nailing two more Brewers later in the game. Fortunately, those dings didn’t seem to bother the Crew.

Randy Wolf started the game strong, retiring seven batters in two scoreless innings with two K’s, zero BB’s and only one hit. But the real pitching story of the day was the homecoming of Chris Capuano. Cappy has been rehabbing for ages, and took the mound for the first time in the Majors in two years. He has undergone two Tommy John’s surgeries. Frustrating for a guy who won 18 games in 2005 and made the All-Star team the following year. [Read more…]

What’s Brewing in ’09: Plate Patience, Pirate Tantrums & Rickie vs. Rourke

By: Melissa S. Wollering

 
Doth my ears hear correctly?  Exsqueeze me?  Bacon powder? On Wednesday, the Brewers broke .500 for the first time this season. After a horrible start to April, that’s like beating the same odds Ben Linus has of becoming Chief of Staff to Jimmy Carter after getting off the island post-
Dharma Initiative.

 
Your Milwaukee Brewers have won seven out of their last eight to achieve that monumental task. Note 15 wins in a row against Pittsburgh and 18 in a row at Miller Park. Playing the Pirates every other series wouldn’t be so terrible, eh?  Strange enough, many of them have been close games and the Brewers always pull it out. Why can we only win close games against the Pirates?


AAAARRRRRRR, matey. The fans of those losing scoundrels are angry that the Brewers untuck their jerseys after a win. If you haven’t heard by now, the tradition is in honor of Mike Cameron’s father who used to untuck his shirt after a tough day’s work. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blogs are chock full of dissenters. Really? One guy wrote that he wanted the Brewers’ Gatorade cooler tainted with swine flu because he’s so mad. Really?


Meantime, Yovani Gallardo went to bed Tuesday and woke up an ace pitcher 12 hours later. Put this into your TI-84’s and crunch it: 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 BB, 0 runs, 11 K’s. Perfect game through two outs into the 5th inning. Then he got ‘er done at the plate by going yard in the 7th on a 0-2 count for the only run of the game.


Did you know that’s two homers in only 12 at bats so far this season for Gallardo? TI-84 says at that pace, collecting 550 at bats this season could hypothetically produce 92 home runs while Gallardo maintains a .333 average. Yeah, and if frogs could fly they wouldn’t bump their ass when they hopped. Oh, Cassandra…


Baseball Musings says it is the first 1-0 game won by a starting pitcher’s home run since August of 2002, when Odalis Perez homered off Rick Helling a Dodgers win over the Diamondbacks. It is only the seventh time that has happened in the last 50 years, with Early Winn, Milt Pappas, Jim Bunning, Juan Pizarro and Bob Welch also completing the feat.

 
Corey Hart is inducing coronary failure ‘round the world as he forms a good habit – TAKING WALKS, THREE IN ONE GAME. I’m going to have the big one. Call an ambulance. On Tuesday, Hart reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances; 3 BB’s contributed to that.

 
Hart’s three were among a season-high NINE for Crew hitters on Tuesday.  BrewerFan.net has Ryan Braun on pace to take more than 100 walks this season. Jeromy Burnitz holds the Crew’s record for walks in a season with 99, so Braun and even Fielder could break that with this type of start.

Last year at this time, the Brewers had worked a mere 60 walks.  They’ve already marked 87 through 21 games this season. Their patience at the plate is so good that the Dalai Lama is channeling it during deep contemplation sessions, where it may silence tribal wars in Africa and achieve world peace.

Ben Sheets was spotted picking his nose in the dugout more times than any other Brewer in history.  Funny – Todd Coffey must have been passed some sort of torch because he was caught searching for an illegal substance to smuggle with him to the mound here. 

watch?v=_Bj45VNrM5w&feature=player_embedded

Carlos Corporan has been called up from the minors to replace Mike Rivera, who was placed on the DL. Corporan’s defensive skills are better than Angel Salome’s (if you’re wondering why Corporan).  He’s also batting well right now and Angel needs work at .182 or something pitiful like that.

M’boy minor-leaguer Lorenzo Cain almost had me in tears this week. However, the good news is he did not tear his ACL.  4-6 weeks off. Also, Mark Rogers is not injured.  He missed the last few starts.  Turns out he just ran into a wall while shagging fly balls.  Whew!  Although, which brain response is failing to communicate to your lower limbs that they should stop before running into walls?

No, the Brewers are not interested in signing Pedro Martinez.  Poor Doug Melvin. He despises rumors as much as Peter Christian despises Al Davis’ ignorance in drafts. By the way, Peter, Paul and Mary… No, kidding.  Peter Christian, Paul M. Banks and Rikki Greenberg all get shout outs for understanding my Jackson Pollack – Jorge Julio strike zone reference last week.  Outstanding. We have such a diverse palate of writers, all of whom appreciate the fine arts on thesportsbank.net. 


Trevor Hoffman recorded his 1st-ever save as a Brewer this week, complete with Hells Bells.  Apparently, Hoffman wants it not just playing—but blasting.  In a post-game interview, he told a reporter that it wasn’t loud enough and that he had looked into noise ordinances in the city of Milwaukee and was fairly certain the volume could be increased safely.  Trevor wasn’t afraid to express to Attanasio that he should invest in extra speakers and sub-woofers at Miller Park before the closer’s next appearance. Fiesty, feisty.

Ryan Braun extended the Pirates & Brewers history of scuffling by taking a clearly intentional hit from Jeff Karstens. Both benches were warned and nothing ensued the rest of the game. Still, do you remember Prince Fielder and Matt Capps’ Yosemite Sam episode from the ’07 season? Fire in the hole…


“Friendly Fire with the Cubs,” is short and sweet this week.  Milton Bradley is a head case.  His condemnation to a psych ward would not surprise me in the slightest.  Why, why, why does he open his mouth?

 
The Beer Pen knows how to satisfy Rickie-haters who can’t keep their mouth shut either.  Usually I scowl, but this week, they compare Rickie Weeks to Mickey Rourke.  And that IS funny.

Rourke’s acting career of flops, bombs, straight-to-TV-movies and gonorrhea mirrors “Dick Weeks’ ” career of strikeouts, errors, braided hair and gonorrhea. That’s pretty straightforward, actually. Rourke astonished the world with his performance as Marv in Sin City and then of course, The Wrestler. Rickie magically comes out this year and astonishes Brewer fans with his exceptional play.  Coincidence?  I don’t know, but credit is given Beer Pen.


In “Just a Bit Outside,” Bob Uecker shared dialogue during the bottom of the 1st Wednesday that I must share with you.  He told Cory Provus that he follows blogs, email and facebook but he doesn’t Twitter. Here’s why:

 

And finally in “Chart Magnificence,” I’m allowing empirical data and statistical graphs to sit the bench while The Beer Pen illustrates the greatest comic strip of the month. Can we play?

What’s Brewing in ’09: Injury Woes & Brewers Worth Fantasizing About

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Let’s recognize the man who’s seeing the most action during Brewers Spring Training this year: Dr. William Raasch. I have resorted to channeling my anger and frustration over a left oblique, a lower back and three shoulders into something positive and achieving mental clarity. Thank you, Dalai Lama. And thank you team MD Bill Raasch.

This week in Spring Training, Braden Looper was held from the rotation for tightness in his left oblique. Lil’ TG, Tony Gwynn, wants to believe his shoulder doesn’t hurt but is a horrible liar. Might be more than an impingement – might be his rotator cuff. And Gagme’s ailing shoulder is only proving my point that he won’t make the team after all. Yesssss. Eric may need to consider exile in Montana, where he can build himself a cabin, take up goose hunting and whittle bird whistles for the rest of his life.

Bill Hall’s calf progress has slowed. Mat Gamel is still a week away from being allowed to play. C Mike Rivera says his hammy hurts while C prospect Angel Salome is having back trouble. Finally, we are going to see reliever David Riske pitch for the first time off the mound next week after rehabbing from elbow surgery. When have you ever heard of so many injuries during the second week of Spring Training?

Seth McClung is getting Looper’s starts for now, but Seth hasn’t been doing anything spectacular with them. Chris Duffy’s seeing playing time with Braun in the WBC. JJ has been going yard and is apparently smoking both on and off the field. Casey McGehee’s actually bonding with 3B and produced a grand slam already. McGehee, Duffy, Mike Rivera and Trot Nixon have all jacked homers against the Rockies. Now that’s rocky mountain refreshment.

Cain is finally ABEL to play with the big boys after coming over from the minor league side. Readers already know: future CF Lorenzo Cain is m’boy. I stopped contributing to my 401K and invested in stock in this guy a long time ago. With a shortage of healthy outfielders, he’s getting some playing time. To prove my point: he tripled into the left-field corner as a right-handed hitter this past Tuesday. Sick good, just sick.

In a new feature, “Brewers Worth Fantasizing About,” we break down some early Fantasy Baseball projections. I’ll have more on this closer to the first week of April, but here’s a taste for those of you chomping at the bit.

Ryan Braun. Expect a first-round pick, taken most likely in the 6th-8th positions. If he falls further than that, scoop him up with no regrets.

Prince Fielder. Think late second or early third-round.

Corey Hart. Next to go after Fielder, may be able to snatch at a good value after disappointing owners last season. Consider round 6 excellent, probably won’t last that long.

JJ Hardy. He’s been my shortstop because he’s great value in rounds 6-9 and his numbers do the trick depending on how you stack your lineup. It always depends on the highly volatile pool of SS each year, too.

Yovani Gallardo. If you want him, he’d be a great #3 starter for your roster and is another mid-rounder. But be aware: he only pitched 24 innings throughout the entirety of last season. Who is everyday Yovani? We have really yet to find out.

Wickie Reeks. You know for all the grief I give him, I have a secret to share with you. He’s rarely failed me at 2B and I have drafted him two years in a row. Why? Because even when he sucks, he miraculously puts up fantasy numbers. When he’s injured, well, that doesn’t work. But when he’s healthy, he’s like gold in the bank, backing a bad line of credit.

Other potential fantasy notables: Trevor Hoffman, Dave Bush, Manny Parra, Mike Cameron.

In “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” this just in: the Cubs will now win the World Series. They’ve signed Corey Koskie.

Remember Randall Simon? Of course you do. The once-a-douche-always-a-douche wiener-whacker was recently quoted, since he’s in the WBC. Who says they’re proud to be remembered for abusing sausages?

“I think it’s something that’s going to be good for me because it keeps memories of me,” joked Simon, who was a member of the Pirates when the sausage race incident occurred. “As long as people don’t take it in the wrong way, I don’t have a problem with it.”

The guys over at Miller Park Drunk, (what a website name) wrote a letter in first-person to a tavern jukebox. The writer blames Corey Hart’s scary September on his choice of batting song, “International Harvester.” They also shiver at Jason Kendall’s Mudvayne batting song.

As you know, I have lifelong respect for the FS Wisconsin Crew. Brian and Bill do a great job and B. Anderson writes his own blog. During Spring Training webcasts, they have developed a new interactive feature for questions/comments.  Send yours to askthetruck@brewers.com.  Love it.

On a not-so-great note, former FSN WI play-by-play Mattie Vasgersian flubbed up by saying the real thing on the MLB Network. Way to christen your network, Matt. I feel bad, he’s a really quality guy. He’s probably feels so bad that he’s on his 458th Hail Mary and 677th Our Father as we speak.

If you’d rather seek a steady income as a lifer in Vegas, sportsbook.com recommends you put your cash on the Brewers, who are 50:1 to win it all this season. That’s not as good as the Devil Rays, but we may never see those odds again.

This week in “Just A Bit Outside”, comedian Artie Lange spent his entire time on David Letterman reminiscing about his time with Uecker. Artie and Norm MacDonald in the same room as Ueck – no wonder Artie said it was the funniest 24-hour period of his life. Ueck shared a great Harry Caray story with Artie as well.

On a heartbreaking note, I bring you my second quote from Bob Uecker during pre-season radio:

“We wish everyone good luck to start this season…except Jim Powell.” He then proceeded to talk about Powell for the rest of the inning. Aww…he’s so lost. So alone. So sad…

Ryan Braun was also on Letterman this past week with some Team USA players to countdown the Top 10 Reasons to Watch the WBC. Too bad no one cares about the WBC, which stands for Why Bother/Care. Or We Bad at Catching.

We can’t go a week without checking in on CC. Picture this: Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, Woody and Buzz. That’s right CC & Joba checked out the new Toy Story ride at Disney. Headline next day: “First Titanium Amusement Ride Thrills, Withstands One-Ton Loads.”

And finally, in “Chart Magnificence,” America’s favorite pie chart debuts in the What’s Brewing column. These two graphs represent the upcoming strength of the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals Farm Systems. Translation = Cubs had better win now before talent moves up the pipeline.

Stay tuned for the Injury Update & 5 Things You Never Knew About Ryan Braun next week…