Shutting down Strasburg is. . .STUPID

Stepehen Strasburg

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has certainly lived up to all the hype surrounding him when he became the #1 pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. Despite his elbow injury during his rookie season, which required Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has bounced back to nearly 100% health and strength. But a lot has been made on the Nationals decision to shut Strasburg down, no matter what, when he reaches 160-165 innings this season. With a legitimate shot to go all the way, is this really smart by the Nationals?

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Chicago Cubs WIN! And Rod Blagojevich is hoping to as well!

Good morning and happy Friday. I hope each and every one of you out there among the Cubs Faithful is having a wonderful start to the day. Or middle of the day. Or in two days, basically whenever you read this.

I have spent my fair share of time, as well as many others’ fair share of time, inside Wrigley Field, and there were only one or two times the weather made the experience more miserable than it did on Tuesday and Wednesday night. It was horrible. Call it committed or just plain stupid, either way, it was COLD.

So, with that out of the way, let’s start throwing out some random and obvious thoughts and see what sticks against the wall. So, here we go …

• Hey, I can’t see to well … was that just series victory? Really, the Cubs won a series?

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2010 MLB Mock Draft 3.0: The Final Countdown

Jameson Taillon

For pick-by-pick analysis of the first round of the MLB Draft, click here.

The 2010 MLB Draft is peaking over the horizon, and the only guaranteed predictions come out of the top three slots. After that, it’s a whirlwind of speculation as the options open up for the remaining 29 selections.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

2010 MLB Mock Draft 2.0 (6-2-10)

Bryce Harper

With the 2010 MLB draft just five days away, it’s time for the second version of its mock up, complete with a few changes big and small.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

2010 MLB Mock Draft (Picks 1-16)

Top prospect Bryce Harper

For pick-by-pick analysis of the 2010 MLB draft’s first round, click here.

With up to 50 rounds adding up to 1,600 picks, most of which either don’t sign or won’t be seen for three to four years, the MLB Draft doesn’t hold the same attention grabbing star power as its NFL and NBA counter parts.

But that doesn’t mean MLB Mock Drafts aren’t still fun to discuss and debate, especially with the draft only a few weeks away.

For picks 17-32 of the 2010 mock first round, click here.

For the updated MLB mock draft 2.0, click here.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Sidetracked: The Midwest’s Own Major Leaguer Trenni Kusnierek (1 of 2)

Trenni3

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Cole Hamels just gave up a solo homer to Andre Ethier and it’s only the first.  It’s 63 degrees out, but he’s visibly sweating. Game 5 of the NLCS will do that to you. Trenni’s head is filled with stats. If she could just double-check his ERA and games pitched during the ’08 playoffs versus the ’09 postseason so far.

Manny’s now at the plate. She sends off a quick email to MLB Network support staff. Manny singles on a line drive to Werth in right…yikes.  Wait, new message notification. The answer to the Hamels question!

Covering 30 teams is a far cry from one; good thing some of the best researchers in sports TV are listening. See, they’re at her service. All the while, she still refers to Wisconsin as HOME in all caps. You still hear her on 1250 WSSP in Milwaukee. You still catch her volunteering as a tutor on the city’s Southside. We, too, are happy to be at Trenni Kusnierek’s service. The only difference: the rest of baseball is catching on. [Read more…]

What Milwaukee’s Brewing: 30 in 50, Raw Relief & Fountain vs. Fist

milli_vanilli

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Thirty W’s in 50 games—the Milwaukee Brewers make club history with that number.  It’s also just the second time the Crew has won 30 prior to June 1.  Unfortunately, the next day, Jorge Julio throws raw steak at the Fish, single-handedly loses a game and prompts Ken Macha to rethink his entire bullpen. Now that’s more like the Brewers we know and love. Ugh.
 
The bright side: the Milwaukee Brewers swept the Reds after an interleague interruption to the Twins and losses to the red birds. Also good: Trevor Hoffman is 13 for 13 in saves.  But the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen is now valued beneath Milli Vanilli’s Grammy award at any local pawn shop near you.

 

The Brewers were on top of the Florida Marlins 4-2 Monday, when Jorge Julio entered in the 6th inning to give up five runs, four earned. Coffey stepped in that inning because after all that, Julio still couldn’t record ONE OUT. If Julio were the piece of raw meat I saw travel towards the plate Monday night, I’d feed him to Siegfried & Roy’s tiger. I’d also make sure that tiger lived a happy, fulfilling life in the Brewers bullpen reminding relievers not to THROW CRAP.

siegfried_roy_tiger_1_r_0

Ken Macha just might tear apart his bullpen. He released Julio 14 hours later and called up AAA Nashville’s Mike Burns. Burns has pitched for the Sounds, recording a 6-2 record, 2.98 ERA in 10 starts and one shutout game. He’s pitched in the majors for Houston, Cincinnati and Boston and will serve a middle-reliever role.

If Macha had wanted David Riske, forget it. On Tuesday, Brewers Asst. GM Gord Ash announced Riske will undergo elbow surgery immediately and it could be as serious as Tommy John’s. He’s done for the year after just one outing.

Mark DeFelice has recently been held out of games due to his ailing elbow and could be placed on the DL any day. The Crew has R.J. Swindle but kicks itself every time it calls the LHP up because he gives up runs every time he enters a game.

In the event Macha needs someone else who can cover several innings, he could call up Nick Green or Chase Wright. Seth McClung and Mitch Stetter were so overworked by Monday, they were unavailable. Coffey and Villaneuva aren’t seeing much rest lately either. Tim Dillard would have been another decent choice to bring up Tuesday, except he pitched 7 innings on Sunday for Nashville and needs rest. Dillard has transitioned from reliever to starter.

brauns-remetee-party

Mike Cameron left Monday’s game with knee irritation and Ryan Braun was part of that double-switch because he fouled a ball into one of his shins. Maybe if Braun wasn’t so busy throwing Remetee promotions parties on Milwaukee’s northside, he wouldn’t foul the ball in that direction.  Nothing is said to be serious with either player. Braun’s back in the lineup Tuesday.  Cameron is not. Jody Gerut is in.

Can we talk about the positive? May showered the Milwaukee Brewers’ with 18 victories and the wins are saving fans money.  A line formed at Miller Park Monday morning as people purchased discounted tickets to the Rockies’ series next week. The team offered a dollar off of loge level seats for every victory in May. $28 seats became $10 seats. Windell Middlebrooks calls them ‘good seats at an honest price’.

wendall-middlebrooks

Contributors worth recognizing include Prince ‘Month of May’ Fielder. His OBP of .450 gives statisticians chills; he whacked 9 homers, 31 RBI’s and 20 runs; AND his reflective shades complement his .305 average for the month. That’s not bad considering he lost your friend and mine, Rickie Weeks.

princeflow

Craig Counsell’s performance has exceeded the worth of his contract and it’s only June. Yovani Gallardo is finally showing signs of Ace potential. And Trevor Hoffman is playing paramedic, performing CPR on the bullpen even though he was out the first month of the season.  He is already approaching the top of the list in saves in the NL. He also converted his 13th save on the day the Milwaukee Brewers released his first bobblehead figure.  Remember when the Derrick Turnbow bobblehead release signaled his demise? Oh, Turnblow.

derrick_turnbow_bobblehead_may_13th_2006_3__soul-amp

I understand Miller Park finally got it right for Hoffy on Friday, playing AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’ the correct way. As the Brewers secured the final out in the 8th, all graphics on the video board went out, cameras and lights went dark and music stopped. Then, Hoffman opened the door and BONG! As he started jogging, music blared and video of ‘Trevor Time’ appeared.  Someone from San Diego must have faxed a step-by-step procedure manual to Milwaukee.  Thanks, San Diego.

I’m glad they got it right just in time to welcome Francisco Cordero back to Milwaukee.  Are you still celebrating your dollar figure or scratching your head about last season’s record under .500? We’re over you like cheekless chaps on Cher, Coco.

As for the offense, Ken Macha is now making it clear that if you were waiting for the Brewers to play small ball, even during the hitting funk prior to the Reds’ series, you wasted your time. Macha still subscribes to the idea that home runs and walks win games; stolen bases and sac bunts do not. Macha also insists this philosophy isn’t a product of his time with the Oakland A’s.

sveum

During spring training, batting coach Dale Sveum spoke extensively about shifting offensive reliance on homers towards more of a manufacturing-friendly attitude. Macha just chucked that idea to the wolves this week.  He says that prior to sweeping the Reds, the Brewers’ only problem was passivity at the plate.  What is Macha’s solution should home-run bats become silent? Encourage hitters to be more aggressive on first-pitch strikes a.k.a. earlier in the count. I wonder if Sveum and Macha are clashing on philosophies this season.  It would appear they, are but no one’s talking about it.

In June, watch out for Corey Hart and Manny Parra. Hart has hit around .306 (20 points higher than his monthly average) and slugs .583 (100 point difference) in the month of June. Parra also loves the start to summer. He went 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA last June. However, Alcides Escobar will not start at second for the Brewers any time soon.  He’s back to shortshop down in Nashville.

In “Just a Bit Outside,” if the fan next to you at Miller Park is ticking you off, you can now text park personnel for someone to monitor and investigate the situation. As part of the organizations’ “Play Nice – Be a Friendly Fan”, you can now report misconduct by texting BREWERS, followed by a space and their seat or ballpark location to 41513. If a player punches a Gatorade dispenser, that’s a separate issue.

gatorade-dispenser

In “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” I’m sure you’re shocked that I would take this opportunity to deluge Mr. Ryan Dempster and Mr. Carlos Zambrano for their two separate attacks on a defenseless hydration device. Dempster’s new book (to be released in the off-season), “Speaking With Your Fist”, recounts Ryan’s experience after walking in two runs in the 2nd inning to the Pirates on Memorial Day.  That’s when he ran into the dugout and punched the soda fountain to pieces. But friends, it lived on.

You see, the Cubs’ soda fountain for Gatorade is one you’d see at Hardees or the BK, with approximately six varieties of pressurized beverage for players’ electrolyte pleasure. Great Zeus’ beard—who would put this in their dugout?  It was only a matter of time before the oversized, bulky monstrosity, which splashed sticky liquid in players’ faces, would get on someone’s nerves.  Its refrigerated cooling device hums like a kazoo, driving men bonkers. zambrano

The dispenser’s epic tale ended once Los named his Nueva amiga Fontana de’ Gatora.  Unlike a nice, garden-variety wooden beverage barrel from the 50’s, this dispenser could not withstand such a blow.

Typical dispensers require service calls for maintenance if they happen to be blasted with 35 ounces of maple. Alas, in this economy, the Cubs decided they didn’t want to keep calling the repairman to put the thing back together every time Zambrano attacked it.  So it has been placed on waivers. Bless you, Gatorade dispenser. You aren’t the first victim of Z’s angry demeanor and you won’t be the last.

NL Central Predictions

By: David K.

17 of the 21 “experts” on ESPN.com predicted the Cubs to take home the NL Central for a third straight year.  The other four “experts” think the Cardinals will dethrone the Lovable Losers.  I say “experts” because one writer actually picked the Reds to represent the National League in the World Series.  Really, Enrique Rojas?  Anyway, here are my “expert” predictions on how the NL Central will play out this year.

1. Chicago Cubs
I am not convinced the Cubs are going to run away with this division like everyone seems to think.  Chicago led the National League in runs last season and the much needed addition of Milton Bradley’s left handed bat in the middle of the line-up should help them maintain their offensive output   What concerns me is the starting pitching.  Most talking heads are predicting a down year from Carlos Zambrano.  Can Rich Harden stay healthy?  Will Ryan Dempster be able to re-create his career year from last season?  Is Sean Marshall truly the answer as the number five starter?  Maybe it is just the cynical Cub fan coming out of me, but there are concerns with this team.  And let’s be honest; after being swept out of the Playoffs in the first round the past two post-seasons, just winning the Central will not be enough this year.

2. St. Louis Cardinals
Injuries really plagued the Cards last season, especially on the mound.  If their rotation can stay healthy and rookie closer Jason Motte can successfully fill that role, St. Louis should keep the division close.  The Redbirds will start the year with a pair of rookies in their line-up, LF Colby Rasmus and 3B David Freese (until Troy Glaus returns from the DL), but the rest of the order knows how to produce.  It is very unlikely that the NL Wild Card team will come out of the Central, so winning the division will be essential for any team wanting to see October.

3. Houston Astros
The ‘Stros have pop in the middle of their order with Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Miguel Tejada returning.  The continued growth of young outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn should only add to the line-up.  Ivan Rodriguez, who signed a one-year deal with Houston, could be the x-factor.  If Pudge can be productive at the bottom of the order, this team may surprise some people.  Pitching will likely be the downfall in Houston.  You know Roy Oswalt will be solid and Wandy Rodriguez should continue to develop, but the health of Mike Hampton and production of veterans Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz are certainly question marks.

4. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers waited 25 years to make the post-season; one year later, they are trotting out Jeff Suppan as their opening day starter.  Can any team really feel good about their starting rotation when Sup’ is taking the bump on Opening Day?  With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets both gone, Yovani Gallardo will likely be the true ace of this staff, but he only has 24 career starts.  40-year old Trevor Hoffman was brought in during the off-season to solidify the bullpen, but he starts the ’09 campaign on the 15-day disabled list, leaving a major hole to be filled early in the year.  Offensively, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun will put up major power numbers, but the Crew need Bill Hall, Mike Cameron, and Rickie Weeks to get on base (which was not a strength last season as they all hit below .245.)  Sorry Brewer backers, do not expect to re-live the magic of 2008.

5. Cincinnati Reds
Dusty Baker’s team is certainly an up-and-coming group, but is probably a year or two away from competing for the top spot in the division.  Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez are young, live arms in the rotation and should build off solid 2008 seasons.  A lot of people are excited about youngsters Jay Bruce and Joey Votto in the middle of the order, and deservingly so.  But outside of Bruce, Votto, Brandon Phillips, and maybe Edwin Encarnacion, there really is not a lot of pop in the line-up.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Before I looked up the Pirates roster, I could only name three guys.  Seriously, try it.  It should be another typical season of cellar dwelling for the Bucs.  Their starting rotation is pretty much a mess and the position players are a bunch of over-achievers.  I hear their new stadium is really nice though…