The Hunt For Ken’s Machtober: Bullpen Breakdown


 By: Melissa S. Wollering

The starting rotation is experiencing full engine failure, prompting a bullpen meltdown. For the Milwaukee Brewers to salvage their race for October, the organization prayed to the skies above.  Doug Melvin ordered some stormy Weathers to cool off overheated relievers.  He also ordered the Coming of Jesus.  Jesus Colome, that is.


39-year-old David Weathers gets around. He has license plates from 10 metropolitan cities: nine in the U.S., one in Canada. He also dated both of your twin sisters; as a Yankee and a Met. Doug Melvin worked out a deal after the trade deadline, when Cincinnati put Weathers on waivers. The Crew is handing over a player yet to-be-named or just plain cash.

Weathers brought sun as well as rain clouds into Milwaukee as a Brewer from 1998 to July of 2001, when he was dealt to the Cubs. He is the third reliever added to the Brewers’ bullpen in ten days and was sought out with the hope that he can eat up late innings. Needless to say, he provides experience, a sneaky cutter ball and the ability to be one of two set-up men for Trevor Hoffman (the other being Todd Coffey).

According to Tom Hardricourt, no one was more shocked about his return than Weathers himself.  The good news: Weathers is self-forecasting fresh pitching because he’s received an easy workload and adequate rest in Cincy.  Can he bring clear skies back to a state under a permanent tornado watch?  Check out TSB’s 7-Day Weathers’ Outlook in “Chart Magnificence” below.


Former Milwaukee Brewer Claudio Vargas is also back to provide some semi-fresh arm action. Mmm…at this point should we find Ruben Quevedo? No? By the way, Doug Melvin gave the Dodgers minor-league catcher Vinny Rottino in exchange.

Finally, nothing shows Melvin’s desperate plea for divine intervention more than summoning Jesus himself to the bullpen. Last week, the club called up righty-reliever Jesus Colome from AAA Nashville to replace R.J. Swindle. The lefty could have used his right arm, right toe, left ear or rear end and still wouldn’t have made a difference in the Brewers’ physically-drained bulllpen. Swindle had three stints in the bigs with the Brewers, ultimately allowing a dozen hits and a dozen runs in less than 7 innings, for a 16.20 ERA.  Cue the coming of Jesus.

Nationals Cubs Baseball
Melvin signed Colome several weeks ago after his release from Washington and was assigned to Class AAA Nashville. He’s been great in four outings there; going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, three hits and two walks allowed in seven innings, and 11 K’s. If he doesn’t knock your socks off just remember, Swindle allowed at least one run in each of his last six outings.
It’s clear that the bullpen breakdown is a direct result of Melvin’s inability to obtain a starting pitcher while Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan are on the DL. 



During the injury waiting game, the Hunt for Ken’s Machtober has been stymied by starters habitually making short-inning appearances and relievers being beckoned über early.

Case and point: the tired Mark DiFelice.  He’s made 45 appearances so far this year and even cost the organization Friday’s game. Typically, DeFelice can sack righties. Instead, he hung a “cut” fastball to Houston’s Jason Michaels, who served himself a three-run shot on a silver platter that night. DeFelice admits he’s been dropping his arm and not following through on his trusted pitch. He’s highly unlikely to be the only one in the bullpen doing such a thing.


Chew on this: the Brewers are 1-21 in games in which Chris Smith has come to the mound. You know you have problems when your pitcher can’t hold a six-run lead.  In addition, you know you have problems when your beer pitcher can’t hold the six-pack you need it to in order for you to get through such a game.


Ken Macha worried this domino effect would prevent his team from vying for the “up-for-grabs” NL Central. With the Brewers back below .500, tied for third with the Astros as of Monday and five games off the pace, Ken’s Hunt had better include an improved bullpen first and foremost, with a glorious return for Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan fairly soon afterward.

Other things worth fixin’ like country fried steak: get somebody on base before there are two outs already on the board. Seriously.

Stop taking game-critical abuse from senile umpires. On Sunday, Ryan Braun took a third strike so far outside that Humberto Quintero used an Inspector Gadget extendable arm or Stretch Armstrong putty limb to retrieve it. Braun rightfully complained to home plate umpire Larry Vanover. Replays showed the fastball was spotted in Austin, Texas. Those calls are not helping the Brewers.

Lastly, stranded runners destroy big opportunity innings. AGAIN, these are game-critical innings. On Saturday, the Crew got one run off Mike Hampton in the first but could have put a few more up on the board.

In the coming weeks, we’ll keep tabs on the submarine in Ken’s Hunt for you.  Remember that until Machtober, the Brewers do not surrender.

The Hunt For Ken’s Machtober: Domino Effect


By: Melissa S. Wollering

The Milwaukee Brewers’ starting rotation, questionable from Day 1, incurs injuries and declines in quality start production. That triggers work overload for the bullpen as Bill Castro cracks a figurative whip on exhausted arms. The outfield starts running down long balls; the infield must save their pitcher’s derrière as he walks batters, throws wild pitches and loads bases. Last but not least, Ken Macha sends a desperate S.O.S. to Doug Melvin by putting Carlos Villanueva on the mound. This domino effect immediately before the trade deadline probably has you asking: is a major trade worth it when no single pitching acquisition could fix a force as destructive as Prince Fielder swinging blindfolded in a glass factory?


Prior to Tuesday, the Milwaukee Brewers lost 15 of their last 22 games of duck-duck-goose. If you call it duck-duck-grey-duck, you must enjoy Twins baseball.


Looking at the schedule, the months of July and August were supposed to provide the Crew with an ego boost greater than what Elisha Cuthbert and Kate Hudson could do for your depressed roommate by macking on him. Between playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals, as many as 12 games could have made Jake H. from Madison richer as he places bets in Vegas while on his honeymoon.  By the way, Jake, the officially wishes you a blessed, sports-filled marriage!


Instead, because a Vegas blackjack table is more reliable than betting on a Brewers-Nationals game with Carlos Give-it-a-ueva on the mound (tip o’ the hat to Justin Z. from Green Bay), Jake will probably lose $100 bucks then hit up the slots. Nice wedding present, Macha.


Macha’s mission to resurrect postseason play in October is narrowing. In order to salvage the season and gain momentum, the Milwaukee Brewers need to reverse the Blueberry Hill Fats Domino Effect. Yes, that’s right.  You’re noticing Prince has some resemblance to Fats, aren’t you?


Think Outside the Box…Taco Bell does one thing right.  It markets itself against convention. The Brewers have a good start: moving Mike Burns down and R.J. Swindle up. Now start Tim Dillard.  Heal Dave Bush using Sportscreme, give one of the AAA prospects a chance for the heck of it, pray for a Chris Capuano recovery miracle and find that never-before-considered option.


Is there anyone we can pull back from retirement for a third-tier prospect?  Paul Byrd? Oakland A’s Justin Duchsherer could be ready to return in just two weeks and he’s a free agent come September. Right Field Bleachers offers advice on this matter and a convincing argument as to why a two-month rental like Jerrod Washburn is mental.


Trades Should Not Be Riddled With Regret…Carefully examining the future of the Brewers organization is a must. If Ken’s Machtober is destined for 2010 instead of 2009, selling your farm for a van down by the river is something Matt Foley would become enraged by.


Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Angel Salome, Lorenzo Cain, Jonathan Lucroy, Cody Scarpetta, Brett Lawrie and Taylor Green are probably the largest assets within the farm system. JJ Hardy could be dealt, but we may regret that move next year.


Panic Induces Extemes, Resist It…If Milwaukee decides it is not buying, that doesn’t mean the team has to start selling.  The same team spent a majority of the first-half of the season atop the division. It has a history of slumping worse my aging neighbor with scoliosis.  The team has successful players on its rosters; a slightly different combination of players could at the very least stop the bleeding.


Just Win a Series…June.  The Mets.  The last time we won a series was nearly a month ago. Take 2 of 3, no need to sweep; just gain some momentum. Winning a series seems to emotionally reset the brain of every player on the team. Since the fictional team psychologist isn’t doing it for them, they need a new and positive outlook.


In this week’s “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” carefully consider what you bring for an autograph signing. Nicole does a nice job over at Cute Sports and one of her readers submitted this:

…When I met [former Brewer] Doug Davis over the winter and we were getting a few auto’s, my Cubs buddy asked him to sign his Cubs hat. Davis looked at him kind of funny and my buddy said, ‘hey, write whatever you want’.  Doug said…’anything?’ My buddy said ‘ANYTHING’. So Doug signs the underbill of his fitted Cubs hat, ”Cubs suck. I own them.” God bless, Doug Davis.

In this week’s “Chart Magnificence,” we examine the odds Jake H. faces in Vegas should he desire to throw his marriage start-up money away on the Milwaukee Brewers. You could argue these are the more than just “game” odds…


The Hunt for Ken’s Machtober


By: Melissa S. Wollering

Formerly known as What Milwaukee’s Brewing, The flips the switch on this baseball column in anticipation of October. On Sunday, Doug Melvin and Ken Macha initiated Step 1 in their master plan to secure a return to the playoffs for the Milwaukee Brewers.  Switch-hitter Felipe Lopez increases options at the leadoff spot, fills the void Rickie Weeks left at second base and could be used to play almost any position in the Crew’s infield if needed. The only problem: this move still leaves fans chomping at the bit for another starting pitcher.

First things first: was it worth the price tag? Like finding a Deron Williams Cartier diamond-encrusted watch replica at the Dollar Store, yes it was worth it. Arizona drew the short end of the stick on this one.

This Lopez move sort of reminds me of last season’s Ray Durham pickup. Lopez is an unrestricted free agent come fall. Milwaukee would need to negotiate to keep him, but has the freedom of knowing they’re not married to a long-term contract.

The Brewers could get a compensation pick after the first round next June if he shops another team; Class B is what Doug Melvin’s guessing. Felipe has about $1.5M left on his $3.5M contract.

The only thing the Brewers organization sacrificed was AAA outfielder Cole Gillespie and A reliever Roque Mercedes. Gillespie was batting .242 with seven homers and 27 RBI in Nashville, but started the season on the DL. Mercedes was 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA and six saves in 29 games played down in Brevard County. Rookie Mat Gamel was sent back down to AAA to free up space on the roster. No worries; this just gives Gamel daily playing time and it’s only a matter of weeks/months before he’s back in the bigs.


How This Brings Them Closer to October….

Ken Macha has been frustrated while trying to find a right-handed hitter to anchor the top of the lineup when the team faces lefties. Craig Counsell can still be used at second against right-handed aces if needed, and both Craig and Casey McGehee (another 2B substitute) can be utilized elsewhere in the infield.

Rickie Weeks exited stage left with a torn-up wrist just as his curtain had gone up for the first time in opera house history.  Weeks was contributing with a .857 OPS. Lopez may make up for some of that lost production, considering 2B has been a sieve on the flip side (offense) for the Brewers. Lopez has been batting .301 with 18 doubles, six homers and 25 RBI for the Arizona D-Backs. More to love: he is batting .313 from the right side of the plate and .298 left-handed. As of Sunday, he ranked second in the NL with a .372 OBP.

Arizona beat writers seem to agree that Lopez is selecting more good pitches to swing at and drawing the walk more often. As a result, he should bring more consistency to the lineup and put more guys on base for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to drive home.

He also provides a boost to the Brewers’ defense, with solid experience at nearly every position in the infield. He previously struggled with his defensive skills at shortstop, but he’s never disappointed at second. In fact, he may have flown under the radar in value due to the bad wrap he picked up while working his previous position.

The NL Central is anyone’s division right now. Any effort to improve the quality of play could increase the W column. Just a handful of wins could be the blueberries in your bran flakes. Think about it breakfast fanatics, and feast on it if the Brewers make it to Machtober.


Any Downside?

Felipe has called Toronto, Cincinnati, Washington, St. Louis and Arizona home.  If five cities were happy to trade him, what makes Milwaukee his sensation destination?

Skeptics believe the move won’t make an ounce of difference because the team does not resemble a 90-win ensemble right now. We’ll let you watch and let YOU decide.



Still Needed in the Quest for October….

Doug Melvin made it clear that he tried to nab a Diamondbacks pitcher in the deal (all bets are on lefty and former Brewer Doug Davis).  However, GM Josh Byrnes wasn’t biting.

Melvin says he has little to no interest in handing over Mat Gamel or SS prospect Alcides Escobar, but that may limit the organization’s ability to trade for a pitcher of quality.


As you read in Blue Jays Don’t Migrate to Milwaukee, I’m not optimistic Roy Halladay will land on a beam of the retractable roof in Miller Park, but the buzz isn’t going away.


Perhaps the most convincing indication Melvin is serious is that he has a habit of becoming mysterious and quiet right before he pulls the trigger on trades. All is quiet on the Halladay front right now, and he brushes information off as “the same old rumors” when possible.  The C.C. Sabathia trade was a prime example of Melvy’s masterful deception, which the guys over at Right Field Bleachers explain in detail quite well.


Many of you read the content of premiere insider Tom Hardricourt as well.  If you do, you know he’s changed his tune in recent days and believes Milwaukee will try to secure Roy if only to get him out of the hands of the Cubs and Cardinals.


On Twitter Sunday, Tom let us know Dick Groch, Melvin’s top scouting assistant, was in Toronto watching Roy pitch. Regardless of whether the Brewers club possesses the worm of choice for the early bird, we know they are interested. And a solid nest of starting eggs in the rotation should be Step 2 in the Hunt for Ken’s Machtober.