A Wasted Effort

A Wasted Effort


There was a hush in the big room at the ballpark as everyone seated around the table was in rapt attention as they wanted to know what the ‘Big Guy’ thought of the idea.

‘Dumb’, he said. ‘It’s a dumb idea. And I can say that because I am the GM and not one of you.’ Ah. Those words. It makes you just a little bit proud that a fellow from the North who could, in fact, put two words together without mispronouncing the word ‘schedule’ instead of ‘sheedual’. Yet he is the de-architect. He is the tearer-downer of the team.

While there was a huge departure of Latin players from the Brewers roster as the trade deadline neared, in one of the trades, the one that sent the most popular Crew member to Houston, Carlos Gomez, along with starter, Mike Fiers, was that this GM also traded away the International Bonus spending rights to Houston. It was that little single line in the trade legaleze that may come back to haunt a team which resembles a minor league franchise while season ticket holders pay big boy bucks for their right to view this mess on the field. For the 2015-16 twelve month period, Houston, which already has a bonus pool of $4,248,800, now gets the Brewers $2,389,300 for a total of $6,638,100 which pushed them from #4 to #1, over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Most important, it drops back that lovable Cream City Nine to #30 or dead last with $0 to invest. Any investment they may want to make in the next 11 months will come with a stiff penalty consisting of 75% tax on the amount invested. In other words, the Brewers will have to pay nearly double the amount if they really want to sign an International player.

The bonus pool is determined based on reverse order of winning percentage from the 2014 major league season which means that the Brewers finished somewhere in the middle because of their monumental collapse last season. Now that they are in the need for fresh new talent, they have $0 bonus to entice new players from around the world to consider Milwaukee their home.

On today’s active roster of the Milwaukee Brewers there are seven players who are Internationals. This week they traded away their two best players who were Internationals. Obviously with no bonus pool for the next year, there will probably be none added.

In a time when the game is loaded with International stars, the Brewers find themselves with precious few of star quality. If they are to build out of this extreme hole they themselves created, they need to rethink their position on the climb out of obscurity. If they really want to get above, not just even with the Mendoza Line of baseball they find themselves in at present, they have to become less satisfied with the world of mediocrity they have created.

Perhaps trading the star center fielder to another team could have been done without giving up a starting pitcher that had some value himself. It could also be stated that the trade didn’t have to include giving up the International Bonus. But then they are led by a guy who thinks a moose is a national icon … in Milwaukee. This isn’t Chatham, Ontario. For a guy who began his executive career in baseball as a batting practice pitcher, his claim to fame is that he helped bring the franchise its first postseason berth in 26 years. Yet he has never won a league pennant of any kind during his storied baseball executive career.

This is called: melvinitis.

The chance of the Milwaukee Brewers improving themselves as have Houston and Arizona are hidden in a cloudy permanency that hangs over Miller Park like another losing season. The maddening reality of losing two of the most popular players on the team this week is depressing enough. But the hope hinges on a person who has shown he is better at digging a hole than digging out of one.

Play Ball!

Plus/Minus

Plus:Minus
IMG_1406

The dwindling days of the trade deadline brought Aramis Ramirez back to the Pirates where he began his career. And to be honest, during his last season before he retired, he looked ever bit the player over the hill who stay one season too long to satisfy an itch that historically has driven ballplayers beyond their useful years. His movement around the hot corner had slowed while his deadly accurate throws to first lost a bit of the zip it once had. And to add injury, he actually did not make a pick up of a ball with his bare hand and throw it to first which had been his trademark of a great third baseman in his past. To get anything for him is a plus, in this case a minor league player. Thus, the Brewers have removed a major salary off of their payroll and replaced it with a waiver list pickup replacement. This position is wide open for a young player to take in 2016.

Carlos Gomez, as was stated here in the beginning of Spring Training has lost a step. He has also become increasingly inaccurate with his arm. During Thursday’s game in Arizona, he made two terrible throws to third, one of which allowed a run to score. On Saturday, on a routine play he threw a ball back to the second baseman which was remarkable in that Gannett was about to make the stop on a ball that was thrown out of frustration rather than accuracy. He kept the man at first, but it showed something is not right with GoGo. The man simply is not the same. Yes. He is exciting. Yes. He creates an active clubhouse. Yes. He was last year at the top of his game. This is the time to trade him for a really good player.

The tension of being on the rumor trading block is affecting Gerardo Parra’s play in the field. On Thursday he misplayed a ball, which at best would have been a double but was graciously not given an error by his local hometown official scorer after doffing his cap during a tribute to him a few minutes prior. He is hitting very well, better than he ever has in his career. He would be a terrific bargaining tool for a trade but, if you can trade Gomez for a good player, Parra should stay and move to center and stay there for a long, long time. No. He is not a fast as GoGo. No. He is not as flashy as GoGo. But, he is so much better than Khris Davis that there is no one who can replace him. Besides, in an interview with Bob Bremley over the weekend, Craig Counsell admitted Parra is his favorite ballplayer, or at least that is what Bremley said as he was pushing Taco Bell.

Jean Segura is the perfect pawn in the maddening Brewers ‘two in the bush is better than one in the hand’ philosophy of baseball deal making. Historically, it has always been the allure of the potential of someone else rather than the stability of what you have that has haunted the Cream City Nine. Thus, Segura is doomed to leave, and hopefully he will bring a very good player in trade.

Jonathan Lucroy is being bandied about like an unwelcome domino. For some reason, he is out of favor with current management. Last season, arguably his very best, provided his downfall. Somewhere along the line, he was convinced or convinced his agent to ask for an extension of his contract. But the Brewers didn’t bite. Then his injury this season and a horrible season at the plate so far. His value in the front office is sliding yet he still remains the third best backstop in the National League. This is the time to move him. Why? He is no longer the doubles machine of the past. He is at his peak. He is a valuable player for trading to get another valuable player.

Mike Fiers is an interesting piece in the middle of the power trio (Peralta, Nelson and Jungmann) as he is also well under contract and makes only $513,000. But he is 30 years old. And there is a feeling that he can bring two additional pieces in play. With a covey of arms ready and able to plug the Fiers hole, it might be time to send him to that Canadian team north of Buffalo.

So as the end of the trading deadline appears ever closer, it is time to build for the next championship season. This has been one season to never remember again.

Play Ball!

Dancing Mets And The Polka Brewers

Dancing Mets & The Polka Brewers

Dazzling!

They are New York’s second team. And there are plenty of reasons for that position. They are the Diamondbacks-of-the-East as far as ineptitude in making trades. While the D’Backs trade players away who have been, and for some become future All-Stars, the Mets are reluctant to trade to improve without including the Yankee-type head fakes and faints to get the majority of fans in their mind-set before they make a trade. It is the ‘trade dance’.

Then there are the Brewers. A lovely team formerly in pinstripes, the team from the Cream City dances the Polka. No Metropolitanism here, these are the beer and brat team of the Midwest. They have heart. They cry a lot. They leak out the possibility of something new in the bush when rarely does that exist. They never believed that ‘one in the hand’ is better stuff. Go for the unknown hope of the future…never for the reality of today. That just isn’t parochial. And if there is one trait the citizens of Pigsville are known for, they are and forever will be parochial. ‘Hail Mary full of grace…’.

These two teams were made for each other in trades. After all, Frankie Rodriguez came to the Crew via the Mets. But this is another year. And we have a few examples of this amazing dance as the Loveables attempt to fill the holes at third, at short, in the outfield and at first at the bane of the Brewers. They have good noses. They can smell these things. After all, they are the Mets. They have extensively scouted Jean Segura, the young shortstop of the Milwaukee Brewers who will be moved because of a bright young star in the bush leagues. Remember, ‘One in the hand’ philosophy? But the Mets have sent out signals, via the press, that they don’t like his ‘free swinging’. Using the press to push the price down? What would you expect from the home of ‘The Donald’. Segura has shown some upside and is young. Plus, he has three more seasons under club control. That makes him affordable. If there is one thing those lovable Mets like is ‘affordability’. It solves every question in a press conference. All of this for a guy who stole first base.

Moving to the waltz, there is the Aramis Ramirez dance, as the veteran Brewer third baseman is on the Mets radar. He is the one sitting against the wall of the ballroom. A notorious late season hitter, he is at the end of his playing career. But he still has some pop in his bat, as evidenced on Saturday night. But those lovable Mets have again floated a lovely head fake of ‘who would play where’ if Ramirez were acquired. It’s all so wonderful to see a fully orchestrated Metropolitan talk-fest prior to decision making. ‘Run it up the flagpole and see which way the wind blows’ seems to be a favorite tack out at a sea called ‘Citi’. After all, they would only be obligated to pay the last couple of months of his $14 million contract. (Let’s see, $14 million divided by 6 times 2…) He is the ultimate rent-a-player. They, through the press, let it be known that they don’t like his play on both sides of the ball (per Joel Sherman of the New York Post via Twitter). That means they really must like him.

While all this is going on, the Brewers have the Twins and Rangers looking at Neal Cotts; The Padres looking at Gerardo Parra, along with the Giants who have ‘loved Parra forever’ according to Andrew Beggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). They wanted to get him from the D’Backs but then Arizona didn’t want to trade him to a division rival. Note to D’Backs: you have no rivals until you field a winning team. The 2001 Championship is just a memory. The Angels are also looking at Parra. And of course, those crazy Mets have leaked out that they would like a left-handed hitting outfielder who plays in Milwaukee. Head fake!

Surprisingly, The Mets haven’t said anything about their bullpen. The Blue Jays are looking at Francisco Rodriguez. Everybody in need of a first baseman are looking at Adam Lind of the Crew including those Loveables.

Why all of this interest in a team in last place in the National League Central? Last year at this time this same team was in First place. The only addition since their collapse was Jonathan Broxton who has disappeared in a fog of ineffectiveness. Along with the acquisition of Will Smith who became a Brewer in one of the most despised trades in Milwaukee history (OK…Stormin’ Gorman to Cleveland was a doosey) when traded to KC for Nori Aoki, they also got rid of the numb Roenicke as a manager.

Point is, the teams who are chasing this year’s dream of winning a pennant and a World Series championship, see weakness in the Brewers executive ranks. The non-effective General Manger is in limbo as he is in the process of being offered the face-saving transition to upstairs where he will be in charge of Zoo Nights in August with the title of ‘Head of Whatever’, a title passed down by Harry Dalton in his quiet dual with Buddy Selig, the ex-used car ex commish. Craig Counsell is in line to become the next GM. The San Diego Padres interim manager, could succeed Counsell in the dugout. The third base coach would be replaced; Garza would be sent to limbo on permanent DL and all the world would be better in Cream City. Weak GM? Lower costs for players needed. The Mets love this type of upheaval.

That’s how the Mets play ball..err dance. Floating rumors and letting the pot boil with ‘what ifs’ and ‘why nots’. That’s the way those dizzy Metropolitans like to play the game. And their record shows exactly what a success that has led to. Of course, Milwaukee is not much better. Looks like a marriage made in baseball heaven. #watchingattanasio

It’s time to roll out the barrel.

Play Ball!

The Face

He smiles as if he is lighting up his team when in fact he is lighting up a city. Two doubles, five RBIs and he single-handedly destroyed the Dodgers in Mary Hart’s home park. That was Saturday night in the City of Angels.

But it is more than just a smile and a mile of talent that makes Carlos Gomez the leader of The Crew. Notice what he did when Parra his a home run late in the game. Up on the steps of the dugout, he welcomed Gerarado with a rehearsed chorigraphical routine reminiscent of Prince at his finest. He was the welcome mat. He was the cheerleader. He is the backbone of the team.

In the Era of Craig, he IS ‘The Face’, the heart and soul of the new Brewer spirit. Rival fans don’t like his antics as they think it is showboating. Certainly he has no friends in St. Louis. But to fans of the Pigsville Nine, that is just the way GoGo rolls. Flashing the glove with speed to burn; turning that single into a double; firing behind the runner to double him off of first; and smashing a clutch hit when it counts, Mr Gomez has left Braun and Lucroy behind in a memory of dust for this team’s leadership.

But the best reason why he is what he is to Cream City is what he does to the opposing teams. He made sure that a Braves pitcher who might think of throwing inside would be up for retaliation. And he said so. He created a fun atmosphere with Puig by throwing a wad of gum at him and then making it a contest with their arms on Saturday night. Puig threw a runner out at second. GoGo threw a runner out at first. He simply is not afraid of anyone. And that is a sign of a winner.

If he had not been hurt so much early this season, Gomez would again be an All-Star. He already is an All-Star to Brewer’s fans. Hitting .278 with 41 RBIs as the All-Star break is upon us, Gomez is more than stats. He is a spirit of excitement…of accomplishment that makes this version of the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers now fun to watch.

They finally have a manager who will allow a young man to finish a game. In fact, Taylor Jungmann became the first Brewer in history to have a complete game in Dodger Stadium. He fired 100 pitches in a 7-1 complete game win. He had the force of Gomez banging in five of those runs. And, coming off the mound for the post-game high-fives, there was ‘The Face’ of the franchise making sure, with a slap on the back with his glove to the rookie pitcher that he did OK. In the post game interview he praised Jungmann’s pitching and command.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Carlos Gomez, at 29, is The Face of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Play Ball!

Happiness Is Links

When the play on the field is less than spectacular, fans throughout baseball can always smile when their mascots cavort. In a season gone wrong, for many it is only habit which keeps fans coming back. It’s hot out. The summer is long. Kids demand it. Moms and Dads everywhere seek the shade of the stadiums as a brief respite from the daily tasks of raising their children.

That’s baseball in many parks in America this June, the last Sunday of June, 2015.

In Philadelphia there is the Phillies Phanatic. The team’s manager resigned this week. What? A manager resigned rather than letting the team axe him so he can walk away with the monies that are owed him? Yet there is always the Phanatic…the one with the wobbly stomach whose antics are some of the best in all of sport. Many, this season, just go to the ball park in the City of Brotherly Love to see what the Phanatic will do on that day. They already have a pretty good guess on what the team will do.

In Milwaukee, they have a bunch of mascots. There is barrelman roaming the stands as the original mascot come to life. Bernie is in his chalet ready to make that slide in case this team is a memory of Harvey’s Wallbangers. And then there are the ‘sausages’…Klement’s Racing Sausages.

Twenty-two years ago, when the team was as bad as they are today and would remain until the ‘Prince’, Ricky, Cory and Ben would save them from obscurity and the misunderstanding of the game by the Family Selig, one of the team’s sponsors, Klement Sausage Co. wanted to put their product on the field as the ‘Racing Sausages’. If you were in the stands on that day in 1993, you witnessed one of the greatest spectacles in sport. Yes. Greater than the skier falling off the ski jump in the ‘Wide World of Sports’ opening on ABC. Yes. Greater than Howard’s call, ‘Down goes Frasier. Down goes Frasier’. The sausages racing in from left field to somewhere past the first base bag, had the crowd betting ‘ons ons’ on the sausages.

By the way, if you don’t bet on Polish this season, you are going against the house. It is named in the honor of Max Surkont who ate himself out of major league baseball during his stint as a Milwaukee Braves ‘sausageing’ himself beyond recognition as he dined on a number of them each and ever night. But I digress.

Back then, in the 90s, the crowd went wild. And well before the day of social media, everyone in the community began talking about it, even in the boardroom of Splinter Pickles where it was discussed whether ‘Pangborn S. Pickle’, the company mascot, should challenge Klements, another south side food manufacturer, to a duel in the sun. But alas, the Splinter board found out it would cost sponsorship monies and that deal was out. Their lawyer, the Grand Russ Pickel said in a statement, ‘No Dill!’.

Up in Little Chute, the executive committee pondered introducing ‘Jack’s Rolling Pizzaman’ and challenge the sausages. After all, they were once a sponsor of the pregame Brewers broadcasts in the 80s. But it was decided that ‘Pizzaman’ would be too difficult to make in motion unless it could be done on a big wheel. In the search for the perfect penny farthing, the search for a rider in a pepperoni pizza suit simply could not be found. Jim, who ran Jack’s and didn’t want it named Jim’s, said: ‘No Dill!’

But in Waukesha, the chessemen at Milwaukee Cheese were not to be outdone. The Swiss owner felt they could have a wheel of cheddar challenge with a cheese race of their own in the Fifth Inning, rather than wait for the Seventh. Always looking for a way to one-up the competition when it came to shelf space in the grocery stores, the cheese czar felt Cheddar could challenge Swiss along with Jack (the cheese not the pizza) and Havarti and bring the crowd to its feet. Preparations were made but alas, Klement’s had a non-compete clause in its contract with the Brewers leading advertising station and the head of that, W.T.M. Steve, said ‘No Mold’ to the cheese king. That was grating.

Thus, and to this day, Klement’s has been putting on a show, so great, that even the Cubbies on the North Side of Chicago have called them in to entertain their crowd from time to time. That of course is considered almost sacrilegious and some of the sausages refused to go down to the Windy land of chewing gum, gaining career applause from the sauced-up crowd in Milwaukee (Secret Stadium Sauce). After all, they are the Cubs. Well done, link. Well done.

And here we are today. When you stand for that stretch and the sausages are announced, call out ‘Polish’ as your ons-ons bet. Chances are pretty good it will win by at least seven links.

Remember, and now for a moment of silence, all of this began with the legendary San Diego Chicken. RIP, Chicken. The kids of San Diego are sad today because they will never see the legend perform in what led to that ‘thing’ in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Play Ball!

P.S. The Presidents in DC are not included because their team is a traitor and are leading their division. But Teddy’s OK. The racing big heads in Phoenix are not included because they have arguably cheated because they thought everybody was doing it so why not for the team that is owned by the guy who owns all the baseball cards. As for the Mets, they are not included because they are associated with the Big Apple in Center Field and because of their nearness to ‘The Hair’, one and only, ‘The Donald’. The Twin City dude is not included because his team is only a couple of games out of the lead. We’re talking losers here, folks. Nuff said.

In Memoriam

In Grateful Memory Baseball Award goes to ‘Youppi!’, the mascot of the Montreal Expos, as it was the first mascot to be thrown out of a Major League Baseball game. On August 23, 1989, in the 11th inning, while atop the visitors’ dugout, Youppi! took a running leap, landing hard and noisily on its roof, and then sneaked into a front row seat. L.A. Dodgers manager, Tommy Lasorda, complained to the umpires and Youppi! was ejected. Come on, Tommy. What were you thinking? Youppi! was abandoned as a mascot after the Expos franchise moved to Washington in 2005, but was adopted by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens team on September 16, 2005, as potentially the first sports mascot to switch their allegiance from one sport to another, while remaining in the same city. Go, You ol Youppi you.

Brewers Keep Future Wide Open For Success


This is a team of immense accomplishment. Few have ever been able to lose 45 games by June 20th. And not to fear, they are not the worst team in baseball as some have suggested.

Happy Fathers Day.

For the season ticket holders who have been waiting for notification for playoff ticket requests, there are still 60 games to be played before anticipation of that joyous date. This is a season to remember. Last season proved that.

For most avid Cream City faithful, this Sunday will be a day filled with anticipation. Will K-Rod be traveling to Toronto to visit in time for an expected Fall run? Aramis could be swinging his bat in a) The nation’s capital; b) Any AL city or c) San Francisco just in time for summer to hit the Bay Area.

Go Go could be in New York well ahead of the Columbus Day celebrations. Lucroy might be in LaLa land to give one of those teams a lift behind the plate. And Ryan would be an excellent outfielder for the land where they remade a gravel pit to host the US Open.

Happy Fathers Day.

It is a joyful time of the year. This season has gads of possible bright days ahead. After all, they will never be rained out at home. Fresh Klement brats will be available in abundance with more than half of a season to be played. Remember they come with Secret Stadium Sauce. And you can always count on great dogs and burgers to go along with a cold bottle of Miller on a hot summer day. They do not run out of beer in the ‘Beer Capitol of the World’. Besides, Summerfeast is upon the fans and the State Fair is always a great attraction. And all look forward to the Lake front festivals in between those great days of a baseball summer. And the zoo is always just a few miles away off Bluemound.

Happy Fathers Day.

And we can always count on that fellow from Los Angeles who owns the team to be ever present in his box next to the dugout applauding the accomplishments of the team while he fields requests for playoff tickets from his very close Hollywood friends. It’s a great season to be a True Blue Crew fan. Just ask any season ticket holder.

And all can count on another season of superb General Management from Mr Melvin who really knows chemistry. He got an ‘A’ in Team Chemistry during his tenure in Arlington.

Happy Fathers Day, Brewer fans. Great days are ahead even if we don’t hack other teams computers. Because we know that’s bad. After all, why use computers when you have that faithful abacus to count to $100 million?

Play Ball!

Go West


http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/07/video-vin-scully-talks-d-day/

In 1958, two teams ventured out of the East and settled on the West Coast, the Giants of the National League in San Francisco and the same league’s Dodgers who settled into Los Angeles. Along with the Bums came their announcer, Vince Scully. And from that date, just 14 years after the Invasion of Normandy, baseball and the West settled into a love affair that has lasted for over a half a Century.

Baseball is played out West and of the eight teams West of the Pecos, four of them have .500 or better records this season, with one team a game under .500. But in the Senior Circuit, three are above .500 including the two originals. They play baseball out in the West.

For many, fans have long gone to bed when the West Cost games begin and end. It’s as if they don’t really exist in the East until those teams have to travel to the left coast. And when they get there, throw those team’s records out. This is the land of pitching. If you are in Seattle, the King resides up there and you don’t want to face the King. In San Francisco, it’s the home of Madison and Timmy. Down in LaLa, Clayton and Greinke rule. Further South, just North of North Island, James and then Kimbrel reside. In other words, when you go out West, young man, you better bring your hitting shoes.

On Saturday night, there was a game that proved this point. Both starting pitchers, Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, fired bullets. At one time during the game, Kershaw and Garcia had 0-2 pitch counts on 18 batters, 10 of those by Kershaw. With that kind of pitching, there is a good chance you will not get a good pitch to hit. And in fact, only the right fielder, Grichuk, got a single hit off of Dodger pitching on the evening. Garcia, beginning the bottom of the Seventh inning, had only thrown 77 pitches. But in the next five pitches, he gave up a double down the third base line which eluded the third baseman who moved over from Second base after the original third baseman, Carpenter, was hit earlier in the game and had to leave. Then, Kozma’s replacement at second, Wong, couldn’t handle a hot line drive which drove in the second run (this was after Puig had driven in the first with a double to the gap in right center). A game of inches? Yes. A game of what ifs? Yes. In five pitches the game was over. Garcia only threw 87 pitches in his outing, good enough to win most games, but in three games this year, the Cardinals haven’t scored any runs for him.

Throughout all of this, Vin Scully gave us all a delightful presentation of the game along with a history lesson on why this date is so important to Americans.

As Vin Scully told the story that wrapped in and out of pitches, in the Ninth Inning as the Dodgers were putting away the Cardinals and shutting the out, 2-0, he weaved his magic as he said, “a young man who waded ashore in Normandy on this date 71 years ago who was to become a great American writer…he pops up to the catcher for the second out…who had the first six chapters of his novel stuffed in his back pocket…and another guy who is trying to get noticed in the game…and the young man on that fateful day who was in the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division on Utah Beach was JD Salinger…a roller down the third base line, foul….and the great American novel was ‘A Catcher In The Rye’. ‘Poor guy’…now 1-2 on Matt Holiday who fouls it off again….who can ever forget Holden Caulfield…fast ball got him looking. Do us all a favor…please tell your children and grandchildren what June 6th is all about. 12 Cardinals strike out tonight and the Dodgers remain in first place, a half a game in front of the San Francisco Giants. Good night, everybody.”

And only those of us on the West Coast could hear this fascinating melding of a sporting event in the time of our lives, on a day with a Triple Crown winner became the 12th ever to accomplish that feat, and on a date with destiny that changed the world forever so many years ago.

For those of you back East, you missed one of the greatest story telling blendings in history by a Master of the Art who ventured West fifty-seven years ago. Good night, Vin.

Can’t wait until Sunday. He is the Gold Standard.

Play Ball!

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