62 To Go


It seemed like yesterday the balls started flying around the spring training fields of Arizona and Florida. Hope was in the air. But today, for many teams, including the Cream City Nine have only 62 games to go. And what began as hope for these players has turned into a shocking first place in the Central Division of the National League. From one of the worst teams in the league to the top of the heap ahead of the World Champions on July 22 is truly shocking.

This team like many others, are a true reflection in their manager, Craig Counsell. As one of the great utility players, who had the opportunity to win two World Championship rings, his team is made up of players who can play a number of positions. And they have players who will be the All-Stars of the future.

Who are these wonders of 2017?

Behind the plate, a younger journeyman, Manny Pena, has a cannon for an air and the ability to block everything a Lombardi-type pitcher can throw at him. He has been given a chance and has taken full advantage of it. This may be the next great catcher in the game today. Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar at first give an interesting interpretation on being big league first basemen. Mr April, believe it or not, still is among the top home run hitters in the NL even though he hasn’t really hit many in the past three months. Aguilar is one of the best pinch hitters in the majors. And might just become the regular first baseman if Thames continues to slide back to Seoul. At second, Eric Sogard before he was injured, had replaced the fading Jonathan Villar who has been in a season long slump. But because neither seem to regain their hitting eye, it may be a position that the Crew needs to address since they gave up on ‘Scooter’ (who is setting the world on fire in Cincinnati). As short, Orlando Arcia IS the rising superstar. Along with one of the great defensive skills few possess, he has finally begun to hit. Few are better at his position. At third, Travis Shaw is Mr. Consistancy. He is one of the steadiest players in the game and was a brilliant part of a trade by the new GM. In left, one of the great players in the game, Ryan Braun, when healthy is a superstar. In center, the team is awaiting the return of Brinson from the minors to take his place which many expect he will in short order. Brett Phillips has been a pleasant surprise replacing the slumping Broxton, but Brinson will be the man unless the Crew can entice the rerun of one of the greatest players to ever be traded away, Cain, from Kansas City in the disastrous ‘let’s win now’ Zach Greineke acquisition. In right is the next great superstar, Santana Domingo from Santa Domingo. One of the most casual players in the game, Mr. Relaxed has no zone in his strike zone which he cannot hit. Great arm in the outfield and great power at the bat. Then there is the best utility man on a team of great utility men, Hernan Perez. Absolutely a terrific player and can fill in anywhere and do it with style and with power.

Then on the mound, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson and perhaps Brent Suter give the Nine quality starts. But it is in the bullpen that will determine the fate of the Crew for the remainder of the season. And frankly, the only one who seems to be making a difference it the rookie, Josh Hader. If Corey Knebel can recover to his early season form, the the Brewers have a chance with this improbable lineup of overachievers.

Sixty-two to go for a team that is made up of players who can play anywhere and are not afraid of any other team.

They are in first place today with one of the best minor league systems in the game.

Will they trade it away to ‘go for it now’ or continue to build this exciting, dynamic and youthful experiment in organized ball? Understand, this has never been done before. Basically, what you have is a team built with players who can play anywhere, anytime…just like their manager. And they are doing it with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Is this the new Moneyball? But their plan to build a consistent pennant challenging and World Series threat can only be done by continuing to build their minor league system in the eyes of their manager, where defense and an infectious joy to play the game everyday overcomes everything else. St. Louis has proven this theory time and time again. It is the minor league system that provides the player of the future to come up and step into a winning system to carry the legend forward.

It will be a real test of character of the new GM David Stearns to see how he handles this very difficult situation.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

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Improvement?

It was a team that drew a solid attendance of 2,797,384 or 34,535 per game, 82.4% of capacity. It was the 8th highest in baseball and the fourth best in the National League. And, they were the seventh best draw in baseball on the road. In baseball you make money both home and away. And the Cream City 9 were big draws.

2013 record was 74-88. 2014 record was 82-80.

So, what went wrong? Who is to blame?
2013 Brewers .252..2014 Brewers .251
RF Aoki .286…………Braun .266 – .020
CF Gomez .284…….Gomez .284 even .020
LF Braun .298……….Davis .244 – .054 .074
3B Ramirez .283……Ramirez.285 + .002 .072
SS Segura .294…….Segura .246 – .048 .120
2B Weeks .209……..Gennett .289 + .080 .040
1B Francisco .221….Overbay .233 + .012 .028
C Lucroy .280………..Lucroy .300 + .020 .008

2013: 23 BlownSV….2014: 20 Blown Saves
Fielding: .981…. .984
HR: 157 ……….. 150
RBI: 610 ………. 616
ERA: 3.84 ……… 3.67
Errors 114 …….. 98
Francisco/? 14….. Overbay/Reynolds 13
Weeks/Gennett 10/5=15.. Gennett/Weeks 9/7=16
Segura=15………… Segura=16
Ramirez=7…………. Ramirez=10
Braun/Davis-2……. Davis/Parra=6
Gomez=5 …………. Gomez=5
Aoki=3………………. Braun=3
Lucroy/Meldonado 10-4=14.. Lucroy/Meldonado 4/7=11
Pitchers: 7………… Pitchers 4

2013…………………….. 2014
Gallardo 12-10 4.18.. Gallardo 8-11 3.51 -4W +3L – 0.67
Lohse 11-10 3.35…… Lohse 13-9 3.54 +2W -1L +0.19
Peralta 11-15 4.37…. Peralta 17-11 3.53 +6W -4L – 0.84
Estrada 7- 4 3.87…… Garza 8-8 3.64 -1W +4L – 0.23
Gorzelanny 3 -6 3.90. Nelson 2-9 4.93 – 1W +3L +1.03
Relief +2W……………. +5L -0.53

2013…………………………….. 2014
Henderson 5-5 2.70 28 SV.. K-Rod 5-5 3.04 44 SV
Axford 6-7 4.45 0 SV……….. Smith 1-3 3.76 1 SV

So, what is the difference between a Pennant Winner and an average team?
a) Better General Manager
b) Better Manager
c) Better Players

Of not, it is on the owner? Who has won a World Series?
With current ownership of their teams in the 21st Century:
New York Yankees (2x) 2000; 2009
Philadelphia Phillies 2008
St. Louis Cardinals (2x) 2006; 2011
Boston Red Sox (3X) 2004; 2007; 2013
San Francisco Giants (2X) 2010; 2012
Chicago White Sox 2005
Miami Marlins (Florida Marlins) 2003

Remember, the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks were owned by a partnership headed up by Jerry Colangelo. And the 2002 Anaheim Angels were owned by the Walt Disney Company.

The general manager has to take some of the heat. One can only look at the Kansas City Royals and their top hitters…the center fielder; the right fielder and the short stop. Even their manager and hitting coach were integral to the success of rebuilding the Crew. Look in the other dugout. It all began with the trade of the rising star shortstop, JJ Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez. Gomez potential success led to the trading of Escobar AND Cain to the Royals for Greinke who was traded to the Angels for Segura. Question: who is a better center fielder, Gomez or Cain? Who is a better shortstop, Hardy, Escobar or Segura? And, who is a better manager, Yost or Roenicke? Who is a better hitting coach, Sveum or Narron?

The manager is judged by winning championships. The Milwaukee Brewers has had only one manager in their history who won a championship.

The players have to be placed in a position to succeed. And if, as the above stats are any indication, they have not been placed in that position. The manager is not doing what he is expected to do. If he doesn’t have the players to accomplish winning a championship, he has to press the GM to acquire them. The GM has to press the owner to acquire them.

Now it is up to the owner to prove he is a champion. He has made his course. He kept the general manager. The general manager has kept the manager.

How can this be an improvement?

Play Ball!

Tigers Could Use ‘6’

 

 

Out to the mound one of the most famous of all living Tigers walked before the first home game in the World Series at Comerica. Al Kaline, of course, threw a perfect strike to open the game. Here was the only man who won a batting title in the major leagues at the age of 20. Throughout his 20+ years with the Tigers, he was known at ‘6’ or the number on his back.

The Tigers could use ‘6’ now.

No team in the history of the game have come back being down 3 games to 0 to win the World Series. No team. Nada. Zip. Never.

The real problem for the Tigers is that they have forgotten to hit. It’s not that they cannot hit. They just haven’t been hitting. It could be that the Giants have the best pitching staff in the major leagues. Zito, Cain, Vogelsong, starting then with Lincecum and Romo coming out of the pen make it difficult to get any hits. However, maybe it is the tightness they feel and show when coming to bat or take the field. The Tigers just look tight.

On the other hand, the Giants are loose. They have a pregame routine like no other. The Giants pregame routine is crazy. The ritual of throwing popcorn and other snacks around the clubhouse brings memories of “Animal House” and food fights. This team is NOT traditional in thought or in action. They are loose and they are red-hot.

The Tigers on the other hand are non-emotional. There is no excitement. There is none of Prince Fielder’s famous antics that were part of the Milwaukee Brewers climb out of obscurity back to the top of baseball’s elite. The Tigers appear to be walking on egg shells, not wanting to disturb tradition…not wanting to appear to have a little swagger. Not that ‘6’ had a loose attitude when he played. He appeared to be buttoned up. Maybe that is at the heart of the Tigers. Plus, they haven’t scored a run in 18 innings. Come on.

Their top pitcher, and the top pitcher in all of baseball, Justin Verlander, appeared to be shell-shocked when he gave up some of the strangest hits in the history of baseball in Game #1. A ball hits the 3rd base bag and goes between the third baseman and shortstop for a double? Can’t happen. But there was a clue given by his catcher, Alex Avila, in an interview explaining Verlander’s difficulties in post season before this series. He said that Verlander became too cautious. He was not throwing with abandon like he did during the season. In a nutshell, it happened again this year. He let a bad break, with a ball hitting a bag and taking a crazy bounce, get inside his head. Once Verlander faltered, the entire team collectively appeared to say, “Oh, oh”.

Baseball is a funny game. Ritual is everything. Perhaps it is time to bring back a ritual that never failed the Tigers in their history. After Miggy comes to bat, the announcer can say, “Now batting for the Tigers, number 6, Al Kaline. Kaline.”

Play Ball!