Often, in Urban conversations among athletes, the term ‘disrespect’ comes up. It is usually centered around a verbal slight that the athlete has experienced or believes he has experienced. But rarely has an athlete who is the center of attention had others use the word to express their dismay. And never has a Major League team shown such sophomoric behavior and insensitivity than have the Milwaukee Brewers to one of their bright young stars.

Zach Davies is a young pitcher for the Crew whom the Brewers acquired at last year’s trade deadline from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for OF Gerardo Parra. Many of you probably recall his starts from last September. He appeared in six games for the Brewers totaling 34 innings. He put up a pretty solid 3.71 ERA and 3.81 FIP. His .210 BAA was excellent, which helped keep his WHIP quite manageable (1.21). For those who are not up to speed with the vernacular of the MLB stat wonks…he showed a lot of promise with an amazing amount of poise for such a young pitcher. After he was traded, Buck Showalter, Manager of the Baltimore Orioles called the Brewer manager, Craig Counsell, and told him he was getting a bright young star.

Davies has a slight build (6’0”, 150 lbs) and has a fastball in the 88-91 range. While his build and average fastball is a call his critics give, don’t believe this lack of confidence. Believe the importance he brings to the Brewers as a starter. His change-up is terrific. And he also has an good curveball. But it is his above average command that allows everything to work. Like most pitchers, he needs his command to succeed.

However, he excels in one pivotal area: batted ball distribution. While many today are fly ball pitchers, Davies has always induced ground balls at a well above average rate. It’s an impressive package. Counsell points to Davies’ growing relationship with catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado as one reason for his recent success. “They’re really getting on the same page and making good choices,” Counsell said. “He’s been on the attack. He’s got all four pitches as weapons. I think he’s really starting to get a feel for playing with the hitter front-to-back, side-to-side. “It’s good stuff.”

Davies used his weapons just before the All-Star break in meeting and beating the Washington Nationals. The Nationals’ lineup features reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper and current NL batting leader Daniel Murphy, who was hitting .347. “He’s a young starter who is learning as he goes and proving as he goes; he’s gaining more confidence, getting comfortable with his stuff, how it plays to hitters and how it needs to be good,” Counsell said. “He’s getting it through experience. It’s not easy to go out there for a young guy and what’s good is that he’s taking everything that’s happened before, applying it and getting better. “

It was interesting how Davies found his way into the starting lineup this season. Matt Garza, 32, was expected to return to the Brewers’ rotation after losing his spot late last season, but he was placed on the disabled list instead. Davies stood out in the Spring as a likely candidate to step into the rotation.

The year before, he faced the Cardinals, always a problem for the Cream City Nine. “He just made quality pitches,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.”He used his breaking ball to steal strikes early in the count. But it was about fastball location and chasing out of the zone with the change-up,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. It left St. Louis’ sluggers frustrated after entering the day second in the National League with 71 homers and a .460 slugging percentage. ‘It’s just one of those where he just had trouble finding the feel on a consistent basis,’ Matheny said. ‘But still, he only gave up only a couple runs, five hits. But he had a lot of traffic and a lot of stress innings.’

Kolten Wong, who struck out twice, said Davies kept the Cardinals off-balance with his change-up. ‘Just something that caught us off guard,’ Wong said. ‘He kept us off balance with his fastball coming in and threw that change-up away.’

That’s the kind of stuff he brings to the game. And he did it once again against the Nationals. That was Tuesday before the All-Star game. On Wednesday morning, the infamous Milwaukee Brewers optioned Davies to Class AAA Colorado Springs to open a roster spot to add first baseman/outfielder Andy Wilkins from that club. It was noted that the team had been playing short-handed on the bench while carrying eight relief pitchers for several weeks. Here, their winning pitcher the previous night in a 5-2 victory over Washington, boosting his record to 6-4 on a losing ball club with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts, including a 6-1 mark and a 3.24 ERA over his last 12 outings, was ceremoniously banished to the Sky Sox.


Astoundingly stupid.

The Brewers PR spin was that in sending down Davies, the Brewers said he would not pitch for Colorado Springs, which also entered its All-Star break after play on that Sunday. But rather then sending down one of their incompetent relief pitchers, which are many, they pick on the kid…a kid who is a rising star in their own organization. To make matters worse, the official pronouncement from the Brewers was that Davies would not pitch for Colorado Springs. But a player must remain in the minors for 10 days when optioned. Thus Davies would be recalled to pitch for the Brewers on the third day after the break in Cincinnati. That would be today.

But that’s not all. The cheapness of the Milwaukee Nine caused Davies to lose 10 days of major-league service time as well as about $24,000 in salary with the demotion.

To his credit, the mild Mr. Davies, upon hearing the news, quietly told reporters ‘Baseball is a business.’

His agent, the legendary Scott Boras, said the Milwaukee Brewers should not have have sent rookie right-hander Zach Davies to the minors for 10 days to open a spot for an additional bench player. Boras was more direct, saying, “In this game, performance earns respect. After beating one of the best teams in the National League, he was told he no longer was a member of the team. “It’s disrespect for someone who will be a principal part of the organization for years to come, to add a bench player for 10 days. Not exactly a valued ethic. In this game, teams do not send down starting pitchers who are performing well.’

He added, ‘Flying a starting pitcher cross-country interrupts his regular routine and his normal bullpen sessions. This is not how you prepare successful starting pitchers.’

Meanwhile, the Freshman Brewers General Manager, David Stearns, said he meant no disrespect to Davies in making the player move. Stearns said the major goal was to provide another bat for the bench during a period in which Davies would not have pitched for the Brewers. Unfortunately, without experience, young Mr. Stearns created a PR gaff unprecedented in modern baseball management.

‘We certainly value Zach’s contributions to the club and consider him an important part of our starting rotation,’ Stearns said. ‘Given that he wasn’t scheduled to pitch for a 10-day stretch, we wanted the extra flexibility of another player on the bench.’

Baseball purest suggest from a pure baseball point of view, the move makes great sense. Davies, as a starting pitcher who has already made his final start prior to the All-Star break, made it a good decision. He couldn’t be recalled for 10 days but with the All-Star break coming, that wouldn’t even cost Davies a start.

But the baseball side isn’t the only one to consider. We simply can’t forget about the human element. In sending Davies down, the Brewers are costing him service time. That can potentially impact the timing of him becoming a free agent down the road. This is not to say anything of the $24,000 he lost after beating one of the best teams in baseball.

Milwaukee was well within its rights to do this. It’s certainly true that baseball is a business. But good businesses also have business partners. With this move, the Brewers are giving a potential business partner a reason to be upset or frustrated with them down the road. At the moment, Davies isn’t upset (at least not publicly), but Boras clearly is. And you don’t want to make Mr. Boras angry.

It’s certainly a business move, and admittedly, stuff like this isn’t entirely unprecedented. Still, it’s generally not a kind of move pulled by the game’s top organizations. This goes to the root of all that is bad about the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club. They are not a class organization. Nor are they a top organization. In all the years they have been in the Majors, they have never won a World Series, a key mark in measuring the quality of a management team. They have a losing record. Again, not a mark of a good management team.

Now, the new management group is making its mark to the world.

They are disrespectful.

Play Ball!

P.S. So how did Davies do upon his return on Sunday, July 17, 2016?
7.0 inning pitched
92 Pitches
59 Strikes
0 Runs
4 Hits
5 SOs
0 Walks
9 Groundouts
4 Fly outs
23 Batters faced in 7 complete innings

Brewers lost in bottom of the 9th as Thornberg, with two outs walks Hamilton. Then, walks Votto. Will Smith comes in, can’t hold Hamilton as he goes to third and gives up winning run with a Passed Ball (Lucroy), Hamilton scoring.
Final score: Cincinnati 1 Milwaukee 0.

Rosin Bag Rests

For the first Sunday since the middle of last February, the field is empty. The base paths are vacant. There are no bats in the rack nor bat weights in the on-deck circle. Rosin bags are resting, not on the mound, but in the club house, waiting for next season’s use. For Richie and others who have pushed and pulled their teams to hopeful victory during a most difficult year, the season is over. For those who love this game, the silence is now deafening.

The good news is, each of our favorite teams have a chance to win next year. All except for those who have a manager that is playing by a book designed by dummies. For this we have to understand that baseball pitchers can and should go for as long as they feel good about the way they are pitching on that particular day, in that particular game. This means that the managers, regardless of the rhyme or reason, DO NOT have to take their starter out for the guy who pitches in the seventh and then the guy who pitches in the eighth and finally for the closer in the ninth. We are reminded starting pitcher Jose Quintana had a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts through seven innings in a White Sox game in August. He looked good. He was feeling fine. Then the manager walks out of the dugout and goes to the bullpen. Why? That’s what the modern book of baseball managing says. If its written, so it shall be done.

Sure it works! Take for example the Milwaukee Brewers. How many games were their starting pitchers, while leading the game, pulled out, and watched as the game exploded  around them for a loss because the modern book of baseball managing says that it is right and just to bring in Axford?

When a starting pitcher is in a grove and his 2-seam fastball’s painting the corners along with his 4-seamer, a wicked slider and a devastating change-up, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you have caught magic in a bottle on this given day. The modern book of baseball managing should be thrown away. This game was never meant for 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th inning pitching specialists to interrupt the textural weave of a brilliant pitching performance.

Furthermore, this game was never intended for the modern book of baseball managing to have a roving shortstop or second baseman to play in the shallow outfield position of an over-shift plan to stop an above average pull hitter. This is the stuff of silly old men dressed in major league uniforms while greying at the temples. Silly men. Silly, silly men. (My apologies to the Coen Brothers and the writers of their film, ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ for that description.)

While the rosin bag rests in the box within the confines of the clubhouse, it’s time for the Hot Stove League. This is where the game of baseball gains its lore and its lure of statistical bias. This is why Tim McCarver could pull out such bizarre statistics only Elias Sports Bureau would have dug into for him to use in whatever key situation he felt was relevant. Who cares how many times a player drives a ball to the right side of the infield after falling behind on a 1 ball, 2 strike count? How many times does it matter if that batter leads the league in consecutive foul balls during a single time at bat? Do I care that David Ortiz is the only player to total 90 or more extra base hits in a season without scoring at least 100 runs when he finished the 2004 campaign with 91 extra base hits and 94 runs scored for the Red Sox? And do I care if I never hear such junk uttered by McCarver ever again? That’s perhaps redundant because Tim-boy has finally retired. Is it alleluia or hallelujah?

When you get over stat-urated, you run the risk of falling into the belief that the modern book of baseball managing actually means something. As a point to this madness of over analyzing every pitch and every at bat and every situation because of the doctrine of the modern book of baseball managing (MBOBM-every baseball stat now has an acronym so I’ll start this one in order to be placed in the register of the modern book of baseball managing on the baseball Wikipedia page), reached its height in the fifth game of the 2013 World Series in St. Louis. There were the Cardinals, in the bottom of the 9th, with two out and the potential tying run coming to the plate. The player on first was replaced by the manager because this manager had read the modern book of baseball managing and within it, on the chapter “What to do when there are two outs in the bottom of the ninth, in game five of the world series, with a runner on first and the tying run comes to the plate?”, it states put in a player who is fast.

What? What for? He only represents a run, not the winning run, not even the tying run, but just a run. The real question is what will happen at the plate? That’s the potential runner who can tie the game. If you watched and saw a young rookie, Kolten Wong, crying in the locker room after the game because he got picked off when he strayed too far off the bag, blame it on the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, not the kid who was put into a position where he could fail. As a manager of anything, business, ministry, naval vessel or a hot air ballooning fleet, you never put a young employee into a position where they can fail. That’s Business 101.

Let’s get started. Now we are into one of the most important parts of the season…the Hot Stove League where we can rip and applaud, scream and shout, laugh and cry all over again. The rosin bags are resting in the clubhouse. Let’s….

Play Ball!