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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Wallowing In A Season To Forget…Or…


Day after day, night after night, the season lumbers on. The old adage of ‘The Dog Days Of Summer’ is a misnomer as this season has been going down since the beginning of the season for the Pigsville Nine. This neighborhood team is stocked with today’s names of the game, with guys like Cravy, Boyer, Knebel, Marinez, Scahill, Pina, Carter, Villar, Arcia, Broxton, Nieuwenhuis, the Blue’s Brothers lost brother, Jake Elmore and others. Yes, Ryan Braun is still with the team, the only star who remains, and the only player hitting above .300 for the season. Maldonado, Nelson, Gennet and Peralta also are names of familiarity. Each day they face big names on bigger teams. And if you haven’t been paying attention, the Cream City Nine is just a breathe away from the cellar of the Central Division of the National League. Going into Sunday’s play, they are 56-73 with a .434 winning percentage and 26.5 games behind the leader.

After a brief winning streak, Craig Counsell’s team has dropped three straight to the charging Pittsburghers as the second to last month of the season comes to an end. For many, it is way too long to continue through the remaining games. However being very fair, just because there are non-familiar names dotting the box score for the Crew, this does not automatically mean they are not good. You can actually imagine Counsell’s pre-game speeches, pulling from one Jimmy Dugan of the Peaches: ‘All right, everyone, let’s listen up now, listen up. Hey! Something important has just happened. I was in the toilet reading my contract, and it turns out, I get a bonus when we get to the World Series. So, let’s play hard, let’s play smart, use your heads.’

The positivities are a buzz. So let’s follow the Buckminster Fuller philosophy at this point in time. “When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

Think about that for a second. Here we have a guy named Pina behind the plate. Did you see that beautiful throw on Thursday evening when he fired down to second and got the runner trying to steal? When putting a puzzle together, to meld the team, the catcher is an important cog. Then over at First, there is Mr. Carter…a behemoth of a man, with the softest, sweetest swing every conceived. He is a giant among men. When he connects, the ball flys beyond belief. At shortstop there is the kid who followed the kid (All-Star Segura) who followed the kid (All-Star Escobar) who followed the local kid (Counsell) who followed the kid (All-Star Hardy) who followed the original Kid (Hall of Famer, Yount). It is called the ‘Litany Position’ in Cream City. A deeply religious town, litany is a perfect name for that position on the Brewers. Five decades of the rosary. Five guys who made a legend at the position located just South of the Stadium Interchange.

At third there is Perez. Taken off the waiver wire last season from the Detroit Tigers, he possesses the ability to play a host of positions and can hit with power. He was a byproduct of Melvin’s last-ditch effort to rebuild a team before departure. While known for his many bad trades, this acquisition may be a touch of genius. But then again, Georg Lichtenberg once said, ‘Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together.’ Sorry Melvin.

In center is a perplexing individual. Broxton can run like the wind (although to my knowledge, nobody has ever seen wind running). Thus the kerfuffle. He came up 0-for-forever, then got sent down, brought up, sent down again and then brought up again where he discovered that with a brand new batting style (congratulations to the Brewer’s hitting coach, Coles) has turned him into a real good hitter. While often not taking the correct line in chasing down a ball hit in his direction, he could be the sleeper of the summer.

In right, there is the true definition of a journeyman. Nieuwenhuis is simply a Nieuwenhuis. No more explanation is needed. At times he can hit the cover off the ball, especially when he plays at Miller Park. But there are other times when he can commit two errors in a single inning. He’s a Nieuwenhuis. And that spells trouble for the heir apparent in right, Santana. Hurt most of the season, when he got well, he was at home and nobody was going to out hit Nieuwenhuis at home. Thus, he has to wait until September when the team will be on the road for the majority of the closing month. This is another legendary position for the Brewers. Just a couple of years ago, Aoki brought new life to that position. Before him, Hart and Hall, Bichett and Lescano, Moore and even Braun was the center of fan adoration. It’s just one of those positions that endears for the hometown nine. Perhaps Santana can begin to live up to his great anticipated reputation.

In pitching, there is Nelson, Davies and Peralta, all of whom bring hope. While the two righties have struggled to find their top form, it is left hander Davies who has risen to the top of the staff. There is hope with the trio in the days ahead.

While this may look like a rose-colored view of a team which is struggling to remain relevant to a town that is devoted to…country western…err baseball in the summer (nearly 36,000 came out to see the team Saturday night with the main draw a country western singer who gave a concert after the game), it is still fiction. As Tom Clancy stated, ‘The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.’

Let’s hope that the new constructors of tomorrow’s Brewers create fiction that makes sense.

Play Ball!

#otsmlb.com #win63 #‎watchingattanasio⚾️

Ferrellish


There are 25 players on the active roster of each Major League Baseball team. There is a manager and several coaches. Each play an important part in a winning team. Without a strong manager who understands his team, there is no success. Without a good hitting coach, who takes time with each of his players to build routine and confidence, there probably is no success. Without a good pitching coach, who can feel when a player has reached his breaking point without pulling the string too quickly, there probably is no success. Without a good bullpen coach, you can’t have success if he does not have a complete understanding about that pitcher he is sending in on that given day. The bench coach has to be the encyclopedic mind who allows the manager to make the decisions with all of the knowledge at hand, both in player performance and possible circumstances which may or may not affect a decision.

Coaches are more than teachers. Some get ahead and are glued to a franchise because they are ‘good guy’s’, always quick with a quip. That get the voices in the broadcast booth to proclaim how funny he is and what a great guy he is. After all, the third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers said ‘I’ve been teaching the hot dog vendors some signals. Well, just the one where they throw me sausages’.(Twitter 03.10.12)

Yes. Coaches are more than teachers. They are more than just funny guys or pals or good to be around. They should not be promoted because of propinquity. Just being with an organization a long time should not insure one of promotion and continued position. Coaches are important because they have to make sure they put the players in a position to succeed and not fail.

Managers can lose games because of a wrong hunch or a blundered tactic. But the most important coach on a team is probably the third base coach. The ‘Windmill Man’. Why? He is the most exposed. His duties include holding or sending runners rounding second and third bases, as well as having to make critical, split-second decisions about whether to try to score a runner on a hit, a wild pitch, passed ball or mental mistake while accounting for the arm strength of the opposing team’s fielder and the speed and position of his baserunner. His is, in short, critical to a team’s success.

The Milwaukee Brewers have a third base coach and this is a condensed view of some of the decision he had to make this season.

On Tuesday, 3.24.15 vs D’Backs, the third base coach had Jean Segura attempt to stretch a double into a triple with one out. Segura was out. It wasn’t even close. But then again, this was Spring Training and it is a time to try things out. Perhaps in the future of the season, this lesson will have been learned. 

On Wednesday, 3.25.15 vs Rangers, the third base coach had Carlos Gomez attempt to stretch a double into a triple with two outs. Gomez was out even though it was clear that GoGo was not performing up to his standards in the outfield as it appeared that he had slowed up a step from the previous campaign. But it was still Spring Training. Perhaps by the time the season began, this lesson would have been learned.

On Thursday, 3/26.15 vs Mariners, the third base coach of the Brewers had Scooter Gennett attempt to stretch a double into a triple with two outs in 2nd inning. For the third straight day, this runner was out. OK. It was still Spring Training and perhaps in the regular season this lesson will have been put into the memory box and it would not happen when it counted in the regular season.

On Saturday, 3/28, with a runner on second, stood the Brewers starting pitcher Wily Peralta. A hit to right field and third base coach does not give a signal to the runner who lumbers around third. Strangely, the runner scores as the ball, thrown in by the right fielder, hits the rubber and slows it down long enough to allow Peralta to score. Why no signal? Well, it is only Spring Training and perhaps he was thinking about something else as there are a number of pretty girls in the stands and he loves to wave to all.

On that same Saturday, 3/28, the game was tied 2-2. Runners were on second and third one out. Aramis Ramirez was on third. A fly ball was hit to right field. Third base coach and Ramirez go down the third base line toward home before the coach motions for Ramirez to go back to third and tag up because the right fielder catches the ball. The right fielder throws Ramirez out at third to end the threat for a double play. Well, it is only Spring Training and after all, they don’t count in the standings. Lessons learned. Spring Training is done. Lessons learned.

The season has begun. On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, in the second game of the regular season, in bottom of the 4th at Miller Park, with the Brewers trailing the Colorado Rockies 3-0, Adam Lind, leading off, hits a ball off the wall in deep right center field. He is waived to third by the third base coach and is easily called out with a relay from the center fielder. Rule #1 in baseball: never commit the first out of an inning at third. OK. this is the real season. Every decision counts. A coach must always put his players in a position to succeed. Well, it’s only one mistake. And after all, coaches are human too.

On Friday, April 10, 2015, with Kris Davis at third, the pitch got away from the catcher, going nearly to the first base box seats and the third base coach did not advance him, even though the Brewers were down in the game. Your mother could have scored. OK. that’s two. It’s early. Only April of a very long season.

On Friday, May 22, 2015, the third base coach held Willy Peralta at third with the game tying run. He could have scored. You could have scored. That’s three.

On Saturday, May 23, 2015, the third base coach sends Sanchez home and is out at the plate. On that same day, May 23, 2015, he questionably sends Ryan Braun home who is out at the plate. Brewers loose in extra innings. That’s four and five.

On Wednesday, May 27, 2015, he sends Khris Davis, who had hit a triple, to go on contact with one out. Ball is hit to the first baseman, Brandon Belt of the Giants, who easily threw home to Buster Posey to tag the sliding Davis. The world could see that nobody would be able to score with Belt facing home plate. Belt, Posey and the Giants’ announcers were a bit stunned to see anyone running on a ground ball to first with one out and the game tied 0-0. With Aramis Ramirez the next batter, who hit a single to right, the run would have scored. Problem was, it would have been the game tying run as the Brewers scored one in the inning and lost 2-1. Now do you understand the value of a good 3rd base coach? That’s six.

In St. Louis on June 3, 2015, the third base coach sent Jonathon Lucroy, who is probably slower than your mother, from 1st to second and was thrown out for the third out in an inning that could have produced some runs as they were trailing 7-3 at the time. While you may question that this was the first base coach’s responsibility, the player looked toward the third base coach as he had rounded the bag on his way to second for a signal. He could have signaled a ‘no go’ and the player would have returned to first. But he didn’t. That’s seven.

Credit where credit is due. the third base coach waves Segura in the bottom of 2nd on June 13, 2015, from 1st on a double by Scooter Gennett to take 2-1 lead against Nationals at Miller Park in game #3 of series on Saturday.

Back to reality, on July 23, 2015, with runner at 1st & 3rd (Perez), down by a run and nobody out, the third base coach lets Perez try to score on a hit back to the pitcher who turned two by throwing to second to get that runner from first (for the first out) in the inning as shortstop then threw to home to easily get Perez attempting to score from third. This single mistake took the Brewers completely out of the inning and the game. Honestly, people are still scratching their heads on this. That’s eight. 

On August 12, 2015, with nobody out, with Brewers leading 1-0 against the Cubs, Gennett hits a double with Segura coming up. Segura lays down a perfect bunt to move the runner to third. But wait! The third base coach does not stop Gennett as he over runs 3rd and continues toward home. After the pitcher fired the ball to the first baseman to get Segura, Anthony Rizzo sees Gennett way off third and fires the ball to third to double up Gennett. Brewers loose a perfect chance to score with a runner on 3rd and one out. Eventually loose in 10 innings with a walk off, their 11th of the season. That’s nine.

Players are gauged on both their hitting and fielding. This season so far, only one player has more errors than the third base coach on the Milwaukee Brewers and this is the #1 error prone team in Major League Baseball.

Without fully analyzing all of the teams in the AL and NL, we cannot say the third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers has cost more games than any other third base coach in the game. But just in this brief examination, he has, in the eyes of this writer, made nine mental errors that costs the team games. With 70 losses so far this season, only three other teams have more, all in the National League. Imagine if those nine errors were not committed and the team actually won those games. They would be a .500 club.

Granted that is wishful thinking and certainly this team, this year, has failed miserably. But the coaches must be held responsible for not winning just as the man who hired them, namely the fired manager of the Brewers who started the season and is now the third base coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers should put his players in a position to succeed and not fail. That is his sole responsibility. For years this coach has proven he is not up for that challenge. It is time for a change.

Play Ball!
23 August 2015 overtheshouldermlb