This Time In The Natty

The first time he was in Cincinnati, Scooter hit a home run. This was his boyhood team. And he had done the improbable right at home. Ryan Joseph “Scooter” Gennett was the future second baseman of the Milwaukee Brewers for four years. He was by all standards, a fan favorite.

In his tenure, he batted .279 and hit 35 home runs in Milwaukee. On Tuesday, back home again in his home town in another uniform, and he hit one-seventh of that total in one game.

While it all began with Beaneaters in 1894, on Tuesday for only 17th time, Scooter did something for which he will always be remembered. He did something Lou Gehrig did.

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

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Everybody Is Even

Photo Credit: © Lance Hanish 2017 all rights reserved


All of the fresh bats are in the racks. The new gloves have been broken in with weeks of catching in Spring Training. Now the marathon known as a Major League Baseball season is upon us.

Six teams begin today. The New York Yankees visit Tampa Bay Rays; the San Francisco Giants meet the Arizona Diamondbacks and the World Champion Chicago Cubs begin their season visiting their biggest rival, the Saint Louis Cardinals.

This is probably one of the most exciting days of the year. All of the hopes of fans everywhere is at its highest.

There is only one thing to say….

The Milwaukee Brewers won’t win the pennant.

A fan favorite, Scooter Gennett has been let go to division rival Cincinnati. The National League home run leader in 2016, was let go. An All-Star catcher and his defensively skilled back-up were traded. While all of this happened, the Cream City Nine brought in two new first basemen; a new third baseman and a partridge in a pear tree.

But, they got younger.

Yet they still have, through no fault of their own, one of the finest baseball players to ever play the game, Ryan Braun.

He is an absolute gem.

While rival fans love to trash him for his past problems with PEDs and of course his lying about taking performance enhancing drugs, fans of Pigsville, love this guy. He has a regime like few in the game. He is the consummate professional. At the plate, he is rarely off-balance. And he can hit the ball out of the ballpark nearly everywhere in the strike zone. His fielding and arm are exemplary. He is the last of the players from the great teams of the early ‘00s. He is their only All-Star left.

After ten years, here is what he has done on the field:
He’s played in 1,354 games with 1,597 hits.
He has banged 317 doubles, 43 triples and 285 home runs.
He has driven in 937 RBI, stolen 181 bases, walked 473 times while striking out 1,070 times while compiling a .304 batting average with an OBP of .367; a slugging percentage of .544 and an OPS of .910. On defense, he has 225 assists and only 47 errors (26 of which were in his first season at 3B) in 10 years with a fielding percentage of .981.

He is a six (6) time All-Star and did you know that he actually was #23 in the MVP last season?

In the history of the game, he compares with Hack Wilson.

At the age of 32, he compares with Lance Berkman and Larry Walker in hitting.

Is he the greatest player in Milwaukee Brewer history?

There is Robin Yount. And Paul Molitor. Cecil Cooper. Prince Fielder.

All he has to do is play another ten years and perhaps he will have number 8 up on the ring at Miller Park.

Tomorrow he will hit the field. In the meantime, as we said, baseball is a marathon.

It’s April 2, 2017. Now it’s time to

Play Ball!

‘The Moment’

'The Moment'

‘The Moment’


Many people in life have ‘a moment’. And, in the annuals of life, one time…..just one time, a person has ‘the moment’. It is defining.

On Friday with most of the crowd headed for the parking lot, the 31 year old rookie sensation, Junior Guerra, was pitching a gem for the Cream City Nine. He had stepped into the top of the ninth against the mighty Pirates, having giving up only two hits the entire evening and now was leading 3-0. He appeared to be in complete control.

His journey in Pigsville had begun, not against the Pittsburgh nine, but when rookie General Manager, David Stearns’ made his first official move after being hired in that position. He claimed, last Fall, one Junior Guerra off waivers from the Chicago White Sox. As Manager, Craig Counsell said, ‘I don’t think anybody accurately forecasted this. But he was claimed for a reason. He was claimed because we thought there were possibilities there and there was talent there. We thought he was a guy that had gone about it in a really different way and got to this place in a really different way, but that he was a really good pitcher at this point. This level of success, maybe not. But yeah, I think we thought he’d have success.’

And he showed his confidence that really wasn’t at all about the Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hazel of this generation, but rather the rookie manager’s grasp of the psychology of the game. In the 9th inning, Junior had begun with only 87 pitches and Counsell was attempting to have his starting pitcher finish a complete game, the first complete game for the Brewers since last July. The first batter, Matt Joyce, got a single. Then John Jaso was walked. Two on, nobody out, Gregory Polanco was coming to the plate as the tying run.

It is one thing to face Jaso, but it was quite another to face this guy before the big guy in the Buc’s lineup.

The eyes of the 29,000+ were all on the manager in the dugout. Would he come out and bring in, what has been, a very iffy bullpen to try to wrap up the game? Or would he let his rookie pitcher try to complete the game in style? It was the beginning of ‘The Moment’ that will live with Brewer fans forever. Out came Counsell, looking quickly right down the first base line, then eyes down and walked up toward the mound as he approached the pitcher and the gathering infielders, Carter, Gennett, Villar and Jonathan Lucroy (in his last inning and game as a Brewer?).

Collectively the crowd at Miller Park was disappointed expecting the manager to accept the ball from his pitcher. But now he became a fan-legend in the land of beer, brats and cheese. With Guerra offering the ball to the manager, Counsell refused to accept his pitcher’s decision and slapped him on the back and it was now his game to try to finish. With stunning and overwhelming approval and cheers from everyone in the crowd and those watching on television, Counsell left the mound, with an astonished pitcher receiving slaps with the gloves of the other players on the mound. This was ‘The Moment’ when the guy from Whitefish Bay proved to be the next great Brewer manager, in the shadows of George Bamberger and Harvey Kuenn. Right then and there, Craig Counsell would be marked in history as doing something that most in the stands had never seen. But to be truthful, all were very happy to see. What a confidence booster. This was one giant step for the kid from Whitefish Bay.

The rest of the story, although a bit bizarre, finished with a win. Polanco hit into a fielder’s choice as Carter forced the runner at second. Andrew McCutcheon hit into another fielders choice to drive in Pittsburgh’s only run when Marte singled off the head of the second base umpire before Jeffers relieved Guerra and retired Kang to end the game with another (sic) Brewers victory. While the details of the game were unusual, THE story was about the decision that Counsell made on this historic night. ‘I really wanted him to get through the inning’, Counsell said of Guerra. ‘I thought he pitched like he deserved to, and I don’t think he was tiring or anything like that. I thought he was still making pitches.’

Guerra had won his seventh game of the year. He had lowered his ERA to a most respectable 2.70, ranking him #8 among Major League starters, just behind Stephen Strasburg and ahead of Jake Arrieta. And for all the stat rats, in 16 starts over 103.1 innings this season, the ‘Velvet Venezuelan’ has posted a 3.67 FIP, and an 85/34 K/BB rate while generating ground balls (46.3%) and infield pop ups (11%) along with a 20.8% K rate and an 11% swinging strike rate.

But the real story that will live well beyond the wins and losses of the pitcher will be…’Do you remember the time when Counsell walked out to the mound and kept the pitcher in the game?’ That will be ‘The Moment’. And that is when Whitefish Bay’s favorite son became THE manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in the minds of the Crew’s faithful forever.

Play Ball!

#win63
#watchingattanasio

Get Carter!


In an effort of gigantic proportion, the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club in an attempt to sign every single minor league player in the universe, traded one of their remaining veterans, Aaron Hill to the Boston Red Sox this week for two minor leaguers they did not have, one a 27 year old rehab pitcher and the other a poor hitting infielder. We do not give names in this column for fear we will never hear of them…again.

Thus the tale. There are a couple of veterans remaining. They are all trade bait to find out if a community will come out to a stadium to watch players they have no attachment to. One of the remaining veterans is Mr. Chris Carter who on Friday hit his 21st and 22nd home run this season to put him in position to be the first player to hit 40 home runs in a season since the days of Ryan Braun when he was using…the stuff that reduces pain which nobody ever takes. Ah…those were the days. For Mr Carter, he is now a marked man for one, Mr. Stearns, the neophyte general manager of the Cream City Nine, to showcase in his talks with the clubs who have the few remaining non-Brewer minor leaguers available. In a most unusual method of rebuilding a team, it is the ‘If I own them all, I can control them all’ newbie philosophy of baseball rebuild, this first year General Manager is attempting to make his mark and reshape the entire way baseball thinks about rebuilding teams. Amazingly, in the Hill trade, they still will have to pay the remainder of Mr. Hill’s salary along with an added $1 million bonus Mr. Hill earned when traded. But, the GM did get two more minor leaguers for his trophy case.

Besides Mr. Carter, he has ‘Scooter Gannett, Ryan Braun and the ever popular Jonathan Lucroy to trade yet this season to make it a complete rebuild of names of major leaguers. For Milwaukee fans come August, you really won’t be able to tell who is on the team without a program, which the Brewers will begin to charge for seeing a new way of revenue generation for this new generation of Brewer fans who will follow anything on the field of play as long as the beer and brats availability don’t run out.

As for the owner, he is usually relaxing in his Southern California home running his other business and phoning it in. But he was sighted in his box next to the Crew’s dugout on Saturday. He isn’t worrying. He is about to make a ton of money once the MLABAM deal with Disney closes later this year.

Yup. Quite a year in Pigsville. They have a team with no names…with many more to come up because of the bulging numbers in the minors…and an always smiling happy owner who doesn’t have to live in the Potawatomi ‘Gathering Place By The Water’ and hear the discontent populace quietly complain on talk radio about the shambles he has put on the field under the guise of ‘rebuilding’ yet again.

Besides, he is getting fabulously rich. The MLBAM deal is massive and will give him more than he paid for the franchise and then some. But fans you don’t mind our very own Trump-ian making all that money. After all, he bought the team from the original owners family and kept them in Milwaukee.

Besides, he does give to charity. And he does own a house/condo in Milwaukee.

As for Mr Carter, all off those home runs you have been hitting this season just puts a mark on your back. You are about to be shifted out of here for players to be named later.

That’s what it appears Mr. Stearns does best. He is a collector of minor leaguers. And in his way of thinking, if he owns and controls them all, other teams will eventually have to come to him to get their players in the future.

Only one problem.

Does anyone want the bunch of unproven, over-the-hill has-beens he has collected?

Play Ball!

Happy Birthday, Goobie.

Vanishing Lineup


One of the things fans love about baseball is that consistency…consistency in a lineup that you can cheer for…consistency in Milwaukee, where you can play ons-ons knowing how the players perform day-in-and-day-out. It is where the love of the game is imbedded.

For the 2016 edition of the Cream City Nine, consistency doesn’t exist. There are only three players who were in the starting lineup in April of 2015 still on the team. Jonathan Lucroy, the catcher, along with Khris Davis in left and Ryan Braun in right. As of Saturday, there is a new second baseman in Pigsville as Aaron Hill and pitcher, Chase Anderson, who will wear the ball and glove logo traded for the starting shortstop, Jean Segura, to Arizona. That means that it is bye-bye time for Scooter. Gone too is the first baseman, Lind to Seattle; the third baseman went to Pittsburgh; the popular center fielder on Opening Day last year is in Houston. One of the game’s top relievers flew to Detroit. This year’s team will truly be the a ‘can’t tell the players without a program’.

Along with the deal for Segura came starting pitcher, Chase Anderson, who has a penchant for tossing gopher balls. With a hitter friendly stadium like Miller Park, he seems like a strange fit for Cream City.

So what does the starting lineup on Opening day look like at this point?

Lucroy behind the plate.
who’s on first.
Hill at second.
Arcia is a short.
I don’t know at third.
Davis in left.
Somebody’s in center.
Braun is in right.
And starting, who knows.

It’s going to be an interest spring training where hope is all that the Brew Crew has in 2016.

But by the time a team gets to Miller Park in April, one thing is for sure: the brats will be ready with the secret stadium sauce and raw chopped onions and mustard. Along with a cold Miller Light, and a bag of fresh popcorn, there will be a winning lineup in the Cream City this coming season. As for on the field, who cares.

After all, the Milwaukee Brewers have never won a World Series in their history of forty-six seasons. And the current ownership has never won a league pennant.

This year there are players who are named Barnes, Barrios, Blazek, Cravy, Goforth, Guerra, Houser, Z. Jones, Knebel, Pena, C. Carter, Cecchini, Villar, Walsh, Wilkins, K. Broxton, Flores, Liriano, Reed, Santana and Nieuwenhuis. Now, quick…what are their numbers.

‘Can’t tell the players without a program’.

Play Ball!

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

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!