Results tagged ‘ Corey Hart ’
By Nathan Petrashek
There are about to be a whole lot of roster moves, a reflection of just how crippled the Brewers have been for the first month of the season. Some of them have happened already, some of them will happen tomorrow, some of them will happen during the month of May. Here’s the latest on the Brewers fallen:
Jeff Bianchi activated; Khris Davis optioned: IF Jeff Bianchi was placed on the DL this spring with left hip bursitis, which sounds pretty epic but is really just inflammation that can cause joint stiffness. His unavailability led in part to the Brewers to pick up Yuniesky Betancourt, who’s knocking the stuffing out of the ball, so I guess we should all be thankful for that. In any case, Bianchi is back now, which means the Brewers currently have four – count ‘em, four! – shortstop types on the active roster. OF Khris Davis, who has received just a handful of plate attempts, was sent down to AAA Nashville. Bianchi hit .188/.230/.348 with the Brewers last season, although he sports a minor league career triple slash of .286/.340/.411.
Aramis Ramirez activated; Josh Prince optioned: Ramirez was down for a month after sliding awkwardly into second base. Despite missing nearly all of April, the team will bring him right back into the fold, though he will probably see plenty of time off early on. Josh Prince is being sent down to Nashville in a corresponding move.
Chris Narveson: Narveson has been playing catch as he rehabs a sprained finger on his pitching hand. He’s slated to return in Mid-May.
Mark Rogers: Rogers, officially placed on the DL with “right shoulder instability,” but unofficially with loss of velocity, command, and everything else that makes a pitcher go, started a rehab assignment on April 23. The Brewers will need to decide whether to activate him to the major league club or cut ties with him by May 23; he’s not likely to clear waivers. For what it’s worth, Rogers has not pitched well since beginning his rehab stint; he’s walked 6 over 3.2 innings against just 1 strikeout, and has allowed at least 1 run in 2 of his 3 appearances.
Corey Hart: Hart had right knee surgery in January. He just rejoined the team and is currently throwing, doing water aerobics, and exercising to strengthen his quads. Hart, on the 60-day DL, is eligible for reinstatement on May 30, but it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll make that goal.
Taylor Green: Green started the season on the DL with a hip injury. He elected to have season-ending surgery in late April.
Mat Gamel: Gamel had season-ending knee surgery on March 8.
By Nathan Petrashek
The Brewers finally ended a three-game skid on Sunday, but not before recording a franchise-worst 32 scoreless innings. That’s right; before Ryan Braun’s 8th inning dinger, the Brewers hadn’t scored a run since the 2nd inning in Chicago on Tuesday. The Brewers (specifically, the much-maligned Yuniesky Betancourt) managed to tie the game in the 9th, and might have taken the lead if not for some (attempted) bunting foolishness. Still, Jonathan Lucroy hit his first home run of the season to put the Brewers ahead for good at the top of the 10th. The Brewers have their third win, and all is right with the world.
Well, not so much. For fans who like to see runs scored (basically, if you’re not Old Hoss Radbourn), there was plenty of bad news to accompany the victory. Aramis Ramirez, who jammed his knee sliding into second base early in the season, isn’t likely to come off the DL when he’s eligible for reinstatement. I know, it’s a little cringeworthy when Ron Roenicke uses a phrase like “play it safe.” After all, this is the manager who just days ago-down a run in extras, with men on, and no other position players due to Roenicke’s own poor roster construction-declared Ryan Braun unfit to appear as a pinch hitter, and batted Kyle Lohse(!) in his stead; Braun would go 3-for-4 the next day and play nearly the entire game. But given Ramirez’s age and the lack of any other suitable options defensively at third base, it’s probably a good thing that Ramirez take whatever time he needs to get right.
The good news is that, offensively, the team has been fairly productive, even with Braun, Ramirez, and 1B Corey Hart missing time. To date, the 2013 Brewers have scored 36 runs. That’s just 3 shy of the number they scored as of this time last year, when the Brewers showcased the National League’s best offense. That those runs have come with some of the team’s best hitters (Rickie Weeks, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Gomez) enduring mini-slumps is a testament to the team’s offensive potential. With those players returning to form, and Ryan Braun healthy again, it’s not unreasonable to expect this team’s offensive output to increase significantly in the coming days, even with prolonged DL stints for Ramirez and Hart.
I don’t, of course, mean to suggest that this team couldn’t use Ramirez or Hart in the lineup. Even at 36 runs scored, the Brewers’ offense ranks as one of the worst in the National League, down there with the lowly Pirates and Marlins. Although I’m certain that having Ramirez and Hart in the lineup would make the Brewers more dangerous, it’s hard to quantify how much. I love Ramirez’s bat, but (even if not entirely true) the notion that he’s a slow starter persists, and last season provided ample evidence to support that theory. That same concern doesn’t exist for Hart, but some of his lost production has been offset by Jean Segura’s and Norichika Aoki’s stellar runs, and Hart can be prone to prolonged slumps.
Bottom line: we all know that when this offense is finally healthy, it will be great. But it is fully capable of treading water for the next month or so until that happens.
By Nathan Petrashek
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of our 2013 review & preview series. You can read the rest here.
Despite a tumultuous season at the position, first base actually turned out to be a pretty productive spot for the Brewers in 2012.
Last season was supposed to be Mat Gamel’s time to shine. Things hadn’t gone so well in his smattering of prior opportunities as a utility player, but this was the first time Gamel could finally claim a position as his own. We were bullish based on his minor-league success, projecting him at a .284/.346/.500 triple-slash line over a full season of work. That, of course, all went out the window when he shredded his ACL in early May, ending his season after just 70 at-bats. Practically a full season removed from this disaster, I often hear people speak glowingly of Gamel’s brief starting stint in 2012. This is almost certainly a case of rose-colored glasses; over 21 games, Gamel hit just .246/.293/.348, a far cry from his much healthier minor league .304/.376/.498. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Fortunately, a relatively obscure offseason signing provided the perfect contingency plan. When the Brewers brought Norichika Aoki over from Japan, they thought they were getting a fourth outfielder. But Aoki’s play begged for more opportunities, which Gamel’s injury provided by allowing RF Corey Hart to shift to first. Defensively, this move should have accommodated Hart just fine, as he had always been at- or below-average in RF. And Hart looked fine at first, from what I saw. But the numbers paint a different picture, suggesting his only positive value defensively came from his ability to prevent errors. Offensively, Hart put up one of his typical Hart seasons, batting .270 with 30 home runs and an .841 OPS. Put together, Hart was a solid 3-win player in 2012.
Unfortunately, neither Gamel nor Hart will be manning first base on opening day. Both are recovering from injuries; Gamel’s was season-ending. Hart is slated to return from knee surgery sometime in May. Until then, you’ll see plenty of Alex Gonzalez (who doesn’t like the position, hasn’t often played it, and doesn’t have a great bat) and Martin Maldonado (who also has not played it and doesn’t have a great bat). Yikes.
Hart will be a free agent after the season. Rumors of an extension have been thrown around for years, but this is probably not likely given the recent Carlos Gomez extension and Kyle Lohse signing. It will be interesting to see what the team’s plan for first base is this offseason.
Corey Hart’s Projected Stat Line (ZiPS)
141 G, 589 PA, 27 HR, 78 R, 80 RBI, 6 SB, .265/.330/.485
By Nathan Petrashek
Position review and previews start this week, and coming into spring training I thought first base would be pretty easy to write. Not so fast.
Right knee surgery will cost Corey Hart a month plus, and yesterday the Brewers announced that Hart’s likely replacement, Mat Gamel, would miss all of 2013.
Someone’s going to have to man first base, though. So without further ado, here are a few potential replacements.
A career .285/.339/.483 hitter, Lee has plenty of first base experience and is currently a free agent. Lee’s age (36) has really started to catch up to him the last few years; at this point, he’s probably ideally suited for a bench spot, which is where he would find himself when Corey Hart returns. According to Doug Melvin, though, Lee is still looking for a full-time gig, even if that will be hard to come by as spring training games begin. If Lee was a little more realistic about where he is in his career, he would be my preference. Lee’s power would play pretty well on what projects to be a fairly weak-hitting bench.
Morris tore it up in the Brewers’ AA system last year, belting out a .303/.357/.563 triple slash line. That earned him a Minor League Player of the Year award, but it will probably take more than that to earn him a berth as the team’s starting first baseman. There are plenty of defensive concerns, and Morris didn’t showcase nearly as much offensive talent in 2010 and 2011. Doug Melvin was careful to note that Morris would cost someone a 40-man roster spot, and he would surely like to delay the start of Morris’s service time. Toss in the uncertainty surrounding Morris’s capabilities, and the fact that he hasn’t played a single game above AA, and he’s unlikely to win the job unless his case is undeniable.
The Brewers’ 7th-round pick in 2009 has really come into his own. An outfielder by trade, fellow BrewCrewBall.com writer Noah Jarosh suggested Davis might be a good fit at first base. The numbers certainly play, as Davis has carved up the minors with a triple slash line of .294/.400/.513. Davis has a keen eye at the plate (career 10.2% walk rate that could climb) and plus power (.211 career ISO). He might be an unconventional choice, but he may be the best in-house option the Brewers have right now.
3B/IF Taylor Green has had a few opportunities in the major leagues, but hasn’t done much (read: anything) with them. We have to be careful there, though, because he’s garnered only about 150 plate attempts in his 2 years coming off the bench. Green has several solid minor league seasons under his belt, and perhaps all he needs is consistent playing time to show his solid hit tools.
This is apparently Ron Roenicke’s brainchild. A shortstop for his entire 14-year career, Gonzalez has precisely zero experience at first base. Gonzalez is such a good defensive shortstop that it’s easy to overlook his offensive shortcomings, but those will be glaring at a corner infield spot: very little pop, and on-base skills that leave a lot to be desired. There are better options.
A former first-round pick and AL Rookie of the Year, Crosby hasn’t played baseball since 2010. His triple slash line over 8 seasons wasn’t pretty (.236/.304./.372), and neither were the injury bug and mental struggles that dogged him throughout his career. But Crosby’s pedigree has garnered him another shot at the bigs, and it’s anyone’s guess where that will go. Crosby is on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Carp, a recent DFA by the Seattle Mariners, is the longest of long shots to even find his way on the Brewers, let alone wind up the team’s Opening Day first baseman. There are quite a few suitors looking to swing a trade for the 26-year-old, including several AL teams that would have waiver priority over the Brewers, as Kyle Lobner notes. Carp would be a decent fill-in, but according to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers aren’t all that interested right now.
Let’s keep in perspective that Gamel’s replacement will be filling in for just a month or two before Corey Hart returns, so despite the post title, this isn’t a crash and burn scenario for the Brewers. The best case scenario for the team is to find someone who will have value coming off the bench for the remainder of the season.
Loyal readers, welcome to 2013!
With today being the first day of the new year, and with just about 6 weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report, I thought it would be the perfect time to roll out a new daily column looking at jersey numbers throughout the years. Each day I will tackle a new number and try to share a little bit of information about each player that has worn it throughout the years as either a Seattle Pilot or Milwaukee Brewer.
So, without further ado, lets look at who was/is number 1.
1969 Seattle Pilots:
- Ray Oyler: The Pilots Opening Day shortstop, Oyler was a player whose career existed well below what is now known as the Mendoza Line. In 106 games with the Pilots in 1969, Oyler recorded 255 at-bats resulting in 42 hits, 31 walks and a meager batting average of .165.
1970-71 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Ted Kubiak: The number 1 remained with the shortstop position in 1970 despite a change in venue and a new player at the position. Kubiak played in 158 games (most on team) for Milwaukee in their inaugural season splitting time between shortstop and 2nd base. He finished 2nd in both hits (136) and walks (72).
Kubiak is best known for setting the Brewers record for most RBIs in a single game by a single player which he set with 7 on July 18th, 1970. The record has been tied three times since moving to the NL, once by Jose Hernandez (April 12th, 2001), just over a year to the day later by Richie Sexson (April 18th, 2002), and most recently by the man who currently wears jersey number 1, Corey Hart (May 23rd, 2011).
1971 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Jose Cardenal: Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals (with Dick Schofield and Bob Reynolds) in a trade for Kubiak, Cardenal recorded the most RBIs of his carrier (80) between both clubs in 1971. Following the ’71 season, Cardenal was traded by Milwaukee to the Chicago Cubs for Brock Davis, Jim Colborn and Earl Stephenson.
1977-78 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Tim Johnson: Johnson, who had been with Milwaukee since 1973, had previously worn number 4, but changed to number 1 in 1977 as 4 was passed on to Mike Hegan. Johnson, who had lost his starting shortstop position to Robin Yount, appeared in 33 games as a utility infielder between ’77 and ’78. During this time, Johnson showed batting ineptitude that makes Ray Oyler look like a batting champion (.061 in ’77, .000 in ’78) before being traded to Toronto during the ’78 season for our next entrant.
1978-79 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Tim Nordbrook: Out of all of today’s players, Nordbrook’s contribution to Brewers lore is the least. Nordbrook only appeared in 4 total games as a Brewer (2 per year) recording 1 whopping hit in 7 total at bats.
1985-1988 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Ernest “Earnie” Riles: Riles debuted mid-season in 1985 and got his career off to a promising start, finishing 3rd in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Unfortunately, Milwaukee would never see Riles reach his full potential as a series of injuries kept him off the field. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Jeffrey Leonard in mid-1988.
1988-1989 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Gary Sheffield: The only man on today’s list who could be considered “locker-room cancer”, Sheffield was brought up from the minors when rosters expanded in 1988. He would go on to famously claim that the Brewers organization was racist for moving him from short to third and filling the vacancy with the white Billy Spiers instead of owning up to his own drop in production coupled with injury concerns possibly being responsible for the move.
Side-note: While no one was assigned the number 1 in 1992, Franklin Stubbs was assigned the number “0″. He would wear the “goose egg” on his back for only 1 season.
1993-94 Milwaukee Brewers:
Alex Dias: In three seasons with Milwaukee, Dias was a solid, yet unremarkable, outfielder. He batted .264 in 133 games and 256 plate appearances as a Brewer, and recorded only 1 home run during this time. Dias wore the number 18 in 1992 before changing to 1 in 1993.
1995-99 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Fernando Vina: The good: As a Brewer, Vina was a National League All-Star in 1998. The bad: Vina was mentioned in The Mitchell Report for having purchased HGH from Derek Sprang several times between 2000 and 2005. He would eventually come clean about his steroid use on an episode of Sports Center.
2000-02 Milwaukee Brewers:
- Luis Lopez: Acquired in a trade with the Mets for Bill Pulsipher prior to the 2000 season, Lopez batted .262 in 176 games for Milwaukee before being released on June 7th, 2002. After his release, the number was re-assigned to Keith Ginter who would switch to number 6 for the 2003 campaign.
2005-Present Milwaukee Brewers:
- Corey Hart: The final owner of jersey number 1 is none other than current Brewers 1st baseman Corey Hart. Hart, who moved to 1st in 2012 after injuries to Mat Gamel and Travis Ishikawa ended each of their respective seasons.
Hart is a two time NL All-Star, and as mentioned earlier is one of four players who are all tied for the single game team RBI mark.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the men who’ve worn number 2 over the years.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
By Nathan Petrashek (@npetrashek)
A lot of Brewers seem likely to find new digs over the next few days, and we’ll be recapping any credible trade rumors here. Check back often for the latest updates.
Randy Wolf. The Brewers rotation is going to look a lot different next year. Many speculated that Wolf could be moved at the deadline; the only question is, “for what?” ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Brewers will trade him for nothing, “if you take the money.” Wolf is earning $9.5M this year and has a club option for next year at $10M with a $1.5M buyout.
Shaun Marcum. Marcum is still recovering from an injury that has sidelined him since June 14. While Marcum isn’t going to be traded before Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline, he may be a waiver trade candidate after he returns to action.
***UPDATE***: Adam McCalvey reports (on Twitter) that Marcum’s second bullpen did not go well.
Zack Grienke. Opposing GM’s have seemingly done a 180 on Greinke in the last week. After he was skipped in the rotation, execs were quoted as saying they were “concerned,” even going so far as to call him “scary.” Other big-market execs said they wouldn’t touch Greinke because of his known anxiety issue. But after Grienke’s heavily scouted seven-inning masterpiece in Philly, he has become the prize of the trade deadline, especially since Cole Hamels is no longer available. Teams known to be fawning over the righty include the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, and White Sox. The White Sox are pushing hard, but they don’t appear to have the pieces necessary to land Greinke; several league sources have reported that Doug Melvin’s asking price is astronomical and includes a top shortstop prospect. The Braves dropped out after refusing to part with top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, as did the Orioles after Melvin suggested Manny Machado. At this point, it looks to be a two-way battle between the Rangers and the Angels, though Texas appears to be the frontronner and is presumably very motivated after losing the last two world series. Still, their top prospect, shorstop Jurickson Profar, is reportedly off the table, even though the Brewers (and other teams) are no doubt asking about him. The Angels don’t seem too confident in their chances to land Greinke.
***UPDATE***: Greinke was traded to the Angels late Friday for a package that includes three of the Angels’ top-10 prospects: SS Jean Segura (#2), RHP Ariel Pena (#9), and RHP Johnny Hellweg (#4). The Rangers apparently didn’t come close to that offer, refusing to trade Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, or even Martin Perez. In fact, the Rangers’ best offer appears to have been IF Leurys Garcia, LHP Chad Bell, and RHP Justin Grimm; a pittance compared to what the Brewers ultimately wound up with, if I may offer my editorial opinion. The Angels’ decision to include Pena led Doug Melvin to pull the trigger, and the Angels now have perhaps the best rotation in baseball. You can read our own Ryan Smith’s analysis of the trade here.
Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod was looking like a sure candidate to be dealt at the trade deadline, but then he became the closer. Over the last week, he’s allowed 7 earned runs over 3.1 innings of work, with 7 walks against just 4 strikeouts. The Giants were reportedly in on him until they watched him pitch. K-Rod apparently alienated the Brewers, too, as Ron Roenicke announced the team would deploy a closer-by-committee.
George Kottaras. Kottaras was designated for assignment yesterday, a formality designed to open up a roster spot for returning catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Doug Melvin is reportedly attempting to find a new big-league home for the backup catcher; Kottaras was told to stay in Milwaukee while Melvin shopped him around.
***UPDATE***: The Brewers have dealt the lefty catcher to the Oakland A’s, according to Tom Haudricourt. The A’s apparently have to make a corresponding roster move, and the deal will not be announced, nor will we know who the Brewers are receiving, until Sunday. You can read Ryan Smith’s take on George Kottaras’s move here.
Nyjer Morgan. Morgan was a great pickup last year, but this year has been a struggle for the lefthanded hitter; he’s batting just .228/.299/.274. The Brewers would love to move his $2.35M salary, especially with Carlos Gomez playing so well, but there don’t appear to be many suitors right now.
Kameron Loe. Loe may be the only Brewers reliever to be moved before the trade deadline. After a two-inning, three-strikeout scoreless showing on Thursday, Loe should draw some interest from teams looking for bullpen help (i.e. Cincinatti Reds, Rangers, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, etc.). Loe has allowed just two runs over his last nine outings.
Manny Parra. Manny Parra, like Rodriguez, was a great trade candidate until this week. With plenty of scouts in attendance in Philly, Parra walked three on Tuesday and gave up four earned runs. That came on the heels of another three-walk performance the day earlier. It’s a shame, because Parra had pitched well through July up until that point (7.1 ip, 2 bb, 10 k, 1.23 era). Nothing simmering on the trade front here.
***UPDATE***: According to CBS’s Danny Knobler (via Twitter), the Brewers have received some inquiries about Parra, but may keep him and re-convert him into a starter again. That didn’t end well the first time. Parra as a starter is 23-26 with a 5.44 era, 1.692 whip, and 1.71 k/bb ratio. As a reliever, he has a 3.82 era, 1.406 whip, and 2.62 k/bb.
Corey Hart. The Brewers are listening on Hart, but would have to be “bowled over” by the offer to move him, reports Tom Haudricourt. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Hart included in the Greinke deal if it nets the Brewers a top shortstop and pitching prospect.
Aramis Ramirez. Like Hart, the Brewers are listening, but the price is high. The team is not motivated to sell simply to rid their books of the $16M Ramirez is due in 2014 (he’ll earn $10M next season, too). Early reports linked the Dodgers to Ramirez, but they appear to have satisfied their desire for a bat with Hanley Ramirez.
Jose Veras. No doubt the Brewers would love to unload Veras and his 1.72 WHIP, but I can’t imagine a contender that would want to play with that kind of fire. By the same token, I couldn’t figure out why the Brewers would want to play with that kind of fire back in December. Veras has the third-most walks among MLB relievers and I can’t see him going anywhere. K-Rod is tied for fourth, incidentally.
By Nathan Petrashek
The last few days have been filled with trade activity, and there’s no sign of that stopping. This will be a running list of trades that potentially impact the market for pieces the Brewers may wish to move (should they ever decide to make that selling decision). Keep checking back throughout the day for updates.
Cole Hamels. Word early today is that Cole Hamels has accepted a 6-year, $144M contract offer from the Phillies, making him the second-highest paid pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia. That would make Zack Greinke the best starting pitcher available at the trade deadline, and in free agency after the season. Greinke was already petty highly sought after, but expect this to bring a modest bump in the Brewers’ asking price. As I said a few days ago, this eliminates whatever slim hope the Brewers have that Greinke will sign an extension.
Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers were interested in Aramis Ramirez, and moving that backloaded contract would be a nice little prize at the trade deadline. But early this morning, the Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. That will more than likely fill their need for an impact bat at 3B, though it is worth noting that Ramirez can play short and the Dodgers are not high on their current SS Dee Gordon. UPDATE: According to True Blue L.A., Ramirez is in the starting lineup at shortstop.
Ryan Dempster. It was kind of a crazy day for Ryan Dempster on Monday, as he learned he was being traded to the Braves through media reports. As a player with 10-and-5 rights, though, Dempster did not sign off on the trade, and is now pushing for a trade to the Dodgers. If a deal gets done with either team, the market for Greinke only improves.
Ichiro Suzuki. In the event that the Brewers decide to trade Corey Hart, who is apparently a highly sought after commodity, there will be one less suitor for a corner OF now that the Yankees have acquired the longtime Mariner. Plenty of interest in Hart remains, though.
Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez was sent to the Pirates last night, further slimming the list of starting pitchers available by trade. Greinke is a different caliber of pitcher, but it certainly is encouraging to see starting pitchers flying off the board.
Hunter Pence. The Phillies may have locked up another ace pitcher, but they’re still considering selling other pieces, including OF Hunter Pence. Pence and Hart are remarkably similar players, but I think most teams would prefer Pence (.290/.342/.481 career) over Hart (.275/.332/.488 career), all else being equal. Indeed, most everything else is equal; both are set to become free agents after the 2013 season, and both are set to make around $10M next season (Pence will be arbitration eligible for the final time, whereas Hart will be in the final year of his contract).
Cliff Lee. Lee is not yet formally available, although there is a steadily growing opinion among GMs that the Phillies will entertain offers for the elite lefty in advance of the trade deadline. Lee is still owed about $87M over the next 3 years, so this would be a long-term trade for any interested team and would likely net the Phils top prospects and the salary relief they desperately need after signing Hamels. If he does go on the block, Lee immediately becomes the top pitcher available despite his rather lackluster year (118 ip, 3.95 era, 4.87 k/bb). Lee’s addition to the trade market will suppress interest in Greinke, as Lee’s additional years of control should be very appealing to teams like the Rangers (who tried to get Lee in free agency, but failed).
By: Ryan Smith
2012 would mark the second-consecutive season that I made it to the Milwaukee Brewers home opener. Now that I’m writing for Cream City Cables, I thought this would be a good opportunity for an article. After tossing around a few ideas, I decided that I wanted to tackle the day in the form of a running diary. I chose to take this approach for two reasons:
Reason #1: I’ve enjoyed the writing of Bill Simmons for over a decade now. I find his mix of sports content, opinion, pop culture and humor to be consistently entertaining to the point that I still look forward to his weekly articles on Grantland.com. Being a Bill Simmons fan, some of my favorite articles that he has written have taken on the running diary format.
Reason #2: I don’t remember the 2011 home opener. The game started at 1 pm. We were drinking outside of Miller Park by 8:30 am. We had jello shots with the tailgaters around us. Shots of whiskey and blackberry brandy were passed around generously. My cousin Zach brought beer margaritas – a concoction that is equal parts frozen limeade concentrate, citrus soda, beer, and tequila – and I feel that he was very liberal with his use of tequila. In our circle of friends, we call these “Flux Capacitors” because they tend to allow the consumer to travel through time, which is a nicer way of saying they make you black out. So yeah, I figured that a running diary would force me to stay coherent throughout this season’s home opener.
With all that being said, I woke up early on Friday, April 6th, grabbed a six-pack of Spotted Cow and a black coffee, and headed out to the apartment of Cream City Cables creator Nate Petrashek. It was finally time for some Brewers baseball. Let’s jump right into the action.
9:54 AM – I’m at the apartment of Mr. Petrashek. Nate’s girlfriend Sarah is ready, and Jason Stuewe has also arrived. My cousin Zach and his fiancé Michelle just parked outside. I’m checking to see where a few of our friends are. Our college friends Matt, Hof, and Pete are supposed to meet us at 10 AM so we can get to Miller Park by 10:30. Hof and Pete are historically known for being late. Nate says he spoke to them earlier and they were on pace to arrive ten minutes early, so I ask what time it is. Stuewe promptly replies “Six minutes early.” So much for that.
9:58 AM – Matt arrives with Hof and Pete. This might be the first time those two have ever been early. For anything. Time to load up the cars and head off to Miller Park.
10:27 AM – We stop at a Walgreens to meet up with some of Nate’s other friends. Everyone in our tailgating group packs into three cars. Now it’s REALLY time to get to Miller Park.
10:58 AM – We’ve officially arrived. The parking lot seems more cramped than last year, or what I remember of last year anyway. We quickly realize that the row of cars in front of us decided to set up their tailgate stations as far away from their cars as possible, putting them right at our bumpers. Luckily, they are willing to adjust their tailgating placement so we can all come together and spend the next four hours preparing for the home opener.
10:59 AM – Shots! Before the cars are even unpacked, Stuewe is passing around shots of Jack Daniels. Nate raises his solo cup and yells “Fuck the Redbirds!” I’ll drink to that.
11:09 AM – Apparently, there has been some more tailgate shifting going on, so we have extra room on the other end of our cars. We pack everything up and shift to the east. In the process, Nate drops the grill. Boo, Nate. Boo.
11:15 AM – Stuewe now passes out cigars in honor of opening day. I don’t smoke very often, but I feel this is an occasion worthy of lighting up. So let’s see, I have a beer in hand, I’ve taken a few shots, and now I’m smoking a cigar. 24-year-old me is loving this right now. Cue obscure reference to Will Smith and a “victory dance.”
11:23 AM – I just have to say that this weather is absolutely gorgeous. Perfect opening day weather. Earlier in the week, it looked like we’d be dealing with a windy, 40-degree day. Instead, I see people putting on sunscreen. Where’s my bottle opener?
11:30 AM – Nate starts ranting, saying “You gotta win today! Set the tone!” He’s talking to no one in particular. This is actually pretty routine with him.
11:36 AM – Someone mentions the holiday weekend, to which Stuewe replies “Yeah, I keep hearing about that. What’s the holiday?” Umm, it’s Easter. Kind of a big one. Today isn’t called Good Friday just because of the home opener, buddy.
11:43 AM – So far, I’m on my second beer and I’ve only had four shots. Right now, I think my chances of remember Opening Day ’12 are looking pretty good.
11:58 AM – Can someone make an air freshener that smells like brats on the grill? I don’t care about lavender, vanilla, or apple cinnamon, but I’d be perfectly fine if my apartment always had the scent of brats on the grill.
12:10 PM – Crisis averted. My bottle opener – the one I’ve had on my keychain since college – just broke. Luckily, it was a minor issue and I easily fixed it. Still, a close call.
12:18 PM – Just saw a guy walk by with a personalized jersey. Everyone is our group agrees that personalized jerseys suck. I love when we’re all on the same page.
12:28 PM – You know how you always hear about how Wisconsin has an obesity problem? If you ever doubt it, just come to opening day. Or any Brewer game. I’m looking around and I see fruit and pasta salads on tables all around us, completely untouched. It’s the thought that counts.
12:37 PM – Matt brought steak sandwiches for the grill this year. Bravo, Matt. Great choice.
12:50 PM – Another jersey rant: we all agree that it’s lazy to simply put tape over the name on your old jersey. Fielder is gone. Either accept it and wear his jersey with pride or buy a new one. And by the way, Ramirez isn’t #28.
12:51 PM – Nate is now heckling the guy who has “Ramirez” written on tape over Fielder’s name. The guy is absolutely clueless.
1:00 PM – Finally breaking the seal.
1:03 PM – There’s a fucking line at the men’s room, yet no wait at all for the women. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. A guy in line ahead of me says that it’s because “90 percent of the people here are dudes.” That seems a little high. Then again, so does he.
1:10 PM – First trip inside the men’s room of the 2012 season. I think all men assume that the women’s room is the complete opposite of the hell we visit. I figure that they have couches to sit on while they wait and the room smells of daisies and sunshine. Meanwhile, I’m waiting in line, surrounding by the scent of bad decisions.
1:21 PM – Nate returns from the restroom, and apparently I missed a fight. We all agree that it is not proper etiquette to enter the restroom through the exit door. Someone breaking this unwritten rule was then accused of being a Cubs fan for doing so. They proceeded to get into a shoving match while standing by the urinals. Nate left, saying “Nothing good could come from that situation.” Agreed.
1:32 PM – Hof goes to crack open another Bud Light until we question his loyalty to the Brewers. After all, can you really drink a Budweiser product when you are at Miller Park and the Brewers are about to play the Cardinals? Hof succumbs to peer pressure and trades the Bug Light for a Miller Lite.
1:36 PM – The blackberry brandy is making the rounds again. Hof initially refuses, but another dose of peer pressure gets him to take a swig. Peer pressure is Hof’s fatal flaw.
1:43 PM – The third game of “bag tag” just took place. For those that are unaware, “bag tag” is when one guy decides to backhand another guy in the genital region. This usually results in one participant sitting down for a few minutes. All the males in our group are on complete lockdown now.
1:44 PM – Right now, I’ve had five beers and 11 shots. Once again, 24-year-old me would be perfectly fine right now. I’m thinking that I should slow down. It’s hard not to get drunk when you tailgate for over four hours.
1:54 PM – Nate is getting defensive. For no reason. I like when he gets like this. It’s really easy to get him to rant about pretty much anything.
2:12 PM – Team effort to create a human wall so Nate could avoid a trip to the dreaded men’s room. I love when we all come together to work towards a common goal. Mental note not to walk on the passenger side of Stuewe’s car.
2:31 PM – Time to head in to Miller Park. My official Opening Day 2012 Tailgate line looks like this: 1 brat, 1 burger, 1 hot dog, 1 steak sandwich, 8 beers, 15 shots.
2:48 PM – Today’s free giveaway: 2012 Brewers Magnet Schedule. I like giveaways that I won’t immediately throw in the garbage.
3:03 PM – Does anyone else really enjoy watching drunk people trying to act sober? I just watched a guy swipe at the railing four times before he just sat down on the steps.
3:08 PM – I love the first time that the team takes the field. Not just on opening day either. Every game.
3:10 PM – Gallardo takes the mound for his third opening day start in a row. I still think Greinke should have gotten the ball today, and that in no way is an insult to Gallardo.
3:20 PM – Gallardo gets through the 1st inning, allowing two walks and throwing 20 pitches. Not a great start, but he put a zero on the board.
3:24 PM – Weeks leads off the season with a base hit, followed by a Gomez triple! 1-0!
3:26 PM – Braun comes up for his first at-bat of the season. The ovation is ridiculous. I’m joining in on the “MVP!” chant.
3:27 PM – Braun lines out sharply to short.
3:32 PM – Yadier Molina leads off the top of the 2nd with a solo homerun. I hate Molina. Hate him.
3:37 PM – It’s still the top of the 2nd and Hof is falling asleep. More on this in a moment.
3:38 PM – Did you know that the last concert Randy Wolf attended was to see the band Tool? I love in-between inning trivia.
3:39 PM – Hof heads out to get ice cream. I suggest a soda or coffee. Anything with caffeine, really. It’s a long game, Hof.
3:41 PM – Gamel’s first at-bat of the year and he flies out to center. I can already hear the doubters warming up.
3:46 PM – A woman loses the between-inning game, and the crowd proceeds to boo her. Stay classy.
3:48 PM – Gallardo serves up his second homerun. Tie ballgame.
3:49 PM – Homerun #3…
3:51 PM - …and #4. It’s now 5-2. Hof yells “You suck, Gallardo!” Hof tends to do this at times. He quickly overreacts, only to retract his statement 20 minutes later. I’m surprised he’s not saying we should trade Yo at this point.
3:58 PM – Lucroy visits the mound for the third time this inning. That’s never a good sign.
4:00 PM – I also love when everyone complains about balls and strikes from the stands. We’re sitting on the third base side in the upper deck of Miller Park. I’m going to assume the umpire at home has a better angle than I do right now. It’s probably a ball; after all, most of the strikes thrown by Gallardo today have ended up in the stands.
4:10 PM – Pete: “Fucking Gallardo will probably give up four more this inning too!” I forgot to mention this, but Pete is Hof’s older brother. It must run in the family.
4:18 PM – Hof is dozing off once again, slowly leaning out into the aisle.
4:23 PM – Gallardo is done for the day. He only lasts 3 2/3 innings…not a great start to 2012.
4:30 PM – Hof is falling asleep for the third time. This is getting sad. Or funny. Yeah, I’m going to lean towards “funny” right now.
4:32 PM – Pete has put the rally cap on…in the 4th inning. I can’t blame him.
4:35 PM – Got the “Crazy Cap Shuffle” wrong. I used to own that game. I’m frazzled right now.
4:38 PM – And the Milwaukee Brewers have their first 1-2-3 inning of 2012! Too bad it’s the 5th inning.
4:40 PM – I swear, I can’t go anywhere without hearing “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. I hate that song. Damnit, Kelly!
4:48 PM – Runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs, and we don’t score. Fuuuuuuuu…
4:55 PM – We have one of those annoying fans behind us right now that cheer extra loud for their team when they are winning. If you were just cheering to cheer for your team, you wouldn’t be looking around and trying to make eye contact with all of the home fans. By doing that, you are no longer just a fan; you are a douche. Fuck you, douche.
5:01 PM – Sausage Race time! I always cheer for Guido. Sadly, Hot Dog gets away with an early start and Guido settles for 2nd place.
5:06 PM – Braun’s now 0-3. Let the steroid comments commence, haters.
5:32 PM – T-Plush pinch hits. His appearance wakes up the comatose crowd for a moment.
5:36 PM – Two on, no outs, and we fail to score again. Somebody pass the whiskey…
5:44 PM – I guessed the attendance wrong too. The jumbotron is owning me today.
5:46 PM – They’re playing “Jump Around” right now. I think 12 people are actually jumping. Everyone else is too tired/full/depressed right now.
5:48 PM – And the rally cap is on!
5:53 PM – Braun and Ramirez are a combined 0-8 today…
6:02 PM – 10-2, top of the 9th…I should have had more to drink…
6:03 PM – Make that 11-2…
6:09 PM – They said the attendance was over 46,000 for today’s game. Right now, I doubt there’s more than 6,000 remaining.
6:15 PM – Lucroy gets hit by a pitch. Silver lining from today’s game is that Lucroy, Gamel, and Hart have all been on base three times.
6:17 PM – Pinch-hitter George Kottaras hits a 3-run shot, making it 11-5.
6:20 PM – I’m not completely certain, but I think Hof just said he shit his pants. I’m glad I’m driving separately.
6:22 PM – And Braun gets the final out, going 0-5 on the day.
6:23 PM – The Brewers fall on opening day, 11-5. Not a great start to the season, but I’m reminded that we started 0-4 last year. Things seemed to work out well for us then. Time to pack up and head home. I might try to do a few more of these throughout the course of the season. Until next time, Go Crew!
Well, the injury bug wasted no time in buying its ticket to Arizona this year as Brewers right fielder, Corey Hart, can attest to. For the 2nd straight year, Hart looks to start regular season play on the disabled list, this time due to a torn meniscus in his right knee.
The injury, which will require surgery later this week, will leave Hart sidelined for 3-4 weeks, making the timetable tight for a potential opening day start, and potentially throwing the Brewers opening day lineup (which skipper Ron Roenicke said earlier this week was set) into turmoil.
The announcement came about an hour into the Brewers first Cactus League appearance of the year, a 1-1 tie with the San Francisco Giants, which also found Rickie Weeks as a late scratch from the lineup. Weeks, who has been nursing a sore throwing shoulder, participated in throwing drills, but was scratched about 15 minutes before the first pitch along with Hart. According to Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, the Weeks injury is not considered to be serious.
The Hart injury does bring to light several questions which the Brewers will now need to answer in the next several weeks. For one, who will start in right field on opening day? As I have mentioned in previous articles, I fully anticipate that Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki will be able to transition and will be ready in time to take a starting role if needed. If this indeed proves to be true, I see this as the better option over starting center fielder Carlos Gomez in the vacant spot. Why, you ask? The simple answer is, his bat.
Last season, Gomez hit an unimpressive .225 in 231 at bats with an on base percentage of .276. Compare this to Hart’s 2011 line of .285 in 492 at bats and an on base percentage of .356, and its obvious that this is a dip in offense that the club can not afford to make. Hart, along with new third baseman Aramis Ramirez, will be relied upon to close the offensive gap left in the wake of Prince Fielder’s departure. As such, Hart’s replacement will need to produce better than what Gomez did last season, even if it is only for a short period of time.
As a two-time batting champion in Japan, Aoki has proven himself to be a threat at the plate as a contact hitter with an ability to aim the ball to all fields. With many claiming that he is the best pure hitter to come out of Japan since Ichiro, the door has now opened wide for Aoki to prove it. Also, should Aoki find his way into the starting lineup, expect Rickie Weeks to move from the number one slot in the batting order to the number 5 spot, thus beefing up the heart of the order. This could also see Nyjer Morgan slot in at number one, with Aoki in the two hole.
The other problem that Hart’s injury has exposed is Milwaukee’s lack of depth at first base. The initial plan was to have Hart back up first base hopeful Mat Gamel, but now with the injury the Brewers may need to rely on Travis Ishikawa for the time being. Ishikawa, who saw no playing time in the majors in 2011, was acquired from the San Francisco Giants where he batted .265 over 4 seasons. While this may be doable for the short-term, it again highlights the problem mentioned earlier: the offensive drop off created by not having Hart in the lineup.
Finally, for those that believe that Roenicke will rush Hart back early like he did in 2011 after the Nyjer Morgan injury, I will warn you to not be overly optimistic. Hart has a history of meniscus issues, meaning that the team will be overly cautious as this most recent injury is the most severe that he has sustained to this point.
If there is a silver lining to the injury, it is this: A huge opportunity to prove themselves has now been issued to Aoki, Gomez, Gamel, and Ishikawa. The question is, who will stand up and take the call?
by Kevin Kimmes
A few weeks back I wrote an article titled “A Look Into The Crystal Baseball: The Brewers 2012 Opening Day Lineup” in which I tried to predict what the Brewers Opening Day lineup might look like. At the time, I was convinced that Braun would be missing time due to the charges that he was facing. Let’s face it, until last week no one had ever beat the rap when accused of having violated the league’s banned substance policy, so realistically it was a safe assumption to make at the time.
Since then, Braun has been exonerated of the charges meaning that he will now be available in left field for Milwaukee on Opening Day. Case closed, right? Well, not exactly. The more that I thought about it, the more I started to wonder about what will wind up happening in the outfield now that there are way more potential starters than there are positions, and the possible implications that this may have on the vacancy left at 1st base with the departure of Prince Fielder.
Playing Right Field, It’s Easy You Know…
I’ve joked with friends over the past year that I will some day find the time to put together a YouTube clip combining Corey Hart’s fielding “lowlights” and the Peter, Paul and Mary song “Right Field“. If you don’t know the song, here’s a snippet of the lyric:
Right field, it’s easy, you know.
You can be awkward and you can be slow
That’s why I’m here in right field
Just watching the dandelions grow
Now, to be clear, I am not anti-Corey Hart, in fact, I think his bat will be crucial this year in assisting with making up the run production lost due to Fielder’s departure. However, I am a realist when it comes to Milwaukee’s current overabundance of outfield talent. For starters, all 4 of the starting outfielders from last years NL Central Championship squad are returning (Braun, Morgan, Gomez, and Hart). Add to this that Milwaukee acquired two time Japanese batting champion Norichika Aoki (a left fielder), and it quickly becomes obvious that we have more players than we have positions.
Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play
Now, I am going to make an assumption that Aoki will take to the American version of the game quickly, thus leaving Brewers management with the hard decision to make of what to do with 5 guys for 3 positions. Braun is the everyday left fielder hands down, and the platoon of Morgan (L) and Gomez (R) will own center. So now we get to right, which has been Corey Hart’s primary position since he was placed there in 2002 while with the Huntsville Stars due to problems defensively at 1st base.
Now, Ron Roenicke could choose to platoon Aoki, as he is a lefty, which would add some versatility to the lineup and allow Milwaukee to play the advantage when it comes to pitching matchups, or you could potentially have both bats in the lineup on a daily basis. How you ask?
Roenicke has made it clear that he wants to use Corey Hart in a flex role this season having him spend time at both 1st base and in right field, due to questions regarding Mat Gamel’s ability to play everyday at 1st. Gamel, while productive in the minors, has struggled to settle in when given major league assignments over the last several seasons. If this appears to again be the situation in spring training, then I feel like the best option may be to move Hart to 1st to begin the season and position Aoki in right where he can ease his way defensively into the game.
With that said, I now present 2 versions of the potential opening day batting order. The first assumes that Gamel struggles and Roenicke goes with Hart at 1st and Aoki in right:
1) Corey Hart – 1st Base
2) Nyjer Morgan – Center Field
3) Ryan Braun – Left Field
4) Aramis Ramirez – 3rd Base
5) Rickie Weeks – 2nd Base
6) Norichika Aoki – Right Field
7) Alex Gonzalez – Shortstop
8) Jonathan Lucroy – Catcher
9) Yovanni Gallardo – Pitcher
In this version of the lineup, Milwaukee has itself a formidable 1-6 which should give opposing pitchers fits when it comes to developing a plan of who to pitch to and who to pitch around. This is very similar to last seasons batting order, which worked well for Milwaukee, but with Ramirez in the cleanup role and Aoki and Gonzalez replacing Betancourt and McGehee at 6 and 7 respectively.
Assuming that Gamel does have a good spring, the only major changes for the second version of the lineup would be at the 6 hole where Gamel (reporting at 1st) would replace Aoki, and in the lead off spot where Hart would be listed in right field.
With the Brewers first Cactus League game coming up this Sunday (March 4th) against the San Francisco Giants, we will soon get our first glimpse of Aoki, and with any luck, begin to clarify just which opening day lineup we will be looking forward to.