Results tagged ‘ Ryan Braun ’
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
Let me put this out there immediately: I have no idea whether Ryan Braun used performance-enhancing drugs. It’s entirely possible that he did. As much as we think we do, we (fans) don’t know who professional athletes really are. While everything in Braun’s public persona suggests to me he didn’t, I simply don’t know. And neither does anyone else except Ryan Braun.
That didn’t stop a ton of national reporters from generating clicks with misleading headlines.
Here’s one from SI’s Tom Verducci: “As Braun’s name surfaces in PED scandal, another sad day for sports”
The Miami Herald writes: “Braun releases statement on PED link to Miami-based clinic”
Even the Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt gets in on the fun: “Ryan Braun attributes PED link to Research for 2011 drug appeal”
The problem: Recently discovered documents don’t link Ryan Braun to PEDs.
Let’s recap what we know. Less than a week ago, the Miami New Times published a report linking some of baseball’s biggest names, including Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, and Melky Cabrera, with a Miami anti-aging clinic that also supposedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs. The New Times obtained the records from an employee who worked at the clinic, Biogenesis, before it closed in December 2012. The records contained numerous references to the University of Miami baseball team, including conditioning coach Jimmy Goins, which I said at the time spelled bad news for Braun after his successful appeal of a positive drug test in 2011.
It got much worse for Braun yesterday. Yahoo’s Tim Brown and Jeff Passan found Braun’s name in the Biogensis records. In some people’s minds, this meant an immediate link to PEDs and guilt. Yet Brown and Passan specifically stated:
Three of the Biogenesis clinic records obtained by Yahoo! Sports show Braun’s name. Unlike the players named by the Miami New Times in its report that blew open the Biogenesis case, Braun’s name is not listed next to any specific PEDs.
Which is why the New Times didn’t report his name in the first place, incidentally. In a blog post, the Mami New Times’ Chuck Strouse clarified:
Yahoo!’s story raises an obvious question. If Braun and Cervelli’s name appear in the Bosch records at the heart of New Times‘ investigation — and indeed, Yahoo!’s report does appear to match New Times records — why didn’t we report them in our first story?
Simple: An abundance of caution.
As Yahoo! notes, the records do not clearly associate either Braun, Cervelli or a third player who this morning denied all ties with Bosch (Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia) with use of supplements. Yahoo! apparently obtained copies of just these page of Bosch’s notebooks independently of New Times.
So what did the Biogenesis records reveal? The Yahoo! story identifies three documents with Braun’s name:
1) A list that includes some players linked to PEDs (Rodriguez, Cabrera, and Cesar Carrillo) and some not (Francisco Cervelli and Danny Valencia).
2) A document which lists Braun’s name along with “RB 20-30k.” A picture of this document was not included in the Yahoo! report.
3) A letter to an associate apparently congratulating Melky Cabrera on his MVP and referencing something called the “‘Braun’ advantage.”
Braun issued a plausible explanation after the story broke, claiming his attorneys consulted with Tony Bosch, a Biogenesis employee, while preparing for his successful appeal. Braun stated Bosch answered questions “about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples.” According to Braun, there was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which was why Braun and his lawyer were listed under “moneys owed” and not on any other list.
This is at least consistent with the “RB 20-30k” notation and multiple references to one of Braun’s lawyers, Chris Lyons, later in the documents. David Cornwell, another Braun attorney, released a statement saying he was introduced to Bosch early in Braun’s case and “found Bosch’s value to be negligible.”
While the reference to a “‘Braun’ advantage” is somewhat troubling, it amounts to nothing more than an obscure and ambiguous reference in a letter that could mean almost anything. Nothing in the newest documents directly links Braun to PEDs or gives any more clarity to the circumstances surrounding Braun’s positive test in 2011 (for which I found Braun’s explanation last year wanting).
In short, we don’t know much more now than we did in 2011. As with his statement last year, Braun’s most recent pronouncement almost raises more questions than answers.
So if you read anything proclaiming Braun definitively guilty or innocent, don’t believe it. We just don’t know.
By Nathan Petrashek
This will be the first year I’m participating in the Brewers Blogosphere awards, run by Jaymes Langrehr at Disciples of Uecker. This sort of works like the team awards every year, with each writer allowed to make three selections in each category—team MVP, best pitcher, and the like. The first selection is worth 5 points, the second 3, and the third 1. The winner in each category is the player with the most points when the votes are tallied.
The results are tallied, and it seems I’m an outlier in a few categories. You can find the results here. My explanation for my votes is below.
1. Ryan Braun
There’s no real debate here. Braun should be the National League’s MVP this year, so he’s an obvious choice for the top spot in team voting.
2. Yovani Gallardo
This one was a really difficult choice. The WAR folks are going to hate this pick, as Yo was a 2.8 bWAR pitcher while Rami knocked the ball around to the tune of 5.4 wins above replacement. Nonetheless, Gallardo was the only starter on the team to eclipse 150 IP. He anchored a rotation that made a real run at the postseason even after its best pitcher was traded away, going 11-1 to finish the year while accumulating 76 K’s over 79 innings. Most of all, Gallardo proved that his outstanding 2011 campaign was no fluke and gave the team confidence that Gallardo can hold serve as a viable ace in the future.
3. Aramis Ramirez
No way could Ramirez fall any lower than number three in MVP voting. A .300/.360/.540 season was just what Doug Melvin ordered for the heart of the Brewers’ order after Prince Fielder departed last offseason. Ramirez clubbed 27 home runs and a league-leading 50 doubles, the latter challenging the franchise record of 53. Ramirez, never known for his defense, also flashed some serious leather at third base and even chipped in a career-best nine(!) steals. Ramirez even bested our pretty optimistic projection for him in spring, though we nailed his HR and RBI totals.
1. Zack Greinke
Grienke was flat-out ridiculous as a Brewer in 2012. His home run rate plunged from 2011, as did his walks per nine, and somehow Greinke managed to maintain an outstanding 8.9 strikeouts per nine. So pretty much the Zack Greinke we all know and love.
2. Marco Estrada
Quick: who was the only Brewers pitcher to top Greinke in K/BB ratio in 2012? Yep, it was Marco Estrada, with 4.93. It might seem strange to peg Estrada as a better pitcher than Gallardo given the MVP honor for Gallardo above, but let me explain. Gallardo was a workhorse for the Brewers this year, tossing over 200 innings. Estrada was a reliever for part of the season and missed a month, but, when pitching in the rotation, actually performed better than Gallardo. Though Estrada ended the season with a 5-7 record, his 3.54 ERA, 1.14 WHP, and 113 ERA+ all topped Gallardo (albeit narrowly in ERA and ERA+). In essence, Estrada gets the nod at best pitcher for much better command, while for Gallardo gets credit at MVP for actually being on the field and in the rotation.
3. Yovani Gallardo
I don’t intend to take anything away from Gallardo’s excellent 2012 campaign, but let’s face it, walks will haunt. Gallardo was an ace in every sense except one: his unacceptably high 3.6 BB/9, a significant regression from 2.6 BB/9 a year ago and a return to his erratic ways. The frequent free passes elevated his pitch counts, a big reason Gallardo never made it out of the eighth inning this season.
1. Aramis Ramirez
An easy choice given his strong season.
2. Norichika Aoki
Doug Melvin’s 2-year, $2.5M Ryan Braun insurance policy paid off even though Braun wasn’t suspended. Aoki produced a .288/.355/.433 line mostly in right field, as Corey Hart shifted to first base. Aoki was good for a 3.3 bWAR and was only paid $1M. Though Aoki is a rookie of the year candidate, at age 30 his ceiling might be limited. Still, I think there’s room for improvement, as Aoki played sparingly initially, and expecting anyone to fully adjust to MLB pitching in only a partial season is a tall order.
3. Wily Peralta
I’m probably Peralta’s biggest critic, but he piqued my interest in the majors after a pretty crappy year at AAA. While Peralta had a good year in 2011, I was skeptical that he had put his command issues behind him. They again reared their ugly head in 2012; over 146 AAA innings, Peralta walked 4.8 batters per nine and amassed a 1.58 WHIP. Somehow – I’ve heard a minor mechanical tweak – Peralta again managed to contain his wild ways over 29 innings for the big league club at the end of the season. We’ll see if it sticks.
1. Marco Estrada
Even though he’s been mentioned a lot, I think he would get more attention for his stellar 2012 if he weren’t Marco Estrada. I get the sense that people feel Estrada is a known quantity, and they don’t get excited.
2. Shaun Marcum
This may be a bit of a homer pick, because I feel like I’m constantly on the defense about Marcum. I know he came up short in the 2011 postseason, but you have to let it go. 124 innings of 3.70 ball this year, and the only time I’ve heard Marcum mentioned is when (1) he gets an injury timeout; or (2) people talk about dead arm. Fact is, we paid a lot to get him and he did reasonably well for us. We shouldn’t be so quick to shove him out the door.
3. Carlos Gomez
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this pick, too. Much has been made of his last-season surge in 2012, but he’s quietly put up consecutive 2+ bWAR seasons.
1. Rick Weeks
Worked through a severe slump to start the season with poise, never shifting responsibility or taking to Twitter to bash anyone (see #3 in this category). By the end of the season, was pretty well back to the old Rickie.
2. Nyjer Morgan
We all kind of wanted to see him start trouble, but he managed to avoid it despite being benched. Team player gets a vote.
3. Anyone but John Axford
New rule: No Twitter at least 48 hours after a blown save.
By Nathan Petrashek
“I stood up to the plate, I swung my bat as hard as I could. Ballgame’s over, guys.”
This weekend I buried a man I have known since childhood, one of my best friends. It was one of the hardest days for me, but not an entirely unexpected one. Eric McLean had been battling leukemia basically his entire adult life. After his initial diagnosis in 2003, Eric lived cancer-free for about 4 1/2 years until he relapsed in 2007, then again in 2009. The time between relapses grew shorter but Eric kept fighting. Eventually doctors discovered evidence of the disease in his brain. Eric tried one last time to battle back, to survive, but he was unsuccessful. Out of options, he received hospice care at his parents’ house for about two weeks. He uttered the words above in his final video journal made just days before he died on August 23. He had just celebrated his 28th birthday the month before.
That means Eric didn’t get to see the Brewers finish off a sweep of the free-falling Pirates yesterday. He didn’t get to see the near-sweep of the Cubs in Chicago. And he didn’t see the Brewers take 2 out of 3 in Pittsburgh the series before that.
It might seem pretty trivial, of all the things Eric won’t get to experience, to mention a handful of Brewers games in what may be a lost season. In perspective, a lot of things appear trivial right now (among them Perez Hilton’s thoughts on my friend’s final days). And yet, I can’t quite bring myself to place sports – and I speak particularly of baseball – in that category of “life’s meaningless distractions.”
I would have no problem doing so if I was a strict adherent to my philosophy on professional sports. The phrase “bread and circuses” is a good starting point. The phrase refers to efforts by ancient Roman politicians to win votes by offering the masses free bread and entertainment. The general idea was to discourage regime change by encouraging complacency; it was premised on the theory that a fed and distracted populace would view its leaders favorably. As one of my law school professors used to say, “Think about what you could accomplish without sports.” We spend hours and hours watching, writing, and talking about “our teams.” That’s by design; franchises want us to identify with them, to feel emotionally invested in their success. So we pack stadiums, often publicly financed, to watch millionaires hired by billionaires play games. Kids look up to sports stars as role models. We buy $200 jerseys and $8 beers. If we as a society spent as much time, energy, and resources on disease as sports, we’d have probably cured cancer.
I know all this, and yet I am still a willing participant. I have season tickets, my closet is filled with jerseys, and I have autographed memorabilia scattered all over my apartment. I give the Brewers and Major League Baseball free marketing on this blog every single day.
I do this because baseball offers far more than the pleasure of victory and the agony of defeat. Eric and I had season tickets with a few friends prior to doctors telling him he was terminal in 2009. His brother Mike, wanting desperately to brighten Eric’s dreary hospital days, contacted the Brewers to ask if there was anything they could do. The Brewers sent Larry Hisle.
Larry Hisle was a very good baseball player. He played for nearly a decade with Philadelphia and Minnesota before signing a 6-year deal with Milwaukee in 1978. He had his best statistical year that first season, hitting 34 round trippers and knocking in 115 en route to an All-Star berth and 3rd place MVP finish. Unfortunately, that season would also be the last full one Larry would ever play. He struggled with injuries over parts of the next four seasons; a torn rotator cuff eventually forced him into retirement. He played his last game on May 6, 1982. And although it was painful, Larry forged ahead, eventually becoming a successful hitting coach for the world champion Toronto Blue Jays.
Larry is one of the most humble, selfless, caring people I’ve ever met. His current title is Manager of Youth Outreach for the Brewers, but his real job is mentoring, not marketing. Put simply, Larry tries to give at-risk kids a better life. And he does this by inserting himself into theirs, making himself available nearly 24/7 to his troubled youth. Spend any amount of time with Larry and you’ll see him pull a gold MLB alumni card from his wallet. The card is given to veterans with 10 or more years of MLB service. It will get him into any baseball game he wants, any time, for free. He has never used it. There’s always a chance that one of his kids will call for help while he’s at the ballpark. “I don’t like doing anything halfway,” he told Adam McCalvy in 2005. “I tell these kids that I’m going to be in their lives the whole way. They had better get ready, because I’m going to be there.”
So it was with Eric. Because of our shared appreciation of baseball, Eric wanted me there for Larry’s first visit. Larry brought a playbook, baseballs, and a demeanor forged through struggle. Orphaned at 11, Hisle overcame extreme adversity to find success in the game and in life. Larry once took us for a personal tour of Miller Park and introduced us to a few players-an honor usually reserved only for his kids, to show them that hard work and determination breed success. He talked of those traits during that first meeting with Eric, and again when he came back the next day. Larry never stopped visiting. He was with Eric the day he died. At Eric’s funeral, Larry would say that although he knew Eric the shortest time, they had forged a friendship second to none. I think that’s because Eric was a living example of the message Larry tries so hard to instill in his kids: Never give up.
What is it about baseball that could bring two absolute strangers of different generations together to form a bond until death? What is it that could bring two close friends since childhood even closer? And what is it that could bring a dying man to, in his final days, analogize the game to his own struggle to survive?
When longtime Brewers groundskeeper Jeff Adcock passed away a few months ago, Ryan Braun responded to a question about his All-Star selection by saying, “I think there’s constant reminders in life that there’s things that are far more important than this game that we play.” There’s no doubt truth to that.
But let’s not also forget that our lives are better for having this wonderful game in it. I’m going to miss Eric very much. I’m sad he didn’t get to see that sweep of the Pirates. I’m sad he won’t be with us at Opening Day next year, or the year after that. But if he had to miss these things, at least I know that I will never forget him. The game is a reminder of good times and friendships that thrive under blue summer skies lazily stretched above grass-ringed diamonds.
And if you have these kinds of memories, too, know that your time wasn’t wasted making them.
By Nathan Petrashek
Ryan Braun has a dream. That dream is to make the playoffs in 2012:
“There’s no reason to give up. Why are you going to give up, ever? I think until you’re mathematically eliminated, you’re going to continue to believe you have a chance. There’s a lot of crazy things that have happened throughout the course of the history of this game.”
There is enough truth to Braun’s last point. Exhibit A is last year’s St. Louis Cardinals, a team both Braun and Doug Melvin like to cite as proof of the impossible. The Cardinals were 10.5 games out of first place as late as September 5, but managed to win 8 out of their last 12 games en route to a wild card berth and eventual World Series victory. They were helped by a faltering Atlanta team that lost its last 5 games.
History definitely isn’t on the Brewers’ side, though. At 15.5 games back, the Brewers will need a comeback of epic proportions.
To my knowledge, no team has ever made the kind of comeback Braun seems to believe in. The 1914 Boston Braves at one point trailed the front-running New York Giants by 15 games. That was on July 4, 1914, and the Braves were in last place. By October 1, the Braves would lead the National League by 11 games. They would go on to sweep the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series, earning the “Miracle Braves” moniker.
A miracle would be about what the Brewers need right now: an extraordinary event that surpasses all known powers. What once rivaled the best rotations in baseball has been left in shambles with the injuries to Shaun Marcum and Chris Narveson and the Zack Grienke trade. The same players that have contributed 26 losses to the 2012 club still haunt the Brewers’ bullpen. And an offense that lost its starting shortstop and first baseman is still putting it all together.
The odds are made all the worse by the fact that three different teams will need to go on prolonged losing streaks. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati all have significantly better records. The Brewers’ best hope is a wild card berth, but they’re even 11.5 games out of that.
I see where Braun’s optimism comes from. The Brewers’ will undoubtedly play better baseball in the final months, because they couldn’t get much worse. He’s trying to motivate a team that looks like it has little left to play for. But don’t dare hope for a playoff spot. Not yet. The Brewers need to show me more than a sweep of the lowly Astros to make me believe in miracles.
By: Ryan Smith
Now that the All-Star Game has come and gone, it’s time to get back to the grind for the Milwaukee Brewers.
For the players, that means doing whatever they can to get into the mix for the NL Central race, or at least positioning themselves to make a run at one of the Wild Card spots.For Doug Melvin, the grind is a completely different animal. For Doug Melvin, the All-Star Game provided no such break. Instead, while Ryan Braun was participating in the All-Star Game and other players were using the four-day break to spend time with their families, Doug Melvin was still wrestling with one of the biggest questions in Major League Baseball right now:
Should the Milwaukee Brewers trade Zack Greinke?
Personally, I am torn on this subject. The diehard fan in me wants to see Zack Greinke pitch as many games as possible in a Milwaukee uniform. That part of me would love to see him stay with the team through the rest of this season and lead us into the playoffs.
But then there’s the realistic side of me. As much as I would love to see Greinke remain a Brewer for the rest of 2012, I have admitted before that I think the smartest move would be to trade the star right-hander.
Now, as recently as today, there have been some rumors that Milwaukee could surprise many baseball experts and sign Greinke to an extension before he hits free agency this offseason. Jon Heyman of CBS reported that the Brewers are ready to offer Greinke a 5-year, $100 million deal to stay in Milwaukee beyond 2012. But in his report, Heyman quotes Doug Melvin as saying that “players at that level who get this close to free agency do tend to test the market.”
So while the Brewers are willing to make one final push at keeping Greinke, it seems more than likely that the front office could move him to a contender.With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at what the Brewers could be looking at as far as prospects from some interested teams. Technically, you could say that any team would be interested in acquiring a top-of-the-rotation arm like Greinke. But I thought I’d focus on a few teams that have been reported multiple times as having interest in meeting Milwaukee’s demands for Greinke: the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers, and the Baltimore Orioles.
While I plan on mentioning a few potential prospects that could join the Milwaukee organization from each of these teams, it is important to note that I’m not saying we would need to receive all of these players to make the trade happen. I also am not placing a ton of weight on being position-specific when it comes to these prospects. Yes, it would be nice to add another arm to our farm system or potentially find our shortstop of the future, but when trading for top-tier prospects, you get whatever talent you can. If you have a surplus of talent at one position, then you can figure it out when you get there. Frankly, too much talent is a wonderful problem to have.
In breaking down these potential trade partners, I thought I’d rank them based on which team I thought could offer the best realistic package to Milwaukee for Greinke. Without further ado, let’s start off with…
#4 – Baltimore Orioles
Coming into the season, not many people expected Baltimore to potentially compete for any sort of playoff spot. Even after they started out 29-17, most experts figured they would come back down to Earth. While they did start to struggle a little more as the season went on, they still find themselves at 45-40, well in the thick of the American League Wild Card race. When I look at this Orioles team, I can’t help but feel a certain familiarity. Baltimore is an organization with a relatively new and impressive ballpark, a loyal fan base, and a long, recent history of losing. Sounds a lot like the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers.
In 2008, desperate to make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, Milwaukee traded away multiple prospects – including the organization’s top prospect in Matt LaPorta – to add CC Sabathia to the top of our rotation. The rest is history.
Could Zack Greinke be Baltimore’s Sabathia?
Unlike Milwaukee in 2008, I don’t think there’s any chance that Baltimore parts with either of its top prospects, RHP Dylan Bundy and SS Manny Machado. ESPN’s Keith Law has those two guys and the second-and-third overall prospects in all of baseball. While I’d love to land one of those guys in a Greinke trade, I said earlier that I wanted these to be realistic trade scenarios.
However, one of the perks of being one of the league’s worst teams over the last decade is that you have the chance to acquire a lot of talent in the draft. While Bundy and Machado are all but untouchable, I think Doug Melvin would at least have to listen to an offer that included 2B/3B Jonathan Schoop. Schoop probably won’t be a defensive star in the league, but he does have the arm to play third. More importantly, his bat certainly profiles there. The guy can flat-out hit. Not only that, but he has also shown the ability to make adjustments when he has been promoted to a more challenging level. 1B/3B Nick Delmonico would also be a decent player to acquire, though he is not on the same level as Schoop. As far as pitching is concerned, I would like to see the Brewers obtain either LHP Eduardo Rodriguez or RHP Parker Bridwell.
Like I said, Baltimore has talent in their farm system. But if Schoop isn’t part of any deal, Doug Melvin should just hang up.
Ideal Potential Deal: Greinke for 2B/3B Jonathan Schoop, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, multiple other minor league prospects
#3 – Los Angeles Angels
The Angels’ farm system graduated its top prospect this season when Mike Trout was promoted to the big league club. All he’s done since then is make the All-Star Game and head to the front of the line for the AL MVP.
With Trout out of the system, 2B/SS Jean Segura becomes the top prospect that the Angels have to offer. In AA this season, Segura has produced a .286/.332/.398 line. He’s not going to tear the cover off the ball, but he is a hitter who has the ability to spray line drives all over the field while providing solid defense up the middle.
RHP Garrett Richards has split his time this year between AAA and the big leagues. He hasn’t necessarily had the success you’d like to see, struggling with his location (4.71 BB/9) at times. Still, he’s a good player with a fastball that stays 94-98 late into games. RHP John Hellweg is another pitcher with a powerful fastball, but he also struggles with his command (4.88 BB/9). However, he’s only in AA and has some time to work on those command issues.
Ideal Potential Deal: Greinke for 2B/SS Jean Segura, RHP John Hellweg, multiple other minor league prospects
#2 – Atlanta Braves
The rest of the teams on this list are not in the same boat as Baltimore. All three of these teams have had recent success. They aren’t going to be making a deal for Greinke just to make the playoffs. If these teams try to acquire the right-hander, it is because they think he could be the final piece to their World Series puzzle. Atlanta is a team that almost needs to do something because the division title is well within their reach. Philadelphia has fallen off drastically, Miami lacks consistency, New York seems to be winning with two players (Dickey and Wright) doing most of the work, and Washington will soon be faced with an innings limit on their ace.
If Atlanta ends up being the team to land Greinke, Milwaukee should expect to receive multiple pitching prospects in return. Atlanta seems to have quite a bit of pitching talent in their system, while they seem to lack position players that can hit consistently.
Atlanta’s top prospect, RHP Julio Teheran, has had some difficulties this season with the long-ball (1.68 HR/9), but his xFIP of 3.47 suggests that the rest of his stuff has been pretty effective. He’s only 21 and playing in AAA, and he has a decent fastball-changeup combo that he can throw for strikes.
After Teheran, there is a bit of a drop-off. Arodys Vizcaino would have been a guy to target, but he underwent Tommy John Surgery in March. Randall Delgado is an arm that would be nice to add to your system, but he has been pitching at the major league level this season and hasn’t exactly been blowing anyone away, which leads me to believe he might be a bullpen arm waiting to happen. Christian Bethancourt might be the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues. He calls a good game and has the arm to shut down any team’s running game. I’m not sure if Atlanta would part with him, but I wouldn’t blame Melvin for holding out for both Teheren and Bethancourt. After all, Greinke is the best arm on the market.
Ideal Potential Deal: Greinke for RHP Julio Teheren and C Christian Bethancourt
#1 – Texas Rangers
I’ll admit that the Atlanta deal would be one I could live with. But I’ve been saying for quite some time now that if we are going to trade Greinke, I want Texas to be on the receiving end. Texas is in a unique situation because they have appeared in the World Series the last two seasons while still producing one of the top farm systems in Major League Baseball. In fact, Keith Law ranked the Rangers as having the seventh-best farm system in all of baseball.
Making it to two straight World Series is pretty impressive, but the Rangers failed to win it all each year. They also watched their top pitchers in each season (Cliff Lee in ’10, C.J. Wilson in ’11) walk away at season’s end. They added Yu Darvish to the top of their rotation before the start of the season, and then they signed Roy Oswalt to strengthen that rotation. Still, finding a way to acquire Greinke’s arm could certainly put them in the driver’s seat to be the AL’s World Series representative for the third consecutive year.
I mentioned earlier that Baltimore had two of the top three prospects in all of baseball. Texas has the other. SS Jurickson Profar is everything you’d want in a baseball player. He hits for average, hits for some power, plays excellent defense, and keeps improving even as he reaches more challenging levels. Profar would be even more hands-off than either of Baltimore’s top prospects.
Now, I know this isn’t likely because they are using him this season, but wouldn’t Profar’s excellence make current SS Elvis Andrus an interesting trade chip? Andrus is an excellent defender who also seems to be able to hit for a consistent average. I know I said that position wouldn’t play a role in these scenarios, but the Brewers certainly lack that shortstop of the future. Hell, the Brewers lack a shortstop of the present. Andrus would be a nice find for Milwaukee.
As far as other prospects go, I’ve been a fan of 3B Mike Olt for the last year or so. He’s a slick-fielding third baseman who can swing the bat as well. This year in AA, he’s produced a line of .292/.403/.574. Sound like a nice guy to add to Milwaukee’s system? I thought so.
As far as pitching is concerned, Texas did promote LHP Martin Perez up from AAA this year, but he’d still be a nice guy to add that could help fill the spot Greinke would leave behind. RHP Neil Ramirez would be another guy that would add some depth and talent to our farm system. But the pitcher I would most like to snag in a Greinke deal would be RHP Cody Buckel. He just turned 20 this year and he really seems to be figuring it out. He seems to be striking guys out (7.25 K/9) while not allowing the long ball (0.81 HR/9) in AA.
Ideal Potential Deal: Greinke for SS Elvis Andrus, 3B Mike Olt, and RHP Cody Buckel
Maybe I’m aiming too high with that last deal. Maybe Texas wouldn’t give up all of that for a two or three month rental of Greinke.
Then again, maybe getting to the World Series isn’t enough for this team. Maybe getting there two years in a row only to walk away empty-handed has pushed them to a point where they are willing to sacrifice some of their future talent to win it all now.
And Zack Greinke could certainly help them win it all now.
Yes, it would be painful to see Greinke go. But at the same time, I hated seeing Prince Fielder leave. I hated the fact that we got a late first-round draft pick in return for him.
If Greinke is going to go, let’s make the most of it. Let’s restock our farm system.
Instead of letting the franchise start a freefall, let’s set it up for a quick rebound.
By: Ryan Smith
Zack Greinke is a really good pitcher.
The previous statement might seem like one of the most obvious statements I could write. Nevertheless, I thought I had to point out the obvious because his impressive 2012 is being overshadowed by Milwaukee’s day-to-day struggles and trade rumors surrounding the enigmatic right-hander.The fact of the matter is that baseball, like any other professional sport, is more enjoyable to watch when you are watching the best players. At the plate, I’m not sure I enjoy watching anyone more than Ryan Braun, meticulously adjusting his batting gloves, doing that little double-elbow flick, and puffing out his cheeks as he exhales right before he steps in to the box. On the bases, Carlos Gomez is right up there with rookies Bryce Harper and Mike Trout as far as entertainment is concerned. When Gomez hits a ball out of the infield, magic happens. He turns singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and has been known to score from first on a bunt.
On the mound, Greinke is right at the top of my must-see list.
He has multiple pitches that he can consistently throw for strikes. He understands the importance of using his fastball early in games so he can bust out the breaking stuff later on. If he gets in a jam, you know he’s going to turn to his filthy curveball to make hitters look foolish. Greinke is a surgeon on the mound, methodically carving up opposing lineups almost every single time he steps out there.
That last paragraph still doesn’t do justice to the season that Greinke is currently having. Luckily, Fangraphs provides numerous statistical categories that allow us to take a deeper look into how Greinke is dominating on the mound in 2012.
First, let’s look at some of the traditional stats to help us evaluate how strongly Greinke has performed this year. In 16 starts, Greinke has compiled a 9-2 record. Those nine wins are tied for fourth-most in the majors this year. In the world of ERA lovers, 3.00 has long been considered the level expected and required from the league’s top starters. Greinke currently has an ERA of 2.82, which comes in well below that level. In 13 of his 16 starts, Greinke has pitched six or more innings. He has also given up three or less runs in 13 of his starts. Greinke is sporting a 1.17 WHIP, a 9.00 K/9, and a 1.94 BB/9. To the traditional stat-lover, Greinke is having a very impressive year.
In his 16 starts, Greinke has had two duds, giving up eight runs in 3.2 innings against Chicago and allowing seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Diamondbacks. In his other 14 starts, Greinke has pitched 96 innings, allowing 17 earned runs, striking out 94, and compiling a 9-0 record. Frankly, those numbers are ridiculous.
Now, if you’re a sabermetric nerd like me, those numbers just don’t tell you enough. If we take a look at some of Greinke’s advanced stats, we can get an even better idea of just how well he has been pitching this season.
For starters, FIP and xFIP are good indicators of the effectiveness of a pitcher based solely on what the pitcher can control. ERA, WHIP, and HR/9 can all be influenced by team defense, park variances, and official scoring difference. FIP and xFIP try to eliminate those factors, instead focusing as much as possible on the pitcher’s execution from the mound. These stats are also good indicators of what we can reasonably expect from a pitcher going forward. Greinke has an xFIP of 2.72, which is the second-best mark in the majors in 2012, while his 2.22 FIP is the top mark in baseball this year.
Batting Average on Balls in Play, or BABIP, is another advanced stat that can shed some light on Greinke’s performance this season. BABIP focuses on at-bats that result in pretty much anything other than a strikeout or a walk. The average pitcher will often have a BABIP between 2.90 and 3.00. If a pitcher has a number noticeably higher than that, it typically means that the pitcher in question has suffered from defensive lapses or general bad luck. Greinke’s BABIP of 3.29 is the ninth-highest total in baseball this year, which should come as no surprise considering the injury to Alex Gonzalez and the regression that seems to have overcome Rickie Weeks in 2012.
Finally, WAR simply takes a look at a player’s overall impact on team wins. While it is not a perfect stat, WAR at least tries to establish how many wins a player is worth to his team when compared to a league-average replacement-level player. A full-season WAR of 6.0 is considered to be MVP-level, and we are only approaching the halfway point of the season. As of right now, Greinke’s WAR of 3.6 is tied with Detroit’s Justin Verlander as the top mark among all pitchers.
It doesn’t matter how you look at it; right now, Zack Greinke is having one of the best seasons of any pitcher in baseball right now. That’s saying quite a bit considering that we are in the middle of a pitching renaissance.
Sadly, Brewers fans haven’t been able to truly enjoy Greinke’s artistry on the mound because the team has struggled to perform on the field. Instead of getting pumped up for every one of his starts, fans are too busy flooding twitter with updates about which team has scouts at the game to watch Greinke.
There’s a very strong possibility that Greinke finishes the year in another uniform. I, for one, feel that it would be in Milwaukee’s best interest to trade him sooner rather than later in order to get the best possible return for the pending free agent. Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see Greinke finish up the year in Milwaukee and then sign a long-term extension in the offseason. But I also have to be honest with myself. If Greinke was going to sign an extension with the team, I think it would already have happened.In the mean time, let’s just enjoy what he brings to the mound pretty much every time he steps out there. Let’s cheer him on every time he gets two strikes on a hitter. Let’s ignore the struggles of the team every fifth game. Let’s tune out the trade rumors unless they become something more than just rumors.
Instead, let’s give our undivided attention to what Zack Greinke is doing in 2012.
After all, he deserves it.
By: Ryan Smith
The term “bandwagon fan” is one that carries a negative connotation. The bandwagon fan only starts to support a team when that team is having some level of success. If the team is a historically bad team or is a team that is experiencing tough times, the bandwagon fan is nowhere to be found. To be labeled a bandwagon fan is often meant as an insult. The “true fans” have a sort of animosity towards the bandwagon fans because, well, they’re bandwagon fans.
I grew up a fan of two teams: the Milwaukee Brewers and the Boston Red Sox. I was a fan of the Brewers because I grew up in Wisconsin and was lucky enough to attend a game or two every year at County Stadium. I was a Red Sox fan because I actually got to see them play of television occasionally. I also wanted to be a pitcher when I was young, and Roger Clemens became my favorite pitcher for quite some time. When he bolted to Toronto, I stayed with Boston. To this day, I cheer for Milwaukee and Boston. It’s what I’ve always done, and while I may be more of a die-hard for Milwaukee as I attend more and more games each year, I assume I’ll always root for both teams.
Boston and Milwaukee. I’m not sure if there could be two more opposite markets outside of New York than those two. Red Sox Nation spreads far across the globe, with many lifers and bandwagon fans sporting Boston gear on a daily basis. Even when Boston struggles from time to time, they still sell out every game and do very well when it comes to merchandise sales. Frankly, Boston is such a large market naturally that the bandwagon fan does not make much of an impact to the day-to-day and season-to-season operations of the Red Sox front office.
I’m pointing all of this out because the Milwaukee Brewers are getting very close to the point where the bandwagon fans are going to disappear. And I have one message for Brewer Nation:
The Brewers need the bandwagon fans.It’s no secret that Milwaukee is the smallest of the small-market teams in Major League Baseball. From 2002-2006, the Brewers ranked no higher than 17th in total attendance in any of those seasons. In 2007, when Milwaukee finished above .500 for the first time since the ’92 season, Milwaukee’s attendance jumped to 12th in all of baseball. After that, the Crew finished 9th (2008), 9th (2009), 11th (2010), and 7th (2011). In 2012, the Brewers are currently sitting in 11th place once again.
It should be no surprise that as the Brewers started to find more success on the field, they also found more success at the ticket office. That’s how this whole system works. If the team is winning, the bandwagon fans will find their way to the ballpark. And when the team starts to struggle, the bandwagon fans will scatter.But as those attendance numbers so clearly point out, those bandwagon fans are immensely important when it comes to stimulating the Milwaukee Brewers economy. And when the Brewers are selling more tickets, more jerseys, more concessions, more everything, the front office is going to be more inclined to spend some of that money they are making. When those attendance numbers drop, so will the payroll of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here’s my point: the self-proclaimed “true fans” of the Milwaukee Brewers should not be so quick to vilify the bandwagoners when they jump ship because, unlike Boston, we need them.
The cold, hard truth is that the next few years could be very lean ones in Miller Park. Zack Greinke could (and should) be traded in the next few weeks. Shaun Marcum’s recent trip to the DL should be seen as a blessing to Doug Melvin, because Marcum was quickly pitching himself out of Milwaukee’s comfort zone as far as his next contract is concerned. Rickie Weeks hasn’t been Rickie Weeks ever since he legged out an infield single last July against the Cubs, spraining his ankle in the process. The farm system has some decent pieces, but there’s not a lot that’s ready to be harvested for a while yet. Outside of Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, and The Jonathon Lucroy, Milwaukee doesn’t have a lot of long-term promise on the current roster.
And if the bandwagon fans don’t find their way to Miller Park every now and then, things might not get much better any time soon.
So, to the bandwagon fans out there, I would just like to remind you about the fun times we’ve had these last few years. Remember the Sabathia craze? Prince’s monster shots? Braun’s MVP? T-Plush and Beast Mode? The NLCS? The tailgating? Even though times are rough right now, that can’t erase all of those memories, can it?
And to the “true fans” out there, I just want to remind you to invite those bandwagon fans out when you go to catch the game at a local sports bar. And when you are planning a weekend trip to Miller Park, remember to include those same bandwagon fans in your evite or your Facebook event. Above all else, do whatever you can to keep those bandwagon fans from straying too far.
Bandwagon fans, don’t be strangers to Miller Park. On behalf of Brew Crew Nation, this die-hard member wants to let you know that you are always welcome here.
By: Ryan Smith
With 3,932,100 votes, Ryan Braun was the leading vote-getter for 2011’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Once again, the fans were throwing their support behind Braun, who had become a regular among the leading vote-getters for the midsummer classic. The All-Star game is meant to showcase the best players in the league, and the fans clearly understood that Ryan Braun was a unique talent that should be put on display.
Then he became Public Enemy #1.
When news of a failed drug test “leaked” to the public, the haters came out to play. All of a sudden, everything that he had accomplished up to this point in his career came into question. Pundits and fans alike didn’t seem to care that he had passed numerous drug tests throughout the regular season; one failed test meant that Braun had been juicing for his entire career.
Braun then went through the appeal process that Major League Baseball had put in place and was exonerated of these charges. He went through the process and was found innocent.
None of this should be news to you. This is the real news:
Ryan Braun is currently 4th in All-Star voting among National League outfielders.
I don’t mean for this article to be an attack on the achievements of the three guys ahead of Braun. Matt Kemp is the top vote-getter, and even though he has only played in 36 games, his numbers over the course of those games (.355/.444/.719) were as good as anyone else’s during that same span, and Kemp wouldn’t be the first player to make it based on past success. Carlos Beltran is also putting up impressive stats (.311/.396/.591 with 19 HR and a 2.7 WAR) while taking on the unenviable task of replacing one of the all-time greats in St. Louis. Even Melky Cabrera is having an all-star caliber season (.363/.399/.532).
No, I’m not looking to break apart the seasons of those three deserving players. Instead, I just want to comment on what I fear might be unfolding before our very eyes.
This all-star game slight could be the first sign in a long line of residual backlash for Braun’s “leaked” test result.
Let’s start by looking at Braun’s stats from his MVP 2011 season: Braun produced a line of .332/.397/.597 while mashing 33 HR, driving in 111, scoring 109 runs, swiping 33 bases, and ending with a 7.8 WAR.
Now let’s take a gander at what Braun has done so far in 2012, post-leak: Braun is currently hitting .321/.400/.627, has a league-leading 20 HR, has driven in 51, has scored 47 runs, stolen 12 bases, and he currently sits at a 4.3 WAR, good enough for second-best in the NL behind Joey Votto.
By all accounts, Braun is on pace to equal if not surpass his MVP numbers from a year ago. He is doing all of this while being the only real consistent threat in an otherwise impotent Brewers offense. He no longer has the protection of Prince Fielder in the on-deck circle. Yes, Milwaukee may be struggling, but Braun is far from the reason why.
Now it comes as no surprise that fans can be fickle and hold grudges, refute legal results, and ignore compelling information that goes against what they’ve been led to believe. MLB “accidentally leaked” information that Braun test positive during the postseason last year, forcing Braun to go through the appeal process in a very public way. Fans felt betrayed by the slugger and, in turn, vilified Braun. After Braun won his appeal, MLB acted like a spoiled child who takes his ball and goes home by firing Shyam Das, baseball’s independent arbitrator since 1999 and the man who delivered the controversial decision in Braun’s appeal. So the fans who felt betrayed by Braun held on to those feelings because Major League Baseball pouted when he won his appeal.
So let the fans vote for other players instead of Braun. I personally think the All-Star Game is a joke, especially this year when the retired Tony LaRussa will manage the National League in a game that will decide home-field advantage of the World Series.
My worry is that fans aren’t the only ones who hold grudges. I’m more worried that a Hall of Fame career could very well end up not making it into Cooperstown because of the “leak”. I’m worried that the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will react the same way fans are reacting this year and choose to ignore the legal results of Braun’s appeal and the many other times that Braun has tested clean.
I’m thinking big picture. And while the all-star voting is minor in the long run, it is a very major part of the big picture.
I’m worried that this is a sign that the damage that has been done cannot be undone.
By Nathan Petrashek
Realistically, the Brewers are on what should be an extremely easy stretch of the schedule for any would-be playoff team. After a disappointing 5-4 homestand against the Pirates, Padres, and Cubs, the Brewers are pretty much in must-win territory every game even though they’re only a handful of games out of first place. When I left for Kansas City, I believed the Brewers had a very good chance to sweep a team that one of their fans described yesterday as being “one game from the cellar in the AL Central.”
Since getting here, I’ve realized that I need to take this three-game series against the Royals and completely remove it from the context of everything that has come before. This allows me to enjoy the game regardless of the outcome. This is just baseball.
If you view last night’s game separately from the season, the Brewers actually played it pretty close.
Greinke was his usual dominant self despite the fanfare of his return to Kansas City. I’ll have more on the Greinke situation later – he had some very interesting postgame comments – but he didn’t seem at all fazed by the media and fan attention that inevitably came with his first start at Kauffman since he forced his way off the Royals. Greinke allowed only one run, a leadoff homer by Alex Gordon. A second run – and all that the Royals would need to win – was given up by Francisco Rodriguez. And that’s it. Two earned runs. Not a bad day of pitching.
The Brewers offense sputtered against Luis Mendoza, who was clearly on his game. Still, the Brewers had shots. Ryan Braun was gunned down at home plate on a perfect throw by Gordon in left field in the seventh, and the Brewers had runners in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings.
I wish I could say there is some larger lesson to take away from a close, one-run loss against one of the worst teams in baseball. But the reality of it is the Brewers just have to take it one game at a time. And at this point, I think that’s probably how the fans should treat the season too.