Monday, June 27, 2011

VFBC Podcast Episode 18

Breakdown of The Show:

Mat Gamel and Zach Braddock Are Free! Roster Moves 00:00-17:12
Ryan Braun & Prince Fielder/How Special Is this Duo? 18:21-31:27
John Axford, All-Star Closer? Should He Be Used In 8th? 32:44-48:36
Preview Week/Around NL Central/Chalet Award Winner 49:36-1:00:51

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Questioning The Unquestionable

After dominating the NL since he was brought over from Toronto Shaun Marcum has shown he was worth everything the Brewers gave up to get the big righty. After going down with a hip strain on June 17th Brewer Nation held it's collective breath as we awaited the news on his most recent injury. Initial reports say that he is fine and Marcum expects to make his next start against the Yankees, a club that he has seen more than any other pitcher on the Brewers staff. The Crew is 12-10 in June, including a 20 game stretch in which the Brewers did not have a day off, and pulled one of the toughest interleague schedules in recent memory. We need Marcum healthy to compete with elite offenses as we have seen, so is this most recent injury a bump in the road, or a glimpse of things to come.

In his entire time with the Blue Jays as a starter Marcum never went over 200 IP. He came closest last year with 195.1, but aside from that he has gone about 150 IP in 2007 and 2008. As it stands right now Marcum has thrown 94.2 IP, and looks to eclipse the 200 IP mark for the first time in his career. Not only is he looking to set that benchmark, but he is also posting career lows in HR/9 (0.86) and HR/FB (7.7%). He has also shown that he can control a game, striking out roughly 8 per 9 and walking just over 2. Given that he has been out performing his averages most baseball fans would expect a correction, but Marcum's problems may lie in his health and not his stats.Following his breakout campaign for Toronto in 2007 things were looking up for Marcum. He had just had his highest pitch totals of his career, went 12-6, and posted a 1.4 WAR on the season. But, just like Icarus who flew too close to the sun, Marcum was shut down and would eventually have Tommy Johns surgery to repair his wing. Marcum did not pitch again in the majors until opening day 2010 and got his first win after TJS against the Oakland A's. The rest is history as Marcum had his best season, posted career numbers across the board, and had arguably his best win of his career, a contract with the Brewers.

So far Marcum is the ace that we all thought he was, and I am in no way trying to shake any confidence in Shaun, but in baseball we always look at history. Marcum has a list of injuries and ailments that seem to be red flags when it comes to IP. As I said before Marcum should reach 200 innings if he stays healthy the rest of the year, but the warnings should not be ignored. His ERA (2.95), WHIP (1.06), and opponent BA (.212) are nice to look at, but don't be surprised if Marcum has another injury as he eclipses 200. ZIPS updated estimates has Marcum pitching about 175 innings, which would be about 11 starts, and matching his win total from 2007. If he's healthy there is no doubt in my mind he will go the distance, and be able to help the Brewers in the post-season push.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Is Kotsay Still Here?

The Brewer world has been screaming about the fact that Mark Kotsay was used in a late inning situation as a pinch hitter, and who can blame us? Mr. Kotsay has proved to be one of the Brewers’ two automatic out players, with no pop in their bats, while perfectly good bench players remain in AAA.

I understand Roenicke’s reasoning in using him late because the numbers say that Kotsay has not been THAT bad. While no, he should not be used in a situation where a team needs base runners he has actually been formidable at the plate as a run producer. Kotsay in fact has 8 of his 9 RBI’s with runner in scoring position and he is hitting over .300 with runners on. So based on these numbers maybe it was the right decision for Roenicke to put him in, (although never in place of Jonathon Lucroy). Here’s where the numbers start to lie.

Although Kotsay has been productive with driving in runs (if you can call 9 RBI’s productive) and hitting with runners on, his slugging percentage in every situation is still far behind is average. In any situation Kotsay would need one hell of a base runner to turn his hits into scoring plays. So what is his use if he can’t hit it to the wall with runners on, and can’t hit or walk just to get on base, what asset does he serve? None.

Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke let Kotsay waste opportunities while Brandon Boggs a switch hitter wastes away in AAA. Boggs in limited time has hit two home runs, 2 RBI’s (which compared to Kotsay and his playing time is infinitely better) and has a slugging percentage double that of Kotsays (although the two homers probably balloon that number).

For those of you that doubt, now you know, there is no reason for Mark Kotsay to be on the Brewers’ roster.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviewing The JJ Hardy Trade

With our recent rant about how useless Yuniesky Betancourt has proved to be so far this season, I decided to retrace our steps to our current situation at Shortstop and really with the legend that is Tony Plush. When the Brewers decided to trade Hardy, he was on a career low slope, hitting for a slash line of .229/.302/.357. With a huge power loss and production falling Hardy was forced out the door by the organization’s top prospect Alcides Escobar.

Escobar at this point was being praised at this point by most scouts as a gold glover with a bat that could develop into something that at least would not kill a lineup. So the organization dumped Hardy, and interest was low for a former All-Star Gold Glove caliber offensive threat that was JJ Hardy. The Brewers big search for pitching failed (although rumor has it they could have had some swell prospects) and they ended up with Carlos Gomez.

Gomez to this point as a Brewer has been a big disappointment, with only the advertised glove holding true and a centerfielder that was all but abandoned by two other organizations succeeding in his place. The Brewers have a stock pile full of OF prospects in their minor league systems (not all are ready for the majors) and Gomez is only being used in late inning situation with only one start so far this month, but the big hole is at the position that had so much depth it allowed the organization to trade what was once an important part of the lineup.

Currently Betancourt is a cancer in the Brewers lineup, killing most run producing innings, leaving a staggering 29 on-base in his last 6 games played (covering the three last series that the Brewers have lost). Hardy meanwhile has yet to hit Free Agency, and is playing like he means it hitting .301/.366/.530 compared to Betancourt’s .233/.255/.341. Gomez has been replaced in the lineup twice and both times by players who were with the organization to start a season, proving of no value. You may argue that Escobar may have been more valuable without the failure that was his first major league season.

The Brewers have received no gain after the trade that sent JJ Hardy away, and right now he would fill the only hole in the lineup that is keeping the Brewers from being successful. Not even two years later, the Brewers are rumored to be thinking about bringing Hardy back at a much higher price tag and losing him in Free Agency. I could think of one thousand other things I would have traded JJ Hardy for and most of them can be found in my trash can.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Macha > Roenicke (At Managing A Bullpen)

I have been a pretty avid supporter of Ron Roenicke as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers all season. I think he has done a good job for the most part and he seems like a chum fellow, but his management of the bullpen today and really as of late has been horrendous. Granted, he doesn't have the likes of Takashi Saito, Zach Braddock, Brandon Kintzler, Manny Parra, etc. Still, that is no excuse to continue to ignore righty/lefty splits and use Tim Dillard or Mark DiFelice, give Kameron Loe exclusive rights to the 8th inning and to leave LaTroy Hawkins rot in the pen when he could be used in a high leverage situation. He has made the mistakes a few different times already this season and one has to wonder at what point will he correct his bullpen mistakes and start making the right choices?

Does Roenicke ask for input from Rick Kranitz and Jerry Narron when making these decisions? If so, are they saying they are good or are they telling him different and Ron just goes with his own thought each time? I would be very curious to find out the answer to that question. If Kranitz and Narron have the same thoughts as Roenicke and they to are going along with some of these bullpen moves they are as much to blame. If Roenicke and his staff don't correct the mistakes with the bullpen management soon it could contine to cost the Brewers wins and ultimately the division. I would like to continue liking Ron, but if he keeps this shit up, I am going to have a hard time supporting him. Hate to say it, but it's the truth.


Monday, June 20, 2011

VFBC Podcast Episode 17

Breakdown of The Show:

Randy Wolf's Impressive Season So Far :00-13:34
SS, What To Do With Yuni Betancourt? In House and Trade 14:56-34:15
Minor League Talk 35:14-1:02
Preview/Around NL Central/Chalet Award Winner 1:03-1:14:48

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

VFBC Podcast Episode 16

Breakdown of The Show:

What's With All The Roenicke Hate/Aggression? 00:00-201:03
Roster Moves (No More Nieves, Kottaras Free!)/Lineup Talk 22:23-42:43
Preview Red Sox Series/Chalet Award Winner 43:53-55:34

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Casey On The Lookout For Lost Bat

With his bad showing at the plate this season, and questions about his lack of value, Casey McGehee is making fans breath a sigh of relief that a contract extension wasn't signed. I am not one of them, and some fans should look past the initial numbers this season and try to remember what happened in previous years. This isn't some flash in the pan, got hot for two weeks, rookie call-up, as McGehee proved in over 1000 PAs the past two seasons where he boasts 170 RBIs and a batting average of .293. That is as consistent production from third base as you can ask for, but this season has been completely opposite from past seasons.

When I first took a good look at McGehee's stat sheet the glaring holes were obvious, like average, on-base, and slugging, but their had to be another story here than just bad mechanics or approach at the plate. Looking a little deeper you can see that his approach is about the same as his average, taking walks 7.8% of the time and striking out about 17% of the time. So, the next place I looked was his contact rates. Is he just swinging at bad pitches, or are players pitching around him? Neither appears to be true either since his O-Swing%/Z-Swing% are only slightly down, about 2%, however his Contact% has gone up and he isn't getting fooled anymore than usual at the plate.

In my mind the two stats that tell the biggest story on McGehee's slump is his BABIP and ISO. McGehee is one of the few batters in the majors to be pretty luck neutral, in that his BABIP is usually within a few points of his actual average, but down from .306 in 2010, he is sitting on a .252 and right now McGehee seems to finally have a black cloud over his head. With higher ground ball rates, and decreases in line drives and fly balls, Casey has seen his power go from an ISO of .179 to a paltry .094. With McGehee's lack of speed, and his usually average to below glove, he needs to find a way to bring his 100+ RBI power back into the Brewers line up. Casey seems to be trying everything to get his power stroke back, like changing his stance or just trying to hit for contact, but his best efforts so far have yielded no results except DPs and groundball outs.

Casey has been trying to work back, getting 3 singles in recent games, yet his average still sits at about .080 for the last week or so, with no production coming out of those singles either. With all these factors taken into effect the only conclusion I can come up with is it is a mental issue, and not so much a fundamentals problem. This guy can hit when he is on, no one would deny that, but is it possible that he is holding himself back at this point instead of settling into the role the Brewers and all fans want him to fill? Maybe it's just a matter of his bat speed being slower than past years, maybe it's pressure to perform at a high level because of the team around him, or maybe he is just the unluckiest player in baseball. One thing I do know is if he doesn't find a way to get on base soon he is going to be dropped in the order as opposing pitchers give Fielder nothing to hit knowing Casey and his .225 average are up next.

I believe Casey will turn things around soon, and while 100+ RBIs is probably out of the question now, 75-80 isn't a long shot if he can figure out his problems at the plate. Long story short: He is a fan favorite who loves playing in Milwaukee and is involved in the community, really those are all intangibles that his stats aren't going to show. Give McGehee a chance and I think he still may surprise us all before it's over.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Technical Difficulties Take 2

Another week, another podcast missed. Once again Brad had issues with the studio he records our podcast in. The problem should be fixed tomorrow. If it is, Brad and myself will record a condensed episode 16 of the podcast Wednesday night. Unfortunately Alex will not be available for that recording due to his work schedule. Hope to have the full crew back for episode 17 next Monday night the 20th. Thanks again for checking out the blog and the podcasts, we really appreciate it. Go Brewers! Enjoy this video until next time. Oh yeah, I HATE Ryan Dempster.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sweet Diggs

I don't care what anyone says, I really like these yellow/gold/mustard jersey's. They were special for tonight's "Cerveceros" night celebrating Latino heritage in baseball. I think they should put "Brewers" across the chest of these and make them a third home alternate jersey. Adam McCalvy tweeted after the game that Kameron Loe told him the guys really liked them and asked the clubhouse attendant if they could throw them into their regular rotation. That would be sweet!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Everything Is Going Smooth, But.....

There are two roster moves I would like the Brewers to make. First and foremost is DFA Wil Nieves. I'm sorry but he brings no defining quality to this team other than catching Randy Wolf every 5th day. He is supposed to be a defensive catcher and he would have to be with how bad he is at the plate. The thing is, I have not seen this great defense he brings to the team, have you? It's not like he blocks every pitch in the dirt and throws out runners like Pudge Rodriguez in his prime. So why is he still on the team? He's on a march to batting under .100. It's time for Doug Melvin to pull the trigger and free George Kottaras, who in my opinion is not that big of a downgrade on defense from Nieves and clearly has a better bat and some power potential. With Kottaras on the roster I wouldn't mind seeing Lucroy get a few more days off that way he can stay fresh.

The second move is a temporary one but a no brainer. When the Brewers travel to American League parks in Boston and New York in a few weeks they should recall Mat Gamel from AAA to serve as a DH in those interleague games. Gamel as usual is tearing up AAA pitching and he would be a nice left handed power bat in the lineup. This way the Brewers get a better bat than Kotsay, Counsell, Gomez or Wilson during that stretch of games and Gamel can face big league pitching and get regular AB's while he is up. It's two minor moves, but moves that I think will make the club even better then they have been over the past month and a half. Do it Doug!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Damn You Technical Difficulties!

I hate to say this, but for the first time since we started the show back in February, there will be no View From Bernie's Chalet podcast this week. First Monday night, our normal recording night Brad could not make it due to his work schedule. We then decided to re-schedule for tonight (Wednesday) but this time the studio where Brad does the show from in Whitewater, which has the recording equipment had some issues with the computer and a virus. Long story short it was a big pain in our asses.

We do hope and think that we will be back to normal and record episode 16 on Monday 6/13. Sorry about this, we love doing this show and we thank you for listening, wish we could have brought you a show this week. Don't worry though, we promise episode 16 will be the best one yet. We leave you with this kick ass video. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rickie Weeks Could Start At 2B In The 2011 All-Star Game

And he just needs YOUR help! Right now Weeks is second in the NL for 2B voting behind the Reds Brandon Phillips. Weeks is having his third straight All-Star worthy season and it would be great to see he and Braun both representing the Crew starting for the NL at Chase Field in Arizona on July 12th. Rickie should get in via players and coaches votes if not selected to start by the fans, but lets not leave it up to them to snub him again. Go over to and vote your max 25 times with each email account you have. When you go to games at Miller Park, stuff the ballot box with even more votes for Rickie. Ryan Braun is pretty much a lock to start in the OF for the fourth straight season, but Rickie is right there and he has a shot at it, lets get him there.