Category Archives: Sports

The Fates of Forty Men 2009: Part 2, Starting Pitching

No one will debate that this was the Brewers’ achilles’ heel in 2009.  The Brewers starters had the worst collective ERA in the National League.  Of their 5-man rotation on opening day, 4 finished with an ERA over 5.00.  2 had an ERA over 6.00.  To put it simply, if they return over 40% of this rotation next year, it will NOT be a good 2010.  Having “innings-eaters” on your team is one thing, but if they’re not giving you a legit chance to win, what the hell’s the point?

* – denotes a player that is a lock to make the 25-man roster for opening day in 2010

** – denotes a player that is a good bet to be on the 25-man

Yovanni Gallardo* – Yo did not start the first game of the season, but was the de facto ace throughout 2009.  After an injury-shortened 2008, Gallardo came back to start 30 games, win 13, strike out over 200 batters, and pitch 185 innings.  He had his bouts of wildness as well, though, and the coaching staff shut him down for the year with a week to go in the season after he eclipsed 3,000 pitches for the year.  He also led the staff with 94 walks.  Gallardo will absolutely be back, hopefully with an extended contract, but also hopefully with some more help at the top of the rotation.  He’s one of only a couple home-grown talents the Brewers can tout on their pitching staff, and one of the best pitchers in baseball.  A top-flight pitching coach (which the Brewers claim to be after) could be beneficial for him.

Jeff Suppan** – A year ago, I grudgingly conceded that the Brewers would have no choice but to bring him back.  Suppan’s albatross of a contract will continue to strangle them for one last season.  After cutting Bill Hall loose and eating about 7 million dollars of that terrible contract, I don’t see them being able to afford another, by cutting Suppan.  However, if I were the GM, I would ask any team if they were willing to go halfsies on Soup’s 12 mil for 2010.  Once again, his 2009 was peppered with flashes of brilliance sprinkled across a wide tapestry of awful outings: there was the Easter Sunday game on national TV against Chicago, where he walked in 2 runs in one inning.  There was the 2-game stretch in late July where he gave up 15 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings against the dregs of the NL in Pittsburgh and Washington.  There was also the July 3 game vs Chicago, when he surrendered just 1 run in 7 innings but the Brewers couldn’t muster a win.  Over the course of a season, though, a 5.29 ERA and 1.69 WHIP speak for themselves.  Suppan looked erratic and overmatched more often than not all season long (even when he was rehabbing in Nashville, he was getting shelled).  I would cry a river of joyful tears if they could find a way to unload him, but it’s not going to happen.

Braden Looper** – As unlucky and awful as Suppan looked all year, Looper somehow bumbled himself to a winning record, and likely secured a spot on the 2010 roster (provided he wants to come back; his option for next season is mutual, so the team has to want him, and he has to want the team).  The guy would be crazy not to return.  He dished up 39 homeruns and racked up a 5.22 ERA but only lost 7 times, thanks to an unbelievable amount of run support.  He also stayed healthy all year, taking the ball 34 times over the course of the season.  No Brewers’ pitcher threw 200 innings this year, but Looper was closest, at 194 2/3.  With starting pitching in SUCH high demand throughout major league baseball, the Brewers would wise to bring him back.  BUT– they have to be willing to show him the door in camp if they manage to get some decent young bodies in here that actually know how to pitch.

Dave Bush* – He started out a little slow in spring, looked fantastic as the Crew cruised to 30-20 by the end of May, and then took a nosedive after getting nailed in the elbow by a line drive in Florida the first week of June.  After that, the David Bush of late ’08 and early ’09 disappeared.  Does he just need a full off-season to completely rehab that injury?  Can he be a steady cog in the middle of a contending rotation?  Will the Brewers use his last year of salary arbitration to find out?  Count on it.

Manny Parra** – Last year this time, I had become a Parra-believer.  I thought the Manny that 7-0 through the middle of 2008 was the “real” Parra, and his troubles down the stretch were bad luck.  Today, I am much less certain.  After a mid-season demotion to AAA, he was usually better, but still had his moments where he couldn’t find the strikezone.  He would cruise through some innings, setting full lineups down in order, then fall apart the next time through.  Worse, watching him in the dugout and listening to post-game interviews, the guy sounds like a total headcase.  How many times can you be told to trust your ability, but just not be able to do it?  Once again, starting pitching is a hot commodity, and Parra is still relatively young (just turned 27).  A team with some average to slightly-better-than-average alternatives could afford to wait for Parra to come around.  The Brewers might not be that team (they sure weren’t with Jorge De La Rosa).  I expect him back, but if a trade partner wanted Manny thrown in to a deal for a more mature, seasoned, older and proven starting pitcher, I would not hesitate to fork him over.

Mike Burns – He was a minor-league fill-in during the dark days of mid-summer when our rotation not only looked awful, but had been decimated by injuries.  Again, here’s a guy that showed some flashes, but in the end showed why he couldn’t cut it in the major leagues.  Don’t expect him back.

Josh Butler – Picked up from Tampa in exchange for Gabe Gross at the beginning of the 2008 season, Butler started ’09 in Class A, moved up to AAA, then later made his major league debut after the rosters expanded in September.  Clearly, the organization thinks a lot of the kid, but I wouldn’t expect him to crack the rotation in 2010.  Maybe 2011 if he does a good job at Nashville next year.

Tim Dillard – Unless the Brewers make more than a trade or two over the winter, Dillard is likely to be one of those guys they throw in there during spring training, just to see if he can stick in a major league rotation.  He spent less time on the big league roster in 2009 than he did in ’08, and he didn’t exactly light the world on fire in 140+ innings for Nashville (4.51 ERA).  Never say never, but I would be shocked if he were there on opening day.

Chris Narveson – Threw in 21 games in 2009 and managed to pull his ERA under 4.00 with a couple nice spot starts down the stretch, after pitching from the bullpen earlier in the year.  With the rotation in dire straits during the month of September, Narveson was the hot flavor of the week to save the rotation in 2009.  Like Dillard, he is likely to get a look (and deservedly, a longer one) in spring training.  Barring trades and injuries, though, they have to come up with a better option.  Narveson could prove to be a valuable guy to have on call in Nashville when the injury bug crops up for Milwaukee in 2010.

Coming Tuesday – a look at relief pitching…

The Fates of Forty Men 2009 – Part 1: Summing Up

I wanted to offer up my commentary and thoughts on the Brewers roster as we close out the 2009 season and prepare to hot stove it to spring training.  Last year, I took about a day to think through what would happen with each man on the Brewers’ 40-man roster in the off-season.  It was a really long post.  This year, I’m going to split it up, and I’m starting today, just hours after the Crew completed their sweep of St. Louis to head into the off-season at 80-82, and out of the playoffs.

Way back on February 10, I posted a short bit about Baseball Prospectus’s 2009 predictions and thought it would be interesting to come back to them at the end of the year, to see how everything shaped up.  Overall, they weren’t very close.  They did not project one division winner in all of MLB, and in at least 4 cases (Arizona, Cleveland, Oakland, NY Mets), they weren’t even remotely close.  Granted, these projections were based on a sum of individual player stat projections, but still– it demonstrates that if using math to project how a season will go is tough, guessing at it can only be tougher.

The Prospectus wasn’t too far off on the Brewers’ record, though.  Only missed by three games.  And it’s been well-documented that the Crew contended with a lot of injuries in addition to their generally spotty pitching.  The pros saw it that way, but as a fan, I didn’t want to.  I still think that if Rickie Weeks, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan hadn’t each missed a significant amount of time, we might’ve been a little closer when we got to the end of the season.  I think we would’ve had a winning year, anyway.

With the off-season on the horizon, there are a number of big questions facing the team that have been well-documented:

  • What are they going to do about the starting rotation?
  • What can they get for JJ Hardy?
  • Is it time to trade Prince?
  • Which free agents should be offered arbitration?
  • Are coaching changes really going to make a difference?

Over the next week or so, you’ll find out what I think about all the players currently on our 40-man, and what I think about these and other questions.  It’s going to be a slightly longer off-season, but I think we’ve got a foundation that’s solid, and with the right moves, the Brewers could be playing in the post-season again in 2010.

Pause For a Breather

Been a lot happening in the last week-plus.

  • Michelle got a new job.  She’s going to be working here.
  • As a result, we are going to move.  To here.
  • Meanwhile, we had a whirlwind week of Brewers baseball on their last homestand.  We saw them do this, this, Dave went with me to this, and finally, a nice ending with this.
  • We looked at many apartments.  It was hard to keep them all straight, but I think we have a winner, unless someone steals it out from under us.

Also, it got cold.  I like moving in fall the best, I think.  How about you?

Pro Football Predictions, Week 2

Being up north for the weekend limits the time that I have for comment. Hoping that last week didn’t bankrupt you, wager away with this guidance of this week’s picks!

SUN, SEP 20
Carolina at Atlanta
Minnesota at Detroit
Cincinnati at Green Bay
Houston at Tennessee
Oakland at Kansas City
Edmonton at Saskatchewan
New England at NY Jets
New Orleans at Philadelphia
St. Louis at Washington
Arizona at Jacksonville
Tampa Bay at Buffalo
Winnepeg at Montreal
Seattle at San Francisco
Pittsburgh at Chicago
Baltimore at San Diego
Cleveland at Denver
NY Giants at Dallas
MON, SEP 21
Indianapolis at Miami

Pro Football Predictions, Week 1

Schneider seems to have actually retired from this game, quite unlike Brett Favre ever will.

I do not wish for you, dear reader, to enter this first weekend of the pro football season uninformed and unprepared to enter verbal combat with your friends, colleagues, and co-workers regarding the prediction of the games’ outcomes.  Goodness knows there is no place else on the Internet to obtain such information.

To that end, I will now announce the winners of every professional American football contest that will take place between September 13 and September 14.  Feel free to use this as a guide for all wagers, friendly or otherwise.  After all, I have not been wrong yet.

The home team in each contest is listed last.  The winner is in bold.  Go forth, and win millions.

SUN, SEP 13 MON, SEP 14
Miami at Atlanta Buffalo at New England
Denver at Cincinnati San Diego at Oakland
Minnesota at Cleveland
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
BC at Montreal
Detroit at New Orleans
Dallas at Tampa Bay
Philadelphia at Carolina
Kansas City at Baltimore
NY Jets at Houston
Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
Washington at NY Giants
San Francisco at Arizona
St. Louis at Seattle
Chicago at Green Bay

(Fast) Slow Week

Quite a bit of action on the work front this time of year, and not nearly as much at home.  I have been ruminating on a few topics I’m anxious to share with you soon, up to and including a return of the podcast for the 2009-10 season.

One thing I did at home this week was to install the DD-WRT firmware on my router.  It’s got a much more robust feature set than the stock firmware, and I haven’t dug into everything that it can do yet.  Best thing I’ve found so far, though: support for zoneedit.com.  To you, dear reader, that will mean less down time on those occasions when my IP changes and I’m not at home…

Other than that, take a look at the Milwaukee gallery for some shots I took at a baseball game with the Schrubbe boys a couple weeks ago.  We had really good seats!

Long Shots

I looked at my sad little list of tweets on the front page today and it made me feel kind of bad.  Really just haven’t had a lot of blogocity flowing of late.

Anyway, later on this evening I will be taking in a second screening of Star Trek with some of the geek men from MKE.  We caught Watchmen as a group, too.  I’m going to turn in a little earlier than I usually would on a Friday, because I have to head over to the Wordell house in the Falls tomorrow to work on a computer; want to get said work done in the AM hours, so I’ll need some good sleep…

Went out and took some pictures last night after the sun went down.  Been meaning to do some night photography with my new camera, but this was my first chance.  Picked up a couple tips from Wordy on how to make some of them look better (I only uploaded a few of the decent ones).  Tip #1: remember that when you’re doing a 5-15 second exposure of a building and you’re zoomed in @ 300mm, you’re asking for blurring.  It’s just gonna happen.  Good point there.

What’s with the Brewers lately, eh?  They started slow, but things are looking up after a 5-1 homestand that came on the heels of a 3-1 road trip.  Brewers have won 6 series in a row, and they go to St. Louis this weekend playing for first place in the Central.  Yeah, it’s still early, but I see signs that the team is more relaxed and grown up than people were counting on.  I hope they don’t lose it, and they remember what is working during this good stretch.  Oh, and having Trevor Hoffman to handle the 9th doesn’t hurt, either.

I’ve got 2 weeks to go @ UWM before heading back to Osh Vegas for work once again!  How bout them apples??

What’s new with you?

Greatest Hits

Nothing in and of itself particularly bloggable today, but I did run across a few interesting tidbits on the tubes today that you might find interesting in case you missed ’em:

  • I was drawn in by the spectre of New Scientist’s title, “Could the Net Become Self-Aware?” but you should also stay tuned for the rest of their 8-part series.  Interesting stuff…
  • Brett’s gonna come back again.  Oh, yes he will.  But I do think he proved last year that 2007 will gone down as his last great season.
  • Tons of kids staying home from school next week in the metro-Milwaukee area, what with the bacon disease.  Hey, remember when we were kids, and there would be a chicken pox outbreak, and if you hadn’t had it yet, your mom would make sure you went to school, with instructions to lick all doorknobs trade pencils all your itchy friends?  Yeah, I remember that, too.
  • Don’t know if they’ve changed much in Amarok 2 since I was last using it a couple months ago, but I will say this: the album shuffle seems to be doing a better job.  I wonder if there’s anything else I can do to optimize the tags on my tunes..?

OK, well, I’m gonna eat some dinner and get ready for a party that Michelle and I are headed to in a couple hours.  Yes, I know it’s already 8:30.  The party goes until 3 AM.  Seriously.

A Shining, Glistening, Near-Blindingly Bright Example:

In the course of my lifetime, sports journalism has gotten completely out of control.  There are hours upon hours upon HOURS more of it than is even remotely necessary, and I blame this development entirely on ESPN.  Competition between networks may spur on the never-ending spiral into mindless sporting minutiae, but there would be no need had there never been an ESPN.

I guess it’s nice that all these people who work in 24-hour sports journalism have jobs, because what else would they do1, but is any of this information and the myriad methods of digesting statistics worthwhile knowledge?  Barely.  Just… barely.  It’s slightly worthwhile because the reporter needs something to talk about on TV, but what kind of chicken-and-egg argument is that?

I got an email today from the K-Bear, mentioning that the Detroit Lions settled on a new design for their uniforms.  I popped over to the Great Network’s website for a nugget of info on the topic (maybe just an example of the design), and I was met with this lead story in their NFL section: Mock Draft for the Ages!  Yes friends, the work they’re doing over there today is asking the burning question: what if every player EVER were eligible to be taken in THIS YEAR’S NFL draft?  You can follow the link for all the details but the summary is thus:

Who gives a holy freakin shit?

I don’t discount the value of sports on a basic level; obviously there is something about physical competitions that have kept human beings interested for thousands of years.  Sports help us pass the time, they promote civic pride, and they give us a glimpse of what the most physically skilled among us can do with the human body; which in and of itself is occasionally an amazing spectacle.

Like so many things, though, following sports is prone to spilling over to obsession.  24-hour sports networks help promote that2, but of course it is ultimately the viewer that drives that programming.  Personally, I know how easy it can be to slip into a pattern of obsessive cable-watching.  I have fought countless battles over the years with such networks as TNN, Comedy Central, History Channel, National Geographic, SpikeTV, VH1, and yes, ESPN.  Some of the most gratifying days I can remember are the ones where I suddenly realized, “Hey, I haven’t turned on the TV to watch [insert program or network here] in weeks.  And I don’t care at all!  I guess none of it really matters…”

And it doesn’t.  So, loosen your grip on the remote, oh ye 2nd-floor Nelsonites3!  The world, she is a’turning!

  1. My God, what would Craig Kilborn’s life have been without SportsCenter? []
  2. Truly, all niche cable networks promote their respective vice or obsession, do they not? []
  3. When I lived in Nelson Hall, there was an eerie yet distinct difference between the men who populated most of 2nd floor (they watched a LOT of sports and were generally known to be some breed of jock, either actual or wishful) and the ones like me on the 4th (they played a lot of cards, really knew how to drink, and overall had a more unique mix of personalities. []