Boy, It’s been a tough weekend here for Milwaukee fans. After a big start on Friday, the crew rattled off two straight losses to Houston and enter into the meat of a ten day road trip on the wrong side of .500.
There has been a lot of news around the Brewers right now, and at times it can be hard to keep up with. As usual, this is where we come in. I wish I could write full, stand-alone articles about everything in this piece. As much as I love doing it, I simply don’t have the time to indulge in writing binges as often as I would like to. Therefore, today’s article will catch you up on everything Brewer related in small, digestible pieces that are almost guaranteed not to make you hungover.
I am Absolving Carlos Gomez of All Future Baserunning Decisions.
On Saturday night, Carlos Gomez took every piece of praise he had accumulated and set them on fire about 30 feet between second and third base. That was where he stood and watched as the Houston Left Fielder recovered a bobbled ball in time to throw out Gomez who slid head first into third. The video (right around the 1:15 mark) of the event is just as sad and funny now as it was in real-time. Milwaukee ended up losing 2-1 directly after this debacle thanks to a Bill Hall walk-off single – if such a thing could exist with that title.
Here’s the issue: Gomez has wheels, and can easily turn doubles into triples if he doesn’t think about it. Unfortunately, he does. From now on Carlos, you are not allowed to make these decisions on your own. Ever. Don’t even look for the ball, just look at the base coaches. I know it’s tough to understand, but that is exactly the reason we are taking understanding out of your job description. You are, from now until the end of your career with the Brewers, the baseball version of Forrest Gump. Just run until someone says stop. It’ll be easier on all of us this way.
The Brewers Score 1 Run In 18 Innings
Yup, that’s right. One run. In fact, they only managed to put up 12 hits in the last two games. This has been the case with Milwaukee for the last few seasons. The team gets a hot game or two in where it doesn’t look like you could stop a Brewer from reaching base (See: Prince Fielder barreling through Wallace on Friday), then they turn anemic at the plate for the following few games. It’s frustrating to watch, especially when they are facing a Houston Astros pitching staff who currently rank second-to-last in the National League in ERA. It certainly doesn’t help when the fifth through ninth hitters go a combined 7 for 50 in a weekend (though it should be noted that only three people: Fielder, Lucroy and Kostay registered hits today).
Obviously the best hitters stack the top of the lineup, but you cannot forfeit four innings of play because the better part of half your batting order is dead to rights when they step into the box. I don’t have the answer for this problem – McGehee is obviously in a slump right now and Hart will rebound eventually – but it needs to be addressed quickly. Today’s 5-0 Shutout was the first time the Crew has been blanked since last September, and I can officially tack this game up as “rock bottom” of the 2011 season to date.
One Bad Inning Continues to Kill Narveson
I consider Narveson’s day to be a wash. On the one hand, he looked great for about four and two thirds of the innings he pitched. He through 7 strikeouts and allowed seven hits today. His command looked pretty solid, and even the jam in the second inning didn’t add up to too much. It was one hanging pitch that killed his day. One hanging pitch to Carlos Lee lost this game.
That’s what is so hard when you’re dealing with Narveson. He is not a bad pitcher and generally keeps even-keeled on the mound. It’s that one pitch – usually around the fourth, fifth or sixth – that sits a little too high or doesn’t move quite as much as it’s supposed to. That pitch usually sails into the outfield or over the fence and unravels any chance we have to win. I’m a firm believer that Narveson needs to have a tighter pitch count to try keep away from the one bad inning, and if that can’t happen, maybe he needs to be in a long relief role instead.
Corey Hart Needs What the Brewers Don’t Have: Time
Corey came back to the Brewers early last week; that is the best thing you can say about his performance thus far. Hart suffered an oblique strain in Spring Training this year (non-basketball related) and is still extremely rusty. His rehab may have gone on longer were it not for Eric Almonte’s history making concussion; but the situation being as it is Hart did his best to make an impact. Of course that impact is a .214 batting average and strikeouts, but I’m still inclined to give him a break. Here’s what he told Richard Dean on the Brewers website today:
"“A lot of guys work on things in camp. I’m facing everybody at their best right now, I’m trying to adjust. It shouldn’t take too long. Hopefully, before we get home, I’ll be like myself and see what I can do. It might take another game or two. All of a sudden, I might find it. I don’t worry about it. It’ll be there before too long. Everybody knows it.”"
Everybody hopes, at least.
Brewers Errors Are Killing Team, Me
The Milwaukee Brewers have amassed an amazing five errors in three games. Prior to this weekend’s series at Minute Maid Park, the team had only seven, which was among the lowest totals in Major League Baseball. It’s no secret that our infield play has been atrocious at times, but it has been at least forgivable in large part thanks to good pitching and big bats.
Those remedies are in short supply at the moment, which means our defense can’t hid from scrutiny much longer. I know playing middle infield is hard; that’s why I never got any farther than Little League in baseball. I’m willing to excuse bobbled line drives and comically mistimed dives because of that. But making wild throws to a base for an out can directly equate to runs scored and there simply isn’t any excuse for them. Prince Fielder has decent range – all things considered – but he’s not Stretch Armstrong. Putting a toss into the dugout doesn’t help anybody.
The least these guys can do if they’re going to botch a play is hit the ball the next time up but Rickie went 0-4 with two strikeouts today, McGehee can barely put a ball out of the infield and I think Betancourt is only batting because he likes the walk to and from the dugout. If octogenarian Craig Counsell wasn’t our only other option for the infield I’d say replace one of them; but for now I just have to sit here and develop ulcers whilst they continue to rack up “Not Top Ten” credentials every day.
Tony Plush, Zack Greinke, Possibly Jesus Return to the Roster This Week
The upcoming series in Atlanta is going to be a big one for Milwaukee for a number of reasons. First off, it is going to do a lot to define this team who is facing a losing streak once again in a young season. Secondly, it marks the return of two players the hopes of the team are resting on in Zack Greinke and Nyjer Morgan.
Nyjer Morgan’s last rehab start was rained out in Nashville on Sunday, who is coming off the 15 day DL with a bruised thigh. He played well in his AAA games prior, so both the management and Morgan himself felt he was ready to play. As we speak he is flying to Atlanta to meet the team and get back into the lineup. At least I hope this is the case. His role on the team is largely undefined right now, but this road trip will probably make that situation more clear as we expect to see Mr. Plush on the field for a lot more time.
From the “Overwhelming Hype” file, we have Zack Greinke news. Greinke will start on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves, who put Tim Hudson on the mound to start. Zack cruised through his minor league rehab starts with flying colors, throwing 50 of his 75 pitches on Friday for strikes. According to Ron Roenicke, Zack felt like he could throw another 20 pitches during that game. I think of all the quotes and news snippets about Greinke’s return, a small quote from Zack sums it up the best:
"“It’ll be cool.”"
Need I say more?
Hopefully this wrapped up the weekend well enough for you Brew Crew Faithful out there. Tomorrow we hit Atlanta where Yovani Gallardo is looking to rebound against Jair Jurrjens and the rest of the Braves. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend and Go Brewers!